Made Again by heyshalina

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Adventure, Tragedy
Published:2011-04-25 15:12:02
Updated:2011-11-03 15:05:18
Packaged:2021-04-22 02:10:41
Summary:The flock decides to take a vacation before setting out to find their parents. But then tragedy strikes, and Iggy goes missing. Now Max is determined to do anything to get him back. But this time what the whitecoats have done is truly evil. Now complete.

Table of Contents

1. Asleep on the Job
2. Around the World in Say, Three Hours
3. Get the Heck Out of the Happy Place
4. Just Picture the Devil
5. Yum Police Officers
6. Nostalgia Sucks
7. Say Hi to the Camera
8. Never Want to See Again
9. If You Could See My Tears
10. Eatin' the Crazy Flakes
11. Going To the Dark Side
12. Them Darn Potatoes
13. It's Time for Man Time
14. Merry Flockmas
15. Brain Messages, What Fun
16. Fang Shows Affection, Run For Your Lives
17. Choking on Marshmallows
18. Right in the Face
19. Iggys and Needles and Sandwiches, Oh My
20. Wait a Minute, There's Pie
21. Blind Being a Relative Term
22. We're Off To Kill the Wizard
23. And Then Some

1. Asleep on the Job

Welcome to the story! This is my first Max Ride fiction, but I've been a huge fan like everyone should be for a while now. This is an Iggy fic, as you can see. I hope you enjoy it, and take the time to review, because that would be great. I'll leave an Author's note at the bottom. Thanks!

Disclaimer: I do not, and will never, own the Maximum Ride Series, or Iggy.


I don't open my eyes when I wake up. It doesn't come naturally to me. Most of the time I have my eyes closed, anyway. Most of the time people won't notice, either. It makes me stealthy. Like a ninja. Or a pirate. Arr. But it doesn't really change anything when you're blind.

"Hey, Ig."

"Hey." I replied quietly, bending my knee up to my chest in a sitting position. Dark. Always dark. What else was dark like my world? Oh! A TV when it was off. But even then it kind of reflected stuff off of it. I remember the screens of the monitors in the School. My eyes didn't reflect anything, though. I bet there's this whole big explanation about what parts of my eyes don't work and why I only see black and blah blah blah. I couldn't care less. Gazzy once tried to see what it was like to be me, and closed his eyes. He walked around and bumped into things, and finally snapped open his eyes in frustration.

"Iggy, I don't know how you do it! Everything is in the way, and the sun hurts! It just makes everything all red. You gotta hate that all the time."

Truth was, I didn't see the sun. No red glow penetrated my eyes. I would kill to be able to see the red that came when the light hit your closed eyelids. Ever since then, all I wanted was to be able to see the sun. If anything, just the sun. They say staring at the sun makes you blind. Well, maybe staring at the sun would make me see.

"Iggy?" Angel asked in her sweet little voice.


"You're doing it again."


"Staring at the sun. That hurts. Don't hurt yourself, Iggy."

I smiled slightly. Silly kid. "It doesn't hurt, Angel. Feels good."

Angel's little hand crept on top of mine. I felt her head leaning on my arm. "I wish you could see, Iggy." She whispered. "Then you could see me, and Max, and the sun. You could see how pretty you are."

My heart swelled. I corrected my statement. If anything, if anything at all, I wanted to see my Flock. Just once. When I last saw Max we had been little. Itty-bitty, like Angel was. Heck, I didn't even know what Angel and my little partner in crime looked like. Total rip-off. I wished I could see Max, and Fang, and Nudge…and myself. I smiled as I turned and picked Angel up, landing my back on the hard concrete. I held my favorite little girl above me, and she giggled. "I'm not pretty." I teased, avoiding the sight comment and tickling her nose with mine. "Girls are pretty. I'm devilishly handsome."

"Keep thinking that, buddy." Fang murmured, and my smile faded, just a little. I put Angel down, and you could feel her happiness deflate a bit. Fang should never try to joke around. It always hurt. It was like he was a humor vacuum. I mean, the joke was directed at me, and even Angel seemed offended.

"Save that for comedy hour." I stuck my tongue out at him. "The ladies will love it."

"Up and at 'em, guys!" I heard our 'Fearless Leader' call. It's another day! Time to get out of this place!"

We had just gotten our files from the Institute. We had set all of those kids free. That alone made me proud of us and made me feel like we could actually achieve something as the wandering freaks we were. Max had killed Ari. That alone made me horribly scared of her. Either way, our job was done here in the Big Apple. It was time to move forward, maybe find a place to settle down. If it weren't for the whole, ahem, parents situation. I really wanted a mom, but I didn't think I was so ready to actually go out and find one yet. I could tell the rest of the Flock wasn't, either. There was this unspoken veil of the feeling we just wanted to get the heck out of New York and run away as fast as we could from this situation screaming.

"Can we go to Florida?" Nudge asked excitedly. "Florida's so warm and awesome and beautiful!"

"I want to go to Pennsylvania!" Gazzy piped up. "They have a town named after chocolate!"

"I think we should go to Maine." I mumbled grumpily, so no one but Angel heard me. "It's quiet in Maine. Nothing ever happens in Maine."

"We'll find out after we leave." Max said firmly. "We should get out of New York first. The School is still after us. And plus, we should go find your parents."

Note: she said your parents. Listening is everything, young grasshoppers.

"Can we take a vacation first?" Gazzy asked. "Like you said, the School is still after us. We could go to Hershey Park and then find Ange's and my parents."

See what I mean? No one wanted to find their parents. I could tell Fang wanted to the least of us all. He wasn't exactly a homebody in the first place, and his mom was like twice his age. Let's say it together! Awkward.

"Yeah, yeah." I moaned, jumping to my feet. "Let's just go. I'm sick of city."

No one seemed to understand that I hated the city. It was so loud, and all the people didn't care that there was a blind guy walking around that relied on his ears. No one cared. And that kind of sucked. If I could have my way we'd be stuck in the library or the park every night. I hated that we had to leave the park. Well now we were leaving New York City. Good freaking riddance.

"Let's get a bite to eat first." Max said, and I heard her haul Nudge up. "Who wants Cinnabon?"

"Yummy!" the kids laughed. I smiled, even though I was bummed that we weren't leaving right away. But what could I say? It was Cinnabon! 1200 calories of pure sugar and happiness! Angel grabbed my hand (more like two of my fingers, it was cute) and tried to lead me out of the alleyway.

"Nudge, can you hold Total?" Angel asked. Oh, yeah. The new family dog. That was going to take some getting used to. Especially since the little, um, stunt he did. I didn't see the mutant dog jump sixteen feet in the air (ah! Get it? Blind joke!), because I was with the Nudge Channel and the Gasman. Re-read that last sentence. Do it. Number one: I need some new friends. Number two: I have a pretty dang screwed up life.

"Angel, he's your dog." Nudge whined, but I could tell she had already given in. Total barked from Nudge's arms, and she made one of those girlish "eiww" noises. Hmpf. Weinie.

"I'll take him." Gazzy grumbled, but Nudge protested.

"No! He matches my dress! I look like a model!"

And this was the most important thing to Nudge at ten in the morning.

"And plus, I'm helping Iggy." Angel told Nudge, her grip on my pointer and middle finger tightening.

"Angel, honey, you can't lead Iggy around." Max told her. "You don't know where we're going."

"Yes, I do." Angel whined. My jaw clenched. I didn't need to be led around at all, but I was humoring the kid. She was cute, and acting particularly six-year-oldish today. What? I like little kids. Sue me.

"If she wants to, she can." I growled. "Let her help me. I'm helpless, anyway."

"Iggy, that's not—"

"Save it." I cut Max off. I wasn't in the mood. The silence that followed was like me winning an Olympic medal. Only, the medal was for Max-pwning. It still felt good either way.

"Um, can we have ten large Cinnabuns, and six extra large Mountain Dews?" Max asked the street vendor dude when we reached the stand. He looked surprised (who didn't?) but put in our order. Let me tell you, Cinnabuns take forever to make. I'm serious, we were standing there like idiots sipping our Mountain Dews for a good twenty minutes. And this was supposed to be fast food. Yeah, right. I blame the economy.

We finally sat down and munched on our humungous Cinnabuns (delicious gooey substances equal heaven in my tummy). Of course, the six-pound things half the size of Total were gone in what, sixteen seconds? Maybe twenty. Gazzy and Nudge were perpetually arguing about Hershey park versus Epcot while Fang and Max muttered about who-knows-what. Again, I was left out. Angel was never left out, because she could just read their minds. I was just as old as Fang and Max, but was still treated like I was Gazzy's age. Hi! I'm Iggy! Feel free to ignore me!

"All right, guys." Max announced, standing up. "Let's take to the skies."

Flying was awesome. Just down right awesome. Just sayin', you know, if you ever want to go and get yourself genetically altered. Which, by the way, is not a smart choice. I've had too many black eyes to think it may have been a good thing. We entered Central Park calmly and then launched from the trees, following Max up and out. Of course, as soon as we crossed the friggin' New York border…



"How 'bout that Pine Tree State?" I spoke up.





"Theme parks and food!"

"They have guys dressed up as chocolate!"

"Just go to Orlando!" I shrieked, annoyed. I could feel Gazzy's disbelieving glare on me. "Those people have so much plastic surgery we'll blend in like bricks on a building! And we can go for a few days, have a good time, then come back up to Pennsylvania and go to Canada. I hear Canada has a good health care plan for bird kids." I spat sarcastically. The truth was, those Hershey guys really creeped me out.

"That's…that's a good idea, Ig." Max stuttered. Of course, Iggy can come up with ideas by himself. Who would have guessed? Ooh! Pick me! NOT MAX. "Who wants to go on a vacation?"

The kids cheered, and then we proceeded to spend hours flying. Hours and hours of flying. B-O-R-I-N-G. And fairly tiring, since I didn't really have anything to do. Max yelled at me when I took out some bomb supplies, saying something like "You'll kill someone if you drop it". Yeah, yeah. I was bored. Gazzy had started farting his friggin' ABC's, for crying out loud. And every other hour I would carry Angel in my arms and Total in my backpack, because she got tired. She was only six, so I consented. Like I said, she was being nice and adorable today. Most of the time she got Fang to do stuff like this. It was sort of nice, being relied on.

Every time we crossed a state border, Gazzy would scream the name of the state we were in. And every time he would scream the name of the state, I would cuff him on the back of the head. Currently? We were flying over Georgia, according to Gazzy, and it was nightfall and around eight, according to Nudge. My own little clock. It was like I had servants!

"Is your Voice bothering you?" Fang whispered to Max. Aw, sweet mutant love. It made me nauseous.

"Not now. Hopefully not for a while. The kids deserve a break."

"Yeah." Fang stuffed his hands in his pockets while flying. I could hear the little rustle your pockets make when you do that. Smooth, Fang. And if you don't believe me, stick your hands in your pockets now. I swear to God it makes a noise.

"We should land. They look like they're going to drop dead. Especially Iggy. Look at him." Max told Fang. Personally, I didn't care if I looked like hell. That was a Nudge thing to worry about.

"Landing, guys. Forest below, three o-clock." Fang called out. I didn't really hear him. For an hour or so I had been fading, and I was about conked out at the moment. I hadn't been carrying Angel for some time, but I had just let her fly again twenty minutes or so ago. I was just so dang tired, so I thought I could take a few minutes to get some Z's. Flying and sleeping, I was smoother than butter. No one really could tell if I was awake or asleep because I always had my eyes closed when I flew. Well, most of the time, anyway. It freaked Nudge out, so I kept it to a minimum. But I had barely even heard Max's and Fang's conversation. I was trying to get my energy back up again so we could land and eat some tasty cupcakes I snagged from a street vendor. We had been flying for more than seven hours, minimal breaks.


I felt a hand on the back of my shirt, and my eyelids drifted half open, not that it mattered. What? Damn it, did the dog eat the cupcakes?

"Iggy! Iggy, wake up!"

"Whassat?" I garbled. I was going to strangle that dog.

"Fang, help him land!" I heard Max shout.

"Come on, Iggy…" I felt hands on my back and my stomach. We were declining, and my feet caught leaves on trees. I giggled, and someone flicked the side of my head. I had a burning feeling that Total had eaten the cupcakes. I had to have a talk with Angel…

"Fang…" I murmured. I couldn't tell where I was. I thought I was on my back now. Hello, ground. Nice to meet your comfy-ness. I, dear sir, am Iggy. I would like to sleep on you now. I could feel leaves and twigs and moss in my hair, but I considered that as normal. Max would just pay me another ten bucks to take a shower. I was slowly building a fortune.

"God, Iggy." I heard someone snap. "What was that? You just sort of fell!"

"I dunno." I slurred. What? Fell? I was tired. Cupcakes. I was sleeping. Kill dog. I couldn't even tell what was happening. Where was I?

"You could have listened to Max!"

"Did you lose control?"

"Fang had to catch you, Iggy, you scared us so much!"

"Guys, lay off." I heard Angel yell. "He's exhausted. Look at him!"

Silence. Bliss. "She's right, guys. Let's catch some shut-eye. We all need it. Iggy was carrying Angel and Total half the way. He deserves to be tired." Max said softly.

Damn right.

"Night, Iggy." Gazzy told me, laying down a few feet away.

"Night, Gaz."

"Orlando tomorrow, guys." Max told us. "A few days of vacation."

"Yay." I muttered before falling asleep. We bird kids didn't have very pleasant dreams. And we were going to Orlando, home of Disney. If I woke up to an empty backpack, Total's days were numbered. I swore Gazzy's appendix on it (What? He doesn't need it).

So we were going to the super duper magical world of Disney. But you know what? I didn't want my dreams to come true.

So. What do you think? This is a first, trying to attempt writing in Iggy's POV, or any birdkid's POV, for that matter. If Iggy's thoughts appear a, scatterbrained in the beginning of the story, trust me, there is a plot. I swear.

I'd like to thank everyone who reads and reviews in advance, as well as the people who come over from the Hunger Games fandom to read this. You guys are awesome. Also a shout-out to everyone out there who loves Iggy! So drop a review by and I'll try to update soon!

2. Around the World in Say, Three Hours

Yay, updates! I couldn't resist. First of all, I would love to thank Percabethlover112, Heart the Squid, alicemaybrandonjones, and flYegurl for reviewing. You guys be awesome. I would also like to thank all you people who subscribed/favorited! I know that I don't really do anonymous reviews, but the thought still counts :)

So. Here is a warning. This chapter is so totally completely RANDOM that it might not even make a whole ton of sense. But it builds up the plot, and the next chapter is depressing, so we better get that happy out now. Just sayin'. Thanks so much! And don't forget to review! I love reviews...

Disclaimer: So now I have to add that I don't own EPCOT in Orlando, Florida, either. But I'm more upset that I do NOT and will never own Maximum Ride. :(

"And…what am I eating?" I asked through bites, gnawing on something on a stick. I had the sinking feeling that Gazzy had given me alligator just to see me puke. Or Total had it out for me ever since I confronted him about the cupcakes. Yes, I confronted a dog. I think I'm the only one to know about Total's little 'talent' so far. I walked in on Angel talking to Total while she was gathering firewood in the forest we slept in. And get this: Total talked back.


So I think this dog's smart enough to take me down. I mean, I'm blind. If it comes from a street vendor, I eat it. If it's at home, I cook it. Total could have sprinkled any form of poison in whatever it is that's going through my small intestine. Or…worse. You know what I meant.

We were walking through Orlando, looking for a place to stop so we could rest for a moment. Nudge kept babbling on to me about what every single piece of grass and pond and palm tree looked like and how beautiful it all was. I was pretty sure my eardrum had broken and was pouring out blood all over Fang's shirt, but hey. Whatever. I had already tuned her out, and instead I was listening to the nice sounds of the palm leaves as we walked through. I wished I had an iPod. I wouldn't have to listen to Max or Nudge anymore. But, alas, my iPod was back at the E house (E in the HOUSE! No? Well then.), and Gaz and I had deemed that place a no-go. And now we were in the Sunny Place, as Angel calls it. She means the non-city part of Orlando. We were in the nice part of town, with a bunch of resorts and stuff. It was nice.

"Oh, yeah. It's a chicken kabob. Yummy, right?" Gazzy replied to my question finally, after coming back from chasing a butterfly or a hobo or something. Hm. Well, at least it wasn't alligator.

"Isn't this, like, some form of cannibalism?" I furrowed my eyebrows. I could tell Gazzy was thinking hard.

"I don't think so…"

"Hey Max, can we go to Epcot?" Nudge asked excitingly. I rolled my eyes. "It's so cool, and we can go around the world in one day! Well not really but it's still awesome and they have cool virtual roller coasters and a giant golf ball! I think it's a golf ball but you can't really be sure but anyway can we go please?"

"Sure, hon. We're here on vacation, so we can go to Epcot today, and somewhere else tomorrow."

"I want to go to the Magic Kingdom." Angel piped up. "I want to be a princess."

"We can do that too, Angel." Max promised her.

"All I know is that you losers are not dressing me up as Harry Potter." I hissed. "Or Ron Weasley. If anything, I will be Fred, I shall buy a wand, and then shove it up your—"

"Iggy!" Max shouted, and I smirked. It was just so much fun to set her off.

"Let's get a taxi." Fang spoke up. "It's pretty far from here."

"Yeah." Nudge replied. "The taxi stop is over there let's rest a minute though oh my God we're going to Epcot this is going to be awesome Iggy we'll totally tell you what the Eiffel Tower and stuff looks like and we can go on roller coasters it's going to be sweet!"

"Sure." I replied, and sat down on a bench, fiddling with some wire. I had to ditch most of my bomb stuff back at this field we saw earlier (heh, I said most of my bomb stuff), because Max said it wouldn't be good if I got carted off to jail for bombing Disney. All I know is that Mickey's got some problems. After a few minutes, I heard Max and Fang snickering, and I tilted my head up slightly.

"What?" I asked.

"There's a bird on your head." Max told me. "And your shoulder. And your knee, oh Iggy, you're Mother Nature."

"Not on your life." I sneered, and stood up, shaking the birds off of me. We walked along, and I realized that Fang was eating an ice cream bar. Licking my lips, I slipped my finger in Fang's belt loop, just waiting a little bit. Once Fang stopped and held his ice cream bar down by his waist, I stepped up behind him and took the bar in my fingers, bringing it up to my mouth. Ooh, yummy.

"Iggy!" Fang growled, and I smiled, his ice cream bar sticking out of my mouth. "You jerk!"

"What? Max asked, stepping over.

"He stole my ice cream!"

Fang pushed me back, and I laughed as he ripped the ice cream out of my mouth and punched me in the chest. Max folded her arms. I could tell because she always makes this little 'Hmpf' sound whenever she does it.

"Iggy, you have to stop stealing people's desserts. We'll get you your own, and we have those cupcakes back at the field. Iggy, are you listening to me?"

I stared blankly at her, well in her general direction, okay, and didn't say anything. Then, quickly and silently, I reached out and snapped off a piece of her cookie, sticking it in my mouth with a smirk.

"IGGY!" She yelled in frustration. I smiled. "How did you even know I had a cookie? How did you know where it even was?"

"I'm special." I answered sloppily, mouth full of cookie.

"There's a taxi!" Nudge called, and Gazzy was jumping. "There's another one! Another one!"

"Just call the taxi, Gazzy." Angel told her big brother. I hung back, slipping a finger in Max's belt. She didn't notice.

"Another one!" Nudge called. "Gazzy, get the taxi! Why are they all yellow, anyway? I'm sure there's a reason why all of the taxi's are yellow, but do you guys know I bet there's a taxi museum that says all that stuff I wonder if there's one in Orlando that would be cool oh there's another one!"

"TAXI!" Gazzy screamed, obviously jumping up and down. I felt a hand touch my wrist, and I looked up from the ground with a snap. I felt Max's eyes on me, and I remembered my finger had been in her belt loop. I swear it wasn't awkward.

"Just making sure you're still with me." Max said softly. "Wouldn't want to lose you."

"Don't worry about me." I told her, taking my finger out of her belt loop. "I still got your cookie."

"Come on Iggy, the taxi's here!" Gazzy yelled, yanking my wrist and nearly shoving me into a car that smelled like chicken curry. Strange. I fell sprawled on the seat, but I had to get up and squeeze in so that the other kids could fit. Fang was squished on the other side, and Nudge and Gazzy thrust themselves inside as Gazzy closed the door, making me smooshed directly in the middle. Max took Angel in the front with her, and then we sped off toward Epcot.

"Palm tree! Palm tree! Street sign! Hobo!" Nudge and Gazzy took turns calling out. "Oh! Oh! There's a tunnel, hold your breath!"

Fang, Max and I held our breath just to humor the kiddies, but halfway through the tunnel I let out a huge, embarrassing and quite messy sneeze. I laughed as I came back up.

"Eiwww!" Nudge squealed, rubbing my saliva off of her dress. Yeah, that's just delicious.

"Gross, dude." Fang muttered.

"Iggy, you didn't hold your breath!" Angel accused. "You lost!"

"Bless you, man." The taxi driver said to me.

"Thanks." I replied. "See? Some people are considerate, guys."

"Yeah, yeah." Max leaned back and flicked my head. "We got some more time. Just don't sneeze in my hair, again, Iggy."

"I can't make any promises."

Halfway there, after many twists and bumps and turns, Nudge was practically on top of me, and Fang's knee was digging into my thigh. "Can't…breathe!" I growled, and the taxi halted on a dime. We were all thrown forward (seatbelts are for squares!) and we all tumbled out of the taxi, escaping Gazzy, who got out more slowly.

"Gazzy, you are disgusting!" Nudge cried, running away. I held my breath, but gave Gazzy a high-five as we sauntered over to the rest of the Flock. Well, there is a reason his name is the Gasman. Which makes me wonder why the guy with the most sensitive nose on the planet was friends with the kid with a funky digestive system. Questions, questions.

"OHMIGOSH WE'RE HERE!" Nudge squealed, and she pulled Max away to buy the tickets. She tried to resist, but Nudge was determined and she had a steel grip to match her motor mouth. The tickets were super expensive, but we had the Maxcard. Oh, the Maxcard. I wondered vaguely if taxpayers supplied us with our useless junk. Heh, sucks for them! I could buy all the freaking churros I wanted! I tucked the idea of a churro eating contest with Gazzy away for later. Everyone knew Universal was the Park of Churros. But thanks to the Maxcard, we could basically do anything we wanted. I decided this Voice guy wasn't so bad of a guy after all. Or girl. Um…

I hooked my finger onto Fang's belt loop, and we walked toward the entrance. Imagine if I lost the Flock in Epcot because Nudge wanted a churro. I would have to go to one of those help desks and have them call Max's name on the intercom. Talk about embarrassing…for Max. That was good plan. Now I needed to convince Nudge to like churros.

Suddenly some guys walked by, snickering. One bumped into me deliberately, and Fang tensed at my side as I swung my head back, turning slightly.

"Hey, queer." One of the dudes sneered. Well that's just mean. Talk about immature! I could smell drugs in the guy's stinky breath. One: breath mint. Two: How the hell did these guys get into a children's park? There were people all around us, so I couldn't tell which jerkwad said it. I looked to my immediate left.

"Hey, jerk." I snapped.

"Emo, what's wrong with your queer friend? He stupid?" I had obviously looked the wrong way. Damn amusement parks and their public amusement!

I growled and shrunk back as I felt people wave their hands in front of my face. I let go of Fang, and backed up. I got pushed forward, and I stumbled. If I was, say, human, I would have totally crashed and burned. But I was one damn messed up blind kid. I turned around and was tempted to swing out my fist. These dudes thought they could beat me up? That was cute. Real cute. I knew I could hit the guy who pushed me straight in the no-no's, but there were…people around. That wouldn't be too smart.

"Leave him alone!" Fang growled.

"What'cha gonna do, Emo? Cut yourself?" Someone cackled.

"No. I'm going to punch your nose so hard it'll come out the other side." Her voice was the voice of the devil, I promise you.

"Max." I exclaimed in surprise, reaching out my hand. Someone slapped it hard, and I brought it back, bristling. I could totally beat these guys up if I needed to, but Max was here. She'd take care of these jerks. Prepare to die, young dirtbags.

"Don't touch him!" I heard Nudge hiss, and I felt her hand on my arm. I was just waiting for the first punch. I wanted to hear Max break their noses.

"Leave, if you know what's good for you." Max snarled. She grabbed my hand. "Come on, Iggy."

Once we were in the park, I raged. "You're not even going to beat them up?" I asked in disbelief. "What has the world come to? I was looking forward to hearing them cry!"

"We can't beat people up here, Ig." Max told me sternly. I sulked a little. "We'd get kicked out, our pictures would be taken, the School could find out, and worst of all Nudge would be on our backs until we're thirty."

"I hate not being able to see!" I nearly shouted. "I could have totally beaten those thugs up, but there were too many people! Or at least give them something to remember." I sneered as I pulled out a small lighter.

"I know, Ig." Max replied calmly. "Just forget it. We're here to have fun. Wait, you brought a lighter? Iggy, what were you planning to do with that? You are so dead!"

"I want to go on the space ride." Angel told us, totally saving my butt. Total was squirming a bit inside her backpack, and I wondered how she got him in the park. Probably played mind control with the search guy. There were puppies coming in by storm now, I bet.

"Sorry, sweetie. That's an interactive ride, and there're only four seats on it. Iggy can't do that."

"It's okay." Fang spoke up. I shrugged. It was only some space thing for little kids. It wasn't like I'd have fun. "We'll wait out here. I don't want to go, anyway."

"Sweet!" Gazzy cheered, running away like the eight-year-old kid I forget he is sometimes.

"Thanks, Fang. The wait's really short, we'll be out in a few." Max told us, and then led the kids inside the ride.

"You didn't need to do that." I told Fang, copying him as I leaned against the wall.

"No problem." Fang replied gruffly. "I really didn't want to go. I don't like simulations."

"Why not?"

"There was this thing. When we were six. The whitecoats decided to see what would happen if they made me see things." Fang growled. "It wasn't anything bad, but…"

"I get you." I told him. "I hate movies. I hate being able to hear things but not see what's happening."

"Funny." Fang grumbled. I guess he was really upset about this simulation thing. "You want to see the images, and all I want to do is shut them out. Just shut everything out."

"Yeah." I stopped, pondering.

We sat there in silence for more than fifteen minutes, having reached a small new understanding as each other. We only straightened and perked slightly when the kids came out, laughing hysterically and talking too loudly to be socially acceptable.

"That. Was. Awesome." Gazzy exclaimed. "I totally wanted to blow up that Martian!"

"Of course you did, Gasser." Max replied, and by the protests following I guessed Max had ruffled Gazzy's hair. My little pyro was growing up. I think I'm going to cry.

"That was just like a spaceship it was so cool when we blasted off! I liked driving it was just amazing wasn't it?"

"Yep!" Angel giggled. "Iggy, you should have gone. It felt wonderful and you wouldn't have needed to even see the screen."

"It's okay, Ange." I told her. "Fang and I hanged out here, like the cool kids we are. So, any other rides, guys?"

Everything was silent for a minute (well, my life is never silent when Nudge is around) as we walked over to the listings of the rides. They poured over the thing that lit up (Shiny!) while I hung back, letting the kids go over what they wanted to do next on their Trip Of Fun Before We All Get Killed.

"HOLY CRAP!" Gazzy nearly hyperventilated randomly. "There's a car crash ride! Come on, Max, we gotta go!"

"Car crash?" I asked, wary. Only if there was explosions. Only. I liked life, thank you.

"It's like a test car simulation thing." Fang answered. Oh. I felt stupid. I heard Gazzy run forward, and I followed Max into the line.

"We got here at a good time, Ig!" Gazzy told me. "Only a fifteen minute wait!"

Gazzy described all the gadgets and stuff going on in the line, and we finally made it to the last line going to the rides. I had to admit, it was all pretty cool. I was looking forward to it. But there were no explosions, so that was a total bummer. I listened to the guy telling us lower beings what would happen. I think I was the one of the millions of people that would even benefit from listening to the guy. Gazzy pushed me forward, and I stepped up tentatively.

"Row 5, single rider." The guy droned. Then, "Hey, kid. Tall guy. Row 5."

I froze. "And…where would that be?" I asked. It was going to be one of those times.

"It's right here, dude. Come on, single rider. You're holding up the line."

"I have to go with him." Gazzy said, grabbing my wrist.

"Sorry, kid. We need a single rider. The sign says your party will probably get broken up."

"But he can't go on alone." Gazzy insisted.

"Why not? Come on, man, your holding up this line."

"Iggy's blind." Gazzy told him, like it was obvious. Way to point out the elephant in the room, buddy.

"Oh, uh…I'm, I'm sorry, he can't go on then. You have to see and be able to hold on the stuff. Sorry, man." The guy replied, uncomfortable.

"I'm not crippled." I told him. I hated…people. Just people in general. Come on, you all gotta feel that way sometimes. Admit it. You do.

"Why not?" Gazzy ordered, shrill. "There's nothing wrong with him! I just need to go with him."

"You won't be able to see the ride, guy." He told me.

"Fine by me." I replied, bored. "I just want to ride."

"Uh, um…then, row 7, both of you. Sorry about that, dude."

"It's cool." I told him, knowing that it totally wasn't cool and flipping the guy off behind his back. Secret immaturity is better than any other level of childishness any day. Gazzy ran with me over to what must have been row 7. We stepped into the car thing, and one of the workers buckled my seat belt. I felt around my space, and decided I could break out if needed.

"Stupid seat belt." I murmured, and Gazzy laughed. It was this flimsy little thing. If we hit a pothole the next five-year-old was gone from the face of the Earth.

"Hey Angel! Hi Max! Nudge, Fang!" Gazzy called, hitting my shoulder as he looked behind and waved enthusiastically at the rest of the Flock. "This is going to be awesome!"

"This is lame!" Gazzy whined. We had just gotten past the bumps. I had to admit, it was pretty lame. It wasn't even fast, and I was sure that when they tested cars they didn't do it in artificial forests. Every single little kid in the ride was peeved at Gazzy, who kept exclaiming the horrible effects of the ride, and how we weren't even going fast, and how the trees were just so stupid. He had scarred four other kid's dreams and traumatized half of them with some of the words that will not be written down at this time.

"Gasman, shut up!" Nudge screamed from one test back. Well, if Nudge was saying that, we had a problem. I smirked, and Gazzy hit my chest.

"Iggy, why did we even…ooh! Crash test! Crash test!"

Crash test?

"Crash test?" I asked nervously. And we're back to the not wanting to die issue.

"Yeah, Ig! Oh, there's a wall! We're gonna crash! Oh, this is so awesome!"

We're gonna crash, we're gonna crash!

"This is just like the break out!" Gazzy laughed. "We've done so much cooler!"

I braced myself, digging my nails into the armrest, but the crash never came. In fact, we were going faster. Faster and faster and oh, that felt good. I heard Gazzy scream, "RIP OFF!" but I didn't care. My hair was flying back, and I closed my eyes and smiled. This was faster than flying! The wind was just so amazing. We were going sideways, and I was laughing so hard I thought my ribs would break. I think I did pull one of those little side muscles no one knows the name of. But then the awesome was gone, and my hair wasn't windblown, just messy. Frustration equals wanting to rip my messy hair out. I sighed as we got out of the car thing, but the smile was still plastered on my face. Gazzy slipped his hand into mine, and we waited for the rest of the Flock.

"Can we do it again?" I asked Gazzy quietly, and I could tell he was giving me a WTF look.

"That was so awesome!" Nudge giggled as she ran over to me and grabbed my hands from Gazzy's grasp. What was so special with me today? "When we went so fast the thing said it was over 600 miles an hour but I doubt it was that fast it was so awesome though I can't believe it! Ooh Iggy let's go around the world I want to go to the Eiffel Tower can we Max? It's going to be so realistic I want to go to China I've never even seen anything Chinese other than Chinese food but we never have that it's tasty though do you think we can get ice cream too?"

"YES, Nudge." Max interrupted her. "Let's go."

Gazzy tugged on my sleeve and we ran through the park, laughing like the madmen I'm sure we were. We ran through Mexico at seven (ariba!) and bought some useless junk we'd throw out within the next week in Mexico, China, and Germany. I'm serious, those caramels are like heaven. We ate in this smancy restaurant in Italy, and Angel dropped half of her meatballs into her backpack. Suspicious. Gazzy and I had a huge fight whether the statue in Italy was Zeus or Poseidon, oh sorry I mean Jupiter or Neptune, pardon my Greek. We had to go to China (again, because Nudge wanted to buy some dress or something) before the fireworks were going to start, but then quickly continued to Morocco or someplace like that. I was kind of bummed about the firework thing, because I wouldn't exactly be able to see them, but the kids were really excited about it, so that was enough for me. I was having a really good time. For once one of Nudge's ideas hadn't ended in disaster. That pasta stuff Max told me had a cheese sauce on it wasn't agreeing with me, though. I wondered if Gazzy had farted on it, or something sadistic like that. Or Fang poisoned it just for a nonexistent laugh. All I knew was that I needed to find a bathroom soon.

Suddenly something was placed on my head forcefully, and Angel giggled. I reached out, and Nudge let out a shriek as she fell off of Max's back. Before I could even enjoy that I heard a click, and swung around.

"Ig, you look hilarious!" Gazzy choked. And I literally meant choked, because I was throttling him. I stopped and Gazzy started laughing. I was getting smile vibes off of Fang, even, so it must have been pretty funny. What…ever…it was.

"What did you put on me?" I asked, reaching up to my head. I pulled off one of those little funny hats with the silly poof at the top, and grimaced, speaking in a deadpan. "And you took a picture of that?"

"Iggy, I think you should wear a fez all the time." Max chuckled. "It's a good look for you."

"Yeah, right." I grumbled, placing the hat back on the shelf. "And Fang's favorite color is hot pink."

"You don't know me." Fang mumbled, and I grinned.

"The fireworks are starting!" Nudge exclaimed with so much girly fairy dust and enthusiasm I thought I was going to give away my right as a man, and we all ran to the edge of the water. My stomach hit something hard, and I lost my breath for a minute. Stupid guardrails. Fang laughed, and I flipped him off.

"Iggy!" Max turned on her oh-no-you-didn't-in-front-of-the-kids tone, and I flipped her off too. Gazzy cackled, but then everyone was going Oooh. Then, Ahhh. I guess it was amazing. Suckers. I don't think that I would even like fireworks if I could see. But, I had never seen one. They were mini explosions…

"The globe is coming towards us!" Angel exclaimed happily. I sat back, enjoying the awed sounds coming from my family.

"It's so close!" Nudge squealed. "Oh my gosh it's so bright and green I could go out and touch it! Fang hold me out I want to touch it it's so…so…"

"Max, is it supposed to be that close?" Fang asked.

"It's cool. Hey, Iggy, come up here. There's fire and stuff."

Suddenly I tensed. What was that sound?

"Iggy?" Max asked, turning around and stepped toward me.

That sound…

"Iggy, what's wrong?" Max demanded, hand tight on my shoulder.

I knew that sound. That distinct, small, ticking noise that penetrated my eardrums right before Gazzy said it was about to—

"Everyone move!" I screamed in terror, shoving Max to the ground and pushing everyone else back several feet before turning around to face the oncoming traveling, shining globe.


Cliffhangers are my favorite. And yes, the first half of this chapter was solely to actually see Iggy steal someone's dessert. XD Finally!


3. Get the Heck Out of the Happy Place

Hey! So, I decided to set a good example and update on time :) I'm glad you guys like this story! But alas, there is less funny in this chapter, and more, ugh...depressing stuff. But maybe you guys like this kind of stuff, there's some choice Iggy angst fics out there. Just saying, though...there is not a lot of angst in this story. Mostly snark-filled adventures with our favorite pyro. Just wanted to point that out. Oh, yeah! So, other than Iggy, we'll have some MAX POV in here, but that's about it unless you guys want another POV. SO, I would like to thank alicemaybrandonjones, SeaChick, flYegurl, 1917farmgirl, and Heart the Squid for reviewing! You guys be great. I assume that it is in general agreement that Iggy is the best character ever, with Fred Weasley as a close second. Yes. So, with that random note, onto the story! Please review!

Disclaimer: Alas, Heart the Squid, I am not JP. This I swear. I so do not own Maximum Ride. Nor do I own Epcot. But you can't have everything, right?

I was tossed right off of my feet as the globe erupted into a thousand flames and flying pieces of metal. Small shards of metal landed in my torso and legs, and I screamed in the air. I crashed harshly into something very hard, and my head whipped back as I hit the ground, stunned. Someone screamed my name, but everyone was screaming. Every. Single. Friggin'. Person in Epcot. Gunfire pierced the air, and then everyone was running. Crap. Guns. Guess who that was. Guess who was ruining the days of all these people. I bet some guy here had lost his job or something today. His day just kept getting worse and worse, huh? After all of this, there was going to be some serious chizness going down. And guess who they were trying to reach through all of this crap?

That's right, our favorite girl.

I struggled to my feet and someone grabbed my wrist tightly, pulling me along with the shrieking crowd trying to escape one of the happiest places on Earth.

How's that for a sentence?

When more gunfire mixed with the screams, the one thought going through these tourists' heads was terrorist attack. That, and RUN WE'RE GONNA DIE. But I could guarantee that the only thought going through the five other minds I knew best was School.

"U and A, guys!" Someone called out shrilly. I thought it was Max.

"No!" Fang screamed. Yes, screamed. It was perfectly necessary at the time, trust me. "They'll shoot us down! Blend in and run!"

"Maximum Ride." A large, ominous voice boomed across the park. Everyone kept screaming, running. This will be a warning. Everything that happens tonight is a warning to you.

What. The. HELL.

"Iggy!" Someone screamed as their grip was torn away from my wrist. I panicked and swung my arms around, suddenly terrified. Someone knocked into me as I ran, literally, blindly, through the crowd. My sensitive ears were on overdrive, making me nearly deaf as well as blind. Stupid over-developed senses.

"Max!" I cried, being tossed around. Where was Max? Where was my Flock? I swung my arms out again, and received a blow to the head.

"Iggy!" a voice screamed from far away. Too far away. God, I had to reach them! I couldn't take off, and I couldn't find Max or Gazzy. Dilemma of the century, people!

"Max!" I was in hysterical tears now, unable to reach my family with all of these damn people in my way. "Max! Fang! Gasser!"

Suddenly I was knocked forcefully to the ground, banging my chin as I sprawled on the concrete. And trust me, it takes a lot of strength to do that to me. People were too terrified to stop, and ran over my constricted body. You know on that day that I never really remembered, all those people went sale-crazy and ran over people just to get a fridge or TV or whatever in Walmart? Yeah, that was me right now. I was being trampled as I sobbed with fear, trying to crawl my way forward and up. Someone smashed my face into the ground with their shoe, and my teeth went through my tongue and filled my mouth with blood. I turned onto my side and curled up in a ball, not even able to scream as the blood gushed from my mouth and chest from the metal.


Crap. Something grabbed my foot, and then I was screaming a bloody, mortified scream. No one cared, and kept running past the kid being dragged away to his death. I screamed so loudly I thought my vocal chords would shrivel up and die as I was dragged out of the line of feet into the corner of whatever stupid fake country I was in. Right now I was cursing Disney for making the place so damn realistic. I kept screaming, trying to get someone to hear me and help me, but I was drowned out under the roaring crowd. Suddenly my hands were bound, and I struggled with all of my might. Hell, no. The metal shards dug deeper and surged more blood out of my chest as I rolled over. I kicked out with my feet, but I knew it was futile. My ears were ringing and I couldn't even feel anything anymore but pain. I knew it was an Eraser somewhere in my mind that was torturing me, but I couldn't bring myself to realize it. Someone was ripping feathers out of my wings, and I screamed even louder. So many of feathers were pulled out of my right wing that I thought I would pass out from the pain and blood. Something wrapped around my wings, and then I was being stuffed into something. A something I knew all too well. A something I had been unable to save Angel from, and now myself.

This day sucked.

"MAX!" I screamed bloody murder, reaching an octave I was sure was impossible for me to reach. I was being taken by the School. I was being kidnapped. I was so freaking scared! "Max, help! Help me! Max!"

The dark bag closed around my tethered body and all of the tears mixed with the blood. I kicked and struggled like the survivor I was, but the bag was lifted with me in it, and then smashed against something very hard. I cried out as my arm snapped, but then I was being smashed again. And again. And again, until my cries had been silenced.

"Max…" I whimpered, falling limp as I was dragged away to who-knows-where. Oh my God. I didn't want to go back, no! Horrified sobs racked my body, but agony panged my brain with every spasm. "Max…"

I crashed into somewhere hard and cold, and with one last cry for help the world fell into an even darker black.


"Maximum Ride. This will be a warning. Everything that happens tonight is a warning to you."


Totally not fair!

"Iggy!" The Gasman screamed. Shit. I whipped around, scanning the area. Gazzy, Gazzy, where are you? I climbed up on one of the French lampposts, looking back in the screaming crowd. Iggy was being swept away by the mass of people, while Gazzy was trying to reach him. Gazzy's hand had been ripped from Iggy's, and now Iggy was trying to get back to us. The terrorized tourists wouldn't have it.

"Max!" I heard Iggy scream. My heart clenched. He was terrified. All of his senses must have been dying, with all the noise and people running around. I had to get back to him. Had to.

"Iggy!" I shrieked back, diving into the crowd and shoving people to get to my brother. He couldn't get separated from us. I pushed some lady away, trying to pry through the stupid people in the way. It was like climbing up the down escalator, but a lot less fun.

"Max!" My blind pyro cried. "Max! Fang! Gasser!" And then I saw Iggy go down. People swept from either side, and I thought I saw Iggy's hand in the mess. He must have been getting up. He was a trooper, some frantic people wouldn't slow him down. Not Iggy.

"Fang, get the kids out!" I called back to my right-hand man. "Meet up at the field we saw!"

"Stay together, Max!" Fang screamed. "STAY TOGETHER!" He hadn't seen Iggy. I saw Angel in his arms, Nudge clinging to his arm with a horrified expression. They were so scared. No one scared my Flock this way. The Voice was going down, one way or another.

I turned back to Iggy, but I couldn't see him anymore. Had he gotten out? I had seen him getting up. He had to have launched or something, or at least gotten out of the line of fire.

"IGGY?" I screamed. I heard no response over the other noises. He had to have gotten out. He must have heard my call to Fang. I decided to reiterate it. "Meet at the field, Iggy!"

"Max, come on!" Fang grabbed my arm as he cut me off, and then we were running through the park, taking shortcuts and trying to reach a place where we could take off. Gazzy was crying as we clung to my arm, Nudge holding onto a hole in Fang's shirt.

"Iggy!" Gazzy screamed. "Iggy, Max, we forgot Iggy!"

"Erasers!" Nudge screamed over him, and I swung around. Erasers. This was definitely School. These people had no lives. None at all. I mean really, why cure cancer when you can blow up Epcot to get some bird-kids for dinner? I couldn't think about the motives of evil scientists at the moment. Model-like murderers were running right toward us, and that was an "Oh crap" moment.

"Run!" I grabbed Gazzy's arm, and we broke onto the bridge. The bridge was slightly larger than the French and English roads, but people still flooded our way out. I roared and pushed people aside with me shoulder, not willing to stop for some random tourists. In the direct middle of the bridge Fang stopped, hand still clasped on Nudge's wrist.

"Where's Iggy?" he screamed. Gazzy burst into tears, and Angel wasn't much better.

I looked around. He…he hadn't gotten out? He hadn't been there. I hadn't seen him. He had to have gotten out. He was somewhere in the crowd. I searched the skies. Iggy wasn't flying up there. He had either flown out of the park, or we had lost a member of our family in all of the pandemonium. I couldn't even consider the latter. He wasn't lost. We would find him.

But now there were Erasers trying to kill us.

"Up and away! NOW!" I ordered, leaping into the skies. This, oddly enough, did nothing to the crowd below. They were too terrorized. What a day it was, if the population wasn't utterly shocked by flying bird kids jumping into the sky. Well, Epcot had just blown up. It was something these people would be telling their grandkids. I couldn't wait to see the news tonight. That was sarcasm, people.

"But, Iggy!" Gazzy sobbed.

"We'll find him!" Fang yelled, launching everyone into the air.

"IGGY!" Gazzy screamed, looking at the ground below. "Iggy, we're here!"

Gunfire scared Gazzy out of his cries and he rolled over in the air into Fang's chest. Angel screamed and I grabbed her around the stomach, bringing her into a bear hug as I flew higher, Nudge at my heels. Fang grabbed the boy and soared higher with me into the sky, avoiding the gunfire. I roared as a bullet clipped off a few feathers off of my left wing, but I kept flying. Safe now, injuries later. Fang led us over the theme park and into a forest next to the giant field where we had left our stuff.

We collapsed, all the kids sobbing. "We can never get a break." I hissed, falling against a tree with Angel on my lap. "We can NEVER get a single. Freaking. Break!"

"We were on our vacation!" Nudge wept. "We were on our stinking vacation, and they had to ruin it! Why do they always have to ruin everything?"

True. Freaking. Say.

Fang stood, face marked in an angry grimace. He didn't even look at the kids. He just stared at me. It would have been a tad creepy if we both knew what was going through each other's minds. Iggy.

"Max." Gazzy said to me. As confused and angry as I was, I was just as depressed. We had left Iggy there. I admitted it. We had left him there. We didn't know where he was or if he had gotten out, and he couldn't know where we were. "Where's Iggy? He…he can't find us here."

I met Fang's eyes. His lips barely moved in the hushed whisper. I read his lips, eyebrows furrowing as I frowned. "We left him with them, didn't we?"

I caught my breath and looked down, closing my eyes and burying my face in Angel's curly hair, tickling my nose as I cried. I nodded slowly as I wept into my baby's dirty hair, and her stupid little dog climbed onto her lap. Fang bristled angrily, and then out of nowhere he turned and punched the nearest tree with horrible force. The bark cracked and the trunk looked like it had been shot. Fang's knuckles were bleeding heavily.

"DAMN IT!" He shouted. "DAMN. IT!" Everyone shrunk away, and I placed Angel on Nudge's lap. I stood and walked slowly to my fuming Fang, placing a hand on his shoulder gingerly.

"We…we just left him there!" Fang cried. "With them! I made you come with me, Max! I didn't let you find him!"

"It's not your fault, Fang." I rasped, tightening my grip. "He could be anywhere."

"That's the thing, isn't it?" Fang growled, eyes wide and angry. I was scared of this Fang. He had never acted this way. When Angel had been taken, he had been silent and determined. But we had known where Angel was then. Now he was scared. We were all scared, but Fang was making us more so. I took my hand away, backing up a step. "He could be anywhere. Iggy, our blind brother, could be anywhere in this stupid. Freaking. Town!"

"Fang." I was surprised how broken my voice sounded. "We'll find him. Just calm down. You're scaring the kids."

Fang stopped, head hanging down in defeat. "I know."

"I yelled to meet in the field." I told everyone. "Iggy may have heard that."

Gazzy picked up Iggy's backpack with tears in his eyes, having trouble slinging both of the packs over his tiny shoulders. I stepped to him and took his backpack from him, lengthening the ties and wrapping it around my shoulder with ease. I knelt down and shortened the ties to Iggy's pack, kissing the side of the Gasman's head. He looked up at me gratefully and sadly at the same time. I took Gazzy's backpack with me as we followed the rest of the Flock solemnly out to the field. I knew that Gazzy would like to hold Iggy's pack until we found him.

We stepped out of the forest and into the middle of the field, staring up at the sky. Tears brimmed all of our eyes, and they only grew heavier after hours of staring at nothing. Nudge sobbed into Total's fur. Our Iggy did not come.

"Max." Angel said tearfully, tugging on my sleeve. "He's not near. He's not coming."

"Of course he's coming!" Gazzy shouted angrily. He stepped forward, kicking a cloud of dirt up into the air. "He always comes back! He always finds his way! Always! He promised!" Gazzy heaved a rock out into nowhere, but then fell to the ground in a sitting position, crying. Nudge went over to calm him.

"We have to find him." I told Fang sternly. It was ruining the kids. Heck, it was ruining me. We had to find Iggy, and soon. All Fang did was nod. I grabbed Angel's hand, thinking of when Iggy had fallen asleep in the air. He had been so helpless. In that roaring, screaming, panicky crowd, Iggy had been helpless as well. I unfurled my wings with a snap, swallowing. It was almost sunrise now. Iggy had been missing for five hours.

"All right, guys." I tried to sound strong for my family. Optimism. They needed optimism. "Let's go back. Maybe he hunkered down, or he went back to find us. Where were we last?"

"France." Nudge choked, and I frowned. She seemed so…defeated. Everyone seemed so defeated. Think optimism, Max. Happy. Confident. CONFIDENT, Max.

"France it is." I replied, launching into the air with Angel. We flew fast and unseen, diving into a grove of flowers and bushes that were trampled by the crowd next to the France country Epcot thing. Folding my wings, I stepped out tentatively. Quickly, we looked about the street, careful to sink into the back round whenever a searchlight came by. Stupid police. Iggy wouldn't have been able to see the searchlights, but there were sirens going off everywhere in the darkness. Iggy at least had some common sense.

After a few minutes my search became half-hearted. If there were anything I knew Iggy to do, it would not be to curl up and hide. There was no evidence of him anywhere. And we couldn't exactly call out to him, let alone go to the police. Yeah, my brother is missing, he saved us from the exploding globe in Epcot. Oh, his appearance? He's six feet tall, red-blond hair, lanky limbs. Oh yeah he's blind and has huge wings in his back, too. Not really a possibility.

"Max!" Gazzy cried quietly. I ran over to him, and he grabbed my hand, choking up a bit. "This is where I lost Iggy."

I looked down, and forward a few steps to where Gazzy was pointing. My breath caught in my throat, and I was sure my heart stopped beating. Wait…okay. I was alive. But I was petrified. On the ground in front of me was a small, dark, dried puddle of blood. Iggy blood.

"It…it leads over here." Gazzy whimpered, following the smears of blood trailing from the pathway. His little nails dug into my hand, and I didn't blame him. I made myself pace the both of us as we silently followed where the smears of blood went. Smears. Like he had been…dragged. No. Optimism. Think optimism. We followed the trail slowly, unwilling to think of the worst scenario. He had dragged himself over here, and then taken off. Of course. That's what had to have happened.

A small scream suddenly made Gazzy and I run as fast as we could, following the blood (Iggy blood, oh God) right into Nudge, who was staring at the ground, hyperventilating, in a French alleyway.

"Nudge, what is it?" I asked, grabbing her by the shoulders. "Nudge, honey, what happened?"

Nudge pointed a shaky finger at the wall, and I followed her gaze slowly. I was scared out of my freaking mind. Fang and Angel came over and followed Nudge's finger, straining our raptor eyes in the dark. Then we all froze. Angel hugged Total tightly as I gasped.

Beneath the bloodstained French wall was a small pile of bloody feathers. Red, golden flecked Iggy feathers. And on the small pile of feathers was Iggy's right shoe, the gray converse he had received at the makeovers, stained with dirt, grime, and blood. Frightened at the organization of Iggy's…remains…no, just his feathers, I went to pick up the shoe. But Fang brought his hand across my chest, pointing at the pile. Something in front of the pile, actually.

My brain froze, all organs, limbs, air sacs and the like failing.

Maximum Ride, this was your warning.

And it was written in Iggy's blood.

I fell to my knees, and Fang caught my arm. "They took him." I whispered. "They took him. No, they took him we just got Angel back they took him, Fang, they took him!"

"Shh." Fang brought my head into his shoulder, and I wept. The kids stared from Iggy's bloody feathers to my violent sobbing with mortified faces. We had just gotten Angel back, and they had taken Iggy. Our Iggy. My Iggy. No. No.

"We should have just gone and found our parents." I cried. "We shouldn't have gone on a vacation first."

"You couldn't have known." Fang whispered in my ear, bringing his fingers through my hair. "They knew. They knew we were coming here. They would have known if we went to Pennsylvania, they would have known if we went to Canada, Max. They knew, and you couldn't have." Lowering his voice so that only I could barely hear him, he kept talking. "They took him for a reason, Max. They could have snatched you, or me, or even Gazzy out of this whole mess. But they took Iggy. So we're going to go and get him back, okay? We'll get through this. He'll be fine."

"How can you say that?" I sobbed. "They took Iggy, Fang. Iggy. He's…he's going to be so scared, and he'll have thought we abandoned him, and what if they try to hurt him again?"

"Iggy's tougher than you think." Fang replied. "If he doesn't escape, we'll bust him out. Like we busted Angel out. He's Iggy, Max. He knows how to find food and kick ass. He can deal with anything those jerks dish out until we come and get him."

I lifted my head and silently, not even moving my lips, I spoke with venom in my voice. Not to Fang, but to Jeb. Jeb, who I knew was behind this. "Not his eyes, Fang." I hissed. "Not. His. Eyes."

"If they touch Iggy, I'm going to kill them!" Nudge shrieked through her sobs. "I will kill them!"

I watched with a grim face as Gazzy stepped forward, choking. He picked up Iggy's shoe tentatively, bringing it close and sticking his hand inside it. He broke into more weeps as Gazzy brought out the smallest bomb I had ever seen from the toe of the shoe.

"He…he would have never…been allowed…in airports!" Gazzy blubbered, falling onto his butt. "He broke so many laws!"

Fang brought everyone into our little group pity hug, but then something inside of me snapped. I grit my teeth and stood up, bringing everyone up with me.

Find him, Max. You have to get Iggy back in order to save the world.

Damn right, Voice. Except for the saving the world part. I was still shaky on that account. Wait, I'm still mad at you. Oh God, I'm talking to my Voice again.

"All right, guys." I spoke strongly. Everyone looked up (or in Fang's case, down) at me, and I cleared my throat. "Who's ready to do some evil scientist butt kicking?"

"And get Iggy back!" Gazzy cried. Total barked, like he was agreeing.

We shouldered our packs, walking out to the open Epcot streets to take off. We were going to get Iggy back, and nothing was going to stop us. Nothing.

"Hey! You kids! What are you doing here? Freeze!" Police screamed as they swarmed from the bushes all around us, pointing guns at our faces.

Well, there's that.

4. Just Picture the Devil

Hiya. Well, I'm back! With another chapter! (Yay, people cheer) and now we get to see what has happened to poor Iggy. Don't worry, we'll catch up with the flock later. Now, for our favorite pyro! Alas, no Jeb yet. He might come in sooner or later, but you never know. And this, my readers, is why this story is rated T. You know, besides the inevitable epic fight scenes. Iggy has quite the foul mouth :P

OK. you guys, are awesome. Just plain down right awesome. I would like to give a humungous shout-out to everyone who reviewed, favorited, subscribed, whatever. Just know that if you did that, and you're reading this right now: you are awesome.

Ah, yes. The people who have hopped over here from the Hunger Games Fandom are the reason this got started! Yay! So, if you are a die-hard MR fanfic-writer-person-yeah, then I encourage you to hop over to the HG fandom. There's a ton of great writers over there! So, stop by! Leave a review! Spread the awesome. THANKS. And without further ado: THE CHAPTER.

Disclaimer: You see me writing on FanFiction? I'm not JP. I don't own.


Blurry. Don't ask me how my vision could be blurry, because it wasn't. I felt blurry. Disconnected. Ugh-y. Whatever blows your fuse. I lifted a hand up, but it didn't feel like my hand. It thunked against something hard, and I let my hand drop. Ow…

Wait. Where were my wings? I lifted my back only to be pulled down again. Ouch. I couldn't move my wings. They were…they were holding me back. My knee bumped against a hard surface above me. With difficulty I pressed both palms on the thing above me, and put my forehead on the cold, hard glass.

And I started to scream.

"Doctor! The Subject has woken up!"

"It's hyperventilating!"

"We have to start the procedure, put it out!"


I was freaking out. I was in a little box. Little. Box. I couldn't get out. Me + small space + no escape = claustrophobia times one thousand! I continued to scream, thrashing about in my prison. School. School. I was in the School no!

Ok. Calm down. Deep breaths. Let's assess this situation, shall we? My knee hurt like heck, my arm felt on fire, I still had tiny holes in me from the metal bits, I was in the School, I was separated from my flock, and I was in a small box.

Oh, joy.

"Max!" I bellowed, voice cracking. Every movement hurt, and little shocks were issuing about my body. I didn't care. "MAX!"

"What is it shouting?" one devil asked. "Lionel, what is it saying?"

"Max!" I screamed. Where was she? Where was my Flock? Please get me out of here! "Max, help!"

"I think it's saying 'Max'." Another devil replied. I started crying. I had to get out of this evil little box now! Now!

"Restrain it! It's breaking loose of its wires!"

Suddenly something cold and hard slid over my ankles and my wrists. It just made the claustrophobia worse. I banged my head against the glass, but an evil metal thingy slid its way over my forehead as well, pressing my bangs against my skull. I whimpered, unable to arch my back because of my wings. Max…

"Is this the blind mutant?"

"Yes, sir. It has awakened. Should we proceed with the investigation of its retinas?"

Retinas? Like, my eyes?

"Yes. Continue with the investigation. If it gives you trouble sedate it. Report back with your analysis, and have Reynolds cart it back to the storage center."

"Yes, sir. I shall contact you when we finish, Director."

"Thank you."

Why was I here? Where was the flock? Did they get captured, too? What were they doing to them? I was going to kill these whitecoats!

"Open the head area."


Air rushed to my face as the glass slid open. I braced myself, closing my eyes tightly. More restraints held my arms and legs, and I couldn't move at all.

"All right, Subject Five. Open your eyes."


"Give me the smallest Novocain you have, Lionel. Something that won't affect its eyes."

Suddenly I felt a needle tip my tight eyelids, and I let out a cry as it pricked my skin. My eyelids fell limp, and I couldn't open them anymore.

"There. Subject Five, try to keep your cries to a minimum."
Something probed at my eye, and I winced. Gloved hands picked at my corneas, and I screamed from the pain. Oh my God it hurt so bad!

"Lionel, look at this!" The whitecoat gasped. "Its pupil and iris have mixed together! The retinas have seemed to have died…the rods and cones are stuck in place or have depleted, I bet. I wonder what its optic nerves look like…I wish I could open this mutant's skull."

Oh my God oh my God oh my God no.

"You'll have to wait for that, Gregory. I want to see how it works. Being blind and all. Its other senses must be quadruple that of even the other avian hybrids. If we can harness its senses and reactions, we could take the strength and sight from the new project and make a new superhuman!"

"This is going to be too painful for it. Give me more Novocain."

"This one?"


Pinpricks caused me to flinch as they pierced my cheekbones, my eyebrows, and the sides of the bridge of my nose. But then suddenly, a needle sunk right into my open eye.

"AAAAAGGGHHHH!" I screamed in agony, arching my back in pain.

"Quiet, Subject Five." The whitecoat did the same in the other eye, and I was weeping in suffering. The pain began to ebb into numbness just as the whitecoat brought the instrument down on my eyes. All I could do was lay there as they toyed with my unseeing eyes for hours on end. When they were finally done I was let go of my restraints, but I was too numb and tired to try to break free of my captors. I was picked up like a sack of garbage and thrust into a dog crate on a cart, being wheeled through the place I hated more than anything in the whole world.

It took me a while to figure out that the upper half of my face was wrapped in gauze. I almost started screaming again when I felt it with my hands. It reminded me too much of when they made me blind. I couldn't get it off, either. I started crying, not paying any mind to the rest of the experiments in the room as I curled up in a fetal position, sobbing. It wouldn't…it wouldn't come off. My body hurt, too. It all came rushing back to me. Epcot (I now hated that place). The exploding globe. The mob. Me being dragged off. They…they ripped off my feathers from my right wing on part of it. I felt my bare chest, and felt many bruise and cuts from where I was beat and trampled. My leg felt funny, and I felt a long cut on my calf. My arm burned like hell at the elbow, too. And I was in a dog crate. In the School. With bandages around my eyes.

Well, crap.

"What…happened?" A small, timid voice rang out loud in my ears as it echoed throughout the room. I heard a small clanging of bars. "Are you…okay?"

I shook my head violently, bringing my knees in tight. No, I was not okay. I had just lost my family, I was back in the School, I was alone, I couldn't feel my face, and my eyes were wrapped in gauze. I was just dandy. No shit, I was not okay!

"I…sorry." The voice rang out. "What…they do…to you?"

I shook my head again, wanting to cry. Maybe I was, but I couldn't tell. I couldn't feel it. "My eyes." I whimpered.

"What they do?"

"Hurt." I sobbed. "Hurt."

We were used to this kind of language in the School. Short, incomplete sentences with the other mutants that would make only some sense to the doctors. We were the only recombiants Jeb thought of to teach, so we actually knew how to talk properly. That's when Max formed our secret language. When our speech became so smart it was easy to understand. I almost felt…primitive, talking like this again.

"I sorry." The voice sniveled. "I…Amila."

"I Iggy." I replied. "Lost family."

"I sorry." Amila rasped again. "I have no family. Were they…nice?"

I nodded, curling up further. I wish I knew what this girl looked like. From what I could tell she was small, around seven, I supposed. With a pang in my heart I remembered the times when I had been seven, with the flock. I still had my sight then. I shoved the memories away. They were too painful.

"One like you." I said shakily. "Small. Nice. Angel."

"Was she bird?" Amila asked.

I nodded. "We all birds."

We fell silent after that, wallowing in our misery. People tended to do that a lot in the School. We never complained about it, it was just a common tendency to hate life here.

My cage was picked up suddenly, and I fell back against the bars as it slammed onto a cart. Amila shrunk back, and I cried out. Mutations of all forms were watching me, I knew, were watching me with no envy as I left that room. I still couldn't feel my face, but apparently they weren't interested in my lack of feeling. I was dumped ever so ungraciously on the cold floor, and I trembled up into a kneeling position, reach out for help to stand. Nothing came. I automatically decided to mess with these jerks. Fun, fun.

"It's time to test its ears."

"I've heard that its hearing is phenomenal."

"I read that it can memorize patterns and places just by sound."

"We'll see. Reynolds, activate it."

Suddenly, a small distinct ticking went off in my ears. I flinched visibly, and then the evil people were talking again.

"What does it hear?"

"Reynolds, is it on?"

"Yes, sir. It must be hearing it."

"All right. Put Subject Five into the maze."

Someone lifted me up from the ground, holding my arms back. There was someone important in front of me. I could feel it. You know, like when you can feel when Santa's been to your house or you can tell when your douches of brothers decide to set your underwear on fire. But, you know, seventeen-hundred million times more scary and evil.

"Subject Five." A sleazy voice drawled. I smirked.


The awkward fairies that dump all the awkward on all them schoolkids' petty itty bitty dates were all over me now. You could totally feel the awkward in the air. It was like Jello. Or pudding. Mmm, pudding.

"You would be wise to watch your mouth around me, mutant." The whitecoat sneered. I widened my smirk. I kind of formed a body and appearance to people's voices. It's just what I do. And right now, this whitecoat was looking pretty interesting, with the way his nasally and sugar-coated-dunked-in-evil voice drawled. Ok, just picture the devil. However you see the dude, red skin, horns, the Sham-Wow guy, whatever. Then mix that with the sketchiest douche bag you have ever seen in your whole life. Then, mix in a homeless guy and the richest man on the planet at the same time. And a dentist. Then you got this guy.

"Subject Five, your ears are going to be tested in the maze. If you stop, you shall be electrocuted. All you have to do is find your way to the noise you hear. It is relatively quick and easy."

"Just like your mom." I retorted immediately.

Oh, the awkward was everywhere.

"I'd just as soon kill you, Subject Five." The devil/Sham-Wow Guy/Hobo/Bill Gates/Dentist/Whitecoat dude growled. "But we have need of you. So welcome to hell."

Ladies and Gentlemen, lay down your chips, because I just called that! Damn I'm good.

I was pulled forward, and I felt little suction thingies latch onto my skin. Just great. They were going to electrocute me. Swell. I had to hold this guy to his word, though. Otherwise I'd never get the five bucks he automatically owed me for outright pwning him.

"Subject Five, proceed. Make your way toward the noise. Now."

I started without hesitation, limping at the pain in my leg. I was sure that it was broken, but it seemed to be setting. As long as I could walk kind of, I would be fine. Besides, I'd felt the end of the electricity before, and I did not want to do it again. I held a hand out so that I wouldn't make a fool out of myself or, um, kill myself, and ran toward the noise. It was really easy. The noise was so darn loud, so all I had to do was not knock into walls. I finally broke into a space where the noise was coming from, and stepped forward, placing my non-cracked arm's hand on the machine. There was a button, so I pushed it. Yay for assuming things. Buttons are fun, no? The ticking stopped, and I was being led back to the start of the maze. I resisted the urge to sock the guy in the face or bite his hand off. I was led back to the beginning, where I could feel the Whitecoat of Evil Importance and High Wicked Majesty of Killing Hybrid Children was waiting for me.

"What, no ribbon?" I jeered. I succeeded yet again in ticking him off.

I was slapped. It was worth it.

"Your instructions are the same, Subject Five. This is the same maze. Find your way to the noise."

The ticking noise penetrated my eardrums again, and I smirked. This was all? God, they were losing their touch here! Losers. Hardly a devil, this ass was. Pathetic.

"Put the plugs in. Wrap it."


I couldn't hear anymore. Something was in my ears. I thrashed, trying to hit something, anything. I fell to the ground, struggling and screaming slightly at the pain and the terror. But I was held in place and the—whatever it was—was pushed deeper into my ear. I screamed, but I couldn't even hear myself. More gauze was wrapped around my head, covering everything above my lips with an opening at my nostrils, laying my hair tightly on my scalp. I couldn't see. I couldn't hear. My face was wrapped in gauze.

Okay, I take that back. This ass was THE devil.

It was my living nightmare.

I was picked up and pushed forward, and I knew that my gauze was wet with tears. I wasn't Mr. Rock, okay? I embraced my tears. The ladies dug sensitive guys. Not that it mattered now. The world didn't matter now. Making things go boom didn't matter right now. That's what she said jokes didn't matter now.

Oh God, what had the world come to?

Now I didn't even know where I was supposed to go. I felt the walls as I stumbled, trying to concentrate and remember where I had gone. I couldn't. I couldn't hear anything. I couldn't see. The one thing that made the being blind slightly better (though nothing could do that, really) was gone now. Every time I stopped running and slowed down I was shocked with a little jolt of electricity. I had no idea how long it took, all I knew was that everything was just blank and I couldn't hear and I couldn't see and I was going to die! Except, I was going to take that devil and Justin Beiber down with me. This I swear.

I fell against the table with the little machine on it, falling to my knees and bending, hands bunched into my hair tightly as my forehead touched the cold floor. Hell. Hell. I had a new appreciation for Helen Keller and all those stories about successful women that Max made us listen to. I just couldn't live without my hearing. It was like taking away food from Gazzy, or black clothes from Fang. No, no just give me my hearing back please no this is worse this worse both gone no, no, no I needed to hear I couldn't live without hearing I couldn't live without seeing but my hearing oh my God no…it was all that whitecoat's fault. He said he needed me? Well, I was going to be the least cooperative experiment he had ever dealt with. Ever.

Room. Another room. Still couldn't hear. Still wanted to rip that guy's brains out and feed them to Total. Suddenly I was aware of the white noise around me. The pressure in my ears was gone, and the gauze wrapped around my ears instead of over them. I hugged myself, laughing. Yes! It wasn't gone forever, I could hear again! Yes!

"Time for your next experiment, Subject Five."

Oh hell no.

"Hey, Mr. Ass-hat!" I called nicely, voice dripping in sarcasm, knowing that somehow he could hear me. "How about we just get right to me escaping? Then you can chase me and when I get away you can shake your fist and say 'you rotten kid'! And then you can go live in Canada or someplace."

"I do not think so, Subject Five."

"Aw!" I complained. "But it'll be so much fun! How about we make dinner arrangements? I'll bring the poison!"

He didn't reply. Suddenly a very, very annoying ringing noise filled my ears. It didn't go away. It felt like mosquitoes in my ears. I swapped at the air with my good arm just to make sure. No, it wasn't mosquitoes. Damn, I could just kill mosquitoes. Somehow I didn't think I could kill this noise, unless I got hold of a gun, seven matches, a mallet, some twine and an onion.

"Stage Two." A robotic voice boomed, and I swung my head around. Crap.

The noise got louder, and more annoying. I grit my teeth. That almost hurt. What was that? What were they doing?

"Stage Three."

Ow. Ow, ow, ouch that hurt! I closed my eyes tightly, flexing my arm muscles.

"Stage Four."

"Agh!" I cried out, reaching instinctively for my ears. I drove my knees into the floor, disregarding the other pain. That felt like a smack now compared to this. "Aagghh!"

"Stage Five. Highest stage."

I screamed the most girlish scream that has ever come out of my body, voice cracking. Damn puberty. I fell against the ground, clawing at my ears. I screamed and screamed at the pain, the perpetual pain that didn't hurt anything but my brain through my ears. I arched my back, spreading my wings out on the floor. There was nothing to cling to, nothing to hold and dig my nails into to make it stop. I didn't want to hear now if only it had lasted a little longer then I could have gotten it back. I think I blacked out for a few minutes, because when I woke up I was in my cage again, and being carted out of the room I had been tortured in. But they weren't asking me questions. They made me die inside for fun.

The devil was right. What a great welcome to hell.

5. Yum Police Officers

Ok. So, I'm sorry. I'm what, a week late? More? Ugh. Sorry, I ran out of pre-written chapters, and I was struggling to write a chapter and do schoolwork as well. As soon as summer is here, I'm sure that the updates will probably be regular again. But even so, this chapter is a short one. It's more of a filler, too. But I hope it's still fun and Iggy-awesome! THANKS so much to everyone who reviewed, and I appreciate it beyond words. Please keep reviewing! It really makes my day. And just for you guys, I took a break from the over-whelming Iggy-torture. Oh, and for the next few chapters, be aware that there is a reason that this is rated T. Haha. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: No, no, no. I do not own. If any MR FANS owned, Iggy would have his own series by now. You see that anywhere? Nope.


On my Top Ten list of ways to begin finding Iggy, this was not one of them.

"Put your hands in the air!" A scary-looking ranger dude ordered, pistol pointed at my chest. No offense, but it looked like a play-toy. And he had a bushy moustache, the kind you just have to make fun of, otherwise you get depressed after you leave, like 'that guy had such a funny moustache, and I didn't get the chance to be a jerk about it. Life sucks, emo aggghh'. I bit my tongue to keep from laughing. It wouldn't do us well to get arrested.

See, we weren't too fond of the law. It told us what to do. We didn't dig that. So we opted to stay as far away as we could, and blow stuff up as we pleased. Obviously, this wasn't the best situation for us to be in. And then there was the whole 'what if they're Erasers that want to chew our faces off' problem. What can I say? The government didn't really like us. At least the feeling was mutual.

"U and A, ten seconds." I whispered, and then stepped forward.

"Freeze!" The dude ordered. Was he…shaking? Pansy.

"Sorry, officer." I spoke calmly, a smirk on my face. This was going to be fun. "We were just looking for our brother."

"You shouldn't be here." The officer pansy dude spoke firmly, stepping closer but not lowering his gun. "If you come with us, kid, you can file a missing person report. There's been a terrorist attack, so we'll need you and your siblings to come with us."

I formed a fist behind my back. Gazzy snickered. "Yeah," I squinted my eyes, smiling at the officer. "We could do that, Officer, um...Rodriguez." I paused as I read his nametag. "But here's the problem with that…"

I grabbed Officer Rodriguez's pistol as the flock jumped into the air, flipping the guy over my shoulder. Didn't see that coming, did you? I heard his wrist snap, and his ribs crunch as he hit the ground. Ouch. At least he wasn't an Eraser. The rest of the silly officers gaped at my flock's wings as they flew up high, and didn't even pay any mind to shoot me as I jumped on the railing and leaped out over the water, catching the air and flying up to my family, minus one. I heard Officer Rodriguez shouting, but Gazzy stuck out his tongue as we ascended. I smiled.

"Children, please return to the ground! We are not afraid to shoot! Please do not make this difficult for yourselves!"

"Suck on this, officer!" Gazzy shrieked, throwing one of Iggy's small bombs down on a French house. Let's just say Epcot needs another thousand dollars for repairs.

I fingered a folded up picture as we raced through the sky. It was of the flock with Jeb. Fang, Iggy and I were twelve. Iggy was giving Gazzy a noogie and giving Fang bunny-ears with his goofy grin on his face. I grinned sadly. We would find him.

"We're coming, Iggy!" Angel screamed to the sky. Everyone cheered, reaching up and touching the clouds.

And just like that, we were on our way again.





"Agh!" I cried, shooting straight up and into the top of my cage with a start. Ow. Again. For some reason, my arm break wasn't setting, and this was the fifth time I had woken up with pain skyrocketing through my bones. I gingerly felt the break, more like the shattered remains of what used to be an arm, and winced. God. If it was that swollen, I was about to beg to Mr. Devil and get him to fix my arm. You know what? I was tired of calling him Mr. Devil. I didn't want to call him mister anything. So I thought of the most humiliating name for a whitecoat to have.


I mean, all the whitecoats had fancy names. Jebediah (Jeb, for the incompetent), Lionel, I heard some dude named Tiramisu or something weird like that. And there was even a dude named (shudder)…Alfonso.

Bob would do. Bob would do just fine.

Well, Bob decided that Iggy couldn't have sleepy time, so I was jerked awake at the ungodly hour of eight in the morning. I mean come on! Who gets up before ten anymore? These guys need to get with the times, I mean seriously. Anyway some dudes carted me down the hallways of hell (that should be a movie title…eh, when I'm famous), chatting animatedly like it was their favorite pastime to torture kids with wings. I bet they shot BB's at pigeons when they were kids.

"The taste test for this mutant is today!" One guy spoke up, sounding like he was about to get on a roller coaster. And I'm not talking little Tilt-A-Whirl stuff, I'm talking holy-crap-I'm-going-so-fast-I'm-gonna-die roller coaster. That's how psyched this dimwit was.

"After the success of the hearing test yesterday, I cannot wait to see the results of this test. I told the Director that this was a good subject." The second dude was as proud of his pathetic ass as a normal man seeing his son become President or something.

"Yeah, it was pretty sucky." I said with mock cheerfulness. "I thought I was going to die, but I didn't. So basically, it's like how your wife feels when you have sex."

It fell silent after that. I was proud of myself.

"Sit." A different voice ordered, as I dumped on the floor. I was lifted into a seat and my legs were tied to it, leaving my torso free. That is, until those fun little suction-cup thingies were attached to my skin. Lovely.

"All right, Subject Five." Bob sneered into a microphone. I stuck out my tongue, and I heard him scoff. "Today you will be tested of your taste buds and how sensitive your body is to taste."

"Yum." I replied, rubbing my palms together. "So, what are you going to lay on me? Pancakes? Cookies? Oh, you know what? I could go for some rat. You got some rat?"

"Tell us the ingredient that you taste when you are handed the ingredient." Bob said in a deadpan. Well wasn't he just Mr. Happy today? I wondered where the flock was. I had already assumed I was totally solo on this little adventure, but if I was still in Florida they would find me soon. Knowing Max…I gave the whitecoats twelve hours to live.

A small box was shoved into my hands, and I fingered it. "Aw." I said in a sickly-sweet voice. "You got me a present? Oh! It's a box! I've always wanted a box!"

"Subject Five, taste the ingredient."

"I'm just so happy—"

Tiny shocks erupted across my skin. "Fine, fine," I muttered, reaching inside and pulling out a chunk of something.

"Chocolate." I said automatically.

"Subject Five, taste the ingredient."

"But it's chocolate." I insisted. I could tell just by the feel of it. And for all of you perverted minds out there, I scold you for the thoughts we both know just went through your head.

"Taste the ingredient." Bob spoke sternly.

I shrugged. "If you insist." I popped the chocolate in my mouth, enjoying the scrumdidiliumtious flavor on my tongue. I wasn't gonna pass down a chance for free chocolate, even in the School. They'd never given me chocolate before, and even if it was poison I was shoving it down my throat.

I licked my fingers, and another box was shoved into my hands. "You guys like boxes." I stated. Shocks went up my fingers and I yelped. "It's vanilla. Really, guys? Chocolate and vanilla? How unoriginal can you get?"

Bob didn't answer me. I was starting to get lonely (heh, note sarcasm) as the devil's accomplices kept handing me boxes of stuff to taste. Well, at least I wasn't hungry.



"Potato chip…yum."




"Dude, are you really giving me rat? Kudos to you, sir."


"Hey, I'm full. No more cookies."

"DUDE. My stomach is going to explode."

"Oh my god pie!"

It went on. I must have tasted over ten thousand things. Of course, I wasn't really full, I could keep eating, but I needed to move. The food was just sitting in my tummy, and I'm pretty sure I might be allergic to scientist.

"Last ingredient, Subject Five."

All right, then! Maybe then I could get some shut-eye, maybe kick some whitecoat butt, bust out of the wall with a bomb and flip into the air like a mutated Tom Cruise. I grabbed the last box greedily. Who knew when the next time I was able to eat was going to be? Whoa, that's a sad thought. Either way I stuffed my face with whatever was in the box, and immediately regretted it. It tasted bitter, like coffee and death.

"Uh…" I slurred. "I don't…what is…"

Hands grabbed my arms, but I was too slow to react. Ugh, what was in me? What had they done? It took me ten seconds to even attempt to kick out, and another twenty for me to actually try to speak again, which was mostly garbled swear words (Max would hit me upside the head). Suddenly my arms and legs were pinned down on a flat table, and after about forty seconds I rose my head up to try to get a sense of where I was. The table was, dare I saw it, comfortable. I felt like sleeping. I did need some rest…I was feeling tired…

"Procedure begins in twelve minutes sharp. Analysis of Subject's body and physical features for recreation, Project B-Seventy-Four, Code 37B2-AT8-01D9."

Nothing makes sense anymore, because my brain just turned to mush.

Just then, when I couldn't even make up a witty joke to make fun of the whitecoats' nonexistent love lives, I realized how bleak my situation looked. I was blind. I was in the School. I was alone. I was powerless. I'd never be able to find my way out the School before getting caught even if I was able to break out of my ties. And even if I got out of the School, where would I go? I'd never find the flock again. There…there wasn't any point, was there? Not with all this darkness. I was stuck here. I'd never get out, would I? Oh, God…

No, Iggy! I yelled at myself like Max would. Drill sergeant Iggy kicked in, and I mentally slapped myself. Max would whack me to next Tuesday for thinking like that. I would get out! Max would swoop in (quite literally), kick some asses, and then we would continue on our way again, listening to Max's voice in her head and pretending that Fang wasn't emo.

Because we're just messed up like that.

I remembered when Gazzy turned five. We had just gotten out of the School the year before, and I was only eleven. It didn't really make sense for a blind eleven-year-old to be playing with matches out on the cliff, but I was one special boy. That was the day Gazzy came up behind me, tottering with his itty bitty five-year old fluffy white wings, and I nearly blew him off the side of the cliff. Man, did I get a lecture. But I earned a little apprentice that day. Jeb always yelled at me whenever I messed with explosives, but I just blew it off. What did that old coot know, anyway? All he did was keep us safe and feed us. Sure, I was eternally grateful that he decided to bring me along on the little escape plan, but the guy couldn't even pronounce my name right. Sure, my name was Iggy, and that was cool. But I didn't want any fancy crap for a name. We named ourselves because of our personalities and tendencies. We named ourselves for how we acted toward each other, and the whitecoats. You don't even want to know why Fang has his name, trust me. So why did he always get it wrong? Maybe he didn't know. Maybe he was a douche. But he was my dad…

"Iggy, you can't burn Nudge's doll because she tripped you when you walked down the stairs. You're going to learn how to navigate the house perfectly in due time, but you can't act on impulse like that. Especially when people would get hurt." Jeb always lectured me like a real no-nonsense dad would. He always loved Max, though. And everything Fang did wrong was always forgotten in two seconds. Meanie.

"Yeah, whatever." I had squirmed in my seat, clutching some wires and a potato. I was going to teach Gazzy how to make a potato bomb, just a small one that would burn Nudge's lamp for ratting me out. She wouldn't even guess that her light bulb was really a potato. Nudge didn't even like potatoes. "Can I go now, Dad?"

"Ignatius, listen to me." Jeb had this way of patronizing me, now matter what I did. Sit Iggy in the chair, tell him what he did wrong, catch him with fire two hours later, rinse and repeat. "You can't do this anymore."

"Dad, my name's not Ignatius." I whined my adorable eleven-year-old whine. "It's Iggy. Max says that everyone has a nickname, like Nudge's name isn't Nudge, right?"

"Yes, Ignatius, but as long as I'm your father, you'll always be Igneous to me. You know that I love you all, right Iggy?"




The table I was on started to slide back into a concave area, but not before I heard the voice. It wasn't my nostalgic cliché flashback. It wasn't my overdose of chocolate. I knew I couldn't be heard anymore, but I couldn't help screaming.


6. Nostalgia Sucks

Huh? I actually wrote enough to update? Well, that's weird. But fortunate! I couldn't stand not to update until next week after my boatload of work is done, when I had this chapter sitting around waiting to be published. So, I'd like to thank all of you so much for your reviews. And favorites. And subscriptions. It means a ton. So, I'm not going to waste any time and get on with it.

Disclaimer: I. Do. Not. Own. Get it? Got it? Good.


As we flew over the countryside, it occurred to me that we didn't know what the hell we were doing.

I mean, we didn't know where Iggy was. This was a problem. We didn't know if there was another School someplace, or how to even tell if we were going the right direction. This was also a problem. We didn't know if he was even…alive. This was a huge problem.

And yet we kept flying. I guess we were going to go right back to Death Valley and bust some heads until we found Iggy. But what if he wasn't there? Then what? Would we really search the whole country, the whole world, until we found Iggy?

Of course we would.

Stupid memories flooded my head, and I felt like crying. Not that I would, not after last night's meltdown. I had to keep strong for the flock. If we were strong, we'd find him sooner, and he'd be okay. It had been nearly twenty-four hours. What could they have done to him in that amount of time? Oh, God, I'm gonna barf. Nostalgia whacked me over the head like a frying pan.

We were thirteen. Just last year, after Jeb died…I mean left. I was giving Iggy a flying lesson, even though he was skilled enough already at it. He was a pro, mostly because he just was gentler than the rest of us. He treated the air like an equal, his eyes that led him through the sky. I always loved watching him fly, even with the horrible feeling at the bottom of my gut that he would crash into a tree or something. But he never did. I leaped off of the cliff and joined him, flying in sync with each other. Soon, though, we just kept trying to knock each other over, knocking and kicking playfully, racing over the canyon. It was nice. We were calling each other names, beating each other's asses to the ground, and being kids.

"Hey, Max." Iggy had called over the wind, his trademark lunatic grin on his face. I laughed.

"Hey, moron."

Iggy made a face. "Cute, Max. Real cute."

"I try."

"Why am I called Iggy?" he asked me.

"Cause you're an idiot." I replied immediately. I landed in a huge oak tree, and Iggy perched on a branch beside me.

"Thanks for the excellent explanation, Max. You deserve a prize."

"Welcome, Ig. Anytime you need reminding, come tell me."

Iggy smirked, punching me in the arm. I pushed him back, and after a small shove fight, we settled down again, cracking up.

"I'm serious, though." Iggy said. "Why am I called Iggy? I mean, I know why I like my name, but why? We know why the younger kids have their names. We know why Fang has his name—"

"Not a memory I'd like to revisit." I had laughed.

"—Oh, yeah. Never again. But, why are you named Maximum? And why am I called Iggy? Consider this your school test question for the year, by the way. I'm testing you. I predict a bad grade." He teased.

I turned up my nose stubbornly. "And what grade do you think I'll get, Professor Iggy?"

" C-."

"No way! I'd totally get higher!"

"I don't think so. Maybe lower. You suck at stories just as much as math."

I stuck my tongue out at him. "You'll see. One day I'll write a book and be a algebraic…teacher…person at Harvard or crap."

Iggy laughed like it was the stupidest thing he had ever heard. "Right, Max. And one day I'll grow up to be Iggy, ruler of the narwhals."

I shrugged. "It could happen."

"But seriously. The million-dollar question. Why am I named Iggy?"

"Will I really get a million dollars?"

Iggy looked at me annoyingly. "Max."

"Cause then I would never have to pay you to take a shower again."


"Fine." I replied defiantly. "You know why. Like, Nudge cause she's the freaking Nudge Channel, Angel and the Gasman are obvious, Fang…ugh. Like you said, never again. Your name is Iggy because you're a freaking pyro. Iggy, for Ignite. Or Ignition. Ig—and then something that signifies blowing crap up. At least, I think. It seemed right. We named each other early, I don't really remember the whole story."

Iggy smiled at me, patting my hand. "You get three-fourths of a million dollars."

"Aw, come on! Not fair!"

I remembered that day. It was one of the best days after Jeb left. The memory just made my heart heavy, and I frowned. I hated running. I hated kidnaps. I hated this. I wanted to go back to the days where Iggy and I made fun of Fang's growing emo-ness, and Fang and I put random stuff in the hallways to piss Iggy off. Those days were the best. Now that I look at it, if I could go back a month or so, I would tell Angel no to picking strawberries. Maybe that would fix all of this.

Whoever was in charge of my memories hated me that day, because the next memory hit me like a fridge.

I was sitting in the living room in the E House. Nudge and I were watching Animal Planet, well Nudge was, the elephants creeped me out. I was really watching a twelve-year-old Fang run around outside with a four-year-old Angel on his shoulders, making airplane sounds. Ha, he thought I couldn't hear him. Seven-year-old Gazzy was high up in a tree outside, fiddling with some wires and duct tape. Iggy was in the kitchen, cause it was around lunchtime. The show switched to commercial just as Fang leaped off the cliff with Angel, holding her in his arms as her tiny wings poofed out of Fang's armpits. Nudge quickly stood up, running to the window.

"Max, can I go too?" she asked me excitedly. I waved her off, and she pulled the Gasman from the tree to go flying around. I smiled, kicking back with my hands behind my head. Ah, peace and quiet.

Apparently not. Suddenly there was a giant crash and clang from the kitchen, along with a painful shout. I was off my lazy butt in an instant, bursting into the kitchen. There was a frying pan full of some still yummy-looking edible beef stir-fry on the floor, along with some fire marks, and smoke was billowing up from the stove. Iggy was a few feet back, blind eyes full of fear as he held his right arm in his left, teriyaki sauce splattered on his face.

"Ig!" I shouted, kicking the pan aside and running over to him. "What happened?"

Small tears started to form in his eyes, and he tore his arm away from my grip. He stepped and kicked the pan with surprising accuracy, sending it flying hard into the kitchen door. He let out an angry roar, and I furrowed my eyebrows, trying to grab his arm again. He turned on me, slapping my arm away before it was even near him.

"You wanna know what happened, Max?" He growled, sounding like he was going to either cry or get so mad he would blow up my dresser again. "I messed up again, that's what happened!"

I spotted his right forearm, which was a bloody red all over the side of it, stretching up to his palm. "Iggy, your hand—"

"Shut up!" he cried so loudly I backed up a step. Tears started to slide down his cheeks. "Every time I try to do something, I fail! I can't do anything! I—I was trying to pour the peppers in! And look what happened!" he whimpered a bit as he held up his burnt hand. "It's not fair! I want to cook right! I want to be able to cut carrots without almost cutting off my pinky finger! I want to be able to shave cheese or something without shaving the hair off my knuckles! I want to freaking cook without burning myself!"

Tears were coming down strong, and now I wanted to cry as well. I didn't, of course. I took a deep breath, picking up the pan from the floor and dropping it in the sink. Iggy winced.

"You can do all of that, Iggy." I told him. "You're amazing. Trust me. Everyone has to worry about those things, Iggy. The fact that you can do that and make it taste better than Martha Stewart ever could says something. I can't even make toast, Iggy. Heck, I didn't know those green things were peppers, and this is the third time this month we've had stir fry."

Iggy chuckled a bit, sniffling, but the hard look froze right back over again. "Yeah, well at least you can do other things." He hissed. "I can't…I can't walk down the stairs without holding the railing, or know to land without someone telling me. I can't find the remote to the TV, or read Angel bedtime stories. S—Sometimes I just wa—wanna open my eyes, like I've been keeping them closed all this time, but then I blink, and n—nothing changes! I'm just s—so worthless!"

Without a word I walked over and gave Iggy a big hug, burrowing my face into his shoulder. He was already at least five inches taller than me, and even though it pissed me off we were perfect for hugging. After a second and with a little yelp Iggy brought his arms around me, crying silently into my hair. After a moment we broke apart, and I grabbed Iggy's left arm.

"Come on," I told him. "Let's go bandage you up."

He nodded, bringing one of his long fingers across his tears as he sniffled. I held his hand as I led him to the couch after turning off the stove, and sat him down with a smile. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been so gentle. Maybe it was despite the height thing, Iggy looked so much like a little kid that needed his mom to give him a band-aid. Maybe it was because I didn't like to see him hurt, or mad. Maybe it was because I didn't trust myself to say anything, with the way I kept staring at his face, marked with tears with his bangs hanging perfectly over hi—I don't know.

I wrapped gauze around Iggy's arm, sealing it with medical tape and rubbing it gingerly to keep it in place. Suddenly Fang slid open the glass door, looking from me to Iggy to Iggy's hand to me again, giving me a questioning look. Nudge erupted into a string of worries while Gazzy burst in, holding Angel's little hand.

"Iggy, what did you do to your hand?" Gazzy asked, coming closer.

Iggy sniffled a little bit as Fang sat beside me on the floor. Nudge sat on one of the chairs, and Gazzy plopped next to Iggy on the couch. "Aw, it's nothing, Gaz. Just burnt myself a little bit."

Little Angel climbed up on the couch cutely and into Iggy's lap, standing up and giving him an adorable hug. Iggy gave her a hug with his left hand, and Angel sniffled.

"I love you." Angel whimpered, digging her head into Iggy's neck as she started to cry. "Please don't cry, Daddy. Please."

The look in Iggy's eyes would never be replaced. To be Angel's daddy meant more to him than having his sight back, or cooking, or watching TV, or blowing up stuff.

That night, as I walked by Angel's room to say goodnight and tuck her in, I saw Iggy on Angel's bed, with Angel on his lap. I smiled and kept walking to Gazzy's room. Iggy had been telling her a bedtime story.

I wiped a tear away and kept flying, hating nostalgia. It just made me want Iggy back more. I poured on the speed, and the flock copied me. Fang flew next to me and grabbed my hand, but I pulled it away. Not now. I couldn't…no…

"Max, you know why."

Shut up, Voice.

"Iggy's in danger, Max. I'm afraid that if you do not find him soon, he'll die."

Oh my. I bit my lip. Voice, where is he? Tell me where he is so that we can save him!

"You know where and why, Maximum." The Voice told me. "You just need to think."

I don't have time to think! I hissed in my head. We have to save Iggy now!

The Voice was silent. I cursed it in my head. Of course not. Of course it wouldn't give me anything more than a stupid fortune cookie saying—

"MAX!" Fang screamed as I clutched my head, falling through the sky yet again. Fang caught me, yelling my name, but I couldn't answer. Images, horrible images, were speeding in front of my eyes, in my head. They weren't memories. They weren't good, either.

Iggy was pushed into a huge room, but it was like I was watching one of those really old TV's with the spotty screen with lines coming across it, speech skipping and all of that crap. There were little sensors all across his body, and he only had baggy pants on, his whole chest exposed.

"Sub—t Five, you a—to fi—till you cannot do so—more." The voice was like a broken record, skipping words all over the place.

Iggy slumped forward while standing, pretending to stomp his foot like a little kid. "Aw, Bob, come on! I ha—a wink of sleep!"

Bob? Oooohhh. Well, that's Iggy for you.

"You will fi—t." The voice boomed. "Commence se—ence."

Suddenly Erasers poured into the room, which was the size of an airplane hangar. First there were tens, then dozens, and then hundreds of them pouring in from doors the size for monster trucks. I screamed, well, in my mind, because the Erasers…there were so many. I didn't even know that much existed. Iggy must have heard them all too, because the sheer look of terror on his face wanted to make me step right in and protect him. Of course, I couldn't, and it made me royally pissed. The Erasers mobbed Iggy, morphing into full-out werewolf-dudes and lunging at my brother, fangs out and claws ready. Iggy landed a hard side kick to the first one, and uppercut the second before back-flipping to give himself more space. Seven more were down before Iggy faltered, which was amazing considered he didn't seem to be using his left arm except for when he really needed to. Ten more added to the nine before Iggy hit the back wall, startling himself.

"Crap!" he shouted, kicking an Eraser in the gut. One slashed his claws across Iggy's bare chest, causing my brother to scream. I screamed too, unable to move, unable to help. Three more joined the pile before Iggy fell against the wall, overtaken by the Erasers. He shrieked as the Erasers cackled, howling and trying to get a piece of my Iggy. I found myself screaming at the voice, Bob, whatever, to stop, just please stop it or I was going to kill every single last one of them (not that I wasn't already).

I swear I heard a chuckle before a super high ringing pierced the air, and all of the Erasers whimpered as they covered their ears, fleeing from the hangar. Iggy lay on the floor, clutching his head though seemingly unhurt except the bloody cut on his chest and a few bleeding wounds across his body. I sighed internally. He wasn't hurt bad. Oh, thank God…

"Impressive, Subject Five." The voice Iggy called Bob said. "You have ea—d yourself treatment f—injuries. But be warned, you on—ve ninety-six hours until Project B-74."

Iggy rose shakily to his feet, clutching his chest with his right hand. "What the hell does that even mean?" he cried. "What are you doing? I don't—it! Damn it!"

Iggy struggled against two uniformed Erasers as they grabbed him and shoved him violently into a dog crate, which was obviously not meant to hold six-foot tall mutants with wings. Iggy didn't fit inside it, so all of his blood got everywhere, and he couldn't move.

"Tell me what you're going to do!" Iggy bellowed. "Tell me! S—me! Crap!"

Iggy disappeared from my view, and I tried to run. I couldn't move, and the double doors slammed shut. Even though Iggy was gone, and I was alone in the hangar full of dead Erasers, I could still hear Iggy talking. His voice rang in my head, pleading, begging.

"No! No, don't!" Iggy yelled. "Please, no! Oh G—no! NO! Holy mother—Agh!" Iggy began to scream, and the connection (it was weird to call it that) began to break up. I shouted for him, but his screams began to become more frantic, and I panicked. "Aw, man, please! Jeb! Oh my GOD! M—Max! MAX!"

"IGGY!" I screamed with all my might, trying to move forward, but I couldn't. I couldn't help him, Angel couldn't help her Daddy, and it just made me so mad

"Max!" Fang shouted. I opened my eyes, fluttering my eyelids. Iggy. He…something…oh my Gosh.

"Ninety-six hours, Max." The Voice rang in my ears. "Ninety-six hours."

"Max." Fang sighed in relief, and let go of my shoulders. I was on grass, high up on some hill, leaning up against a rock. Iggy. No.

"Iggy." I gasped, lunging forward. Nudge held me, knelt by my side. I latched my hand onto her arm.

"Whoa, Max." Gazzy said.

"Max, you were just flying, and suddenly your eyes rolled up in the back of your head and it was really gross and you fell! Fang had to catch you and land you've been out for so long Max we were scared!" Nudge squealed.

Angel stared at me with tears in her eyes. I knew she had worried about me, but she had seen glimpses of what I had. She knew about Iggy.

"Max?" she asked softly. "What's in ninety-six hours?"

I breathed raggedly, shuddering. Fang grabbed my hand. "Max, what is she talking about?" he asked me sternly.

I sat up, leaning against the rock. "We have to save Iggy in four days. O—or I think…I think he's gonna die."

So, I have to know. Are author notes better up at the top, or down at the bottom? Don't forget to review!

7. Say Hi to the Camera

Ah! The reign of the filler chapters has arrived! No!

Sigh. Sorry, I needed this filler chapter -cringe-. I hope it's's not that long, either. I promise that the next chapter will actually get somewhere. I left you undeniably awesome people a kind-of-cliffie, though, so I hope that makes up for it. So, yeah. Oh! So, you guys generally like the notes up here. So, my prep/talking will happen up here, but any super duper important info down at the end of the chapter. Thanks for reviewing! They make my day, and keep me writing! So keep it up ;)

Disclaimer: After seven times, this is getting annoying. I don't own nothing. It's a sad truth.


"Who the hell do you think you are?" I roared, rattling my hands against my cage bars. Yay for fixed arms! I guess that's the only thing evil scientists are good for. "Who gave you the damn right? Get the hell off of her, you son of a—oof!"

My angry rants were cut off as one of the Erasers kicked the front of my cage, sending me sliding back. Oh no he didn't.

"Shut, up, birdie." The Eraser snapped gruffly. I bristled and crawled back forward, exploding again as I heard the little mutated girl scream.

"Get off of her, you giant slice of shit pie! She's a little girl! Don't hurt her. Why don't you pick on someone your own size? Oh, I've got it! Why don't you trucks just kill each other? It'll be great fun, like a movie! We could even make popcorn!"

"I'm done with this!" the Eraser bellowed, tossing Amila aside, and I winced as I heard her whimper. "You're the most annoying thing I've ever heard!"

"Dag…" another low voice warned.

"No! This little mutant has to learn his freaking lesson! I don't care what they've got planned!" The Eraser reached inside the bars and pulled mer up hard by the hair against the metal. The brute lowered his voice threateningly. "I want to hear him scream."

"Dag, Jeb said that the experiment—"

"Ari, shut up and help me!"

I froze. Ari. I made a little gurgling sound in surprise, and Dag the Eraser whipped my cage across the room with one hand, sending me crashing into concrete. Holy ow. I groaned as I hit the ground, and a few mutants called out helplessly. Aw, they care.

"Iggy!" little Amila shrieked. I rose to my knees, holding my head but still giving her a thumbs-up.

"I'm going to kill you!" Dag roared.

"Yeah, well I don't give a shit!" I shouted back. "And your mother doesn't either!"

Dag kicked my cage, and all I did was give him the bird. Oh yeah, I went there.

"School's in session." Dag growled, picking up my cage. "Ready for your lesson, birdie?"

"Your first lesson is that you shouldn't be eating garlic before you roll around in piss in the morning." I spat. "And your second lesson is that only losers rhyme. You stink in two ways. That's low."

"Shut up!" Dag screamed, banging my cage on the doorframe. I ground my teeth, but held in another comment. He took me down the hallway, and then dumped me on some floor, binding my wrists and ankles to the floor. Yo, wait a minute. My stomach was getting that tingly feeling you get when you touch something cold. Which meant that my back was facing up. Which meant my tummy was cold. Which meant…

Aw, hell.

"You ready for your lesson, runt?" Dag the Evil Dog/Wolf Man growled. He chuckled. "This'll be fun."

You have no idea how many sexual jokes I just held in right there.

"Hey, Ari!" Dag snickered. I thought that loser was dead, but hey, I would be happy to kill him this time. "Turn the camera on. The doc wants something to send, and I want to watch it later."

"Yeah." I recognized Ari's voice again, and grimaced. Dag brought his foot up and slammed his boot into my spine. I caught my breath, retching up air and coughing the life out of myself. My neck pushed forward as I panted, hating the whitecoats and their dang Erasers. I heard the little DING noise from a camera recording, and Dag laughed.

"This little runt is about to get taught a lesson." The Eraser said. "I bet it can't wait."

"Go to…hell…" I rasped, coughing up something. Ah, crap, vomit.

"Hey, birdie." He sneered, and Iggy could tell that Ari had brought the camera near him. "School's about to begin. Got anything to say? Okay, then."

I bit my lip and prepared for what was going to happen. "Lesson one: Don't mess with the big, bad wolf." Dag laughed, and grabbed a handful of my feathers. Oh, no. Half my right wing was bald, but now my left wing, oh no, no, no…

Holy crap!

I sunk my teeth into my bottom lip, trembling with rage and pain. That had to be at least a dozen primary feathers. It took forever to grow those back! I bit my lip, trying not to cry out as he pulled more out, handful by handful. I let out a pained, sharp breath, and Dag cackled. Tears were streaming down my face, but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction, would not give him the damn satisfaction…

"Lesson two: Claws were made for a reason." Dag hissed. He unsheathed his stupid claws and raked them slowly across my wings, letting the blood trickle out slowly and painfully. I hissed, and one of Dag's claws nicked my bare back. I let out a shout, barely containing myself.

Oh Holy freaking bejeezum. Oh, crap. Crap, crap, crap, CRAP.

"You think this hurts, runt?" Dag asked me, plucking out another feather. I hissed, grinding my teeth. "Wait until you see what the doc's have cooked up. I know you've been missing them birdies you seem to love so much. It's too bad what happened."

I snapped, flinging my head up, but I was held down by my wrists. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO THEM?" I roared, kicking and struggling against my restraints. "YOU TELL ME RIGHT NOW, YOU BIG FREAKING MONSTER! LET THEM GO, DON'T YOU DARE HURT THEM!"

Dag cackled some more, really enjoying my inner anguish. Oh, hell, they better not have laid a hairy ugly finger on my flock! They could smack me around, but they could not hurt my flock! I'd shove my foot up all their butts! They'd beg for mercy! They'd wish they never ever messed with me—

"Fffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu—" I screamed as Dag reached down and sunk his teeth into my wing. I screamed, trying to squirm out from under the teeth, but couldn't. My scream reached a higher octave as Dag ripped his fangs out from my wing, and he laughed in glee. Freaking sadist. I lay panting, squeezing my eyes shut to try to block the pain.

"Lesson three, birdie." Dag growled. "The wolf eats the bird." He unchained me, but tied my hands behind my back, and I kind of felt humiliated because I couldn't wipe away my tears. Dag picked me up by the scruff of my neck, and let me tell you, for someone tall and bony like me, it hurts like hell. I heard something in my neck snap, and there was already a burning bruise forming. "The doc wants you now, runt. No more fun. But I'll still get to hear you squeal, so that's a bonus."

"Oh, yeah." I hissed. "And tomorrow you can stick knives in Cabbage Patch Kids. It'll be great."

Dag grunted, and dumped me back in my cage. I heard the camera stop, and Dag began to truck me through the School. Shit. The one thing that sucks about being blind in the School is that you can't memorize escape routes when in great pain. You just get all miscombobulated, and dizzy. Trust me, you can get dizzy when you're blind.

"Ah, Subject Five." Bob sneered, rattling the bars of my cage.

"Ah, King of the Douche-bags." I spoke in an outrageous British accent, knowing full well that it would piss him off.

It worked.

"I see that your wit is still intact." Bob said distastefully, and then chuckled. "Well, it won't be like that for long."

The Sham Wow Guy with a shaggy hairdo and a surgical mask was laughing like the devil inside, I bet. It was quite annoying to think about.

Whoa. Wait. What? What did he mean by that?

"You, experiment!" Bob snapped at someone. "Unbind its hands. Put this on it."

Bob's voice went away, and a door slammed. Oh, great. I distinctly heard the camera start again, and Bob talking, but it wasn't to me. Huh. Who knew he actually had a social life?

I felt rough hands cut the rope that held my wrists together, and then something was shoved on my head. It was heavy, and covered my eyes. I was about to shove it off of my face, when, of course, he talked.

"If you take the machine off, we will shoot you without hesitation."

Just dandy. "Oh, no!" I mocked him. "Why would I want to take this death trap off? It's such a marvelous doo-hickey! In fact, I think it could just save mankind, don't you thi—"

Bob turned the machine on during the middle of my sentence, and I cut off.

I fell to the floor, screeching and trying to claw my eyes out. The stupid machine was blocking my way! My eyes needed to come out. The pain was just so damn unbearable! Ouch! SHIT! The pain burned so bad it was like being blinded all over again. I curled up on the floor in agony, breaking my vocal chords. There was only one thing going through my mind:

I needed to die.


"Where could he be?" Fang asked, bending over the computer and typing. "I thought there was only one School."

I shook my head, crossing my arms. "There was the Institute, remember? There's more than one, I'm sure of it. Maybe a smaller branch, or something. The Voice said that there was no time to guess. We need to know."

Angel nodded at my hip. "Uh-huh! We can't just fly to the School and find out he isn't there. We don't have enough time."

Fang groaned, and I biffed him. We were in the back, back of a big library, in a tiny corner dimly lit by a neglected light bulb. No one ever came back here, said the cobwebs, so we were good. Fang was on one of the checkout laptops (I was debating on checking it back in or not) and was trying to look up anything that might give us a lead to Iggy. For all we knew he was at the real School, and we had to book it to even get there in time. We were only in Arkansas. Oh, Arkansas. It was a marvelous, secluded place to hunker down. One of those states where not a lot happens. I liked it here. There were a bunch of food stands, from bagels to snow cones. Hmm...I could use a snow cone.

"Where are Nudge and Gazzy?" Fang asked gruffly, bending over farther as he sat criss-cross-applesauce on the ground. I looked around, appalled, but Angel answered.

"Sneaking some pretzels in here for us." She said cheerfully. Mm. I liked pretzels. Good. Wait.

"I want a snow cone." I whined. "Hey guys, you want snow cones? Snow cones are awesome. Fang, get me a snow cone. Now. Hey…now. FANG!"

"Hey…Max." Fang called quietly as Nudge and Gazzy rushed back, holding five mega-huge pretzels from a stand outside. SNOW CONES.

"Hey…Emo kid. I want a snow cone." I replied, kneeling down beside him. The rest of the kids looked down on the screen. It was stuck on an article on the explosion in Epcot, with a picture of the crowds. There was a paragraph and pictures on us, of Iggy pushing everyone back as the globe exploded and the five of us in the air. The little cursor was frozen, turning into the spinning rainbow ball of doom.

"Shut up about the snow cone. It's doing something weird." Fang muttered, clenching his jaw. Suddenly the screen went dark, and Fang cursed under his breath. I nudged him to get him to shut up just as a white flash streaked across the screen, opening to a white room with a weird guy standing in the middle. He was middle aged, with a balding head and graying hair on the sides. He was clean-shaven, but I would have trusted him more if he had one of those scruffy beards. And he just oozed evil, with his smirk and ice blue eyes piercing into your soul. Just kidding, he just looked like an ass. No, better yet. He looked like an evil Wizard of Oz.

"Maximum Ride." He greeted, spreading his arms wide. Fang and I shared a look, and then I remembered. This was the voice that Iggy had called "Bob". This man had Iggy.

I needed to kill him.

The video kept rolling, and Fang grabbed my arm silently so I wouldn't punch the screen. The other kids were crowding around us.

"He might give us a hint to where Iggy is." Fang hissed in my ear. I nodded.

"It's been an interesting time housing your…brother." The whitecoat sneered. "I thought that you might want to witness what has been happening recently. Subject Five has been, could you say…less than cooperative. I would like to inform you that our project has been going well, and will be completed very soon. But I thought you would like to see your mutant before he dies."

Gazzy tensed along with the rest of us, but we kept silent. The video changed to a shaky video of a dark room with concrete on every wall. A huge Eraser was laughing in the middle of the room, with a form underneath it…It was Iggy. He was retching, breathing heavily and panting, obviously in pain. He was chained to the floor by his wrists and ankles, and he looked horrible.

"Iggy…" we all gasped. My hand clenched around Fang's tightly.

The Eraser walked up the camera. "This little runt is about to get taught a lesson." The Eraser smiled evilly. "I bet it can't wait."

"Go to…hell." Iggy rasped, and we all flinched as he coughed up something on the floor. Nudge squeaked in fear.

We watched helplessly as the Eraser ripped handfuls of primary feathers from Iggy's wings, wincing with every rip, with every shout. I grabbed Angel and covered her eyes as the Eraser raked his claws along Iggy's wings, and Nudge began to sob as the Eraser sunk his teeth into our brother's wing. Tears silently flowed down my cheeks as Iggy screamed in pain. We didn't relax as the scene changed back to the evil whitecoat. This time there was a large window looking into a room with a beaten-up Iggy, slouching over a bit, with a strange contraption on his head.

"Maximum Ride, your brother is scheduled for termination." Bob told the camera, and smiled. "And you wouldn't want to miss that, now would you?"

At once, Bob said something to Iggy and pressed a button. My brother collapsed on the floor, screaming and clawing at his face. As soon as the blood started pouring I jumped up and burst out of the back door, leaping into the sky and flying as fast as I could west.

Damn it, I wasn't even stopping for snow cones.

Reviews are lovely :D

8. Never Want to See Again

Special treat, on-time chapter! OK, I'm going to put most of the stuff down below, because I have some announcements. Thanks to all who reviewed, and keep it up!

Note: Anyone and everyone, please do not be offended by what Max says about Kansas if it happens to be offensive. I hope it's okay, and it is soley for writing's sake.

Warning: There's some pretty bad blood stuff in here. Please, if you do not like that kind of stuff, be careful and cautious in Iggy's POV. Sorry, there's so snarky behavior or jokes for Iggy this chapter. THIS CHAPTER IS REALLY SAD. Like, super-sad. If you all wanted to kill Bob now, well...

Disclaimer: I don't own...tear...sadness...Moving on.

"Kansas?" I hissed, flabbergasted. Hehe, flabbergasted. Back on topic. "Kansas? He's in Kansas?"

"We don't know if he's even in that building, Max." Nudge whispered beside me. I scoffed.

"I know, but…Kansas? Really?"

We were high on a hill (only hill in the whole friggin' west side of the state, I'm serious) peeking down at a spread out, impressive-looking science-y complex. We were all quiet, speaking in low voices. We didn't want to draw attention to ourselves.

So here's the deal. After…ahem…charging off from that library in Arkansas, Fang actually calmed me down and told me that he tracked the freaking video. He found where the scary Wizard dude had sent the video from. That dude had Iggy, and so as soon as I heard the word "Kansas" I was in the air again. Sue me for being excited.

But seriously. I was getting a bit freaked out by this. Numero uno: Fang had tracked that link really easily. All my instincts were screaming "TRAP! TRAP! RUN! IT'S A TRAP GET UNDER THAT ROCK NOW!", but I kept my cool. Numero duos: It was in Kansas. Not to be offensive, but what ever happens in Kansas? Other than…tornadoes? Nothing evil ever happens! Nothing bad is supposed to happen! I mean, New York City? Some freaky stuff gets down there. Death Valley? Speaks for itself. But Kansas? And numero, uh…three: It was just too coincidental. The evil cousin of the Wizard of Oz is the master of DNA mixing for kids and such in Kansas. I half expected Dorothy's house to fall down on me any minute.

Fang crept up beside me, handing something out for me. "It's better if we're on a sugar rush, Gazzy says."

I looked down at Fang's hand, and nodded appreciatively as I took the snow cone from him and bit into it happily. Win.

"So." I whispered, turning around and flattening myself against the hill. "We going to go kick some whitecoat a—butt now, right?"

Everyone nodded eagerly, but Angel smiled at me, like I was the silly six-year-old. It bothered me, it really did.

"Max, we can't go barging in." she said. "We have to plan precisely. There are no outdoor pens or exercise areas here, so I don't think we can rescue Iggy like Gazzy and Iggy rescued us. And we don't have hawks. And we're tired. I think we need to hunker down and come up with a foolproof plan so that we don't get stuck in there with Iggy."

Don't you hate it when you get outsmarted by a six-year-old? Nah, it's probably never happened to you 'normal people'.

As much as I hated to admit it, Angel was right. I didn't like it, but she was right. "It's just…" I sighed, closing my eyes. "We had ninety-six hours in Georgia. That was during the day. Yesterday we were in Arkansas. Today we flew into Kansas, and it's nighttime now. We don't have a ton of time left. I don't think less than two days is enough time."

"We'll get up really early, come up with a plan, and have Iggy out by lunchtime." Fang finalized.

Well then.

We flew low over a field, stopping at a nearby motel. I walked up to the guy at the counter, hands twitching anxiously.

"Hi." I greeted. "Can we have, uh…two adjoining rooms, please?"

The guy coughed out some cigarette smoke, and I crossed my arms. "I can give you two rooms next t'nother." The guy coughed. "We don't have any adjoinin' rooms." More smoke. Gross.

"Sure." I said, and handed him the Max Card. He widened his eyes at me, but ran the card and gave me the keys anyway. Damn right.

"Okay guys." I said, opening the door to the girls' room. "Set your alarms, okay? We're up at four in the morning to come up with a plan, and we're out of here by five. I hate waiting. I have a bad feeling. So, four. What time is it now?"

"One in the morning." Fang grumbled. I beamed.

"Perfect!" I chirped, and everyone shared weird glances. I hardened. "You can sleep when Iggy's here." I told them.

That shut them up.

I tucked Nudge into bed, and then went into the bathroom to fetch Angel a towel to wipe down her dirty face of snow cone syrup. I looked into the bathroom mirror and snarled, picturing the Bob whitecoat's face when I kicked him where it counts.

"I'm gonna kill that Wizard." I muttered, cracking my knuckles. It was on. I was not going to let Iggy die. They'd have to get through Maximum Ride first.


It took me twelve hours to open my eyes.

I'd tried, of course. But after nearly mutilating my face, I decided to take it slow. And even twelve hours later, I still couldn't open my eyes above a squint. Why? Oh, I'll tell you why.

I could see.

And it was hell.

I couldn't actually see, I figured out. I was still blind. Sure, this bummed me out, but like the emo soul I am (cough, not, cough) all I wanted to do was crawl back into my darkness. I wasn't me when I was blind. And this wasn't a reward. Oh, no. They weren't helping me. And I wasn't going to go walking around with a hundred pound contraption on my head so they could show me bad quality videos. I wasn't really seeing. That wasn't good enough.

It didn't help that they were using it to torture me, either.

I wasn't in the room anymore. That was my first clue that I wasn't really seeing. I was watching the flock. But it wasn't like I was dreaming. Dreaming didn't hurt like friggin' hell. They were flying, talking. About me.

"We have three more days, Max." Fang told her. My breath hitched. My flock…they looked…Max…Gazzy…oh my God.

"Three more days isn't enough." Max growled. She was beautiful. "We have to save Iggy now."

"We'll make it." Fang promised.

"Guys! Land, forest below!" Max called, and the flock shouted their agreements as they began to decline. A tear welled up in my eye as I saw Gazzy holding my backpack on his little shoulders. I shouted out to them, but my voice was caught in the wind. Max took Angel's pack off of her back and set it against a tree.

Then it all went wrong.

Nudge was first. She was chatting to Gazzy when the Eraser grabbed her wings and brought her hands behind her back. Everyone sprung into action, but there were three Erasers for every flock member. Nudge, Angel and Gazzy were tied with duct tape and thrown against the ground, squirming and shouting. I screamed at Max and Fang to save them, for I couldn't even move. Damn the whitecoats! I had to save my family!

An Eraser stepped forward and grabbed Max by the throat, lifting her up into the air. She choked and kicked, but she didn't reach the Eraser. She grit her teeth.

"Where's…Iggy?" Max ordered, sputtering. Man, if looks could kill (Max's probably does, but no one's filled me in yet). Fang was dumped on the ground, hair held by an Eraser. I yelled at them, but I couldn't even hear my own voice.

"That's none of your concern." The Eraser spat. "The doc's got some plans for him before he dies. You're all scheduled for termination. There's to be no delay."

Max roared. "Don't you dare hurt—"

The Eraser snarled and shot his pistol in the middle of Max's sentence. The bullet hit Fang right in the heart, sending blood exploding everywhere. Gore hit the kids, and they hyperventilated. I froze.

"NO!" I screamed, falling to my knees. Fang's eyes dimmed, and the Eraser dropped him limply on the ground.

Fang, dead.

Another shot. Max screamed, kicking desperately. Blood poured from my little man's stomach, and Gazzy fell to the ground. My…my partner in crime…No! I tore at my eyes again. I didn't want to see, not this, not this, I didn't want to see, I didn't want to see! NO!

"Please." I sobbed. "No more. No more, please!"

The Eraser shot again, and Angel screamed as Nudge fell, a hole in her chest. I sobbed, tearing at my eyes, wanting to rip them out and make the images stop. I couldn't take it. It was like they were forcing my eyes open, forcing me to watch my flock executed.

Gazzy, Nudge, dead.

The Eraser pointed the gun at Angel, and Max sobbed, breaking down. Angel's blue eyes were struck with sheer terror, and even her mind control couldn't save her now. My voice broke, overtaken with fear.


The gun fired, and my baby, Max's baby, our little Angel, was dead.


"NO!" Max and I screamed at the same time, tears pouring down and creating puddles on the dirt.

"Please." Max pleaded, as did I. But she said something totally different than I did.

"Spare her." I pleaded.

"Kill me." Max said.

The Eraser sneered. "As you wish."

He lifted the gun to Max's straining chin, pressing underneath her jaw. I screeched, begging for him to stop, to not kill her, she was all I had left, he couldn't kill Max! I heard something Fang told me only days ago echo in my ears.

"There was this thing. When we were six. The whitecoats decided to see what would happen if they made me see things." Fang growled. "It wasn't anything bad, but…"


The gun fired. I roared, unable to look away. Just an illusion, just a—Max's blood splattered on my face, and I screamed until I didn't have a voice anymore.



They were just…dead. All five of them. Just like that. Too real. Too real.


They took the thingy off. I didn't acknowledge them. The gun going off, hitting Fang's heart. Max's head as the gun fired, her blood showering over—


I didn't fight when they lifted me back up. There wasn't any point anymore. I sobbed, hugging my knees in my cage. I had been relying on Max to come save me, to get me out of this hellhole. But no. There was no hope anymore. Max was dead. My flock was dead.


"Iggy?" I heard Amila ask from her cage, but it sounded a thousand miles away. "You…okay? Iggy?"

"KILL ME!" I shrieked, bending up farther in a ball. "KILL ME!"

I wasn't in the room anymore. What time was it? Day? Year? Who was I? Oh, that was right. I was Iggy. I had no family anymore.

"Project B-74 is complete." An echo, like someone said it from the top of a cliff. "The experiment is to be terminated tomorrow at 18:00."

"Yes, sir."

"Subject Five?"

"Kill me." I rasped. "Dead. Kill me, please."

"You have one final test, Subject Five. And then you can join your flock."

"Dead." I muttered, and then realized that Bob was speaking. "You killed them."

"You are to complete these puzzles." Bob told me. "They are jigsaw puzzles, each with one thousand pieces. There is a pile of boxes next to the table where you will be working. Your movements are monitored. Go."

"Killed them." I echoed, hands numb. "Killed them. Dead. Gone."

Out of the cage. Sitting. My sensitive fingers flew over the puzzle pieces, putting each puzzle together twice as fast as any kid with eyes that worked. Not that I wanted eyes that worked. No, not anymore. I didn't want to see…that. The work took my mind off of…things, even though the tears fell down my nose and stained my hands as I put the pieces together. Anything to get my mind off of…anything to ignore my impending "termination". But they had cut down my will to live. Jokes or making fun of Erasers would get rid of the fact that—


They're all dead.


I couldn't ignore that.

A tear flowed into an open cut on my hand. I winced, and then cried some more.

-sob-. You probably all hate me now. Not really. But I'll let you in a a little secret: The flock's not dead.

You probably figured that out already. But IGGY! Ah, I'm angry at myself!

So, the announcements. Sorry, but you all will have to cling onto your anxious waiting for a chapter for a little while. Unless I can get out another chapter next week, you will have to wait two weeks or a little while longer. I'm going to camp. So...I will try. I hope to put up a chapter right after I get back, but you never know. Sigh.

OK, and for the question of the day...should I have more POV's? Fang? Angel? Right now it is just Max and IGGY, so let me know if I should have more people's point of views. Thanks! Oh, yes. Review! For Iggy!

9. If You Could See My Tears

Oh, hey. Were you guys just...waiting there? OH, you want another chapter? Well who am I to deprive you readers of that?

I'm back, people. Missed posting, so here I am. I wrote a long chapter, and I've already got another almost finished, so you people can look forward to another chapter soon. Enjoy this one, though.

I would LOVE to thank all of my awesome reviewers, who stuck by and reviewed my last chapter. In fact, I think I'll list them here: SeaChick, pandorad24, Moe10, CainaStarsong, lillypad22 (your angst will be coming soon :P), Rocking Phillip, Heart the Squid, flYegurl, Jezabel Raewin, ilikeclimbingtrees, and WhiteWinterStar. GOSH, THAT'S ELEVEN REVIEWS. I THANK YOU ALL. And, uh -cough- could you guys, uh -cough- keep it up? you know, hint hint.

I'm going to go ahead and finish up, and say happy almost Independence Day to all my American readers. If any of you see the flock flying amongst the fireworks, well have even more happy dreams. :P

Sorry for the long Author's Note. Here, have a DISCLAIMER: I do (not) own Maximum Ride. But you know, JP, my birthday's coming up...just kidding.


"Gazzy." I hissed. "Do you have the thing?"

The Gasman chuckled darkly. "Do I. I have the thing, alright."

"Good." Fang whispered. "What's the plan?"

I nodded at Angel, and she nodded back. I sighed, and then began. "Okay guys. We're going to walk straight into the lobby, you know, because they give tours here. We slip in on a tour and then slip away into the science part. Gazzy blows…uh…"

"The Biggy Iggy." Gazzy whispered, holding up his backpack with the bomb in it. It was a total face palm moment, but the kid wanted his big brother back.

"Okay, Gazzy blows the Biggy Iggy, and we skedaddle to find Iggy. Then we beat butt and get out as fast as we can. Gasser, you douse all the guards and blow your mini Iggies if we get into trouble. Ange, you do your thing with the knocking-them-out-against-their-own-will thing. The rest of us will kick butt. Get it?"

"Got it." The rest of my team replied together.

"Good." I nodded, and then proceeded in making everybody look decent, and not like the runaway band of misfits we were.

And then we advanced into enemy territory.

"Hello." The receptionist greeted me as I walked in the door, Angel holding my hand. It freaked me out. I mean, the lady was normal. No evil glint in her eye, no imposing lab coat, no devil horns or purple tentacles protruding from her tummy, nothing. Instead she smiled and looked down at Angel. "Hi sweetie. Are you here for the tour?"

"Uh huh!" Angel chirped, bringing Total up against her chest. She was going to dump him in Fang's backpack soon, but she wouldn't leave him outside. Stupid dog.

"Sorry honey, but your puppy can't go on the tour with you." The lady said. Angel furrowed her eyebrows.

Oh, no.

"Yes, he can." Angel said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. I did a face palm, sending a Save me now look to Fang. He scoffed, grinning at my misery. The lady shook her head, and then smiled again. "Of course, sweetie. Have fun now."

I took advantage of the situation. "Say, uh, Rebecca. Is there a map or something? Our dad wanted us to go on the tour today, because he had to work, and our mom works here."

Rebecca nodded and handed me a piece of paper. "Right here, hon. I hope you enjoy the tour! The next one starts in a half an hour, just go into the waiting room on the left."

I thanked her and turned around, bringing the rest of them with me. Fang slipped Total into his backpack. I looked at the map in my hand and smirked. Cake.

"So, the tour goes along here," I said to Fang, bringing my finger across the map. "And the science department and labs are here. So we'll leave here, go across these hallways, maybe take an air duct or two, and then show up here to rescue Ig."

"Yeah." Fang replied, zeroing his eyes on the map. Thank you Mr. Talkative, for your wise, insightful words.

"Everyone, the tour is about to start!" A guy with a crisp suit and a bowler hat said, waving his arms around and gesturing toward the door. I snickered. Who wears bowler hats? "All of you please gather in front of me so that we can begin."

It was great. There were actually, like thirty suckers who wanted to learn about this crap, and it was actually a school group and some old dudes, so we fit right in. With the kids, I mean. Ugh. We snuck around the back of the crowd, and if I can speak for myself, I almost fell asleep from the boredom. I didn't care what this place was or whatever the hell they were selling. Fang, however, seemed to be concentrating on what the dude was actually saying. I had to snap in his face to get his attention. Fang sighed and looked at my annoyingly.

"Iggy." I hissed, and then he nodded. Silently we slipped into a hallway as the group passed it, and we ran down toward the labs. My heart was pounding. Iggy. We were going to rescue Iggy. Finally. He wasn't going to die; he was going to be all right.

"Okay, Gaz." I rasped as we reached the labs. We could tell, because there were, you know, double doors with a large sign that said ITEX SCIENCE DEPARTMENT. And that wasn't blatant at all. "See the vent there?"

Gazzy bounced excitedly. "Release the Biggy Iggy?"

I nodded. "Release the Biggy Iggy."

"'Kay." Gasser stepped on Fang's shoulders and popped open the vent using his screwdriver. It was only when the bomb was set that I saw the camera.

"Guys. Utoay foay erehay ownay."

The WTF looks on their faces that first second were hilarious. The next second we were three hundred feet into the lab, laughing our asses off as the Biggy Iggy erupted.


Well, of course we weren't far enough away. The debris overtook Gazzy and Nudge, but they got out all right. We were all burnt and dirty, but hey. This was like, every Tuesday for us. So we ran and ignored the alarms as we looked into each room, sprinting by at full speed to try to find Iggy. Fang and I unlocked all of the cages of the experiments of the rooms we passed, but we couldn't find him. I had no idea where he was. What if he wasn't even here? That would suck! Like, a thousand and seventeen times over!

I almost missed him. I ran by the window, and almost kept running. Then my mind went HOLD UP, SISTER, and I backtracked. And then I was fumbling at the door and forcing it open.

Oh, damn.

He looked like shit. My vision had nothing on him now. Almost every part of Iggy's body was black and blue, and sometimes green and yellow. His fingers were raw and trembling, flying over little puzzle pieces like he'd been programmed. He was wearing bloody clothes that looked like they were cut from burlap sacks, crimson splattered on tan baggy pants and a cut shirt. His wings were all bloody and spotted, sagging down onto the floor around him. My breath hitched, and I felt a tear fall down my cheek. There were gashes on his face, there was blood in his hair, he was injured, he was hurt—but he was alive. And I had finally found him.

My breath wouldn't flow correctly, and kept getting caught. Maybe it was the terror, maybe it was the relief. He would come hug me and everything would be all right and we'd bust out and find him some help and live happily ever after and shit. Finally, I found the strength to speak.

"I—Iggy." I spoke up, clenching the hem of my shirt.

I expected him to look up, stop what he was doing, grow that goofy smile on his face and then leap into my arms and then run out the door to find the rest of the flock. I expected him to be happy and excited and relieved.

He didn't even acknowledge me.

"Iggy." I said, louder now. All he did was shake his head roughly, never stopping the flowing movement of putting together the puzzle pieces.

"Iggy. Iggy, we're here." I took a step forward, digging my nails into my palms. Iggy huffed, shaking his head again. When he spoke, he wasn't speaking to me. And his voice broke my heart into a billion little pieces, the way it strained and cracked in agony.

"Great." He rasped, frowning. "He—hearing things. Look, Iggy, you're a schizophrenic. Awesome." He chuckled darkly.

"Iggy!" I spoke to him, biting my lip. "Iggy, it's Max. The flock, we're here. Come on, we gotta go."

Iggy opened his eyes, his eyes so pained and traumatized I almost burst out in tears right then in there. His eyes stared blankly, not looking at anything or directed in any way. He shook his head again, muttering, "No. Trick."

"Iggy!" I shouted. "Damn it, get up! We're rescuing you!"

Then he did the last thing I expected: he laughed. He laughed hard and maniacally, tilting his head back and making me scared. He kept putting together the puzzles, and his fingers never stopped moving. It was driving me crazy. He tossed his head back and forth, cackling. "Oh, great. Yeah, Bob! Torture me some more, why don't ya? Just kill me now! You promised! You damn promised, you shitting idiot! I hate you! Kill me!"

My heart shattered, and then it was replaced by an uncontrollable fury. Did he really—

"Iggy!" I screamed.

"Go away!" he cried back, closing his eyes and shaking his head. "Le—leave me alone! Kill me now!"

I leaped forward and grabbed his working hands, encasing them inside of my own. Iggy gasped, and glanced blindly down at his hands. Now all of him was trembling, shaking visibly and scarily. He let a finger graze the inside of my palm, and he let out a ragged breath.

"M…Max." he rasped, turning his head up toward my face. His eyes were scared—terrified, even. I needed to know why, and then torture the person who had done this. "Max."

"Yeah, Ig, it's me." I said slowly, my voice shaking. "We're here, the flock. We're here to save you. You're going to be okay, you're not hearing things, I promise. A—And, Iggy. You are not killing yourself. If you do, I will kill you. Do you hear me?"

Suddenly his hands were out of mine and on my neck and face. The position was so close to that of breaking someone's neck that I almost thought he had gone loco, but Iggy was just running his hands on my face, feeling my jaw and neck area, and then my nose and cheeks and my forehead. I let him, because the look in his eyes was so crazed that I was afraid to move. I kicked away the tiny table he had been working on, and finally Iggy stopped, though the crazed look stayed.

That's the thing about Iggy. He's always so sheltered, following obediently with an occasional snarky comment. But with his eyes, you can always tell what he's feeling. That is, until he found out that he could be read like an open book and started closing his eyes all the time. But now, I'd never seen his emotions so strong. It horrified me.

"Max." Iggy let out a breath, and he smiled, beamed. He tackled me in a hug, squeezing me tightly and sobbing into my hair. He was shaking so badly that I brought my arms around him and held him, even though he was a foot taller than me and limp with sobs. "You—you're not dead." He sobbed, soaking my hair through. "Max, they—I wanted—I tried—"

"It's okay." I promised, rubbing his back in between in wings, crying a bit myself as he winced in my arms. "We're getting you out of here, okay?"

He nodded, wiping away his tears and straightening up. Suddenly Fang and Nudge burst into the room.

"Max—IGGY!" Nudge squealed, running forward and tackling him. "Ohmigosh Iggy we were looking forever and Max got these visions of you hurt and you are hurt are you okay I mean those cuts look like they hurt and your wings oh no can you fly Iggy we have to get out of here we missed you so much Gazzy is blowing up everything because we came to rescue you and here we are we gotta go n—"

Iggy cut Nudge off, planting his fingers on her chest, bringing her t-shirt collar down and feeling right under her collarbone and to the right, not…badly, or anything. I realized it was the same thing he did with me, just in a different place. What did he think was there?

Iggy moved to Fang slowly, placing his palm right over Fang's heart for a few seconds. Suddenly Fang attacked him with a hug, patting his back and shedding a tear onto Iggy's shoulder.

"It—it's good to have you back, big guy." Fang choked up.

"Is Mr. Rock crying?" Iggy asked, sniveling a little. "That must be…a crime against humanity."

And then we were all crying, all hugging each other like the mushy hormonal, traumatized mutant teenagers we were. Gazzy ran into the room and Iggy scooped him up into a huge hug, his hand on Gazzy's tummy. And then Angel walked into the room, standing all smiley at the door. Iggy picked her up as she leaped into his arms, crying. He whispered into her ear and ran his hand through her hair as he cried into it, always keeping his fingers over her heart. We all had a group hug, and then Iggy straightened up.

"I'm ready to blow this hellhole." He announced, and we all smiled. I grabbed his hand, Fang picked Angel up in his arms, and we bust out of the room, running down the hallway again.

"There's a window down at the end of the hallway!" Gazzy exclaimed, and then suddenly Iggy stopped, tugging at my hand.

"Did you set the others free?" he asked weakly, holding his own chest.

"Yeah, there was a few rooms where we let them go, they ran out the main way, I think." I replied in haste.

"Was there a small girl, around Angel's age, w—with mousy brown hair, and twitchy, with a sweet voice, a—and a mouse tail?" Iggy ordered, and I could tell that he had spent some time with this kid to have her describe what she looked like to him. I strained to remember, and I caught a glimpse in my mind of a small girl let out a tiny cage next to an empty spot by Fang, and her running out of the door with her hand in another mutant's. I hoped that it was the girl, and took a chance.

"Yes, Iggy. I think so."

"Are you sure?" he demanded, his grip murderous.


I tugged him down the hallway, and caught up with the flock as we turned onto a space with a huge window overlooking the parking lot. It was shattered, and the curtains that hid the labs from the rest of Kansas had been torn. It was horribly dangerous, and all the normal kiddies' parents would have never let them play near it.

So, of course, we jumped right out of the window.

Just so you know, landing on asphalt isn't the best time. Especially when your brother doing the jumping with you has been beaten, bruised, physically and psychologically tortured, and almost killed. But whatever. It was a Thursday.

Fang helped me catch Iggy before he face-planted, and we immediately took off toward the hills. Dozens of mutants were scattering, screaming triumphantly for freedom. I turned around, and stopped. Everyone else did too. There, standing in our oh-so-pointy window, was the evil Wizard.

"You cannot win, Maximum Ride!" He shouted. "You shall perish under Itex! Project B-74 has been completed, and you all will die!"

Well, wasn't that just dandy.

"Shut up!" Gazzy screamed, taking Iggy's hand. Iggy smirked.

"Bob, I've wanted to say this for the whole five days I've known you. So long, sucker!" Iggy called, and then he took off into the air with Fang's help. Nudge blew Bob a raspberry and followed them, followed by Angel. Gaz and I stuck around for a few second longer.

"Gasser." I said urgently. "Give me a mini-Iggy."

My trooper smiled devilishly. "My pleasure." He replied, handing me a small explosive. I jumped into the air and shot toward Bob, perching precariously on the ledge and sticking my palm on his ugly chest.

"You don't hurt us." I snarled, and then fell back into the air, enjoying the sound of an explosion as I flew away. I peered down, and saw a hoard of mutants running along the road. One had a small mouse tail peeking out from under her dress. I smiled, and then poured on the speed to catch up to my flock.

"That was so awesome!" Gazzy cheered. We hunkered down in a field surrounded by few trees, far away from the Itex lab. I was considering flying down to Arizona and seeing Dr. Martinez. She could fix Iggy up, no questions asked. And, I…kind of missed her. But now, I was fixing Iggy up with some bandages, boo-boo spray, and spit. But mostly spit.

"Yeah." Iggy agreed, nodding his head. His eyes still had that hollow look in them, and his smile didn't reach his eyes. I decided to leave it for the time being. "Ow! Wing, wing."

"Sorry." I muttered, wrapping more gauze around his wing.

"Ooh, do you think that horrible dude is dead?" Nudge asked, hopping around. "That would be so great even though killing people is bad I don't like killing people it makes me feel all yucky but I don't think Erasers are people they were but they always try to kill us so I guess it's self-defense and that guy was so gross and he tried to kill us and he was totally evil so I guess if he's dead that's okay because he won't do anything evil anymore or try to hurt Iggy because no one hurts Iggy except for Fang when Iggy blows up his stuff but he doesn't really hurt him and Iggy I'm so glad you're back and—"

"Nudge." Fang growled, massaging his temples.


Angel snuggled up with Iggy, and talked to him telepathically for a while. I left to get firewood, and by the time I got back, Angel was in Nudge's lap, and Iggy was out like a light. I took my backpack and tucked it under Iggy's head, sitting down next to him. Fang sparked a fire, and in fifteen minutes handed me some rabbit. Hey, we were hungry. Try being on the run and not trying new things. That's right.

"I'll take first watch." I told Fang, and he nodded, glancing at Iggy before flopping on the ground against a tree. I sat back next to Iggy, absentmindedly bringing my hands through his stringy, greasy hair. Maybe he'd take a shower without me paying him ten bucks. He sure needed one. We all did, since we didn't waste too much time on glamour at the motel. I had ordered the flock up an hour earlier for planning. It was a good thing, too. We had succeeded. We had Iggy back, however…different he was.

There was something wrong with him; I knew that for a fact. That weird look in his eyes…he had taken to avoiding saying our names for the last couple hours. He seemed detached, but I let it slide for now. He'd had a rough five days. He was allotted a few days (weeks) off for recovery. Still, I made a mental note to talk to him the next day about it. I was just wallowing in the relief that he was safe and alive. We had Iggy back. They'd never take him away again.

Iggy woke up breathing hard four times, panicked beyond belief and fumbling around like a crazy person. Each time he took my face in his hands, sighed, closed his eyes, and then fell back asleep. And I didn't even question it.

I didn't even freaking question it.

Reviews are love, and love is cupcakes. Made by Iggy.

10. Eatin' the Crazy Flakes

I CAN'T WAIT ANY LONGER. I have to post now.

So, you guys are great. And you're probably going to be mad when I say that I've had this chapter written up for a whole week and a half, and I restrained myself to wait to post until now. I've re-read this chapter like seven times in anticipation. Thanks to all of you reviewers for actually keeping up with your reviews. It really means the world to me.

So let's push for 100! I'm planning on giving the 100th reviewer a big shout-out, or a one-shot, or something. I dunno, we'll see when we get there. This is our first (and last, at least for a while) FANG POV. He kind of won the non-existant poll on who else should get a POV. Extra-long chapter today! I think...So, yeah. Reviews are cookies. Baked with Iggy love.

Disclaimer: You know what? It's the TENTH CHAPTER (confetti) so I think I'll say this as one and final for the rest of the story: I DO NOT OWN MAXIMUM RIDE.


I know I'm not supposed to cry, but damn it, it is hard.

Max and the kids left to the nearby town to get stuff so that we could disappear again, nurse Iggy back to health. Because damn, he looks like shit. It's hard for him to fly, even though he can walk okay. It's a wonder how his legs can hold up, seeing what's happened to the rest of his freaking body. I suggested we take him to a doctor, but of course, the flock was all no, the WINGS thing! Max just pursed her lips and nodded slightly, like she was considering it but didn't want to say that in front of Iggy. He was really stubborn about his wounds, and wouldn't let us fix them beyond putting band-aids on them. Now he was sleeping, and I was just chilling against a tree, concealed a bit by the hanging branches. Iggy was just out, like he hadn't slept in forever. He probably hadn't. But either way every now and again I checked on him to make sure he…you know, was still sleeping.

I had woken up during the night to take over the watch from Max. No matter how many times she declined stupidly, she needed sleep, and I worried about her. My tree concealed me from the rest of the flock, so she didn't see me when I woke up. I peered through the branches to see her sitting next to Iggy, staring at him. It was kind of cool that she cared so much. But then Iggy lurched forward, gasping. I was about to jump out and help, but Max just grabbed his hand to calm him down. Ig put his hands on Max's face frantically, feeling her jaw and neck before falling back into a sleep.

And that worried me.

I left the guy alone now. I mean, if he needed his sleep, he needed his sleep, and I enjoyed my quiet time. My Fang Time. A guy could only take so much of little kid, hurt blind brother, and sassy almost-girlfriend. Not that I didn't love them, of course. Ugh. I lay back on the tree, closing my eyes and propping my hands behind my head. Ah, peace and qui—

"AGH!" I heard someone scream bloody murder, and I shot straight up. In half a second I was out in the clearing, staring at a shrieking Iggy. My brother was rolling around, screaming his lungs out and re-clawing at his face. Iggy was kicking at nothing, his eyes full of fear as he screamed and struggled. It scared me to hell.

"Iggy!" I cried, unsure of what to do. What do I do, what do I freaking do? "Iggy, what's wrong?"

He kept screaming, and I kept panicking. I dropped down to his side, grabbing his arms. Iggy kicked harder, screaming so loud my ears were ringing. Iggy kicked me in the chest, and all of the air left my body with an oof. I dove back on Iggy, trying to restrain him.

"Iggy! Settle down, won't you?" I yelled at him.

"G—Get away!" Iggy cried. "N—No! Get away! Leave me alone!"

"Settle down, Iggy!" I screeched.

"You killed them!" Iggy smashed his fist into my face. "You KILLED THEM! Murderer! Get AWAY! No!"

His foot crashed into my hands, and I heard a snap. I didn't have time to react before Iggy punched me again in the temple, this time sending me flying across the clearing. My eyes crossed, and I hit something hard. Iggy…Oh, shit.

"Ugh…" I slurred, holding my head, having slammed into one of the trees headfirst. I stumbled, grabbing a branch and nearly toppling over onto the ground. "Cra'…Igguh."

I rose to my feet again, and immediately fell over. Shit, my balance was all whack. My head was spinning, and my ears were still ringing from Iggy's screaming, even though banging it didn't help. I didn't move, and gave up moving by just lying on the ground with my face in the dirt. Hey, a nap sounded pretty good right now…

"IGGY!" Someone screamed, and I heard many footsteps on the ground. I didn't bother moving. Ugh, the noise…I wanted to go to sleep, my Fang Time was ruined… "Oh my God, Iggy! FANG! Holy crap, FANG!"

"Fang, Fang, do you hear me?" Hands on my back, gripping my shirt. Who was talking? Sounded like Nudge. "Fang, stay with me. Fang don't you dare pass out Max is settling Iggy down you have to tell us what happened oh God Max his eyes are rolled up in the back of his head the lump on his head is huge and there's blood Max I'm scared!"

"Ugh." I moaned, fluttering my eyelids. Max…what was happening? Nudge…sleep…

"Sorry, Fang." Nudge muttered, and then something hard was being slapped across my face.

"Whaguh." I groaned, and opened my eyes. "Wha'…Nuh…"

"Stay with me, big boy." Nudge told me, and then I was being dragged. I saw Max at Iggy's screaming side, grabbing his hands and yelling at him. My vision was starting to go red, but I could hear, and Nudge kept splashing water all over me. Something hot on my face…it was all sticky, ew. Gazzy and Angel were shuffling through the packs, trying to find something, while Max kept trying to deal with Iggy.

"Iggy, right here." Max yelled at him, grabbing his hands and placing them on her face. "I'm alive, okay? Right here, right here. I'm alive, we're all alive, we're not dead Iggy I promise we're right here." Max grabbed Gazzy and put Iggy's hands on his stomach. "Gazzy's alive too, Iggy. We're all fine, you're fine, we're all alive."

"M…Max?" Iggy gasped, grabbing at her hair and settling down a bit. "Oh my God, Max. What…I'm so sorry, Max. I'm so sorry."

Max hugged him and muttered nothings to calm him down. Oh, good. Iggy wasn't hurting people anymore. I could sleep. I tilted my head back and closed my eyes, drifting into sleep. Hot stuff on my face made me sleepy.

"Oh, shi...him up." I heard snippets of speech, but couldn't focus. "Fa…on, Fang. Don't…now."

"Max." I murmured. My limbs felt heavy. I was so tired. Just let me sleep…no, I had to wake up. Max wanted me to wake up. I had to. Had to…

"Fang!" Max cried. "Oh, Fang!"

"Wha'?" I snapped, swaying a bit.

Max snarled, hitting me repeatedly on the arms. "Don't. You. Ever. Do that. To. Me. Ever Again!"

I smirked. "Were you worrie' 'bout meh?"

Max laughed softly, but then hardened. "Of course, you idiot! Oh God Fang, that lump looks horrible. Are you okay? Oh God, all this blood…"

I felt funny. My head didn't hurt that bad, though. "Ah, no i's na, Max. I'm…fine. I promi'."

"He sounds funny." Gazzy said, and I giggled. WHOA. I do NOT giggle.

"Your eyes." I said softly, reaching up toward Max's face. What was I saying? I didn't know. My hand was puffy…and red. I felt…light. "The're all spar'y."

"He has a concussion." Max said. Who, me? Oh, no. I was fine!

"Where' Iggy?" I asked. "Biggy Iggy. Hit me. Owwwww."

"Iggy did this?" Max's voice quivered, and I nodded enthusiastically. Didn't she get it? Ow…where was all this red in my eyes coming from? Ugh…

"I—I did?" Hey, there's Iggy! Welcome to the party, bro… "I—Fang, I didn't mean to, I mean it, are you okay?"

"I'm fine." I told them. Everyone looked at me (minus Iggy, 'cause he can't see, hahaha. Whoa, that's not funny.) like I was crazy, but I waved them off and stood up. "See? Perfe'ly fine." I said, walking forward. I only got like seven steps. "I'm perfe—whoa." The ground swayed underneath me, and red coated my eyes as the ground punched me in the face. Sleepy…

"Fang? Oh, God, Fang! Wake up! Wake up, please Fang!"

Ugh. Fang Time…darkness. Sleep was nice, right? Right.


"Fang!" I screamed again, rolling him over limply. "Oh God, oh God, no, no, no." I lifted up his eyelid and saw nothing but white. The blood was dribbling down his face, coating his tan skin crimson. The bump on his temple was the size of a potato, cracked open a bit and oozing blood like melted butter, and I should not be thinking of food right now! "Come on, man. Wakey-wakey."

Fang didn't move. This made me mad. I started to shake his shoulders, utterly furious that he would do this! He was so good with pain, damn it he wouldn't wake up

"Max, don't shake him!" Iggy ordered. "He has a damn head injury, don't you know anything?"

"I don't have time to know anything!" I replied, exasperated. I gestured to the unconscious Fang. "Look at him!"

Iggy crossed his arms and furrowed his pale eyebrows. "Oh, wow, Max, I'd love to." He hissed, and I mentally slapped myself. Damn it.

"Yo, Fang!" I called, picking him up again and dragging him back over to the tree. Nudge ran back with more water, Gazzy grabbed tissues (don't ask me, he said he had plans) while Angel carried over the First Aid Kit. I started dabbing the wound. "If you wake up, uh…we'll get ice cream. You love your freaking mint chocolate chip, come on!"

"What is with these tissues?" Iggy asked, holding one up and feeling it. He was trying desperately to make conversation, because he didn't really get what was going on. "Max, these are single-ply! Single-ply! No snot-filled teenager in North America uses single-ply!"

"Doing something right now, Iggy." I growled, and Nudge dumped water on Fang. "NUDGE WATER ISN'T GOING TO HELP."

"Just fry up some bacon. No one loves bacon more than Fang. The savory baconiness will wake him right up."


Yeah, I know I shouldn't be yelling at the traumatized blind kid, but Fang would not wake up and I was ANGRY and as much as I didn't want to admit it I wanted bacon and damn it I have to stop thinking about food!

"There's so much blood!" Gazzy squeaked. "Max, he's gonna die!"

I felt Iggy stiffen up beside me as all the breath left his body. His voice was small, and terrified. It cracked horribly. "He…he's going to…die?"

Shit. "No!" I replied quickly, putting one hand on Iggy's shaking one for a moment. "No, no one's dying, Fang's going to be fine, Iggy please calm down, Nudge STOP with the water, crap Gazzy hold it in, DAMN IT GIVE ME SOME SPACE!"

Iggy began to cry a bit, and I felt like screaming. How could I be so damn insensitive? Iggy was really fragile right now! But Fang was unconscious and Iggy did that but I couldn't be mad at Iggy because he had freaking nightmares where we died! Damn it!

You can never usually tell when Iggy cries, but now it was pretty bad, in Iggy standards. He was shaking a little bit up and down, and his breath was catching. When he sniffled I turned to him, panicky. He looked like he was going to melt down and believe Fang was actually dead again. Though this would be worse, because Iggy would believe he did it.

"Angel." I ordered, and my baby climbed beside Fang and began to treat his wound while I grabbed Iggy by the shoulders, feeling him tremble. "Iggy, Fang is fine. He's going to be okay, yeah? I promise. Iggy, listen to me."

Tears ran silently down Iggy's cheeks. "I don't believe you." He said quietly. I pulled his hand over Fang, and slapped it down over his heart. "See? Still beating. Now get your skinny white ass over here and fix him!"

Iggy set his jaw, and nodded his head. He seemed recovered, and immediately set to fixing Fang's injury. I set up a fire, and had Gazzy and Nudge become Iggy's personal slave monkeys (not that they weren't already, considering what's been happening the last few days, sheesh) while I cooked us up some hot dogs. Angel sat unwrapping everything from the store recycling bags and packing it into our backpacks, which you could say was a bit redundant, but whatever. She folded some of Iggy's new clothes that we bought him. Even doing that was impressive, seeing that one of Iggy's shirts was the size of a third of Angel's bed sheet.

"He—he's gonna be fine." Iggy's shaky voice rose up. He stood, and walked wobbly over to me. I helped him sit down and lie back, and he let out a ragged breath. I took a glance at the sleeping Fang, and grimaced as I looked back at Iggy. Oh, yeah. Totally going to Dr. M's.

See, after rescuing your brother from the evil clutches of the government, you expect everything to be all dandy and happy, going about our illegal ways and blowing stuff up and hugging narwhals. But no. We had to fly back from Shaws to find one brother screaming his ginger head off and reopening over his wounds like some invisible rabid wolf was having him for a morning snack, and the other face-down in the dirt with blood splattered everywhere.

And I bet you say your life sucks.

I whipped up a couple hot dogs for Iggy and sprinkled the bacon bits and relish just as he liked it, with ketchup below the dog. Don't ask me. But as I turned back to walk over to him, I dropped the hot dog.

"Iggy!" I yelled, and everyone looked up. Gazzy let a huge one rip, and Nudge squealed. "What the hell are you doing?"

Iggy looked up from playing with a scab on his face. "I dunno." He answered stupidly. We don't have scabs. We have healing scars. Iggy had practically ripped the skin right back off of his wound again, and the blood was dripping down his face like grease off of bacon oh my God what was wrong with me today? I grabbed more antiseptic and more Band-Aids as I rushed to his size, patching it up again.

"Bejeezum, Iggy." I mumbled. "What did you eat this morning, stupid flakes?"

Iggy smirked. "I thought they tasted weird. Damn, that Tiger's been lying to me for years."

I shook my head, and put more band-aids on his cheek. He looked kind of cute, like a little kid that fell on the playground and needed a band-aid. I smiled, and then proceeded to take note on how his wounds were doing. He was healing fast, but he still needed medical attention. And then Fang…but I trusted Iggy. Ooh, that gash on his wing looked bad…

Iggy smirked, pulling his lips into that weird crooked smile he has. It's like he's saying Ha, I know something you don't, loser, and you half expect something to blow up. "You are totally checking me out." He said.

WHAT? "Uh, no!" I protested. "No way, I—I was looking at your wings and stop being so stupid Iggy!"

He laughed. "Uh huh. Me and my stupid flakes. You know, I've been on the stupid pills, too. The doc says they're good for a daily dose of crazy."

"You suffer from insanity, Iggy."

"I enjoy every minute of it."

Angel and Total went over and snuggled for a little while, and I grabbed Iggy another hot dog. As I went to put his bacon on it, I overheard they're conversation. I had Gazzy get more firewood, and Nudge was watching over Fang.

"We missed you, Iggy." Angel whined adorably, snuggling up against Iggy's shoulder. Iggy tilted his head back on the tree. "We missed you a lot."

Iggy grinned. "Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kiss me." He rasped in a sing-song voice, and Angel stretched up to peck her daddy on the cheek.

Cue Awwwwws.

I sat down next to Iggy and slouched my head on his limp shoulder. Total climbed on my lap, and Iggy sighed. You know what was adorable then? He put his head on top of mine, and smiled.

Cue even more Awwwwws.

He fell asleep that way, which was a tad awkward for me, with my sleeping brother on me and a stubborn Scottie on my lap and looking at Iggy's hot dog in my hand longingly. Angel smiled at me and then ran off with Gazzy in the woods, leaving me alone to watch Nudge try to wake Fang.

I ate the hot dog, by the way. Sorry, Ig.

Nudge turned around from another attempt at waking Fang up, and squealed fangirl-y at Iggy and I. "Ohmigosh you guys look soooo cute awww he's asleep that's the cutest thing I've ever seen ooooh, Max Fang's waking up!" Nudge whispered urgently.

Ah, shit.

This was the biggest dilemma I'd ever had on my shoulders. My almost-boyfriend, who was knocked unconscious by his brother, was waking up. I wanted to go over and be by his side when he woke up, but I was trapped by his sleeping brother and a very selfish dog. And when said almost-boyfriend woke up without me by his side, to see me all snuggly with Iggy, well… I could either wake Iggy up from his adorable and much-needed slumber, or risk having Fang wake up with just Nudge, and me and Iggy all cutesy like a Hallmark Card.

Ah, shit.

Despite Iggy and I being the next poster kids for Wings-R-Us, I started to squirm out of our abso-cutealicious position. First step: dump the dog. Second step: get into a squatting position. Third step: Gently position the boy against the tree to maintain adorability, and then run like a maniac to Fang's side.

"Uh guh." Fang groaned. His eyes fluttered, and he scrambled to get himself up into a sitting position. Nudge and I let him handle it himself, because if we suddenly touched him he'd probably end up breaking our noses. Once Fang opened his eyes and blinked at us, my mind started hyperventilating.

"Day-um." Fang muttered, rubbing his head. I smiled coolly, but inside I was panicking.

Come on Max say something cool and calm to make him believe you were with him instead of Iggy oh God you're sweating uh, uh, come on Max talk! "You snore a lot."

Smooth, Max. Smooth.

Fang scoffed instead of replying, owning up to his stereotype he hates so much. "Iggy has one hell of an arm." Fang remarked, sitting up and clutching his head. "Damn."

"You okay?" I asked, and I could tell that Nudge was keeping silent as not to burst out in a stream of concerns. "There was a lot of blood. Here, let me wrap that big head of yours."

Fang scoffed again, and I wrapped some gauze around his head, handing him some Advil. Nudge chattered, but we toned it out and sat together as I gave him the pills. He nodded to me and downed them dry, and then glanced over at Iggy.

"He out?" Fang asked gruffly.

I nodded. "He didn't mean to, you know that, right?"

Fang closed his eyes, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah. I don't get it, though."

"What?" I asked, putting medical tape around the gauze. I tucked some of his hair behind his ear, and he smirked.

"Why he freaked out." Fang replied, grim again. "One minute I'm under my tree, Ig's sleeping like a baby, I'm having my Fang Time—"

"Fang Time?" I stifled a laugh.

"—Shut up. And then suddenly, he's screaming and freaking out. I tried to get him to settle down, restraining him and stuff, but then he socked me in the face and kicked me in the gut, and then I'm under a tree with a massive headache. I tried to get up, but that didn't work out so well. And then you guys came back, and…you know."

I smiled. "Are you sure you're Fang?" I asked. "Fang doesn't talk that much."

Fang pushed me, and I sneered as he held his head. "Ugh. Headache."

"Let the Advil work." I told him, getting up and grabbing a cold hot dog. I threw it at him. "Here. Have a wiener."

"Oh, well thanks." Fang said sarcastically. "God, it's like a hangover."

"How would you know what a hangover feels like?" I asked, putting my hands on my hips.

"Iggy and I have our ways. Let's just say it involved Gazzy, an elephant, Vegas, and a harp."

"Whatever, Fang."

Fang closed his eyes for a minute, but then opened them and stared at the sleeping Iggy. He looked me square in the eyes, all seriousness.

"What's wrong with him, Max?" he asked, lowering his voice. He looked like he might cry, and Fang doesn't cry. I almost started panicking right then and there. "He's recovering. His wounds are healing, he's making sarcastic comments, he punched me in the gut this morning before you left because I ate his toast. He's normal. But…there's something wrong with him. And you know what."

Well then.

Inside, my brain was saying, "The evil Wizard of Oz made him see our deaths and so he thinks we're dead and he has nightmares about it and he's scared and I'm scared too and he hurt you Fang make it better!".

On the outside, I said, "Uhh…"

Fang set his jaw. "Max." he ordered.

I groaned, putting my head in my hands. "They did something." I finally muttered.

Fang hardened. "What?"

"They did something." I repeated, not looking up.

"Yeah, I know, but what? What did they do to him?"

I sighed, and looked up to meet Fang's eyes. His expression was soft but serious, and I felt bad.

"They…made him see things."

Fang automatically stiffened, but he kept his voice even. "What did he…what did he see?"

"We all died." I choked out. "I made him talk to me this morning. He sat there and watched us all die, one at a time. Erasers. They 'shot' us all. You in the heart, Gasser in the stomach. Me in the face. He's so terrified. He wakes up, thinking we're all dead, and he…he wants to die too."

Fang was silent for a moment, but then he nodded solemnly. "Makes sense." He remarked calmly.

I hit him in the chest hard, suddenly angry. How dare he say that! That…that…brick wall! "What is wrong with you?" I hissed. "He's traumatized, you jerk!"

Fang looked at me passively, and then stared off into the distance. "I'm just saying that it makes sense. When he freaked, he was shouting things like 'get away' and 'you killed them'. Your story explains that, and why he touched us all in these weird spots when we rescued him. And, it explains why he keeps feeling you up. But you know, on your face."

I scoffed, leaning up against the tree. "Shut up, Fang."

"I always knew he had a thing for you."

"Whatever, Fang."

Fang leaned up beside me, holding his head. "So what's the game plan now, Fearless Leader?"

Oh, what the hell. Might as well. I'm such a poet. "I'm thinking of bunkering down for some R&R. Go to a place I know, help you guys heal."

"A place you know?" Fang asked skeptically.

"Yeah." I nodded. "A lady and her daughter I met when we went to rescue Angel. I checked them out, they're all good. And the lady…she's a doctor."

"A doctor." Fang repeated in a deadpan, sending me a really, idiot? glare.

"A vet." I murmured.

"Really." Fang replied, pulling his lips together.

I banged my head against my knees. "Look, I know it's a horrible idea and the kids will hate going to an adult for help, especially a doctor, but it's the only thing I could think of and Iggy needs help and—"

"Max." Fang grabbed my hand, and I looked at him again. "Will she be able to help Iggy?"


"Then we'll go."

I widened my eyes. Did he just— "Really? Did you hit your head too bad?" I asked. No way. Fang wouldn't agree to that!

Fang nodded, and then smiled. "Really. And I probably did hit my head too hard. But as long as she'll help Iggy out, I'm cool with it. There better be some pretty good grub, though."

I grinned widely. "She has cookies."

"So does the dark side."

"Shut up, Fang."

"You love me."

"Whatever, Fang."

:P I love writing Max POV almost as much as Iggy POV. So, I've got a request for all of you people, before you go off to whatever lives you live.

I really love when people give suggestions/ideas/guess what's going to happen next. So, here's the question for you to answer in your review: What do you think the flock is going to do next? Where are they going to go, what's going to happen? Also, I want to know what you think Project B-74 is all about.

Thanks! Review, and know you all are awesome.

11. Going To the Dark Side

Mr. Patterson, I commend you for your assumed tolerance for the red lines of doom underneath all your made-up teenage slang.

I, however, am not so tolerant.

Anyway, thanks to everyone to reviewed. Yeah, I know right, I'm updating on a Thursday. A Thursday! But this is because I'm going to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter tonight (so excited, you have no idea. I'm dressed as Ginny :D) and then on Friday I'm in a car all day T_T No wifi. And I write more when I feel like I have a deadline. So enjoy :) And sorry for the slight filler-ness. I put some humor in, just for you.

And this chapter is hereby dedicated to flYegurl, who as of last chapter gave me the longest review I've ever had or seen. But you guys are all awesome. Enjoy.

"Max! Oh my God Max!"

I jolted awake, sitting up quickly and immediately feeling dizzy. I jumped to my feet, looking at the scene around me. Who screamed? Who called for me? What was up?

Nothing. Crap, I thought something important was happening, like Ari showed up or Fang started singing Lady Gaga. But only Nudge and Gazzy were up and at Iggy's sleeping side. God, Nudge had nearly screamed, how could he still be asleep? Angel and Total were rising from the fire and running toward me, while Fang was just getting up, like me. Ugh, I was tired.

Fang was still a little wuh-oh over his head, and the kids needed their rest, so I stayed up practically the whole night on watch, until Nudge made me sleep at four in the morning.

Wait, what was the problem here?

"Max!" Nudge squealed. "Fang! Oh, thank God you woke up!"

"Nudge, what's up?" I asked, rubbing my eyes. "Beauty sleep. We need it sometimes, you know."

Angel grabbed my hand and led me stumbling over to the rest of them.

"Wha's goin' on?" Fang yawned, grabbing his head and then winced and practically dove into the backpack to down like seven Advil.

Gazzy grabbed Iggy's shoulders, and I shouted out at him. He was going to scare him into an episode, and then where would we be?

"Gazzy, what are you doing?"

"Iggy's getting too much beauty sleep!" Gazzy shouted. "He won't wake up!"


"What?" Fang squinted, voicing my thoughts. I ran to Iggy and knelt down beside him. Fang leaned against a tree with his arm outstretched and wrapped puffy hand over one eye and his forehead. "Max, wha's happening?"

"Iggy?" I demanded, disregarding Fang for the moment. I yanked his head to the side, pressing my thumb up against his jugular. Okay. There was a pulse.

"IGGY WAKE UP!" Gazzy cried impatiently, and I sent him a look.

"Yo, Igs." I spoke calmly into his ear, trying to stay in control. "We're here, yeah? So, wake up. Wakey-wakey. Igster. BACON."

…Damn, that didn't work.

Fang fell back onto his butt, sighing. "He's tired, guys. Look, just wait a few mo'e minutes an' then—"

Suddenly Iggy lurched in my arms, gasping and looking like he was going to upchuck. He bent forward, heaving air, before swinging his head around and scraping the ground in a panic with his fingernails. I grabbed one and placed it on my face, and Iggy seemed to realize that we were there. He sat back, breathing heavily, and I relaxed.

"Iggy!" Gazzy scolded, climbing beside his best bud. "You wouldn't wake up! You made us scared."

"Yeah I was on watch and Gazzy woke up so we were talking and then Angel and Total got up and Gazzy and her were playing catch with the box of tissues and it hit you in the face by accident and we thought for sure you would wake up but you didn't so we went to check and you wouldn't wake up and it was scary so I called for Max and—"

"I'm fine." Iggy replied harshly, struggling to stand up. "Who wants breakfast?"

We all stared at him as he walked to the other side of the clearing and snatched up the food backpack before plopping down on the ground again. Total, however, being the oblivious dog, just trotted over to Iggy and lay down beside him.

We all slowly started moving again. Angel went to help Iggy, and Nudge and Gazzy went to get some water, since Nudge dumped it all on Fang the previous day. I sat with Fang to re-wrap his head, and he just slumped down and curled as his fists as I touched his hair.

I pulled it a few times, just for fun.

"Hey, Iggy. I know you just had a little nightmare or something, but can we have bacon?"


Hold UP a minute.

WHO in the flipping middle of a field in the state of Kansas in the whole GIANT United States of flipping America said that?

I swung my head toward Fang, but he just looked up at me with the same confusion. We looked toward Angel, but it was a guy's voice. Total was staring up at Iggy, and said blind bird-kid just nodded.

"Yeah. Bacon's cool." Iggy muttered.

Fang and I stared, flabbergasted, at the three, and Angel poked Total on the back. Total swung his head up at her, and then looked at us, and then back at her.

"What? I thought everyone knew."

Did Total just talk?

"Total." I said slowly. "Did you just…speak? You know, words?"

"Yeah." Total said, swinging his head between Angel and us again. "Whoa. Angel, you said you told them!"

"I said I would." Angel pointed out to her freaking dog. "That doesn't mean I did."

"But that game was weeks ago!"

"I think I'm dreaming." I stated, looking at Fang. "Pinch me. Slap me. Punch me. Wake me up, Fang."

"I'm as confused as you are." Fang replied dumbly, as we proceeded to stare at Angel and Total as they had a conversation. Dog and girl. Girl and dog.


I had to get that out, there. No, I'm still not over it.


My mind was blown. For the first, real time in my life, my mind was completely blown.

I didn't particularly appreciate that.

"This is unreal." Fang muttered.

"Yeppers." Iggy replied, seeming to have perked up as soon as he smelled the wonderful fumes of bacon. "Just as unreal as flying kids, right Fang? Or mind-reading six-year-olds. Or blind gingers."

Iggy really knew how to see things differently.

…I wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

"Hey, Iggy." Gazzy called as Nudge and him ran back to the clearing, each carrying a big bucket of water. Gazzy plopped himself down next to Iggy, while Nudge picked up Angel and placed her on her lap, causing Total to fall off of Angel.

"Oops, sorry Total." Nudge apologized, and Fang and I began to gape again.

"Yeah, yeah. Dogs come last." Total grumbled, and Nudge caught sight of our expressions.

"What, you didn't know he could talk?" Nudge asked. "He's been talking for like, ever!"

"Just not used to it." I mumbled.

"Iggy?" Gazzy asked.

"Yes, Sir Farts-a-Lot?"

"I've been thinking…if you're a ginger, does that mean you have no soul?"


That's two Max mind-blowings in twenty minutes. Let my brain recharge, people! It can't take much more!

"Before we question Iggy's mortality," I interrupted, standing up. "We have to take a vote."

"Do our votes count for once?" Iggy inquired.

I made a psh noise. "Of course not, this is a dictatorship. I just want to know what you guys think."

I paused for a minute, and had six curious faces looking back up at me. I sighed, and then put on the best fake-enthusiastic voice I could muster.

"Who wants to go to a doctor lady with cookies and hang out?" I asked quickly.

No one raised their hands, but just kept looking up with me. Well, 'cept Iggy. I'm pretty sure he was 'looking' over my head at the fascinating leaves. I looked down at Fang and motioned for him to encourage me, but he just smirked.


"Okay, this is why we aren't a democracy." I face palmed myself. "We're going to do some R&R at this lady's house that I know. She's a vet, she has a kid, and a dog."

"Dog?" Total asked, standing up. "What's the name?"

"Magnolia." I told him, and he started hopping around.

"A lady friend!" Total cheered. He faced the flock and wagged his tail enthusiastically. "Guys, I think this could be good for us."

"Good for you." Iggy muttered.

"Look." I ordered, finally taking note of Fang starting to pack the bags like the good boy he ought to be. "Iggy, no offense, but you look like crap."

"Oh, thanks." Iggy replied sarcastically. "Really helping my self-esteem there."

I sighed. "You're still hurt. Fang's got a concussion. I'm as tired as hell. I want cookies." I paused for a minute and looked at everyone's faces before lifting my pack up into my back. "So we're going. Get your lazy butts up."

"Arizona?" Fang asked. Gazzy shouldered his own pack, and I took Iggy's.

"Yep." I checked to see that everyone was up and ready. Gazzy supported Iggy's hip, and Nudge was there to help him take off. "I'll take point. It'll only take an hour or so."

We all ran and took off, flying high in the sky and touching the clouds like the cool kids we were. Nudge held Iggy's hand the whole way, and he looked happy to have a connection. I worried about his nightmares, but as soon as we got to Dr. Martinez, the sooner he'd get better. And then we could live our happy lives as mutant freaks.

Life. It's weird sometimes.

Deal with it.

I wanted cookies. Does that mean I'm going over to the dark side? No, Fang's just stupid. Did Iggy really have no soul? No, America's just stupid.

"Iggy do you have no soul I mean you're a ginger and if you're a ginger you have no soul but I believe that you have a soul because you're too nice and funny to not have a soul so if you have a soul does that mean you're not a real ginger oh my God if you're not a real ginger I'd be so upset because I love your hair but wait if you're not a real ginger then your hair isn't your natural hair color you must dye it do you dye your hair Iggy hair dye is so awesome I think we should dye Gazzy's hair blue and I love how the people in New York put this blond streak in my hair it's so pretty oh do you remember when we dyed Fang's hair blond when I was nine for that prank and he stole your iPod so you blew up his pants drawer and he didn't have any more jeans and he wouldn't come out of his room so I bought him some more that was really funny right Iggy?"

Poor dude.

"Yeah, Nudge." Iggy muttered, closing his eyes. I though he was going to say something stupid, like As funny as your face, but he just stayed like that, with his eyes closed.

Which meant he got a head biffing, courtesy of Max.

"Stay awake, there, Gingy." I teased, flying ahead again. "Remember what happened last time you fell asleep while flying? Not pretty. Save me the workout."

"Gingy?" Iggy asked, totally disregarding everything else I said. I swear that boy has selective hearing. "Next you're going to be calling me Blindy."

"Stop being so ignorant." I snapped.

"That doesn't even make any sense…" Fang muttered under his breath, but before I could respond we got assaulted by a Nudge verbal air attack.

"WAIT if Iggy is ignorant and his name is Iggy and ignorant starts with an ig, does that mean that that's why he's named Iggy because I don't really remember when we named Iggy only Angel and Gasman hey Fang why's your name Fang again I—"

"No!" I shouted simultaneously with Iggy, and we laughed. "Never again!"

"I knew it!" Fang scoffed. "I knew you guys were never going to let me live that down. Ever. One little incident…"

"Dude." I stated. "You were named after that little incident. Of course we're never going to let you live it down."

The next half an hour was filled with arguments, discussions, ramblings by none other than Nudge, and one whoopsie when Gazzy tried to fly upside down and had to have someone help him to get right side up again. I started to recognize the area below us, and figured it was high time we stopped flying. I looked back at Iggy, and gulped as I saw the greenish tinge his skin had taken. Just a little while longer…

"Hey, Max." Iggy spoke up. "Not that I don't love flying to the point of puking my guts out, but can we stop for a minute?"

Or we could stop now. Now sounded good.

"Yeah, we're almost there." I called. "Everyone, down by that forest. Nudge, lead Iggy down."

"Aye, aye, Captain." Nudge called, and we all dove down into the trees, skidding on the ground a bit with our feet. I helped catch Iggy, and he wrapped his arms around Fang's and my shoulders, if only for the convenient height factor.

"Almost there, Ig." I promised. "Then you can gorge on cookies and pass out."

"I don't think I can stomach anything." Iggy muttered, and Fang and I began to walk faster. "Wait, Max. If this lady has cookies, does that mean she's part of the dark side?"


"Shut up and walk, Iggy."

I leaned Iggy on Fang as we broke the forest and reached a clearing before a couple houses, one I knew pretty well. I looked back at my flock at the tree line, remembering how I did the same thing not a month or so ago. But that time high school lunatics had shot me.

Dangerous times.

"Okay, guys. Follow behind." I hissed, and I walked up to the house. Dr. Martinez's car was outside the garage, so that was a good sign. I took a deep breath and leaned forward to ring the doorbell. Angel ran up and held my hand, smiling at me.

She seems nice. Angel thought. How she already knew this, I had no idea. Did I like it? No. Did I mind? Yeah. Was I going to let it slide? Eh…

The door swung open, and the smiling face of Dr. Martinez appeared. Shock registered on her face, and I grimaced before giving her a tight-lipped smile.

"Max." Dr. M breathed, her eyes going from me to Angel to the rest of the flock to me again.

"Hey, Dr. M." I greeted. "We're a little busted up…can we come in?"

"O—of course, of course!" Dr. M said, opening the door wider. "Max, it's great to see you, Ella's going to be so excited. Is—is this your family?"

"Yeah." I replied. "My flock." The little kids ran in, and I helped Fang lead Iggy in. "We're all a little busted up, but Iggy's really hurt. We—we were wondering if you could help."

Dr. M gasped, coming up to Fang and Iggy. Even though she was several inches shorter, she took Iggy's shoulders and gave him a hug. "Oh, you poor thing." She gushed. "Everyone, come sit down, make yourselves at home. I'll get my things, help yourselves to the cookies. I made them for Ella, but I'm sure she won't mind."

"Hm." Iggy mused, sitting down carefully on a chair and grabbing a cookie. "Motherly."

"Score!" Gazzy cried, stuffing five in his mouth.

Great. Check one on Max's List of Things to Accomplish Before We Die. Iggy was going to be healed, I was going to eat as many cookies as I could, and we would be home free. Kind of.

"Dark side." Fang teased, even though he was eating as many cookies as the rest of us.

I scoffed, taking another cookie, sneering at Fang. "Dark Side my ass."

"Just saying."

Don't forget to review! OK, here's a question:

Fang or Iggy?

Aw, not really. We all know that Iggy can beat Fang's ass with his hands tied behind his back while carrying Gazzy on his back and eating bacon.

12. Them Darn Potatoes

Neville Longbottom, you are now the whole world's hero.

The Deathly Hallows Part Duos was amazing! (Yay if you've seen it, like most of the world) I'd tell you all about the midnight premiere, but I know you'd much rather read about Iggy. So. Can we all say "Filler Chapter"? God, this almost hurt me, this chapter. I had no problem writing it, it's just that the next chapter after this is so much BETTER, and more exciting, and funnier, and...well, you guys have to wait another week for that one, so...enjoy :) And don't forget to review! Your reviews make me happy and I write more! My family hasn't gotten me off of my computer all week :D From the new reviewers to those awesome people who've been here since the beginning, I thank you.

And please read the important stuff at the bottom!


"Ow!" I cried, straightening my back. I hissed kind of pathetically (I'm still a man, I swear) and kicked out with my feet. Max and Fang were on either side of me, holding me down so Dr. Martinez could check out my injuries.

Because, you know, I was kind of a giant pile of shit right then. And I guess…piles of crap didn't like to be…touched.

Don't judge me.

"Max let go of me!" I snapped at her, her grip on my shoulder a bit too tight.

"Bite me."

"Owowowow!" I yelped, struggling a bit when Dr. M fingered my wing. Max whacked me on the side of the head to shut up, so I bit her hand.

"Ouch, Iggy!" Max snarled. "You bit my hand!"

"You did say 'bite me'." Dr. M pointed out.

I liked her.

"Dr. M, I'm tired." I whined, trying to be as annoying as possible. Usually Max sent me to my room when I did that. Which usually was exactly what I wanted. I'm so devious.

"Almost done, Iggy." Dr. M promised. "What else is there to check?"

"I dunno."

"Iggy, I'm going to have you flip over so I can check if you bruised any ribs. Okay?"


Max helped me turn over onto my back, and Fang squashed some pillows under my wings. Max started to lift my shirt up, and I laughed.

"Max, I didn't know you liked me that way. Fangles will be so upset!"

Max scoffed and ripped my shirt up. The collective gasp was worrying, but hey. It probably wasn't that bad. What would be worse than torn wings and broken arms?

Max without cookies, but that's beside the point.

"Iggy…" Max started slowly. "Has your chest hurt lately?"

"No more than the rest of my body." I replied, shrugging a bit. "Which feels like it's been put through an industrial shredder, fried with pain and then beaten with a meat cleaver, but there was an earthquake in Japan. Some things are more important."

"Iggy." Dr. M stated, concern dripping from her voice like saliva from Fang when Max steps out of the bathroom with a towel on. How do I know? He had me in a headlock once when Max decided to be all half-naked. I had to take a shower after to wash out all the Fang spit. Fang paid me my ten bucks that time.

Way to be, Fang. Stupid in-love douche.

"Dr. M." I countered.

"There are…bruises and marks on your chest." She told me. "It's a bit concerning, I want to know how your chest feels, beca—"

"Dude your chest is green and black and puffy!" Max screamed, whacking me on the head with a pillow.

Well then.

"Now that the cards are laid on the table, what's wrong?" I asked.

"It looks as if your ribs were broken," Dr. M said, pressing down a little bit on my chest. "But managed to set and heal themselves decently. As if they were in a brace for a month, and you just took it off. Nothing's broken anymore, but there's still some bruising and swelling. I don't understand."

"Like I've been telling you guys." I stressed. "I. Am. God."

"It's a bird-kid thing." Max explained, and I wriggled my shirt back down over my hot abs with difficulty. Fang helped me into a sitting position, and I put on a smile.

"So." I said in a valley-girl voice. "Are we done here?"

Dr. M chuckled, and then sighed. "Yes, Iggy. We are. Gazzy's waiting for you in the backyard."

"Great." I hopped up and started walking the direction I heard Gasman walk before. "Hey, Dr. M? Do you have any plutonium?"

There was a pause. Cue maniacal laughter. "…No…"

I shrugged. "Sucks to be you."

And I walked away.

Into the doorframe.

How badass am I?

I blushed a bit, but kept my back turned to Max, Fang and the doctor (Note to self: don't call the nice lady a doctor) and kept walking out of the room, skimming my hands on the walls until I was out of sight.

"Thanks, Dr. Martinez." Max spoke up. "Iggy's a bit…stubborn."

I flattened up against the wall to listen. I really needed some new blackmail material on Max, and if she was going to spill it, I was going to collect it and send it straight to the bank.

"It's amazing how well he manages." Dr. M spoke fondly. "Considering."

"Well, he hasn't managed to burn any of his clothes in a few weeks." Max stated. "That's an improvement."

"No, I mean…with his blindness."


I thought I did a damn good job hiding it. Well, maybe the doorframe thing was a bit off, but other than that it wasn't obvious! Was I that bad an actor? Was I that much of an idiot?


She's a doctor, Iggy. Angel intruded in my personal bubble known as my mind. She could tell.

Well that's not cool! I thought, crossing my arms. I knocked into a vase, and fell to my knees to catch it.

"Damn it…" I growled.

Keep it PG, Iggy. I'm six.

"Shut up, Angel."

"Iggy, do you need help?"

Nudge grabbed my arm to help me up, taking the vase from my hands. I let her pull me to my feet, and her hand skimmed over my arm as she went down to take my hand. Nudge's delicate fingers touched the gouge that had healed enough to become a scar on my elbow, and suddenly everything began to flash in my memory.

Oh, shit.

Scraping my hands all around me, trying to get it to stop, had to make it stop—


Raking my fingers over my elbow, opening a wound caused by the Erasers, making it bleed, had to forget, couldn't see no didn't want to see—

Not again, not again! Nudge was alive, she had just touched my arm, just touched it, just been there to help me!

No one there, didn't want to see, making me see things no, no I didn't want to Max no Erasers STOP IT don't touch them NO—

"Iggy?" Nudge asked, but it was lost in my ears. I fell back against the wall, fear taking over everything. No, no, no… "Iggy? Are you okay?"

Holding him, gun fire, Fang dead, Gazzy dead, Nudge falling, blood blooming across her chest and I couldn't move no one to help just watch as she died Angel next—

"Iggy, you—you're scaring me!" Nudge cried. No, Nudge dead. Dead, dead, couldn't help, just voices in my head now.

Angel on the ground, tiny body broken, making myself bleed, only Max left Max couldn't die I wanted to die dying death dead—

"Iggy, come on, just walk, get up please!" On the ground, cowering, had to run, couldn't run, Max still here, Max still alive, had to stay had to stay.

Eraser choking Max indestructible Max gunshot going off no loud noise blood everywhere splattering on me Max's blood Max dying dead death dead no—


"GET AWAY FROM ME!" I screamed, flattening against the wall. No, they were here to get me, wouldn't kill me, Bob was lying, wouldn't kill me, keep me alive and miserable no, no not anymore no. "GET AWAY!"

"Max! Max help!"

"MUR—MURDERERS!" They killed the flock, they killed the flock, dead, not going to kill me, I wanted to die. "YOU KILLED THEM YOU MURDERERS HOW COULD YOU? GET AWAY!"

Screams. Wasn't me, no. Girl. Playing Nudge's screams to mess with me. Tape recorder was driving me mad. Wouldn't kill me, Bob promised, lying son of a—

Had to run. Run away, kill myself. Hide and find a knife, a gun. See flock again, had to be with flock again. I scrambled to my feet, knocking into walls, had to get out of the School, tight spaces, needed to get outside fly away now just run.

I turned to the left and dove into a room. No one in the room, no one to not kill me. I dove onto a bed, thinking must be a whitecoat's quarters, crawling over the side and laying on the floor. Safe here?

Never safe. Never normal. Nowhere was safe anymore.


Voices, voices, just ignore the voices.

"Iggy, it's me, Max. Nudge is here, so is Fang, everything's fine, you're okay. We're alive."

"No." I whimpered, curling up in a fetal position. Max was dead, hole through her head, Nudge was dead, blood coming out of her chest. Dead. Gone.

"Iggy, give me your hand, I can prove it."


"Iggy, give me your hand!"

I was crying again, and someone grabbed my hands. I didn't even try to recognize the person. Suddenly my hands were on Max's face, Max's whole face, no hole, no blood.

Was it possible…?

"Max." I breathed. Everything was coming back to me, memories of the rescue, the food, the ginger jokes, and Dr. Martinez. I couldn't believe that I had had another episode. Episode. I was insane. I had tried to hurt Nudge.

What was wrong with me?

"Yeah, Iggy, I'm here. You want to make sure Nudge is alive?"

I shook my head, running a hand through my hair. "I believe you." I rasped.

"It's never happened when he was awake." Max said to someone else. "And now Dr. Martinez is asking what was wrong."

"You have to tell her anyway." Fang said. "You tired, Ig? Rough flight. Rough fall."

"You just don't want to deal with me." I whispered. "The insane kid. Blind, insane."

"You're not insane, Iggy." Max hugged me. I didn't return it. "He hurt you, and that's okay, because he can't hurt you anymore. He can't hurt you, or us. He's dead."

And besides, Iggy. Angel spoke in my mind. If anyone here is insane, it's me. I hear voices all the time.

That's different, I thought. You can read minds.

Yeah, but what about Max? She hears an actual Voice. If that's not weird, nothing is.

I chuckled a bit, and Nudge gathered me in a bigger hug than Max's.

And I'm pretty sure Fang has a semiconscious that tells him to be emo.

"Thanks." I muttered, laughing under my breath. I grabbed Fang's (emo, he knows it) hand, and jumped onto a bed. "I…I think I'm going to…take a nap."

"You sleep, Iggy." Max comforted me. "We're going to talk to Dr. Martinez. And Iggy?"

"I'm devilishly handsome?"

"Yeah, of course. No, I'm serious. I promise, we'll only be here a few days. And then we're going to go to Canada. Cross my heart."

I smiled, and tilted back my head. I may not have been insane, but I had a sinking feeling. Max said Bob was dead…but I knew, somehow, that he wasn't.

And he wouldn't be.


And that's not ominous at all.


"No, Max! We can't have this Ella girl come home to see you all dirty and icky!" Nudge whined, tugging on my arm.

"Because that would be such a crisis." Iggy drawled from across the living room. He had woken up from his nappy-nappy a little while ago, and now he was back to his sarcastic, stop-being-stupid-before-I-slap-you self.

"I don't want to be dolled up." I told Nudge. "The first time Ella met me I was dirty and bloody, and she liked me fine."

"Okay." Nudge pouted. "I'll dress Angel up then."


Angel tore through the living room, Total squished in her arms and her wings spread behind her as she ran from the hall and into the kitchen faster than a cheetah.

I smirked, plopping down on the couch and kicking my feet up. "She's learned well." I remarked.

Gazzy groaned, jumping in the air and sinking his butt on one of the chairs. "Max, I'm hungry." He complained. "I want Chinese food. Let's order Chinese food!"

"Ella is going to be home any minute." I told him. "Then Dr. M will buy us food."

Iggy moaned dramatically, tilting his head back. "God, I would kill for a pizza. But you know, something small. Like a potato."

Gazzy glanced over at him and hung backwards over his seat. "Yo, Ig. You thinking wait I'm thinking?"

Iggy stood straight up with a stern face. "Let's go kill some potatoes."

And then they were gone. It was odd, if you thought about it. Which, you know, I tried not to. My best theory was that Iggy could teleport, with his ginger powers or something.

We've really got to stop with the ginger jokes.

"So." Fang said, sitting down next to my head. I tried to ignore the fact that his butt was next to my face. "'Sup?"

"'Sup?" I repeated. "'Sup? The ceiling is 'sup, Fang."

"Smartass." He thumped me, and I swung my hand around and effectively socked him in the gut. "Ow. Meaner."

"What kind of word is 'meaner'?" I asked.

"A made-up one."

"A stupid one."

"You're stupid."

"Don't start this, please."

Fang scoffed. "Did Maximum Ride just say 'please'?"

I stuck my tongue out at him. "I can be nice if I want to."

"I never said you couldn't be."

Before I could question that strange turn of events that made me want to run away screaming, Dr. Martinez called us all into the kitchen to greet Ella.

I was up and out before Fang could even flip his hair back.

"Iggy, Gazzy, stop killing potatoes!" I screamed up the stairs.

A chorus of "Coming!" and "NO!" greeted me, so I did the smart thing and walked away.

"Mrs. Webb just dropped Ella off." Dr. M told me excitedly. "Max, Ella will want to see you first, and then we can introduce her to the rest of the flock."

"Cool." I replied, leaning against the counter. "IGGY, GAZZY, GET DOWN HERE!"

Iggy tripped down the stairs, but regained himself enough to stand awkwardly at the bottom. The door opened, Ella stepped in, and then I was being attacked by a small bundle of girl.

"MAX!" Ella cried. "You're here! I can't believe you're here! You came back!"

"Yeah, Els, I did." I told her. "I brought my…my um, family."

Ella let out a squeal, and jumped back from me to see everyone standing around.

"Uh, Ella…" I said, proceeding to walk around like I needed to pee. "This is Nudge, Angel, Fang, Iggy, and Total, our dog. Gasman's upstairs."

"I'm Nudge!" Nudge nearly shouted. "I'm eleven and I have wings like Max but I think I'm pretty normal I like clothes and shopping and talking on the phone even though we don't get to talk on the phone too much I eat a lot of food because food is so awesome don't you think that—"

I covered Nudge's mouth with my hand. "Nudge talks a lot."

"I'm Angel." Angel piped. "I'm six. This is Total."

"I'm Fang." Fang muttered.

"Call me Iggy." Iggy told her, and Ella gave everyone hugs, save Fang and Iggy. She gave Fang a handshake, and stuck her hand out for Iggy.

Oh, shit.

Max! Angel scolded.

Shut up, sweetie.

"Uh…Iggy?" I mumbled.

"Well, don't be rude!" Ella laughed and smiled at him, probably thinking it was all a joke.

"Damn." Iggy whispered, and then spoke up. "Are you trying to shake my hand or give me a hug or what?"

Half of Ella's smile wore off, leaving half of a confused face. "C—Can't you tell?"

I could tell Iggy was uncomfortable, and I awkwardly stuck my thumbs in my pockets.

"Well, uh…" Iggy 'looked' at the ground. "I'm blind."

Cue awkward silence.

"Oh." Ella whispered.

Gazzy chose an excellent time to fall down the stairs.

And there we are. I thought it was about time we had an 'episode' from Ig's perspective. Thanks for all of your guys' ideas :) I love hearing them.

So now we reach the announcement.

I'm going to be GONE for the next week or so. I've got most of the next chapter written up already (:D) so posting probably won't be a problem...just warning you. It would totally make my year to reach 100 reviews while I'm gone, but no pressure :)


I'm about to post my new (and first) MAX RIDE ONE-SHOT. It's going to be called "Complete and Utter Idiocy", and I would really love it if you guys all read and reviewed. Author Alert me (a.k.a make my day) or just look out for it. I'm going to post it now, so yeah. Thanks!

13. It's Time for Man Time


I'm back, just in time! God, I love you guys, because OHMIGOD WE REACHED 100, but I'm going to save that for later. Down below. Just know that you guys are all awesome, and I appreciate every one of your precious reviews for my little ole story. :)

Now, I kind of lied. But not really. We're going to have another FANG POV...but I like this one. The first half of this chapter is solely humor, just for you people.

And this chapter is hereby dedicated to little21, who was my 100th reviewer! -confetti- This Fang-filled chapter is for you.


"Fang…" Something probed the outside of my cheek, poking me repeatedly. I moaned and swatted at it groggily. Leave me alone…aliens…meh. "Fang…FANG!"

"Wha'?" I shot up in bed, looking at a very annoyed Iggy with his arms crossed.

"Well aren't you a heavy sleeper." Iggy remarked, jumping to his feet. "Come on. We're going out."

"All of us?" I asked, rubbing my eye and pulling on some pants.

"Nope. Just us." Iggy replied, turning around at the doorway. "Oh. And don't put on those pants. The smell like potatoes and may or may not have a colony of spiders living in them."

Holy freaking hell.

I slowly took off the pants I was almost wearing and yanked on another pair from my backpack, and then stood up.

"And what are we doing?" I mumbled.

"We need to have a bit of Man Time, Fang."

Holy shit.

The last time Iggy said we needed to have "Man Time", we went out into the forest and handled chainsaws while eating raw steak. ("MAN UP!" Iggy screamed happily as he drove his chainsaw into a boulder.)

Needless to say, it didn't end well.

It was the best and worst experience of my life.

"O-kay…" I said warily, following Iggy through the house and to the back sliding glass door.

"This is going to be so awesome."

"Hey, Iggy?" I asked.

"Yes, Fangy?"

"…Aren't you going to put on pants?"

Iggy 'looked' down at his t-shirt and boxers, and then scoffed. "Social standards mean nothing to me, Fang."

Of course they didn't.

We walked out to the forest behind Dr. Martinez's house, and Iggy and I began to jog out to a ravine Iggy said Gazzy had found the day before. We sat on a log, and I took a pill out of my pocket and downed it. I had this like, constant headache, and so I took Advil every few hours. I hoped I wasn't getting addicted to over-the-counter drugs. Max would kick my ass into Narnia.

"And what are we doing?" I asked Iggy, kicking my feet up on a rock.

Iggy fished around in his shirt pocket (don't ask me, just don't) and pulled out two cylindrical thingies. "We, my dear Fangles—"

"Don't ever call me that again."

"—Are going to sit here, talk minimally, and smoke bacon."

See, this is why I don't understand Iggy, let alone try to make a lot of conversation with him. This happens.

"Smoke what?"

Iggy took the two cylindrical thingies and held one out for me. "I've been working on it for a while. I finally got bacon to cook like that, and I stuffed bacon bits inside it and made it stay there. It's a bacon cigarette, no nicotine whatsoever, so Max can't murder us in our sleep. Watch."

And I proceeded to watch in awe as Iggy stuck the bacon cigarette in his mouth, took his lighter to the tip of it, and inhaled bacon smoke.

It. Was. Genius.

"Here." Iggy waved the bacon thingy at me. "Go to heaven."

So I did.

Score one for peer pressure.

"This. Is. Awesome." I smiled, leaning back on a tree. "Iggy, you're the Einstein of bacon."

"I know." Iggy leaned forward. "So, you want to jump off of a cliff or play with chainsaws again?"

Hm…"Well, I don't want to lose all the hair on my arms again, so…let's go jumping."

It was a bit redundant that Iggy and I were about to jump off a cliff, but we were so stoned off of bacon that we were willing to do anything stupid and dangerous.

What can I say? We were men.

So we started flying as fast as we could at eight in the morning to the nearest cliff in northern Arizona. Which means we were the stupidest dudes alive, and after we were done Max was going to rip the skin right off of our faces.

It was worth it. Almost.

"ARE YOU READY TO DIE?" Iggy screamed at me, laughing at our own idiocy. We were on a cliff on an actually low mountain. It was only a half hour flight from Dr. M's, and we could get here and back without Iggy collapsing from exhaustion.


"Do you want to go first?"

"Sure, what the hell?" I asked, and I perched myself precariously on the edge of the cliff. "Ready."

I was about to jump off gracefully and majestically like the way I am, but Iggy's hands slammed into my back, pushing me off of the cliff clumsily and a tad pathetically.

It wasn't really how I planned it. I didn't plan on screaming either, but who knows what's going to happen in life?

About seventy feet from the ground I unfurled my wings, still spiraling downwards, and then cut up at the last moment, the tip of my sneaker brushing the ground. I flew back up to where Iggy was, and landed right next to him.

"Damn, that was cool." I told him. "You ready, man?"

Iggy nodded enthusiastically. "Yep. God, I'm so excited."

"Yo, is your wing okay?" I asked him. "I mean, it just healed and stuff."

"I flew here, didn't I?" Iggy scoffed, positioning himself at the edge of the cliff. I decided not to push him, mostly because of his boo-boos on his back, and because I'm not that big of a jerk.

At least, I like to think so.

Iggy leaped off of the cliff, yelling "Yoohoo!" on the way down. I watched as he reached the hundred feet mark, and then I frowned. Didn't he know to…?

"SHIT!" I screamed, catapulting over the edge and shooting down as fast as I could. Iggy had air resistance, and I didn't, so I was going over two hundred miles an hour.

Which is pretty cool, you know, except when your brother is about to go splat.

Iggy's wings were flowing out behind him, flapping uselessly in the wind as if he couldn't control them. Just as we reached twenty feet I grabbed his legs and thrust out my wings as hard and as fast as I could.

This didn't work too well.

A searing pain tore through my wings, and I decided to throw Iggy as hard as I could into a tree as I crashed and burned on the ground, flipping over and turning and somersaulting into the dirt. My head was pounding even more, and my legs felt like Jello. In my peripheral vision I saw Iggy getting out of the tree I chucked him into and stumbling towards me. Oh, God, I was tired. Exhausted, even. Maybe it was a good idea to get back to Dr. Martinez's, because passing out wouldn't be very good or manly.

See? Nothing good comes out of Man Time. At least, Iggy's Man Time.

"Aw, shit Fang." Iggy dropped to his knees beside me, and I struggled to sit up. There was blood coming out of his lip and his forehead, and I knew I wasn't much better. "I screwed up bad."

"You think?" I spat out a tiny bit of blood, and Iggy helped me stand. I shook it off, jumped up and down a few times, and then watched Iggy puke a little bit from the combination of bacon smoke and almost turning into an Iggy pancake.

"Yo—" Iggy coughed a bit, bending over. "Let me—lemme look at your head, bro. You might have—might have worsened your concussion."

"Sure." Iggy stumbled over and I let him check out my head where I had recently taken the bandage off. It stung a bit when his nimble, trembling fingers brushed over my gouge, but it wasn't too big a deal.

"I don't know what happened." Iggy spoke shakily. "One minute I'm getting ready to open up my wings, and the next nothing will work. I couldn't even scream, man."

"That—that's weird." I muttered, and then felt a small wave of nausea. "Oh, oh God. Give me my Advil."

I fished around in my pocket and drew a couple more pills, downing them.

"You gotta stop taking those, Fang." Iggy told me seriously. "Too much. You're gonna get addicted. And that's not like being addicted to bacon, dude, that's serious addiction to crap."

"I know." I moped, straightening up. "We gotta get back to Dr. M's."

"Before you pass out, right?" Iggy said jokingly, but ended up puking again right after he said it, so it didn't really make me feel better.

"And before you puke out your kidneys." I slurred, and started walking toward the way we had come. "We'll walk for a bit. Until my Advil kicks in."

"And I stop puking."

"Yeah, that too."

After a half hour of walking we took another break, cursing ourselves and knowing that Max was going to have a hissy fit when we got back to the house.

No, Max doesn't have hissy fits. More like total blowouts. Total, absolute, crazy, hot blowouts. They were well intentioned, though. She cared about m—I mean us, and that's why she was always so kabloey when bad things happened. She was so awesome like that, caring for us and leading…and being cool…

"You're thinking about Max, aren't you?" Iggy asked, leaning back on an oak trunk.

He creeps me out sometimes.

"Who are you, Angel?" I scoffed, knowing full well that I was blushing.

Damn puberty.

"No, it's just that…you get all quiet when you think about her. I can tell."

Well that wasn't weird. "I'm always quiet, doofus."

"A different kind of quiet, loser. If you were me you'd understand." Iggy crossed his arms, closing his eyes.

"Yeah, well." I bit the inside of my cheek. "No one's you but you, Ig. So don't worry about that."

Suddenly I heard a rustling behind me, and Iggy's eyes flashed open in shock. I spun around, but didn't see anything. Maybe it was a deer, or something.

I turned back to Iggy, and was a bit weirded out. His eyes were still stuck open like that. Well, Iggy was blind…did he have the Guinness World Record for not blinking, and just didn't tell me?

I'm stupid.

"Yo, Iggy." I said cautiously. "Let's get out of here."

No response.

"Igster!" I hissed urgently. No, definitely not a deer. The rustling was getting closer…and louder. "We have to move, stat. Let's go!"

Iggy didn't move. He didn't even blink. I stepped forward to grab his wrist, but I became painfully aware of the silence around us.

This is where many people say, "Oh, shit." No, my thoughts were much, much worse than that.

Suddenly and out of the complete blue five Erasers lunged from the other side of our itty bitty (and when I say itty bitty, I freaking mean itty bitty) clearing, with all of their claws going toward my neck. I grabbed Iggy's arm and began half-leading, half-dragging him through the forest, stumbling over rocks.

Damn. It.

"IGGY SNAP OUT OF IT!" I screamed, looking back at his barely-moving feet and wide, unblinking eyes. "WE'RE GOING TO DIE!"

There was no way I was going to stop and fight on this one. Five on one I could probably manage, but my damn medicine wasn't working. I thought I was going to puke slash pass out any minute, and I wasn't going to fight and leave Iggy unprotected.

This is one of those moments I just wished I listened to Max.

I knew we had run a really far way when I began to recognize the trees we were passing. Great, we were almost back to Dr. M's! There were only five of them, Max and I could take them out no problem, once I got Zombie Iggy back.

Almost there…

Stupid Man Time…

Isn't just so damn typical that just when the oh-so-handsome, brave and generous hero was about to succeed in his mission and save his and his brother's sorry asses, he trips over a log?

It was a big log, I swear.

I crashed and burned (again), and Iggy just collapsed to the ground when I let go of his arm. I spit leaves and pine needles out of my mouth (damn it was hot out, and I just realized that…back on track now) and jumped back up to my feet again. I rushed back over to Iggy (parentheses are fun, no?), but suddenly all five of the brutes were surrounding me.

This was not a good morning.

"You ready to get some?" I hissed, positioning my feet into a fighting stance.

The lead Eraser chuckled, which immediately made me want to send him straight to hell. I hated their laughs. Really, really bad.

"Calm yourself, runt." Another Eraser grunted. "Don't strain yourself and just give yourselves over."

Now I was pissed.

"I'll give myself over." I spat. "If you guys eat each other. Because I'll get Ig and I some popcorn. It'll be a show."

"Shut up!" Lead Ugly shouted.

"Nothing like cannibalism to calm my stomach."

Ugly One lunged at me, and I socked him straight in the face. Ugly Two got a back kick to the balls, and Ugly Three was soon bent over in pain from me breaking his ribs. I took Ugly Four down with a scissor kick, and then turned around to finish Ugly One. Then I heard a gun go off.

And unless some random hunter had just shot the fattest bunny ever, I was pretty sure that meant bad news.

I felt a stinging feeling in my neck, and the only thing my brain really registered was that it hurt, and that Iggy's bacon cigarette had rolled out of his pocket. I reached up and pulled the tranquilizer dart out of my neck, eyeing it suspiciously.

Suddenly I dropped the dart, and my knees buckled. My hand was too heavy. Everything weighed a thousand bajillion pounds. Nutrisystem couldn't even work for me.

Ooh, pretty colors.

The last thing I heard was the Lead Eraser laughing before everything went away.

Did I mention I hated their laughs?


Hm...every Fang POV so far ends with him passing out. Peculiar.

But really, you guys, I am so appreciative for all the reviews I received. I mean, 107 reviews? I love you guys. That's what, like 15 reviews for just the last chapter?

Now, please review! And keep it up, I love hearing what you guys have to say. Predictions! Ideas! Anything! If you think I just took bacon to a new level...tell me. Just review!

Oh, and to RockingPhillip: Don't be afraid to tell me any grammatical errors I may have missed in editing. It makes me more aware, and a better writer (I like to think, haha). I promise, you won't be mean if you put it in your reivew :)

To SilverFalkin118: You're review was very much appreciated. It's always great to see new readers!

14. Merry Flockmas

I think an Iggy pancake would be a pancake entirely made out of bacon.

So. Early update. Not really, like a day, but whatever. Yawn. We're rolling right along here, huh? It hurts me (and at the same time makes me proud) to say that we've already past the halfway mark of this story. Shocking, I know. And I plan to end it with as many jokes and stupid stunts as there has been until now. I've already decided there's going to be a sequel, and I'll tell you all about that when the time comes :) I just want to thank everyone who has reviewed and gotten this story this far. So...keep it up, yeah? Enjoy the chapter. I hope you all like Loopy Fang.


Slap! Ow.

"Wake up."

Slap! Owow.


Slap slap slap! Triple ow.

"You douche!"


Not. Very. Appreciated.

I opened my eyes to greet the wonderfully blurry world around me. I saw people. And trees. Ooh, look, a birdie. The sun was so bright! My head hurt…Eh, maybe I should go back so sleep…

"Ohmigosh FANG!"

So much for that plan.

I blinked my eyes slowly, trying to take in everything around me. I saw two girlish-like figures above me, and immediately thought that Max had found my Playboy stash and that I was in for a whipping. But no…they seemed to be yelling at me urgently, not angrily. Peculiar.

They were saying things…what were they saying? Everything was strained and blurred in all of my senses. It was like life took all noise, ran it through a blender, beat it with a mallet and then poured it through one of those weird bowls with holes in them. And I think I needed some glasses, because I could not see correctly. Even though everyone thinks I'm oh-so-graceful, I fall up the stairs just like everyone else now and then. I need to see to get my way around, which was why sometimes I think Iggy really is God.

Whoa, where was Iggy?

It all came rushing back to me. All of it, the bacon, the cliffs, the Erasers, the headache, and Zombie Iggy hit me in the brain. When was that? Like, five minutes ago? I was tired…talk about needing a power nap.

"Fang." A voice rang out, though it had that wishy-washy blender feel to it. I could tell it was my name, though. I have a cool name. I was pretty sure that it was Max talking, too. "Fang, can you hear me?"

Well no, my dear Maxie, no I cannot. Wait…yes, I can!

I blinked hard, but I felt like I was in one of those slow-motion parts of those action movies. Next Iggy would be dodging bullets and Gazzy would be wearing those sick black robe things from the Matrix. Max looked all blurry and unfocused…was that Nudge on the other side of me? Hm. Oh, Max was speaking again. It was becoming less blendery.

Where was my Advil? My head hurt.

"Fang, can you hear me?" Max repeated slowly. I told my head to nod, but nothing happened. I tried to raise my hand. Nada. I tried to open my mouth farther than its weird sleeping-face position. Nope. Could I close my mouth? Nuh-uh.

That was a problem. I was going to be catching flies.

I blinked hard again, trying to get everything to focus and epically failing. I let my eyes glaze over, because everything was blurry anyway and I was just so damn tired, but Max had other ideas. She always does.

"Fang." She spoke sternly. Her face was only inches from mine. If I didn't have the creeping feeling that I was dying, I would have quite enjoyed it. "If you can hear me, blink once, okay?"

Rabbit roasting on an open fire…Gazzy blowing up the house…

What? Oh, yeah. Blinking. Had to blink. This was no time for flock renditions of popular Christmas carols…though they were fun. When did blinking get so hard? No, no. I blinked, however suffering it was. I was lazy.

"Oh, good." Max slurred (actually, I think it was my brain slurring. Wake up, brain!). "He can hear us. Fang, blink again."

I oblidged.

"Okay…Fang, can you move? Blink once for yes and twice for no."

Nudge chattering on all night and all day, and Iggy making crème brûlée. Yum…

Curse you, the Christmas Song. What was I supposed to be doing again? Oh yeah, blinking. Wasn't too hard. One…two.

"Oh…Max, he can't move." Nudge muttered.

"I can see that." Max snapped. At least I could hear them almost normally now. Good job, brain. Is it possible to give your brain a pat on the back, or do you just give yourself one? "It's not really a surprise he can't move, though. Did you see how many tranquilizer darts there were? I pulled three out of his neck, and there were two on the ground. It's a wonder he's still alive."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. I thought there was only one dart, and I pulled it out before I conked like the awesome hero I am! What did that ugly Eraser do, shoot me four more times because he missed out on his quota?

Why wasn't I at the School?

"Iggy, how long were you guys out here?"

"I—I don't know. I woke up, and then stumbled back to the house for help because Fang wouldn't wake up. I don't remember."

Max hissed. "But you two imbeciles were gone since morning! We won't know what happened until Fang's coherent, and that could be ages with all those sedatives in him, and we don't have that kind of time!"

Max slammed her palm down on my chest, and Nudge shouted concerns as I blinked. Hm…that didn't hurt. Oh, there's the pain. Ow…

"Sorry, Fang." Max muttered.

I tried to say, "It's all right, Max, I love you," but it came out as "Murugh."

I'm so smooth.

"He's groaning!" I heard Nudge pipe up enthusiastically. "Max, he's groaning!"

You know, normally this wouldn't be a good thing, but I was willing to roll with it. I let my eyes flicker to Max, whom had her back turned to me. Suddenly she whipped around, and my head spun.

"Fang." She leaned down again, speaking slowly and clearly so that all idiots on sedatives, a.k.a me, could understand. Max is so helpful. "I need you to try to speak, okay? Just…tell me what happened."

"He's hardly going to be able to do that!" I heard Gasman now. Cool, the gang was all here.

"Okay, okay." Max growled. "Just tell us who hurt you."

Oh. That was an easy one. It was the Eras—

Everybody knows, some cookies and some mistletoe, will get Fang to second base tonight…

Heh. Heheheheheheh. It's just so dirty.

"Fang!" Max snapped. Oh, yeah.

"Wayurs." I moaned through my heavy lips. That's a weird thought. Do girls' lips get heavy from lipstick? Nudge seems to wear it a ton, it's kind of yucky…Max doesn't wear it though. Max is cool.

"What's he saying? I can't tell what he's saying!"

"Max, take a chill pill, you're going to give the guy a heart attack." Iggy huffed.

"I don't want to take a chill pill, I want to know what he's saying!"

"What if he's stuck like this forever Max that would be awful what would we do I mean we could stay here since Dr. M is a doctor well duh she's a doctor it's in her name—"

"Nudge, shut up." Max growled.

"He looks like he's going to puke, guys, shut up!" Gazzy snapped.

"You shut up!"

"QUIET!" Angel screamed, and if it weren't for the ringing in my ears and the whole immobility thing I would have hugged her and gave her everything she wanted for Christmas. "I'll just read his mind and he'll tell us."

"Great idea, Angel!" Gazzy cheered, and I smiled. You know, inside. I closed my eyes, thinking that if I could just chat in my head with Angel I wouldn't need to look at her, but Max whacked me on the leg.

"Don't you dare, mister." She threatened. She's hot when she threatens me. "You are going to stay awake, or I am going to murder you!"

Well that was harsh.

"He says that if you murder him then you'll be lonely and that he wouldn't be able to tell me who hurt him." Angel told Max, and she sighed, sitting back.

Ha. It's funny because that's not what I thought at all.

So, uh, Fang. Angel spoke inside my mind. What's up?

Not much, I thought. Just chilling out, paralyzed.

Angel seemed to be thinking, and then just asked me questions. You seem tired. Who hurt you, Fang? You're all busted up, but Iggy's fine. You protected him, didn't you?

Erasers. I told her. Zombie Iggy. We ran, and I tripped on a log. I beat the pants off of them, but there was one left, and…

I get it, Fang. Angel grimaced. I'll tell Max. You rest.

My pleasure.

"What's up, Ange?" Max asked, and the flock gathered around Angel and I again.

"He says that Erasers attacked them." Angel announced. "He ran, but Iggy was all zombified and couldn't move or something, and he tripped over a log and had to fight the Erasers. He beat them all up, but then one got him with the gun."

"But that doesn't explain why we're still here, or alive." Iggy spoke softly. "If they got Fang, and I was…unresponsive, they should have taken us…taken us back to…"

"But they didn't." Max growled, scratching her head. "And that doesn't make any sense. Why would they take the time to attack you, and to take Fang down, just to go off and get a coffee?"

I hoped it was Starbucks coffee.

"Fang says he doesn't know why." Angel offered.

Stop speaking for me! I yelled in my head, but then felt my headache creep back like a deranged stalker. Angel just smiled.

"Maybe they put a tracker on Fang, or something." Gazzy said. "So that they could get the rest of us."

"Like capturing them wouldn't be enough to get us to come to them. No, it doesn't make any flipping sense."

Tiny mutant kiddies, with their wings stretched out wide, will kick Eraser butt tonight.

I'm writing holiday gold here.

Whoa. Suddenly I felt very tired, and I felt another wave of the sedatives take over. I closed my eyes, blissfully becoming disconnected from the flock's quarreling.

In comes Max.

"Fang don't you DARE FALL ASLEEP!" She cried, sending her hand down toward my chest. I guess her aim was off, because instead of slapping my sternum, she biffed the side of my head, followed by cuffing my shoulder. But she hit my head. Right where my wound was.

In a flash, I couldn't see the flock anymore. It was all a bright white-hot pan of pain, and I felt my back arching as I screamed. Hey, I was moving!

Not really what I was aiming for.

Holy crap holy crap holy crap pain.

"Fang!" someone screamed, though I was totally not paying attention right about then. "What's wrong? Fang!"

"He's screaming!"

"No duh!"

The white canvas of ouchie started to melt away, and revealed the flock all standing with concerned looks plastered on their faces. I started gasping, pouring every last drop of my dwindling energy to force (damn it) my elbow back so that I could half-sit up. My muscles failed me, which is why my brain is my favorite organ right now, right after my tummy. Max and Gasser caught me, propping me up against a tree.

"What happened?" Gazzy asked fearfully, flopping my arm onto the ground. Thanks buddy…

"Awil." I moaned, tilting my head back in pain. "Awil."

"He wants his medicine." Angel told Max.

"Awil!" I nearly screamed, clenching my fists. Ugh, my head was splitting open! Make it stop make it stop!

Iggy dropped to his knees and reached into my pocket, pulling out the bottle of Advil. I swung my arm at it, but Iggy held it away from me and handed it to Max. I was getting to be more in control of my muscles, but unfortunately I couldn't be happy about that because everything hurt to freaking hell.

"Adwil!" I cried, holding my arm out to Max. Make it stop make it stop make it stop please! "Max, Adwil!"

Max looked from the bottle to me in a panic, and I could feel tears edging at my eyelids. She shook the bottle, and her eyes widened.

"Fang, how many of these have you taken?" she asked urgently. I didn't care. I needed it now.

"Adwil, Max!" I pleaded, starting to cry. The tears flowed down my cheeks, and everyone just kind of looked at me with WTF faces. "Pwueeze, Max! Pwueeze!"

Max stared at me with an equally WTF face, the Advil shaking in her hand. I starting shaking, just wanting the medicine, just wanting to make it stop!

"No." Max whispered. "No, Fang."


"Pwueeze, Max!" I sobbed. "It 'urts so bad, pwueeze."

"We're going to take you back to Dr. M's." she told me. "Advil won't help you."

Who said that? Advil would totally help! That's what it's supposed to do!

"Max, just give him the damn medicine!" Iggy shouted.

"Look at him!" Gazzy cried.

"Max." I stared at her, tears filling my eyes. This is the only freaking time she'd ever see me like this. It just hurt so badly! "Max."

Max looked like she might cry herself. "Nudge, help me."

Nudge and Max both each grabbed one of my arms, and the flock began to walk slowly as the two girls dragged me through the forest. Angel grabbed my hand, and I stopped the tears. I made a mental note to threaten Gazzy and Iggy to make them never speak of my tears again. Because Fang doesn't—


Oh, God.

"Max?" Angel's voice quivered. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain. It didn't work. "Fang's in serious pain."

"That's why we're going back to Dr. M's." Max spoke harshly.

"No…" Angel rasped. "He's…he's gonna…"

I thrust my body out of Nudge's grip and puked all over the ground. Nudge squealed and jumped out of the way.

"Oh my God!" She whimpered. "You almost got my shoes!"

Iggy grimaced. "That bad of a headache, huh? Maybe I need to rethink my recipe."

Max was still holding one of my arms, and she towed me a few feet away from my barf. "We need to hurry." She summarized. "Fang, can you make it back to the house?"

I nodded, closing my mouth and eyes. If I could close my nose and breath through my ears, I would have. I let Nudge and Max drag me, becoming as limp as I could, which wasn't really hard. Angel soothed me in my mind, and I almost fell asleep when I heard Gazzy thrust open the sliding glass back door. Max tugged me into the living room, and threw me on the couch. Nudge lifted my feet up.

Ooh, comfy couch.

I nearly clocked out right then and there, but Max, my angel who will not let me sleep, kneeled beside me and shook my arm.

"Dr. M's almost home from work." She said sternly, looking out the window at an oncoming car. "Don't fall asleep. Do you want to go into a coma?"

Not particularly.

"Fang, I'm sorry." She whispered.

"It's alwight." I whispered back, doing my best to smirk at her. She scoffed.

"Hey, Max?" Iggy spoke up, swaying on his spot in the middle of the room. "I'm not feeling as awesomely hot as usual."

"Did you guys get sick or something?" Max stressed.

"No…" Iggy blinked. "I—"

And he collapsed.


What a great day.


Oh come on!

Can't I get a break? No, I can never get a break! My boyfriend (kinda) was tranquilized on the couch, Iggy was collapsed on the floor, and now Angel was clutching her head. My. Life. Sucks.

"Doctor Martinez!" I roared in panic, my voice rising with each syllable. I swung my head around at each predicament, my brain overloading so much I thought I was going to explode.

"Angel, what's wrong?" Nudge asked, grabbing her shoulder.

Gazzy rushed over to Iggy and plopped down beside him. "Max, his eyes are open! Like, stuck open! Is he dead? MAX!"

"I'm gonna puke…" Fang groaned. Shit.

I chose the key issue at that moment: Iggy. I skidded on my knees across the carpet, landing beside Iggy's head. His eyes were open, like he was just 'looking' at the TV or something, but they seemed glossed over in addition to the usual cloudiness Iggy's eyes usually had. I took his shoulders and shook them hard. Nada.

Huh. Shaking usually worked…

"Max!" Angel cried, holding her head. "Don't do that! Please, get away from him!"


"Get away!" Angel ordered, her eyes flashing. Gazzy and I quickly backed off, and Angel crouched next to Iggy. Fang sat up on the couch, stretching his limbs and pressing his palm into his temple. "Iggy…Iggy…"

"What's happening?" Gasman asked fearfully. Really, I wanted to know that too.

"There's something playing." Angel muttered. "Inside Iggy's head."

"Like YouTube?" Nudge quivered.

"Kind of." Angel closed her eyes. "Oh—oh! M—Max, get me paper! It's telling me to write it down!"

That's not weird. I snatched a notebook off of the coffee table (sorry, Ella) and threw it along with a pen at Angel. She grabbed them and sat criss-cross on the floor next to Iggy's head, his eyes still staring straight at the ceiling. It was seriously scary and unnerving. I shuddered, gathering Nudge into a hug nervously. Gazzy grabbed my hand, and Fang just stared.

Angel started to breathe heavily, writing faster than any six-year-old should be able to. Iggy's fingers were twitching, and I resisted the urge to run to him. His feet moved ever so slightly. What was happening, was he having a seizure or something? He…something was wrong! I had to do something!

"Angel!" I barked. My baby didn't respond for another three agonizing minutes, when she let loose a long sigh and dropped the pen, sagging forward. Iggy's hands were twitching now, and finally I moved forward to help. After grazing his fingers over my chin, Iggy blinked his eyes, squeezing my hand and letting me help him sit up.

"Wha'…Max?" Iggy bit his lip. "Did I pass out? I really got to rethink that bacon thing."

"No." I told him softly. What bacon thing? "No, you zombified again."

"What does that mean?" Iggy asked. His voice cracked.

"A—Angel?" Gazzy squeaked. "What happened?"

Angel grimaced, looking right at Iggy and I. She gathered the notebook in her hands, furrowing her eyebrows with worry. I knew that look. She was debating whether to tell us or not. Not on my watch.

"Angel." I warned, holding Iggy's hand and steadying his shoulder. Angel closed her eyes for a minute, and then opened them, her piercing blue irises burning into me.

"We got a message." She deadpanned. "From Bob."

If you guys just went "Dun dun dun dun" in your head, I feel like I accomplished my goal. So, now we know what that weird freezing zombie thing was up with...kinda. Tell me what you think :) Reviews are delicious chocolate. And who doesn't like chocolate?

15. Brain Messages, What Fun

Gah, I can't wait any longer! I have to post!

So, here we have a kind of boring, but very important chapter. I hope you all like it, because I want to know your reactions! :D This kind of snaps the plot into gear. I finally smacked it enough to wake up and get a move on. Oh, yeah. Someone asked me what the whole "Christmas" thing was all about last chapter. Yeah, I'm perfectly aware that it's the middle of the summer. That was kind of the point, that Fang was all on sedatives and loopy and stuff. So...yeah.

You guys are the best reviewers, I'm serious. I got pleads for another chapter, so I obliged as quickly as I could. Like, half of you actually did go "dun dun dunn", so that made me feel all special. Make me feel all special again and review?

Say what now?

Iggy tensed beside me, and I squeezed his hand reassuringly. But seriously, WHAT? That evil Wizard was long gone, dead as a doornail, cold as a corpse because he was one. Unless Iggy got some weird-ass power and could now communicate with ghosts in his subconscious or whatever, I was pretty damn sure that was impossible.

"Wha' the hell are 'ou talking about, Angel?" Fang asked. Thanks, Mr. Subtle.

"Bob sent a message." Angel repeated darkly. "Through Iggy."

"H—How is that p—possible?" Iggy quivered, shaking. I tightened my grip on him.

Angel shook her head, and I saw a tear drop from her little eye. What did Bob say? She looked like someone had died…

Oh my God.

"Angel." I said warningly. "Tell us. Tell us now."

Angel looked up at me with tears in her eyes. "You don't want to know!" she shouted at me. "No one should know! I—It doesn't matter, it's not true, it's not tr—"

"Angel, tell us now!" Gazzy screamed, and everyone looked in shock at him. He had never really taken the responsibility role over Angel before, and certainly not like that. I took Angel's shocked state to my advantage and grabbed the notebook from her chest. Her expression was that of fear and pure terror.

"No, Max!" she shrieked, holding onto the notebook like her life depended on it. "No! Don't!"

"Give! It! To! Me!" I cried.

"NO!" Angel screamed, her voice reaching excruciating octaves. I ripped the notebook from her fingers, but she wasn't done. Angel really didn't want me to see. Well, too bad. Angel jumped at the notebook, but Nudge caught her around the stomach and brought her into the most forced hug I'd ever seen (Hulk want HUGS!). Gazzy punched Fang on the arm, and Iggy steadied himself with his palms.

"Max, don't read it!" Angel pleaded, looking right into my eyes. "Don't read it!"

Like that was ever going to happen. Did she even know me?

"Stop trying to control me." I growled, feeling the prickly feeling in my head. I held the notebook up to my face as Angel hung her head in defeat. My eyes danced over the words, and suddenly I didn't want to tell the flock this. I…could understand Angel. Oh, oh God, no…

"Well?" Gazzy broke in harshly. "Read it!"

My mouth hung open a little bit as I tried to comprehend the words. That…no…Stop it, Max! Read it, damn it!

"H—Hello, Subject Eleven." I read, jaw shaking a bit. Now Iggy grasped my hand. "I trust that you are receiving this message through Subject Five, and that you will also share this message with the rest of your 'flock'. It would be advised that you write this down, for I wish for Maximum Ride to read this word for word.

The Erasers attacked two of your members, Subject Three and Subject Five, not hours ago. Now I relay this message to you in the hopes that you will understand their motives. As I told you when you so rudely took Subject Five from our Itex branch, Project B-74 had already been completed. It is being put into effect currently, and you will see side effects take hold of your beloved Subject Five as the project matures. Eventually, the project will kill Subject Five."

"What?" Gazzy shouted.

"Quiet!" Fang scolded him.

"I am sure that none of you wish for this to happen. I am telling you this because there is a way for you, Maximum Ride, to prevent this 'tragedy'. All I wish for is your cooperation in one experiment. One. If you all will provide your cooperation, I will cancel Project B-74, and Subject Five will live. You all will live. Not one life will be spared. If you do not cooperate, you all will be terminated, starting with Subject Five. Meet my team and I outside the Itex building outside Lake Michigan. I trust you to find it. I will give you three days to meet me, starting exactly at 12:00 a.m. tomorrow. After this deadline, I will send Erasers after you to retrieve all of you. Forty-eight hours after the deadline, Subject Five will be terminated. The clock is ticking, Maximum Ride."

It was quiet after that.

"See?" Angel sobbed quietly. I nodded dumbly. Iggy's grip on me slackened. "He's not lying. Iggy's going to die."

"But how do we know he's gonna save Iggy anyway?" Gazzy demanded. "He could just use us, and then not give us our end of the deal!"

"We can't just wait around for Iggy to die!" I replied harshly. "If there's anything I can do, I'm going to freaking do it!"

"Max is right." Fang nodded. Aw...I mentally slapped myself. No, Max. Bad mutant.

"We only have three days to meet Bob, or the Erasers are going to come." Nudge said. "So if we left tomorrow we could get up to Michigan in time, I think. Lake Michigan is huge, I wonder if after we save Iggy we can just disappear and fly forever over that, and maybe go to Canada or something."

"I need to blow something up." Iggy growled suddenly, jumping up, grabbing his backpack, and walking out of the living room into the yard. We all stared after him, but then I stood up too.

"Iggy, put on pants!" I called.

"Later!" Iggy replied as he swung the door closed. Okay…

"That's it, it's settled." I finalized. "We leave tomorrow. Dr. M will fix Fang tonight, and we'll set off for Michigan."

Angel kept shaking her head, tears coming down her face. I knelt down and wiped them away. I promised that it would be okay, and then got up to walk into the kitchen. I pretended not to notice that Dr. M had been standing right inside the kitchen door pretending to be doing things while she listened to us, and just began to speak.

"We're leaving tomorrow." I said conversationally, taking a bag of chips out of the cabinet.

"I—I understand." Dr. M nodded her head. "You'll come back, won't you? All of you? One day?"

"That's the plan." I muttered. "One day."

Dr. M smiled sadly at me. "Did you need me to check something out? You know, before you left?"

"Yeah. Fang's head, he bonked it again." I told her. "And Iggy's wounds, even though they're mostly healed."

"Sure, Max." Dr. M said softly as she started walking toward the door. "Why don't you get Iggy from outside?"

"Yeah." I sighed, rubbing my temples. "I'll do that."

I slid open the glass door, stepping out into the sun. I closed the door and jogged out onto the patio, looking for Iggy. I didn't see him…he probably went a bit farther to set off a firecracker or something. Or a bottle rocket. Or an atomic bomb. Who knows what he keeps in his pockets?

"Hey, Iggy!" I called, cupping my hands around my mouth. He would hear that, what with his super ears. I waited a couple minutes, but I got no reply. "Iggy!"

I looked and saw a wet footprint next to a puddle on the patio out of the view of the door. There weren't any other footprints, even though there was another good ten feet of stone. Did he seriously…?

Shiitake mushrooms.

"IGGY!" I screamed, jumping up and taking off into the air. There was no reply, because he was probably already ten miles away.


I had to run. Or, er, fly away. It was too dangerous while I was with the flock. I couldn't let them give themselves up for the slim chance that I could survive. I mean, that's just stupid. I've done some pretty damn stupid things, but I wasn't about to be a coward. I didn't want to die, but the flock would be safe.

…And that's all that mattered, right? Right.

Not even Max could stop me. I wasn't going to let her.

I just couldn't go back. Trust me, if you were familiar with the hellhole I'd been in, you'd do everything in your power not to go back there. And it wasn't like I was going to let Max go, either. They had to stay, and take care of Fang. Heal up again, and then Max could go and save the world or whatever the hell her Voice tells her to do.

They'd be all right.

"Ninety-nine packages of bacon on the wall," I sang softly, if not only for background noise. "Ninety-nine packages of bacon. Pass one around, scarf it down, ninety-eight packages of bacon on the wall."

Maybe I'd go back to Florida, and go to Universal. I had the overwhelming urge to drown myself in butterbeer. Well, I could pass for twenty-one. Max wouldn't be there to stop me…I wanted to die knowing what beer tasted like. That was a good bucket list idea.

I flew silently over Arizona, resisting the urge to turn around. It wouldn't be right. First I get Fang knocked out, and then I start churning out brain messages from evil sadists? I think it was high time I skedaddled. Wait, how many days did Bob (brain messages ew) say I had left to live? Five days? Huh, that was longer than last time. Maybe he was feeling generous…not. Well, I had five days. What could I do? You know, besides find some pants? Most stores and restaurants said 'No shirt, no shoes, no service.' They didn't say you needed to wear pants...I think. I needed a plan.

So obviously, after seven minutes, I had made up a list. It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.


1. Drink beer. Don't be stupid.

2. Drive a car.

3. Crash a car.

4. Sell the bacon cigarette to the CEO Bacon Lords and feel accomplished.

5. Start a fire in the desert. Defy logic.

6. Be on TV. If it means making a big scene in front of the White House and acting like the new alien life form from Mars, so be it.

7. Shave.

8. Punch Justin Beiber (not very possible, but I can dream).

9. Kick Jeb in the kiwis (more possible, actually a goal).

10. Eat some schmancy steak for once. Be a man.

I couldn't come up with any more goals than that. I had jumped off cliffs, fought werewolves, eaten raw steak and blown up a canyon. I was a cool kid. I'd come up with some more realistic things once I touched down and got the guilty feeling out of my conscious.

Just keep flying, just keep flying, just keep flying, flying, flying. What do I do? I fly.

I'm. So. Weird.

Then, ever so randomly, in the middle of my stupidity just to keep my mind off of things, I heard a soft zzzzvvv noise behind me. I'm not the best at describing things, okay? When the noise reached thirty yards away, my brain clicked. Max.

It was time to start panicking.

I started to dive-bomb down toward the ground below me, trying to shake Max off. Yeah, right. She was so close that I could hear her swear. My feet touched grass and I kept running, quickly folding my wings in behind me. I was sprinting, running the fastest I'd ever run. It was kind of weird that I was running away from Max.

Scratch that. I had a right to run. This was an angry Max.

Suddenly the wind was knocked out of me with an industrial hammer. A.k.a, a teenage girl. If it was anyone other than Max, I'd be ashamed. My face smashed into the ground. Oh, ew, mud mouth. Max spun me over onto my back without any trouble, and then smacked me across the face for all it's worth.


"What is wrong with you?" Max screamed into my face, and I raised my hands over my head. Not the face! "You…you horrible, lying bastard!"

"I—" I stuttered. Max tore my wrists away and pinned them to the ground. "I—"

"I? I?" Max roared into my face. "What were you thinking? Running away? Do you know what that would do to Gazzy, you coward? Did you think that that would solve our problems, Iggy?"

"No, I—"

"Well it wouldn't!" Max cried, her voice choking up. "Because whether you die or not, we're doing this shit together! If you die, which you're not going to, you're going to die with us, damn it! You're not going to run off and think that dying alone is better! You're not going to do this alone, because I won't freaking let you! Do you hear me, Iggy? Do you freaking hear me?"


"Max." I croaked. "Max, I'm sorry."

"Oh, you're sorry!" Max scoffed. "Well that makes it so much better, doesn't it? Let me tell the world that Iggy's sorry!"


"You run away to practically off yourself, and you tell me that you're sorry? You're not shitting Harry Potter, Iggy!"

"MAX!" I screamed, tears threatening to spill. No, I was not going to cry. Not anymore. "I didn't want you to go! I didn't want you guys to hand yourselves over to that sadist if I'm just going to die anyway!"

Max was silent for a minute, but then she wrapped her fist in my shirt collar and pulled me up threateningly. "Listen to me. You are not going to die. I will kick those whitecoats to freaking Timbuktu and back before I let you die, and you are not going to give up before the fight gets going. Do you understand me?"

I huffed, half in relief and half in fear. "Ma'am, yes ma'am."

"That's more like it." Max pulled me up onto my feet, brushed off my shoulders, and then slapped me again for good measure. "You couldn't run away, Iggy. You know you're blind."

"Oh, am I?" I griped mockingly, rubbing my cheek. "Damn…ow."

"Shut up and stop being a pansy." Max punched me in the chest. "You are going to come back with me, put on some pants, and make me some cookies, damn it."

"Whatever." I said as Max grabbed my hand, unfurling my wings.

"And you're never going to leave me again."


"Iggy." Max threatened.

"Yeah." I surrendered. "I won't. Promise."

Huh. Guess I stood corrected. Max had a pretty forceful way of persuading people.

If only she could get rid of the freaking timer hanging above my head.

Wow. You know when you start writing, and have a basic idea, and then something totally different comes out?


Review! Review to save Iggy!

16. Fang Shows Affection, Run For Your Lives

Yes, I'm perfectly aware I'm late.

You can just assume that I'm letting out a huge string of apologies, because really I don't feel like typing it all out. I'm sorry, there. I have reasons, though! Good reasons, I swear! Look, I'll even put them all into handy-dandy list form! 1. Adele's songs were making me sad, and for some reason I couldn't stop listening to them. 2. I went out of town. 3. I got sick while out of town. 4. My laptop BROKE while out of town! 5. I waited four days and my computer still isn't in the shop... 6. I had some places to go, because even if it seems like a huge shock I do indeed have a life, and, 7. I had to re-write this entire chapter in the past two days. Gah. So there. If you guys had looked at my profile, congrats, you're attentive. If not, well, now you know. Sorry for the wait. I'll probably be able to get another chapter out next weekend. So, yeah. Not my best chapter, but I hope you all enjoy it, after all the suffering my fingers have gone through. XD



I sighed, trying to pry the struggling twelve-year old off of my torso. I failed. I mean, I'm a mutant hybrid that can beat up werewolf dudes like I'm freaking Edward Cullen's better-looking third cousin twice removed, but damn that girl has a tight grip! "I'm sorry, Ella. We have to go." I gestured enthusiastically toward the door. "So, it's time to get to that 'going' part."

Ella hugged me tighter. I was suffocating slowly. "No."

"Ella…" I moaned, picking gingerly at her forearms, trying to judge where I could pry her away from me. Nope, no space. Hello, asphyxiation.

Ella peeked up at me from her head's seemingly permanent spot in my neck. "Then let me come with you."

I let out an annoyed little "hmpf" noise that Iggy says is my 'Irritated Warning of Impending Doom'. I tapped my foot, thinking of a way to get out of this. Butter…no. Olive oil…gross. Explosion…not preferable. There was no way out. Angel and Nudge giggled from across the room, and Dr. Martinez smiled at me. I mouthed help me, you twit to Fang, but he just sneered.

Note to self: Kill Fang later.

"Ella, you know I can't let you do that." I told her. "It's too dangerous."

"Then why is it not too dangerous for you?" She whined. "Angel is half my age, and she gets to go! How come? If it's dangerous, why are you going? I want you to stay!"

I had a lot of answers for that wave of questions. Like, 'it isn't', and 'if you only knew', and 'touché'. I couldn't exactly tell her that some evil Wizard Dude named Bob was building an Iggy-shaped coffin as we spoke, I mean, then Dr. Martinez would freak, and they'd lock Iggy in the bathroom, ahem, I mean 'future panic room' until either the deadline passed or our flaming mess of pyro dropped dead.

Obviously, this wasn't an option.

I hadn't even told the flock about Iggy running away, or my little slap-happy tantrum of horror. I didn't want them all up in Iggy's face about it, and I'm sure he didn't either. He was trying to protect us by running off, but the flock would just act like I did and yell at him. It was better not to tell them, although Angel undoubtedly knew from either reading Iggy's or my mind, and Fang probably knew somehow. He's creepy like that.

I finally tugged Ella away from me by the shoulders (breathe, Max, breathe), holding her out at arm's length. "Ella. I'm sorry, but we have to leave. We'll come back if we can, but for now we have to say goodbye. You're right, it is too dangerous for us, for anyone, but it's our responsibility. So we have to go."

Ella attacked me again. "I'll miss you guys." She said into my collarbone. "You're like the family I don't have."

I smirked, pulling away. "But we exist." I pointed out, jabbing Fang in the stomach with my finger. "So you do have us."

Ella smiled at me, and then turned and gathered Nudge in a huge hug that only a Nudge could love, and they both babbled on about preteen things. Then came Angel's suffocating embrace, and Total's. I think he felt loved.

"I'm not a stuffed animal, you know." Fang growled at me, rubbing the spot where I poked him.

"Shut up, Pilsbury Doughboy."

As Ella was saying goodbye to the Gasman Iggy tumbled down the stairs and into the room. He had pants on (FINALLY), but he was struggling to force his half-on t-shirt over his abs. That boy will never learn. He fell in step next to me, and Ella turned her sights onto her next prey, which both happened to be older, quite attractive teenage boys. She had already taken pictures of them with their wings in as proof to her friends that they were hot. It was a total face palm moment. Nonetheless Fang staggered back a step as Ella slammed into him, and actually put one hand on her back as she said goodbye.

I gasped. "Fang!" I backed up, feigning horror. "Are you showing…affection?"

Iggy snorted, and the kids laughed as Fang glared at me. It was worth it. Max: 472, Fang: 11. For the record, Iggy stood at a whopping 2.

Yes, I do take tabs. Judge me and I'll punch you.

Ella now sauntered over to Iggy, who was staring ahead at nothing. He blinked in surprise as Ella hugged him because she had been almost as silent as Fang and he hadn't expected it. He threw his hands up, but then gradually brought them back down around Ella, tilting his head down softly. Ella bit her lip, but then looked up at our God of the Pale.

"Take care of yourself." She whispered, curling her fingers around his shirt in a fist.

"No promises." Iggy said back, his voice cracking a bit.

My first thought was HOLY SHIT, SHE KNOWS, but then I calmed down a bit and looked at the scene in front of me. Fang was looking at the floor, Gazzy was shouldering his backpack, Dr. Martinez was fixing Nudge's hair and Angel was obviously trying to look anywhere but Iggy and Ella. And Iggy and Ella were still hugging.


"So." I coughed awkwardly, rolling my shoulders. "Time to shove on. The open road. Waiting. For us."

"Yeah." Iggy flung his arms back, and Ella grabbed her right wrist with her left hand. Iggy blushed and ducked his head down to hide it, but I had some news for him. He was the palest ginger alive, so trying to hide his blush was completely futile. "Let's—let's go."

"Right-o, Igster." I cupped my hand onto his shoulder. I turned to face Dr. Martinez as the flock gathered around the door. I stared her in the eye. "Thanks."

"Anytime." She replied.

And that was that.

We launched off of the patio simultaneously, 'cause we're awesome, and flapped our wings harshly to get up above the clouds. I looked back at Dr. Martinez and Ella waving at us until even my raptor vision couldn't make them out anymore. Then I turned my attention to the skies. We had to fly across Colorado without reminiscing in memories and settle into the east side of Nebraska by late afternoon and before Iggy collapsed to hunker down. Because whatever that boy says, he was not fine and dandy in the slightest. Four hours of flying would be a good enough margin for him. You know, I hoped.

Hope is a horrible thing. It misleads you, drags you into a dark alley, and beats the living crap out of you.

If anyone knows my flock, they wouldn't be surprised to find that as soon as we reached mid-Colorado the children were deep in an argument that made absolutely no flipping sense whatsoever. Seriously. Once Gazzy and Nudge had an argument on whether the pavement was black or grey. I biffed them both.




"No, Nudge!"

"C'mon, Gazzy, please?"

Gasman crossed his arms. "Why do you want me to do it so bad?"

Nudge looked at him with the full blast Bambi eyes (Yo, Nudge, he's younger than you, doesn't work) and didn't say anything. Finally she squeaked out, "Please?"


"Please?" Nudge begged, clasping her hands together. "C'mon, please? Please, please, please, please, please, please, with the biggest cherry ever please, please—"

"NUDGE!" Iggy cried, grasping his hair like he was going to rip it out. "Shut your pie hole before I reach down and pull up every single delicious pie you have ever eaten!"

"What a threat." Fang said in mock terror, and I snickered.

"Sorry." Nudge muttered, but then turned her head to Gazzy and rasped, "Please?"

"Nudge." I said as calmly as I could. "No more pleases, even with cherries. Iggy, no threatening to take away the wonder of pie away from Nudge. Get it?"

"Got it." They moaned.

"Good." I chirped, taking the time to do a back flip in midair, because I felt cool. As I came back around again to point, Total barked. And he says he's not a regular dog.

"So, chief, what's the plan?" he asked. Okay, so maybe he wasn't a regular dog. And he doesn't eat dog food. Sue me for trying.

"The plan, my dear mutants, is to go to Michigan, whoop some serious butt, fix Iggy, whoop even more serious butt, and then fly off into the sunset to live in Canada."

"Score!" Gasman cheered.

"Will there be beavers in Canada?" Angel asked innocently. "I want beavers."

Of course. Let's play the 'First Word That Comes to Mind' game. Canada: Beavers. Beavers: Adorable. Adorable: More pets that a very angry Max can't take care of.

"Oh my gosh we could all get beavers and name them and everything!" Oh God, here comes the Nudge Train, full force and bent on driving me into the ground. "Angel could have a baby beaver, I'd have the cutest and best-looking one, Gazzy's would fart, Fang's would be all dark and emo, Max's would be the leader beaver, ha that rhymes, leader beaver, and Iggy's could have glasses because that would be so cute it'll be perfect I think I'll name my beaver Theresa, or maybe Janice. Max, do you like that?"

"YES." I gasped. "Yes, I do. Let's talk about this later."

"Okay Max." Nudge smiled, and then went on to talk to Angel about beaver names for her baby beaver. Dear Lord…I looked at Iggy, whose eyes were downcast and his bangs flapping in his eyes. I tilted my body to the right and glided a bit above him, brushing my feathers against his to let him know it was me. He glanced in my general direction, but then just hung his head down again. I reached down and poked him in the small of his back.

"What?" he asked.

"I just wanted to know how you were." I replied, pulling my tank top down. "Are you feeling okay?"

"I'm kind of sick of that question." He told me, fingering the ripped hem on his shirt. "Can you ask me something else?"

"Okay…" I mused. "Are you experiencing any side effects that I should be scared about? Are you feeling particularly, I don't know, suicidal?"

"If I am, I'll tell you." He smirked. "I feel fine. I don't know what these side effects are going to be, but I'm sure I can take them. Stomach flu isn't very threatening."

"Did you puke?" I asked, taken back.

"What? No." Iggy hit his head with his palm. "I was making an example."

"Well, whatever these thingies are, we can take them." I promised, turning away from him. "We've got your back, Ig. Just relax. We'll be in Canada before you know it. Start thinking up some beaver names."

"Yeah," Iggy laughed, turning on a weird voice. "I was thinking like something like Cornelius, or Fred, or perhaps Bartholo—"

Suddenly Iggy slapped his palms over his ears, and dropped like a rock. Nudge screamed, and Fang threw Total to Gazzy before dive-bombing with me down to Iggy. He was falling fast through the air, kicking out furiously with his legs and flapping his wings half-heartedly, as if that was just like something he did automatically and wasn't on his mind at the moment. What did he think this was, freaking teatime in England? We weren't British, damn it! We were freaking birds!

I grabbed hold of Iggy's arm, and he wrapped his hand around my wrist, his eyes looking up at me full of absolute panic.

"Iggy, flap your wings!" I screamed at him, pulling up with my wings and trying to hold him by the arm. Fang grabbed his other hand and lessened the weight. Iggy didn't show any sign that he had heard me. Fang and I landed on the edge of some tiny Nebraskan forest, the other kids coming down around us. I dumped Iggy at the base of a tree, where he writhed and clawed at his ears.

"Iggy, what's wrong?" I demanded. He didn't answer. I turned to Fang like he held the key to all of life's problems. "What's wrong with him?"

"I don't know." He rasped.

"I can't hear!" Iggy shouted way louder than socially acceptable. My eardrum metaphorically sobbed in misery. "Max? Where are you? I can't hear! Max my ears aren't working help me please I can't hear MAX! MAX!"


…Aren't I eloquent?

I dropped next to him, grabbing his hands. Tears streamed down his face, but they weren't sad, freaked tears like he involuntarily cried when he had an episode. He knew he was crying now, he was aware of everything he was doing, but his most valuable asset had been ripped away from him. His hearing. I ran my fingers through his hair, and he calmed down, but he was still racking with horrified sobs and squeezing my hand. The kids and Fang watched fearfully as he relaxed a bit, straining his neck muscles. We stayed that way for at least twenty minutes, me muttering nothings to Iggy that he couldn't hear, and everyone else staring, not sure of what the hell to do. What do you do when your brother randomly pulls a Helen Keller? No offense to Helen Keller.

Finally Iggy lurched forward into my arms, breathing heavily and shaking his head as he hugged me. "It's back." He whispered. "It's back. Thank God, I can hear."

"Are you okay, Iggy?" I asked. He nodded. "Are you sure?" I titled him back onto the tree trunk, and then turned back to the flock. They were still frozen in place.

"Max?" Gazzy's voice broke. "What—what just happened? What was that?"

Fang and I shared a long look, and then I glanced back at Iggy before gulping down my own frightened vomit. I know, delicious.

"That," I took a deep breath. "Was one of Bob's side effects."

Dun dun dunnn...again. What? Eggy? Noooo, what are you talking about? ;)

It's just so hard...whenever I write "Bob", I laugh. I just figured that Iggy wouldn't call his arch nemisis by "Dr. Whatsandsuch", he'd be Iggy and name his Bob. Or possibly Billy. Or Joe.

So...want to show me you care? Or maybe you don't care, but you want to make me write just so you can see what I have in store for our Iggy? Well, push that review button. C'mon, you know you want to. :)

17. Choking on Marshmallows

Oh, hey there. I totally didn't just see you guys, like, three days ago. Whatever. I'm making it up to you guys with a chapter extra early! And then there's the reason that I won't be able to update till the middle of next week, but let's think of the positives here!

So, I love you guys. I was feeling the love! You're the best reviewers ever, I have decided. None of you were like, "you're a week late, gah"! Instead, it was all like "Don't worry, we still love you". And for that, I give you this special (important filler, psh) chapter! Heart the Squid, I totally downplayed your cameo. For this I am sorry. I just used her name...but I hope you like. :D


Nightmares. 'Cause those are always so much fun, right? Here, think of the worst thing that could possibly happen to you, and then we'll help you bring it to life for a marked down fee of your misery, plus tax. Courtesy of Evil Bastards, Inc.

Shitting son of a gun. Max would kill me if I said the real thing. I'm only allowed three massive swear words per day, and I'll want my other two for later. Trust me.

So, I've added Nebraska to my list of 'States I Hate'. Along with California, Kansas, and Florida. Not to mention I'm not allowed in South Dakota anymore…well, that's another story for another time. As soon as I breathed in that Nebraskan air, BAM! Deaf Iggy. And just randomly putting nonexistent earplugs in my ear brought back some bad memories. Pour some deaf Iggy and nightmares into a bowl, add a pinch of terror, a teaspoon of flying, and a dash of almost peeing my pants and you've got a disaster. By the time I had gotten my hearing back I would need a time machine to get rid of all my humiliation. Wait, the past two weeks of my life had been constant humiliation.

I hate my life. Whoa, wrong wording. I like life, as in living, but recently everything had been going downhill. I could use a beaver hug. I imagined it would be really soft.

At least if I die, the flock will be okay. I'd been thinking about it for a while. Sure, I don't want to die, and if I didn't that would be a great early birthday present, but if I have to croak, I might as well be first. Max would smack me upside the head. I really need to get my mind in check, don't I?

Anyway, now we were camping out in good ole Whereeverthehellwewere, Nebraska. It's not like there was a sign around for Max to tell us where we actually were. All I knew was that Gazzy was whining for food, Fang was sulking up a tree somewhere, and Angel somehow knew that "everything's gonna be okay".


That's two. Damn it. No, that doesn't count! Ah, whatever.

"We're almost out of food." Captain Obvious, A.K.A Max, groaned as my tummy rumbled enough to cause an avalanche. "We'll have to go to the supermarket. Iggy, you feeling okay?"

"Rawr." I griped, standing up. "Not tip-top, but I'll live. Let's get pizza."

"Ooh, pizza!" Gazzy cheered. "Can we Max? Can we, can we, can we?"


"GET CHIPS! Fang yelled from a good half mile deep in the woods. He was being a jerk, because when he stalked off to sulk like the emo kid he was he took the rest of the Pringles with him. Douche.

"Like an old married couple already." I pointed out, and Max hit me. Ouchies.

"'Kay, guys, we'll be back." Max said, and then grabbed my hand and took off. We flew through the now chilly air, Max scouting below for a grocery store. It started to rain a bit, which I didn't appreciate at all, but I dealt. After awhile she grabbed my wrist and led me down to the ground, where I shook off my feathers.

"I hate rain." I moaned, shouldering a windbreaker.

"Me too." Max started walking. "Here, there's a Big Y. There's pizza there. You can buy that while I grab some stuff."

I felt money being smashed into my hand as we entered the store. "Is this enough?" I asked.

"Yeah. Here's the pizza thing. Stay here with the yummy goodness, there's a seat like eight steps behind you. Wait for me here."

I sighed. "Yes, Mother."

"Shut up and buy me food, Iggy."

Have you ever noticed that the grocery store has music playing inside of it? It's like elevator music, but has more of an eighties feel to it. The stereo just kept playing songs I didn't know but Jeb would have been humming along to until we begged him to stop. Then it hit me. I'd never been in a grocery store before.

Hm. Strange.

"Can I help you?" a voice chimed from behind the counter. I snapped my attention up, focusing on where the voice came from. "Sir?"

"Yeah," I muttered, bringing out the money. "Can I have…five pizzas with everything except for whatever those slimy fishy things are, and two with just pepperoni and sausage?"

"Uh…" the girl's voice stuttered. "O-kay…you having a party?"

I smirked, running my hand through my hair. "You could say that."

"Right." The girl clicked some buttons on the cash thingy. "That'll be…sixty-four dollars and seventy cents."

I held out my crumpled fistful of money. "Uh, over here." The girl squeaked. I blushed, and moved my arm.

"Sorry." I apologized. "I'm ah…I'm blind."

"Oh!" the girl (whom I had assumed was a teenager by now) cried. "I'm so sorry! Sh—shouldn't you have a—a seeing-eye dog or something?"

I shrugged. "Probably. It's cool."

"I—I'm Bonnie." The girl shook my hand awkwardly. I assumed she was talking to me because it was like six in the afternoon and there was no one else waiting for pizza. Losers. Who doesn't like pizza? Maybe mine would get out faster. "You are?"

"J—Jeff." I fumbled, coming up with a name on the fly. "I'm Jeff."

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Jeff." Bonnie said sweetly. "Do you need any help, do you want to sit down or something? No one gets pizza at this time of night, I mean, other than you, obviously, so I could help you."

"It's alright." I told her, turning around and counting the steps. One, two, three, four, damn it. Life hates me. I crashed into the table, quickly straightening up and running a hand through my hair, blushing pretty badly. Bonnie laughed and ran out, helping me sit down. "Thanks." I mumbled.

"No prob." She replied. "Are you waiting for someone, you didn't come in here alone, right?"

"Yeah, my—uh, my sister." I fiddled with my thumbs. "She's getting the rest of the groceries."

"Okay." Bonnie laid her hand on mine. "I'll get your pizzas, they just came out."

Huh. Time flies when you're blushing straight through your socks.

She handed me the seven boxes, obviously struggling with them. I took them with one hand and thanked her again. I stood there kind of awkwardly for a few minutes until Max tapped me on the back.

"Ready to go, Ig?" She asked. I nodded, and we exited the building, walking in the direction of the woods. As soon as we were out, she spoke again. "Making some friends?"

I grimaced. "Shut up, Max."

"Smooth, ginger."


"No, I was just wondering…she seemed nice."

"Yeah, right." I muttered. "You thought she was an Eraser."

I felt Max shrug up against me. "Hey, when we're us, you can never be too careful."

She paused for a moment before tacking on something. "She was cute, if it's any consolation."

"It isn't."


I carried the pizzas and like, four grocery bags back. Max and I didn't talk. I didn't want to talk. All she'd do is tell me how it was going to be okay, when it wasn't. And I was just sick and tired of everyone telling me that. Sick and tired of being told what my future was. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to stuff my face with pizza, and most importantly, I wanted to kick Bob so hard he wouldn't be able to pee straight ever again.

I was kind of bipolar that day. Deal with it.

After an awkward night of eating pizza and running into four trees by accident (way to be, Iggy), we settled down. The flock just laughed as I bumped into my fifth tree. Feeling the love, guys. Max poked her stick into the fire I had made and got out the marshmallows. She was right, they made me feel better. They were heaven food. Heaven food, I say! All that soft, marshmallow-y goodness being all awesome and stuff.

"Oh, cool! Marshmallows!" Gazzy cried, and all the kids jumped up, gathering around Max. I slowly crawled up to my feet.

"Okay, guys, go yet your sticks." Max said from in front of me, holding out some marshmallows.

"But Max, I've already got mine." I protested, gesturing to my pants. Gasser and Fang cracked up, and Max hit me in the chest. I didn't mind. I had won.

"Just go get some." She snarled, and Angel grabbed my hand.

"Yeah, come on Iggy." She piped. "We'll get the best marshmallow roasters ever!"

"We'll hold you to that." Fang replied.

Angel led me through the woods, handing me branches to check for the best marshmallow roasters. Hey, if it has to do with fire, I know about it. After twenty minutes we had found a good six, plus Gasman and Nudge would have found some. We turned around to walk back to the camp. I popped a marshmallow in my mouth, biting down on the soft, plushy yummy-ness…


I dropped the sticks. They clattered to the ground, causing Angel to turn around, her hair slapping the nearest tree.

Everything disappeared, the sound of our feet on the pine needles, the owl in the distance, the katydids and crickets chirping, the soft crackle of the fire, everything. Immediately I tumbled to the ground, my hands scraping on the tree root. No, no, no! Oh God, not again…I couldn't hear anything, I was deaf, I was deaf, I was going to die. Die, I was going to die. I didn't want to die. Where was Angel? I couldn't hear her. Max was gone, Max couldn't save me, no…

I curled up in a ball, and I felt the leaves around me squish down. Someone was here, someone was going to help me. Calm down Iggy, I hissed in my head. It didn't work. Someone weakly shook my broad shoulders.

MAX! Angel screamed in her mind. The sound echoed in my head, and I latched onto the sound. I was sure that Angel was yelling not just with her mind but with her mouth, too, but I couldn't hear it. Couldn't hear, couldn't hear, no. No, Angel was here, Max was coming, it was going to be fine, everything was going to be fine. MAX, COME QUICKLY! IT'S IGGY!

I trembled on the leaves and pine needles in fear. Hands, stronger now, grabbed my arms and shoulders, trying to get me to come out of a fetal position. Max was here, it was Max. Was it Max? I couldn't tell anymore. No, it was Max. Max was here, it was going to be fine.

Suddenly something seemed to explode in my head, and the cannon-like noise bounced around in my head painfully, making me cry out. Hot tears fell. More hands now. They tried to get me to sit up, and ran through my hair.

They're coming.

A voice rang through my head, making me wince. That wasn't Angel. It was distinctly male. It wasn't the Voice. It…it sounded like…me. But I didn't think it. It wasn't me.

What the hell?

They're coming.

"Who?" I screamed, not knowing if I had said it aloud or not. "Who?"

Nice going, me.

A ringing developed in my eardrums, like it had before when I had gotten my hearing back. Shuffling filled my senses, and then voices, calling out urgently, calling my name. I peeled my eyes open, not that it helped, and relaxed my muscles. I lay on the ground gasping for about two seconds until Max grabbed me.

"Did it happen again?" she asked in a rasp, pulling me up.

I nodded hastily, gasping. I brought my knees up, hugging them. "Yeah. It happened."

"Iggy, you shouting 'who'." Nudge said fearfully. "W—Why?"

I shook my head, putting my chin on my knees. "It was nothing, guys. It's okay now. I'm fine."

Iggy, you told me someone's coming. Angel intruded my head. I heard you think it. Who's coming?

I didn't answer her. Instead I let Max and Fang lead me back to camp, and I fell onto my sleeping bag. I needed to sleep. It was just too much. Everyone was silent, as if scared to speak. No, they were just afraid to speak about me. I drifted off, thinking about my voice in my head.

I woke up thinking I needed to pee really bad.

Really bad.

I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and stepped over Gasser the best I could before making a break for it into the woods. I unzipped my fly, and quickly went pee. Isn't it weird that in movies and books, they never mention people going to the bathroom? Maybe they find it unimportant. I don't know about them, but I find it pretty damn important. I mean, what happens if Indiana Jones had a calzone that didn't agree with him, and then he had to go save the world? That would be awkward.

I re-zipped my pants, and then turned around to walk back to the camp, following the sound of the flock's breathing. Or was it the other way? I heard breathing over there, too.


The Eraser's right hook caught me in the jaw, making me spiral in mid-air. I caught myself, my fingers stabling me on the ground as I lashed out with my foot. The Eraser grunted. He grabbed my leg and threw it, sending me flying across the ground. He reached down for my shirt, but I punched him in the nose. Touchy, wasn't he? He punched me in the face, effectively giving me a good shiner. I kicked him in the chest and then scrambled up to my feet, ready to take him down. Then I heard a rustling in the bushes.

Touchy had friends.

I ran for my life.

"Max!" I cried, tripping over roots and shrubs. "Fang! Max! Erasers!"

Without a warning I was lifted up by the back of my shirt and lifted off the ground. I kicked and punched at nothing, and the Eraser laughed, sending a chill up my spine. I had two words for him: Breath, and mint.

Touchy carried me with his claws through my shirt, making me hang limply in the air, you know, except for my flailing limbs. I heard a fight going on up ahead, and realized the Erasers had gotten to the flock. No, they couldn't hurt them, they couldn't! I wouldn't let them!

"Let go of me, you bastard!" I roared. Touchy bent my arm back, making me cry out. "Goddamn it!"

Whoops, that was four swears. Whatever. I earned them. Stick that in your juice box and suck it, Max.

"Iggy!" Nudge shrieked, and then I heard an oof as she was pushed to the ground. The Eraser threw me to the ground and I rolled on the dirt. Max helped me up to my feet, and then I heard a voice I personally never wanted to hear again.

"Well, well." Ari sneered.

"Ari!" Max gasped. "You—you're dead!"

No shit, Max. And I was blind!

"Obviously not." He chuckled. "It's amazing what the School can do for you when you're on their side."

For once, all of us were collectively at a loss for words. Sure, I knew he was alive, but I kind of forgot to tell Max…I forgot about it myself, okay? There were Erasers surrounding us on all sides, and it seemed like everyone had already fought their best. We were trapped.

"Bring their backpacks over there." Ari ordered some Eraser, and I got a sinking feeling. First, because our food was in there. Second, because all my bombs were in there.

Then it hit me. My pocket became heavier.

"Why are you here, Ari?" Max spat. "We were coming to you!"

"Orders were to come get you birds." Ari jibed. "And take you back. Can't kill you, unfortunately, but I'll get my chance soon."


"We had two days left!" Max cried. "We were going to cooperate!"

I could practically hear Ari shrug. "The doc got impatient. Wants you birds now. Didn't want to give you enough time to plan."

"So in other words, he lied." Fang snarled.

"You could say that." Ari replied. My hand flickered toward my jeans pocket. "But it doesn't matter, anyway, because he lied about everything. Said that he needed Max, and that I could kill the rest of you." The cock of the gun rebounded through my ears. "Starting with…him."

"No." Max whispered.

I knew he was pointing the gun at me. Nudge made a squeaky sound, and Gasman's breath quivered. I smirked, lowering my head a bit.

"See," I spoke up, half raiding my hand as if to answer a question. "There's just one problem with that."

"What?" Ari barked. I held my thumb over the remote. I threw my head up, and pointed it right in Ari's direction. I smiled.

"You just brought a gun to a bomb fight."

Oh hot damn!

I am SO excited. The next chapter is none-stop action, my friends! Non-stop!, and it'll come faster. Don't you want to know what happens next? Huh? Huh?

Aside from my pleads, thanks for the reviews, and please keep it up. Oh, yes. NEWS. This story is coming to a close in like, seven chapters (I know, sad). But there is going to be a sequel, which I am super excited about. Now, I won't reveal anything, no spoilers here, but I'll tell you the title. It's going to be called Taken Again.

I love when you guys try to guess what's going to happen next, so go ahead. I want to blow your minds...which probably won't happen. But review!

18. Right in the Face

Happy Birthday!

What? It's not...your birthday...oh. I'm going to go stand awkwardly in a corner now. Hey, it's somebody's birthday today. I just don't know who it is. It's always someone's birthday. So, here's your present! I couldn't resist :D. Thanks for all your super fantastic reviews everyone! I wrote this up and decided it was time for some action! Non-stop, baby! Sorry if it's short, but it's jam-packed. The next one will be longer, I promise. So read on, and love Iggy! As always.

The explosion was mess of heat and a burst of fiery passion.


It had been far too long since I heard the wonderful noise of an explosion. Especially since about a dozen scared Eraser yells sounded with it when I pushed the button. Oh my God, what a rush.

Adrenaline pumping through my veins, I did a Fang and lunged ever so stupidly at Ari, who at this point was trying to put out his flaming arm fur on the ground. I dug my feet into his abdomen, crashing down on him and punching the masculinity right out of him.

"Where's the nearest ManTM?" I growled, breaking his nose. "I think you need to make…a deposit!"

Ari roared, knocking me off of him. The flock was holding their own, beating up their respective douche bags. Anger surged through me, and I launched myself at Ari again. I punched him, he punched me. The only thing was, neither of seemed to give a shit. I knew I was probably bleeding profusely, but the only thing that really mattered to me right then was killing Ari, and making sure he stayed dead. I felt one of Ari's Eraser teeth come out in my hand, and I resisted the urge to vomit, instead punching him some more.

"How does it feel now?" I roared, pummeling him. "Being on the other shitting end of the deal!"

"It—feels—" Ari gasped. "Awesome."


Ari used my surprise to his advantage, switching out positions and pinning me to the ground. I heard something crack, probably him getting even with my nose. I pulled my knees up and pushed out with my feet, sending him flying off of me. I jumped back up again and continued the fight, rage pulsing through me with every beat of my heart (which is like, twice as fast as a humans, so it was a lot of serious chizness going down).

"JESUS!" I heard Gasman cry, and I smirked, not stopping my continuous beat of terror. An Eraser shrieked, which I took as a sign that Gazzy was learning fast and well. Ari caught me in the gut, so I drove an uppercut into his chin. Damn, we were going at it. I didn't feel hurt, though. Wonderful thing, adrenaline is.

Suddenly Nudge screamed, and I stopped for a moment, cocking my head up. Total yelped in pain, and before I could even process that I was on the ground, my ears ringing. I spat out blood and struggled to my feet, meeting Ari halfway and tackling him again. Max called out for Fang. Angel shrieked. I couldn't tell if we were winning or losing. All I knew was my fists were ready, my blood was pumping in my ears, I was angry as hell, and the bastard that had nearly ruined our lives was right here in front of me. Ari slashed with his claws, catching me on the cheek. I swung forward my fist of pain, but he dodged it. I parried a thrust of a sharp tree branch, and kicked out my leg. Ari fell in a momentarily paralyzed lump of agony.

In the kiwis!

"That's for sitting there and watching, asshat!" I yelled at him, turning around and running into the heat of the fight. I heard a sickening crunch as Max broke an Eraser's arm; Fang making two scream; Nudge beating one over the head with a rock; Gasser kicking ass and ripping some while he did it; Angel running underneath an Eraser's legs and scooping Total up from the ground with a cry. I heard another Eraser running in Nudge's direction, and I jumped in the way of him, elbowing his face.

"Nudge, run!" I demanded, punching it in the gut. "Get up a tree!"

I heard Nudge jump up into the air, and I let my guard down for a minute. Something spear-tackled me, and I slammed into a tree, knocking my head. I was dazed. My head was brought forward and slammed back again. Nudge screamed again, but it sounded a thousand miles away. Something cut off my breathing, and my reality plug was pulled out of its socket. I half-heartedly scrambled at the chokehold, trying to get away. Couldn't get away…so quiet…Too quiet…


What the crap, life?

I dodged another hit, bringing my cupped palms over the Eraser's ears and kicking him square in the chest. He flew across the clearing and thudded against a rock. Eleven down, an entire shitting species to go. I tossed the hair out of my face and surveyed the fight. We had taken down a lot of them, but there were still at least a half of a dozen left. And I couldn't see Ari anywhere. Or Iggy. Oh, no. That wasn't good. Before I had time to look for them, another Eraser lunged at me. I ducked under him and speared my hand into his neck at the pressure point, making him immobile for me to knock him unconscious. Fang took down another, and we shared a look. God, if we got out of this we were so going to Canada. I didn't care if there were beavers or not.

"MAX!" Nudge shouted. I located her position, which just so happened to be halfway up an oak tree. Her entire body was wrapped around the trunk of the tree, save her left arm. She pointed past me, trembling fiercely. "M—MAX! BEHIND YOU!"

Dear God. Only three syllables in a sentence. That was bad. I whipped around, ready to sock someone right in the face, but stopped in my tracks, all my breath leaving my body. My heart seemed to slow to a stop, along with everything around me.


Ari stood not twenty feet away, a joyous look on his face, and a pistol cocked in his hand. He seemed to be laughing, but everything was in slow motion. Angel screamed, but it was long and drawn out. Ari's arm was wrapped around Iggy's throat, his muscles flexed and bent around Iggy's neck in a chokehold. Iggy's knees were involuntarily bent, his arms subconsciously clawing at Ari's arm. His face was a bright red, gasping for the air that couldn't come to him. I took one slow, giant step forward. Ari laughed, bringing the pistol up to Iggy's temple.

The world snapped back into motion.

"No!" I screamed, trying to run forward. An Eraser grabbed my arms behind me and pulled back. Three others had done the same to Fang, Gasman, and Angel. Total was flopped unconscious at the foot of a tree. Ari sneered, shaking his head.

"Oh, no, Maxie." He chuckled sadistically. "Wouldn't want to do that, now would we? One move and…" Ari mocked shooting the pistol. Iggy winced, and we all stiffened.

"Let him go." I breathed heavily. "Ari, let him go."

"Sure, I'll let him go." Ari shrugged. "Just let my friends here tie you up, and get into our van waiting just a ways ahead. I won't shoot blindy here, the doc gets what he wants. Win, win."

I stood stock still, thinking it over. If it meant he wouldn't shoot Iggy…

"No." Iggy croaked (in the verbal sense, he wasn't dead yet, thank God), his voice weak and forced, like a cheese grater against gravel. "Max, no. Don' do i'."

"Don' do i'." Ari mocked, flexing his muscles even farther. Iggy's neck started to turn a dark shade of purple, and it begged to creep up to his face. His collarbone stuck out under Ari's grasp. "It's your choice, Max. Go back with the mutant, or without him."

Was that really a question?

Iggy was turning blue.

"Tick tock, Max." Ari smirked. I looked at Fang. He stared back at me with fearful eyes. The sun threatened to break the night sky.

Iggy stopped struggling. His arms dropped to his sides limply. He was going to die if I didn't do something. Angel was crying. Gazzy struggled against his Eraser. Fang looked defeated, his eyes cast on me. I gulped.

Iggy's eyes started to roll back in his head.

I nodded, fighting back tears. "Okay." I whispered. "Okay, we'll go. Just let him go."

Ari smiled, pressing the pistol against Iggy's temple even harder. He lessened his chokehold, and Iggy coughed, trying to suck in air. "Get in the car first. And no funny business. Got it?"

Everyone nodded sullenly. Iggy's eyes were as wide as can be, but he didn't say anything. The Erasers gripped our arms tightly, beginning to direct us to the car.

Suddenly a scream pierced the silent air. It wasn't a painful or terrified shriek. It was full of rage and fury. Nudge shot out of her tree as fast as a bullet, her wings streamlined and her hands outstretched in front of her, perfectly aligned toward Ari's throat.

She tackled him. Ari shouted out.

A gunshot sounded.

Iggy crumpled to the ground.

Screaming doesn't even begin to describe what I did.

If you asked me now what came over me, I wouldn't be able to tell you. All I knew was in ten seconds the four Erasers were either unconscious or dead on the ground. Gasman and Angel were sprinting over to me, Nudge was screaming a high-pitched, angered string of insults that I'd probably have to smack her later for, and Fang was practically straddling Ari, bringing his fist up and slamming it into Ari's face over and over, his face red with rage. I was suddenly at Iggy's side, his head on my lap as I tried to assess the wound. I knew he wasn't dead; he hadn't even passed out yet. Tough guy. His wide, sightless eyes searched everywhere, his mouth in a small, pained 'o'. Fang was shouting, the angriest I had ever seen him. A vein protruded out of his neck, his jaw was clenched, and his fist was raw and bloody. Nudge's arms were stretched toward the ground, her knuckles white in her fists. She didn't seem to realize that Ari was already unconscious, or that she was crying; she just kept screaming at him. Gasman took one look at me and ran to see if there was anything scavenged from the bomb, even if he knew there wasn't. Angel placed Total down on the ground and sunk to her knees. Total stirred and licked his bleeding paw.

"Iggy." I choked, knowing that I was going to cry. The top right half of his shirt was soaked through with crimson blood, and I could see a bit of his clavicle poking out of his skin. When Nudge tackled Ari his aim went off and missed Iggy's head, shooting down through his collarbone instead. I couldn't see where the bullet went, or how bad the wound was. But Iggy was losing blood fast. "Iggy. I'm so sorry."

The corner of Iggy's mouth flickered. "Max." he mouthed, seemingly unable to vocalize his words. I didn't blame him. He laid his head back on my jeans, the blood rolling off of his shoulder and staining the denim. I didn't care. I ran my fingers through his hair, tears threatening to spill. I looked over at Fang.

"Stop it!" I cried, shocked at how cracked my voice was. The whole of Ari's lower face was bloody, his nose broken at least five times and several teeth knocked out, along with two black eyes. "Fang, stop it! He's not waking up, stop!" My voice broke. "Come help me."

Fang half ran, half crawled over to me, planting his hands in the dirt and looking at Iggy. He flung his head up toward me, and my heart broke. Tear lines marked his cheeks, his face was flushed, and his eyes were scared. Fang kept opening and closing his mouth like he was trying to speak, and shaking his head. Then, he quickly stood and took Iggy's torso in his arms, letting almost all of his long legs hang. We couldn't hurt his collarbone more.

"We have to take him to a hospital." I surrendered to myself. We had no supplies, no food. That was a hundred dollars down the drain. We had to take him to get help. Any help. "I saw a sign yesterday, there's one a few miles north of the Big Y." I grabbed Total in my arms, glanced at the kids, and took off into the skies.

Iggy pressed his head into Fang's arm, his breaths ragged and heavy. The blood was ruining Fang's shirt. Iggy seemed to be fighting for consciousness, squeezing his eyes from the pain and blinking them a lot. His fingers scraped the back of Fang's hand for a moment, and then he sagged into his arms limply, his eyes closed. Fang bit his lip.

"We have to hurry!" He called out. I poured on the extra speed, encouraging the others to do the same. I spotted the hospital down below and dove for it, feeling Nudge's and Gasman's feathers parallel to mine. I didn't stop when I touched down but kept running, bursting through the doors to the Emergency Room entrance, throwing Total to Nudge. I spotted the nurse and sprinted to her, Fang close behind.

"Please, Miss," I wheezed. "Please, my—my brother…"

"Help him!" Fang yelled, waking the only other person in the room at three in the morning, a middle-aged man that seemed to be waiting for someone. "Now!"

The nurse fumbled for a device and started speaking into it. "We need a doctor here now, there's a young man here with a serious gunshot wound in his chest. Taking him to Dr. Stevens operating room now. Hurry!"

A bunch of nurses ran through the double doors on the other side of the room with a gurney. One helped Fang place the unconscious Iggy onto the gurney, and then they ran away with him through the double doors. I tried to run after him, but Fang grabbed my arm.

"Miss." The nurse pressed. "Is that your brother?"

"Yes." I said quickly. "We're all siblings, adopted."

"What is his name?" she asked me, writing down things on a clipboard.

"Jeff." I told her, remembering the name Iggy had used on that girl at the pizza station. "Jeff Martinez. I'm Max Martinez."

"Where are your parents?" she asked me, dodging behind the counter. "Do you have their phone number?"

"No." I chewed my tongue nervously. "There're away."

The nurse stared at me for a moment before handing the clipboard to a man, whom ran after Iggy and the other nurses. Gasman tugged on my sleeve. I turned around and saw his blue eyes filled with tears. I knelt down and hugged him tightly, letting my little man cry into my shoulder. Angel joined in, and soon we had a big group pity hug. I sat down on one of the chairs, never taking my eyes off of those evil double doors.

"Iggy." I whispered, so only I could hear me. "Please be okay. Please."

Heh. Hehehe. Cliffhanger. Review, for Iggy's life! (Well, of course I'm not going to kill my favorite character of all time, for Iggy's sake. There.) Party on.

19. Iggys and Needles and Sandwiches, Oh My

So, we can all assume that school is a monster that eats time and creativity like a black hole. Great analogy, I know.

I'm finally updating! (confetti) So you can wait in anticipation no more! Well, for now. Sorry if it's not-so-awesome, I was pressed for time. Sorry if it'll be another couple weeks for an update, but hopefully I can write more soon. The start of school is horribly hectic. Anywho, here's the next chapter, and a shoutout to flyegurl, who reviewed saying that she thought Iggy with his clavicle sticking out was sexy. Kudos. Oh, yes. Review?

For all you complete losers who pace when you're nervous, well I tried it. Pacing doesn't help. It really doesn't. Actually, it's more pointless and infuriating than stamp collections.

Okay, so I was a little bitter. Who can blame me?

"Miss Martinez?" A man spoke softly, breaking me out of my pacing. I had given blood to Iggy earlier in the morning, because (obviously) the doctors had found out about the whole 'wings' thing. They had agreed to not sic the FBI on us until we spoke to Iggy, so that lessened some of the weight on my shoulders. It was now the late afternoon, and Fang had taken Nudge and Gasman to get some new backpacks down the street. Total had gone along, too. I had absolutely refused to leave the hospital (that's a first), and Angel had opted to stay behind as well.

"Yeah?" I asked eagerly, looking at the man. "Is it my brother? Is he okay? Is he going to live? What was wrong with him? Is he—?" Angel tugged on my jeans pocket, and I shut up. The man smiled weakly.

"Jeff is okay." He told me, and my heart flooded with relief. "Dr. Stevens will talk to you, but Jeff underwent some surgery, and it looks like he's in somewhat stable condition. He's in a medically induced sleep right now from the operation, but he should wake up in a few hours. He's in Recovery now."

"Can we see him?" I blurted out. "Just for a moment, to…make sure?"

If it had been anyone else but the weird kids with wings that came in with a bleeding boy and no parents, he'd probably have had said no. But hey, we were special.

"Okay, for a moment." The nurse relented. "But after that, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until tonight, after he's recovered from the surgery and wakes up."

I nodded stiffly, grabbing Angel's hand. I glanced toward the door, but Fang didn't show. He'd have to wait. I swallowed down my fear of: a) The Erasers finding Fang, and b) Iggy being seriously injured, and followed the nurse down the sterile hallways. Angel and I shivered.

"Here's his room." The nurse said, stopping at a door with a giant 9 on it. "The doctor will be in shortly to talk with you. You are the eldest, yes?"

"Yeah." I agreed. "The oldest kid. He can talk with me."

"Good." The nurse opened the door to let us walk in before closing it softly.

The first thing that stuck me was the fact that it wasn't silent in the room. The sound of a machine, almost like a buzzing air vent, coursed through the room, and there was a constant and continuous level of beepy noises. I pulled Angel farther into the room and caught my breath. Iggy was lying on a hospital bed, his torso elevated and a special sling wrapped around his arm on the side his collarbone had snapped. He had been patched up, too, like we had been earlier. The nurses had offered us band-aids and wraps, and fixed Fang's dislocated knuckle (It was funny because he got it by punching the snot out of Ari). Iggy's eyes were closed peacefully, an IV drip in his arm. What startled me was that there was a plastic thing cupped over his mouth and nose connected to a machine. We drifted over to Iggy, not touching him or saying anything, but just watching him. There was a long line of stitches across his chest directly underneath his collarbone, and I resisted the urge to trace my fingers on it. I stared at the thing on his face instead.

"It's only temporary." A voice said behind me. Angel and I swung around and saw a whitecoat in front of us. I clenched my fist and dug my fingernails into my palm to stop myself from punching him. He was just a normal doctor. Iggy's doctor. "He had to have that during the surgery. He'll only have a nasal cannula later, after the drugs wear off." He stepped forward to shake my hand. "My name is Dr. Stevens. Jeff dealt very well with the surgery, by the way. He'll be out of here in a couple weeks."

Three days, I decided.

"We had to get the bullet out," Dr. Stevens said casually, like 'We went out to get coffee. I got hazelnut'. "And his clavicle was fractured, so we had to brace it on the inside. We molded metal around the fractured part, so he'll be able to move it normally in about a week or so. He's actually very lucky." He paused. "Now, I have to ask. Do you know the name of the person who shot your brother? The police want to catch the gunman, so if you know anything, even a description, it would help. They want to talk to you and your family, but they can wait until later."

I brought my lips in, and then shook my head. Oh yeah, officer, the crazy guy who shot my brother is about six foot six, featured, scarred, can turn into a wolf, has giant claws and is seven years old. That would fly excellently. "Sorry." I muttered. "It was so sudden. I don't remember. I'll try."

Dr. Stevens put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. Reassuring or not, I tensed. "It's okay." He said. "Take your time." He ruffled Angel's hair, and then exited the room.

It's always harder when they're friendly.

"Iggy." I moaned, grasping the bars on the side of his bed. "Why'd you have to go and get yourself shot?"

"It could have happened to any one of us, Max." Angel said sagely beside me. "It's just that Iggy has terrible luck."

I chuckled half-heartedly and reached up to stroke Iggy's hair. I almost expected him to smirk and pretend to bite my arm, but he didn't move. I sighed, biting the inside of my cheek and thinking. Usually I would have already had a plan mapped out to get us all out of there and up to Canada by midnight, but everything was drained out of me now. We were trapped in a rut. We still had to go to Bob, because this scare and risk of going to the hospital would be for nothing if Iggy just died anyway. But three days for healing was too long. He would be in no condition to move, and…Bob only wanted me. If I went, the flock, and Iggy, would be safe. If I came back, that would be the frosting on the cake. That was if Bob wasn't bullshitting me. Which he probably was.

"Max." Angel broke the silence. "You can't go by yourself."


I huffed, hanging my head down and squeezing the metal bars. "You wanna come?" I asked sarcastically. "I could get you another stuffed animal at Evil R Us."

Angel looked at me sadly. "I know you're stuck, Max," she whispered. "But sacrificing yourself won't do us any more good than it would if we just let Iggy die. We have to wait a couple days for Iggy, and then face Bob head-on. And then we'll be okay."

I smiled. "And we'll have beavers."

Angel nodded, her curls bobbing. "Yeah, we'll have beavers." She pried my fingers away from the bars, and whispered to me. "Fang's coming."

Just then, the door opened, and the rest of the gang filed into the room. Nudge squealed at the sight of Iggy, and Gazzy attached himself onto her shirt. Fang drifted over to me, his eyes not leaving Iggy. He nonchalantly held something out to me.

"I got you a sandwich." He muttered. I sniffed.

"Turkey on Italian with everything on it?" I asked. Fang smirked.

"No mustard."

"You know me so well."

"Max?" Gazzy asked, his hands still clenched in Nudge's shirt. He peeled one away and pointed at the thing on Iggy's face. "What's that?"

"It helps him breathe, honey." I replied, taking my sandwich in my hands. Fang handed another one to Angel. Gazzy's face reddened.

"Why can't he breathe?" He demanded, incredulous.

"It was just for the surgery, Gaz." I reassured him, but he still winced.

"I hate that word!" he cried, throwing his hands over his ears. We all glanced at Iggy, who didn't stir. Gazzy continued shrieking. "I hate it here! I hate whitecoats! I hate Erasers! I hate everything!"

I threw my sandwich at Nudge, and then crossed around the bed to Gazzy. I knelt down and hugged him again, letting his tears drip onto my hair. I held him out at arm's length, watching him sniffle. I couldn't stand to see my little trooper break down.

"It's okay, Gasser." I promised. "It's all going to be okay. Iggy's fine, we're all fine, and we'll get out of here as soon as we can. We have to talk to some people, but we're going to do what we do best." I looked around at everyone. "Lie our butts off. And then in a couple days, we'll get Iggy out of here, and we'll be back on track. Okay?"

Gazzy nodded, running a finger under his nose. "Okay."

I stood up, grabbing Angel and putting her on my hip. She curled her arms around my neck. "Let's go back outside, guys. We'll come back later, after Iggy wakes up. We don't want to have the nurse hear us screaming."

I opened the door and closed it again once everyone came out. We walked nervously down the sterile hallways back toward the waiting room. Several nurses and doctors passed us on our way, many giving us weird looks. My eyes suddenly widened, and my heart seemed to stop. I stopped in my tracks right in front of the waiting room door, turning around and searching the hallways frantically. Angel dropped from my grip, and Fang grabbed my arm.

"Max!" He ordered. "Max, what is it?"

I didn't answer him, and instead kept my eyes on the flood of doctors, searching through their ranks. Because I swore I had just seen Jeb Batchelder.


As soon as I was coherent I knew I wasn't supposed to be awake yet. The first thing that entered my mind was the slow, steady beeping surrounding me. The second thing that hit me was the fact that I was completely and utterly alone. That was bad.

"…Max?" I croaked, surprised at the horrible cracks in my voice. I mentally socked

puberty in the face. My voice was muffled by something, and I could barely hear it. I fumbled at the sheets over me, but then my shoulder erupted in pain, and I fell back on the pillow, whimpering quite pathetically. I clenched my jaw and propped half of my body up on my right elbow. I tried speaking again, but it was like speaking into a bunch of pillows. "Max? Gasser? Nudge? Anyone?"

Nothing greeted me as a wonderful response. I sighed and settled back down into a comfy position, giving up the last of my energy. The last thing I remembered was Max talking to me, and Fang carrying me. Where were they? Where was I? Were they okay?

…They couldn't be dead, could they? No, of course not. I took assess of the noises around me. It felt like I was in the School. The flock could have been captured, or dead. No, they couldn't be dead. I wasn't about to give in to the visions again. Not when I'd just gotten out. Still, I searched with my right arm for Max, her face, anything. She had to be there, to tell me it was all right. If she didn't tell me, how could I believe it? The flock was my eyes. I couldn't believe anything without them.

I fingered the fabric around my left arm and shoulder, picking at it to drive away my boredom. It didn't particularly help. The fact that no one was in the room proved that no one, whitecoat or not, had expected me to wake up yet. Whoops. I mean, if I could have clocked back out, I would have. But I couldn't. I needed to find Max and the flock. I had to thank Nudge for saving me. I had to hug Angel and Gasser again. I had to tell Fang that he was a lovable prick before I died. I didn't…I didn't want to die alone.

This would have been a great time for Drill Sergeant Iggy to take over, but alas, I was wimpy.

Suddenly I heard the door click open and closed again, and light footsteps. "Max?" I asked quietly, noticing that there was only one pair of feet on the tile. "Max, is that you?"

They didn't reply. I assumed it wasn't Max and set into defense mode. My voice shook. "Who are you, then?" I slurred, rolling my shoulder. I couldn't move my legs, or my other arm. "Tell me!"

Whoever it was didn't utter a word, and instead grabbed my right arm in a death grip. I shouted out, but it was muffled. I tried to whack him slash her slash it, but to no avail. He (I'm just going to assume it was a guy, just for convenience) drove him thumb into my forearm, and suddenly I couldn't move it anymore. I came to one conclusion.

Bad guy.

Before I could try to move again, something was lifted off of my face. It was the thing that was muffling my speech. I attempted to cry out, but found that I couldn't breathe anymore. I fought for air, barely any finding its way into my lungs. After a while I just stopped struggling, deciding to give up the fight and try to disappear into my pillow. Then the thing was jammed back onto my face and stuck. I gasped for air, welcoming the oxygen into my lungs. As soon as I took three deep breaths I began to feel woozy, and realization dawned on me.

"Max!" I tried to scream, but nothing came out. "Help…"

Dear God. No, no, no.

As I slipped into oblivion I felt strong hands rip me up from the bed, and begin walking. Silence overcame me. And then there was nothing.

I'm just so EVIL! I feel like laughing maniacally now. But seriously, I'm going way too overboard with these cliffhangers. The next chapter won't have a cliffhanger, though. The one after that, promises ;) You know you wanna :)

20. Wait a Minute, There's Pie

Good jeezum.'s the 20th chapter. I can't believe it. The story's almost over -sniffle-. I love you guys so much. That's why I updated on time :).

So, you want to know what happened to Iggy? -crowd cheers- Well you're not gonna! Sorry, that's yet to come. But enjoy the chapter anyway, and please review. It makes my day, and I write more! :D


I walked away feeling violated.

I mean, come on. I have to give props to Nebraska for making me feel the most awkward I had ever felt in like…forever. The Nebraskan FBI really knew how to interrogate people. I wanted to tell them everything I knew and they hadn't even asked more than ten questions! They were all like, 'Do you know about a place called the School?' and 'Have you ever seen something that looks conveniently like a werewolf?' and 'Do you know some weirdo sketch named Jeb Batchelder?'.

Yes, douche bags, I DO.

…You know, not that I let them know that.

"Max?" Gasman asked, looking up at me from his seat in the waiting room. We had just gotten out of questioning, and as far as the police knew, we were the freak children of a horrible man bird sex scandal. We had been sitting in the sterile room for an hour, waiting to go see Iggy again. "Can I take a shower?"

Nothing was right in the world.

"After, Gazzy." I told him. "Once we find one."

I stood up and walked away, partly because I was freaked out from Gazzy's sudden interest in his own personal hygiene, and partly because I was pissed off that we had gone four hours and Iggy wasn't freaking out of recovery yet. He had to wake up sometime! If he wasn't up, I was going to slap him awake, because he indirectly made us go through that social torture. 'Cept Nudge. She loved the attention. Sent her agent running away screaming.

That was the only fun part.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" I asked at the receptionist's desk, playing nice. There was a different woman now, but the whole hospital knew all about our certain, erm, predicament. I had already decided that we would be busting out the following morning and finding a safe house for Iggy to heal in, because I didn't want to be here to choose which newspaper was going to publish us first. "I was wondering if we can see my brother now. Is he out of recovery?"

The woman looked at a chart, and then turned back to me. "Well, I'll have to go ask Dr. Stevens and then—"

I slammed my palms on the desk. Nice Max was long gone. "Look, Lady. We need to see him now. So either take us to him or have us ransack the whole place until we find someone who will."

The lady stared at me frightfully for a moment, but then lost the mental battle in her head and stood up, her hands trembling. She motioned toward the double doors, and I smiled sweetly.

"Thanks." I chided, and then swung around. "Yo, guys! Fall in."

Everyone got up and scampered over, or in Fang's case, sauntered so slowly that I whacked him in the back of the head. We followed the nurse down the hall to Iggy's room again, and she slowly opened the door. Gasman jumped up and down beside Fang, and Angel smoothed out her dress. We walked in, and a huge smile broke across my face.

"Iggy!" Nudge cried joyfully, running across the room and hugging him tightly. Iggy laughed happily, hugging her back with his right hand and burrowing Nudge's head in his neck. "Oh my gosh Iggy we were afraid that you weren't going to be okay we're so happy at least I'm super happy so I guess all of us are immensely happy that you're okay I was so worried and don't worry I took Ari out and then Fang went nutzo on his face so he can't hurt you anymore and we're going to go to Canada and I'm so happy you're alive—"

"Nudge." Iggy choked out, his smile still intact. "I'm happy too. Now unclench and release."

Nudge flung herself back, her grin reaching quite literally ear to ear. I searched Iggy's face and saw the nasal cannula reaching around his face. At least that machine wasn't there anymore. Everyone came and gave Iggy a hug, and I held mine for a few seconds before coming back and thumping the side of his head.

"Don't you ever do that to me again, mister." I ordered, messing up his hair. Iggy grimaced before fixing it, and then smirked up at me.

"You know I can't promise anything, Maxie." He jeered.

"Yeah, not when Canada has big fields and valleys to blow stuff up in!" Gasman cried. Iggy ruffled his hair, and let Angel climb up onto his bed. Her eyes were troubled, but I waved it off. She had a lot on her mind. I knew this because we all had a lot on our minds, and she read all of our minds. That's trouble times seven.

Messed up is a term quite associated with us.

"Yo, big guy." Fang clasped Iggy's right hand, reaching down and giving him a bro hug. "You holding up?"

"Yeah." Iggy nodded, tracing his fingers over his collarbone gently. "Hurts, but since when has something not hurt?"

"Amen." I muttered.

Iggy scoffed, turning his eyes blindly down at his body. "I gotta tell you though, I was completely freaked out when I woke up. I pulled some serious Chuck Norris on the nurse by accident. Then I calmed down. I don't think she likes me, though."

"Because your moves were so smooth she was mesmerized with you but she couldn't give in because she has a boyfriend or something." Gazzy said confidently, crossing his arms.

Angel gasped mockingly, bringing her little hand up to her mouth as she turned to her brother. "Can you read minds too?" she asked jokingly. Gazzy grimaced as the rest of us laughed. Iggy tensed a little bit after he laughed, and I automatically grabbed his hand and cupped it around my jaw. He glanced up at me, but then seemed to accept it and pulled his hands down again gently. I furrowed my eyebrows. That wasn't like him. I mean, I knew the nightmares had mostly gone away, but still.

Max. Angel whispered into my mind. I gotta talk to you.

I looked down at her. "Now?" I mouthed. She nodded, but then paused.

When we go to get food.

I nodded stiffly, and Fang raised his eyebrow at me. Gazzy and Nudge were talking enthusiastically to Iggy, who looked utterly exhausted. I stroked his hair.

"Hey, Igster." I spoke up. Do you want us to bring you back some food? You must be hungry."

"The doc says I shouldn't eat until later tonight, and even then not a lot." Iggy said to me seriously, but then smirked and started to crack up along with the rest of us. I wiped my eye with one finger.

"Too much, it's too much." Gazzy cackled on the floor.

"Well, after we're done being comedians, we'll get you some food and then we'll all hang out in here." I announced. "And when they come to kick us out, we'll kick them out. We're going to go look for a safe house tonight so we can get you out of this hellhole later. You guys down?"

"Yeah." Everyone replied, and then I grabbed Angel's hand.

"Nudge, Gasser, come with Angel and me to get some grub. Fang, would you mind staying with Iggy?"

"Nope." Fang plopped down on a chair. "Means I don't have to move."

I squeezed Iggy's hand. "We'll be back in a few." I promised, and then led the kids out of the door. I closed it softly, and then whipped around to face Gasman and Nudge.

"Go get food, m'kay?" I said. "I have to talk to Angel."

Gazzy gave me a questioning look, but Nudge grasped his hand. "Sure." She consented, leading the Gasman down the hall. "We'll be back with pie."

"Blueberry!" I called after her, and then led Angel around a corner and squatted down. "Okay, now what did you want to talk about?"

Angel paused for a moment, fingering the ends of her hair. I waited patiently. "Well," she paused. "There's something wrong with Iggy."

Hyper Alert Max turned on. "What do you mean, sweetie?"

Angel bit her lip. "I don't know really." She whispered. "He seems like Iggy, but something's different. He's co…com…copos…"

"Composed?" I offered.

"Yeah." Angel nodded. "He's composed differently. Like he was taken apart and put together again in a puzzle, with one itty bitty piece missing."

"Maybe that itty bitty piece was his shoulder." I mumbled, and then straightened up a little bit. "Iggy's been through a lot, honey. He's going to be a little mixed up."

"I know." Angel replied, and then looked at the floor. She didn't look up.

"Ange?" I asked.

"You saw Jeb." Angel exclaimed. It wasn't a question.

I scratched my head. "Yeah, I did." I admitted. "Or I thought I did. It probably wasn't him."

Angel didn't speak for a minute. "What if it was?"

I sighed, running a hand through my hair. "I don't know. I'll ask Iggy if he saw him. If he didn't, it probably wasn't Jeb. The only reason Jeb would be here is for us, because I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a part time job as a nurse in a tiny hospital in Nebraska. If Jeb was here, he would have gone for Iggy or for us."

Angel looked thoughtful. "You're right." She agreed. "Can we go see Iggy again now?"

I stood up and grabbed her hand again. "Sure. Nudge and Gasser will be back soon with pie."

Angel and I started walking. "I love pie." She told me.

"I know, sweetie."

"How's our favorite ginger liking his pie?" I asked, clapping his knee.

Iggy stuffed another piece in his mouth. "How do 'ya thin'?" He responded, crumbs coming out of his mouth. Angel giggled. I nudged Fang with my elbow, and we both immediately stood up and walked to the other end of the room.

"We need to find a safe house." I told him urgently. "Tonight. Iggy's not going to stay here any longer."

"I hear you." Fang muttered. "But when?"

"You guys can go find a place." Iggy spoke up. Damn his ears. "Leave the kids with me. They know how to kick ass, it'll be fine."

I was so shocked I didn't even remember to reprimand him. "Oh. Okay." I consented. "Well go in a half an hour, once Gasman and Nudge get back. You sure you'll be fine?"

Anger briefly flashed across Iggy's face. "Yeah, Max, I'm sure." He hissed. I looked at my shoes.

If Gazzy had been there, he would have started making Awkward Turtle gestures.

Suddenly the door burst open, and Gazzy ran in, sweat pouring down his face. "Fang!" he shouted. "We need your help. There's too much peanut butter!" And he ran back out, not bothering to close the door.

You know, I wasn't going to even ask.

Fang looked at me helplessly. "I'll be back." He groaned, trudging out of the door. Angel scampered after him and closed the door gently. I sat down in the chair next to Iggy's bed. It was time.

"Hey, Ig."

"Hey, Max."

"Did…did anyone come into your room before us? You know, someone you knew?"

Iggy looked puzzled. "No." He shrugged. "Did anyone come into your room? I keep telling Fang has no self control, and it looks like I'm right."

"What?" I asked, astonished. I whacked him. "No! I…I saw Jeb earlier. In the hospital. I think."



Iggy looked down at the sheets. "I didn't hear him." He muttered. He swung his head up at me, and for a second I swore his eyes looked right into mine. "But I'm glad it was you instead of him.

I patted his leg. "Me too." I whispered. I swallowed. "We're not going to lose you again. You hear, Ig? I promise."

Iggy looked uncomfortable for a moment, but then he reached out and grabbed my hand. "Thanks, Max. For saving me, I mean."

"No problem, Iggy."

"Because if I died, the species of awesomely hot flying gingers would go extinct, and pirates would be better than ninjas. That can't happen, Max."

I scoffed. "It's good to have you back, Ig."

Well, I didn't have a, please? I want to know what you think! Unleash you love, frustration, or confusion! I'll be over here laughing.

21. Blind Being a Relative Term

Life is totally beating me up right now. It's just a mess. The only thing that makes me feel a little bit better is the fact that no one else has updated, either XP

But I still love you guys.

So, here's the next chapter. We're so close to being done it's killing me. Hopefully we can get this done soon enough, though. I just want to write it, but I'm busy 6 days out of 7. And then that 7th day I'm doing homework. Agh school sucks agh. Either way...I know it's not very long, but I hope it's funny in the beginning at least. Super important, too. Oh, yeah. Read and Review, guys?


Well, that was interesting.

After having your baby sister kidnapped, breaking out of an evil corporation, seeing New York, seeing Epcot, having your brother kidnapped and blowing up another evil corporation, you would think that you had seen it all.

...Nope, still going.

Seeing Iggy get shot was the final straw for me. Everyone keeps saying I went completely nutzo. They're totally right. I can't...I can't describe the feeling. It's like asking Nudge to describe her love for unicorns; it'll take forever. All I could register at the time was that a gun had fired, Iggy had been dying, and that bastard Ari had been holding the gun. So, I proceeded to beat the living snot out of him. I can't say that I hadn't been building that up, though. It felt good. I had been angry and covered in blood.

And now I was covered in peanut butter. See how my life works?

"Gasman. Is. Insane." I gasped, falling back into Iggy's hospital room. Max whipped her head up at me, and then did a face palm. I didn't blame her. Angel skipped into the room behind me, giggling uncontrollably. Iggy's eyes seemed to find the peanut butter on my shirt. Maybe he could smell it. Max stood up and walked over to me. She looked me up and down, which made my heart do little back flips, and then she reached out, scooped peanut butter off of my chest with her finger and stuck it in her mouth. After a second she nodded.

"You're off the hook." she told me. "Now go get Gasman and take a shower."

"Yes, ma'am." I saluted. I went for the door, but she called me back. And sadly, she didn't proclaim her newly found love for me. I don't think girls roll that way.

"When you get back, we're going to go search the mountains for an abandoned house or something. If we can't find anything we'll just stay in a field. We're getting Iggy out of here in the morning."

"Alrighty then." I walked out the door, stalking down the hall. Gazzy ran right toward me, peanut butter stuck in his hair. In one motion I swept him up under my arm and carried him toward the bathrooms.

"Fang, Fang. Let me go, Fang, I'm serious, I'm going to so kick your butt let me go I will blow you up so bad!"

I tuned him out. It's a well-developed talent.

Just so you know, giving an eight-year-old a sink shower whose stint of personal hygiene lasted an all of twelve minutes is extremely difficult. We had to switch bathrooms after flooding the one we were in (twice), and gave the janitors of the place a job worth more than their measly pay. I felt bad for them, I really did. Soon enough, Gasman and I were peanut butter free and sopping wet, the way we like it. When we came back to the room dripping peanut-smelling water all over the floor Max gave us a lecture because there had been fifty-two complaints.

You can't please everyone, can you? I'm not that awesome.

"Ready to go?" Max asked me. I nodded, squeezing the water out of my hair and onto the floor. Gazzy shook like a dog. She turned to the kids. "You guys stay here. No trouble, no attention, and especially no peanut butter. Got it?"

Total moaned. "But it was fun!"

"NO peanut butter." Max yelled, and Total and Gasman cowered away. Max looked at Iggy. "You'll be fine?"

"Yes, Max!" Iggy scowled. "I'll be fine. Now go, I want to get the hell out of here."

I raised my eyebrow at him. He sent daggers at me like he knew I did it. I grimaced. There was something off with him. It was Iggy, through and through...but not. I shrugged it off. He was in a hospital, I had to give him slack. I had gotten out of there as fast as I could. He couldn't, so he was bound to be snappy. I flicked my head toward the window (idiots, giving us a window), and Max propped them open. I leaped out of them, unfurling my wings quickly and flapping up into the sky. We were only three stories up, and I wasn't going to take any chances. Max flew out after me, and I hovered above to wait for her. I saw Nudge wave before she closed the window, and I smiled.

Well, on the inside. I've got a reputation to uphold.

And now for a commercial break, sponsored by my emo side.

Life sucks.

Thank you.

"Fang?" Max asked, waving her arms. "Earth to Fang."

"Sorry." I muttered, snapping out of a daze.

Max smirked. "Well now that you're clocked into reality, we can find us a safe house."

I gestured with my hands. "Lead the way."

"Let's go, tiger." Max said, and then sped off with amazing speed to the north. I froze.

Did she just call me tiger? Tiger? No, I must have imagined that. I was insane. Yep.

I flew after her, brushing my feathers against hers. Max rolled and flew upside down for a minute, deliberately making me feel lame. She turned back around and flew over me to my other side, smiling. All the while we scanned the ground for any sign of abandoned houses. We saw plenty of fields, so that was a plus side, but its kind of hard to judge whether houses are abandoned or the people who live them have social lives from a hundred feet up in the air. Max spoke without looking at me, keeping her eyes glued on the ground below.

"How's your head?" she asked, biting her lip. I ran a hand through my hair.

"Better." I admitted. "Hurts a bit still, but that's normal. Dr. Martinez helped a lot."

"She's a good person." Max replied. I wanted to be suave and say 'Like you', but my mouth didn't move, like it sensed the awkward silence that would emerge from that. I gulped, returning my gaze to the ground.

"You think Ig will be okay?" I inquired, slipping a hand into my pocket.

"He's Iggy." Max replied coolly. "If we're not back soon he'll be blowing up the hospital."

"True that." I laughed. Max laughed mockingly. "What?"

"You're trying to be hipster." Max scoffed. "It's so stupid its cute."

My hormones were raging.

"What about that down there?" Max said quickly, realizing that I was sending her my best I See What You Did There look. "Let's check it out."

We dove down into a field, me smirking my ass off the whole way. I'm such a douche. After running through a thin forest for a minute or two we stumbled upon a dirt road lined with evenly lined, nice-looking rocks. You know, living on the run for years you start to not appreciate good-looking rocks. That was a weird sentence. Mums were placed in between the rocks, and at the end of the driveway was a nice log cabin with no lights on. We walked up to it, and Max pointed to a sign in the front lawn. It was a For Sale sign, but on top it marked "Sold".

"Perfect." Max smiled. "A nice, empty house that'll remain empty for two more days. That's all we need."

I nodded. "Looks nice."

She turned toward me. "Should we stake out the inside or just go tell the kids?"

I crossed my arms, looking the cabin over a few times. "I say we bust Iggy out of that place when they don't have the light on their side."

Max stared at me for a second, and then shook her arms. "You're right. Let's get him. He'll be happy to get out of there."

We took to the skies again, but now Max didn't talk to me or show off in front of me. I guess stuff was on her mind. I couldn't think about mind-blowing matters for more than sixteen minutes since my head whoopsie, so I just glided on the air currents and blanked my mind out. It was a pleasant feeling, thinking about nothing.

"FANG!" Max roared. I looked at her, and she glared at me.


Max clenched her jaw. "You were spacing. Like, majorly. I said your name like six times. Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah." I replied, and Max rolled her eyes.

"Anyway, get ready to grab and go." she told me. "I'll get the kids out. You help Iggy."

"Roger." I did a mock salute. We angled down toward the hospital, and Nudge propped open the window again. Max did a super hot, awesome shoulder roll into the room, pulling in her wings with sharp precision. I turned up at the last moment, flipping gracefully and landing in a crouch on the windowsill.

Iggy had his eyebrows furrowed. Gazzy stared at me. "See, this is why we don't let you out at Halloween."

"I'm not that scary." I shrugged, walking past him. "But don't forget to look under your bed tonight, Gasman. I hear the monsters like peanut butter."


Max whacked me in the back of my head and then threw our new backpacks at all of us. She opened the door and took a look around. She swung it shut and shoved a chair underneath the knob (jerks don't put locks on the doors...they're just determined to make our lives that much harder). Then she turned around, all seriousness.

"We found a house. We're leaving now." She stated. I wondered if normal kids' parents dropped a house move on them as quickly. Max stared at me. "Help Iggy into some clothes."

"Why...okay." I stepped forward and yanked some jeans we'd bought Iggy from Target out of my backpack. Max shoved all the little kids out of the window.

"When you're done fly out." She said. "We'll wait."

Getting Iggy into pants wasn't very easy when he was blind, he was injured, and he weighed a lot more when he was conscious. Getting him into a shirt was easier, even with his hurt arm. Sure, he cried out a few times, but we got the damn t-shirt on him, didn't we?

...The answer is yes, by the way.

"You ready, big guy?" I asked casually, smirking at Iggy holding his arm and tripping over the bed stand. Iggy cuffed me on the back of the head. Apparently that was the place to hit me now.

"As ready as I'll ever be." He muttered, shuffling toward the window. He shook out his wings, rolling his shoulders.

"You go," I told him. "I'll be right behind you."

"I'll try to believe that, Fangles."

Iggy knelt on the windowsill and launched out with difficulty, flapping his wings drastically and cursing profusely. I jumped out after him, closing the window behind me. I called to Iggy and we flew up toward the rest of the flock. Max waved and started toward the house.

It didn't take long to reach the field near the log cabin. Iggy was surprisingly fine with the flight. I thought he'd start puking or something; he had been close to doing that even before he got shot. Gasman was over the moon that Iggy was up and out of the hospital, jumping around and doing flips in midair and saying that once they got to Canada they were going to blow up an entire valley. Angel held Celeste in her arms, and Nudge carried Total. We started walking through the woods until we reached the house. We all gathered on the porch.

"This is so awesome." Nudge exclaimed, bouncing up and down. Total griped and whined with every hop. "We have a home again!"

"Just for a few days, hon." Max replied, looking at the door. "We'll have to pick the lock."

"I'll do it!" Gasman cried, jumping forward. He looked back at Iggy with a smile on his face. "You can rest, Iggy. I'll show you how good I've gotten!"

Iggy had an uncomfortable grin. "Uh, sure, Gasser."

It took almost twice as long as it would have if Iggy had done it, but we got inside no problem. The house was unfurnished but carpeted in some places, so we could sleep on the floor comfortably. Angel and Gasman flew around excitedly through the halls as Max plopped our bags on the ground. Nudge ran up the stairs and poked her head back toward us.

"There are rooms up here!" she called. "We can sleep in rooms!"

Sure, it seemed silly, but if you ever bunk with the Gasman you will understand.

After some dinner of hospital food and Chex Mix we settled into the carpeted rooms to sleep; Gasman and I, the girls, and Iggy on his own. Gazzy and I were asleep instantly. Peanut butter takes a lot out of you.

I never really have dreams, per say. Mostly nightmares. My dark side follows me into my dreams and tortures me sometimes. The other times I dream about Max or Jeb dying.

This time...sucked ass.

"Fang." Max whispered. She came up behind me and grabbed my arm. "Fang!"

"Help!" Angel screamed from the distance. "Max! Fang! Help!"

Nudge screamed. Gazzy cried. I couldn't see any of them. I turned to Max.

"Where's Iggy?" I asked, but no sound came out. Max started to drift away. I ran after her, but she disappeared. Angel shrieked. A teddy bear dropped to the floor in front of me. Gasman yelled in pain. Nudge went silent.


I looked up right into the barrel of a gun in the hands of Ari. He cackled maniacally. I was frozen on the spot. The flock yelled to me.

"Fang! Fang!"

Max screamed. Ari pulled the trigger.

I whipped upright into a sitting position, breathing heavily. I looked over at Gasman, who was asleep on the floor. I jumped up and opened the door, feeling the sweat trail down my neck. I fell into the hallway, stumbling toward the stairs. Suddenly I slammed into something, and I looked up at Iggy. He was standing rigidly with one hand on the railing. There was a small knife in his hand. He swung his head at me.

"Sorry Ig," I mumbled, tripping over myself. "I was...I was just..."

My eyes warily found their way to his. They were clear as day, and they locked right into mine, looking at me fiercely. He stared at me, his lips contorting into a cruel sneer. My breath left my body.

He could see.

"Hey, Fang." The imposter whispered in Iggy's voice. I backed up, slamming into the wall. He spun the blade in his fingers. "Nice to see you."

"I-Iggy-" I stammered.

He lunged.

So, you know when I said there weren't going to be cliffhangers...I lied. XD Sorry. But...I need your opinions, comments, revelations, anything! I'll try to write and update sooner, but until then, that little review button is waiting for your love. :)

22. We're Off To Kill the Wizard

Whoa...I feel...nervous. I mean, guys, this is almost over! I just can't believe it. Because I want to have the last chapter to be complete and unsoiled, I'm going to put all of my thanks to you all (and to some individual readers) down at the bottom thingy there.

Well, I want to recognize what I, you people, and this story has brought to us. Such as: 1) Appreciation of gingers 2) Loving bacon THAT much more, and 3) Making "What the crap" a regular catchphrase. So congratulations. I love you all.

Now I think I've tortured you all long enough to find out what happens next, so I'll leave you to it. It's a tiny bit short, but that's because the last chapter is going to be the best chapter of all time. And to have that out!

I immediately killed my back by being Matrix (yes, that is an adjective) and letting Iggy's knife sail right over my nose. Iggy slammed right into my stomach, knocking the wind right out of me. My back hit the stairs (which were not carpeted, thank you very much) and we kept flipping over one another with Iggy punching the crap out of me the whole way. His force was three times stronger than the real Iggy's, much stronger than any of us, and I felt blood draw from my nose on the second hit. We hit the bottom of the stairs and I slid on the hard wood floor, my back slamming into the wall. Iggy jumped up and launched himself at me again, swinging his fist hard. I ducked and stood up, dodging another hit. He was too fast for me to even think about hitting him. Worse, turns out he was a damn good actor, because his collarbone was complete and ready to kick my ass. Iggy swiped his knife at me and caught my shoulder, making me cry out. Iggy growled at the sound of many footsteps upstairs and used my shock at him cutting me to drive a seriously hard uppercut into my gut. I soared across the room, knocking into the mantel and crashing in a heap at the ground.


Iggy ran at me, but stopped short and spun, whipping his knife toward the bottom of the stairs without even looking. Nudge screamed as it lodged into the wall not even an inch from her head, nailing her hair into the drywall. I got up into a squatting position, trying to shake the stars out of my eyes. Iggy turned back to me and picked up the only furniture in the house, a small coffee table with brochures covering it, and slammed it down on top of my head. I fell down again, my cheek hitting the cold floor. Iggy raised what was left of the shattered table and swung around, catching Gasman in the legs and sending him toppling. Max appeared out of nowhere, jumping on Iggy's back and beating him down to the ground. Iggy spun and sent Max off of him, but she just flipped and landed on her feet again. He caught her punches and kicks easily, but Max was fast. She got a few hits in, but so did Iggy. Or...not Iggy. This Iggy was even more mutant than we were.

I didn't even know that was possible.

Nudge ripped the knife out of the wall and threw it at Iggy, but he caught it and Max's jab at the same time. He sneered and threw the knife at the wall, making Angel shriek as it caught her dress. I struggled to sit up, my head spinning. Max yanked Gasman up from the ground and got the knife out of Angel's nightdress, letting Iggy go for a split second. He turned around and picked me up by the neck, causing my breath to go bye-bye. I struggled against his hold and he threw me again, this time into the stair railings. I caught the first one with my leg and the second with my chest, and I skidded across the floor painfully. Nudge cried my name and ran toward me. Gasman ran into the kitchen area where our packs were. Angel ran after him, and Max continued fighting Not-so-Iggy.

"Fang!" Nudge gasped, dropping to her knees. "Oh my gosh Fang are you all right?"

I turned over onto my knees and drove my palm into the floor, doubling up and coughing up blood all over the wood. Nudge squealed and I stood up, swaying. She steadied me.

"Fang, sit down, you're hurt! Max is fighting Iggy, I can't believe that Iggy would do such a thing but wait that isn't Iggy is it oh my God where's the real Iggy Fang sit down!"

I yanked my arm out of her grip and ran at Max and Iggy, ignoring the fact that the outside of my vision was fading black. I landed a flying side-kick to Iggy's side, and he faltered enough for Max to punch him in the jaw. Max spun and sent a kick at his stomach but he caught it in his hands impossibly, turning her ankle so she lost her balance and sent her sliding across the floor. I roared and struck the Not-Iggy in the face, following up and elbowing him in the chest. He growled and broke a two-foot piece of the railing off of the stairwell, swinging and cuffing me on the cheekbone. He thrust it into my gut again and I banged into the wall, giving him the opportunity to kick my chest and spear my throat with his hand. I slid to the floor, involuntarily puking up blood onto my lap with my legs outright and slightly bent. My shoes touched each other, and I vaguely registered that there was blood and peanut butter all over them. Max screamed and kicked Iggy's back; he caught himself with his hands as he hit the floor and swung out with his leg and trip Max. She somersaulted into a fighting position again and cried a fierce battle cry, whamming the Not-Iggy in the chest.

"Don't touch him!" She screamed, kicking him in the face. "Don't you dare touch him! Don't touch my flock, and don't touch Fang!"

Somehow, in my haze of pain, I still had perverted thoughts.

She ripped the railing piece from his hands and swung it at his hand as it reached out to grab her. I heard the Imposter Iggy's fingers snap, and I leaned over and puked some more. Max narrowed her eyes and growled, delivering the final blow and kneeing the Not-Iggy in the no-noes. I swear his eyes crossed. My hand found my way to my, like I could feel the pain.

Feel the pain, jerk, feel the pain.

Max held the guy up by the shirt collar. "What did you do to Iggy?" she roared.

"Itex." The imposter coughed with difficulty, blood rushing to his face with the all-too-familiar feeling of being nailed in the balls. "Took 'im. My job...take 'is place an'...get rid o' you."

"Who the hell are you, then?" Gasman cried, taking a step forward.

"Created better than 'im." Not-Iggy choked. "Be better than all o' you."

"He was like a superhuman." Angel whispered. "Had Iggy's super senses and everything. But he can see. And he's stronger."

"How did you not know he wasn't Iggy?" Nudge asked Angel.

"Because he is Iggy." Angel replied. "But without Iggy's love, or his hurt. Without his experiences."

"'ave 'is...DNA." The Not-Iggy said simply.

...Oooh. Wait, that was bad.

"Where is he?" Max demanded, slamming him up against the wall and holding his knife up against his throat. "If you do not tell us so help me I will kill you right here right now."

"They took him to Michigan." The imposter admitted, turning up his head. "They're almost there by now. You're too late, anyway. I'm just one of many."

"What does he mean?" Gasser asked.

"He's Project B-74." Angel rasped. "He was made to be the better Iggy, the better hybrid. There's no more use for Iggy. They...they're going to kill him."

"Shit." Nudge whispered. If I hadn't felt like I was going to die I would have laughed out loud. Ha, Nudge swore.

"What did they take him in?" Max roared.

"White Itex van." Not-Iggy hissed back, obviously holding back pain.

"Why is it always a white van?" Gazzy whispered, revolted.

"He'll be dead soon, anyway." Fake Iggy spat. "I've done my job."

"You filthy son a..." Max started, but then stopped.

I tried to get up, but my legs failed me and I slid to the ground again. Just my luck, everyone was focused on what Angel said and the Super-Evil-Iggy, so they didn't give a damn. Thanks, guys. I spat out some more blood and swiped my fingers across my bicep, cussing under my breath at the blood. Black dots danced in my vision for a moment, but I blinked them out of my eyes. Max started drilling the imposter for more information, but I kind of clocked out. I'd been doing that a lot anyhow, but now I was just trying to focus on getting over the pain. I didn't think anything was broken, but I knew I was going to be sore later.

"I'm going to let you go." Max spoke lowly. "And you're going to fly as far as you possibly can away from us and away from the real Iggy. If I ever see you again..." She took the knife and drew it quickly across the fake Iggy's face, making a thick mark from his cheekbone to the other side of his jaw. He hissed, but didn't show any major pain, even though the scar would probably be there forever. "I'll know. And I'll kill you."

The fake Iggy stared at Max with freaky seeing eyes, not even minding the blood gushing down his face. Suddenly a flash of pain soared up my chest and I bent over weakly, coughing violently and letting more blood drizzle out of my mouth. I lost a surge of strength and my cheek hit the floor, right in the puddle of blood. Gravity tilted me, and I fell sideways onto the ground. Max turned her head at the noise and gasped, letting go of the imposter and running to my side in a hurry. Everyone gathered around me. With half-closed eyes I saw the fake Iggy take glance at me and then bolt for a shattered window, diving out of it and then running into the shadows.

Ooh, ominous.

"Fang." Max spoke quietly, drifting her fingers over my non-bleeding shoulder. "Dear God...are you all right?"

I coughed again, feeling my lips wet with the blood. I shifted my head and looked up at her, raising a shaky hand and wiping a bloody cut on her forehead.

"Hey Max." I said huskily. "That guy fights good."

"You're an idiot." Max's breath broke and she swallowed thickly, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

I smirked weakly. "I'm your idiot."

"Nudge, get the First Aid Kit Fang bought." Max ordered without looking away. She helped me up into a sitting position. My sight was coming back slowly, but I stayed still. Max looked at the gash on my bicep and cursed. She tentatively brushed the developing bruises on my neck and took Iggy's knife, ripping my shirt off of me.


Turns out that internal bleeding can cause external bruising, because the spot where I was beat down was all icky and red-ish purple. When Max touched it I involuntarily hissed, which was followed up with more coughing and more blood speckles. Fun. I shrugged away her hand and tried to stand, but a wave of nausea overcame me and I just leaned against a windowsill, closing my eyes and ignoring the flock's protests.

"We have to...have to find...Iggy." I said, holding a hand to my head. "Now."

"You are not going anywhere!" Max ordered, grabbing my shoulder. "Sit down."

"You sure as hell aren't rescuing him without me." I retorted.

"You're hurt." Max pointed out.

"I'll be fine."

"You're bleeding!" Max shouted.

"Wrap it." I crossed my arms.

"We need you at full strength!"

"I'll drink a Red Bull."

"You're not going." Max hissed.

"Yes, I am."



Max did a face palm and grabbed the gauze from Nudge, shoving me down to the floor again. Angel handed me a tissue for when I began blood coughing again (note: not fun) and Max wrapped wrapped one layer of gauze around my entire torso for my stomach and back, hooking around my shoulder too. She dug into the backpacks and yanked out another black t-shirt-my only other one.

"Want a shirt?" She asked.

"Nah, I'm good." I replied. She threw it at me.

"Okay, guys." she spoke up, and everyone shouldered their packs. Max took Gazzy's and mine, while Gazzy shouldered Iggy's. "Time to run."

"How will we know where he is, Max?" Gasman asked, his voice quivering.

"Hey," Max shrugged. "We've found Iggy on a dangerously low time limit before. We'll do it again."

"I'll try to pick up his thoughts." Angel piped up.

"We'll fly low and try to find a white van." Nudge offered.

"I'll attack the guards once we find him!" Gazzy cheered.

"I'll try not to pass out." I muttered.

"Right." Max smiled. "Really Fang, try not to pass out. Once we find him, we'll go off and settle down. Iggy'll still have a healing collarbone, and he won't be acting. And he'll actually be blind. Fang's banged up too."

"I'm fine." I protested. Just to prove my point, I coughed up a bit more blood onto the floor.

"Lovely." Nudge muttered.

"So we'll go off, find Iggy, save his butt, and get out of there." Max summed up on her fingers. A hateful look washed over her face. "And then we are going to freaking kill that Wizard."

I just want to convey my sincere thanks to all of you for reading this story here. It means so much to me, especially since this was my very first Maximum Ride story and everything. I spent forever reading super-popular and practically famous stories on this fandom to being close to being the author of one (though not quite :P) So here I want to express my thanks. My most frequent reviewers, and the people I do not list, all of you, know that I appreciate everything and every word of this story you have read.

To Heart the Squid: You came from the HG fandom with a promise of reading this and reviewing, and you kept that promise. From giving me constructive criticism that no one else would give to me reading your temporary Beta, you've been just awesome. I find it funny that the only reason you began reading my stories was because you clicked on my story instead of your own. Thanks for all of your help.

To flYegurl: I begged you to read this in the first place, and now you've become one of my frequent reviewers. You went from being an idol to a fan, and now I guess we're equals XD I thank you for reading this in the first place and, according to you, the murder of your gmail from checking for this story so often (because you've expressed it).

To pandorad24: I didn't even ask you to read this, but you did anyway. I never thought someone with such a popular story would read my story (but hey, flYegurl did). So now I thank you for "doing a happy dance" in your reviews when I updated and just for reviewing in general.

I also want to thank WhiteWinterStar, ManyNamesMember, Rocking Phillip, lillypad22, BrightCloud of the Clans, bookwormsattack, little21, blindkitten, You-Are-A-Fridge-With-Wingss, BloodInTheNile, little miss writer girl, AthenaFangGranger26, pigs103, SilverFalkin118, Gingers rock, GrumpyToaster13, and anyone and everyone else who has read or reviewed. it again and make my day :)

23. And Then Some

And the ginger ninja beavers. Can't forget about them.

Well, I'm going to try to not get all teary-eyed here. It's the last chapter, guys. Thanks for sticking around for so long. You have no idea what I went through to get this chapter here. I mean, who gets writer's block on the LAST chapter, seriously? And then the power outage. And then FanFiction acting weird. Ugh. Well, I do hope you guys enjoyed the Ride (haha, I made a pun). Don't forget to review one last time :)

The sequel, Taken Again, will probably be out in a few weeks. If you want to know when it's out, the best hope you have is to Author Alert me (it would be delightfully stalkerish) or you can just stay on the alert by yourself. Gosh, I can see the angry mob forming already. What? Who said that? :P

Now, I present to you people who read my writing: The last chapter of Made Again.


Fang looked like shit. Correction. He looked like shit covered in shit that took a bath in shit and then got pummeled by pain.

But, you know, not quite as disgusting.

He had a cut slashed across his cheek and his jaw was bruised, his nose crooked and bloody. And that was just his face. Light purple marks were wrapped around his neck. Gauze wrapped around his left bicep under his shirt. His hair was messed up and coated with blood. He was a complete mess, and most of his injuries couldn't even be seen. Nudge and Gasman had some bruises, that son of a gun that called himself our brother had nicked Angel with his knife, and I was dead tired. Now we had to fly across freaking Nebraska and Minnesota and Wisconsin and crap to find our real brother before some evil douches killed him.

...We were royally screwed.

Okay, I'll say it one last time, for kicks. What. The. Crap. Can I kick you now?

"How long, Angel?" I asked stiffly. After flying top speed for an hour and a half with an injured boy and three little kids (Yeah yeah, so Nudge's not a kid anymore, go ahead and whine about it) after fighting an evil clone of your brother at four in he morning, I was tired, pissed, and determined as hell. Really, by this time there was no difference between them. I just wanted to crawl in a hole with some cookies and die. Too bad people kept poking me, telling me I had to save the world and stuff.

Looking at you, Jeb.

"I can't sense anything yet." She said sadly. "We're in Wisconsin now, so they must be close. Wha-wait, there! I think I can sense him!"

'Where?" Gazzy cried.

"Down in the trees, they're driving. Fast. Branches everywhere. About two miles ahead."

"How many?" Nudge asked.

"I don't know. I can only sense Iggy, because I know him, and his mind's familiar to me. I can't make out his thoughts, but I can tell he's there." She giggled. "He's there!"

"Okay gang." I cracked my knuckles. "Let's get our ginger back."

"Wait." Fang coughed, clutching his chest as he flapped his wings weakly. My heart heaved when I looked at him. "How do we know that it's the real Iggy down there?" He erupted into a coughing bit, trying to nonchalantly wipe the blood on his hand onto his pants. I scowled.

"Well," I paused, biting the inside of my cheek. I poured on some more speed, flapping my wings and motioning for everyone else to follow me. The trees below whipped by in a green blur. "I guess we don't know, you know?" I let a hardened look wash over my features. "But I am dead freaking sick of doing nothing and paying for it. So we are going to go down there, beat some whitecoat ass, and find Iggy. If its not the real Iggy, then we'll deal with it. But we have to take the chance."

"I can tell that it's Iggy." Angel said sternly. "The whitecoats have only made one Iggy clone so far, because they only thought they'd need one to get rid of us. That's the real Iggy down there. It has to be."

And if it isn't, you'll have to pay the consequences.

Well, howdy do, Voice. Where the freaking hell have you been the past two weeks?

Your own thoughts and decisions have been determined by your instincts thus far. The Voice sounded in my head. Now, I think you may need some assistance, Max.

What made it think that I wanted its help? I could totally save Iggy without its assistance.

There are more than you think down there.

I could take them.

Even you can't save the world single-handed. Do you want Iggy to live or not?

I set my jaw and shook my head, ignoring it. Stupid Voice. I didn't need its help. I had my flock. All we needed to do was grab Igster and run. I didn't need any help.

But you do need luck.


"You guys ready?" I asked. Everyone nodded seriously at me, and I sighed. I tucked in my arms. "Let's go."

I tightened my wings against my back and speared downwards, breaking through leaves and cutting out at the last moment, whizzing along the ground at thirty feet up. The rest of the flock fell securely around me, and we laid our sights on the pavement below. I caught sight of something white (This is no time to play I Spy, Max, settle down) and sped up. Vertigo came up and slapped me for a minute, but I blinked it out of my eyes. Almost there. I could see the van. We were so close.

"Max!" Gasman called. My eyes steeled. We were there. It was time to get my Iggy back. I looked down at the van.

Ahem, correction. Vans.

"Oh come on." I moaned, cursing inwardly. A long line of white Itex vans stretched across the black road, each exactly the same as the one it was following. There had to be at least a dozen, if not more.

"I'm counting seventeen." Fang deadpanned. I didn't say anything. I was in shock.

Do you want my help now?


"They knew we were coming." I whispered. "That bastard warned them."

"Focus, Max." Fang thwacked me on the head, and then hissed in pain. Serves him right. "Iggy."

"Right." I clenched my fists. "Iggy."

I immediately dive-bombed down the the nearest van, smashing my feet down onto the metal roof and crouching down to absorb the impact. "Gasman, to me!"

Gasser dove down to my van as Fang crashed down to the one behind mine. Nudge and Angel flew down with Fang. I whipped a pair of giant trimmers (damn it, I never leave home without my pointy weapons of awesomeness) from my backpack and slammed them into the roof of the van, twisting them and ripping open a small hole into the metal. I pierced the metal again with the blades and then used them to flip onto the back of the van, bringing my feet into the back doors and caving them in. I jumped inside, scanning each face quickly. No whitecoats, no Iggy. Just a bunch of confused dudes with some crates and barrels. Heh.

"I think you guys need a career change." I remarked, putting my hands on my hips. "Interior decorating doesn't really seem your thing." I shouted up to Gazzy. "Yo, Gasman! Mini Iggy time!" I flipped them the bird with a smile and then dove out of the vehicle as the inside exploded. It swerved and the van behind it collided with it, sending both of the evil machines of douchebaggery into the trees. Nudge squealed as she jumped from their van, joining us up in the sky again.

"No Iggy?" I asked. Fang shook his head breathlessly. I was about to go down to the next van when Angel gripped my arm.

"Max, we can't destroy them all." She insisted.

"Why not?" Gasman asked. I shrugged my shoulders, tilting my head in his direction.

"It'll take too long." Angel exclaimed. "Fly me in low, and I'll find which one Iggy's in. Then we'll sabotage that van and get him out."

"Well said, Admiral Cutie." I smiled. "Fang, Nudge, stand by for Angel's word to get inside and grab Iggy. We'll need to fight. Gasman, take your Mini Iggies and nails and get these vans to stop. Don't destroy them until we know that Iggy's not inside."

"Got it." Nudge chimed.

"Aye aye, cap'n." Gasser saluted. I grabbed Angel's hand and soared down parallel to the vans, letting her concentrate.

"No. Next." She commanded, and we zoomed to the next one. Fang and Nudge jumped across the van's roofs, while Gasser disappeared on the horizon of the vans. Angel and I flew by six of the caravans before she dug her nails into my wrist.

"There!" She shouted. "Three vans up-it's Iggy!"

Watch your back.

"MAX!" Fang screamed, and I whipped my head around. I shoved Angel out of the way as gunfire ricocheted off of the nearest metal shell; I flipped and skidded across the tar, shaving some of my feathers off of my wings. I somersaulted over the pavement, grunting with each flip and impact. Fang reached down and snatched my arm as the van he was riding whipped by, yanking me from my crunched mid-air position and pulling me on top of the moving vehicle. Nudge screamed as bullets made holes at her feet, and Angel speared through the air above us. Suddenly the guy with the gun, who was leaning out of the window of a van behind us, the idiot, cried out as his van exploded, Gasser flying above it cackling like the madman he was.

And that's how it's done, losers.

"Are you alright, Max?" Fang asked, kneeling down beside me. I whacked away his arm, jumping up and ruffling my wings.

"Save it." I grunted. "Iggy's five vans up. We have to get to him."

Fang smashed me down against the roof of the van with his good arm, and I huffed as I regained my breath. He crashed down on top of me, the nerve, and I hit his arm.

"Uncle, you big asshat!" I yelled. "Get off of me!"

More bullets soared over our heads from in front of us, and I moaned. Fang jumped up and shot out his wings, allowing the wind to bring him up into the sky. I rolled over off the side of the van, spinning into flight. I yanked Nudge off of the car as Gasman shrieked back to us; all of the vans slammed into the one in front of them and skidded off of the road. Gasman cheered in joy that his traps worked, and I calmed down as the guy who was shooting at us fell out of his van. The hood of Iggy's van slammed into an oak tree. I landed on the road running, and was at the van before Nudge had even landed. I yanked open the doors-

And found myself face-to-face with a shotgun barrel.

I crossed my eyes at the gun, and resisted the urge to growl when I saw who as holding the weapon. Ari looked worse for wear, and half of his face was wrapped in gauze, but somehow I was okay with that. I smiled crookedly. "'Sup."

"Hey, Max." Ari sneered. "How have you been?"

"Oh, you know." I shrugged impassively. "Beating some clones, chasing some douchebags. Hey, is Iggy in there? I've been kind of looking for him."

"My dad says that I need to keep you alive." Ari's voice shook, totally disregarding my joke. How dare he. "And the blind kid, too, though I don't know why. The boss needs you. Step inside the van."

"See, Ari, I would do that," I cocked my head, my eyes flickering above me. "But I don't want to."

"ANVIL!" Gasman screamed loudly. The car engine rolled off of the car roof and knocked Ari to the ground, making him go bye-bye for a bit. Gasser dropped down from above, smiling broadly. "I've always wanted to do that." He announced proudly.

I caught the guy's arm that came charging at me and flung him out behind me and into Fang's fist without looking. "Of course you have, Gaz."

I stepped up into the van, ripping the collapsed door off of its dangling hinges and throwing it out onto the street with a burst of adrenaline. I punched one of the men in the face so hard his lights turned off and then threw another out the door for the flock to beat down. There were three people surrounding a struggling figure in the corner of the van-a figure with long, blood-splattered jeans and a black bag brought over its head. One of the guards turned around and met my fist. One of the other's face got to know my elbow, and the last's kiwis needed rewiring after having a conversation with my knee. They all collapsed around me. Suddenly someone stepped out from behind the seat, looking quite terrified of me and horrified of the fact that he was the only goon left. Poor goon.

"Oh hello." I smiled, waving a little. "...And goodbye."

The guy turned and ran like a little girl, not stopping even though we were in the middle of freaking nowhere. He was smart.

"Guys, fall in!" I called, and then ran to the figure in the corner of the van. Everyone gathered around me as I knelt down beside him. I untied the ropes holding his ankles and wrists, and then ripped the black bag off of his head.

It was Iggy.

I realized just how stupid I had been now. Iggy's clone, the lying jerk, had been far less damaged than the real thing. Not actually seeing Iggy after the...uh, incident, left us not really knowing how hurt he was. But now I just wanted to slap myself. His left eye was completely swollen shut and bruised, his nose even more askew than Fang's (I guessed that was something they could talk about together, bro to bro). He had cuts and scratches to match his bruises all across his face, and a cut lip. His hair was greasy and spiky. The skin around his collarbone was tender and purple, accenting yellow in the middle. Bruises marked their way down his arm, some blue and purple, some green and yellow. I wanted to start sobbing. But of course, I didn't.

'Cause I'm Max. And that is enough explanation for anything.

Iggy blinked his one open eye confusingly, swinging his head slowly. His hands found the walls of the van, palms pressing into the metal. He panted, his tongue licking his lips nervously.

"Wha-" He muttered.

"Iggy!" Angel cried, falling down onto her knees.

"Iggy, we missed you!" Gasman cried.

Iggy's confused gaze turned hostile, and he backed up farther into his corner, panting even harder. "St-stay away." He croaked.

"Iggy, what's wrong?" I asked, taking his hand and placing it on my jaw. He yanked it back harshly, and I stared at him in complete shock. "Iggy."

"I'm Iggy." He exclaimed, shaking. He swung his head around at us fearfully, his voice cracking. Dread clawed its way up my throat, and the words I least expected in the world, no matter how many scenarios I played in my head, came flowing out of my Iggy's mouth. "Who the hell are you?"

To Be Continued.