Mistakes Unmade by bronco-babe-82592

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Drama, Romance
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2007-09-16 23:16:07
Updated:2011-12-21 04:47:50
Packaged:2021-04-21 23:04:05
Summary:Set about four years after MR3. Max goes into near depression without her best friend, basically. Been working on it for a while and finally decided to post. Still writing. First time posting story, but not first fan fic. Enjoy and review, please.

Table of Contents

1. Prologue
2. Chapter One
3. Chapter Two
4. Chapter Three
5. Chapter Four
6. Chapter Five
7. Chapter Six
8. Chapter Seven
9. Chapter Eight
10. Chapter Nine
11. Chapter Ten
12. Chapter Eleven
13. Chapter Twelve NEW UPDATE

1. Prologue


She watched as he stuffed his things in his worn old backpack with wide, misty eyes. She refused to cry. She couldn't cry. It would be showing weakness. She wasn't weak.

"Fang…" she whispered, reaching for him as he snapped open his wings to take off out the hotel window.

"Don't Max," he growled, sending her a chilling glare. "Don't try to stop me, don't do anything. Just let me go. Let me go."

That was it. She watched him fly off into the night, anger rolling off his every stroke. That was it. That was the end. She didn't make an attempt to go after him. She didn't try. She didn't do anything. She stood and watched and refused to shed any tears for her best friend who'd just turned his back on her.

It was like a reoccurring nightmare, playing over and over again in her slumber. No matter how she tried, how much she fought, the dreams of four years ago wouldn't leave her. It made her feel hypocritical, considering how long she had worked to push him from her thoughts. But he was never gone. His face, his smile, his eyes, his everything were always at the back of her mind, haunting her day in and day out. She hadn't dreamt of him in near two years; but that didn't mean she hadn't thought of him in that time.

It'd been four years since the night that stabbed her in the back over and over again each time she heard his name or saw his face in her dreams. She tried to move on, tried to forget, but she never could. He was in her mind to stay.

Of course, being distraught and heartbroken, Max packed up the Flock not a moment after their silent shadow had deserted them, and left. They flew for days at a time, until Max felt far enough away and was sure the heartache wouldn't follow. She didn't fully fill the others in on the reasons of why he left, just that he had and probably wouldn't be back. There was devastation for weeks, months even, before the Flock, minus their leader, began to heal and move on with their lives.

The five of them ended up in a rural part of Chicago, somehow managing to get enough money off Max's card to stay in a four bedroom townhouse and even enough money after that to buy decent furniture and new clothes. They hadn't even come close to maxing out the card, surprisingly, considering how much they spent and bought.

Max had just turned 19 and Iggy wasn't too far behind; he was still 18. Nudge was a hormonal 15 years of age and Gazzy was a happy-go-lucky age of 12 while sweet little Angel had recently turned a ripe age of 10.

Trying to blend in, they enrolled in local schools, much to Nudge and Angel's amusement. They didn't enroll all enroll as siblings. Max thought they should enroll under new assumed names, just in case. Max and Iggy, also known as Max and Kyle Cutler, enrolled in the local high school as siblings. Nudge, a.k.a Monica Reynolds, was enrolled in the local middle school while Gazzy and Angel, also Tyler and Angel Curtis, walked a few blocks to their elementary school down the street. Of course, Angel and Gazzy were the only ones in middle school now. Nudge had moved on up to high school with Iggy and Max before Max graduated.

Max, ahead of her class, graduated a year early and took online photography courses when she wasn't working at the only place of business within walking distance; the library. She didn't know what she was good at, besides kicking ass and biting sarcastic remarks so she bought herself a digital camera and signed up on the computer Iggy had bought. When she wasn't working, Max was either out taking pictures, reading or sitting in her room watching it rain. Since her co-captain abandoned the flight crew, Max hadn't been herself. She was snippier and quieter. When she wasn't either of those she was sleeping.

Her blonde hair faded into a soft brown, her eyes now a hollow, gray color. Her naturally peach complexion had slowly faded into a white, empty pale, with purple bruising under her eyes from lack of sleep. She'd always been thin, but not so thin as to you could visibly see her ribs every time she wore a skin tight shirt or a bathing suit. Her size two jeans and 'xs' shirts hung off of her slightly, making it looked like the clothes belonged to someone else. She tried her best to pull it together for the rest of the flock every day, but some days it was just impossible and she didn't do anything except sit in her room and stare out the window. Her wings hadn't been used since their final landing in Chicago and she never joined the Flock on their late night flights. It was as if she was a completely different person.

Iggy had graduated just a few months before Max's dreams started up again. He was valedictorian of his class and took night classes with his girlfriend, Rae Whitaker, on the fine arts of culinary skills and cooked something new for dinner every night. He met Rae when he and Max first started school and they had been dating for three years, just recently engaged. She knew about their wings, of course, even about all the gory details of their past, including the heartbreak of Fang's leave.

Nudge was a straight-A honor student and president of her sophomore class. She took special interest in psychology and journalism. She wrote about everything. She wrote more than she talked, which wasn't as much as before, but she was still the Nudge Channel.

Gazzy was currently on a two week suspension for blowing up a toilet in the boy's bathroom for which Max had to pay for; that and the giant hole in the floor. Instead of a scolding or a lecture, which he got both of from Max, Iggy gave him a high five and made him reenact it on an old Port-o-Potty in a deserted park. It wasn't so deserted after all and Max had a fit when the police showed up on her doorstep with a bill that made her head spin.

Angel was still Angel. She hadn't changed much in four years, but her maturity level was off the charts. Of course, the Flock's all were, but her level of thinking and understanding was unbelievable. It puzzled Iggy and Max to no end…not to mention frightened them a little bit, considering her abilities and all.

The kids and Iggy loved their lifestyle. They had a place to come home to, an actual home where they didn't have to worry about Eraser attacks or waking up in dark lab rooms and cages. For the moment, they felt normal and free to have a chance to be what the wanted to be, explore their options.

What warmed Max's heart the most was dropping off Angel and Nudge at sleepovers and seeing the smiles on their faces when their friends threw their arms around them, dragging them off to play. The kids had friends, normal friends that gave them that normal feeling and experience that they always wanted.

Max didn't really have friends outside of the Flock, besides Rae and Sandra, the elderly librarian that hired Max. She spent her time alone, alone with her thoughts and camera. When he left, she fell apart. She felt lost without her shoulder to cry on, her other half. She cried herself to sleep for over a year after that. After a year, she told herself no more; no more tears. It would ruin everything if she kept breaking down. She'd start wishing he was there; wishing his strong arms were wrapped around her, her tears staining his shirt. She wouldn't do that. It'd be like starting all over again, going back to rebuilding herself, putting up her walls. She had to stay strong for her family, for her life. She told herself she didn't need him, didn't want him. She told herself she was better off.

For now, that was enough.

2. Chapter One

Chapter One

Max awoke one morning after dreaming the same dream she'd been having for around six months. Her frail body was drenched in a cold sweat. She kicked off her covers, swinging her legs over the side of her twin bed as she did so. Her hair, now elbow-length, swung out in front of her, sweat dripping off the ends. The dream was becoming harder and harder to bear. Each time she watched that scene unfold before her, watched that heartbreak all over again, it got worse. It scared her sometimes, so much so that she was afraid to go to sleep for fear of watching her best friend leave her again. It was unbearable.

She gave up on sleep and made her way to the kitchen to start breakfast. Her cooking skills weren't near as atrocious as they were a few years prior. She managed to master the breakfast foods without making anything crunch that wasn't supposed to. The sun streamed in through the kitchen window, disarrayed from the light fog hanging outside the house. Grabbing pans and ingredients as she moved around the kitchen, Max had breakfast started in a matter of seconds.

Within minutes, the house was filled with the smell of crunchy bacon and scrambled eggs. The Flock would be awake soon. Bacon and eggs was their favorite breakfast, no matter who cooked it. Just the smell of the food brought most of them out of their slumber.

The first up was Iggy. He trudged in the kitchen rubbing his eyes with the palm of his hands, his sweats dragging on the ground. He'd grown about a foot in the past four years and Max, at her tallest, was no taller than his shoulder. Iggy sat down at the kitchen table and sighed heavily.

"You know," Max mused. "You could just wait until breakfast is actually on the table before you get up and complain the rest of the day how you didn't get enough sleep. I am a big girl. I don't need you to watch, well listen, to everything I do."

"You don't," he retorted, scowling playfully at her remark to his disability. "But the stove might need some distinguishing one of these days. Would you rather have me complain about being tired or have the house burnt down?"

"Hm," Max teased, flipping over the bacon with ease.

"Ha, ha."

"Instead of sitting there and treating me like a five year old, why don't you go and wake up the rest of the flock?"

Iggy threw a balled up piece of paper at her head before getting up to wake the others. Max chuckled lightly when she heard the moans and groans of tired flock members. Angel flew into the kitchen, sliding across the tile on her socks and slammed into Max's side. She squeezed Max tightly before releasing her to take her place at the table.

"Morning Angel," Max set a plate down in front of her full of bacon and eggs. "How'd you sleep?"

"Good," Angel answered through a mouthful of eggs.

Max rolled her eyes when Nudge huffed in, angry because Iggy once again pulled her out of bed to wake her up. She crossed her arms and sat at the table next to Angel.

"How rude!" she complained. "I'm always nice when I wake him up, but no he has to grab me by the ankle and toss me to the ground like a sack of rotten eggs!"

"You might not like breakfast then."


Max grinned and handed Nudge a plate full of just eggs due to the fact that Nudge was a vegetarian. Nudge made a face but took the plate and dug in.

"Hey!" Gazzy ran into the kitchen. "No one waited for me?"

"There's plenty of food, Gazzy," Max informed him, scooping up an extra serving of eggs. "Where's Iggy?"

"Rae called."

Max knew that it could be a while before they were off the phone, so she turned off the stove, grabbed herself a plate and took her place next to Gazzy. She never glanced at the empty place to her right. It was a reminder that they only needed a table for five, not six, and she didn't feel like dealing with the nausea and pain.

For some reason, the urge to look at the empty gray chair was stronger than other times she ate at that table. She couldn't help but stare and picture Fang sitting right next to her, their knees touching under the table, their fingers entwined.

She shook her head absentmindedly to rid herself of the thoughts and swallowed a bite of eggs to chase away the lump that was growing in her throat. Iggy basically skipped into the kitchen and into his chair. He had a bright smile on his face as he ate his breakfast.

"I assume Rae is one her way here," Nudge guessed, rolling her eyes.

"She wants the six of us to go to the park today and maybe a movie later."

"Just eat it!" Gazzy huffed, ignoring a glowing Iggy who didn't seem to care at all.

"Ew no!" Nudge cringed away from the bacon in Gazzy's outstretched hand. "I told you I don't eat meat!"

"Since when?" Gazzy asked, only half serious.

"Ever since Fang ate that disgusting rat when we were trying to rescue Angel at the lake. Ow!" Nudge rubbed her leg where Angel had kicked her under the table.

Max sighed, ignoring the pain in her chest. "Angel, don't kick Nudge."

"I'm sorry." Nudge hung her head and moved her food around on her plate.

Max reached across the table and squeezed her hand. "Don't worry about it. Now eat before it gets cold! I put my sweat and blood into this food!"

Everyone cringed back and pushed their plates away.

"I was kidding!" Max gaped at them.

"You never know…" Angel said, eyeing her food.

"That was once," Max reminded them. "And Iggy should have showed me how to chop those onions instead of just handing me the knife."

"I kept wondering why my onions tasted like metal," Gazzy said, fighting a grin.

Max smacked him upside the head, causing everyone to break into a fit of giggles. She rolled her eyes and tossed her plate in the sink.

"Since you think you're so funny," she ruffled Gazzy's hair. "You're on clean up duty. I'm going to get a shower and I suggest the rest of you do the same before Rae gets here."

With that said, she walked quickly to her room, afraid she wasn't able to hold it in anymore. Once the door was shut, she took a few deep, shaky breaths. She leaned against her door and tried to stop the panicky, shaky feeling that was taking over her body. Fang. Just hearing his name sent her in hyper drive. The flock never talked about him, never even said his name. The last time they had, over a year prior, Max lost it. She broke down and didn't come out of her room for two days. She had the scars on her wrist to prove how bad it had gotten. After that, for her safety, they just stopped talking about Fang altogether.

It took her about five minutes, but eventually she was calm enough to stand on her own two feet. Once in the shower, she leaned against the shower wall and let the hot water beat down on her body.

She'd never really thought about what Fang's leaving had done to her. She hadn't thought it affected her as much as everyone had said it did, but now she was starting to believe it. She gazed down and rubbed the scars that lined her left wrist. Her fingers traveled up her arm to where the scar was from when she had tried to cut out the chip. If Fang hadn't stopped her, she could've lost the use of her arm and might have even bled to death if not done properly.

A year before, she had a meltdown. She locked herself in her room and did nothing but cry for two days straight. On the second day, she grabbed a box cutter from her bathroom and dug it angrily into her left wrist several times. Luckily, Iggy broke into her room and wrapped it up before she lost too much blood. He still kept a close 'eye' on her, just in case the pressure got to be too much again.

What kind of a person was she? Fang had saved her life when he stopped her from cutting out that chip, yet she repays him by trying to take it away again? What would he think? She felt sick to her stomach just thinking about what she could've done to him.

Then she stopped. What would it matter to him? He left, he was gone, he would have never known if she had just killed herself right there in her adjoined bathroom. Why should she feel guilty? He left her. He deserted her when she needed him most. She owed him nothing. She wasn't giving him anything. He didn't deserve it.

She suddenly found herself wondering what she would do if she ever saw him again. The fighter in her would go up and kick his ass for what he did. The bird in her would run away, as far as it could. She didn't know what the Max in her would do. Not anymore.

Would she forgive him? Give him a chance to explain? She had no idea what she would do if Fang suddenly reappeared in her life after four years of not so much as a telegram or postcard. Would he even have an explanation or offer an apology? Or would he just expect her to fall into his arms and take him back with no strings attached after all he put her through?

Deciding it wasn't worth the pain or the time, she dropped it all together and quickly took her shower. Stepping out, she grabbed a towel and made her way to the closet on the far end of her room to pick out something to wear. In the end, she put on an old, faded pair of jeans and a fitted black long sleeve shirt. She pulled on her boots, shook out her hair and walked out to the rest of her flock, leaving all thoughts of Fang behind.

3. Chapter Two

Capri's Note: First off, thank you for all who reviewed! I greatly appreciate it. Second, there is very specific reason why Total is missing from the picture and that will all tie together in about the fifth or sixth chapter, maybe a little later. Thank you and keep reviewing! Sorry for the wait, I had a photography project that I spaced on and it was due the next day. That and my internet crashed for a day. / But I've edited this twice over and it's better now than it would've been had I posted it yesterday. And this story will always be in third person POV.

Someone asked me a question about my nickname and I won't take more than three sentences explaining. Back in elementary school my outfit everyday consisted of jean capris [[not the same ones everyday and a tank top or t-shirt. After a while people just started calling me Capri because that's what I wore all the time and there were too many Sarah's in my school.

P.S. I promise you, this will be original. You'll just have to stick around and see. By original, I mean all the ideas are mine. I started writing this before I read any of the stories on here, in case any of you were wondering.


Chapter Two

It'd been a long time since she'd last been to the very park her and the flock were sitting in now. She stopped going after her hours at the library had increased. It'd been a long time since she'd actually just let loose and have fun with the flock, like she was now. She forgot how much fun it had been. Angel and Nudge spun themselves dizzy on the merry-go-round with the help of Gazzy and Iggy. Rae had a long night at work, so she hung out on the swings with Max. The two clicked instantly when Iggy brought her home three years prior, and had been close ever since. They weren't 'best friends', but they were still pretty close.

"So," Rae dug the toe of her Nike tennis shoes into the sand. "Iggy told me about this morning."

"This morning?" Max feigned ignorance. She'd gotten better at it over the years.

"Come on, Max," Rae snorted. "I know what Nudge said and I know you didn't just go along with it like he was nothing to you at all."

You have no idea what he was to me, she thought inwardly.

"It's fine, I'm fine. Really."

"Well that's very reassuring however it's a load of crap."

Max grinned at Rae's accusations. "I guess it just took me a little off guard, that's all."

"I'll bet," Rae's tone softened. "It's been over a year since they've said anything and then bam!"

"'Bam' is an understatement."

"Max!" Angel, hair covered with sand, came running up to the two girls. "Will you please tell Gazzy to stop trying to make dirt angels? His attempts are pointless and getting me and Nudge all sandy."

"Why didn't you just tell Iggy?"

"We did," Nudge interjected, brushing sand off her pants. "You know Iggy. He just dropped to the ground and joined him!"

"Go bury them in sand and see how they like it." Rae smiled at Angel who gladly obliged and dragged Nudge off to where Iggy and Gazzy were throwing 'sand balls' at each other.

Max sighed. She wished he was there to see how much the flock had grown. Maturity wise of course. They were all turning into adults, even Angel. Nudge was just a year older than Max was when the chaos of their unstable lives began almost five years ago. Gazzy was still the same Gazzy, though. He may have been taller and smarter, but with that growth he only improved his skills at being a mischievous kid at times. Iggy had grown into a man, and a smart one at that. He had the best vision for a blind guy that Max had ever known. She hadn't known many blind people, but if she had Iggy would've been the most likely to be mistaken to be able to see. Angel was still a bit of a puzzle to Max. Her speech and learning ability was far too advanced for any old 4th grader. She sometimes helped Gazzy or Iggy with their math homework, which both confused and disgusted Max. How someone could actually want to do math was beyond her.

She was snapped out of her thoughts when Iggy and Gazzy trudged up, scowls on their faces and sand in their hair.

"I think we've been at the park long enough," Iggy shook sand out of his shirt, causing Rae to giggle slightly.

"Yeah," Gazzy shook his head, causing Sand to shake out of his hair like a salt shaker. "Let's go home. I've had enough of the park."

"We just got here!" Nudge complained, overhearing the conversation.

"Nudge," Max grinned. "We've been here all morning."

"We can watch that movie we rented weeks ago and have yet to watch."

Max grinned sarcastically at Rae. "Yes, because watching it now won't make the late fees any higher."



"That's it," Max rolled her eyes at the TV for the fiftieth time. "This movie is too annoying. I'm going out to get the mail."

She stood, expecting absolutely no response from the other five whose eyes were glued to the TV. She hadn't been paying any attention. She could only take so much of pretty boy Tom Cruise saving the world from stupid aliens. She stuffed the key to the mailbox in the pocket of her worn out jeans and headed out the door.She was used to having a black little ball of fur bounding outside with her, but that stopped a year ago. Not wanting to think about lost friends, she pushed the thoughts from her mind.

As she neared the mailbox, an odd sense of paranoia washed over her. She did a quick 360 of her surroundings on the empty street, but found no one there but herself. Grabbing the key from her pocket, she unlocked the mailbox and grabbed the mail. She wasn't in a hurry to get back to the ever seen 'War of the Worlds', so she leaned up against the mailboxes and sifted through her mail.

Bill. Bill. Advertisement. Bill. Magazine. Note.

She stopped, confused. In her hands she held a simple piece of paper. No envelope, no address, just Max's name written in choppy, hasty script. She slowly unfolded the note and read what it said.

They're coming. Be warned and warn the others. I'll be watching.

Be careful. Stay safe.

Brow furrowed, she reread the note a few times, trying to understand what it meant. Who was coming and who was watching? She suddenly felt 14 again. She stuffed the mail under her arm and sprinted home.

"Iggy!" she called, bursting into the living room.

His head shot up from where he was listening to the TV. Max grabbed his arm and yanked him away from the others into the kitchen.

"What the hell Max?" Iggy rubbed the spot on his arm where she grabbed him. Rae followed the two, confused as well.

"I went to get the mail," she breathed heavily. "I found a hand-written note. It didn't have an envelope or an address, just my name on it."

"What's it say?" Iggy asked eagerly.

Rae took the note from Max. "'They're coming. Be warned and be careful. I'll be watching.'"

"Did you see anybody or anything strange?"

"Well, you remember that feeling we got after Angel was kidnapped and we knew someone was watching or following us?"

"Oh," Iggy's sightless eyes filled with worry.

"Yeah, I got that feeling, but two times worse."

"It could be nothing," Rae shrugged, reading the note again. "Maybe someone is just playing a prank."

"We're not lucky enough to just get pranks," Max sighed and sat down at the kitchen table.

"Do you think it's The School?" Iggy suggested.

"We destroyed it," Max said. "They may be stupid and completely out of whack, but I doubt they'll mess with us after everything we did to them. No, I don't think it's them."

"It's not signed," Rae said, not really helping. "Anybody could've left it. You don't recognize the handwriting at all?"

"I can barely read it," Max retorted, growing more exasperated by the second.

"Nudge!" Iggy grinned like an idiot. Rae seemed lost, but Max smiled brightly and sprung up to get Nudge.

"What does Nudge have to do with this?" Rae asked her boyfriend.

"Her ability," he explained. "She can tell us who put the note there.

Max dragged Nudge out the door, not even explaining to her what was going on.

"I'm glad that you wanted to go for a walk with me," Nudge whined. "But the movie was just getting good."

"It was the same the first twenty times you saw it, it'll be the same now."

"Yeah, but still," she huffed and crossed her arms, still following an eager Max. "Where are we going?"

Max didn't answer, just kept walking to the mailboxes, clutching the note tightly in her hand. She was anxious to find out who left the note, only partly hoping that she knew who it was already. If it was who the back of her mind hoped it to be, things would get more complicated and more confusing than they already were. Nudge kept huffing and sighing, keeping pace perfectly with Max. They stopped when they reached the mailbox.

"Okay," Max took a deep breath. "I need you to tell me who all has touched our mailbox today. And if you can, who put this note in there." She held up the note for emphasis.

"What, did someone leave you a love note?"

"Nudge, please," she rolled her eyes, waiting for Nudge to begin.

Sighing, Nudge closed her eyes and placed her hand on their mailbox. Images rolled through her mind as she scrolled through the number of people who'd touched the mailbox that day. A six year old girl with sticky fingers and a red balloon tied to her tiny wrist, an old man looking for leverage while he picked up the cane he dropped, the mailman, a couple who was passing by grazing their fingers along the surface of the mailboxes, the mailman, then she found what she was looking for.

"Whoever it was," Nudge dropped her hand." They were careful to hide their face. His hood was pulled all the way up and it was too dark from the rain to see his face clearly. He was wounded though, and was really depressed. He limped away."

"Ugh," Max leaned her head against the mailbox, then froze. She looked down at the note in her hand and pressed it into Nudge's palm.

Nudge closed her eyes once more and kept them closed until she found what she was looking for. When she opened them, her mouth was subconsciously hanging open, her brow creased together in surprise.

"His hands were shaking, but I could tell he was trying to keep them steady to make the handwriting legible," she explained to Max in a daze. "He had multiple wounds, most of them were already healed though. He had scars, too, and he was pale."

"Did you recognize anything about him?"

Nudge nodded solemnly.

"Well…?" Max prodded, bending down to look Nudge in the eye. She was growing more and more anxious with every second that Nudge took her precious time. Something about the look in Nudge's eyes told Max she didn't want to know who it was that had written the note, let alone what the contents of the note meant. She watched Nudge compose herself for a second before Nudge looked Max straight in the eye.

"Nobody could forget those onyx eyes, Max."


Reviews, please.


4. Chapter Three

Capri's Note: Thank you for the reviews! I greatly appreciate it. This chapter is longer than the other two + prologue, so enjoy!

As for who sent the note…well…just keep reading.


Chapter Three

It took all that was the great Maximum Ride not to slam her fist into the mailboxes and send them into next Tuesday. Too late. In the flash of an eye, the row of mailboxes plummeted to the ground in a domino effect. Rage and fury waved off her every breath. Angry tears sprung into her eyes as she balled her shaking hands into fists at her sides.

"No." She spat through clenched teeth, making Nudge jump back.

"I'm sorry, Max," Nudge placed a hand on Max's shoulder, trying to calm her down.

All it did was make things worse. Max jerked away from the scared teen and stalked off into the park. Nudge, note in hand, walked quickly home to tell Iggy what had happened and who had sent the note. Iggy and Rae were still talking quietly in the kitchen when Nudge burst in through the door.

"Where's Max?" Rae looked behind Nudge, expecting Max to come sauntering in behind her.

"She found out who sent the note," Nudge explained to them what she saw and who had written the note to Max.

Rae took a minute to let it all sink in. "Should we go after her?"

"She could be in Kansas by now," Iggy ran a hand over his face. "Just let her cool off and get her mind straight. She'll be fine, just tell the others that she needed a breather."


Rain streamed down her face, carrying black mascara with it. Max stalked around the sopping wet park, not caring that her boots were sloshing mud all over her jeans. Nudge was wrong, she told herself. There was no way that it could have been the betrayer himself. Her stomach lurched at the thought of him leaving her a note after everything he put her through over the years without even having been there.

I'll be watching…

That made her stomach lurch again. Did that mean he'd be watching her every move? Or simply that he'd check in on her every once in a while. Getting that feeling that someone was once again watching her, she picked up a stray tree branch and hurled it into the bushes.

"Are you watching now?" she bellowed, turning around in a 360. "Are you watching me now?"

She picked up a rather heavy rock and launched it into a tree, causing small pieces of bark to fly off the tree trunk. Her body was shaking with rage. She pounded her fist into a nearby tree until blood trickled down her wrist and jagged splinters were stuck in her skin. Still angry, she kicked the tree, then pounded it some more. With every pound, she grew angrier and more frustrated. Why would he contact her now? After the content of their last conversation four years ago, why the hell would he care what happened to her now? Her knuckles were bloodied and raw, but she didn't even feel the pain. Breathless, she leaned against the tree, holding onto its stocky trunk for support.

"What about now?" she screamed, walking out into the middle of the park. "Are you watching now, you coward?" her throat burned from the volume of her voice, but she didn't care. She sunk down to her knees on the wet, muddy grass.

Tears burned her eyes and a lump threatened to escape. She tried to force them back down, stubbornly refusing to allow them what they wanted. She stood, blinking rapidly to rid her eyes of the angry tears, and walked back home.

Iggy was still in the kitchen, sitting quietly at the kitchen table when a muddy and wet Max trudged in, mascara running town her dirty face. Her hair was askew, but Iggy saw none of that. He only smelled the rain and the wet.

"Feel better?" He asked, turning an orange in his hand.

"Much," she sauntered to the table and sat down across from him. "Do they know?" She was referring to the rest of the flock in the living room.

"Nudge told them during a dull part of the movie."

"And?" she prompted after a moment of silence.

"Gazzy went to his room and has been in there for an hour and Angel hasn't spoken a word. She's probably trying to see what we think about it or trying to pick up anything from the dirty bastard if he's still around."

"She won't find anything," Max rubbed the back of his neck. "He's not anywhere near here right now."

"What makes you so sure?" Iggy snapped, not meaning to direct his sudden anger towards her.

She sighed and rubbed the note between her fingers. "Because I know."

"Whatever," He rolled his sightless eyes.

"Look," Max stood up. "Tomorrow we go on as normal. You and Rae take the others to school then go do whatever it is you do and I go to work. We'll keep the cell phones on and with us all day and if anything happens you call me. Whoever 'they' are, if they even exist, will most likely be watching and they'll get suspicious if we act any differently."

"So basically, we're 14 again?" Iggy sighed.

"Ain't life grand?"

"Are you bleeding?" Iggy wrinkled his nose at the all familiar smell of crimson.

"Yeah," Max looked at her hand sheepishly. "I took my anger out on a tree."

Iggy snorted and began to work on her hand. "What'd the tree ever do to you?"

She smacked him upside the head.


He cursed a string of profanities when the stitches in his leg opened up again for the third time that morning. Grumbling under his breath, he snatched up some gauze, a needle and thread and began stitching it back up again. This time he didn't bother to use alcohol. He didn't care how tough he was. That stuff hurt.

The dim light of the sunset made it a little hard to see, but his eyes had easily adjusted. He wrapped five layers of gauze around the wound, hoping that would keep it from opening up any time soon. His campfire had long gone out, but that was the very least of his worries.

A rustle in the distant trees made him shoot upright. A low growl sounded not too far from where he was stationed. Panic rose in his throat, but not for his own safety. If they were stupid enough to come this close, then that meant they were stupid enough to…

He stuffed his things in his old backpack and took off into a sprint towards town. He had to run fast if he was going to make it there before they did.


Sandra, the librarian, had called Max, telling her that she had a bad cold and couldn't come into work so Max had to take both shifts. That meant Max was stuck at the library all day. She didn't mind. The library was rarely ever busy and when it was, there were only six people total looking for books. On days like that, she did her work first, and then relaxed at the back of the third floor where there were an assortment of couches, and read.

Today was one of those slow days, and for that she was grateful. Her head was crammed pack full of unanswered questions and painful thoughts. Clad in snug jeans and a navy blue shirt, Max curled up on the couch and started reading a random book off the shelves. She'd been there all day, reading book after book.

Around the end of the third book she was reading, Max heard something that sounded somewhat like glass breaking. Mumbling to herself, she set down the book that hadn't interested her at all, and got up to see what was broken this time. All of the vases that Sandra had put up for decoration were intact, as were all of the pictures hanging on the walls.

A light breeze blew by Max, blowing her long hair all around her face. She turned and saw glass scattered on the floor in front of one of the windows by the desk. There weren't any rocks lying anywhere around it, nor anything else heavy enough to break a three story-high window. She slowly walked towards the window and gazed out at the darkening city. There wasn't anybody below that she could see, but whatever or whoever had broken the window was gone.

She cursed under her breath and walked back to the desk to call Sandra and let her know what happened. She picked up the phone, but heard nothing. She pressed a few numbers, but there was still nothing. The hairs on the back of her neck rose, making her straighten up.

Someone was watching her. Hands balled into fists, she slowly walked out from behind the desk, watching every step she took around the library. A book dropped behind her. She whirled, taking a fighting stance but saw no one. Her breathing quickened and she froze. Her sixth sense was going crazy. She walked back towards the window, somewhat alarmed. She leaned over slowly and just barely peered over the side.

Before she knew what was going on, she was on the ground, being punched in the face. Everything she had learned growing up seemed to flow back to her in that moment. She kicked her attacker off of her and shot to her feet, scrutinizing the man before her. He was scruffy, bald and scary muscular. He was too ugly and big to be an eraser.

Too many steroids, Max thought. He launched at her again and she sidestepped him, making him run smack into the wall. She through a kick into his ribcage and landed a punch to his upper back. The man spun, barely affected by her attempts. He cracked his neck, wound up his fist and slammed it into Max's jaw. The large ring on his index finger sliced her cheek. She stumbled backwards, clutching her jaw.

A large, muscular leg swung under her legs, slamming her into the ground. The same boot covered foot slammed down on her throat, leaving her gasping for breath. The man pinning her down cackled manically, revealing at least six rows of sharp, drooling fangs. She grasped the boot and tried to twist it off of her throat, but that only resulted in more pressure.

"Maximum Ride," the man cooed, the muscles in his neck twitching as he spoke her name. "You're not as big of a challenge as we were told you'd be."

Her eyes narrowed. "Then you were told wrong." With a quick flick of her wrists, he was on the ground, clutching his twisted ankle. Max scrambled to her feet and turned to fight the other attacker, but she stiffened up. There were five other burly and disgusting men standing before her. Each bore the same, rotting rows of teeth, each scarier than the next. She turned to run and slammed into another body. He grabbed her around the waist and whirled her around to face his friends. She kicked her feet out, trying to leverage herself on something, anything.

"Awe, where do you think you're going little rat?" the biggest one grinned, sending chills down her spine. He whipped out a knife and walked towards her.

Max stared at the knife and struggled harder to get away. The man with the knife neared, his knife glinting in the fluorescent lights. Max thrashed against her restraints, too frightened to scream. The knife was just inches from her face when someone jumped in through the window, glass flying everywhere. Max watched as he launched himself at the man with the knife. The man from the window took a knife to the side, but didn't stop fighting. He had three of them down in a matter of minutes. Max couldn't help but notice the way he was fighting. So smooth and silent, yet lethal. It was too familiar.

The figure turned, his dark orbs avoiding hers. She stared, shell shocked as he bared his teeth and stalked towards the man still holding Max in his iron grip. Max watched his every step. With each step that he took near her, an unwanted and rather surprising sense of safety washed over her. She tried to push it away. She wanted to be scared; she wanted to feel like she was going to die.

"I'm sorry, have we met?" the man behind Max asked sarcastically.

Her defender growled and hurled himself over Max's shoulder, his boots missing her face by less than an inch. She stood, frozen in place. The sound of a neck bone snapping made her jump. She felt sick, nauseous, and dirty. It'd been a long time since she'd been in a fight, let alone attacked, so to say the least her hands were shaking like crazy. They started shaking even more when he appeared beside her, seeming completely tense and alert. That meant it wasn't over.

"Max," he breathed. "We have to go before more of them show up."

She just stared at him, those familiar black eyes penetrating her own. His dark, wavy hair was all one length, just barely covering his eyes. He was a full head taller than her now, and he didn't have the face of a 14 year old anymore. He had the face and the build of a grown avian hybrid. She clenched her jaw and jerked away from him, but never left broke eye contact. Before she had a chance to say anything, bullets were flying around them as more of the unknown attackers leapt in through the windows. Fang seized her around the waist, pulling her firmly against his side. With his other hand, he pulled out a gun and started firing back, all at the same time dragging Max towards the stairs.

"When I say run, you run," he said into her ear. They got to the edge of the stairs and he released her. "Run!"

With no hesitation, Max sprinted down the stairs, not having to look back to know that Fang was right behind her. Amidst the flying bullets and debris, Max had a thousand thoughts running through her head. One minute, she was perfectly safe and the next she was being kicked and shot at by people who weren't erasers.

Fang and Max burst out onto the main street, ignoring the staring by passers and ran as fast as they could. He had gotten faster, quicker, more coordinated with his fighting, but that was the last thing on her mind. She refused to look at him as they ran even though he kept his hand out so it softly brushed against her lower back, guiding her. Yup. She definitely felt 14 again.

5. Chapter Four

Capri's Note: Thank you again for all the reviews, but come on! Less than 10 reviews after how often I've been posting? Show a little love, people! Enjoy and PLEASE review!


Chapter Four

Max ran until she couldn't run anymore. She veered into the nearest alley and braced herself against the wall. Fang leaned against the wall next to her, not breathing nearly as heavy. Max looked up at him through her sweating brow, stiffened up and popped him in the jaw. He staggered back, merely out of surprise rather than injury.

"What the hell?" he rubbed his jaw, scowling.

She popped him again. She was about to make the third time anything but charming, but she answered her ringing cell phone instead.

"What?" she said angrily into the receiver.

"Hello to you too," Iggy said sarcastically. "It always makes me feel special when you answer the phone like that."

"Shut up and get to the point, Ig."

"You're usually not this tense after working at the mortuary. Everything okay?"

"No, Iggy I am not okay," Max snapped. "If you were where I just was and who I'm with now, you wouldn't be too happy either."

Fang stole a quick glance at her and saw fury in her eyes he'd never witnessed before.

"What happened?" Iggy asked, getting a little nervous. "Who's there?"

"I'll tell you when we get to the house."

"No," Fang cut in. "We can't go back there. We just barely made it out of the library, where do you think they're going to go next?"

"Who the hell is that?"

Max ignored him and kept her gaze on Fang. "How much time do you think we have?"

"It won't be an hour after dark before they're burning that place to the ground. We have to get them out of there. Now."

"Iggy, get everything packed together. Clothes, food, only the things we need."

"Max, what's going on?"

"I can't explain right now, Iggy. Just pack everyone up. I'll pack when I get there. If something happens, you call me right away and get the hell out of there."

She flicked the phone shut and rubbed her hand over her face. She was on the run…again. She tried her hardest not to look at Fang as she stalked past him, half angry and half pained.

"Are you hurt?" Fang asked, looking at her sideways.

"Shut up," Max glared at him. "What the hell do you care if I'm hurt?"

He sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets as they walked. He knew it was pointless to try and make conversation. He probably wouldn't have that right with her for a while. When they neared the house, Fang stopped and looked around. He took a step closer to Max.

"What?" Max asked, growing a bit nervous.

"Nothing," he dismissed, taking another protective step closer to Max. "Just hurry. We don't have much time."

She quickened her pace, Fang not missing a step right beside her. She took to the stairs two at a time and stopped at the front door.

"I'm already packing your things," he said, barging in the house, not even having to ask where her room was.

Luckily, the flock was in the living room talking in confusion about their leader's plan to pack up and leave, so they didn't see Fang retreat to Max's room to pack up her things.

"Listen up," Max sighed, grabbing their attention. "With what I'm about to say, you will be pissed and angry. I love the life we've built here, with all my heart, but I love you all more and because I love you, we have to leave."

"What?" Iggy asked, baffled. He stood and walked in her direction. "What do you mean leave?"

"Leave as in go on the run again, Iggy, that's what I mean." Max ran her hands over her face, swallowing the lump in her throat. "Look, I was just attacked by people I have never seen before, people stronger and bigger than Erasers could ever be. I couldn't even fight them off. I don't know where these guys came from or who they are, but if we're going to find that out, we need to leave."

"You mean just leave? Just like that? All of our friends, our home, our lives? We just leave?" Nudge's eyes were huge.

"How do we get the answers if we don't even know where they came from?" Iggy asked, crossing his arms.

"Because," Max swallowed. "I know who has the answers."

"Who?" Gazzy asked, sitting beside a stoic Angel.

As if on cue, Fang walked in, dropped Max's packed back and leaned against the door frame, arms crossed over his muscular chest. Nudge gasped. Gazzy sucked in a breath and Angel just stared at him. Iggy, though he wasn't able to see his old friend, knew who it was and fury masked his features.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Iggy hissed, getting right up in Max's face.

"You think I know?" Max hissed right back. "All I know is that he just saved my ass at the library and he knows who these people are and where they came from."

Iggy stabbed a finger in her face. "You better know what you're doing."

She slapped his hand away and moved past him towards Fang. "When do we leave?"

Fang shrugged. "My best guess is right after dark. It'll give us a big enough window to get as far away from here as possible."

"Us?" Iggy whirled on his old friend. "What makes you think that you're coming with us?"

"Because I know what these guys are thinking and you don't stand a chance without my help. You wouldn't last two seconds against these guys and that's a fact, not an insult."

Iggy opened his mouth to argue, but Max cut him off.

"We don't have time to freakin' argue about this!" she was nearly shouting. "Iggy, if we don't go we could die. All of us. We have to go. End of story."

Iggy grabbed Max fiercely by the arm and yanked her into the kitchen. Fang watched them leave, a tiny spark of rage sparking when he saw the way Iggy grabbed Max. He looked away, shaking his head and glanced to the three flock members who were on the floor staring up at him. Angel seemed to be concentrating and he knew she was trying to read his thoughts. It was a pointless attempt, but he encouraged her to try as hard as she could.

Nudge, awestruck, didn't know whether to be angry or cry. So she improvised. She jumped to her feet and threw herself around his waist, crying into his shirt. He stiffened up like a board, not sure of what to do, so he just stood there and let her hug and cry on him. It didn't make him the least bit uncomfortable. It was better than the greeting he got from Max. His jaw was going to be sore for days.

Gazzy had tears welling at the corners of his eyes and he was afraid to do what Nudge was doing in fear of looking stupid and unmanly, but he did it anyway. Angel was the one who remained on the floor, silent, still staring at Fang. She hadn't said a word since she learned who had written the note to Max.


In the kitchen, Iggy had to make sure to stay away from all the sharp objects so he wouldn't kill Fang right on the spot. He whirled angrily to get right in Max's face.

"What the hell is going on, Max?" He demanded. "We can't leave. The flock loves it here. I love it here. You love it here. And what about Rae, huh? What the hell am I supposed to tell her?"

"The truth!" Max shot back, not bothering to keep her voice down. "That it's not safe here anymore! I almost died back there, Iggy! If Fang hadn't—"

"Yeah, and what about Fang?" Iggy snapped. "He's been gone for four years, without so much as a postcard and all of a sudden he shows up and you're just going to believe every word that comes out of his betraying mouth? Where's your loyalty?"

"My loyalty is to this flock and if we stay here and something happens to you guys, that's all on me. If we stay, we die. I was nearly just killed. I could barely take one of them Iggy and after Fang had showed up and saved my ass, there were at least twenty. It doesn't matter how strong we are. We can't take them."

"You don't even know what the hell they are!"

"No, that's right, I don't!" Max shoved him out of her face. "He does, Iggy. Fang knows why they're here and why the hell they just tried to kill me. He took down six of them on his own, Ig. Six. He knows how to fight these guys and how to stay alive. He's got the answers that we need."

"What the hell am I supposed to tell Rae?" Iggy's tone wasn't calm, but it was now nervous and unsteady. "She can't fly, Max! She can't come with us!"

"I know that Iggy!" Max yelled. "I know she can't come with us! I know none of our friends can come with us! If they do, they die. It sucks, but that's the way it has to be."

"So we just pack up out of the blue because Fang tells us to?" Iggy dropped his hands to his sides, his anger turning into despair.

"No, we pack up and leave because I'm telling you to. Honestly Iggy, even if Fang hadn't showed up when he did how long do you think it would've been before we packed up and left anyways? A day, maybe two? We can't stay here Iggy. As much as I hate it, we're running again and this time we don't know who it's from."

"I can't leave Rae, Max," Iggy swallowed hard. "What about Rae?"

"I don't know, Iggy." Max rubbed her temples. "But you need to tell her before it gets too late."

"You're unbelievable, Max." Iggy sneered and rushed out of the kitchen. He slammed his bedroom door, making her jump.

She could feel an oncoming headache and groaned. Fang came in a few minutes later, tear stains blotting his dark gray shirt. He shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned against the counter next to her.

"We don't have a lot of time, Max," he said quietly.

"Thank you for that information," she shot back, glaring at him. "However I already know that."

Her little outburst didn't faze him a bit. "We can't fly."

"What?" Max was taken aback by that. "What do you mean we can't fly?"

"If they sense any bit of wing action from anything bigger than an eagle, we'll all be dead before we can flap twice."

"Then what do you suppose we do?"

"Drive," he shrugged. "I've got a two-seater truck parked a few miles away, but we'll probably need another car."

"Well take a look around, because we don't have another car." She didn't care that she was being rude. He deserved far worse. "I can't believe this is happening again."

She looked to Fang, but he was staring out at the kitchen window, tattered wings twitching. She immediately grew tense and edged a little closer. He was staring out the window, his fingers gripping the counter so hard she thought it might crack.


"Shh," he walked over to her and pulled her down out of view of the kitchen windows. "Where's Rae's house?"

"About three miles from here," Max whispered back. "Would they know to go there?"

"How often do you go there?"

She wasn't sure why that mattered, but answered anyway. "We go over there every once and a while."

"No, Max, not the flock. You. How often do you go there?"

She furrowed her brow. "I haven't been there in months."

"You think Iggy would mind if we barged in on his girlfriend?" he didn't wait for an answer, just grabbed her arm gently and pulled her out of the kitchen.

6. Chapter Five

Capri's Note: Guys, please review so I know if everyone who reads likes the story or not. Less than five reviews for one chapter is a little discouraging. So, since I'm updating more than I should, could you please at least review what I post?

Enjoy and thank you to those who have reviewed. I really, really appreciate it. Not my best chapter…it's been stressful week.


Disclaimer: I forgot this in the past chapters, so this is my disclaimer for the entire story: I own Rae, the shadows, and anything else not having to or taken from the Maximum Ride series. I don't own the flock, the school, erasers, etc.


Chapter Five

"What?" tears spilled over and rolled down Rae's cheeks, her trembling hands in Iggy's. A few renegade tears managed to escape Iggy as he pulled her into a bone crushing hug, holding onto her for dear life. The flock had burst right into Rae's house and the first thing she heard was that they had to leave again. Fang, feeling out of place, waited out front so that he could warn them of when they needed to leave.

He knew what was going to happen and the risk he took saving Max from her attackers, but to him her safety was more important than what would happen to him. He was surprised at the amount of over protectiveness and rage he felt when he barged into the library and saw her in the clutches of that trash. He was even more surprised at the fact that she didn't kill him right then and there for showing up after for years of complete silence on his end.

He didn't expect the cold shoulder to last very long for Max. Eventually she'd break down and start pounding on him for answers and a damn good explanation. But he had none of those. He wanted to be able to tell her he had a good reason for leaving the way he did, but he couldn't because that reason didn't exist. He'd been beating himself up for the past four years for how much of an idiot he was. He was an even bigger idiot because all of the times he wanted to go back, to beg for her forgiveness, but his pride got in the way and he stayed gone.

The front door of Rae's house creaked angrily as Iggy walked outside, shoving his hands in his pockets. He leaned against the porch rail, listening to the sound of Fang's uneven, raspy breathing. His anger was defused by the sullen mood of the flock including Rae.

"What the hell are you doing here, Fang?" Iggy asked quietly, sighing as he did so.

Fang rolled his shoulders, but didn't answer.

"Or better yet," Iggy sat down on the top step. "Why did you leave?" he knew the questions would make Fang uncomfortable, so that's why he asked them.

"Were you surprised at the way Max and the rest of us reacted?" he pushed. "You honestly didn't think Max would just go crawling back into your arms, did you? After the hell you put her through four years ago?"

"I don't know why the hell I'm here," Fang answered, mostly to himself. "I don't know why the hell I left."

"Well, you can start by explaining to me who the hell those people were that tried to kill Max. That's a start."

Fang turned around and sat down on the porch next to Iggy, rubbing his hands together slowly. Sighing, he rubbed the back of his neck.

"They're Shadows," he said quietly. "They're not experiments from the School or Itex or anything we've heard of. These people make Itex and the School look like a day care. One shadow could take down 100 erasers if compelled to do so."

"What does that have to do with you?"

"More than you think," Fang mumbled quietly, but Iggy heard him.

The two sat there for a few minutes. Iggy was finding it hard to be mad at his old brother at that very moment. As much as he hated to admit it, Iggy missed Fang the past four years. He loved Max to death, but Fang was his brother, his best friend, the one he'd talk to about things that Gazzy was too young to understand. It was always nice to just sit down and have a 'guy' talk with his best friend who understood where he was coming from, even if the friend barely said a word.

On the other hand, his best friend had betrayed him. It took him months to get over the fact that he lost not only a best friend, but a brother as well.

Nobody took it harder than Max, Iggy thought automatically. He sighed and ran his hands over his face.

"What kind of car does Rae have?" Fang asked suddenly.

"An SUV, why?"

Fang thought to himself for a minute. "Do you think she'd mind if we borrowed her car?"

"What?" Iggy pulled his brow together. "What do you mean?"

"We can't all fit in my two-seater truck, Iggy," Fang rolled his eyes. "And this way she can tag along."

"Tag along?" Iggy's anger flared. "Tag along? You're suggesting that I bring along my fiancée where she could possibly die?"

"She won't be harmed," Fang assured him. "They won't harm…well…humans that haven't been genetically engineered. It's not in their nature or training. They only hunt hybrids. Hybrids with wings, to be exact, and now that we're the only ones left they've turned it into a sick game."

"Who are these people?" Iggy asked in disgust.

Fang didn't answer, just sat there with his thoughts. He wasn't ready to tell them the whole truth; not just yet. It was something he couldn't, wouldn't burden them with until the time was right. If anything, Max deserved to know before anyone else. The door behind them creaked again as Max stepped out, tears staining her passive face.

"Iggy I think you'd better go inside," she crossed her arms self consciously.

Iggy, eager to ask Rae to come along, quickly walked inside leaving Max alone with Fang; again. Max pulled her arms tighter across her chest and sat down a few feet away from Fang on the porch steps. The two sat in silence, not knowing or wanting to break the awkward silence that pulled them in.

Fang rubbed the back of his neck and winced. He glanced at his hand and sighed at the blood rolling down his fingers. He walked over to his truck, Max watching his every move, and yanked out a first aid kit. He ripped out the antiseptic, made a face, and poured it on the wound lining his lower neck. He hissed as it doused his wound and grabbed a rag to wipe away the now dry blood from his already healed wound. Max furrowed her brow, but didn't say anything. Fang tossed the rag and first aid kit back in his truck and sauntered back over to Max, stretching out his frayed wings.

"How long do you think we have?" she avoided looking at him as much as possible.

"Not long," he sighed. "If Rae's coming with us she'd better get a move on. We need to get moving within the next half an hour."

"Coming with us?" Max was taken aback. "She can't come with us! It's too dangerous for someone like her!"

"It's actually safer. These people won't hurt a regular human. It's not in their nature. The Shadows only hunt hybrids…with wings if you want to get technical about it. Since we're the last ones left, we've just made their game a lot more interesting."

"Shadows?" Max pulled her brow together.

"Not human and not inhuman either," Fang explained. "Fifty erasers wouldn't stand a chance against one of them. They're powerful and merciless. They'd kill a child if it got in their way."

"Where'd they come from?" Max was truly intrigued…and intimidated.

"Beats me," he shrugged. "All I know is that they're a fearless bunch. Nothing ever stands in their way."

"Then how come you beat six of them without any effort?"

Fang stayed silent. Rae saved the day when she walked out just when Max was about to start hounding him with questions. He excused himself to go make sure his truck was ready for the long trip ahead of them. Rae, smiling big despite her tears, sat down next to Max who was still watching Fang with a blank expression. Rae sighed in relief.

"Are you ready for this?" Max asked Rae.

"I have to be. I'd follow Iggy anywhere. I can't lose him."

"I hope you know what you're getting yourself into," Max stood and went to gather the others. "We don't even know; and that's saying something."

Max walked into Rae's house and yelled at everyone to gather in the living room while Rae went to her room to pack clothes and necessities that she would need. It didn't take her long, what with Iggy and Max's help, and soon the flock plus Rae were sitting in the living room, moods and spirits low.

Max took a deep breath. "As you guys know, Rae is tagging along with us on this little adventure. Before you say anything, Fang knows for a fact that she'll be unharmed. These people don't harm…well…people like her. It's us they're after and only us. I don't know where we're going or exactly who we're running from. I know it's been a long day and our days will just get longer from here. You're all confused and I know you guys have a butt load of unanswered questions, especially you, Nudge. We don't have time for those questions right now. Right now, the only thing I'm concerned about is your safety, okay? We're taking two cars. I'll drive Rae's car and follow behind Fang—"

"Wrong," Fang jogged inside, sweating and looking a little nervous. "Max you have to ride with me. Rae and the others follow in the car behind. Rae will have to drive."

Rae nodded and gripped her bag even tighter. They all sat there for a minute, soaking in the fact that they were leaving behind the lives that they'd been building for the past four years. Max studied Fang's facial expression so closely that she nearly jumped out of her skin when she zoned back in and found him staring right back at her. Stubbornly refusing to show any facial emotion, she turned her head away like it was nothing.

"What's the plan?" she asked him after the others began to talk quietly amongst themselves. "Where do we go from here?"

"We drive northwest. Once we're out of their range, we could fly but since Rae's tagging along and we have all the bags, I think driving would just be the better thing. We'll shack up in a hotel or an inn or something until it's safe to start moving again."

"Why can't we fly again?" that part was still rusty in her mind.

"Max you have to understand that these guys are more advanced than the school ever was or ever could be. The shadows' senses are so heightened that they'd be able to find us in a matter of seconds if they picked up anything larger than an eagle that breathes in the sky. It's not worth the risk."

Rae walked back outside with the rest of the flock and put her things in the back of her SUV. Max put her arms around her flock, minus Rae and Fang who stood awkwardly watching the exchange.

"I don't know who we're running from or what's going to happen," Max said, feeling no need to lie to them and tell them that she had a plan. "But whatever happens we're a flock and we stick together, okay?"

"Where are we going?" Nudge asked, her mood depressingly quiet.

"That's what I plan to find out when we leave," she smoothed Nudge's hair back and gave her a comforting smile.

Fang watched the flock; his flock talk and eventually embrace into one big group hug. Nudge and Gazzy were crying. Iggy was silent and Angel hadn't said one word since he showed up. He felt a pang of angst as he thought that he could be in that embrace. He could be the one comforting the flock and Max in such a shocking and despairing time. He shoved his hands in his pockets and waited until they were done saying their goodbyes.

"What's the plan?" Max asked Fang weakly, refusing to meet his eyes.

"You and me in the truck," that made her stomach churn uneasily. "Rae and the others in the SUV." He turned to Rae. "Keep right on my tail. If I swerve, you swerve. If I floor it, you bet your ass you better floor it."

Rae nodded and walked with the others to the truck, growing a little nervous as she glanced back at her house.

"Go give this to Ig," Fang handed Max a walkie-talkie. "We'll have the other one so we can keep in touch. Channel six."

Max jogged over to Iggy and pressed it into his hand, turning it to channel six before she did so. "Keep this so we can keep in touch. Fang has the other one. I'll radio you guys when we get close to wherever we're going."

"Just like old times, huh?" he sighed and climbed into the SUV.

Go figure, Max thought as she hopped up into Fang's truck. She surveyed the inside while he shut the bed of the truck. It was nice. Very nice. Leather seats, black paint, XM radio, etc. She wondered how he could afford a truck like that. That thought made her even more eager to learn where he'd been the past four years. She wasn't eager for the heartache that would come on the journey to find that information.

She slid down in the seat and pulled her knees to her chest. Fang noticed the blank look on her face, not to mention tense set of her jaw and shoulders, as she stared out the window. Fang revved the engine of his truck and peeled out of the driveway. Rae followed close behind, just as she was instructed.

They drove for an hour and not one word was said between the two. Max thought about trying to cut the tension with a butter knife just for the heck of it. Fang drove with one hand on the wheel and the other resting on his knee. Every so often he'd switch hands and rest his elbow on the door, then go back to his previous position ten minutes later. Out of the corner of her eye, she'd notice him glance around and tighten his hand on the steering wheel, press the accelerator just a little bit harder, and then look in the rear view mirror to make sure Rae was right on his tail. His profile was older, sharper. He's grown up and different. The thought entered her mind unwelcome and unwanted. It pained her to think that he was a completely different Fang then she had…

She was distracted by the sudden clench of his jaw and the pale shade of his face. He gripped the steering wheel fiercely with both hands, the knuckles on his hand turning an unnatural shade of white. She looked around her, perhaps there was some threat she was missing. Nothing as far as she could see. She glanced down absently and saw a trail of blood trickling down his side. Then she remembered. The library. The knife. Idiot!

Same old Fang.

"Fang, pull over." She said firmly, unable to look away from the blood running down the side of his shirt and onto the driver's seat.

"It's nothing."

"You were stabbed, Fang," she reached for the walkie-talkie. His hand shot out like lightning and had her wrist in an iron vice.

"It's nothing," he repeated, staring her in the eyes as if saying 'go ahead and try it'. "It would be pointless to stop for something that doesn't need to be attended to."

"Fang you'll bleed out! You need to patch it up!"

"No, I don't," he gripped her wrist harder, but not hard enough to hurt her.

"Let go and pull over." She stared right back, refusing to back down.

They held a staring contest for a few seconds before Fang sighed and pulled over to the side of the road. Max radioed Iggy and told him that they were simply switching seats.

"I'll drive," she told Fang. "You clean that up."

He muttered something incoherently under his breath as they got out of the car and traded positions. Max revved the engine and sped back off down the road, being sure to stay close to Rae and her flock. Fang grabbed the first aid kit from his glove box and began tending to his wound, an all too familiar scowl on his face the whole time, especially when he used the antiseptic. He threw the first aid kit back where it belonged when he was finished and leaned back in the seat, failing to relax his tense muscles. He looked over and observed her behind the wheel for a few seconds.

"When did you learn to drive?" he asked, half joking, half serious.

"About a year after we got to Chicago. I went and got my license."

"Why Chicago?" he shook his head, trying to understand. "Too many people, too much smog, can't fly without being spotted. It's practically suicide."

"You really want to know why I picked Chicago?" she turned to glare at him, ice hissing off her every word.


"Because it was the last place anybody would come looking for us. Anybody."

He knew he was included in that last 'anybody' and the guilt he'd felt and that had been building up for four years weighed just a little bit more every time he saw her hollow eyes and pale skin. He wanted to tell her, wanted her to know, that he regretted leaving her the second he saw her tears, but his pigheadedness kept his wings flapping and his tongue rolling. It wasn't the right time for his lame explanation, if at that he even had one.

"I'm sorry it happened like this," he stared straight ahead as he spoke those words. "I'm sorry you guys had to leave your life in a split second. It's not the way things were supposed to be, the way they were supposed to happen."

"And how were they supposed to happen?" she spat the words like venom. "We would just continue on pretending to be happy? Pretending that a big chunk of our messed up puzzle wasn't missing for four years? Great alternative." She was practically foaming at the mouth. "And yeah, it was hard. Unlike some people, it's hard for us to leave people or things that actually meant something to us."

The words hurt Fang more than they should have, though he didn't let it show. He just watched the road ahead, clenching his fist against his knee, trying to keep himself in one piece and not pass out. Max didn't speak another word to him for the next two hours until she got too tired to stay awake.

"Fang," she yawned from the driver's seat.

"Pull over."

She did as she was told and pulled over to the side of the road. She didn't even have the strength to move herself across the seat, she was so tired. Fang effortlessly lifted her across his lap and set her down in the passenger's seat where she slept for the next few hours.

He found it hard not to look at her as she slept; so fragile and small looking. She was curled up against the door at an odd angle, and his stomach lurched when he saw the outline of her ribs sticking out through her black shirt. He couldn't even see an outline of her wings, as if they'd disappeared into their back. Her face looked and pained, even in sleep. Her pale features and the purple bruising under her eyes gave away the fact that she was far from being as healthy as she should be, even for an avian hybrid. He couldn't help it: it was his fault she was like that; unhealthy and obviously unhappy and lost. He focused his attention back on the darkening road.

You were an idiot, he silently cursed himself. You are an idiot.

7. Chapter Six

Capri's Note: Sorry for the wait! FF wouldn't let me log in for a few days. Because of the delay, I had time to add some more to it! It's not edited, and I only read through it twice, so please excuse and errors. It's been a long week.

Enjoy and review please!


Chapter Six

The hotel was run down. More like an outhouse in Max's opinion. When she was on the verge of passing out from sleep deprivation, she didn't care where she was dumped as long as it had a bed and she wasn't disturbed. A long shower and six hours of sleep later she was wishing she had been at least a little picky about where they had shacked up for the night. The walls were a moldy, off white color and the beds smelled like old cheese and rust. She gagged when she set foot in the bathroom and wore her shoes in the shower for fear of getting a foreign foot fungus. She had gotten her own room with only one bed, but that didn't stop Fang from standing on the porch all night long and literally throwing out the custodian when he came in to see about a leaky pipe. Max got on him for that one.

"We should be leaving soon," Fang checked his watch and glanced out the curtains. "It's almost noon."

"Okay, I'll go let Iggy and Rae know," Max moved to open the door, but Fang stepped in her path.

"I'll do it."

"Thanks, but no thanks," Max rolled her eyes. "I'm a big girl. I can walk across a hallway by myself."

"You'd better stay here." He turned to walk out the door. That made her mad. She grabbed his arm and whipped him around.

"What the hell is going on, Fang?" she demanded, getting right up in his face. "You haven't let me out of your sight since you showed up uninvited at the library. I was forced to ride with you when spending more time with you is the last thing I want to do and you stay by my side like a freaking dog! Now you tell me what's going on before I have to beat it out of you. I need answers and I need the truth Fang. Now."

They held a staring contest for a minute before Fang gave up and rubbed a scarred hand over his face. He motioned for her to sit down on the edge of the bed and he took a seat on the crappy desk in front of her.

"They're Shadows," he repeated what he told her earlier and then basically unloaded the basics of what he knew. "I wasn't exactly telling you the truth when I told you I didn't know where they came from. Their first in command and/or creator is a guy named Leroy Banks. He was a big ass scientist at some University off the west coast until he got fired and thrown in jail for three years for illegal testing on who knows what. He got out about eight years ago on bail and rented out an old warehouse down in Mexico where he's been ever since."

Not missing a beat, Max asked, "How the hell do you fit in with all this? And why did they try to kill me in the library?"

"I knew you were going to ask that," he grumbled, but answered anyway. "About three years ago I was flying around somewhere in Pueblo when I blacked out. I woke up strapped to a metal chair in a big expensive office." Fang's eyes clouded over as he spoke. "Banks told me I was there for some sort of special ops training for the military, which I thought was weird considering I wasn't even in the military, but I thought it'd be cool so I did it anyway. They trained me for a year and a half; trained me to fight better than I already could. I built up strength I didn't know I had and after a few months I could kill a Shadow in a matter of seconds without even thinking about it. I was a killing machine and that's exactly what he wanted." He paused and Max watched his face contort in disgust and pain. "One day I woke up in a hospital bed hooked up to a bunch of machines. He did x-rays, tests, took blood samples, everything for days. I was so doped up I had no idea what the hell was going on." He paused longer this time. "My blood type wasn't what they were looking for, I remember overhearing. Then they tried to kill me and have been ever since."

Max took a minute to let it all sink in. "So that doesn't answer my question as to why I can't go anywhere be myself."

Fang shook his head, a light sad grin on his face. "Max, do you know why they were testing me and taking blood? Why they tried to kill me after they didn't need me anymore? They were looking for one blood type and they killed hundreds of us just to find it."

"Why do they need a certain blood type?"

"Well…basically, if Banks gets a hold of the blood he desires, he could make Shadows so strong and inhuman that no one could stop them except probably a nuclear explosion. He's building up an army and to make it the strongest army in human existence and history, he needs one blood type. Just one and he is unstoppable and untouchable."

She was still confused. He could read it all over her wrinkled forehead and pursed lips. "I still don't see what it has to do with me."

"He needs one blood type," Fang repeated. "That's why I can't and won't let you out of my sight. You're not a match for a Shadow even on your best fighting day."

"Mine." She stated, pointing to herself. "He needs my blood type?"

"Yes." He nodded, resting his elbows on his knees.


"Do you want me to explain it again?"

"No, I heard you, but thanks," her eyes narrowed dangerously. "I meant why does it have to be my blood? Why wasn't yours good enough?"

"Max," Fang nudged closer. "It wasn't that mine wasn't good enough. It's that mine, or anyone else's that they tortured until death, wasn't the right type. You have the blood type. You have the only blood type of the mutants from that sick school that these people need. Why? I don't know that yet, but that's what I'm here to find out. But for some reason they want you, dead or alive. If I were to leave you alone for even a second…" he shook his head and sat straight up, his face rigid with hate.

"Why did you come back?" she whispered.

He had no intention of answering, and luckily he didn't have to at that moment because the rest of the flock walked in, Rae trailing at Iggy's side. Max still wasn't sure how she felt about Rae coming along, but if what Fang said was true, then Rae was safe from any serious harm and Iggy wasn't so distraught about leaving her. It would stop Iggy from taking what he needed to take seriously…well…seriously, so at some point Max knew she had to step up and tell them she had to stay behind. At this point, the time wasn't now.

"Are we ready to leave?" Iggy asked, rubbing his face restlessly.

"Yeah," Fang mumbled, not breaking eye contact with Max, who was helplessly staring back.

"Okay," Iggy drawled out. "We'll meet you in the parking lot."

With that, they hurried out of the room, murmuring to themselves as they walked down the hallway and out of hearing range.

"Just tell me you'll watch your back, Max." Fang's eyes bore holes into her own.

Growing nervous and a bit shaky, Max tore her gaze away and stood on swaying legs. She grabbed her bag, swung it over her shoulder and stormed out. Fang grabbed the last of his things and made for the door.


There were other screams, but Max's blood curdling screech was the only sound that reached his ears. Panicked, he shot out the door and froze in the middle of the hallway. Less than thirty feet away from him, three shadows were angrily making their way down the hallway towards Max who stood fifteen feet away. Pumping his legs so hard they hurt, Fang took off down the hallway towards her. He didn't bother with the other people around him. She was the only thing he could focus on, the only thing that mattered at that very moment. She had shrunk against the wall, allowing him room to fly right past her and launch himself into the largest shadow in his path.

Max watched with wide, not-sure-what-the-hell-to-do eyes as Fang beat the shadow down with a few down strokes of his murderous fist. The bulkiest looking one seized Fang around the waist and tossed him against the wall. He landed on the ground with a thud, plaster sprinkling around him, causing a surprising and girly shriek to escape Max's lips. Fang jumped to his feet in a flash and sent his attacker flailing through the wall. He socked the third one once in the jaw and sprinted towards Max. He threw an arm around her waist and started dragging her towards the stairs. She glanced back and saw the shadows getting to their feet, which only made her run faster. They flew down the stairs and out the emergency exit. The rest of the flock went on alarm when they saw their leader and Fang speeding towards them.

"Get in the car!" Fang barked. "Now! Go!"

Max scurried into the passenger's seat of the truck, her shaking hands gripping the edges of the seat as Fang peeled out of the parking lot, only glancing back once to make sure that Rae was right on his tail. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt that scared. She had completely let her fear take over, not even trying to fight. She knew it was pointless to fight, but that had never stopped her before had it? So why did it stop her now?

She curled up against the door of the truck, staring up into the sky. Fang tried to talk to her, tried to get her to look at him, but for some reason she was too spooked to say anything. She knew he thought it was because of the shadows. She tried to tell herself it was because of the shadows, but she knew that was a lie. Right after she oh so childishly stormed out of the hotel room, she had hoped so hard it hurt that Iggy hadn't barged in when he had. It was obvious that Fang wasn't going to answer her, whether or not Iggy had walked in a second earlier or hours later. A girl could hope, right?

They stopped just a few miles outside of Illinois to set up camp for the night near a lake. Since it was still light out, the flock pulled out their swimming suits and took a swim in the murky water. After a little begging from Angel and Nudge, Max joined them. Iggy and Fang sat out, sitting awkwardly on the bank. Fang studied the flock, the way they interacted; their mannerisms towards each other.

Nudge and Angel seemed to subconsciously drift towards each other as they swam or played with Gazzy. It was obvious they were closer with each other than with any of the other flock members. Gazzy just kind of floated off by himself, but Fang didn't have to think twice to know that he and Iggy were still inseparable even with Rae in Iggy's life. Rae. She was a different story. Fang studied her as well, and something about her bugged him to no end. The glances she gave Max were almost…envious, filled with jealousy and hate. There was something off about her, but Fang wasn't going to assume things and pound her face into the ground just yet.

He didn't want to watch Max. At all. The more he watched her, the deeper his guilt and pain magnified in his chest. She looked even worse in her bathing suit. It hung off of her at all the wrong places, exposing hip bones, ribs and spine. Her wings were mashed against her back, tattered, faded, and almost fake looking. It looked like it hurt, the way she had them flattened against her skin.

"Why are Max's wings so beat up?" he asked Iggy.

"Well, considering they haven't been used in four years," Iggy replied. "I'd say they look pretty good." Iggy smirked at his little joke.

"What?" that was the last thing Fang expected to hear. His attention was now fully on Iggy.

"She hasn't used her wings in four years," Iggy repeated, sighing as he did so.


Iggy rubbed the back of his neck. "She's not the same Max, Fang. She's…different." He paused and when he heard silence, he continued. "It's like she's not all here with us anymore. She rarely goes out with us to the park, store, movies, etc. It's been like that for a while. I'm sure you can guess around the time that she became a completely different person. It's not that hard to figure out."

Fang stayed silent for a while, letting it all process through his tired mind. After a few minutes of awkward silence, he let his questions out in the open.

"What happened to her?" his eyes were on Max again. "After I left?"

"She stopped being the leader we'd known for years and became the leader who wasn't sure about anything including how to do her job as our leader. We rarely ever saw her. She spent most of her time in her room, not eating, barely sleeping. When we did see her, she was skinny as hell and her attitude was worse than she looked. Well, I never saw her but it was pretty easy to guess what she looked like because the flock would get silent as soon as she stepped out of her room. She's gotten better. She's still not herself, but at least she gets up every morning for our sake."

He sighed and his voice softened. "I'm not going to lie to you, Fang. It hasn't been easy, for any of us, but we've learned to let go. Max…she can't let go. We've seen her try every day for the past four years, but it's worn her down to the point where she couldn't even get out of bed some days. When you left it was like you took pretty much all of Maximum Ride with you. It broke her to the core and she hasn't been whole since. Not even close. She stopped fighting, stopped being the stubborn and sarcastic Max we all knew. She fell to pieces all over again when your name came up in conversation, so we just stopped talking about you all together. The last time we talked about you before you showed up, she locked herself in the bathroom for two days."

He shifted, feeling uncomfortable with the next bit of information. "She tried to kill herself, Fang. She was unsuccessful, but it cost her three days in the hospital and a lot of guilt. After that, I think she stopped caring. She stopped trying so hard to forget you and let the chips fall where they may."

Fang couldn't speak for several minutes. His jaw was locked and he was focused on the jagged scars lining Max's left wrist. They were thick scars, meaning they were deep wounds. Deep wounds that he caused. The hollow look in her eyes, the pale marble of her skin, her broken wings. It was all him. He caused it. That was the worst thing that he could've done by leaving. His lungs felt like they were slowly caving in. It was too much. He stood from his position and walked off into the small woods.

Max watched after him, eyebrows pulled together. She quickly dried off with a towel, pulled on a pair of jeans over her swimming suit and made her way over to Iggy.

"What happened?" she asked, still watching the spot where Fang's back had just been.

"I think you'd better talk to him," Iggy stood.

Growing more confused by the minute, Max slowly followed after Fang. She followed the tracks of his old boots for about thirty feet and stopped. Fang was pacing about three feet in front of her, pure hatred and guilt written all over his face. He ran his hands through his shaggy hair and slammed his fist into a tree. Max jumped back when it automatically broke off and fell to the ground. The trunk had to be at least a foot thick.

"Fang," she walked forward cautiously.

He dropped his hands and locked eyes with her, the fury growing each second. She walked right up to him, standing less than a foot away.

"What's wrong?" she asked carefully.

"Why, Max?" he asked. "Why would you do that to yourself? After what you promised me?"

"What are you talking about?"

He grabbed her left wrist and turned her scars to face her. "I'm talking about this Max! What were you thinking? Doing that to yourself? Those kids would have been lost without you, Max!"

"What the hell do you care?" she snatched her wrist away. "You left! You left four years ago! Why should it matter to you what happened to me while you were gone? You have no idea how I felt at the time, Fang. No idea."

"Enlighten me then!"

"I was scared!" she yelled. "You weren't there, Fang! You weren't there when I needed you! At the time all I could think of was that you weren't there to stop me and tell me I was being stupid and to never do it again, so I did it! Maybe I wanted to stop feeling like I lost half of myself when you left! Maybe I wanted it to end!"

"Why, Max? Why the hell would you try to kill yourself just because I wasn't there? You could've forgotten all about me and moved on with your life. You could've said 'screw him!' and hated me! I'm not everything Max!"

"You were to me!" her voice broke as she let out her bottled emotions. "You were everything to me, Fang. When you left, I lost everything! My heart, my soul, everything! I didn't want to be miserable anymore, Fang! I didn't want to hurt anymore! I spent everyday trying to forget you that first year and everyday since. I spent even more time trying to figure out what was wrong with me that wasn't enough to make you stay."

"You honestly think that you were the reason I left? That I left because you weren't enough?"

"Well then what was your excuse? You just got tired of being on a team? Tired of responsibility? Tired of being second in command? What?"

"I don't know!" Fang shouted, frustrated. "I have no idea why I left! I was just…sick of being with you guys! I wanted to be out on my own, experience things without putting five other people in danger or worrying about whether or not you thought it was too dangerous! I don't know! I had to be so careful with what I did because I didn't want to put you guys in danger. I just wanted to get away and see what it was like to live without that fear and responsibility."

Max stared at him, eyes wide in hurt and disbelief. "So we were smothering you, right? By wanting you to be okay and there in one piece was too constricting for you, huh?" she was shouting now now. "I spent years trying to stop myself from thinking it was my fault that you left when all it was is that you were sick of us! You make me sick, Fang! Did you ever stop to think about what it did to the rest of us when you left? Iggy and Gazzy moped around for months without their best friend! Iggy didn't have a guy his age to talk to and Gazzy was too young to understand. Nudge still doesn't talk or eat or sleep as much as she used to! And Angel, don't even get me started on her. I have no idea what is going on with her. But I guess you don't care about any of that because all you thought and all you think about is yourself! Screw you, Fang! I don't want to hear about where you were or what you were doing or any other of your lame ass excuses! I don't want to hear your bullshit about coming back to keep me from getting killed or hurt. It wouldn't have mattered if you hadn't come back anyway. You hurt me more than any eraser or shadow or sick scientist ever could! You killed me, Fang! Not them! They never could!"

It was as if she'd slapped him across the face. Her words rang in his head as she stormed off in the way she came with tears flooding down her cheeks. He stared after her for near an hour, unable to move, think or even speak. After a while, he decided it was pointless to go back to the others, so he sat down against the bark of an old tree and watched the wind blow through the trees.

8. Chapter Seven

Capri's Note: Thank you for reviewing and I'm sorry that it took me a while to write. I wrote this chapter and it didn't feel 'right', so I re-did it.

Here's a little note to some of the reviewers that either bothered me or caught my eye.

Vicki: This is a teen rated fic, so that means there's going to be some cussing and if it bothers you, tough. Have you even read the Max Ride books? James Patterson curses more than I do, so if the cursing offends you, I apologize but you're going to have to deal with it.

Carly: Either knock off the attitude with the other reviewers or get off my review board all together. I don't like it when reviewers bash other reviewers. Mouse is entitled to her opinion and I appreciate you trying to 'help' but it's totally unnecessary and not welcome on my fic.

Mouse: Thank you for your criticism, I appreciate it. I'm a very critical person myself, so I understand where you're coming from. But I do have a few things. You made a comment about the Shadows being a little too fantasy while the Erasers are sci-fi, but are flying wolves not a little fantasy as well? Or kids with wings? I do appreciate your criticism and I'm glad you're finally enjoying the story. Thank you.


Chapter Seven

She knew he wasn't coming back to camp. At the time she didn't care if he came back or stayed away. It made no difference to her. She almost snorted at the lies she was telling herself as she lay awake in the bed of Fang's truck. The rest of the flock didn't want to sleep in the cold, so they put down the seats in Rae's SUV and squished together. They offered Max a spot, but she refused and went to sleep in his truck.

She thought she'd feel relieved after finally telling him what she wanted to tell him for the past four years, but she wasn't. She felt like she left something else, like there was something else that she wanted to tell him but couldn't comprehend it yet. As she thought more about leaving him back in the small woods, she became worried because the only sound she could hear was the rustle of the trees in the wind.

It was making her a bit paranoid. She enjoyed the peace and quiet, but it was just a little too peaceful and quiet for her taste. The only sound drifting into her ears was the eerie breeze in the old trees.

Why the hell did I decide to sleep out in the truck? She thought angrily as a chilling wind rocked her body. She pulled her sweatshirt even tighter around her body, but the chill wouldn't go away. She jumped as a large roll of thunder cracked through the sky. Wrapping her arms securely around her middle, Max curled up on her side, placing her cheek against the cool metal of the truck.


Max sat up to see a shaking Nudge standing at the foot of the truck. She moved over so Nudge would have room to crawl up next to her.

"What's wrong, Nudge?" Max asked, smoothing back her hair and planting a kiss on her forehead.

"I can't sleep," Nudge yawned, making Max grin.

"Join the club."

Nudge climbed into Max's waiting arms and yawned again. "Why can't you sleep?" she asked wearily.

"Just a lot on my mind," Max shrugged. "It's been a long few days."

"You can say that again."

"It's been a long few days," Max grinned and the two shared a bit of laughter.

"Hey Max?" Nudge asked, feeling a bit uneasy as she fidgeted with the edge of her blanket. Max's silence was a cue for her to continue. "What do you think of Fang being back?"

Max sighed and took a minute to answer. "Honestly Nudge? I don't know. I can't decide if it's a good thing, or if it's a bad thing. Right now he's keeping us safe and out of harm's way, but that can only last so long. I guess we'll just have to wait and see."

"I'm glad he's back," Nudge said hesitantly. "You're...Max again…with him here. Not the whole Max, but a little part of the old you is back…"

Max didn't know how to respond to that, because she didn't believe a word of it. She didn't believe that she had changed at all in Fang's presence, much less in a good way. If anything, it made her crankier and put her in a bad mood. She refused to believe that Fang had any affect whatsoever on her as a person since he'd been back. It was simply idiotic.


Nudge and Max both turned to the bed of the truck, where Gazzy stood, yawning. Max chuckled and patted the space next to her. Gazzy plopped his tired body down next to Max and snuggled up against her side.

"What's everybody doing out here?" he mumbled sleepily.

"Don't cha know?" Nudge smacked his arm. "This is where the cool people sleep!"

"Then I guess I came to the right place."

The three of them looked up and snickered when Iggy slapped Gazzy's leg for him to move so Iggy could situate himself on the other side of the three. Gazzy grumbled and kicked Iggy halfheartedly as he scooted closer to Max. Max smiled as she looked around at her flock—minus one, maybe two—surrounding her. They hadn't gotten much time to be together in a long time. It was nice. Regardless of the fact that they weren't talking because of lack of sleep, it was still nice.

"Whose bright idea was it to sleep out here?" Iggy shivered and jabbed Max in the ankle.

She poked him back. "Whose bright idea was it to join me out here?"

"Ours," they answered her in unison, causing her to break out into a small fit of laughter.

"We couldn't leave you out here to freeze by yourself," Nudge reasoned, smiling up at Max.

Max hugged her tightly and sighed out of content. It'd been a long time since it'd just been her and her flock without the TV running or someone screaming at the top of their lungs because someone pulled the other one out of bed and onto the floor. Max felt warm all except for the cold spot on her legs. Angel. Why had they all woken up except for her? And Rae? Angel was always the one to claim the spot on Max's lap, and it felt weird to have the four of them sitting there without Angel. Oh well. She didn't want to wake up Angel just to have her sleep outside with them and freeze their butts off. She was worrying about nothing.

"Max?" Iggy whispered.

"Yeah?" she lowered her voice to a whisper when she saw Nudge and Gazzy sound asleep.

"Everything okay? When you came back you seemed pretty pissed…"

Max inwardly groaned. Could she not escape from thinking of him for two seconds? Yes? No? Maybe?

"Well I was pretty pissed," She admitted. "We finally had it out and what we had to say wasn't pleasing to either of us."

"What'd he say?"

"Basically that he left because he was tired of being on a team," Her dry throat threatened to betray her, but she kept her voice steady. "He wanted to experience things on his own without putting us in danger or being nagged not to do it because we wanted him one piece and to be okay. We were holding him down. I was holding him down. So he left. He left and he came back to keep us, me, safe."

She could feel the anger radiating off Iggy as he clenched his hands into fists at his side. She reached over and squeezed his shoulder, which calmed him down a bit.

"Ig?" she asked slowly. "What does Rae think about all of this? Fang?"

Iggy sighed and laughed without humor. "You know Rae. She still doesn't completely understand why we had to leave and what it has to do with Fang no matter how much I've explained it to her."

"What about Fang?" Max didn't want to hear what Rae thought about Fang; Rae had a wandering mind.

Iggy hesitated. "Rae…she doesn't get Fang. Or you, for that matter. After four years of being one of your best friends, she still doesn't really get you. She doesn't get…the whole you and Fang thing."

"What doesn't she get about it?"

"I don't know, Max," Iggy rubbed his sightless eyes with the palm of his hand. "You know Rae. She's irrational and crazy. Her mind gets set on things that are totally ridiculous and untrue."

They sat for a moment. Iggy couldn't be more right. Rae's mind was an odd one. She thought for a minute about the up and down sides of telling Iggy what Fang had said about Rae not being able to come along anymore. Better late then never, she decided.

"Iggy I don't think Rae can come along from here."

"What?" His blank eyes flipped towards her. "What are you talking about? I thought she wasn't in any danger from these people."

"They weren't," she told him. "But Fang thinks it's best she stays behind. Come on Iggy, you know she can't go along with us for very long without getting hurt. If we have to abandon the cars and fly, she can't come along. If we get in a car crash, we'll most likely sustain very minor injuries. Rae could be seriously hurt or even killed. Do you really want to risk that? Risk her life because you don't want to leave her behind? When all this is over, you can go back for her. If I know Rae she'll wait for you. She loves you too much to just give up on your relationship because you sent her back home for her own safety."

Iggy pondered it. He didn't want to send her back home, but he'd rather wait a few months to see her rather than have her get seriously injured or worse.

"I'll talk to her in the morning. She can take Fang's truck back because we obviously need the space."

Max grinned and awkwardly leaned over Gazzy's sleeping form to give Iggy a side hug. Iggy punched her softly in the arm and closed his eyes for the night. Max tried to sleep, but couldn't. There was too much on her mind for her to even think about sleep. The irony caused a small laugh to flee from her lips.

She scanned her surroundings out of hold habit. The wind had stopped a few minutes ago. Not even a small breeze disturbed the water in the lake before her, which she found odd because just minutes before the wind was softly swaying through the trees. Something movie a few feet away caught her eye. A small figure was moving towards the woods. The soft blonde hair blew in the wind, giving away who it was. Max disentangled herself from the three sleepy bodies around her and leapt over the side of the truck.

"Angel!" she yelled in a whisper.

Angel turned to look at her and put her finger to her lips, annoyed.

"What are you doing?" Max reached her and crouched down like Angel was.

"I thought I saw something," Angel said, peering into the trees. "It looked like…"

"Who?" Max turned Angel to face her. "Who'd it look like?"

"Total," Angel glanced to the ground, sighing.

Max's face saddened. She knelt down in front of Angel and smoothed back her hair. "Angel…Total's gone sweetie. He died a year ago. You know that."

"He didn't die!" she yelled, tears flowing from her eyes. "He fell! He could still be alive!"

"Maybe you're right," she smoothed back Angel's hair and pulled her into a hug. "Go back to sleep Angel. It's been a long day and--"

Max froze when she felt Angel stiffen. She pulled back and glanced up at Angel. Her eyes were wide, hands clenched at her sides. She looked like she was in pain.

"Angel?" Max gently shook her shoulders, but Angel wouldn't move. "Angel, what's wrong?"

Angel let out a scream and buckled over into Max's lap, clutching her head.

"Angel!" Max screeched. She wrapped her arms around Angel and held her close. Angel was crying and wailing in Max's arms. It looked exactly like what Max felt like doing whenever she got a brain attack.

"No!" Max yelled. "Not her! Stop it!"

Leave her alone! Max mentally howled at the voice, wherever it was. Not her!

"Max!" Angel screamed, gripping onto Max's shirt.

"What's going on?" Gazzy, Nudge and Iggy ran over.

"I don't know!" she shouted back. "Angel, look at me! Look at me!"

Angel's strained eyes met Max's, her breathing coming out in rasps. Her face was pale and sweat was rolling down her face. Her tiny body was curled up, shaking like a leaf as Max held her.

"What's wrong with her?" Gazzy said weakly. "What's wrong with my sister?"

"Max…" Then Angel slipped into unconsciousness.

"Angel? Angel!" Max hugged her body close, anger waving through her.

She shakily got to her feet, hugging Angel closely.

"What happened, Max?" Iggy asked when Max gently passed Angel over to him.

"I don't know," she snapped. "She said she thought she saw someone in the forest and thought it was Total so she got up to look. The next thing I know, she freezes and starts screaming and holding her head."

"She said she saw someone?" Nudge held Angel's small hand in her own and had an arm wrapped around a crying Gazzy.

"I'm going to find Fang," Max let out a breath. "Pack up everything up in the SUV and someone stay with Angel. When I get back, we're leaving."

9. Chapter Eight

Capri's Note: Thanks for the reviews. Sorry for the wait! It's short, I know and I apologize! I'll hopefully have a longer and more detailed chapter up over break!

Disneydork and MRACR: I think you're the only reviewers where each time I read one of your reviews, I burst out laughing. Your rants are welcomed greatly. Thank you for keeping me entertained in your reviews and for your support!

Mouse: I crack up when I read your reviews, not out of humor but because you get ahead of me most of the time. There is an explanation for the Shadows, but I haven't gotten it to it yet. It will come, I promise. Haha. As for Iggy, it's been over four years and he's matured quite a bit. He's always been stubborn, but he's also been a quick learner and very rational. I do very much enjoy our little conversations, don't you? It's pretty enlightening.

Reviews are love, people.


Chapter Eight

It frustrated Max to no end when she got back to where she left Fang and he wasn't there. She took off in the direction where she felt he headed. After minutes of no luck, she through her hands up exasperated and headed back to the flock. She hadn't taken a mere few steps before she caught site of Fang sitting on a tree branch staring blankly into the sky. She quickly made her way over and was grateful for the fact that the branch was only about ten feet off the ground.

"Fang!" she slapped his hanging sneaker, causing his black eyes to flicker to hers. "We have to leave."

"Why?" Fang made no move to get down.

"Something happened to Angel," Max explained, wiping the invisible sweat from her forehead. "She said she saw someone and I think she had a brain attack, but it could've been something else. I don't know, but we have to leave. It doesn't feel right and we probably should get going anyway."

"Okay," he nodded. "Give me details in the car."

She nodded in agreement. In a swift movement that made Max dizzy, Fang leapt to the ground and started back towards the others, leaving her standing there like an idiot. Grunting, she followed, stomping somewhat like a little child the whole way back. She felt it necessary. Fang decided to call her on it halfway back.

"How long are you going to pout like a three year old?"

Scowling, she shot back, "I am not pouting!"

He could only direct a finger at her face to prove his point. She scrunched up her nose in a very un-Max-like gesture, trying her best to look pissed off. After a short glaring contest, Max turned on her heel and kept on walking. Fang rolled his eyes but followed close behind anyway. When the two reached camp, Gazzy was standing next to Nudge who was struggling under Angel's weight. Fang hurried over and took the unconscious girl from a grateful Nudge.

"Where are Iggy and Rae?" Max looked around and found no sign of them.

"They're packing the things in the SUV," Gazzy said. "Iggy wanted me to tell you and only you that when we get to the next town, he'd talk to Rae."

Max groaned and hung her head slightly. Sighing, she nodded and protectively took Angel from Fang. Rae finished packing up the last of the things while Iggy slowly made his way to where Fang, Max and the others stood.

"I know, I know," Iggy said to Max's oncoming lecture. "She's going to stay with us until we get to the next town. That way she'll at least have some idea of where she is. I don't want her to leave from the middle of nowhere and risk the chance of getting lost. I don't want her to leave at all, but hey, it's for the better."

Max ached for her friend as she watched him sulk back over to where Rae patiently stood beside the car. She hated having to be the one to tell Ig that Rae couldn't tag along anymore and hated it even more that it would hurt him not to have her by his side at all times. Shaking her head absently she gently laid Angel in the front seat of Fang's truck and gathered the flock together.

"Max and I are going to take Angel and follow you guys," Fang told the others. "We're going to keep our distance until we get to the next town. If you see anything or need anything, just radio us."

They all nodded in agreement and with Max telling them to be careful and stay safe one more time, they all got into their separate cars. Fang and Max waited until they could barely see Rae's car before they loaded up in Fang's truck and drove off. Max cradled Angel to her chest tightly, stroking her blonde hair as they drove.

"What exactly happened, Max?" Fang asked finally.

Max sighed. "Angel said she saw something...someone. Someone she couldn't have seen."


She didn't answer right away. Instead she stared out the car window and hugged Angel tighter to her chest. Fang leaned over and placed his hand on her knee.

"Max," he waited until she turned back to look at him. "Who?"

"Total." She rubbed a hand over her face and slowly shifted so Angel was lying on the seat beside her, her head resting on Max's leg.

"Where is Total?" he wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer.

"Dead," Max swallowed. "He fell. A year ago. Angel and the others were out flying, Angel insisted on holding him and he fell. They spent days searching for him, but never found anything. She still blames herself. She changes a little bit more each day and not always for the best. She keeps to herself, she barely ever says anything and when she does it's like she's speaking in riddles that are far beyond our knowledge. She's always been a mystery, but lately it's been getting worse."

She closed her eyes and rested her head against the seat. Fang, his hand still on her knee, swerved the truck at the absurd thought that dared enter his mind. Max quirked an eyebrow and smirked at his blank and a little embarrassed expression. He quietly cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably.

"Look, Max," he started, not meeting her penetrating eyes. "About before…last night…" she gave him a moment to gather his thoughts. His eyes slowly glazed over, clearly deep in thought. "I saw you everyday."

She frowned at this. "What do you mean?"

"Your eyes, your face, the way you play with your hair when you're nervous," he shook his head painfully. "I saw your face over and over in my head. For four years I saw you and for four years I fought the irresistible urge to go back."

Her voice was just barely above a whisper when she spoke. "Why didn't you? Come back, I mean?"

"I couldn't, Max," he stole a glance at her. "If I left without warning they would've found me and I would've led them right to you and the others. The second year I was away, I started looking for an out. Looking for breaks in the wall that would let me get away safely and go back to you and the flock, but there was nothing. As soon as they threw me out onto the street, I knew it was only a matter of time before they found you. I looked day and night until I was weak in the knees. I hadn't slept but I had to get to you before they did. The thought of them…reaching you…" his hands tightened on the steering wheel and the truck accelerated much too quickly. His jaw was clenched so tight Max thought he might chip a tooth if he kept it up.

"Fang, relax," Max squeezed his arm lightly and that seemed to calm him. The car slowed back down to a normal pace and Fang's veins stopped their pulsing.

He looked down at her hand on his forearm, so delicate and frail. To his surprise he longed to take it in his own. The thought made him snap his attention back to the road and shrug away from Max to place one hand on the wheel and the other out the open window. His mind whirled as he watched Max from the corner of his eye; her hand softly stroking back Angel's blond curls while her own hair was being blown about in the wind.

The last time he was really able to look at her, watch her, was over four years ago. He thought he might as well take advantage of the situation while it was at hand. He never knew when he might get that opportunity again.

10. Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

Max had fallen asleep about an hour into driving. She still had Angel protectively curled up in her lap, but she herself was curled up against the door, her head resting lightly on the window. Fang's had his sweating hand resting on the clutch and the other loosely dangling on the steering wheel. He could just barely see Rae's SUV about a mile or so ahead of them.

He hated the whole situation they were in. He couldn't describe how much he wanted to go back and never leave her so she wouldn't be in that kind of danger. Sure, her life was on the line everyday back when they couldn't stay in one spot for five seconds without being attacked by erasers, but never like this. This time she couldn't fight them off, couldn't survive one of their blows. If one of them got to her…he wouldn't and couldn't let that happen.

Angel suddenly stirred beside him. Her eyes snapped open, wide like saucers, and she dug her fingernails into Max's arm, making her yelp and bleed. Max snatched her arm away, putting a hand over the tiny cuts.

"What's the deal, Angel?" Max scowled out of reflex, then stopped when Angel went rigid.

She started wheezing and coughing, like someone was strangling her. Max shook her, saying her name over and over again. She screamed at Fang to pullover and he did so compliantly. He threw open the door to his truck and rushed over to Max's side. He helped Max lay Angel down on the side of the road in the grass so they weren't close to traffic.

"Angel, Angel baby breathe." Max held Angel's head in her lap and forced her to look at her. "You have to breathe. Why isn't she breathing?" she stared, panicked, at Fang.

Angel ripped and pulled at the grass with her fists, arching her back to try and get a little air into her lungs. Fang radioed Iggy, telling him to keep on going, but they had to stop, then hurried back over to Max. She looked up at him with blank eyes, clearly not knowing what to do. Fang leaned his ear down to Angel's chest, listening to her breathing, while Max tried to hold her still.

"I think she's having an asthma attack."

"She doesn't have asthma!" Max wailed, growing panicked.

"You got any other ideas?" he snapped. He put Angel's back to his chest, his hand on hers. He leaned down to her ear. "Breathe with me, Angel. Come on, breathe." Angel fisted his jeans in her sweaty palms as she tried to stay with the rhythm of his slow exhaling. Max felt a lump in her throat watching Angel struggle for breath. She didn't know what to do, or what was happening to her baby, but she had to figure it out and fast.

"That's it," Fang said softly in Angel's ear. "Almost there."

By the time Angel's breathing had slowed to normal, she burst out in choking sobs, frightened and weak. She turned around and buried herself in Fang's chest, sobbing so hard she shook herself as well as Fang. Max just sat on the ground, not knowing what to say or do. Fang kept his eyes on her as he clutched Angel tightly, comforting her. She couldn't break his gaze, so they just sat, on the side of the road, staring at each other, Angel crying her eyes out between them.

An hour later, they were on the road, Angel once again asleep in the tiny back seat. Max stared out the window, holding her head in the palm of her hand. They were silent until Fang felt the need to break the ice.

"It's not your fault," he said quietly. "You couldn't have done anything."

"It is," she whispered. "She's hurting and I don't know how to help her."

"Max," he pulled her wrist so she was facing him. "You don't know what's going on with her, none of us do, so how could you possibly know how to help her?"

"Because it's my job!" she insisted. "I'm her leader, her mother, the only thing she has! I should know how to take care of her and now I can't!"

"Max, stop."

She stopped her rant and looked back to his eyes. "It's not your fault, so quit blaming yourself, okay?"

She took a deep breath, but didn't say anything, just stared on out the road. A chill shot up her spine when she realized Fang was still holding her wrist in his warm hand. Politely she pulled back and retreated inside herself, curled up against the car door.

"Why did they make the Shadows, Fang?" she asked quietly, taking him by surprise.

"Why?" he furrowed his brow. "I don't know. How? I don't know that either. Their purpose? To kill and conquer. I failed to grasp the concept of why or how they were created. Their creator…he's the definition of pure evil. By explanation he thinks he's God and all that that entails. He's bad news. Far worse than we have…we had ever encountered."

Max noticed the past tense he was using and groaned. She didn't want to be reminded of Fang's absence any more than necessary. It was hard enough that she had that reoccurring dream every night, even though he was already back.

"What is she doing?" Fang muttered, leaning forward to get a better glance at Rae's car. The dark SUV was swerving all over the road. Max grabbed the walkie-talkie before Fang could.

"What the hell are you guys doing?" she asked Iggy, watching the car jerk to the right, then to the left and then back again.

"There's a bee in the car," Iggy sounded bored and annoyed.

For the faint second he was on the frequency, they could hear Gazzy laughing his head off just barely behind of the bloody murder screams of Nudge and Rae. Fang gave a pointed look to Max who couldn't stop laughing. He grabbed the walkie-talkie from her hand.

"Iggy, tell your girlfriend to get over it and stop swerving before she kills somebody or we get pulled over."

"Trust me," Iggy radioed quietly back to him. "I've tried."

This made Max laugh even harder. Fang smirked and set the walkie-talkie in the ashtray and smiled over at Max who was just grinning ear to ear now. When she saw him smiling at her, her smile widened.

"So Iggy and Rae are engaged?" he asked when things were calmed down.

Max nodded. "That they are. They've been dating for a few years, since a little bit after we got here and he finally popped the question."

"She obviously knows everything, correct?"

"Well," she shrugged. "Yes, I guess you could say that. Iggy told her about our past, about where we came from, the gory details of our life on the run, but she doesn't know any specifics. She doesn't know that the man that helped create us is also my father and the kid that tried to kill us numerous times was also my brother."

"That's understandable."

"We thought so."

"How much does she know about us?" he was hesitant to ask this.

"She knows enough."

"How much is enough?"

"Enough." She met his eyes with a look that said 'drop it.'

"How far to the next town?" he asked, changing the subject.

"I don't know," she looked around at the scenery. "Probably not very long. We've been driving for hours. Iggy will tell us when he sees anything."

He nodded, letting her know he heard her, but said nothing else. An awkward silence enveloped the two, making Max a little uneasy. Angel shifted, grabbing Max's attention. She slowly opened her eyes and blinked a few times. Max smiled up at Fang in relief and pulled Angel into a hug.

"Max?" she coughed and sat up in the middle seat. "What happened? My head hurts."

She dared a glance at Fang. "We were hoping you'd tell us, sweetie. What's the last thing you remember?"

Angel squinted, concentrating. "I saw Total, in the forest. I swear I saw him, Max! I swear!"

"Angel," Max sighed. "Tell me exactly what happened before that."

"I couldn't sleep, and I had to go to the bathroom, so I got out of the car and walked towards the forest and he was staring right at me. I called to him, but he didn't say anything, just smiled, then turned and ran. That's when you came over to me. I heard his thoughts…but it didn't sound like him. It was a lot of voices coming from one mind. I couldn't understand what they were saying."

"What else after that?" Max edged.

"That's it."

"That's it? Nothing else?" Fang finally spoke up.

"No," Angel shook her head, slightly wincing, which didn't get by Max.

Her worried gaze met Fang's, which he returned with a reassuring smile that had a surprisingly calming effect on her.

"How's your head?" he asked the ten-year-old. "Does it hurt?"

"No," Angel smiled up at him, wincing again. "It feels fine."

Her answer irked Max. Clearly, Angel was in pain, her face showed that plain and clear. Her eyes though…she meant what she said when she was fine, she wasn't lying or exaggerating. She was fine. Or she thought she was fine. Something had happened to her. Max knew that much. She also knew for a fact that Total was dead. She knew whatever happened to Angel, affected her somehow. What she didn't know was what it was or what exactly it did to her baby.

11. Chapter Ten

Capri's Note: Merry Christmas!

Chapter Ten

"Max?" Angel, lip slightly jutting out, looked up at Max. "I'm hungry."

Max smiled. "Me too, we all are. We'll stop when we get to the next town, okay?"

Angel pouted further, but nodded. Iggy radioed in a few minutes later, telling them he saw a sign for a small town up ahead, and it wasn't long before they were driving around, bickering about where they wanted to eat. They finally decided on a small fast food Italian restaurant and made their way in.

They all ordered what they wanted, almost cleaning out the place of all its food supplies. Angel bounded happily over to a biggest booth by the biggest window and hopped in, claiming her space. The rest followed and crowded in around them. Fang and Max were stuck on the ends across from each other, really having no choice but to look at each other. The waiter, along with a little assistance, came after a short while and set their food on the table. Fang's chest tightened when he saw the flirtatious look the waiter was giving Max.

"Can I get you anything else?" everyone but Fang seemed oblivious to the double meaning in the question he directed towards Max.

"Um," Max glanced up nervously. "I'm fine, thanks."

"You sure?" he winked, a cocky smile on his face.

"She said she's fine," Fang growled.

He didn't even acknowledge Fang, but kept his eyes on Max. "Another soda, some breadsticks?"

Fang glared at him for a minute before standing up, getting right up in the blonde waiter's face. Max shot up.

"Maybe you didn't hear me the first time, wiseass," Fang snarled in his face.

"That's enough!" Max put a hand on Fang's chest, keeping space between him and the bright red waiter. She pushed him back into the booth, but his eyes never left the waiter's as he walked away.

"What the hell was that?" she Max hissed, completely embarrassed.

"Nothing." Fang took a drink of his soda.

"Nothing? You call almost getting into a brawl with a waiter nothing?"

"Drop it Max."

"Make me."

They glared at each other across the table. Max was sure the table was the only thing keeping her from jumping across and wrapping her paws onto his neck. Iggy awkwardly announced that they start eating before it all went to waste.

Everyone was chattering away as they ate, avoiding the subject of Angel's episode and ignoring the silence radiating between Fang and Max. Max couldn't stop thinking about Total, or who Angel thought was Total, and Fang couldn't stop thinking about Max. His anger frustratingly faded away as he watched her. He watched her as she picked at her food, not really eating anything. Her chin rested in the palm of her hand, her eyes on the fork moving through her food.

He watched the way her hair waved around her face when she moved, making her skin glow in the light slanting in from the window beside her. He felt drawn to it, to her. It was almost like her skin was calling to him, disturbing him so that he just couldn't tear his eyes away from her. His gaze traveled from the tip of her frail fingers to the shimmering skin at her collarbone. His eyes eventually found hers. She was staring right back at him, hands frozen on the table. They stared for a moment, then both dropped their heads to stare blankly at their food.

Angel sensed the tension, but couldn't for the life of her get inside their minds to figure out what they were thinking. She furrowed her brow and tried until her head started throbbing. As if a light was just flicked on, her face went blank and she continued eating her food like nothing had just happened, seeming to forget what she was concentrating on.

"Rae, can I talk to you?" Iggy rubbed the back of his girlfriend's hand with his thumb. "Outside?"


Max watched the two walk out, instantly feeling a small pang of guilt at the look on Iggy's face as he told them they would be right back.

Outside, Rae led Iggy to sit on the back of her SUV, keeping his hand securely in hers.

"What do you need to talk about?" she asked, no suspicion whatsoever in her voice.

"Well…" Iggy scratched the back of his head. "It's about this whole thing, what the flock is going to have to do with Fang's help. It's going to get dangerous."

"You mean it's already not?"

Iggy cleared his throat disapprovingly. "For us, no it's not dangerous. But it will be. Much worse than it is now. And…we'll be flying soon…"

She caught on then. "And I can't fly."

He slowly shook his head. "No, you can't. It's not safe for you anymore, Rae."

"What are you trying to say?"

"Rae," he took her hands in both of his. "You can't come with us."

"What?" her shrilled voice hurt his sensitive ears. "What do you mean I can't come with you?"

"I mean you can't come with us anymore," he sighed. "You have to stay behind."


"It's going to get dangerous, Rae, really dangerous. In the past, we've known who we were going up against. This time we don't. We have no clue what's going to happen. We're not safe, which means you're not safe."

"What does your safety have to do with mine?" she snapped.

"Rae, please try to understand," he took a deep breath before continuing. "We, the flock and I, are in danger. If we're in danger, you're on your death bed. If we're scared, you're petrified. We know what it feels like to be running for our lives, to be literally on our death bed. You…don't."

Rae swallowed and choked back tears. He heard and pulled her into his arms.

"I can't take that risk. I can't risk your life, Rae. You can't come with us anymore. As much as I wish you could, you can't."

"I don't want to lose you!"

"Rae," he laughed halfheartedly. "You're not going to lose me. It's not like I'm going to war or going to do something that I can't come back from. I will come back. Compared to what we've done before, this really won't be much different. The only difference is we're fighting blindly."

She snickered, making him pull his brow together. When he realized what he'd said, he sighed and laughed.

"You know what I mean," he told her. "I've always fought blindly, but at least I knew who and what I was fighting."

She inhaled his scent. "How long will you be?"

"I don't know."

"When will you be back?"

"I don't know."

"Promise me you'll come back."



He nodded. "I promise."

While the rest of the flock finished their lunch inside, Fang volunteered to trade all the supplies and luggage from one vehicle to another. He tossed the luggage a little harder than he should into the back of the SUV and slammed the trunk shut. He slammed the door to his truck as well, making a few people, including Max, glance out the window at him from the restaurant. He saw Max excuse herself from the table and cursed under his breath. The last thing he wanted was to talk to Max right then.

"Fang," she hissed, walking over. "Could you try to keep it down? People are starting to stare."

"So?" He walked around the passenger's side of the SUV, out of view of the restaurant and street.

"So?" she followed. "What the hell is your problem today, Fang?"

"There's no problem here," he shrugged smartly and opened the passenger side door to clear a spot for his stuff, but a smack upside the head stopped him. He turned around and glared at Max, who stood with her arms crossed. "Mind telling me what that was for?"

"What?" she shrugged, feigning innocence. "I need and excuse to give you what you deserve now?"

His eyes narrowed. "Come again?"

"That's not all you deserve, but I'd rather not cause permanent bodily damage right now. Maybe later."

"Well, if you weren't a girl, I'd have it out with you right now."

"Oh yeah?"

They seemed unaware of the fact that they were standing within inches of each other, their breath colliding as they fumed at one another.

"Yeah." He growled.

She wound up to punch him in the chest, but he caught her fist in his hand. She tried with the other one and he caught her again. He took steps forward as she took steps back. She stopped when her back touched the SUV. Fang kept moving forward until he was pressing her against the SUV, his chest to hers. He held her fists in his own and touched his forehead to hers.

Max stopped breathing. She stopped moving altogether. She completely froze at his proximity and the change in the atmosphere. His hands moved slowly down her forearms, and traveled until he cupped her face in his hands. She rested her hands on his wrists and closed her eyes. His thumbs rubbed her cheeks softly, his body pressed against hers. He tilted her head softly and let his lips touch the bridge of her nose. He softly kissed her cheek and pulled her closer to him.

When his lips grazed hers, she froze and pulled back slightly, tears welling in her eyes. He didn't have to think twice to understand. He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, letting his hands fall down to his sides. He disappeared around the back of the SUV without a second glance.

Max, knees about to buckle beneath her, climbed shakily into the passenger's seat. She locked the door and cried softly into her knees, already missing the feeling of his heartbeat so close to hers.

12. Chapter Eleven

Capri's Note: I'm back. Review please, and there is more to come. I promise.

Chapter Eleven

Sweet home Texas. They'd made it to Fang's safe house, a fact he only revealed once they were pulling onto the dirt path that would lead them there. Max was curled up in the back seat with Angel, sound asleep and unaware they had arrived. While the rest of the flock grabbed their bags and made their way into Fang's save house, or barn as Gazzy immediately called it, Fang gathered Angel into his arms and nudged Max awake.

"Mmm," she mumbled. "Where are we?"

"My safe house," he replied, pulling the seat up for her to climb out. "In Texas. We'll stay here tonight, and take off tomorrow morning for Mexico. The others are already inside."

"What is this place again?" Max stopped a few feet away from the door, and looked up at the old, run down barn that Fang called his safe house. The once red paint was faded into an almost brown color, and the wood looked rotten. It was surrounded by trees, and glancing back at the path she didn't really see how the SUV could have fit on such a small path.

"My safe house, been living here for years." Fang pushed open the door and allowed her to step in first.

The outside may have looked old, but the inside was a different story. It was amazing. Max looked around in awe. He had a kitchen built into a far corner, and next to that a very high tech looking work station. He even had a TV mounted on one of the walls, with a couch below it. It was all very intriguing, and very Fang. The upstairs, which could only be gotten to by ladder, was stocked with food, clothes, and even weapons. He'd obviously taken a lot of time and put in a lot of effort to make this place as safe as possible. As she wandered around, curious, she saw that the stalls were made into make shift bedrooms, each with a bed and small dresser. There were six of them, including his own.

"Fang?" she called, looking at the rooms. "Why are there six rooms? Were other people living here with you or something?"

"No," he cleared his throat, a tad embarrassed. "There's one room for every flock member. I, uh, decided to make it that way in case I ever found my way back, and somehow convinced you guys to come here, or in case of a crazy emergency like the one we're in."

That melted her heart just a little. He had missed them, and thought about them. She found herself smiling as she saw the flock make themselves at home. Gazzy, Nudge and Angel plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. Iggy made his way to the kitchen, and after a few minutes of feeling where everything was, he set to work making as much food as he could. He knew they were all starving.

Max continued to explore. She found herself wandering into Fang's room. It was messy, not like she expected anything less. There were articles and print outs stapled and taped to one side of the room. She scanned them until she found her way to his dresser. She froze when she saw the pictures he had taped above it.

Her eyes fell over the faces of the flock, old pictures, back when they were still a family, before anything went wrong in their lives. She picked up the picture he had laying on the top of his dresser. It was of the two of them. It was more recent, a few months before he left. It was one of those close moments between the two of them that was rare, but Nudge somehow managed to capture. She was leaning into his arms, their foreheads touching. They were smiling from ear to ear, looking right at each other. The first time she saw it after it was taken, she remembered thinking how cheesy and lovesick they looked. She remembered that exact moment perfectly. The flock wanted to go to the lake, so they all packed up and went. While everyone else was swimming and diving off the dock, Fang and Max were talking amongst themselves on the bank, and Fang spontaneously pulled her close.

That seemed like ages ago. She didn't even recognize the girl in the picture, who was so full of life and color. Her wings were so full and beautiful. It brought tears to her eyes thinking about how she used to be, and what she had become. She set the picture down before anyone caught her reminiscing and made her way outside to where Fang had the hood of the SUV popped open.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Just making sure everything is okay, and will be okay when we leave it here for who knows how long."

"So we're really flying from here on out?" her wings twitched.

"Yes ma'am." He stood up and slammed the hood. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "Look, Max, I'm sorry about what happened at the diner. I was out of line, and I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted." She offered him a small smile, which he returned.

He hopped up onto the hood and nodded towards the barn. "What do you think? Not too shabby, huh?"

"It's very…impressive." She relented. "How long did you work on it?"

"About three years, after I finally got away from Banks and the Shadows. It was hard work, but I like the turn out. Everything runs on generators, and it's completely off the grid, so there's no way of them finding us here."

"You sure about that?"

He gaped at her. "Are you really doubting me?"

She smirked. "Maybe."

He shook his head, grinning. "So little faith."

"Can you really blame me?"

He chuckled humorlessly. "No, I guess I can't."

She crossed her arms and nodded behind her. "Shall we? I can already smell Iggy's cooking and I want to beat the others to it before there's nothing left."

"I'm with you on that one." He hopped down and walked beside her back into the barn.

With him walking there, by her side, she couldn't help but smile at the familiarity of it all. She didn't know what would happen once they left, but she did know, and was finally able to admit to herself, that she was content, maybe even happy, with Fang there.

13. Chapter Twelve NEW UPDATE

Capri's Note: Okay, back for good. I've almost completed the story, and here's the next chapter. Short, I know. Next chapters will be longer. Promise. I'm very sorry to keep my readers waiting for over a year, I know how much that sucks. Review please, so I know how you like it. Thank you for those who are still reading.

Chapter Twelve

The flock settled in on the couch and on the floor, taking a minute to relax after their rather large meal. Max rested her head on the back of the couch with Angel in her lap, taking full advantage of the resting time she was given before Fang debriefed them on what would happen the next morning. He was currently upstairs with Iggy, getting supplies together and deciding on whether or not weapons were needed. Iggy was still angry with him, so he was getting more and more agitated the more time he spent alone with him.

"I think you and I should at least carry pistols." Fang said, looking over his selection.

"Thanks, but no thanks." Iggy snorted. While he was fascinated with guns and had surprisingly good aim, he still believed in using his natural fighting skills, despite the fact that he hadn't been in a good fight in four years. "We can handle it without guns."

"I really don't think you understand how powerful these guys are." Fang shook his head and sat down.

"But you do, because you were once in league with them, right? So of course you'd naturally know how they fight, how they kill, and all that fluffy good stuff."

"Don't start, Iggy." Fang turned his focus back to the weapons in front of him.

"Was it worth it?" He crossed his arms and took a step towards Fang in an alpha male gesture.


"Seeing how we are, seeing how she is now; was it worth it?"

"Iggy, stop." Fang warned.

He pushed on. "Does it feel good when you see how broken she is, knowing that you're to blame?

"Shut up, Iggy."

"It's all your fault, Fang," Iggy seethed. "It will always be your fault, and there's nothing you can do to fix it."

Before he could continue, Fang launched himself into Iggy, sending them both sailing to the ground below. They came down with a thud right by the kitchen. The sound startled the flock, who were all gathered a few feet away.

Fang didn't take a moment to catch his breath before his fist flew into Iggy's face. Iggy staggered back, and came back with a punch to Fang's gut. Fists and kicks flew. The two brothers wailed on each other with no mercy. Fang threw himself at Iggy after kicking him in the chest and they crashed right through the door. Iggy picked himself up from the dirt and threw his arm around Fang's neck. His knee flew up, colliding violently with Fang's face. He socked him right in the jaw, causing Fang to fly backwards.

Max was outside by this point, trying to break them up.

"What the hell is wrong with you two?" She grabbed Iggy by the shirt and yanked him off of Fang. "One minute you're upstairs working on getting our supplies ready and the next you're beating the crap out of each other? Seriously guys?"

The two didn't say anything. Iggy's chest was heaving up and down as he struggled to catch his breath. Fang wiped the blood from his lip as he got up. He didn't look at Max as he turned away.

"Iggy, could you give us a minute?" She watched Fang stalk off toward where the SUV was parked.


"Don't." She snapped. "Go inside." She watched his back until it disappeared through the door before going after Fang.

His bloody hands supported his weight on the SUV's hood while he caught his breath. Max quietly pulled herself up on the hood and watched him.

He muttered something under his breath and pushed himself backward, running his hands through his hair.


"It's all my fault." He stood with his hands on his hips.

"I doubt that, you and Iggy both think that things can be solved with violence sometimes."

"I'm not talking about the fight, Max."

"I don't follow…"

"This!" He gestured wildly between them. "Everything!"


"I'm very aware how bad I messed up, alright? You guys don't need to keep reminding me. I know I deserve it, but god it'd be nice to just feel like it's forgotten for two damn minutes. I know it's not the same, I see that. I see you and I see what we once were and I know that will never be the same. That, above all, is something I really wish I could change."

She wasn't sure if it was her desire just to shut him up, or something else that pushed her to do it, but before he could continue she threw herself at him. He staggered back when her lips hit his. The shock wore off in less than a second and he glued himself to her. She kissed him hard, like she was kissing him for the first time, and he reciprocated in every way. Her hands gripped his shirt while his entangled themselves in her hair, pulling her even closer.

Then, as quickly as it happened it was over. Max pulled away and walked back inside, leaving Fang gasping for air. He waited a minute before following her. When he entered his safe house he caught her eye across the room. She sent him a fraction of a smile and went to bed, once again leaving him breathless and confused.

Max jerked upright in bed after a nightmare. Not wanting to try and sleep after that, she got up. She crept out of bed and slowly made her way out into the kitchen, where she found Fang standing in the darkness.

"Fang?" She touched his arm.

"Something's not right." He was staring at the door.

"What's not right?"

"Do you not notice how dark it is?" he gestured around. The only light in the barn was the moonlight streaming in from a window above them.

"Um…it's night time." She quirked an eyebrow even though he couldn't see it.

"The lights are off."

"Uh, again, it's night time. That's usually what people do at night is turn off the lights."

"Max," he turned to look into what he hoped was her face. "I'm aware of that. But I never leave it dark in here. I always have emergency lights on that run on a separate generator than the rest of the place. Nothing is on. Nothing will come on."

"Maybe the generators just need gas, it's nothing to freak out about."

"They don't need gas, Max. They were full when I checked them when we arrived, and I only ever turn them off by hand. They're off, and I haven't touched them and I doubt any of you have."


They both whirled around, ready to fight. Gazzy raced up to them. Panic was all over his features.

"Gazzy, what's wrong?"

"The rest of the flock, they're gone!" Max's heart stopped as he went on. "I was laying in bed because I couldn't sleep, so I went to wake up Iggy and he was gone and so was everyone else and-"

"Gazzy, slow down." Fang put his hands on his shoulders. "Did you hear anything? Anything at all?"

"No, nothing! Just-"

Before he could finish, an explosion knocked them off of their feet.

Everything was a blur. Sounds, flashing lights, everything. Max felt every one of her limbs groan in protest as she tried to pull herself to her feet. Something was holding her down. She panicked. She pried at the beam that had pinned her legs down. She blinked several times and looked around. The safe house was on fire and barely standing. Struggling against the beam, she frantically scanned the barn until her eyes landed on Fang's limp form a few feet from her. She couldn't see Gazzy amongst the rubble.

"Fang!" She called, finally managing to pull herself free. She quickly crawled toward him and dusted off his face. He moaned when she smacked him in the face in an effort to wake him.

He blinked a few times and shot upright. "Max, we gotta go." He yanked her to her feet. "Where's Gazzy?"

"I don't know, I don't see him anywhere." She coughed against the smoke and shielded her eyes from the heat of the fire surrounding them. "What happened?"

He froze when he heard voices nearing the barely standing door. "They're here." He grabbed her hand and pulled her through the debris and quickly shoved her behind him in the darkest corner he could find behind a still intact wall.

"Find her!" The voice made Max's stomach churn. It was the Shadow she had a run in with at the library. "I know she's here. I can smell her."

Max gripped Fang's arm. The Shadows ripped through the debris on their search. Max noticed a hole in the wall behind them and pulled Fang towards it. When they emerged on the other side, coughing from the growing smoke, Max went still. In the distance she could see her entire flock, bound at the limbs and gagged, being thrown into a large black van. The van sped off down the gravel road.

Something within her ignited. Her hands balled into fists at her sides and she took off after it, pumping her legs as fast as she could. She could feel Fang following close behind and that feeling of safety made her run even faster, knowing he was right there with her. Her wings twitched against her back. It was one thing to mess with her, but she was tired of seeing her family get hurt.

Her wings snapped open and she launched into the night sky. Maximum Ride was back. And this time, she had no intention of leaving.

Reviews, please! More to come.