Ruat Caelum by Nightwingstar

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Adventure, Romance
Published:2008-06-16 19:34:01
Updated:2009-03-20 12:01:39
Packaged:2021-05-07 03:23:11
Summary:It's been eight years since Greenland. In those years the flock's made something of themselves, a supreme court judge, a famous pianist, the list goes on. But their home has been missing someone for eight years and the grandfather clock just ticks away...

Table of Contents

1. Vademecum
2. Recolligo

1. Vademecum

Proof I'm not dead. To tell you guys the truth this chapter has been waiting to be put out for months. It's been done since the end of March, beginning of April but this is my special project done with roughdiamond5 my beta/ gossip buddy/ advice buddy/ test subject. She's about as left out in the dark as you but not as. She already knows the ending. What a shame. So love her, visit her, hug her, kiss her (if you want to), because without her my first attempt at a novel length story would have died on sad little laptop. And I really do like Grandfather clocks...

So yes, I'm not dead, I'm slowly getting out of my writers block, love roughdiamond5, and please enjoy!

Ruat Caelum


There was incessant ticking noise, a noise that never stopped and at times grew louder than others. It echoed through their home, if they could call it home, seeping its way into their bodies and syncing it to their beings. But it belonged to a being that stood taller than an 18-wheeler, almost two stories high. The being stood at the entrance of the home, the mansion, ticking away and ringing at the hour, quarter hours, and half hour. A grandfather clock towered so innocently in oak, grinning when the afternoon sun would filter through the third story window and grace the wood and it's face with its presence. It held designs, details of angels, of plants, and of life. Words of a secret language only they would know, should know, weaving in and out of the carvings with such grace one could stare at the large clock for hours trying to depict the story woven so elegantly from the bottom to the top and down again. Beneath the face and just above the glass casing was a space where English was carved in a skilled cursive, large and easy to read, two words were set so carefully apart from the art one wished to know the deeper meaning of the words. Carpe Diem, it said, seize the day. Perhaps it was because of the two words they accepted the clock without hassle, perhaps it was because one claimed it to be a perfect metronome, another claimed to be a wall mirror, and another his hiding spot. Or perhaps it was because it slightly filled a void of someone they were missing. Then again, it could always be the simple reason that Iggy created it. However, it was because of the incessant ticking noise the home could be kept calm.

His finger tapped in time with the clock from a room at the edge of a mansion, a ballroom with a single grand piano in the center. He didn't want the mansion, nor the ballroom, but he did want the piano. He would have been content with an electric keyboard in an apartment in New York but they wanted this, for their sake…for his sanity. He sighed all too familiar with the ongoing ticking, his dark eyes trained at the glistening piano wires a few feet away. He was tapping on a single white key, a C, letting it ring clear and smooth through the cool air wafting into the room before cutting it off with ease for a brief moment and letting it resonate again. He brushed the dark hair covering his eyes, the eyes determined and blank, and his fingertips found white keys to rest on. A deep inhale, the clock struck twelve, and the notes were flying from the piano, three times faster than the tick-tock of the clock. The notes flew through the air with grace and intensity. They held adrenaline, it was pulsing through his veins and to his fingertips, and – to him – it felt like heaven. The notes grew in voice and style like a gentle tornado just inside the room, spinning round and round, pleasing their listener, their player.

Outside the ballroom door was a simple yellow sign on the door handle: DO NOT ENTER, with smudges of dirt and concrete as if stolen from a construction site, which it very well could have been. A small black Scottish dog sat in front of the door, swaying to the blissful music, not caring for the sign or the player, loving the sound of culture. His coat was muddy; clumps of mud and dirt were evident, almost turning his coat completely brown. The small dog heard a slam of a door and thought nothing of it, for the sound of the piano was too calming to his ears, he was too helpless.

"Total!" A blur of blonde and blue was rushing towards the brown-black dog. There was a cry of defiance and the small dog tore down the corridor, slipping and sliding over the smooth tile, leaving a trail of dirt as he went. The small dog ran back and forth down the long hallway, evading the blue and blonde blur with ease, barking and cursing like mad, the sounds of the soothing piano drowned by a Scottish dog and the blur that chased him.

With a final slip the brown and black Scottish dog collided with the grand doors leading to the ballroom, the worn metal sign falling from its place and onto the dog's head before clattering to the floor. A wretched sound of notes being slammed down all at once came from within the ballroom; the soothing music had stopped. The blonde-and-blue blur slowed down to a stop revealing a young teen with wide blue eyes wearing nothing but a t-shirt and jeans, his features held fear realizing who was within the room. In a mad dash he grabbed the Scottish dog he called Total and sped down another corridor, evading what might as well be the Devil behind the twin doors.

"Gazzy." An emotionless voice called out as the right twin door opened. The pianist stepped out quietly and looked around, brushing the short black hair away from his eyes once more. He was pale and held dark circles beneath his pitch black eyes from the lack of sleep but his eyes were alert, taking in the evidence of the corridor: the kicked off shoes, the fallen sign, and the trail of mud which circled back many times. "And Total." The corners of his lips fell a few millimeters. He wasn't angry, not even in the slightest bit, but his lack of emotions caused those around him to infer his personality, often in the worst way possible. He closed the twin door behind him, making a silent click before leaving through another door across the corridor. It wasn't like he could concentrate anyway, not even with the grandfather clock keeping tempo.

He sighed, falling into a red squashy chair with a thud. Beside the chair was a stack of books up to his elbow from the floor. He picked up the book from the top of the stack reading a book whose pages might as been blank for his mind was miles away. He was thinking of the life of his family, what they were doing at that very moment.

Gazzy seemed to be either attempting to give Total a bath or experiment with him. Iggy was probably still trying to figure out a way to convert CO2 into a product of energy that would turn it to oxygen again, otherwise he'd be in here blabbing on it already. Nudge was at a fashion show in Paris; her new line would come out next month. Angel was off in the Supreme Court determining if the defendant was guilty of the crime by reading their mind. And himself? He was sitting in the chair, attempting to read a book while trying to forget who she was, where she was, and how she had left a hole in his heart… He shook his head. Now was not the time to be thinking such things.

"Lunch!" A male voice called and he sighed. He was wrong; Iggy had been cooking instead of being in his science lab. He set down the book, not even bothering to bookmark his page, and headed out the door where Gazzy was sweeping the dried mud into a pile, his head down so Fang could only see the bright blonde hair against the boy's blue outfit.

He passed Gazzy and walked through the maze of his home towards the dining room, passing the Grandfather Clock as it chimed three. A late lunch, yes, but at least there was food for everyone in the past eight years. "Fang." He looked up, hearing his name, to see Iggy with his famous strawberry blonde hair, which (as of late) was starting to look like fire due to the many spikes, and clouded blue eyes. "Something important is happening today. Nudge feels it in the technology, Angel hears it in peoples' minds, and I see that something's changing. Keep an eye out today, okay?" Iggy whispered while holding a bowl filled with salad. Gazzy and Total walked in, both looking exhausted, with Gazzy covered in dirt and Total looking squeaky clean. "Fight in the tub?" Iggy raised his voice to a normal conversation, turning his blind eyes to the two entering the room.

"He knocked me over when I was cleaning up the mess in the hall. Got it all over me." Gasman mumbled, his clear blue eyes evidently annoyed. He took a seat towards the end of the medium sized table, across from Total, and looked towards the head where Fang sat to the right of the empty chair. Seven plates were set on the table; only four would be used today, and only six when everyone was around. The seventh plate would always remain empty and no one would dare take it away in the vain hope she would come back… if there was a slim possibility for her to come back.

"Did not!" Total cried indignantly as he hopped up to his boosted seat across from the Gasman. "I was merely showing off my newly polished nails to the poor boy when he tripped over them! It's not my fault if he's clumsy." Total sniffed, raising his black head high, showing off the pale lavender bow around his neck. The Gasman hid his grin at his silent victory.

"He's lying." A young teen walked into the room, her blonde hair rested just above her shoulders in soft curls, perfect blue eyes complimented her pale face against black robes. "I just got off, I didn't want to miss Iggy's lunch, are we having lasagna?" The gentle voice was quiet and knowing, yet at the same time, she was imposing.

"Yeah, Ang. How was court?" Iggy asked, placing salad on Fang's plate before he moved around the table. He frowned inside; he liked to keep his dishes a surprise so he had tried to keep the thought hidden.

"You know, the usual. There were some residual thoughts though, who would have thought he was innocent." Angel shrugged off her black robe and hung it over the chair revealing simple pink shirt and blue jeans. "Too bad he was committed over fifty years ago." She sat soundly in her chair, her slim fingers reaching for a silver fork. The way her body moved was gentle and quiet as if she tried to remain indifferent and out of the way.

"Who, Angel?" Gazzy asked, leaning over the table in curiosity. "Tell me! Tell me!" Iggy pulled the Gasman back by the collar of his shirt before he fell over his plate filled with salad dressing. How he knew? The world may never know.

"Some guy, I never caught his name." Angel's voice dropped to a whisper, "He didn't want to die. He missed his mother." She fell silent, her clear blue eyes looking up at everyone guiltily. Iggy turned away feeling the look, the Gasman's gaze turn guilty in turn, his lips turning into a frown, Total began staring at the ceiling with sudden interest, and Fang closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. "I'm sorry, guys." Angel whispered, tears at the edge of her voice.

"LOOK AT ME! BACK FROM PARI!" An African American teen burst into the dining room, breaking the silence between the members at the table. She held a grin that showed off her white teeth complimenting her shining hazel eyes. She held bags and bags filled with clothes, the ones she wore sparkled with style. "I came back early 'cause I heard it was someone's birthday today. Anyone remember?" She dropped the bags soundly; a curious expression crossed her features as she put a finger to her lip. "Anyone – ouch, why does it look like a funeral in here, and why is Gazzy covered in dust?"

"Timing, Nudge, timing." Iggy grimaced as he pulled himself out from behind the door the African American threw open at her loud entrance. Salad was covering him from head to toe and Total and Angel began to giggle at his disheveled appearance. "Couldn't you have been a little nicer to the doors? I don't want to have to make a new one again this month."

"I'll make a note of that, so what's for lunch? I'm hungry." Nudge settled herself into the seat left of the head of the table. Her perfectly manicured nails tapping impatiently against the wooden table.

"Lasagna." Angel replied before Iggy could open his mouth. Iggy frowned in distaste before taking the lid off a silver tray in the center of the table. Lasagna stood steaming, waiting to be eaten as Iggy began cutting slices in a fluid motion, each cut perfectly straight. It was a wonder how he was blind.

"Sweet! I mean, not that the food is sweet 'cause it'd be kinda weird if cottage cheese was sweet like sugar; I mean, wouldn't that be weird? Not unless you purposely put sugar in there Iggy 'cause I'm sure it'll taste fine 'cause all the stuff you cook is fantabulous! Seriously, Ig, I could live off your food FOREVER! The stuff they have in Paris, nasty! Especially those snails! Bleh! You could totally open a five star – "

"Nudge!" Total, the Gasman, and Angel cried out all at once. Their pointed looks caused Nudge to flush in embarrassment. She had been blabbing again, the so-called 'motor mouth' she was famous for.

"Oh! Was I – " She received nods before she finished her sentence. "– sorry…" Nudge mumbled. Iggy placed a large slice of lasagna on her plate and lastly his own before sitting down, the only noise was the clatter of metal against china. The lack of conversation between the members of the table made the air grow stagnant and thick, so much the pressure of the air made some of the members to slouch in subtle pain. Angel tried to not read thoughts at the table but she couldn't help it through the shouting thoughts that wished so desperately to start a conversation and the thoughts that wished nothing more than to fall apart. The pressure thickened on her so much more that Angel struggled to hold her fork.

"Sorry," Fang muttered after he finished his plate, setting his fork neatly aside, "I need to be excused." His heavy chair scraped against the rough stone flooring as he stood, leaving the silent room in awkward urgency. As the door slowly closed shut, Fang could faintly hear Angel burst into tears, knowing his thoughts and who caused them.

It was his favorite pastime, sitting on the roof, where he could yell at the top of his lungs and the flock could only faintly hear him. He could speak to the air and not have a care in the world. It was his place of confession, a place where the pain could be left behind. Fang slumped against the railing, enjoying how the wind caressed his body, staring at nothing while imagining someone, a girl with warm brown eyes and hair.

"Do you know my name?" Fang asked out loud to the girl sitting across from him, her face young and smudged with dirt. She played with her hands in her lap, her torn jeans stained with blood and grime. With this imaginary girl Fang could read her every expression, her eyes smiled a simple no. "Of course not." He chuckled bitterly to himself watching as she tucked her tangled brown hair behind her ear. Her lips smiled an apology. "My name's Fang." He watched her giggle. "Do you remember now?" She shook her head, her striking features were gentle and soft against his whispered questions.

"You're like a dream." Fang extended his hand to touch her hair, knowing well he was only touching thin air. He watched her flush as his hand came close. "Like a dream I don't want to wake up from. A dream I would be forever satisfied to stay in. Would you let me stay if I could?" Her embarrassed expression turned ashamed, the thin brows furrowed in worry, her red face, and the subtle gesture of biting her lip. She shook her head furiously, she wouldn't let him stay. "Then if you won't let me stay, will you come back?" The previous expression changed drastically to that of surprise, her brown eyes lit with curiosity. "We miss you, I miss you, won't you come back?" Her smooth lips parted, her features revealing a laugh that seemed lost to the wind. She wished. "Come back, so things can be like they used to." Her expression turned horrified.

Of course in this hallucination, this Max had read The Great Gatsby for every hallucination knew the creators' mind inside and out. "I know that!" Fang snapped and she flushed red. "Don't you think I already know of Gatsby? How I can't recreate the past? How we can't make up the time we lost? How we'll never be anything? How you'll never come back?" She jumped back, her hands clamped over her mouth, tears in her fearful eyes. Max would never normally show these expressions, Fang rationalized but he couldn't help it when the tears fell, his sobs echoing loudly.

In the dining room Iggy was cleaning up the remains of lunch, he sighed, as he began picking up Fang's plate he heard the undeniable sound of a wounded animal. As if someone was hunting game nearby. Iggy frowned; who would be doing that? He froze. Could it be? A tear fell from Iggy's sightless eyes and onto the plate that was barely within his fingertips. The wounded animal could not be put out of its misery, a misery it has suffered for over eight years. Fang could not heal his broken heart.

Nudge was cradling Angel as much as she could in Angel's soft pink painted room when the horrible sound reached her ears. Total's ears perked at the sound and he jumped to the girls' side in confusion, trying to identify the sound. "Don't listen." Angel whispered feebly, tears flowing freely from her tightly lidded eyes. "Don't listen to it, so much sadness…" Her hands reached up to cover her ears in a vain attempt to will the loud thoughts in her mind away. "Come back…" She sobbed and all three knew whom she was talking about. "Just come back… I'll be good… I promise… Make him happy… We miss you…"

On the other side of Angel's lidded eyes the only thing to be seen was Fang's hallucination, smiling and laughing. The reality had faded from Angel's senses, there was only Max; only smiling and laughing Max remained, a mother who was waiting for her. The tiny gestures through Max's features encouraged Angel to follow, for the gestures told Angel Max wanted to hug her and dance with her. Dance of all things!

Angel ran, pumping her legs as hard as they could go, vaguely wondering of the faint cries of protest in the back of her mind. Max caught her, spinning Angel round and round in her strong arms and Angel was six again in a tutu she always wanted to wear. She danced beside Max, with Max, for Max, just to be with her mother and to see her mother continue to smile and laugh.

She believed she could touch Max, feel her warmth. This place was reality, the air that rushed by, the cool breath in her lungs. But that was not the true reality, only a reality her body moved to, a reality she could only see while others could only watch in worry. To her it was ecstasy; to everyone else it was sheer horror.

"Angel, wake up!" A faint cry of urgency, a sad sobbing voice was entering too as Angel danced with Max again. She wasn't getting tired; she could stay like this forever. "Angel! Wake up!" Angel winced at a sharp pain in the hand that was intertwined with Max's. She jerked away, seeing Max give her a sad smile and in moments Max looked miles away. She waved as Angel felt more places hurting. "Wake up!"

Angel's eyes shot open and she began sobbing as Fang's thoughts hit her again at full force. Her brother was above her, his thoughts running wild with the concern of her falling from the third story. Inside Angel frowned against the pain; she fell from the third story. Nudge's thoughts were hysterical, as were Totals.

Stay with me, Iggy's thoughts were calm and Angel realized the cool soothing feeling in her arm was Iggy. Your body is in a state of ecstasy despite its position; did you have a nice fall? Iggy thought wryly. Angel laughed in her thoughts. You were thinking of her, weren't you? Angel didn't reply, letting her tears continue to fall. Don't get too distracted; it could be fatal next time.

She could see the broken railing above her. She had been delirious, blinded, by the image of the one she saw as her mother. She cried harder realizing how stupid she was. Max has been gone for eight years, she reprimanded herself, Max is not suddenly going to come out of the blue to dance with her! But she had fallen into the feebly woven trap so easily. God, she missed her mother so much…

Fang slumped against the railing once more, the hallucination disappeared, his throat rubbed raw for when he cried out against the heavens, and his tears dried out. He had heard her fall, Angel that is, but he could stop his tears and he couldn't stand to see her knowing he blinded her with his thoughts. What would Max say if she knew? But if she were here he never would have cried…

Angel stared out the first floor window, grimacing when Iggy checked on her injuries every now and then. She had a secret, a secret she kept for over eight years, and she didn't want to tell anyone. A squirrel scurried across the ground; Angel stared at it with vague interest. All of a sudden Angel's eyes shot open wide, her blue eyes bright and wide and at that moment the squirrel looked her way before scurrying up the tree. …Waking up… Angel fell back, collapsing onto a bed behind her, her eyes closing to envision.

"She's sleeping." The Gasman whispered while closing the door to the room Angel was staying in. Since she died the Gasman had developed an overwhelming sense of protectiveness for his sister, so much so outsiders believed the two to be lovers. "She must be exhausted." He gazed at the people before him; Nudge was holding Total in her arms with an evident frown of worry as Iggy frowned at him for not letting him through the door. He frowned back at Iggy, already knowing the adult in front of him didn't see. "C'mon Ig, you don't need to watch over her twenty-four seven." As much as he liked Iggy as his brother – though not related by blood – and best friend he couldn't help but feel annoyed when Iggy got close to his sister, if any male got closer to her for that matter.

"I'm not." Iggy replied through gritted teeth. "She may be sleeping but what if she doesn't wake up? Ever thought of that issue? I couldn't feel the full extent of her wounds so we have to be careful." His clouded blue eyes glared in the Gasman's general direction. "Did you know? The hardest thing for our kind to do is wake up. It's in our DNA and how it was grafted before we were born." He glared blankly at the surrounding area.

They didn't know; for their expressions grew as grave as Iggy's after his outburst. Who knew waking up could be so difficult?

The End. No not really. Plenty more, we're just on chapter 5. So give us plenty of reviews and we'll work our best to get the chapters out but remember it's quality not quantity. So I'm not pushing out short chapters just because you want to know what happens next.

No challenges for this story, however, previews are acceptable. If only to wet your whistle.


"Well crap." She said aloud.

Fang waited to hear the final and twelfth chime to breathe again but heard nothing. The incessant ticking noise wasn't there but he could hear the flock giggling and laughing behind him. He saw a girl with familiar brown eyes and hair standing before him, dumbly at that with her arm raised, with hairpins keeping her silky hair from falling onto her face. Her eyes were wide as if she did something terribly wrong. His duffle bag slipped from his grasp.

The thud of the duffle bag must have snapped her out of comatose she was in for she jumped at the vibration and began running away. "WAIT!" Fang yelled, his arm outstretched to touch her. He cursed under his breath, running after her, wishing deeply that she wasn't another hallucination.


2. Recolligo

HA! I'm alive and well! Sorry I've been so busy I've been working on sculptures, paintings and band projects all year. This is my first time in a while to just sit down and write so... yeah... busy busy busy... If you want, you can PM me and inquire exactly what I've been up to but it doesn't matter. (shrugs)

Um... Thanks for all the reviews and I can't wait to hear from you! But seriously though, I'm sorry that I'm late.


Ruat Caelum


It was cold. She realized that as her first conscious thought. The fingers ached to move, but remained numb as she floated in a dark mass. It splashed around her, endless black that kept her floating just above the surface, salty and cold. It was raining, much to her distaste, lightning and thundering too. When the dark sky was lit up she could see everything tinge a dark blue, her fingers pale and wrinkled like a raisin, the waves growing taller with the passing wind.

"Man overboard!" A muffled voice called out against the storm. She blinked against the rain, seeing a light a short ways away. A boat… how unusual. It rocked nearby as a familiar object was thrown to her, a floating device. Unconscious fingers wrapped around it, her body unwilling to think anymore, and she felt the waves cutting through her body as she was pulled towards the small boat aiding her. She inhaled deeply, feeling an odd sense of elation as ice-cold air cut her lungs, reminding her of high altitudes.

Two men lifted her with practiced ease onto the boat, carrying her below the wooden deck and tucking her beneath a blanket. She sat up as soon as the two turned around, gazing blankly at the small room. It was a galley, a small amount of food remained on the table from a meal that happened not long ago, worn with time and use. She stared at her feet disappointed in herself; why did she let herself get picked up by strangers so easily? She sniffled, oh yes, she was cold. She suddenly frowned in distaste realizing she had lost one of her shoes to the waves, a dirty white sock stared up at her wanting the missing shoe to cover it.

"Clothes." One muttered, tossing clothes into her lap. She stared at them gratefully, feeling herself shivering. She looked up at one of the sailors and he pointed behind her to a small door on the right. Without a word she stood and closed the door behind her with a soft click.

It was a bathroom. An unkempt bathroom, but a bathroom nonetheless. She changed quickly, ignoring the groaning protests of her body, she needed to move her body anyway. She was caught off guard as she glanced into the mirror; was that her? She glanced herself up and down, yes, it was her, grown up and with a figure, a figure easy to hide beneath the baggy clothing. A trembling hand touched her cold face. This was her, older and somewhat wiser, but it was odd though not as odd as it could have been.

It didn't take long for the ship to sail out of the storm, faster than she expected. The night sky beamed down at her as she stood at the bow, rubbing her arms for warmth. How were they? She wondered, ignoring the crew behind her. Were they healthy? She smiled at the stars, reminding herself of the boy she missed. The stars twinkled in excitement, as if spreading the news that she was awake.

After all, that was the hardest part of waking up, actually being awake...

"Miss? What's your name?" The crewmember asked a few hours later, the edge of the horizon held a warm yellow hue, watching her flip through a soggy deck of cards in distaste. She looked up at the male before her, he could have been faceless for all she cared, but she remained polite in keeping eye contact. She smiled briefly, as if pondering the question herself, before speaking in a calm voice.

"Max." She grinned, missing her name; her voice seemed kinder and higher than before. She felt the wind caressing her, encouraging her to do her favorite pastime: fly. "As in the ever indestructible, wonderful," she gestured to herself, "Maximum Ride." She jumped to the edge of the boat, her wings cutting through the back of the shirt and she leapt into the air before the male could say anymore. "Thank you!" She yelled in excitement, already hundreds of feet above the boat. And with what seemed like a kick of the heel, she disappeared.

She grinned at the familiar shiver flowing down her spine, elated by the chill of the air. With a laugh, she pumped her wings faster, breaking the speed of sound with ease. She was awake, she realized. She was literally flying instead of dreaming the same scene over and over. She slowed to a sudden stop, her eighteen-foot wings wrapping tightly around her body like a cocoon. Max plummeted, the feeling of adrenaline caused her scream in excitement, and at the last second she snapped open her wings, the tips just brushing against the water.

Her smile faltered as she slowed her flight to the gentle waves; it took so long to wake up. She closed her eyes in disappointment towards herself, for she had been Sleeping Beauty without a Prince Charming. But it wasn't like Max was a damsel in distress; she could wake up without the Prince, but she sorely wished he had found her. She sighed heavily as the cool air began to feel muggy. What if Fang did find her? Would she have woken up? Would she still be in that state? She shook her head. It didn't matter, it was impossible to find her back then in that moment of time. Fang could not do the impossible. The improbably, yes, but never the impossible.

She saw a shoreline in the distance, only to climb altitude to avoid being seen. Where was she? Below she could hear people talking in a language she could barely recognize, but that never stopped her. There were skyscrapers, tall and glistening, with smaller buildings where people were walking in and out, minding their own business. She hurried out of the bustling center of the city revealing a nice neighborhood nearby; there were a few windows open and almost no one on the streets. Max smiled with mild guilt; she still remembered how to steal.

It wasn't that Max wanted to steal; it was just that she had no clue where she was, no identification, let alone money. There really wasn't much of a choice. She slipped into a bedroom, tucking her wings in behind her, sighing in relief that it belonged to a girl. After locking the bedroom door Max began to rummage about the room, grabbing a backpack and tossing it on the bed. She changed into fresh clothes from around the room and in the closet, tossing the ones from the boat into the bag. A simple tank top and jeans soon graced her figure. She didn't mind how loose they were, since it was more comfortable that way.

With a sigh, she took more clothes from the closet for an emergency change before dumping it in the bag and lacing up knee high boots to protect her feet. The backpack was light, Max vaguely noticed as she placed it on her back. In her hand was a simple black blazer she could slip on when she landed. She took a final look about the room, noticing a large jewelry box in the corner. She never owned accessories before. She opened it slowly, revealing an assortment of jewelry, hairpins, and miscellaneous items.

"I must be crazy." Max muttered to herself as she took a butterfly necklace, a few bracelets, rings, and hairpins from the box before placing it in a small pouch in the backpack. "It's for when I meet Fang." She attempted to convince herself, not that she really was going to see him. She already promised she could do her job alone. "I want to look nice." She flushed. Why should she look nice? Being covered in dirt never stopped her before, so why now?

A knock on the door and Max jumped out of her skin. A woman called into the room and Max leapt from the window and into the air. The language was Japanese, Max realized. She wasn't even in the right continent! The last time she was with the flock, she was in Greenland, and now she was in Japan? She flew higher, so she was in Japan and she needed to get back to America, the question was how? Of course she could fly but she didn't know where America was because she didn't know where in Japan she was.

Much to her dislike Max began to lose altitude. She needed to eat; it felt like she hadn't eaten in forever. She noticed a couple carrying grocery bags just below her; she needed food, and it was now or never. She tucked in her wings, aiming towards the couple, grabbed the bags with ease, and ran away. She ran a block or two before leaping into a tree to look at the spoils, chips, sodas, and something that was like a Lunchable, a bento or something like that.

Hours later, she was flying over the water once again, her internal sense of direction leading the way. She was flying faster than most airplanes; as long as there was any way possible to reduce the risk of being shark food in the middle of the ocean. She could see the California coast, or at least she hoped it was the California coast, empty due to the lack of sun. There were people walking on the streets, talking excitedly, some even noticed her by now but that wasn't her concern.

She flew in the direction of Dr. Martinez's house; she was dying for the taste of the woman's chocolate chip cookies. Max dropped to the ground a few miles away from the house, vaguely noticing a mansion in its general direction. She squinted at it; that wasn't there eight years ago. Gaudy people must live in it, she sniffed, people who like to show themselves off. The air was sweet, an hour or two before midnight, and Max breathed it greedily as she walked down the worn street.

At a gas station Max slipped into the bathroom, washing her face briefly and placing butterfly hairpins in her hair. The necklace felt cool against her skin before she slid on a few bracelets. Dr. Martinez would like to see her dressed up, right? At a moments hesitation Max slipped a ring on her left ring finger, starting at it and then looking at herself in the mirror. Her gaze surprised her. She wanted to be married, her expression longed for the person to actually slip the ring on her finger. Max slipped the ring back off, tucking it away in her pant pocket and slipping the black jacket over her shoulders. It wouldn't look weird, right? Some random person showing up at a house she hadn't visited in eight years?

With a sigh Max trekked to the familiar house, the windows lit up, signifying someone was there. She stepped onto the porch, hearing her boots tap against the wood and creak under her weight. A hand hesitated to knock on the door, noticing a note on the door. Black ink smiled at her through the fluid handwriting of the person she wanted to see.


We're having dinner at the mansion. Don't forget the cookies.


So no one was there. Max tried the door; locked. Maybe the people at the mansion wouldn't mind her asking for Dr. Martinez. She hoped they didn't. If they asked why she'd say she was her daughter that would work… that could always work. She turned around; the tapping of the wood began again, and began her trek to the mansion.

She was there faster than she expected, the moon high in the sky, the doorstep lit up the pathway she didn't take. Her hand curled into a light fist, ready to knock, but hesitating. What if the people inside were snobs? What if Dr. Martinez changed?

There was laughter inside. Who was inside? A screech of surprise. "I have to go, my flight leaves in an hour." A male voice called and it strangely reminded Max of someone. It was then that Max became familiar with the sound of ticking, like a bomb, but much grander. "No Iggy, I'm fine, I'll be back in a week." Her chest tightened at the words, the ticking, and voice, her hand raised to knock on the door and there was a chime.

One chime, two, three, Max blinked, frozen by boisterous sound. Four, five, six, Max was shaking, she could hear the door unlock. Seven, eight, the door was opening, and she could see dark hair cut in a similar manner as her best friend. "God that's loud." She couldn't help but hear. Nine chimes, He looked up, vaguely noticing Max standing there, her arm rose to knock the door, and lifted his duffle bag on his shoulder. Ten, he did a double take. Eleven, the door slammed wide open along with his eyes, showing more emotion than ever. Max gasped, seeing the male in front of her.

"Well crap." She said aloud.

Fang waited to hear the twelfth and final chime to breathe again but heard nothing. The incessant ticking noise wasn't there but he could hear the flock giggling and laughing behind him. He saw a girl with familiar brown eyes and hair standing before him, dumbly at that with her arm raised, with hairpins keeping her silky hair from falling onto her face. Her eyes were wide as if she did something terribly wrong. His duffle bag slipped from his grasp.

The thud of the duffle bag must have snapped her out of comatose she was in for she jumped at the vibration and began running away. "WAIT!" Fang yelled, his arm outstretched to touch her. He cursed under his breath, running after her, wishing deeply that she wasn't another hallucination.

Silence fell over the mansion as Iggy looked in the direction of the door as he gave Ella a piggyback ride despite her protests. He had stopped suddenly at the sound of Fang's frantic voice, to suddenly be that way – Iggy caught a familiar scent. He let Ella down gently, his eyes wide. "Get Angel." Iggy ordered quietly as the acting leader. "Wake her up now."

"What's-" The Gasman began, staring at Iggy in worry. Iggy never ordered around, he never played leader unless it was urgent. Iggy's face was pale and Fang had just shot out the door.

"Get her." Iggy ordered through gritted teeth, tension filling the air. The Gasman left the hall quickly; jogging towards the room his sister had been sleeping since yesterday. She had woken up for brief moments only to mutter unintelligible words and fall asleep once more.

"I don't know if anyone cares to notice but the clock's stopped." Iggy stiffened further at Nudge's remark as she pointed to the tall clock. "You didn't forget to rewind it, did you Ig?"

"I don't forget." Iggy mumbled, his jaw tightening. He had wound the clock not long ago.

Fang was panting, he had been running after her for what seemed like an hour, she was running faster than he ever believed possible. Suddenly they were in a meadow and she turned around, her face illuminated in the moonlight. She was beautiful. Though her eyes were filled with fear and her expression searched for escape she was beautiful. The silky brown hair struggling to catch up with her graceful movements, the simple clothes hugging her curves in a boyish fashion. And butterflies, the butterflies she wore shocked him, sparking in the moonlight.

"Do you know my name?" Fang yelled out to her as she reached the edge of the clearing, already dashing towards the trees. This would determine if she was truly a hallucination. But this hallucination was too real. Max never wore jewelry so he never imagined her wearing it. And there she was, running away, with the attempts to look pretty shined against the moon.

"What idiot wouldn't?" She yelled back, her voice rushed and angered. He could imagine her face filled with anger for a moment.

"Come with me to England." Fang rushed, his mind drifting only vaguely to the plane he was missing.

"I just got back from hell and you want me to go see the Queen?" Her laughter echoed through the trees. Where was she? "Alright, I'll go." Her voice seemed amused. "If you can find me." He could sense the grin in her words.

"I know everything about you. You think I can't find you?" Fang questioned, listening for the slightest movement.

"Back then, Fang, it's been eight years, guess how much I've changed." The voice was calm and somewhat lonely, Fang stumbled hearing the voice resonating from a nearby tree. "You won't find me. It's improbable."

"I can do the improbable, you can do the impossible." He reminded her.

Angel stared blankly at everyone in the room as she concentrated her thoughts to someone far away. "I can hear him, he's almost thirty miles west of here. And Mama's voice… I can hear her very faintly." A tear slipped down her cheek. "She's like Jeb… like there's nothing there but I can hear her voice, it's just so quiet…" Angel fell silent, pressured glances coming her way. Her expression showed she was concentrating hard, listening so the thoughts were shouting in her mind. She suddenly sat up straighter, her expression suddenly relaxed.

"Ah." Angel smiled, "The Prince found Sleeping Beauty."

"I can't believe you tripped over me." Max frowned, glaring at the male beside her. They were sprawled on the forest floor, lost in the bed of leaves, looking at each other.

"I found you." Fang whispered, his dark eyes filled with sudden emotion. "You're here and you're real." His fingers caressed Max's cheek. "It's been eight years, Max. God you've changed, we've changed. I thought… after Greenland."

"That was Greenland. Eight years ago. So what's in England?" Max changed the subject abruptly. Her gaze changed towards the sky while inhaling the familiar earthy smell.

"I'm performing there. And since you're going, you'll be there. Then, of course, the Queen."

"The poor dear should be delighted to see me, perhaps she'll throw a ball just for me." Max giggled. "Well, it's time to go, I hear them coming." She sat up, brushing the leaves from her hair and heading towards the clearing the two of them had previously been in. "You're a pianist with a mansion, you must be doing good. Makes me wonder if it's a good then I disappeared." Max told Fang with a smile just before Angel landed in the clearing, leading the way for the rest of the flock. Fang cursed inside, unable to counter her tone because of the emotional between Max and the flock.

"Look! We managed to bring Dr. Martinez and Ella!" Nudge grinned as she ran up to Max and hugging her tightly. "Ew, Max, haven't you ever heard of fashion sense?" Max's eyes widened in a deceitful surprise, gazing down at her clothes.

"I thought this looked nice!" Obviously pretending to be embarrassed or at least it was obvious to Fang. Her cheeks flushed as she glanced around, surveying everyone. Ella had grown so beautifully, carrying Dr. Martinez's cheekbones and held warm brown eyes like Max. Ella was staring at Max with wide eyes, tears streaming down her face and hands covering her mouth in utter shock. Dr. Martinez was no different, though she was just a slightly older version of Ella, she made the same exact movements and expressions as her daughter. Iggy's blue eyes were wide too; amazed by Max's scent and her presence. The Gasman was grinning, his eyes flickering from Max to Angel and back again; his sister was happy again.

"Well that's beside the point." Nudge sniffed, releasing herself from Max. "Oh! I almost forgot! Yesterday was someone's birthday but we totally forgot to celebrate it and I totally forgot whose birthday it was. Do you remember whose birthday it was?" Nudge asked an obvious look of curiosity on her features. Angel finally released herself from Max, so excited her mother was back.

"Of course." Max laughed. "Yesterday was my birthday." She flashed a smile, grinning at everyone around her. "Did you really forget that Nudge? I thought you were the one with the best memory." Her expression was teasing. Fang watched as Max made a subtle move to position herself away from the flock as if ready to run. "But, you see, I can't stay long; I promised dear old gloomy there that I'd go to England with him." Max jabbed a thumb at Fang as he stood silent at the edge of the clearing.

"Oh! But I have this dress!" Nudge was suddenly jumping up and down, her wings extending as if ready to shoot off into the sky. "I just designed it last week and you'll totally fit into it! You'll be gorgeous and it'll be for your birthday! A Nudge Original for your birthday! How does that sound?" Her grin sparkled.

"Like I'm being spoiled by the best fashion designer in the world!" Max laughed, watching Nudge shoot up into the sky in excitement only to drop back down and grab Ella. "Lets go back to that house- erm…mansion, where it's nice and cozy. I'm sure Total feels left out." Max glanced around once more knowing the small black dog was lacking. In an instant Angel and the Gasman was lifting Dr. Martinez into the air, the Gasman taking most of the weight, and Iggy was leading the way giving minor help to Nudge with Ella. "Come on Fang, I'm not going anywhere." She laughed as she gestured for Fang to come closer. She unfurled her wings, lifting herself off the ground a few feet. "I don't have a passport, Fang, I can still back out of this."

"No." Fang replied stiffly, suddenly at Max's side. "We made you a passport a long time ago, Angel's shape shifting can come in handy." He tugged on Max's hand, urging her to catch up with the rest of the flock. A twinge of pain surged through her, they had made Angel shift into her? Was it that time or more? How much did they miss Max? Was it enough to scar Angel emotionally through the shifts? She flew a little faster but her expression seemed dreading something no matter how hard she tried to hide it.

"So this is your home." Max said in awe as the flock landed just outside the mansion. It was illuminated brightly as if expecting Max as well. A black mass came running out, leaping into Max's arms and throwing her off balance. Total grinned at Max as his paws pressed against her chest to be eye to eye with her. Max raised a brow at him as his tongue hung out of his mouth allowing his saliva to get on her face with her gaze falling on the pale lavender ribbon.

"Those mongrels you left me with have no class, well, except for Fang. His style is magnificent! It's like everything and nothing, like a mystery and, and – "

"That's enough Total." Fang cut the small dog off, removing Total from Max's arms, a speck of anger on his features. Max wiped her face gratefully, now eying Fang at his sudden cut off.

With a sudden tug Max was running through the main doors of the mansion, speeding through the halls taking turn after turn, up a flight of stairs, and another turn to reveal a large four poster bedroom. Over all the walls were sketches of clothing with pieces of fabric tacked onto it to provide an idea of how the sketches would look. A sole mannequin stood in front of the large red four-poster bed, a glistening white dress. It reminded Max of a sundress and at the same time not at all. It was strapless with a silk trimming that shined against the light that fell upon it. The dress followed every curve of the mannequin, emphasizing on the bust, hips, and small waist, ending near the knee. The skirt looked thin like a sundress, thanks to the imagination of Nudge, but had many layers that bounced and giving the lift a sundress would have in the wind. A fabric white rose was pinned to the top front corner of the dress as a large ribbon was tied pointlessly in the back, the ribbons falling just above the floor. Max gasped at the dress before her. It was simple, yes, but it was really the first dress she'd own. Wait. Was it really hers? As if reading Max's mind, Nudge grinned at the work in front of her. "Yeah, it's yours." Nudge gestured to the mannequin before them. "Try it on."

"You're kidding." Max gave Nudge a pointed look but Nudge's Cheshire grin told her otherwise. "Remember, I don't DO dresses. It makes it hard to make an escape or pull a heist or something like that." Angel was already pulling the dress off with minor difficulties due to her bandages. "Angel, sweetie, I never got the chance to ask you this yet but what happened?"

"I was dancing." Angel replied with a sore shrug. "And I fell from the third story and forgot that I had wings." She handed the dress to Max, her expression serious.

"Angel, forgetting you have wings is like forgetting you can read minds. You didn't forget you could do that, now did you?" Max raised a brow.

"She didn't, Max, she was just having a bit too much fun. Now hurry up and try on the dress!" Nudge urged. Minutes later Max was standing before Angel and Nudge wearing the dress, standing uncomfortably while missing the loose clothing she wore only minutes before. "You look so gorgeous!" Nudge gushed, her inner artist suddenly blooming. "It makes me want to add more trim and maybe some sort of a doily pattern but not really. Oh! If Fang sees this –"

"If I see what?" Fang's voice was near the door and in a flash Nudge had slammed it closed. "I guess I'm not seeing it." Max heard Fang mumble as Nudge locked the large door and walked back to Max looking strangely calm with a pleased smile on her face.

"You have a plane that leaves in an hour and a half." Nudge said moments after Max changed back into the loose clothing. "I've got some clothes for you to take with you so you won't be wearing the same old ratty things. Don't worry, you'll like it." Nudge grinned, half a duffle bag already filled. Max watched in awe as Nudge speed packed every single compartment on the duffle bag and moments later the duffle was in her hand, the dress already inside it. "Now get going, we'll see you at the end of the week, we've been without you for eight years so we can handle one more week." Nudge smiled pleasantly as she shoved Max out of her bedroom and into Fang. "Whoops!" Nudge grinned sheepishly slamming the door to her room once more to trap Angel and herself inside.

"So, plane." Max lifted herself off of Fang and grabbed her duffel bag. "Sounds like fun." She began walking down the hall as if she knew where everything was. She stopped a few yards away turning to look at Fang who was still on the floor. "You know, you're going to be late for that concert of yours if we don't leave soon." And at her voice Fang jumped to his feet and grabbed her hand, tugging her out the door with yelled goodbyes to the flock and Martinez's.

Fang watched in awe as Max nodded off against his shoulder. She was right beside him, it was her breath breathing on his skin and her warmth made the plane ride bearable. He watched as her chest raised and fell, her body visibly relaxing as if it had been tightly wound for years. And then he wondered, where did she go? Why couldn't she contact them? Max stirred, turning her head slightly before drifting off once more. Why should it matter, Fang asked himself, she was here right now. That's all that mattered to him. Right?

Done! For now... I'm rushing to a concert at my sister's college, so gotta go! Miss you guys!