Taken Again by heyshalina

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Adventure, Tragedy
Published:2011-11-11 21:15:09
Updated:2013-04-21 20:30:28
Packaged:2021-04-22 01:36:32
Summary:After everything they went through to get him back, Itex came and took Iggy's memories. Just like that. No more trust, no more family. Gone. But Max isn't going to lay down like a good little mutant and let them keep him. She's getting Iggy back. It is so on. Sequel to Made Again.

Table of Contents

1. That's Just Jim Dandy
2. Throwing Bricks At Fluffy Bunnies
3. It's All Just Counting Cards
4. Explosions in Canada Go Boom Boom Boom
5. Dear God It's Like Television
6. Because He's A Ginger
7. Treading On Thin Ice
8. Could Never Be Him
9. Chick Flick Moments
10. Good Morning, Apocalypse
11. Wishing's For Pansies
12. Pancakedemonium
13. Born To Be Unlucky
14. How Convenient
15. Showdown of Showdowns
16. Back To Black
17. Sarcasm Is My Greatest Attribute
18. Names Are So Difficult
19. Hell Or High Water
20. Wind In My Wings

1. That's Just Jim Dandy

Hey there. I'm back. Though I never really left. Whatever. I decided to begin this journey without a huge gap in between the stories, because (with a bout of inspiration and a lot of pleading) I finished the first chapter of this new story. So sit back, relax, and get ready for more awkward flock adventures that seem to come with me. This new story isn't the same as Made Again...I guess you could say that it's just less hopeful and happy-go-lucky. But you people seem to like that kind of stuff. So whether you've come all the way from the other end of my profile, or you're completely new (and if you are I strongly suggest reading the first part first), you all are completely welcome here. Just be sure to review :D

And here's a disclaimer, in which shall be the only one for the whole story: I do not own Maximum Ride by James Patterson. Or Iggy. Or pie.

'Tis a sad thing. But we should be celebrating. So now, I present to you people: Taken Again.


My eyes are always open. It's just natural to me. To be a leader, you always have to be alert. No one can ever sneak up on me, and if they try, I beat them down, just the way I like it. Sometimes I wonder how Iggy manages with his blindness.

Although now I'm starting to think I won't be able to ask him.

My name is Maximum Ride, and I'm an almost emotional wreck. With wings. I just can't forget the wings.

Never. Forget. The Freaking. Wings.


A hand planted itself on my shoulder. I didn't look behind me. I just kept staring off of the rocky cliff I was standing at the top of, looking out at the beautiful, snowy valley that stretched for miles beyond our new house. The valley that even Gasman hadn't had the heart to blow up yet. Snow drifted down quickly, threatening to turn into a full-on blizzard within minutes. I didn't give a crap.

"Max." Fang deadpanned again, keeping his voice even and low. "Come inside."

"Why?" I asked in a monotone, keeping my gaze on the unchanging scenery. "Why should I, Fang?"

Fang huffed, and I could tell that he was hanging his head. His voice was thick and scratchy, and I almost snapped at him to stop talking so that it would get better, like I would if my voice wasn't the same. Like I would have when I had been a mom. Now I felt like nothing. I felt like an empty shell.

"Because." Fang croaked gruffly. "You'll freeze."

To prove his point, he brushed the developing layer of snow off of my head, and placed his huge leather jacket that he was so proud of on my shoulders. I dipped my chin down, not responding. If I took one step forward, just one little step, I could just fall forward, fall down to nothing. But if I just took one little look behind me, I'd see Fang looking at me with those dark, hollow eyes, and I'd see three small children with their faces practically pressed up against the glass. I'd see the people I had to keep living for.

Life just likes to punch me in the face now and again, what of it?

"So?" I rasped, keeping still. "So what?"

"So we have things to do." Fang tightened his grip on my shoulder. "You can't avoid him forever."

"Yeah, I probably could." I chuckled darkly. "We could have just left him there, right? Oh, excuse me Max, I'm your brother and I don't freaking remember you or anything associated with you. I'm going to try to hurt you know. Do you want some pie?"

"Max." Fang warned, but I was already off. I yanked my arm away from his grip, my eyes wild and brimming with the tears that weren't going to spill.

"Pie, Fang!" I cried, throwing my arms up. "It's freaking boysenberry! 'Cause it sucks!"

"Calm down." He muttered, grabbing my wrists. I shook my head, letting my now snow-soaked hair hang in my face in clumps.

"I don't wanna calm down!" I choked, trying to prevent myself from sobbing. It just wasn't fair. "He doesn't remember us, Fang!"

"And that's not our fault." Fang replied seriously. If this had been any other time, the corner of his mouth would be twitching with what could have been a smirk, he would chuckle and say something adorably stupid, and he would try to kiss me. I would back away and throw snow at him. He'd throw snow back and soon we'd have an all-out snowball fight, eventually falling onto each other and making that's what she said jokes without a care in the world.

But this wasn't any other time. This was now. And now wanted to make me suffer. It was just the way it worked.

Somebody get me a sledgehammer.

"It's my fault." I murmured, letting my head drop. "I didn't recognize that stupid clone, I didn't get us there fast enough, I didn't save him in time."

Suddenly Fang's arms were out and bringing me into an embrace, wrapping his arms over my shoulders and letting me disappear into his shirt. I took a deep breath, letting it shake. He wouldn't judge me. Not now.

"Are you ready?" He asked me softly, speaking into my hair. I nodded.

"Yeah. Yeah, I am."

It had been thirteen days, eleven hours, and thirty-five minutes since we had rescued Iggy from the School-again. We had him back in one piece, whole body and soul. But no memories. The Wizard (douchebag of eternity, that guy was), as I had just gotten used to calling him, had taken Iggy from me. Again. But in an entirely different way than before. How was it that in five weeks, Iggy was kidnapped twice, beaten who-knows how many times, shot, replaced by an evil clone, and then had his memory completely wiped? It just wasn't right. We had tried so damn hard, and we got dirt shoved back in our face.

There was a reason that I had a dartboard with Jeb's face on it in my new bedroom.

Fang hooked his arm around my shoulders and started to lead me back to the house. Getting Iggy to believe that we weren't with the School and trying to kill him had been hard. Getting him to come with us to some random abandoned condo we illegally rented out in Canada with minimal fight had been even harder.

"What do you mean, who the hell are we?" Fang spat. "It's us, the flock! Max, Fang, Gasman. Iggy, come on, we have to get out of here."

"I don't know who you are." Iggy trembled, holding his arms up in defense. "Just get away from me."

"Iggy, it's us, your family." I said softly. "We're here to rescue you."

"I have no clue who you are, I'm serious." He squealed. "Don't take me back to the School, please."

"We're never going back to the School." Gasman choked out. "We're from there."

"You're a bird hybrid, like us." I told him, glancing around in astonishment. "You're our brother."

"I don't have a family." Iggy whispered. "I've never had one."

"We have to get out of here!" Fang said harshly. "Iggy, come on."

Crashes and shouts started to sound from outside the van. A gun fired, and Nudge screamed in shock. Gasman hit her to shut her up.

"But I don't know who you are." Iggy growled.

"I'm your sister." I hissed back, trying to keep my brain under control and yanking him up to his unsteady feet. "And I'm a hell of a lot better option than what's waiting out there with guns. So come on."


Trust. The one thing that I thought I could place whole-heartedly and without a doubt into Iggy and likewise back into myself had been run over by a truck and put down the garbage disposal of evil. Twice.

My cold, shaking fingers tried to grasp the back door handle and failed. Fang put his warm hand around mine and pulled the door open, letting me shake like a dog as I stepped inside. All the kids plopped themselves on the living room furniture solemnly, Nudge listlessly flipping through a fashion magazine. Angel looked at her feet as she kicked them out rhythmically, and Gazzy played with his thumbs. I smiled weakly at them as I walked toward the kitchenette, ignoring the view I saw of myself in the mirror. I didn't need to see the bags under my eyes to know they were there. I walked to the cupboard, pulling out a container and a kettle.

"Who wants hot chocolate?" I asked, trying to grin. I shook a bag of marshmallows. "Marshmallowy goodness!"

They didn't look up. "Iggy makes hot chocolate." Gasman whispered. I sighed and dropped the marshmallows. Good, marshy goodness going to waste. I looked helplessly at Fang, who had seated himself silently at the counter. He gave me a look of sympathy.

"I would love a cup, Max." He said quietly.

"Then you have a death wish." Gazzy put in snidely.

I slammed a mug down on the counter, breaking it into little pieces. Angel glanced up at me, and Fang pressed his fingertips to his temples. Gazzy set his jaw stubbornly as I lost my cool and threw the bottom of the broken mug at the wall, smashing it again. Fang groaned. Nudge covered her hands over her ears.

"Do you know what?" I screamed, fuming to the tips of my hair. I stomped over to Gasman, keeping my fingers clenched in fists. "Make your own freaking hot chocolate! I am done!"

"Thank God." Gasman muttered. I reached down and grabbed the little bugger by the shirt collar, my lips morphing into a snarl. Gazzy kicked out with his legs, but I didn't let go. He grabbed my arm. "Let me down!"

"Shut up!" I screamed. "I am done being your mom, you stupid, ungrateful little..."

Fang grabbed my arm, and I dropped Gasman down onto the chair. He looked up at me with fearful eyes, and I bit my lip, tears beginning to spill.

"I'm sorry, Gazzy." I choked out, turning away. Gasman jumped up and hugged me from behind, his head only reaching the small of my back.

"I didn't mean it, Max." He whispered. I wiped my nose.

"I know." I turned around and hugged him back, kneeling down to his height. "I overreacted. But you're still making your own damn hot cocoa."

He laughed and sniffled, taking a step back and beginning to pick up the broken mug. "Can I have a marshmallow, Max?"

"Go crazy." I threw up an arm. I stood and leaned on the wall, pressing my palm into my forehead. Those kind of bipolar episodes had been occurring pretty regularly the past week, after the fact that Iggy's memories weren't returning slapped me pretty hard in the face and made me a little sensitive. To everything. I shook my head. "God, I'm going crazy. I can't even think of why I acted like that."

"Don't even apologize." Nudge broke in, quiet yet harsh at the same time. "He's bothering all of us. You have a reason to overreact."

"Me?" Gazzy asked, straightening up.

"No, not you." Nudge replied, not looking up from her magazine. "You know who."

It was quiet and awkward. I thought that out of any of us, save maybe me, Nudge had taken this whole Iggy thing the hardest. She really cared about him, we all did, but...it was different for her. She didn't talk as much, and when she did, she sounded as if she was picturing ripping Bob the Wizard (long story about the Bob thing...really, just learn the back story and be done with it) limb from limb in her head. She (the other kids had stopped and just sat stoically now) still cried every night in her new bed. I saw her sneak into Iggy's little bed room/panic room/sanctuary every day to talk with him, even on the days he wouldn't let any of us in. He was still trying to get over the fact that the life he had lived was completely different than what he had believed.

"We've gone far enough." Fang panted. His face was flushed of color. "We have to stop for the night."

We flew down to a clearing in the Wisconsin forests, near the Canadian border. Iggy was the epitome of uncomfortable, my hand planted firmly around his wrist as we flew. He squirmed awkwardly, biting his lip and sweating like his choice of peanut butter or Nutella on his bagel could save or destroy all the beavers in existence. What would we do without animals to make fun of Justin Bieber with?

I let go of his hand as everyone threw down their packs, panting. Iggy grabbed his shoulder with one hand, and Fang sunk to the ground, spreading out like he was going to do a snow angel in the frost.

"Well," I spread my arms out to either side of me. "Now that our little adventure of sweat and terror is over, who wants food?"

"W-wait." Iggy stammered. "I still don't know who any of you are. Why did you take me from the whitecoats? How do you know me? I've never met any of you in my life."

"Are you serious?" Gasman asked, incredulous. "Not any of us?"

"No." Iggy replied harshly. "And I don't know why you took me from those horrible people, but if you want to kill me, I'm going to give you a hell of a fight."

"We want to help you, Iggy." Nudge exclaimed.

"Well, people have been trying to 'help' me all my life." Iggy smirked, and then grimaced. "Look how well that worked out."

"Let us explain." I told him. "We can tell you everything, Ig."

"And how do you know my name?" He shot out.

"Like I've been telling you, wingnut." I stepped toward him. "You're our brother. We know you."

"You're my big brother." Gasman said, going forward to grab his hand. Iggy hit his arm away, kicking a backpack out of his path as he backed up. Rage suddenly filled his face and he swung toward me, lashing out with his fist. I caught it easily in my hand.

"Your name is Iggy. You're blind. You love fire and explosions, you're fourteen years old, you cook like freaking Martha Stewart, you're favorite color is light blue and you the most sarcastic ass in the whole world. You are my freaking brother."

Iggy brought his arm down, hanging his head. "So, 'sis'," He said sarcastically, to prove my point. "What's your name?"

Nudge got up and closed her magazine, slapping it down on the table and walking briskly out of the room without another word. It would have been odd, but after two weeks it had slowly developed into a normality. I sighed and got up, walking into the hallway and kicking off my sneakers, wiggling my toes on the soft carpet. I heard Nudge's shoes tapping on the stairs, and I sighed. She was going in with him again. Not to sound childish, but I was going to go talk with Iggy. I had just collected myself enough to speak with him, and now...

I was deflated like the most neglected balloon at the Macy's Day Parade.

I sunk down to the floor, letting the dim light from the kitchen flow into the hallway and create shadows. I hugged my knees, listening to the silence in the living room, occasionally broken by Gasman choking on a marshmallow. It seemed like Fang's emoness had been rubbing off on me lately.

Speak of the devil, Fang appeared in the doorway to my hallway of pouting, his figure making a very imposing shadow. He frowned down at me, so I gave him my biggest no-teeth smile with my eyes closed. He didn't buy it. Damn. I thought the double winky face always worked...

"Nudge in there?" He asked. I nodded, placing my chin on my knees. I titled my face sideways and looked at Fang. Over the past two weeks he had healed from his little encounter with Iggy 2.0 (He had his ass whooped), now only his stomach was tender from the internal bleeding we were sure he had but never really bothered to check out. We're awesome siblings. Some bruises were still showing around his arms and chest, but other than that he was good as new. Good thing, too. I had been tired of him lazing around. It was my turn.

"So." He broke the ice, placing his hands on his knees. "You going to-"

"Yes, Fang." I hissed, and then turned my head the other way. It was silent for a minute. "But I really don't see why it's me that has to do it."

"Well I'm sure as hell not doing it." Fang scoffed. I punched him without looking. "I'm more awkward than...than if Jeb came and said that we've just been on one big episode of Punk'd for our whole lives."

I looked at him again, now with disbelief and annoyance on my face. "Really, Fang?" I pulled my lip up. "Really?"

Fang frowned, and then nodded. "Really. You'd punch his lights out. I think the whole thing would be pretty damn awkward."


The silence after that was much more awkward than anything bad Fang could come up with to try to make me feel better. Because he sucked at it.

"Are we going to go talk to Iggy, or are we going to let Gazzy go up there and try to show him Double Dream Feet again?"

I shook my head. "We need to keep him off of the Internet."

Fang helped me to my feet and we walked slowly up the stairs. I turned to corner to see Nudge's door slam loudly. I turned to look at Fang, and he shrugged. Half a minute later Adele started blasting from the speakers in her room (I guess it was a tad more tolerable than her Taylor Swift phase), and I ran my fingers through my hair. I walked silently to Iggy's door, taking a minute to collect myself before knocking softly on the wood. I received no response, so I knocked again, Fang practically my shadow behind me. I leaned my forehead against the door, and then opened it, walking inside with a small bout of courage.

"Iggy?" I asked timidly, looking around the room. Iggy stood with his back to me, his palms pressed against the windowsill and his head hanging. His hair had grown a couple inches longer, and it swayed a bit with the wind. His possessions were strewn about the room, but all of his clothes were folded neatly in the bureau in the corner of his room. He had always been neater than Fang or Gasman. I stepped a few feet farther into the room, clenching my jaw. "Iggy, it's-"

"Max." Iggy cut me off without looking back. "I know who you are. But not like that." He spoke quickly, before my hopes could rise.

"Yeah, well," I swallowed. "I, uh, I wanted to talk to you."

"No you don't." Iggy replied with little emotion, as if he could read mine. "Max, this really isn't a good time. Sorry. I'm going to go."

"But, I-"

"See you in a bit." Iggy climbed up and out of the windowsill and onto the roof, unfurling his wings and taking off into the snowy sky. I bit my tongue and closed my eyes, standing blankly in the middle of Iggy's room. A tear slid down my cheek, and Fang came up behind me, taking my limp hand.

"He'll be back." He said confidently, though his voice wavered.

I nodded. "I know."

Iggy left to fly on his own a lot. He just left, usually through the window and always with little words. He never took anything with him. It scared me to hell every time he did it. But the thing was, that no matter how much he made us cry, no matter how little the new Iggy knew about us, he always came back.

I even passed 3,000 words this time, aren't you proud of me? Thoughts! Show that review button some love.

2. Throwing Bricks At Fluffy Bunnies

Well, after a week of musical auditions, tons of tests, and all my friends coming to me with an assortment of problems and drama, I have finally sat myself down and written the next chapter. Finally. And therefore, I have this to say:

I can't thank you guys enough. -sniffle- I mean, nine reviews just for the first chapter? I love you all (and, you know, keep it up, wink wink)! I want to give my thanks to iPinkNinja, pandorad24, The Awsome one, WhiteWinterStar, ManyNamesMember, AthenaFangGranger26, Heart the Squid, flYegurl, and Animebookfreaker. You guys are the best.

Now, the continuation of Taken Again. Which is obvious. But oh well.


I flew. I just flew. I didn't remember when or where or how I learned how to fly with my over-sized, weird-ass wings, but I could. So I did.

Flying helped, I guess. But then flying linked to wings which linked to the School which went to Max and the rest of them. Whom I didn't remember anything about. Great. It wasn't like I didn't want to remember them or didn't want to trust them, I really did. But I wasn't...me anymore, I guess, and I couldn't be the guy Max wanted me to suddenly become again. Her tension around me was unbearable. The Fang guy walked around me like he half expected me to attack him or start sobbing. Gasman tried everything in his power to get me to remember stuff (in vain, I might add), and the Angel kid just looked at me sadly all the time. I thought that maybe it was because she was reading my mind and confirming that I wasn't their brother anymore.

Do you know how damn guilty that made me feel? I wasn't...me, and I couldn't fix it! I had ruined these people's lives! Who has that happened to? Seriously, I want their number, because I could have really used a good helpline.

I liked the flock. They didn't think that I liked them or wanted to be around them at all, but I liked them. The kids were cute, and Max meant well. I thought Fang was just some emo guy that was stressed out. It was just the way they stood around me, like they expected me to blow up or something. Nudge...she helped. She told me stories about me and them, the ones that were real. It was like having your mom or dad tuck you in bed and tell you about knights and kingdoms in far away lands, except sicker. And no parents.

Oh, the depressing mood just walked in the room. I freaking hate that guy.

I flapped my wings and caught a top of a tree, wobbling for a minute before catching a limb and perching awkwardly on another branch, rubbing my wing. Sure, hate on the ginger amnesiac blind orphan. See where that gets you in life. I put a finger on my clavicle, tentatively brushing it. I didn't even remember getting shot. How messed up is that?

See, my life was like throwing heavy objects at cute little animals. It was mean, unfair, and the person throwing the heavy objects was a sadist. The sadist, really. I hated my life.

It was like I was standing at a brick wall, facing away from it with my heels digging into the brick. Every time I tried to look back, the brick would whack my face. And there was just this one little hole that I could look through, this tiny little thing that I could only see black through anyway.

At least the black was familiar.

The wind hit my face, letting me face the valley beyond me. I could just run away...but that wouldn't get me anywhere. I was in a rut. Confusion took over me and I screamed as loud and as angrily as I could, letting the sound vibrate. Snow shook and birds cawed, flying out into the grey sky. Snow layered on my head, and I shook it off. I took off again, this time back toward the house again. Where was there to go? Alaska? Antarctica? Fiji? There was no place to go, at least without dying of hypothermia first.

But I would have picked Fiji. Just saying.

About a mile from the house I flew down and started walking below the trees, trudging through where the snow was the shallowest. I kicked the snow and threw some of it at the trees, growling angrily. I just wanted to punch whoever did this to me and the flock in the kiwis. And then the face. And then the kiwis again. They deserved it! No one did this to me! No one did this to anyone! No one touched my-

I mean...the flock.

After climbing up another tree I launched myself at the window to my room (and actually didn't miss this time), crawling inside and kicking off my shoes. I shut the window and grabbed a towel, drying my hair. I changed clothes and laid down on my bed silently, thinking. I seemed to be doing a lot of that lately.

"They're not stories." I muttered, turning on my side. "They're Nudge's memories. Doesn't make them mine."

Suddenly a crash reverberated through the house, made three times as loud by my damn ears. I sat straight up in my bed, breathing fast. What had happened? Had Max freaked out again? Had someone gotten hurt? Had the Erasers found us aga-had the Erasers found us?

I jumped up and walked out of my room, treading lightly down that stairs coming from Nudge's end of the hallway. I stopped in the dark of the hall before the living room, hiding in the dark.

"We have to help him!" Nudge screamed. It seemed like her anger was close to breaking. "You can't tell me that we're just going to sit around on our lazy butts and do nothing!"

"We've never not done anything, Nudge." Max said sternly, like she just wanted to take a nap and forget everything. Trust me, not as fun as it sounds. "We're trying our best."

"No you're not!" Nudge hissed. "We're not trying enough! He wants to know us, but we're shutting him out!"

"Like you'd know what to do." Gasman shot. "You get all your advice from celebrities."

"Do not!"

"Could have had it all!" Gazzy imitated in Adele's voice. It was awesome and creepy at the same time. "Guess what? No one gets it all! Especially us! We get shit!"

"GAZZY!" Max roared in shock.

"You were thinking it!" Gazzy defended himself, but his voice didn't hold a cruel tone anymore. "It's just...Iggy isn't Iggy anymore."

"He was Iggy once." Max replied softly. "And if he isn't Iggy, then there was never an Iggy. And since he's here and breathing, I refuse to believe that."

Whoa. That was deep. I felt inadequate.

"He can remember." Fang put in. "He's stronger than we think."

"That's what you always say." Angel broke the conversation, her sweet little voice cold. "You always say he's stronger than we think, but then something happens. Even Superman isn't strong enough for the things Iggy has to be for."

"He remembers things, though!" Nudge exclaimed. "He does! He's told me! Little things. He can't put them together, but they're there. You can take away a person's memories, but you can't take away who they are. And Iggy is us."

Suddenly Angel snapped, her words dripping venom. "You can talk all you want to him, Nudge," she started quietly. "But you can't read his mind. I've been in there! I know what he thinks, and what he remembers! There are no anchors! Every thought he thinks that might be a memory disappears! He can't remember! They won't let him. He can't remember us, and he can't remember you, no matter how hard you try to get him to. Iggy is gone, Nudge! And he isn't coming back!"

It was silent for a minute, and I shook as the tears came down a little bit. The rest of the flock seemed in complete shock. I gulped and stepped into the doorway, shivering.

"You're lying."

Angel's head whipped toward me quickly, her blond hair making noise as it slashed through the air. The rest of the flock shifted uncomfortably.

"Iggy," Nudge stammered. "I, we-"

"You're lying." I repeated, making my hand grab my belt to keep it from shaking. "I can remember. I will. I want to. I-I can't remember much, but...I remember something."

"Ig." Max whispered.

I fumbled around my belt, grabbing the loop in my finger and stretching it. "Belt loops. I remember belt loops. And-and strawberries. And the letter E. A capital E. I remember things! I just..." I bit my lip in frustration. "I just can't remember people. Or events. But I can. So you're a lair."

"Iggy..." Angel whimpered.

"LIAR!" I squeezed my eyes shut and shouted the word, morphing my hands into fists. "Everyone lies to me! I...just...want...the truth."

"I'm sorry, Iggy." Max came up and grabbed my hand. "I wish I could give you that."

"Why can't you?" My voice shook.

"Because," Max snorted, as if relieving something bad. "We can't give you what we don't have."

I hung my head and savored the silence. Max rubbed my shoulder for a minute comfortingly, and I let her. "Are you going back up to your room?" she asked, a tint of fear creeping up through her words. I shook my head.

"I want to stay down here."

"Oh." She tightened her grip on my hand, and I could tell she was smiling. "Well, guys, uh..."

"Can we play a game?" Gasman asked suddenly. "Not like an outside game, 'cause its snowing, but...a game?"

"Sure, hon." Max replied, and she led me to the couch. I sat down awkwardly, but then Nudge plopped down next to me, making me feel a little more comfortable. Gasman sat next to her, Fang sat on a chair, and Max sat with Angel on the floor next to the coffee table. "How about...Candy Land?"

"I love Candy Land!" Angel cried, and Gasman concurred. Nudge let her fingers skim the back of my hand.

"I'll be a team with you, if you want." She whispered. I smiled slightly.

"Yeah." Max opened the box and laid out the game board, perfectly aware of the wrong tenseness of the situation. It felt like someone had sat down with six people with different opinions about something or other, told them one of them was right and the rest were stupid, and then sat them down for game night. What fun. Gasman, Max and Angel played by themselves while Nudge teamed up with me. Fang sat in his chair and watched solemnly. He seemed like an odd child.

Know what's weird? I remembered how to play Candy Land, but I didn't know my own family. Messed, my name is Iggy.

We started to play Candy Land, me sitting there awkwardly the whole time. I found that I could move the game pieces well enough with Nudge's help. I also found that Angel was a cheater when it came to board games, and that Gasman took his candy way too seriously.

"Oh yeah! Double blue!"

"That sends you backwards, Gaz."

"Curse you, Lord Licorice!"

"Gasman, calm yourself."

"Oh my God, a candy cane!"

"It's just a candy cane, kid."

"But...but...the marshmallows!"

"I thought we went over this."

"Gloppy sucks."

"He's made of chocolate. He can't suck."


It was...interesting.

"Angel wins. Again." Max announced, standing up. Gazzy huffed and kicked Fang's chair, crying out when Fang thumped him on the head. "I'm going to make spaghetti. Who wants bad pasta?"

"Me!" The whole flock cried in sing-song voices, and I cracked a smile. Max jumped over the coffee table and ran into the kitchenette.

"Can we play Chutes and Ladders now?" Angel asked sweetly.

"Yeah, I need to beat Angel at a board game!" Gasman whined.

Fang scoffed. "Not gonna happen, buddy."

"You did not just go there."

"Hey, Ig." Nudge whispered quietly. "Come here."

"Okay..." I let her take my hand and led me away from the couch. She sat me down on a bench, scooting next to me. I blushed when she didn't move, her arm touching mine. I felt awkward, but Nudge seemed fairly pleased with herself. Her arm was warm. I knew that she could see the severe red my cheeks must have been because she chuckled to herself. She took my hand and placed it on something cold. Little bars moved under my hand, and little notes rang out.

"It's a piano." I stated dumbly. Nudge laughed. I heard Gazzy shout and several bangs on the floor. I automatically assumed that Fang was pwning him in wrestling and went on with my life.

"Yeah, Ig, it's a piano." Nudge giggled. "I wanted you to try to play it, 'cause I always thought that you'd be really great at the piano and it'd look really cool and then when we're not being hunted and stuff we could put you on Youtube or something and you'd be famous."

"Blind kid plays piano." I laughed. "New ginger Justin Bieber on the rise."

"But much cooler."

"Duh," I scoffed. "I could beat that kid down, mutant hybrid style."

"Hey, Iggy?" Max asked, her voice half calm and half panicked. "Would you mind, if you, uh...I need your help."

"I'll learn later." I promised Nudge, and then climbed off the bench, walking to the kitchenette. Max grabbed my arm and pulled me next to her, and I felt the heat of the steam from five pots rise up onto my face. Max shook my arm like a small child.

"It's bubbling!" Max cried. "It's bubbling all over, like not a little bit but a lot a bit, and its been four minutes, not three, and the Ramen Noodle packet says to only cook for three minutes! Iggy is it going to be bad, I mean should I just throw it out and start over? Maybe we can just have marshmallows for dinner-"

"Max." I interrupted, turning off the stove with one turn of the knob. "It's fine. Now I'm going to say this slowly."

"Please do."

"Put the packets of flavoring in." I instructed, smirking as Max scrambled to complete the task. "Just one packet per pot. Now mix it around with a spoon, and then insert the food into bowls for us to then put into our tummies."

"Yeah." Max flustered, grabbing bowls from the cabinet. "Yeah, okay. Thanks, Ig."

"No prob." I smiled. "Got the bowls?"


"Okay then. Congrats. You have now successfully made Ramen Noodles. You can survive though college now." I remarked sarcastically, grabbing my soup moving toward the couch. Max scoffed and carried the other bowls on a tray to the living room, letting the rest of them attack their food. I stepped carefully toward the seats, feeling slightly uncomfortable again as they all started conversing casually. They never really talked a lot, but now that I was sitting with them, I guess they considered things almost-normal. Huh. As if.

Suddenly my foot caught the underside of the couch, sending me toppling to the ground. My soup spilled all over my chest and I cursed as my ankle turned. The bowl pressed into my collarbone and my vision went white. Words and scenes flashed through my head, most leaving just as quickly as they came. A wolf man with a childish face, a gun, explosions, blood, pain in my eyes, and bacon (I didn't quite understand that one, but I was willing to roll with it). Pain spiked through my head. I thought that someone was calling my name, but I couldn't be sure. I wasn't sure of anything anymore.

Killed them gun blood face Max-

I opened my eyes, trying to stretch them out, willing myself to see. The voice inside my head sounded exactly like mine, like something I had thought before.

I blinked. It was gone. It was all gone.

"Iggy?" Max asked timidly, kneeling down next to me. "Iggy?"

My hand shot out without hesitation, catching Max's face lightly with my fingertips. I didn't know why, but it felt right, and it calmed me. It was silent, and I shifted uneasily on the floor, my hand not moving. I snapped it back self-consciously, but no one talked.

Then I realized that they were smiling.

Knowing me, the action will pick up tenfold in the next chapter, and then actual adventure will begin the chapter after that. I just can't stand the...boringness of standing around and being depressed. So if they seem less depressed, well...they probably found some bacon or something. There'll be plenty of angsty stuff, but first I want the action. -rubs hands together evilly- I can't wait. And since I have Thanksgiving break after tomorrow, hopefully I can write another chapter for next weekend. Cheers to that, and such. Now love that review button. It would love you back, but it's a button.

3. It's All Just Counting Cards

Aw, you guys are the best. Thanks bunches for all the reviews! I love you all. I hope that all my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and stuff. So huge thanks go to ManyNamesMember, flYegurl, limegreen124, Heart the Squid, WhiteWinterStar, Animebookfreaker, iPinkNinja, and PeppyGothChick (who made my day and reviewed like every other chapter of Made Again before coming here) for reviewing!

Now, I promised you action, so here it is. I appreciate all of your reviews, and I love reading them, so keep writing them! :D And maybe I'll finally get out my next one-shot by the New Year :P I hope you guys enjoy the chapter!


I skimmed my sensitive fingers over the keys, counting the number of little bars to the next note. I furrowed my eyebrows, sticking my tongue out a tiny bit in concentration. First D...then A...


That, my friend, if the sound of progress.

"Iggy?" Max's voice rang through the house, vibrating through my head. "The kids and I are going out to get food that isn't Ramen Noodles."

"Watch out for a the toxic sign on the label." I called back, not turning around. "That means bad things."

"Gotcha." Max replied. The sound of money being dropped to the ground and picked up again entered my eardrums. "I won't make that mistake again."

"I will never recover!" Gasman cried.

"We'll be back in about an hour," Max informed me. "Just...sit there and do stuff."

"Keep practicing!" Nudge encouraged. "You're getting so good!"


"Oh, and Ig?" Max came up behind me. "Do..uh, do you..."

"No." I sulked visibly, my fingers pressing a few keys that did not go together and issuing a horrid sound from the piano. "I don't even...no."

"O-Okay." Max put her hand awkwardly on my shoulder for a moment, and then turned around and walked out of the house without another word, dragging the kids and Nudge out behind her. The door slammed, and I sighed. Had I remembered something? Yes. Did I remember anything now? Nope. Everything had just disappeared in a big poof of smoke, and the wind had sent that untouchable cloud of memories far, far away from me.

I'm such a poet, aren't I?

It was just...frustrating. I swung my fist out behind me, sure that I would find a hard wall there to attempt to break down. There was just air. And maybe that was the worst part of it. I let my head drop softly onto the piano. It had been there, damn it, and now it was gone. My whatever-part-of-my-brain-that-held-memories-and-was-stupid was just a huge colander, letting my past flow right through...everything. There was nothing.





Shoot me.

I pressed a few more notes with my fingers, and then finally gave up and stepped off of the bench, my thoughts elsewhere. Bored, I stepped toward the door and opened it, feeling the brisk cold air rush onto my face. I knelt down and formed a snowball in my long fingers, shivering as the cold jolted through my body. I smiled and sat down, my butt in the living room and my legs outside in the cold. I dug my lighter out of my pocket and flicked it open, cradling my snowball in one hand and the lighter in the other. I lit a flame and held it under the snowball, feeling the warmth spread through the ice and my hand. After the snowball had melted in my hand I closed the lighter and stood up, shaking water off of my freezing fingers. Well, I got my daily dose of burning something over with, even if it had been water. I closed the door again, desperate for something to do. I refused to be ruled by the horrible thoughts of my past. I was an amnesiac, and I couldn't change that. The best I could do was look up something on Web MD when Max got home. That was a good plan.

But until then...what do do? What to do...

I walked back over to the piano and tried to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Guess what? I failed miserably. I had no idea why Nudge wanted me to play the piano, but it seemed like that was the only thing that ever made her happy, so I was going to try at the very least. No matter how bad I was at it.

"Why can't I not be blind?" I asked no one in particular, leaning my head back. Everything would be so much simpler. I could see the flock, and maybe remember them that way. They could show me a video, like they did in 50 First Dates. I could freaking know something. I didn't even know what Nudge looked like. How unfair was that?

Well, Iggy, you're life's unfair. So you don't get sight, family, or memories. But lookie, you get half a cookie. Everything cool?


I walked over to the kitchenette, pulling brownie mix out of the cabinet and setting it on the counter. I took out a bowl and the ingredients. I needed chocolate, and I needed it now. I mixed the stuff in the bowl and then tasted it. After deeming it tasted enough like chocolate, I poured it into a brownie pan and stuck it in the oven. Well, the kids would be happy when they got home. I bent over, setting the timer at twenty minutes. I hoped. Whatever.

You'll all be dead soon, anyway.

I stopped, my hand on the oven. The voice had come from my head. It was my voice, but unlike before I hadn't been thinking to myself. I stayed frozen there, breathing hard. What did that mean? Could you be schizo if the voice was your own? I shook my head. The voice didn't come again. I was hearing things. I was sure of it.

Growling. I saw flashes in my head of wolf-men, fully morphed and teeth baring down on me. Screams of the flock, a little girl with blond hair being taken away. The rest of the flock, lying in a strawberry field. A gun firing. Blood.

Suddenly I whipped up, swinging my head toward the hallway, then the living room. "Who's there?" I muttered, but no sound came out. Someone was in the house. The Erasers, I knew it. I walked silently into the living room, my arms up in defense. I wasn't going to let them take her again. I wasn't going to let them kill them. I'd kill them first. My head cocked toward the hallway again, my breath hitching.

"Who's there?"


I yawned as I sat up in my bed, stretching and rubbing my eyes. Naps were wonderful. I took more naps than usual lately, what with me getting over a bunch of injuries (Iggy's eye still wasn't healed. I needed to tell Max to fix that). I swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood, grabbing a shirt off of a chair. I swung it over my shoulder and walked out of my room, heading into the bathroom and splashing some water on my face before putting my shirt (black, of course) on. I strained my ears, only hearing the beep of the oven downstairs. Iggy must be cooking. That was good. An Iggy that was cooking was an Iggy that was normal. For Iggy, anyway.

I stretched again, slowly making my way to the stairs. Max must have still been out at the market. I hoped she got me some root beer. I loved that stuff. I gradually made my way down the stairs, running a hand through my hair. I needed something to eat. Maybe Iggy was making lunch. I hoped it was grilled cheese.

I stopped in the doorway and looked in, leaning on the door frame and fingering the bruise on my stomach. Iggy was in the living room, stiff and rigid. I frowned.

"Who's there?" He asked, his fists clenched and up near his face. I stepped forward, coughing a bit. My voice was scratchy and husky.


"Who are you?" Iggy snapped. He advanced toward me, his eyes flashing. I held up my hands, and then realized he couldn't see them. I put them down again slowly. "This is our house!"

"Ig, I-" I put my hand on his shoulder. Iggy tensed and snarled. I backed up a step, but it was too late. Iggy lashed out with his arm, smacking my hand away. He wound up and kicked me in the chest. I smashed into the wall behind me, more surprised than hurt. Iggy swung at me again, growling, but I ducked and rolled out of the way. Iggy's fist smashed right into the drywall, cracking the wall and blasting it to pieces. I dodged his other fist and ran into the living room as Iggy yanked his hand out of the wall. He ran after me, but I jumped over the couch, taking a pillow and throwing at him. Iggy hit it out of the way.

"What are you doing?" I cried, astonished. Iggy didn't answer, and instead launched himself over the couch and elbowing me in the shoulder. I caught his hand before he could nail me and pushed him into a chair, taking the time to jump on the other chair and knock it over all cool-like. It was a complete waste of time. Iggy roared and continued his chase. He rugby-tackled me to the ground and punched me in the jaw, making my neck snap. If I hadn't rolled with it he could have broken my neck. I kicked him off of me and took off into the hallway again. Iggy grabbed something off of the counter and followed me. I leaped onto the stairs as Iggy threw himself at me, his knife sticking in the wall now. I froze for a minute, staring at the knife and Iggy's furious facial expression. It was a minute too long, and Iggy ran after me again. I tore up the stairs, running as fast as I could possibly go.

See, even though I'd never admit it to any shrink or Max or anyone, I was kind of afraid of Iggy. The guy was a damn good fighter, and even though I knew it wasn't him that had almost killed me, he still scared me to hell. Especially with that look in his eyes. That was his protective, killing look. And trust me, everyone has that look. They just haven't made it yet. I still had nightmares of Iggy's clone attacking me, attacking my flock. He was a killer.

And no matter how much I didn't want to admit it, that made Iggy a killer too. Or at least a potential killer. Right about now it seemed like I was going to be the first victim.

And that scared the shit out of me.

"Come back here, jerk!" Iggy roared as I sprinted down the hallway. I was a jerk, I admit, but I didn't do anything! There was something wrong with Iggy. I had to get downstairs, and then outside, and then I had to find Max. I couldn't fight Iggy. This wasn't his clone. I didn't want to hurt him. But he still wanted to kill me. Did everyone want to kill me?

I'll take that as a yes.

"Iggy, it's me!" I shrieked, knocking into the wall. "It's Fang!"

He didn't listen. "You're not going to hurt them!" He screamed. He tackled me again, this time sending us down the stairs. We crashed into the platform, breaking the railing and falling down ten feet onto the wood floor. I landed on my back, and all breath left me. For a moment I didn't realize Iggy was punching me until the blood started to trickle out of my mouth. I scrambled out from under him and ran into the living room again, completing the full circle. I side-flipped over the kitchen counter, panting. Suddenly a knife pierced the wood, taking a tiny chunk of my ear with it.

"Oh, SHIT!" I screamed, and Iggy jumped over the counter. I uttered an apology in my head before throwing a fist at him, but he hit it away with his arm. He grabbed my shirt collar and punched me again, pinning me to the ground. I got a few hits in, but Iggy was angry, and I was reluctant. I didn't know what Iggy thought I was, but my voice was even more husky because I hadn't had anything to drink and I had been running for my life. I was sure that I didn't even sound like myself, and evidently Iggy was reliving something. Oh, great, he was remembering!

Not really what I expected.

I dribbled out blood from my mouth, trying in vain to knee Iggy in the nuts to get him to stop. That would make him see reason. At least I hoped. Iggy grabbed my throat now, and I weakened. I started to become tired, and my eyes fluttered. No, no. Iggy was my brother. There was something wrong with him. I had to stop him. Iggy punched me again, and I wheezed. He was going to kill me. I had to stop him. What if the flock came home? He could still be lost in his memory and attack Max, or the kids, or Max...

I struggled weakly. I couldn't bring myself look at Iggy's angry eyes and instead let them flicker to the side. The knife, stuck in the counter. I...I could get it. My hand inched toward it, trembling. Iggy's hold on me wasn't enough to suffocate me, and I was surprised. I looked up at him for a second, and realized that there was hesitation reflecting off of his clouded irises. Iggy stopped for a moment, letting his arm hang down but keeping his other on my neck. My fingers dropped from the knife.

"What are you doing?" Max screamed, ripping Iggy off of me. I sat up, spitting out blood and wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I coughed a little bit, and Max dropped to my side. Nudge grabbed Iggy's arm, looking from him to me to him again. Gazzy stood in the doorway, his hand tight on Angel's. "Are you okay?" she asked me, and then turned to Iggy again. "What were you thinking? What is wrong with you?"

"I-" Iggy stammered, his face flushed of color. There seemed to be a thousand things running through his head at one time. "They were going to kill me, they-they killed you, the Erasers, and I wouldn't-their copter, they were going to take Angel, and I couldn't..."

He stopped, paler than ever, words forming in his mouth that didn't make it to our ears. He bit his lip, an inner battle raging in his head. We watched helplessly as Iggy yanked his arm away from Nudge, disbelief etched across his face. He shook his head, backing away from us. I frowned, knowing what was going to happen. In one second he was out the door, flapping his wings and flying away as fast as he possibly could.

Gazzy said what we were all thinking, his voice low and solemn with disappointment. "He's not coming back this time, is he?"

Come on. We've got our pie. Now see that review button? Click on it and share the love! :)

4. Explosions in Canada Go Boom Boom Boom

Due to flYgurl's deadline for a new chapter, and the impending doom I've felt ever since I passed said deadline, I spent all of my sick day writing so that I could get this up for you guys. I want to sincerely thank every one of my reviewers and apologize for not listing you all because I am completely exhausted at this point. I've got a nice, long, exciting chapter to make up for the lag. Review and make my day? :)

Special thanks go to My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and Ramen Noodles for helping me write this chapter on a sick day. At least I actually did something semi-productive.


The beat of my wings propelled me forward through the cold air. I sorta kinda wished that I had grabbed my jacket. It was chilly out here. Wintertime wasn't the best time for an amnesiac bird-kid to hyperventilate and run away from home. But that wasn't the point. I had hurt Fang. I didn't know why, but I hadn't even known it was Fang until the end. It was weird. What was wrong with me? These flashbacks were getting worse and worse, and I just couldn't be around the flock anymore. I was too dangerous.

For some reason, I was feeling a funky sense of déjà vu. That had become pretty normal in my freaktastic life.


He had been an Eraser. I had known it. I had been sure of it, no doubt in my delusional mind. They were going to take Angel away, Max's little girl...but they weren't, because it was the flock, and the Eraser had been Fang. It just wasn't right. That wasn't what happened. I hadn't been in Canada, there hadn't been snow...How could my flashbacks change my reality? Ugh, I was starting to sound like a therapist, or some college graduate or something.

Maybe you're insane.

I nearly had a heart attack right then and there, falling a few feet before recovering and flapping my wings again. My voice had spoken inside my mind again. Except I hadn't thought anything. What was it thinking? I wasn't insane! My own voice was talking to me inside my brain, but that didn't mean anything!

It's really hard to argue that your not insane to the voice in your head. It didn't help my case whatsoever.

I straightened myself out and flew on, trying to determine how far away from the house I was. I knew that I coudn't just go out on my own without any supplies. I had to go back sometime, unless I could find a town and a Mini-Mart to shoplift. I couldn't handle facing the flock again-

DAMN IT. My brownies! I left them in the oven! Aw, man...

It's official. Life sucked for blind bird kids named Iggy. Hear, hear!

I was just so confused.

I sighed and headed down toward the ground, lucky enough to not crash into a bunch of trees. I knelt down in the snow, letting my bangs hang in the fluffy white coldness. I admit it; I started crying. Not for the brownies, by the way. Even though that was a pretty legitimate reason to start crying. I thrust my hands into the snow, punching the hell out of something that couldn't feel anything. I let the tears flow. Why me? Why did it always have to be me? I had been taken away from my parents as a baby, tested on, run away, been captured again, shot, and had my memory completely wiped. The last few being only in the last couple months. I wanted to scream, so I did. Birds flew off of their perches, and the sound of a far away avalanche started. Good. Serves them right. Then I realized that there was no one out here to serve revenge to on a silver platter. Until I was healed, until I had my memory back...I was vulnerable. I was up on the chopping block. I couldn't do anything.

I wanted to hit someone so bad.

Suddenly a twig snapped, and my head swung up. There was someone in the forest, and it wasn't a fluffy bunny rabbit. It wasn't one of the flock, either. Bad news.

Very bad news.

I jumped up, sniffling a bit and attacking my eyes with the back of my hand. I stood still and listened, straining to get past all of the white noise that clouded my ears. A snap. The crunch of snow. They were human, but not normal. The tread was like on of the flock's...like mine. Yet it was heavier, the gait more determined and angry. Vengeful. The snow flattened some more, and leaves crackled under the blanket. Combat boots.

Everyone knew that combat boots meant badass, and that badass meant someone was getting pwned. I hoped it wasn't going to me.

Of course it was going to be me.

I kept my feet light and silent as I made my way behind the person, staying a good thirty feet behind them and listening for their breathing pattern, if they would say anything. I already knew that this wasn't an Eraser, or some unlucky and very lost hiker. This was something new, and I didn't know if they meant to harm or to help.

They stopped up ahead, the wind on my face told me that it was a break that overlooked the valley. I stalked forward like a ninja, hiding behind a tree. The person's breathing didn't falter as they slung something off of their back, letting it hit the ground. Their composure changed, one foot moving for balance as they turned around.

I know you're there.

I jumped, and the figure chuckled. I froze. That was how I laughed...only darker. With less actual humor behind it. With sudden realization of the situation (I can rhyme!) I jumped out from behind the tree, arms up and hands clenched in fists, only to get nailed in the chest by a foot. I fell to the ground, scrambling backwards to try to stay upright. Speared hands hit pressure points, making me fumble and crash into the snow. My attacker laughed my own laugh, and I felt sick to my stomach.

Too easy.

Hands reached down and grabbed my shirt, picking me up with even more inhuman strength and throwing me against a tree, I gasped in confusion, grabbing at my empty pockets for something to fight with. A fist slammed into my chest, and he laughed maniacally again, mutilating my voice into something of evil. How positively horrible.

"I would have thought that I would have been a better fighter," The person mused in my voice, swinging their hand into the side of my head. "But I guess that's why they made me better in the first place, right, Iggy?"

This explained a lot, actually.

I was at a loss of words. I didn't know what was happening. Letters and numbers flashed throug my brain, images of doctors in white coats, sterile white rooms, needles. I stuttered. I, me, my clone (I'm just going to say 'he' from now on, because I was pretty sure I wasn't a girl), what? He slammed two knifes in my sleeves, nailing me to the tree and taking advantage of my overwhelming panic attack. Before I could even think of kicking him in the kiwis he was gone, a few feet away and picking up the huge contraption, heaving it onto his shoulder. at once I knew what it was, and what he was going to do. My heart started pumping rapidly fast, even for me.

"I suppose we share interests," The other me said, not facing me. I pulled my shoulder up, managing to maneuver my hand above the knife with only one cut. I had to get out. I had to stop him. "You like explosions, right? Well, so do I. They're so wonderful. Especially when you get to share them with friends."

I raised my eyebrows. "What do you-"

"Let's share some with the flock." He sneered.

The shock hit me like a mallet. "No, don't-"

"Bazookas were always my favorite." Iggy 2.0 crooned.

I started to panic. "Stop!"

Everything happened so quickly. I ripped the knife out of the tree, reaching over and freeing my other hand before flying at...myself. The other Iggy laughed joyously and pulled the trigger to the rocket launcher. I screamed, knowing what he was aiming at. No, he couldn't...he didn't...I crashed into him, sending us both into the snow and rolling over each other. The killing machine was lost in the tumble. Horror took over every fiber of my being.


The ground shook with the sound of the massive explosion that erupted through the valley, sending snow crashing down everywhere. My ears rang as I was buried under a white tomb, my body going limp.

But I heard the screams.


"This sucks." Gasman moaned, sitting on the counter and munching on a burnt brownie.

"You said it." Angel sighed.

"How could he just..." Nudge stared out of the window, one hand on the cold glass. Tears brimmed in her eyes. She had watched Iggy fly away until he was just a speck in the white sky, and then nothing. "Leave like that?"

I sat Fang down on a chair and then stood up straight, facing the little kids with my hands on my hips like a boss. "Well, instead of asking obvious questions, we can go out and find Iggy before he gets lost. Who's with me?"

"I'll go." Gasman jumped off of the counter, dusting off his jeans as he landed. "Iggy doesn't know Canada like Chuck Norris does. We need to find him before he gets too far."

Then he walked out of the house, grabbing his jacket and flipping off of the door into the snow. Fang shook his head. "That kid needs counseling."

I rolled my eyes. "Nudge, help out Fangles here and get him some tissues and water...and mouth wash. Ange, you keep an eye out in case Iggy comes back. Gasman and I will be back in a little while."

"Right." Nudge muttered, walking out of the room. Angel smiled at me, and I smiled back. At least someone was on my side for once. I walked out into the snow and closed the sliding door, taking one last long look inside our house.

Psh, foreshadowing, what? Who said that?

"C'mon, Gazzy," I cuffed my little brother on the shoulder, walking out toward the cliffs. "Let's go find our little pyro before he hurts himself."

We took off into the snowy sky, flapping our wings in sync with each other as we flew over the valley. I let Gasman scope out the ground as I watched the clouds in case he appeared in the distance. When I had walked in one Iggy beating up Fang again, I jumped to conclusions. I couldn't...I just couldn't see Iggy and Fang together without remembering that sorry bastard that was Iggy's clone, and what he did. It was like I could see the bruises under Fang's black shirt. It was torture. I couldn't bring myself to think that the real Iggy would do such a thing without a good reason. Maybe Fang broke something of his; it wasn't the first time we'd broken a nose over broken glass or arson. Yet I knew that wasn't the case, not when Iggy's hand was on Fang's neck. Not when Iggy had that look in his eyes. Which was why I was hopelessly confused. Iggy had never, not once in his life, directed that look at one of us. Which meant that either Fang had had an Eraser costume on (which in that case he deserved the beating), or Iggy had genuinely mistaken Fang for an intruder, which was odd, because Iggy could tell us apart by our footsteps. Which meant that there was something going on in Iggy's head.

I felt like a detective. I was proud of myself.

"There's something wrong with Iggy." I spoke to Gasman. He rolled his eyes.

"No shit, Sherlock."

Happy feeling gone.

"Well then." I crossed my arms. "I meant, other than the whole 'I don't remember my family, I'm blind, have wings and am a ginger' thing."


I shot him a look. "Yeah, that's right, you better say 'oh'."

"I'm sorry, I just-"

Gazzy was cut off as we heard a loud, anguished scream come from about five miles north in the forest. It was Iggy. With one look Gasman and I poured on speed, heading for the ground. As soon as my feet touched ground I kept running, dodging trees the whole way. A branch cuffed my shoulder, and I cursed, still running. Gasman cried out, but I barely heard it. We were still a few miles from where Iggy had screamed, about the same distance from the house. I stopped for a minute, catching my breath. Then I turned around to realize that Gasman wasn't behind me. Shit.

I had lost two pyros. Who does that? No one does that, that's who! I'm stupid.

"Gasman!" I called out, retracing my steps at a jog. He probably fell down and was running toward me as I thought stuff. "Gasser, where you at?"

"Max?" He cried from further back in the forest. I ran back a ways in the glade, looking for a smell mess of blond kid with gastrointestinal issues. "Max, I-I'm stuck!"

"I'm coming, Gazzy!" I replied, swinging my head around. "Where are you?"

"Over here!"

I spotted the top of Gasman's little blond head and ran over to him, where he was waist down in the snow. I cocked my head at him, confused.

"What did you do, get caught in Canadian quicksnow?" I asked, putting my hands on my hips. "Or did the beavers decide to finally get back to you for setting fire to their den?"

"Neither." Gasman hissed in pain, which caused me to slap myself into check and kneel down beside my little trooper. "I think I stepped in a groundhog hole. Or a beaver hole."

"So the beavers are plotting their revenge?"

"Max!" Gasman whimpered, looking up at me pleadingly. "I-I hurt my ankle, can you help me out?"

"Sure, buddy." I stood and hooked my elbows under Gazzy's armpits, happy that the little guy hadn't gone and started crying. I yanked him out of the ground, and he shrieked in pain. I bit my lip and set him down on the ground, looking at his ankle. He hissed and growled when I touched it, for it had swelled up a bit. I hiked up my jacket and ripped off a bit of my shirt with my teeth, wrapping it around his ankle and tying it off.

"It's not broken, just sprained." I told him, standing. "Do you think you can run, buddy?"

Gasman shook his head, and I sighed. I turned around and squatted in the snow. "Climb aboard the Max train, then."

Gazzy scrambled onto my back, slinging his arms over my shoulders and catching his wrists in his hands. I hooked my arms under his thighs and stood up, glad that the kid had light bones. If he was any heavier my wings would have been crying out for help.

"Max?" Gasman muttered in my ear. "What about Iggy?"

"I'm going to get you back to the house first," I told him, starting to jog and being careful not to jostle his ankle. "And then I'll go out again and bring Iggy back."

"But..." Gazzy trembled. "He screamed."

"Well unlike you, Mister Beavers-Hate-Me, Iggy is perfectly capable of taking care of himself with his perfectly intact ankles." I patronized him. He scoffed. "So we're going back to the house where Nudge has ankle braces and marshmallows galore."

Gasman consented, relaxing on my back. "Good."

I ran through the trees, finally coming out at this little pond at the bottom of the valley that had frozen over. I crossed it easily, pausing for a moment to look up at the house. You could see it from the bottom, right up at the top of the cliffs. We just had to climb the hill up to the cliffs and then we'd be home.

It was funny, thinking of something as a home.

It was funny, having your home obliterated as soon as you started to think of it as a home.

The missile speared through the air faster than the two of us could even think, and struck the upper floor of our house. It erupted on impact, the explosion blowing the whole building into smithereens. We both screamed at the top of our lungs as our house blew up right in front of us. Flames licked the air and I fell back onto my butt, dropping Gasman back onto the ice as I felt a slight heat wave greet my face. I turned around and grabbed Gazzy into a protective embrace, sheltering him from the raining pieces of wood and fire. After the storm of debris had ended I got into a crouching position, my breath ragged and panicked. I flipped Gazzy onto my back forcefully, standing quickly. Gasman stared incredulously at the flaming space our house used to stand, seeming to hyperventilate. I stared with him.

"Our-our house!" Gasman screamed shrilly. "Our house!"

Horrible realization dawned on me, and I started shaking. "FANG!" I screamed, staggering backwards. "Fang! Nudge, Angel..."

"No!" Gasman sobbed.

I started running, not caring how steep the slope was or how heavy Gasman was on my back. I reached the remains in record time, setting Gazzy down on a rock before stumbling forward. The charred remains of a teddy bear stuck out from underneath some wood, and I pulled it out. Celeste. I started to cry, and I could hear Gasman crying as well. It was gone, they were gone...


Now I understood Iggy's confusion when he heard my voice after he thought we had died. It was so damn confusing.

"Max!" Angel cried, running toward me. Gasman jumped up and limped toward us as Angel leaped into my arms, crying into my hair. Nudge came up and hugged the both of us, and Gasman joined in. Last but not least, Fang climbed over a pile of wood and walked over to us, not one tear running down his face even though his eyes were glassy. We all embraced lovingly for a minute before breaking apart, all of us speaking at once.

"You guys are alive!" Gasman cried.

I smiled despite myself. "We thought you were dead."

Angel and Nudge interchanged telling us the story. "We thought we were too-"

"-But Fang pushed us down this hill-"

"-Because we left the house to look for you after you didn't come back-"

"-And we heard a scream-"

"And now our house is gone!"

I nodded, putting Angel on my hip and hugging her. "I know, I know. It's okay. But we're all together, we're all alive, and I'm so happy..."

"We're all alive?" A voice sounded from beside the cliff. We all turned to see Iggy walking toward us, and we all ran toward him, forcing him into our massive family hug. "I thought the house blew up!"

"It did!" Gasman cried. "And since none of us were hurt, it was awesome!"

"I-I thought..." Iggy choked up. "I thought that I'd left without getting to say goodbye."

I buried my head in Iggy's shoulder. "It's okay, Iggy. We're here. Are you all right?"

The voice that spoke was in Iggy's voice, but it sure as hell wasn't him. I whipped my head up to see a second Iggy standing where we had been standing a second before. The only difference between the two was the horrible scar that cut its way across the clone's face. The scar I had left as a present for hurting my family a few weeks before.

"Just peachy." He sneered in Iggy's voice, cracking his knuckles and stepping forward, cruel-looking dagger in hand. "Now, not to impose on this little, er, family moment, but who wants to die first?"

Mwahaha! He's back, my friends! Review thoughts!

Oh, yes. I was looking up some name meanings so I can actually give this evil ass a name, and found out that Iggy's real name MUST be Ignatius. It means "fiery one" (fangirl squee). So that's his official name. At least in my mind. I even changed it in Made Again. But seriously, this sorry smexy excuse for Iggy needs a name. Suggestions?


I wrote a little one-shot called Make It Better a few days ago. Please go review it and give it some love.

Peace, Love, and Hershey's Kisses.

5. Dear God It's Like Television

Hey there. So...yeah, I've essentially been MIA for a few weeks now, but I apologize. Holiday stress, writer's block and all. I hope you'll forgive me :) I want to say THANKS to everyone who reviewed, especially dreams in which i'm dying/Wynter Sora for being yet another press-through reader (reading the whole Made Again story and coming here, dang, thanks), and Di Angelo Grace Jackson (I like the name). New reviewers, yay! And to all my old reviewers-I still appreciate/love/rely on you guys, so please stay reading. :D

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas/Chanukkah/Kwanza/Great Extravaganza (flYegurl, psh)/Holiday. Let's get back to the story, no?

Hot damn.

"Go away," I snarled, wrapping my arms around Gasman and Angel protectively. "Don't you have your own life to ruin?"

"You've already completed that job." Iggy's clone growled back, those creepy seeing Iggy-eyes piercing mine. Damn, it was like he could see into your soul. I had to give the guy props, though. He came back at me with a witty yet hurtful response that somehow made me happy inside. His nose crinkled in disgust, making his scar seem slightly familiar to me. I just couldn't place it. He twirled his dagger menacingly. "Now it's my turn. How about we start with the little ones?"

"When chipmunks fly!" Gasman screamed at him, backing up into me. Not-really-Iggy smirked, taking a switchblade out of his belt and flicking it at a tree. We all watched in sick fascination as a chipmunk fell out of the tree and over the cliff. The clone smiled.

"Now give me the little girl."

"However impressive that may be," I grabbed Angel and swung her behind me to Fang. "You're insane, so no. Actually, I think killing chipmunks and seeking revenge is the first step in becoming a stereotypical comic book super villan. You should get that checked out."

"I don't need-" He growled.

I cut him off. "I could schedule an appointment with Ms. Figment down in Crazyland, if you'd like. I hear those imaginative therapists are very helpful."

"That's it!" The Evil Iggy shouted in rage, running toward us with murder in his freaky eyes. Nudge screamed, and things seemed to slow down a little bit. I threw Angel to the side and into Fang, and the real Iggy pulled Nudge backwards. I leaped forward to meet him, dodging swiftly under his arm and driving my fist right into the clone's face. He stumbled back, cursing, and looked up as I launched myself at him, fist flying. He struck out like a snake and wrapped his hands around my arm, using my momentum to flip me forward into a pile of debris. Angel screamed, and I growled as I lifted myself up. As soon as my eyes made contact with his and realized that they were way too close for comfort, I was already sprawled on my back, head reeling. I heard Fang yell something, but I didn't comprehend it. I saw the piercing blue eyes peer into mine, and I looked at his smirk. It was so much like Iggy's, it almost fooled me. Yet there was the scar I gave him, pink and nearly white after a few weeks of super-mutant healing. That horrible, horrible scar...

"Max!" Fang cried.

"Hey Maxie," The clone crooned, lifting my chin with one finger. He was so fast I didn't even see him. His hand wrapped around my shirt and formed a fist, lifting me up in the air. The scene swam around in my eyes, but I saw Fang forcing Angel and Nudge up a tree, sending concerned looks my way and clenching his jaw. Iggy had his eyebrows furrowed, an odd look of pain flashing across his face. He stumbled into a tree trunk, catching a low branch and supporting himself. I kicked feebly, glancing around quickly. Where was-I couldn't see-

"Let go of her!" Gasman shrieked, jumping onto the clone's back with a fierce battle cry. He wrapped his legs around his midsection and slammed his hands over the clone's eyes. Not-So-Iggy dropped me onto the pile of debris, and I blinked my eyes, jumping into a crouched position. The clone whipped around fiercely, trying to get Gasman off of his back. He stopped suddenly and wrenched forward, sending Gazzy right over his head and onto the ground. He looked up at the clone in fear, clawing backwards and trying to get away. Iggy 2.0 grabbed Gasman's leg, smiling evilly. Fang shouted my name. Iggy was on the ground. I fell back on my butt. I was a horrible leader. Gasman screamed in pain as the clone twisted his already hurt ankle, effectively breaking it from its sprained state. Gasman cried, shouting for help and tears streaming down his face.



Rage filled me to the brim, and red clouded my vision. This bastard could hit me, he could hurt Fang and only get away with a permanent face scar. But he could not hurt my Gasman. He could not hurt the kids without dying a slow and painful death.

I screamed furiously. Fang and I both ran at Scarred Iggy at the same time, but we were both beaten to the punch. The real Iggy slammed into his twisted look-alike, soaring right over Gazzy and into the concrete base of our destroyed house. Iggy's fist slammed into the clone's face over and over and over again, until it was bloody and almost unrecognizable. In a way, I was very grateful for that. I ran over and swept Gasman up in my arms, cradling his head on my shoulder and running over to the tree where Nudge and Angel were hiding. They dropped down quickly. I looked to Nudge.

"Take Gazzy and get out of here!" I screamed, forcing Gasman into Nudge's arms and pushing them toward the woods. "Find a safe house, find a town, I don't care! Find somewhere safe and stay there!"

"But Max-" Nudge broke.

"Go!" I cried, glancing back at the fight. Fang was standing stock-still and petrified at the scene, while Iggy and his clone fought it out. The clone slammed his fist into Iggy's jaw, and I turned around again. "It'll be okay; we'll find you! Just...go! Gazzy needs help!"

"No, Max..." Gasman glanced up, his eyes filled with pain. His ankle wasn't just broken, it was bloody and cut up. He had to leave, Nudge had to help him. I pushed back his hair and gave him a kiss on the forehead. My little trooper. He'd be alright.

"Go!" I pushed them forward again. "Damn it, guys, just leave! We'll catch up!"

I ran away from them and back toward the fight, motioning with my hands for them to get the hell out of there. Nudge sent me a glance before taking off into the air with Gasman at her side, leg hurt but wings completely intact. I reached the wreck site just in time to see the clone jam his knee into Iggy's stomach. They were dangerously close to the cliff's edge. The fury in his eyes seriously reminded me of something. Fang backed up, fear plastered over his face. I grabbed his arm, continuing to run forward. Iggy's clone kicked Iggy in the face, and then swung around and kicked him in the chest. I screamed as Iggy toppled right over the edge of the cliff, falling down toward the snow and rocks below. Fang blinked, and awareness seemed to take over his features. This wasn't Iggy. This was evil with Iggy's face.

"Max, get Iggy!" He roared. "I'll take care of this douche."

I sent him a glance before launching myself off of the cliff, whipping my wings out and dipping toward the ground that was at least five stories below. I landed knee-deep in the snow, swinging my head around. I couldn't see Iggy whatsoever. I trudged through the deep fluff, searching through the white. Suddenly I saw a flash of orange, and I tore towards it. I brought Iggy's torso out of the snow, thanking whatever was up there that he hadn't landed on the rocks jutting out from the snow. Iggy's eyes were closed, his face bruised and his already hurt eye even more swollen. He was pretty bloody, but I smiled knowing that his doppelganger was even worse for wear. I sighed, taking his face in my hands.

"Iggy." I spoke sternly. "Iggy, wake up."

After a moment of protest, Iggy's blind eyes flickered open, and he jerked in my grip, fumbling back into the snow. I picked his lanky body up by his arm, hooking it around my shoulder. "Come on, Ig." I huffed. "We gotta go help Fang beat your replica into the ground."

"Wha'?" Iggy murmured, his head falling on mine. "I-I'm dizzy. You're Max, right?"

I bit my lip. I knew this was coming. A five-story fall could make even a mutant hybrid incoherent. it was a miracle he hadn't broken his legs, let alone his neck. "Yeah, Iggy. I'm Max." I started the trek around the cliff, predicting that we wouldn't be flying up. I was right. I'm always right, I'm Maximum Ride.

"That's good." Iggy whispered. "I like cookies. You like cookies, right Max? Chocolate chip! Ha, yummy."

I glanced at him for a moment, but his eyes were closed. "Yep, Iggy, those are my favorite." I muttered.

"I hurt myself, but it wasn't me." Iggy rasped, and then chuckled. "That doesn't even make sense!"

"Nothing makes sense in our world, Iggy." I growled, heaving him with me up the hill. I could hear Fang and the clone fighting up ahead. I pressed on even faster. "Say, Iggy...why did you fight that clone?"

"He was hurting a little kid." Iggy muttered. "No one can hurt little kids. Ever. People who hurt little kids suck."

I scoffed. "That's my boy."

Iggy straightened up, blinking the dizziness out of his eyes rapidly. He slammed into me, sending us both into the snow just as a small metal ball zoomed right over us and into a tree, coming to a rest at the base. In a matter of seconds it exploded, blowing the whole thing into burning little bits. Ah, hell, that was scary! I screamed, and Iggy clenched his jaw. I looked up and saw Iggy's clone standing there was a freaking grenade launcher in his hands, laughing with no humor. That's when I totally realized what he reminded me of.

This dude was freaking Prince Zuko. From the Last Airbender cartoon? We loved that show. Gasman had spent the last few weeks watching the second season, and I had really wanted to buy the third from a neighboring town. It was so actiony...and weird. It was us. Oh my God, it was perfect. I was impressed, freaked out, and practically scared enough to piss myself at the same time. The scar, the love of fire, the revenge, it was all perfect.

Dear God, it was like my life was a television show. But I digress.

Zuko-Iggy cackled like the insane lunatic he was, and I jumped up, crouching behind a tree. Iggy stayed laying on the ground, shaking his head like there was a colony of mosquitoes in there. I ran forward as Fang tackled the clone to the ground again (I couldn't not think of the guy as Zuko after my revelation), and I jumped in to help. I smashed the heel of my Converse into his throat, causing him to sputter and cough. The clone leaped up and threw himself at me, pushing me to the ground. He raised his foot to kick me, but then suddenly stopped. His face screwed up in pain, and he fell to the ground in a fetal position next to me. An angry-looking Fang stood above me, his jaw clenched and his arms in a defensive fight position. I smiled up at him.

"In the kiwis." He growled. I started to crack up, and he actually broke out in a smile. He reached down and extended his hand to me. I grabbed it and he pulled me up from the ground. Iggy stumbled into the wreck site, falling on his hands and knees on top of some wood. Fang and I jogged over and helped him up. I glanced at the clone, who was twitching on the ground (I mean seriously, that was the second time he'd been nailed in the kiwis by a flock member in like, two weeks. He should've known. Tsk, tsk, Evil Dude). Not a very fast learner, was he?

"Let's get out of here," I told Iggy and Fang, jerking my head toward the pained mess of clone on the concrete. "Before this thing that as of now can't have children gets up."

"Agreed." Fang nodded. "Let's head east, to Montreal or something."

"Let's just leave," Iggy moaned. "I have a headache, and I think I'm going to puke."

"Puke on him," I gestured to the clone. He started to squirm, and I started to panic. "Okay guys, time to scram. Iggy, I hope you can fly decently."

Iggy ignored me and peered at Fang, his speech a little slurred. "You're Fang, right?" Fang nodded stiffly, and Iggy made a face, eyelids drooping a bit. "I don't think I like you much."

"Ig-" Fang snarled.

I grabbed Iggy's arm, and we started to run toward the cliff side, stumbling in Iggy's case. Something seemed to be off with his knee. Fang sent Iggy a weird look just before we leaped off of the cliff, unfurling our wings and beating them against the air. I sent a reproachful look backwards at the still-smoldering remains of our home. I reached over and squeezed Fang's fingers softly, looking for reassurance. He couldn't give me a lot.

"The kids went south-east." I called over the Canadian wind. "So let's go north for a little while, and then head east, see if we can lead the clone off of our trail."

"If he follows us, you mean." Fang deadpanned.

"Yeah." I replied. "We'll try to meet up with the kids in the next couple days. Nudge can take care of the kids by herself."

"But who's going to take care of Nudge?" Iggy rasped. I looked at him solemnly, and saw the compassion in his eyes. He really cared about Nudge, I realized. If something happened, if the clone went after her and the kids instead...

Well, that wasn't going to happen.

Yeah, I know you guys all wanted him to get hit in the kiwis. Now, if we could arrange a similar fate for Bob...Unfortunately, the next chapter is going to be pretty boring, but after that things will pick up again. This I swear -evil laugh-.

Oh yeah, and that Christmas one-shot I posted. Review that too. Please?

See that review button? It didn't get anything for the holidays, so it's a little upset. Make it feel loved again :)

6. Because He's A Ginger

I think I'm in love with Brendon Urie. Like, legit.

So...heyy. Lookie, I'm alive! That's great news, right? I'm super sorry I've been MIA for such a long time...it's quite complicated. School (ugh), musical (slightly less ugh), I've been pretty sick these past few days (UGH), and other stuff. This has to be the crappiest, shortest, most filler-ish chapter I've ever written, but I thought you guys deserved something. I might be a little slow on the uptake for the next few months, it might be a few weeks between chapters, it could be only one week, but it will be a little while. I have to go back to the doctor tomorrow (wah, I hate it, i hate it), and then my teachers seem content on keeping me up to my head in homework and projects and tests and why can't I get a break?

I promise to keep trying, guys. You know, if there's anyone out there still reading. If you want to make feel better and make my day, you can do one or all (preferably all) of these things, and I will be happy if: 1) You check out my new deviantART (link on my profile, name SongbirdofFrenzy) and comment on my drawings even though they're pretty bad, 2) REVIEW :D, and 3) Know what the heck Scott Pilgrim is, because if you do you are immediately my new best friend.

So, yeah. Lecture over. Super-short chapter begun. Reviews needed. :)

No more bazooka maniac behind us? Check. Beat-up still-kind-sorta-we-have-no-idea-what's-going-on-boyfriend? Check. Delusional ginger amnesiac brother? Uh, yep, check. Crappy Monday morning-ish?

You betcha.

"Yo, Igster." I clapped his shoulder, panting. Fang flung his backpack off and started circling the area, checking for any sign of the evil little doppelganger we had left behind at the wreckage of our semi-beloved house. Iggy stumbled into place behind me, his palm pressed against his head. We already knew that he was out of it, and that he probably had a concussion. What wonderful news, what with you know, the murderer with a bazooka fetish after us, the kids separated from us, and the evil wizard douche that took Iggy's memories still on the rise.

Bright side? Uh...we heal fast. He'd be fine by morning.

"Hey, Maxie." Iggy slurred, leaning against a tree. He reached out and fingered my hair. "Your hair...is pretty."

"Thanks." I replied curtly, dropping my own backpack and pulling Iggy's off of his back. "How're you feeling?"

"Like...I fell off of a cliff." Iggy paused for a moment and then started to crack up. "Which I did! You didn't fall off a cliff too, did you, Maxie? That would be bad-whoa, my head hurts." He fumbled and fell on his butt, staring into space in shock before snorting with laughter.


"Can I sleep now?" He asked, his speech suddenly soft and slow. "I'm sleepy. I promise I'll wake up, I promise."

"Well if he promises," Fang attempted, coming up beside me. Iggy's face hardened.

"Shuddup." He growled, and then his head fell back on the tree trunk, his eyes closed. His mouth gaped open. We stood there staring at him for a good three minutes before a soft snore escaped his lips.

Fang grimaced, stock-still beside me. "He really hates me, doesn't he?"

I smirked, but it was half-hearted. "Like you were the spawn of Nicolas Cage himself." I knelt down and pushed back Iggy's hair. "I think he was just a little delusional from his fall. He'll be better when he wakes...somewhat."

"Somewhat." Fang scoffed. "We need to keep moving."

"Eh, let 'im sleep." I spread my arms, letting out a huge yawn. "I could use a nap too. We all do. Why don't we switch off watch? You got some nasties all over your face and stuff."

"From my blind brother." Fang growled, turning around and walking away from me and to his backpack. He paused, bending over it. "...Who hates me."

I walked over to another tree, sliding down to the ground and running my hand through my hair. "Yeah, well." I spared a glance at the sleeping Iggy, and then looked at my shoes. I busied myself with re-tying my shoes for the first time in like, three years. It was a horrible experience. "This really isn't Iggy, so he doesn't remember us or why we're all so undeniably awesome."

Fang scoffed, shuffling through his pack vigorously. I swore under my breath at my shoes and then picked up some snow, throwing it at a squirrel. It chattered at me before running away. "Somehow you made something so completely horrible into a joke. Nice." Fang picked up a package and waved it over his head. "Want a twinkie?"

"Very much so." Fang threw it at me, and I snarled as it hit me in the face. "Thank you, kind sir. By the way, by 'kind sir', I mean jackass."

"I figured."

"Don't worry, you're a lovable jackass."

"I think Iggy forgot the 'lovable' part." Fang scoffed, coming beside me and sitting down in the snow. Not like we even cared. "He was wary of me before, but now...I don't know, it's almost like it's deliberate."

"You don't think..." I scratched my head for a moment, sinking my teeth into my twinkie. "You don't think that they, that he, can control what he remembers? Make him remember...you know, different stuff?"

Fang seemed to be thinking, so I scarfed the rest of the twinkie into my mouth and stole another one out of the box. We carried twinkies around because they were light, unhealthy, cheap, and could probably survive a nuclear blast if needed. They were like delicious, edible cockroaches. Hm...it's not as gross as it sounds. Strange.

"What if they can control him, Max?" Fang muttered gravely.

"What do you mean?" I was afraid to hear the answer.

"Why was it so easy to just pick him up?" Fang bit the inside of his cheek, not looking at me. "The clone-he just gave us the information after one measly scar-"

"I object on the grounds that it was not measly." I cut in. Fang sent me a glare.

"We flew off, and even with all those trucks, we found Iggy way too easily. It should have been harder. And then, whoop-di-doo, Iggy doesn't remember a thing. But he comes with us. He remembers itty bitty little things that, let's be honest, are the most memorable things in his damned little life. And then Mr. Bazooka comes in again after a couple of weeks, content with killing all of us, save you and Iggy."

"Why me and-"

Fang interrupted me. "They need you, Max. Jeb, Bob, whoever the hell these people are, they need you for whatever reason, and now they need Iggy, too. They finished with Angel. The rest of us are expendable now."

"Not to me." I muttered almost inaudibly, but the sides of Fang's mouth flickered.

"They need Iggy for some reason." Fang started again. "And for whatever reason they left him with us again. They-they keep setting up trials, but they keep getting messed up."

"And why is that?" I teased him. Fang looked at me.

"Because you screw everything up."

I started laughing, holding up a hand. "Guilty as charged."

"I mean seriously," Fang took my wrist in his hand. I took it as his awkward attempt at hand-holding and remedied it. "Iggy was probably supposed to kill me in the house. You stopped him. The rest of us were supposed to die in the house. You took Gasman, and I was still alive to know something funky was going on. The clone was probably supposed to take you and Iggy back with him. We kicked his ass."

"Again, guilty as charged." I smiled. Fang scoffed.

"Who are you kidding, I did all the work."

"What? You were scared to death of him."

"I got over it." Fang defended.

I huffed, crossing my arms. "I got over it," I mocked in my fake boy voice. "You know, after Max was hit, Gasman had his ankle broken, and Iggy was tossed off a cliff."

"At least I protected the girls!" Fang said exasperatedly, and then froze, realizing his blunder.

"Oh, so I'm not a girl?" I had to stifle my laughter.

"N-no, that's not what I was saying, of course you're a girl, Max, I-I don't-"

I biffed him across the head. "I was kidding, asshat. It's just fun to watch you flop like a fish sometimes. It's very amusing."

"Ha, ha." Fang deadpanned. "I'm just dying from the hilarity."

Iggy let out a moan, and we snapped our heads toward him. His eyes fluttered, and he woozily sat up. He waved his arms around a little bit, and then one hand found his head.

"Short nap." I remarked. "What has it been, twenty minutes?"


"Ugh." Iggy groaned. "Oh my God, what happened?"

"You fell off a cliff." I told him blatantly. "It's odd, because it's Monday. These things happen on Wednesdays."

"Really?" Iggy murmured. "That's-oh shit, I need to pee."

Iggy jumped to his feet, nearly toppling over, and then ran farther into the forest, singing "I gotta pee, I gotta pee" quite loudly. Fang started to chortle (who chortles? It sounds dirty) as I covered my ears and shut my eyes.

"Max, it's not that big a deal." He chuckled.

"La la la la la!" I cried. "I am not listening to Iggy pee!"

Awkward silence, recorded time: one minute, thirty-seven seconds.

"Well, I'm done now." Iggy breathed, flopping back down into the snow. "And I feel so much better."

"Good to know."

"You know, I don't think I've peed since this morning." Iggy pondered. "Look, I did all that crap without peeing once."

"Good for you."

Iggy sagged back against his tree, looking like he was going to pass out again. "Hey, Max." He whispered. I took away my hands from my ears.

"Hey, Iggy."

"...Where's Gasman?" Iggy asked, closing his eyes. "And the kids, and stuff?"

"They went another way." I told him, and then paused. "We'll meet up with them real soon."

"That's good." Iggy rasped. "Wouldn't want something to happen, unless it was like winning the chocolate lottery or something." He giggled, turning his head. "Maxie, I won a golden ticket."

"That's nice, Iggy." I told him, and then he clocked out again, mouth lolling open once more. I stared at him for a minute. "He's going to catch flies."

Fang didn't respond, just attempted the awkward hand-holding thing again. I smirked and then continued to stare at Iggy. It was weird. His body was still marked with bruises, but they were almost invisible now. Not because they weren't there, it was more like seeing bruises on Iggy was a normal sight now. The area around his collarbone was still a little red, but he was able to move regularly ever since they put that metal thingy in it. His eye was healing well enough. I felt bad, not noticing all of his injuries every day. I had just gotten used to it.

It wasn't something I wanted to get used to.

"How?" Fang asked gruffly. I turned my head to him.

"Please elaborate."

"How can he handle all this shit?" Fang extended, clenching his other hand into a fist. "All...all of it! How is he still standing, laughing, pretending like everything is great?"

"We have to pretend things are okay." I told him. "Especially around the kids. What would it look like if we just...I don't know, surrendered?"

"Most of the world would have given up by now." Fang pointed out. "I don't know how he's still going."


"We're all special, Max. School, wings, remember?"

"Well, he's a ginger." I stretched my arms. "He only has like, one sixty-fourth of a soul in there."

I leaned my head on Fang's shoulder, letting out a sigh. Fang put his arm around me, subconsciously running his fingers though my hair. I felt myself drifting into Sleep Mode, and I closed my eyes. I heard Fang whisper something, but I didn't hear it. Then he moved his lips near my ear.

"Max." He whispered. I blinked sleepily and looked up at him. "Do you think...we could ever just...live?"

"Together?" I muttered, closing my eyes again.

"All of us." Fang replied. "Together. Just...living. Alone. With no one to ever bother us again."

"It's nice to dream." I whispered.

"I don't want it to be a dream anymore." Fang almost growled. "I want it to be real."

"Yo, Fangles." I made my voice a tad stronger. "Don't get all emo on me. We'll be okay."


"Yeah." I sighed. "Whether we have to run to Timbuktu or live with the penguins in Antartica, we'll be okay. We're a flock."

"You're right." Fang muttered.

"Of course I'm right, you big doof." I snuggled closer into him. "Now let me sleep."

Fang put his head on top of mine, and I began to doze off. There was this little moment of complete, peaceful silence, where all I could hear was the three of us breathing softly. I smiled weakly. It was a nice moment. Our future looked bleak, I was starving, it was cold as hell; but I was pretty darn happy.

And of course, that's when we heard the crash.

-sniffle- the review button...it's been alone for so long. Give it some love so it doesn't get depressed. And stuff. :)

7. Treading On Thin Ice

Ugh. So sorry. Life just about dragged me into a dark alley and beat the crap out of me the past few weeks. Tests, musicals, drama, the whole deal. You don't want to hear my spiel. Ha, I rhymed. So, anyway, I hope you all forgive me for being a horrible updater. We have one more week of musical, but then I have to do lacrosse preseason, and then I'm going on a cruise (partayyy) for half of spring break. I'll try to write. I promise. PROMISE, I SAY!

Oh, hey. This totally isn't an advertisement for my deviantART. I'm totally not ordering you to read my poems and look at all my Iggy drawings. I'm totally not being sarcastic. (sarcasm yay).

Reviews=Love=Not feeling crappy=Funniness=Writing=Chocolate=Happiness=Beavers=Love=Reviews?

...Just review. I hate those things.


I was up on my wobbly legs as soon as the crash reverberated through the forest. Surprisingly, the pounding in my head was gone. Not so surprisingly, I felt like I was going to throw up. About five seconds after I had stood up Fang and Max rushed to their feet. Them and their regular mutant hearing.

"What was that?" Max shouted. The sound began to grow in volume, almost like metal smashing the air with its fist. Which is weird and fairly improbable, if you think about it. I heard Fang run somewhere, and I grabbed the tree behind me with my hand shakily. Suddenly more crashes, well, crashed throughout the woods, exploding quite loudly and making my sensitive ears ring. I heard the faint whistle of something dropping and then Max screamed. I was thrown onto the ground, heat nearly cooking my body into a nice, medium rare Iggy steak. Which I really don't think would taste very good covered in snow and mud.

"Holy shizbiscuits!" I cried, rolling away. Dangerous heat followed me like a stalker, and I subconsciously realized that my shoe was burning. Fang cried out something extremely distasteful, which I cannot repeat under any circumstance. Nausea viciously attacked me and I slammed my palm into the bark of a tree (albeit it was probably on fire) and dry heaved, the puke not coming. Horror started to swallow me whole, and just like that, I somehow forgot everything that was happening. All I knew was that my skin felt strangely seared, and that we were in immense danger. Narwhals attacking the unicorns in the middle of Manhattan kind of danger. Holy-crap-we're-gonna-die-in-a-fire-y-pit-of-koalas kind of danger. That's some serious shit. My mind went into instinct mode. Go. Had to go. We needed to run. We needed to leave. I needed to run. Now.

Get smart and get out of there already, runt.

The clone. In my head. Max. Screaming my name. The sound. Taking my mind and practicing it's kung fu all over its ass. What a morning.

Had to run.

"M-Max!" I shrieked, struggling to my feet. The snow slipped out from under me. Fang tried to help me up, but I slapped him away, pulling myself up. Heat attacked me again, and I stumbled forward. "Max!"

"Iggy!" She replied, running up to me. Another explosion. Trees falling to the ground. Fire. Had to run. Why weren't we gone already? "Come on, we have to get out of here! Fang!"

"N-No!" I cried, but Max grabbed my wrist and began to tug me. The wrong way. "We-we have to go, we have to get away!"

"Iggy, run!" Max ordered, and I let her lead me through the flaming forest, Fang somewhere close by. I tried to pull away several times, but Max's grip was insanely strong. We leaped over trees and dodged weird deadly bomb things that would under normal circumstances filled my heart with joy, all the while dread filling every fiber of my being to the brim. And overflowing it. And drowning me. I was drowning, I was dying, I was going to die. My fear rose so much that I let out a terrified cry at one point, just leaving Max to just pull me harder. I was afraid my arm socket was going to pop out.

"Max, no!" I screamed. She didn't stop, she didn't even look back at me. Didn't she get it? "We're going the wrong way, we have to get away from them, they're coming!"

That's right, runt. Better run. Better hide.

Had to run. Had to hide.

Just like that, everything was gone. Vanished. The crashes stopped, the horrible air grinding sound dissolved. The only things I could hear were the pants of the three of us gasping for breath, and my own heart beating loudly in my ears. I ignored all of the snow already caked on my jeans, soaking me to the bone, and sunk to my knees, gasping. Sure, we can run faster than regular humans like the creepy-ass awesome Edward Cullen impersonators (or vice versa) we were, but try running couple miles through three-foot deep snow. It tires you out, you know. Max pressed her hand on my back, and the bile finally found it's way out of my mouth, burning my mouth and the snow it hit.

"You okay, Ig?" Fang asked, coming closer. He coughed thickly. "You look really sick, man."

An unexplainable, sudden rage boiled up inside me like the nausea, and I jerked my neck toward him, an angry glare taking over my features. I couldn't explain it, or even control it. It was blinding, no pun intended. "No shit, Sherlock."

The anger disappeared as I leaned over again, dry heaving once more. It wasn't a particularly pleasant pastime. Max knelt down beside me, trying to comfort me. I couldn't exactly hear her, because the terror was beginning to return full-force, making me want to run away like a little girl over another cliff. It made me want to scream like a little girl, too, but I didn't do that for many, masculinity-related reasons. Most hearing gave way to an urgent ringing in my ears, and I froze. The air was being sliced. Something was coming. Something big. Something bad.

"Iggy?" Max asked, as if in slow motion(or maybe that was my brain), and then everything snapped back into focus. My head jerked, and I became aware of Fang's hand tight on my shoulder. The rage snapped again in my brain and I jumped up, whipping around and slamming Fang's back into a tree trunk, wrapping his shirt in my fist and bringing my face close to his in one rage-filled, fluid movement. Angry bursts of breath shook out of me, and I was pretty sure my face was red with anger. Anger I didn't have.

"Don't. Touch. Me." I snarled, my voice barely sounding like my own. Fang's breath sputtered nervously, and I nearly felt the steam come out of my ears.

"Iggy?" Max's voice wasn't condescending, or scolding, or even warning. She sounded...like she was making sure I was me. Like she was afraid. Max didn't get scared. What was going on? We had to run. I dropped my hand, my head drooping slightly. I closed my eyes, my knees wobbling. What was wrong with me? Where did that anger come from? Why...

My eyes flashed open. I was kneeling on the ground. I swung my head around the black backdrop of my vision, my heart beating as though it was trying to launch out of my chest. I scrambled to my feet, stumbling. Max grabbed my arm.

"Iggy, listen to me." She stressed. Her grip tightened. "You hit your head, you're delusional right now, do you hear me? We're fine now, Fang's not going to hurt you. I'm fine, you're fine. Here." She placed my shaking hand on her jaw. "See? Fine. We're going to lie down now, okay?"

I blinked blankly, not listening to what she was saying. All I could pay attention to was the fear crawling up my throat and my heart, beating like it was about to burst...

"We have to leave." My voice cracked, and I flinched. I yanked my arm away violently. "Max, we have to leave."

Ready or not, here they come...

"What?" Max asked, incredulous. "Iggy, what do you mean we have to-"

"WE HAVE TO LEAVE!" I screamed at her, trembling like I had hypothermia. Max placed another hand on my arm. I winced and twitched away. "They're coming, Max...they're-they're coming..."

The beating became louder, mixing with the slicing noise until they were one. I jerked in Max's grip, trying to run, but she held me back. "Iggy, you are staying with me, do you hear me? You are not leaving without us."

"N-No, no, Max..." I whimpered, tugging at her. "They're coming, and-and I-we have to get away, we gotta go and they're gonna take us and I don't wanna die M-Max..."

"Listen to me! Iggy, do not leave." Max growled. The beating was so loud Max was shouting. I was sure she could hear it too. My throat hurt. My feet were thumping on the ground. I had to run away, or I was going to die. We were all going to die.

"Max!" Fang shouted. I rolled my neck, cracking it. My feet were twitching spasmodically. I couldn't stop it. "Helicopter, nine o'clock!"

Everything happened far too quickly. It was like watching an hour pass in thirty seconds. I couldn't think. Only react.

"Fang-" Her voice was cut off by a whizzing sound and a grunt of pain. I heard Fang fall to the ground. Max screamed, and her hold on me was released. She ran in the opposite direction of where we should have ran. We had to run the other way. Instinct took over all of my thoughts and I bolted, falling into the snow before clawing and sprinting through the forest, literally blind. Max shrieked my name, but I didn't stop. I could hear what was happening drain behind me.

"Fang!" Max screamed, desperation clearly coming through. "Iggy, no-Fang!"

I kept running. I couldn't stop. They would get me.

"Fang-no, FANG!"

Couldn't get me. Had to run.


I had to keep running. No time to turn back. No time.

"Don't touch him! Get AWAY! IGGY!"

A flash of what Max's terrified face must have looked like flashed in my brain, but I didn't stop. Fang screamed a horrible, pain-filled scream. I didn't stop.


The helicopter was fading from my hearing, and that was saying a lot. Fang wasn't making a sound, but for some reason, I doubt he was even there at all. Somehow, I didn't care. That worried me. The fact they could still get me worried me more.

"NO, Fang!" Max's voice was shrill, all control lost. "No, don't take-Iggy, come back! Iggy, please!"

I didn't stop. Eventually Max's voice died away, and I managed to only run into a couple trees in my panic. It didn't ebb at all, and I kept sprinting. I wouldn't let me get them again. I couldn't.

"Iggy! Please, Iggy!" I heard a faint cry, but I couldn't be sure if it was real. Everything was beating about me, swirling things around very strangely, because I couldn't see the swirls. I was getting dizzy. Don't ask me about these weird blind-kid contradictions. My feet hit in time in the snow, crushing the ice layer on top so fast my feet didn't have time to sink into the white fluff of doom.


My mind began to calm down before my body did; I finally began to realize what had happened, and what I had left behind. Something had happened to Fang, I was sure of it. I had to go back. I started to skid my tracks, but couldn't stop completely. My heart jumped, and then stopped.


I shrieked as I fell, rolling and skipping off of my back. The ground broke beneath me, or I broke atop the ground, I wasn't sure which. Everything was upside down. Piercing cold met my skin and I screamed, my wings coming out of my shirt in a frantic fury. I beat them furiously, trying to get out of the freezing agony that was consuming my body. My wings slowed and froze over. I tried to breathe but failed, my throat instead burning horribly as my lungs rejected it. I thrashed and writhed, trying to get out of the pain. I sank down farther into the watery doom.


"Max." I cried, but it came out as a gurgle. My chest ached like someone was setting a bomb off in there. It hurt, no matter how cool it was. I stopped moving for a second as I felt my limbs go into shock. My brain began to shut down. I couldn't think. My hand touched something slimy, and I gasped in more agony again. Survival. The word imprinted in my brain, and something sparked in the freezing depths of my body. I kicked out my legs, propelling myself upward. I reached out my frozen hands, colorful spots dancing around my black world. I screamed, the numbness drowning out the sound. My lungs filled higher with death. Tears were melting into the world around me. I had to breathe. Almost there. I gasped and stopped sinking limply for a moment before kicking out again. I had to breathe. Max. I had to get back to ears popped, and I prepared to break the surface. I pounding my fists out toward the top of the water, stretching out my arm, extending my hand-

And was met with a cold, solid, unforgiving ceiling of ice.

Now that I've left you all on like seven hundred cliffhangers, maybe now you can show the review button some love. It's been feeling quite depressed lately, since I haven't been writing, so it hasn't gotten the love it deserves. -sad Sarah McLachlan music begins playing- With your help, we can help FF authors with their writer's block.

8. Could Never Be Him

Howdy do!

Look, guys! I'm updating! Actually updating! On...time! -gasp- I'm so proud of myself. Aren't you proud of me?

Well, here we go. Cranking up the angst here, people. But...you all know I love angst, don't you? Why don't you, uh, leave a little review down there and make me having a cold and sitting here writing (I've been sick an awful lot...hmm...) worthwhile! Love ya. And stuff. Enjoy.


Everything was quiet at first, like that damn calm before the storm that scares everyone to hell and screws things up even more than it would have if you didn't know that it was coming. I opened my eyes, blinking the dizziness out of my vision. The world swirled in front of me before snapping into focus. Two seats were in front of me, my back pressed against a moving wall of some sort. My hands were tied behind my back, and my feet tied together. I lifted my chin from my chest. I was somehow in the back of a truck, which was driving me who-knows-where, though I had a sinking suspicion that I wouldn't love where I was heading. I blinked, looking at the back of the heads in the seats in front of me. Frank Sinatra was playing on the radio.

Suddenly rage surged through me, and it wasn't because of the Frank Sinatra. Though that was a valid reason, too. I hated Frank Sinatra.

How...how dare they! Fear coursed through my veins, but oddly, it wasn't fear for myself. I would be fine, I had dealt with plenty of sick jerks in my lifetime to know I'd somehow get out of this mess. Just kick 'em where it counts, that's what Max always said. It was Iggy, and Max I was worried about. Memories hit my brain like a freight train crashed into it, and I blinked. They had...left her there. Just...left her! I bit the inside of my mouth, squirming against my bonds. Iggy had run off. What if he got into trouble? Max had to take care of him, find the kids, and then worry about me, all by herself! I trembled with anger. She didn't deserve to have to do all of that. I wasn't saying she couldn't, but she didn't deserve to have to!

And Iggy...he was really unstable right now. I steamed. I wasn't going to put this on them. Iggy might hate my guts for whatever reason, but he wouldn't touch the kids, or Max. I kenw that much. Iggy wouldn't hurt Max, even without his memories he loved her too much to hurt her. Max had a job to do, and that was to get Iggy's memories back and to find the kids. I had to get out of this mess alone.

Now for a plan.

Hm...a plan...I was really bad at plans.


I tugged at my restraints, smiling. "Hey, uglies!" I called. The guy in the passenger seat of the car turned around, a scowl etched upon his ugly-ass face. "Sorry to ruin your morning, but has anyone ever told you that your sense of music burns people's ears off?"

He snarled. I smiled. This was fun.

"'Cause if that was the plan, it's working fabulously."

The guy growled and then turned around again, speaking into an intercom of some sort. Maybe it was one of those trucker CB radios. "It's awake."

...I was kind of offended. When had I been demoted to an "it"? I thought I was worth at least a "that punk" or "rotten kid" or something.

A voice crackled from the other side. "Good. Bring it here. I have some things to...discuss with it."

Well that wasn't ominous at all.

"Hey!" I shouted. "Go to hell!"

The voice laughed creepily on the other end of the receiver. "So blunt." It chuckled. "So strong-willed. Don't worry. We'll break that."

Before I could respond to that creepy statement the truck turned sharply, and I was thrown across the floor, flipping over and slamming into the other side of the wall, banging my shoulder. I groaned and tried to rearrange myself, to no avail. The truck screeched to a stop, and I lurched forward, biting my tongue. Damn it! I looked around wildly as sounds issued from outside the truck. The guy in the passenger seat sent me a hideous smile before getting out of the car with his buddy, slamming the doors shut.

"Let me out!" I shouted, banging on the floor with my feet. "Let me out!"

The back of the truck opened slowly, and I shut my eyes to block the blinding light. I turned my head into my shoulder, and then slowly peeled my vision back again. My eyes widened. I grit my teeth.

"My, my, what do we have here?" He sneered, stepping inside the truck and widening his hands in a friendly gesture I wanted to shove back up his ass. "Subject Three...it's a pleasure."

I blanched, digging my nails into my palm. "You."

He chuckled, narrowing his eyes. "Me."


The cold washed over everything. My mouth opened and stayed that way, gaping at the underwater hell around me. My hands stopped pounding on the glass, my fingernails clawed off to the stub. I felt myself sinking, but couldn't think of a way to stop myself. Sleep began to take hold of me. I embraced it.

"Iggy." A voice pierced my ears. "Don't you dare die on me! Iggy!"

Dull colors-colors-swirled dizzily in my vision. Or...non-vision. Soft voices of people I knew, people I think I loved, swished around in my ears. They were gentle, soothing. I think I smiled, but maybe that was just inside. They wanted me to go with them. They wanted me to let go to what was clinging to me. I wanted to go so desperately. But there was another voice, too. It was strong and harsh, yelling at me. I didn't know why it was yelling at me. It wasn't presenting its case very well. My head pounded, my ears ringing. I wanted to go with the soft voices. They were nicer. Something hard slammed repeatedly on my chest. Something surged through my body, and I heard the opposing voice's words.

"I sacrificed everything for you!" It screamed. It was a girl. I knew this girl. And for some reason, no matter how much I wanted to go with the soft, kind voices, I wanted to go with this yelling girl just as much.

That was pretty messed up.

"Don't you leave me!" She shrieked. "You're all I have left, you douche! Breathe, damn it!"

The voice broke down, and I sunk down farther into the darkness. The girl's voice disappeared, replaced by dancing colors and whispered nothings. Everything whipped around me, and I was falling. The soft voices in the background grew louder, invading my hearing.

"We're here, Iggy."

"It'll be okay."

"We'll never leave you, like the others."

"Just let go."

Just had to let go.

My back floated softly onto something soft, and I lay there, the voices continuing to encourage me. However much I wanted to...there was just this nagging feeling that I was needed somewhere else. That girl...she had sounded urgent. Like she needed me. I had to get to her. But it was just so hard...




Voices of people I knew were calling to me. Two male, one female. A little girl.


"Subject Five."

My eyes seemed to peel open, but nothing happened. A figure stood over me, snapping gloves onto its hands. Pure terror ripped through me, but I couldn't move. It leaned down, it's apron and surgical mask stained crimson with blood. I wanted to scream, but I was frozen. The gentle voices were whisked away by a wind, and I was cold. And alone. With...him.

"Oh, how I have waited for this moment." His voice was gruff and raspy, evil rippling through every syllable. He raised a hand, which was holding something that looked horribly similar to a scalpel. He knelt down over me, chuckling darkly. It would have seemed cheesy to an outside viewer, but to me, it was the scariest thing I'd ever seen.

But somehow, I knew I'd seen worse.

"Subject Five, at last." The man brandished the scalpel, bringing down his surgical mask and smiling cruelly. "Let me see those interesting eyes of yours."

Pressure slammed down on my lungs. A jet of something surged into my chest, and I sputtered. It came again, and the man began to fade. His scalpel dropped to the ground. Another blast lifted my chest and I coughed horribly. Light began to re-blind me, and something lifted me up from the dark ground, surging me upwards. All of the voices came back in one blast, deafening me. I took a breath, staring into the light.

Then everything became silent.


Max was sitting with her back toward me when I woke up. As I returned to the world of the conscious I found myself shivering harder and faster than should be mutantly possible. An unbelievable amount of blankets were stuffed under and over me, and I wondered where the hell Max got them all from. I was in a dry shirt and some slightly damp boxers. For a moment I pondered why I didn't have pants on, but gave up trying after my head began to hurt. Really, with all the blankets I should have been sweating off all of my body weight, but I was still frozen solid. My teeth chattered, and I raised a shaky hand to my (no surprise) frozen face. I attempted to prop myself up on my elbow, listening to Max. It sounded like she was...crying. She sniffled, and then spoke, not turning to me.

"I hate you."

I blinked slowly, my throat not warmed up enough to give me the strength to speak. I tentatively rubbed it, letting out a choked cough. I closed my eyes, trying to listen to what was around us. I heard barely anything, save for the snow falling and the occasional Canadian bird cawing. Each noise drove a hammer into my brain and pried it out again. I cleared my throat, not really getting it anywhere better than a horrible gruff, raspy noise.

"Where's Fang?"

"I hate you." Max spoke again, slowly and harshly. So much for listening to me. How rude. "I hate you because you're not Iggy."

Huh? What was she talking about?

"Of course I'm-" Max cut me off, her voice dripping with venom and sadness. I'd never heard her be so sad, even when I was still getting to re-know the flock and she was moping around all the time with the occasional picture frame or vase smashed into a million pieces.

"Iggy wouldn't have ran." She growled, still not turning back to me. "Iggy wouldn't have given a shit about whatever the hell was going to happen to him, and he would have stayed. He would have stayed and helped Fang, and he wouldn't have left me, never mind himself, all alone. He wouldn't have ran off to nearly kill himself. He wouldn't have left Fang to be taken. You did all of that shit. You're not Iggy."

"What happened?" I rasped, fingering the blankets and still shivering. Her tone of voice scared me so much I considered trying to hide under my cocoon of blankets, but I had no hope of attempting to move. I searched my mind to remember what exactly what had happened, but all I feel was a sense of rage and agonizing fear. It was odd and completely terrifying.

Now Max whipped back at me, her hair slicing the air like daggers. "They took him, Iggy! They came and just took him right from under me, shoving me down on the snow while you took off through the forest to who-knows-where! You wouldn't come back! You left him. You killed him." Max took a shaky breath, sniffled, and then attacked again. "And then I find you under some ice in a lake, blue and nearly dead because you're blind and you couldn't find the hole in the ice ten freaking feet away! You weren't even breathing! And do you know what?"

I closed my eyes, forming a weak fist. Max crawled closer to me, steaming Her face was bright pink, her ears red and eyes bloodshot. For a minute I thought she was going to impale me or something, and I tried in vain to move back a couple of feet. "I almost didn't save you, Iggy. For a moment I stopped and wondered if I should even bother! Fang's gone, the kids are gone, and you aren't him anymore! What's the point, huh? Tell me! You just look like him! You're another imposter! Iggy's gone, and he's never coming back. I realize that now."

"I am Iggy, Max." I cracked, reaching out for her hand. She snatched it back.

"You may look like him, but you have no hope of ever being Iggy, do you hear me?" She snarled, her voice reverberating throughout the silent forest and making the words hurt that much more. "They...they took him away from me, and now he's gone. And so is Fang! He's gone, Iggy! And the kids are miles away, and the bazooka master is stalking us, and Bob the fucking evil wizard wants us dead, or worse. I've lost everyone, and it's all your fault! I HATE YOU!"

Max suddenly collapsed on my chest, sobbing into my shirt. I never stopped trembling, but I placed a hand on her back and rubbed it gently, tracing soft circles with my palm. "They're all gone." Max wept, sniffling into me. I placed my cheek on her head. "You could never be him."

"I can, and I will." I whispered into her hair. "I'm sorry I can't be what you want me to be, Max. But I'll get my memories back. I'm sorry about Fang. I wasn't thinking, and I'm sorry. We'll get him back...and me."

Max reared back, her hair in her face and eyes disbelieving. "This isn't some discarded scene from The Vow, Iggy. This is real. When we rescued you-the real you-we had all of us, and we still didn't know Total could talk, and we had a shit-load of explosives to back us up. Now I have me, an amnesiac fake-brother with hypothermia, and a backpack full of twinkies and ripped t-shirts. We just can't do it."

"We can do it, Max." I rasped. "We'll make a bomb out of twinkies and cloth fibers and blow him down to hell and get Fang back. We'll find the kids, too. You just gotta do this with me."

Max breathed heavily and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. A tear slid down her cheek, and she grabbed my shirt in her fingers. "Let's make sure you don't die first." She whispered. "Then we'll see."

Well, that was better than nothing.

The review button can't stand to see Max cry. Comfort it. Give it some love. :)

9. Chick Flick Moments

Hey, I'm updating! Isn't it grand? (So grand!)

Well...hm. How do I weasel my way out of this one? Sorry it's been...almost a couple of months now. So many things going on in my life. School seems bent on making me miserable, along with my friends. I've had all of these contests and projects going on, too. I submitted my poetry and a couple original short stories to a writing contest (I'll totally brag about it if I get mentioned). Other musical and television-related phases/obsessions assisted in my procrastination as well.

Halfway through writing this chapter, a couple weeks ago, I was stopped dead in my tracks by something I realized I've been lucky to avoid thus far. Plagiarism. Some girl took my story, Goodbye, and posted it up on some different writing site, claiming it hers. Seeing people praise her for my work beat me up inside, and with the help with a lot of other authors (who were plagiarized by the same girl, she took their collaborated story and posted it right up there) we got the stories taken down. My muse took a vacation after that, and it has only just returned.

I'm not sure if a lot of people will still be around, but if you're still reading, please drop a review! It means the world to me; re-reading your awesome reviews gave me the motivation to churn out another chapter.


I bit my lip, standing up from my crouched position. I slid a weary hand down my face, letting one last ragged breath escape my lips. I was done with all of this sad shit. I wasn't going to sit around and wait for the condolence flowers. I was going to drag Iggy behind me all the way to the hole to hell Bob crawled into every night, dropping a bomb in there and being done with it. I wasn't going to mope anymore. I was going to stand up and kick some ass. That was the Maximum Ride way.

...But all I wanted to do was hide under my non-existent bed and hibernate. Why couldn't I be part bear? That would be cool.

"Iggy?" I called, tugging the end of my shirt down over my waist, biting back the venom that seemed to involuntarily seep into my words whenever I talked to him anymore. I kneaded my knuckles into my temples. I needed an Asprin. "You ready?"

"Yeah." I turned around to see Iggy standing there, pulling a salmon colored shirt over his head. A flicker of the feelings I used to get washed through me, and I closed my eyes. This wasn't the old Iggy anymore. I had to keep telling myself that, in case he never...but I had to admit, the color looked good on him.

Shut up, Max.

Talking in the third person now...wasn't that a sure sign of madness? Oh well, I was already insane.

"Where are we going to go?" Iggy walked toward me, walking flawlessly around the rocks with his eyes scrunched up, like he had a headache. I wasn't too bothered by it. Sue me. Iggy twitched occasionally, goosebumps perpetually soaring up his pale skin. I tentatively reached out and grabbed his wrist, pulling him closer so I could force a white skull cap over his ginger hair. Iggy's face twisted in confusion, feeling the weird thing that was now on his head. It was Gasman's skull cap that had found its way into my pack, but Gasman had always had kind of a big head, and it looked good on Iggy. I had to stop. I shoved a grey sweatshirt into his hands.

"Put it on," I ordered. "It's cold, and your ears were redder than your hair."

"Hypo-whatia can do that to a guy." Iggy mumbled. "And what are you, my mom?"

My heart broke in two, and I forced myself to smile to keep those damned tears from even thinking about reaching my eyes. He couldn't even see me fake smile, which I guess was a good thing. I pushed him backwards, pulling my own hoodie on and picking up my pack.

"Just shut up and put on the sweatshirt so you don't freeze to death." I growled, turning away. All I needed to do was find the kids so that I could dump Iggy on the all-too-willing Nudge and find Fang. I could stop thinking about Iggy and how like and unlike himself he was, and how he was completely different yet the sarcastic, adorable little jerk we used to-


Maybe you just can't admit that he hasn't changed all that much, and you still love him.

Love is a strong word, I thought. And what this was, this wasn't Iggy. Iggy wasn't this much of a pussy. Iggy wouldn't leave Fang to die.

Do you have any idea what Iggy was feeling, Max? Have you ever felt pure terror?

My whole life was pure terror.

I don't think you have, Max. Not like that. Fear brings out people's true forms.

Wait, hold up, Voice. Iggy's true form was a spineless asshat?

Maximum, you are impossible.

Why thank you.

Iggy, without his memories, lacks the experiences that allowed him to deal with overwhelming fear. Until he gets his memories back, he won't be the same.

No freaking duh! I rubbed the back of my neck. I knew most of that crap. We had to get Iggy's memories back, that was old news.

I don't think you understand, Maximum. You and your flock have to get Iggy's memories back from Itex, or Fang dies.

I froze, my hands dropping to my side. My vision clouded, and all I could see were the numerous ways Fang could die at the hands of Itex, at the hands of the evil douchebag of a wizard. Bled out. Poisoned. Wings tied and thrown off a cliff. Hung. Stabbed. Shot.


"Max, Max! Jesus, MAX!" I blinked my eyes, looking up at Iggy, who had his hands gripped tightly around my shoulders. I stared up at him, and he clenched his teeth, eyes still closed tightly. "Max!"

"...Yeah?" I rasped, and Iggy enveloped me in a tight hug, squeezing the life out of me with more passion than I've ever felt him portray before. What the Voice had said about Iggy having his emotional reset button pushed flashed through my brain. I didn't return the hug. I was too numb. Iggy breathed in raggedly, his nose pressed against my head. He ran a hand over my hair, breathing heavily.

"God, Max, you scared the crap out of me." He pulled his head up, finally opening his sightless eyes. I looked into them, blinking at how bloodshot and clouded they were. Tears spilling from his eyelids, coming down his face and dripping onto mine. I had never seen him so worried before. He was breaking all sorts of records. "You-you were just standing there, and you wouldn't answer, and then you were just-you just-"

Something snapped inside of me, and I leaped forward, wrapping my arms around Iggy's waist and pushing my head into his chest. Surprised by my totally uncharacteristic display of affection, Iggy's arms flew up into the air. After a moment he released his tension, hugging me again. This time, I didn't let go. I couldn't let go. For Fang.

"I'm going to get your memories, back, Iggy." I growled. "I'm going to do it if it's the very last thing I do."

"...That was really cheesy."

"Don't kill it, Iggy."


"That's it, Iggy." Max soothed sharply (it seemed a bit contradictory), standing over me and rubbing her palm in calming circles on my back, right between my wings. "Calm down. Buck up. It's okay, sweetie, it'll be fine."

"Sw-sweetie?" I wheezed, hacking out another tearless sob. The waterworks had long since dissipated, but it was hard to get over what had happened.

"You ruin every good moment we ever have, Ig." Max sighed, kneeling down next to me.

"It's my job, yeah?" I coughed. "Keep you from getting too attached to me. 'Cause I'm not real."

"Look, I was wrong to say that, okay?" Max barked, but then softened. "I was just upset, and mad. Of course you're Iggy. I...I had that explained to me."

"By who, God?"

"Yeah, by God." Max rolled her eyes. The ringing in my ears came back, and I cried out, putting my forehead to my knees. Max came closer, soothing things like she had them rehearsed. I knew she couldn't make those inspiring speeches without planning them first. Her Voice probably wrote them for her ahead of time.

"It'll be fine." She promised. "You were always fine before, and besides from a little frostbite, you're no worse for wear."

"This happened before?" I asked, cradling my legs. "I'm so messed up."

"Before you lost your memories." Max said stiffly. "A few times. Bob decided to crap with us, pressing us for time. I thought it was a sign of you dying, but Fang just thought that it was to scare us."

"Dying?" I choked out. "What the hell? I'm dying?"

"Whoa, settle down." Max grabbed my arm. "You're not dying. Fang was right. I was a stupid, paranoid mess of girl. You're fine."

"You're still a paranoid mess of a girl, you know that, right?"


I fell back on my butt, effectively getting my ass soaking wet, but I didn't particularly care. "Hey Max?" I whispered, staring out into the blackness in front of me. Max obviously decided that we should get our asses wet together, and she plopped down next to me.


"What are we gonna do about Fang?" I asked, afraid that she was either going to throttle me, burst into tears, or explode in front of my face. "He's...do we even know who took him? Or how we're going to get him back? I'm useless without my memories, I know...and the kids, they're still missing, and-"

"Yo, Igs." Max broke in, and I shut up for a minute. "No chick flick moments here, okay?"

I broke into a laugh, shaking my head. Max chuckled for a minute too. "I'm serious, Iggy, you make my life a soap opera. We'll work it out. We always have. This isn't the first time we've had to stage a prison breakout of epic proportions. Isn't the first time we've had to snap a few necks."

"I'm not sure I want to remember that part." I said honestly, breaking a smile. Evidently, Max had meant the comment literally, because she didn't reply to that. The smile washed off my face.

"I'm not sure I want to, either." Max responded gruffly, folding her arms. "...I have a question, before I lug you up and we get moving to the nearest no-tell motel. What do you remember...from before we broke you out of that truck?"

I knew immediately she wasn't looking for me to answer with 'nothing'. I ducked my head down, scanning my brain. "Not much." I admitted, picking up quickly after receiving vibes of an incoming death glare. "And that's the truth. Really, uh...the School. Being tested on. But even that's fuzzy, like they took something out. It's really...that's why I was so quick to believe you guys, that you were my family. 'Cause...how can ten years of your life be attacked by dust bunnies if there wasn't anything to hide from me?"

Max looked at me for a minute, and then broke a grin. The air grew a bit warmer when she smiled. "That was one of the stupidest and sweetest things I ever heard."

"Well, you haven't heard much in your life, other than evil scientists, Ginger smartass-ing, and Gasman's farts."

"What about Nudge?" Max asked. I scoffed.

"You tune her out. She's like elevator music to you half the time."

Max mocked being offended. "Only half the time! The girl talks a mile a minute! And it was always you that complained about your bleeding ears!"

I put a hand up to my mouth, gasping dramatically. "Who, me? Blasphemous. I remember no such thing."

And suddenly the both of us were laughing, cracking up so hard I was sure our sides were going to split and re-paint the snow a new color. We rolled on the ground, not able to stop, releasing the tension and the sadness that had been building up inside us. We finally stopped, propping ourselves up and staring at each other...or, at the generally vicinity of the other, in my case.

"Max." I snickered. "I'm all wet."

"Grow a pair, won't you?" She chuckled.

"That's dirty, Max."

We both stopped, because it wasn't me who had retorted. Max swung her head, and gasped, standing. I scrambled to my feet, smiling. A bundle of little girl tackled us, two sets of footsteps running into our clearing.

"Angel!" Max cried, scooping her little baby into her arms. "Nudge!"


"Gasman!" I shouted as the little guy hugged me. Nudge enveloped me in a squeeze so tight I was sure I would never be able to breathe properly again. Cries of all of our names echoed throughout the forest in our excited, frenzied reunion.

"How did you find us?" Max asked breathlessly, keeping Angel on her hip. Gasman walked back a bit towards Nudge, still limping a tiny bit, but much better. Nudge's happy laugh made my heart swell up with pure joy.

"We were staying in a town at a very nice homeless shelter in this church, traveling back up north because we were looking for you guys. Angel though she could hear you-there's a town not even two miles from here-"

I sent Max a dirty look, and I knew she was mentally giving me the middle finger. I accepted it.

"-and Angel heard your guys' thoughts from up in the air, we were flying around above and she heard you, and we found you, and oh my God I'm so happy Max it's hard being the oldest!"

"I know, honey." Max hugged her again. "You did great, Nudge. I'm so happy you're okay. We're here now. Gazzy, are you okay?"

"I'm good." The little trooper puffed his chest out. "I bound my leg and set it myself and everything."

"What happened to you guys?" Nudge asked. Angel was eerily silent, and I realized that she knew what the other two didn't. She buried her head in Max's hair. "I mean, after we left, you were fighting that clone guy, and we heard the explosions, and-hey..." She stopped, her voice suddenly turning ice cold. Max and I tensed, bracing ourselves. "Where's Fang?"


"You filthy son of a bitch." I growled, my daggers failing to pierce the devil's skin in front of me.

"Language, Subject Three." He sneered, bathing in the triumph of seeing me bound and defenseless, struggling against Erasers. "Your lack of manners is astounding...but you being a teenager, I guess I can accept that."

"Go to hell." I brought back. He laughed, coming up and grabbing me by my shirt collar, having the audacity to breathe his foul-smelling onion-and-piss breath into my face.

"Kid, I've already been."

I knew it.

"What is it your silly little blind mutant calls me? Bob?" He cackled some more, turning away. "How trivial. How immature. It amuses me, it really does."

"Then what's your real name, huh?" I asked. "Baby-killing freak? Swine-ass? Oh, I've got it. Sledgehammer."

"Cute." He smirked, and then punched me in the jaw. I bit back a hiss and ground my teeth, feeling the mark of his ring in my face.

"Are you married?" I asked, dropping my jaw in exaggerated astonishment. "Man, I feel bad for it-oh, sorry."

Bob scoffed. "Look who's talking, mutant. You'd better hope that both you and that Maximum Ride live through this, or else you'll have to contaminate the human race with your filthy genes."

"Hey, you created my filthy genes!" I retorted.

"And what a grave mistake that was." He drawled out. "You know, now that I look back on it, I really should have shared my instincts with Ter Brocht. That you should have been created without emotions, without the ability to doubt, to rebel. You could have been warriors, leaders in our frontier." He stopped, narrowing his eyes. "Now we've been forced to do this."

I was about to ask what they had been forced to do when the Erasers pushed me forward, bringing me into another room. It was small, with metal walls and two pieces of furniture. A slab of metal was propped up by some fancy-looking stand, metal cuffs open and ready for strapping in every part of my body and bent on making me uncomfortable. A small table lay next to it with a few tools, a remote of some sort, and a pair of earmuffs.

Over the past thirty-six hours I had been victim to the oddest litany of tests I had ever had to be put through in my time at the hellhole known as the School. As far as I was aware I was in Michigan somewhere, far from where Max had settled down in Canada, near Winnipeg, but not far enough away to be back in Death Valley, or New York, or Kansas. It dawned on me that the School could have branches in every part of the country, or even the world.

I had run a maze, run the same maze blindfolded (which gave me a tad more respect for Iggy), and had needles stuck all around my body, and that did not feel good. Vision tests, hearing tests, strength tests, tests for speed, endurance, health, wing control, flying ability, weight, height, growth rate, bone structure, taste, and many other things I didn't know I could do without sleep for two days. They put me into an MRI, took samples of everything and made me feel violated. It as like your normal annual mutant physical.

I wondered if Iggy had gone through the same exact thing with Bob behind the wheel. Somehow, I knew he had, and that scared me out of my mind. I didn't scared very easily, but now I was terrified.

An Eraser led me over to the contraption in the middle of the room, pressing a heavy paw onto my chest while a scientist's nimble fingers strapped me in tightly. The Eraser backed away, and I saw Bob approach a microphone in a small observation room. His voice was like nails on a chalkboard to me, or a fork scraping on a plate, or hot pink jeans on magazine covers. Gross.

"Are you ready, Subject Three?" He asked nasally, making me want to reach in and tear his sinuses out of his skull.

"Are you ready?" I roared in response. "Because I'm going to murder you when I get out of here!"

He continued on, as if I hadn't said anything. "This is just a simple pain tolerance test. We've already seen your minor pain tolerance, but I want to see how long you last under...extremes."

Or castration. That would be more painful than murder. What a good idea.

A voice sparked softly next to my ear, and I would have whipped my head in surprise of the recognition, if my head wasn't belted to the electrocution table from Frankenstein.

"I'm sorry." The voice of the man that was once like a father to me whispered. "I would give anything to have this done a different way."

Before I could question the statement, the countdown that had been going on in the backround reached zero, and suddenly all I could see was white. I wasn't even aware that the screams ringing in my ears were my own until my voice was raw and hoarse.

I felt like I had to give you guys something. So...the review button is complaining because it's been so lonely...my fault, my fault. I know you guys can share the love :)

10. Good Morning, Apocalypse

Double digits, guys! Double digits! Though...I have to say, even though it's my fault for my lack of updates, I was kinda put-down by the amount of reviews last chapter. To those who reviewed, thank you, love you, and all that. You guys mean the world to me. Seriously.

But now I ask of you to review once more, because the story is actually picking up! The plot is going to be introduced (it's about time, huh?) and then from here on out we have some serious stuff going down. So enjoy!

(EDIT: Hopefully the spacing is all good now.)


"I'm sorry." I blurted out before anyone can say anything else. I backed up a little bit, bringing a hand up to my face. "It was my fault-I-I ran, and-I didn't mean to, I-"

Immediately Nudge softened, a harsh but crumbling demeanor taking over the space around her that had just been filled by pure joy. The sudden change broke my heart, and a frown slaps its way onto my face. There was no way in hell I was going to cry anymore, but damn, it was hard enough with Max telling me I was responsible for Fang's kidnapping. The kids were going to kill me.

"He's gone...isn't he?" Gasman muttered, with a sense of sadness and maturity that a kid his age should never be forced to have. "They took him."

The silence was so fragile someone could have broken it with a toothpick. Max decided to abandon all subtlety. "Yeah."

Nudge let out a pained squeal, and tried futilely to disguise it as a cough. I bent my head down in shame, waiting for the wave of accusations to come. But, instead...they didn't. I brought my head up and raised my eyebrows slightly, biting the inside of my cheek.

"Well?" I risked asking, stuffing my hands into my pocket. I nervously picked at the lining and the lint, afraid that I was going to bite through my own tongue.

"Well, what?" Gazzy replied confusedly.

I huffed, bringing a hand up under the skull cap and into my hair frustratedly. "Well, why aren't you all yelling at me?"

"Iggy..." Max warned softly, shifting Angel in her arms.

"What do you mean?" Nudge rasped, coming forward a bit.

"I-" I swung my head, stomping my foot and waving my arms in attempt to release some pent-up anger. "It's my fault! I was a wuss, and I got scared and ran, and that's why Fang got kidnapped, trying to come after me and I wasn't there to help and Max couldn't help both of us and she was a moron and picked me and you should all hate me!"

Again there was the silence in which I know every single person in the nearby vicinity was looking right at me. I panted from letting out so much steam in that little spiel, waiting for them to explode, maybe even wanting them to explode, but they didn't. Gasman ignored what I said altogether.

"...Are you wearing my hat?" He asked. My jaw dropped and I smashed my palm against my face, turning slightly and breathing deeply.

"What-what is wrong with you?" I gasped.

"Iggy, they know you didn't do anything wrong." Max explained, coming up to me. Angel was on the ground now, next to her brother. "They're not as dumb as me."

"Or maybe you were right." I muttered. I could tell that Max was seriously considering slapping me, but she restrained. "Shut up. We totally just had this conversation. I'm not having it again, 'cause it nearly killed me."

"Max." I objected, but she continued anyway.

"Seriously, I'm not sure how you didn't grow ovaries from that. And no, Gasman, you can't know what ovaries are."


"But..." I faltered, and I could nearly feel Max smirking in success.

"C'mon, guys. Group hug."

Immediately I was having my guts squeezed out by four mutant bird-kids, and I smiled weakly. I lowered my cheek onto Max's head, and Angel wrapped her arms around my middle.

"'s not your fault, Iggy." Angel spoke into my shirt. "'s not your fault that everything happens to you. That everything happens to us."

"Whose is it, then?" I inquired, and Gasman chuckled.


Amen, brotha.

After we separated from our super-awesome-sorta-kinda-family-minus-one hug, I flopped my arms down by my side. Gasman tried to swipe his hat off my head, but Max chastised him, saying that I could wear it for another day. We stood there awkwardly for a moment (we're such a functional family) before Nudge broke the silence, as always. "So...what now?"

"Now," Max announced, slinging her pack up on her shoulder and handing mine to me. "We get Fang back. Shouldn't be too hard, seeing as we don't have a timer above our heads yet. We need a plan, first. I have a feeling Bob is counting on our inept ability to plan things, so let's hunker down and churn out some brain juice to get Fang back with us."

"Sounds good, Max." Angel beamed. "It was pure luck that we got Iggy out the last time. We gotta find out where Fang is, and what's going on."

"It'll be different for him." I started talking before I registered what I was saying. "They did tests based around my blindness, like they were trying to compensate for that." The look I had on my face immediately fell, replaced by confusion. I could feel Nudge and Gazzy smiling. "What just happened?"

"Bob just underestimated you, that's what happened." Max clapped my shoulder. "I've got an idea. Nudge, can you take us back to that shelter you were staying?"

"Sure!" She piped, unfurling her wings and running off, lifting up into the air. Angel grabbed my hand and led me until we were in the sky. Max brushed her feathers against my own, and I felt something flash through me, like a sense of deja vu. She'd done that before. Many times.

"I was going to ask why his name is Bob," I started, rubbing my eye. "But I think I remember why."

I could nearly feel the happy vibes coming from everyone, especially Max. "Well, care to enlighten me?" She asked, and another shudder ran through me as I heard her cross her arms. "Because, really, we totally just picked up that name out of utter convenience. It would be great if there was an actual reason."

I thought for a minute, letting everyone train their eyes on me. A small smile broke out on my face, and I closed my eyes before opening them toward Max. "It was either that or Alfonso."

I looked forward again, perfectly aware of them staring at me. I couldn't care less. It made sense to me.


"Fang?" A voice rang out, reverberating through my ears and knocking around in my brain painfully. I curled in farther around myself, trembling slightly. Not visibly, though. Even in pain my body knew it couldn't be a pansy. The voice struck again, and this time I think I might have moaned. Might have. I couldn't really hear correctly at that moment. If this was what Iggy had gone through at his time in this hellhole, I owed him a hug. A really big hug.

"Fang, I know the hearing test hurt." The voice half soothed, half scolded. "But you have to get up and talk to me, because I don't have a lot of time here with you. Just know that Iggy went through the same thing, maybe even worse, okay? And...if you don't help me, Fang, the rest of the flock will too. I can promise that."

Wrong thing to say, buddy.

I shakily raised one hand out of my fetal position, clenching a fist save for my middle finger sticking straight up in the air. "Go to hell, Jeb." "


"I said go to hell." I growled. "Once upon a time, you said you'd do anything for us. Well, now you can do something for me. Go to hell, and never crawl back out. Ever. It'll do all of us a whole lot of good."

The silence was brooding, an angry atmosphere that severely wanted to strangle me. "Then who would save your ass, Fang?"

I huffed in disbelief. "Yeah, look at the good you did Iggy. The traumatized, injured, amnesiac blind ginger bird kid."

"His hair color has nothing to do with me."

I could have laughed, if it didn't hurt so much. I drove my palm into the floor of my cage, raising myself up into a kinda-sitting position and looked up at Jeb. "Welcome to the torture room, Jeb. Now tell me. What can you possibly do for me?"

Jeb seemed to roll his eyes, you know, inside, because Jeb doesn't ever physically roll his eyes. He's just not awesome that way. "I have to tell you what they're planning."

I kept my face stoic. "A key would be nice."

"I can't get you out of here, Fang." Jeb stressed. "But you will get out, if I know Max. And I do. So you will."

"Good to know."

Jeb gripped one of the bars of my cage, leaning in closer. "You have to understand what they're doing, Fang. Once you get out, you can't let them get the others. Do you understand?"

I didn't reply, I just stared straight at him and his mustache. I didn't think he'd ever heard of a breath mint before, but this probably wasn't the best time to call him out on that. Jeb looked both ways down the hallway before leaning down again. "I don't care how horrible the tests are, or what they make you do, but you can't let them get the others. It's too late for you, so just ride it out and it'll be over soon."

I narrowed my eyes. "What do you mean, it's too late for me?" I hissed. "Get me the hell out of here, if you still have any fatherly feelings or whatever for us at all!"

Jeb closed his eyes. "I can't do that."

"Like hell you can't."

"Fang, you have to know what they're doing to you."

"A simple explanation would solve this predicament, you know."

Jeb sighed. "You're impossible."

I smirked. "It's a gift."

Jeb ran a hand through his receding hairline and fixed his glasses. "The first thing you need to know, Fang, is that they still want Iggy. They think that they can use you to get him back. The clones...they're missing something vitally important, and he...he thinks that he can retrieve it from Iggy's brain."

"Clones?" I risked asking in a gruff voice. "As in...plural?"

"Yes. That's what these tests are, Fang. You kids are exceptional, but you won't cooperate. So they're making more of you. An army, per se."

"That Iggy clone was better and scarier than anything I've ever seen before." I barked. "What could be missing? Why do they need him?"

Jeb exhaled, and then sent me a sympathetic look. "I know you want to protect your brother. The doctors believe that Iggy has special...gifts."

I sent him a WTF look, and Jeb continued in a hushed tone. "Seriously, Fang. Put yourself in Iggy's shoes for a moment. If you were the one who was blinded at a young age, do you truly believe that you could maneuver as well as Iggy can now? I know you feel like you're thirty, Fang, but you're only fourteen. It hasn't even been a decade since Iggy lost his sight. It's astounding, what he can do. It's impossible."

I stayed silent for a moment, letting it sink into my pounding head. Before I could freak out, another thought drilled its way out of my mouth. "Why do they need an army?"

Jeb looked sheepish for a split second, and then sobered. "Itex believes the world isn't suited for the majority of the population anymore. They plan to eliminate this unnecessary surplus, and populate the earth with the gifted, the intellectual, the healthy. The perfect."

"What about us?"

Jeb stared straight at me, making me shiver with a sudden chill. "What better soldier than a child? An innocent, unsuspecting child? Who would think an eight-year old would bomb hospitals, or torture war prisoners? Who would expect a six-year-old girl to control thousands? Kill even more?"

The realization struck me like lightening. My lunch of bread and cheese-from-a-can from the day before suddenly found itself on the bed of my cage as I lost everything left in my stomach.


The homeless shelter was nice, I suppose, but the stained-glass window thing wasn't really working for me. Apparently it didn't work for a lot of other people, either, because when we went down into the basement, that was crowded as could be. So we found a home in one of the Sunday School classrooms. That is, until that Sunday, 'cause then we'd really need to clear out before the eight-year-olds started calling us angels.

I bet Angel would love that.

"I hope you're comfortable in here for the night, kids." The nun or whatever said to us, handing me a pile of blankets and pillows. "Tomorrow we can call the foster home in the next town over, if you children need a place to stay for longer."

Yeah, no.

"Uh, thanks, sister." I replied uncomfortably, shoving the blankets and pillows into Iggy's arms. He let out a surprised oof and stumbled back into a desk, somehow losing one of his shoes and falling back onto the floor in the process. I shoved the nun out of the door and slammed it shut, turning around and wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. I perked up and tossed my hair back. "I thought she'd never leave."

I strode across the room toward our packs, which were stacked precariously on the teacher's or whoever's desk. Iggy picked himself out of his awkward heap on the floor, Nudge had found a stack of church-appropriate magazines, and Angel busied herself in creating a pile of her stuff to cocoon herself in. I dug through my backpack, looking for another sweatshirt for Iggy, because he was still shivering and it was getting kind of annoying.

"Hey, Max?" Gasman asked, swinging his legs back and forth in the air. "What's the difference between soup and chowder?"

"Don't ask me life's questions."

I rummaged some more through our packs before I found a large sweatshirt of Fang's and one of Nudge's scarves. I walked over to Iggy and forced the sweatshirt over his head, ignoring his protests. I then wrapped the scarf around his neck. Iggy slapped at it, but I hit his hand.

"I don't wanna wear that!" He whined. "I'll look like a girl!"

"It's a bit too late for that, Igs." I squeezed his arm. "Your eyelashes are just too gorgeous. No go sit in that corner and breathe on yourself."

Iggy, although grumbling profanities under his breath, complied. I distributed some sandwiches I had more or less illegally stolen from the not-so-nearby Subway store and left the girls to their own devices, seeing as they could entertain themselves. Unfortunately, Gasman didn't own this gift. He seemed determined to make it 'Pay Attention to Gazzy Day'. I wasn't really in the mood.

"Max, I found a suspicious stain!" Gazzy cried out.

"You're a suspicious stain."

"That didn't make sense!"

"You don't make sense."


"This conversation is over, Gaz." I sighed.

Gasman stared intently at me, bending over so that he could grip the tops of his shoes with his fingers.

"...And yet it isn't."

"Don't make me sedate you."

Needless to say, the night went on as such, making me want to bang my head against the wall. I sat next to Iggy and scribbled down ideas onto a notepad, trying to figure out and draw the best way to rescue Fang in one piece. Angel helped out some, and so did Nudge and Gazzy until they fell asleep, Nudge hugging Angel and Gasman sprawled out on Nudge's legs. My best guess was that was the position that they had been sleeping in for the past few nights. It warmed my heart, it was so adorable.

"How do we know where Fang even is?" Iggy asked, staring blankly into the dark space surrounding us. I fixed my grip on the pocket flashlight and bit my lip.

"I dunno." I mused. "I'm guessing that he's in Michigan. I mean, that was where they were going to take you, and it seems like Bob loves Eastern White Pines, with how much everyone seems to talk about the state. It was almost like our obsessions with beavers. Did you know we didn't even see one?"

"I remember Gasman being very upset, yes." Iggy nodded absently.

I slammed my palm against my forehead. "This thinking thing is impossible. I can't save Fang when I'm stupid. Make me smart."

Iggy pulled his lips to the side. "Well, if we can go to Michigan and get Angel close enough to these headquarters, wherever they are, then we can draw out a layout of the place and put together a plan."

I smiled up at him. "I don't need to be smart. I have you to be smart for me."

"That's what I'm here for." Iggy grinned, leaning back. "To be smart behind the scenes and look pretty."

"At least you are pretty."

Iggy ruffled my hair, and I bit back a rude remark. He yawned, closing his eyes. "Nah, you're pretty too, Maxie."

"How would you know?" I asked, still kind of alert. Well, more than Iggy, at least. Iggy grinned incoherently, another yawn stifling any attempt at talking. He seemed to try to pet my head again, but ended up awkwardly slap-caressing my face.

"'Cause I know." He slurred a bit, tilting his head back. "You're pretty. Fang tol' me. Like, when we were twelve, he told me what you looked like, 'cause I asked. And he said you were the prettiest girl in the world, so yeah."

My insides threatened to melt from sheer shock at how adorable that was. "All right." I rasped, placing his hand on his lap. "Go to sleep, ginger."

"Not just a ginger..." Iggy murmured sleepily. "I'm Chuck Norris' son."

"'Course you are." I smiled. I watched as Iggy's breaths graduated into soft snores, and then turned my attention back to my idea pad. Twenty-two minutes and a sea of crumpled paper later, I was asleep on Iggy's shoulder, flashlight abandoned on the floor.

The horrible noise that had invaded my life way too many times snapped me awake, launching off of Iggy's shoulder and into a crouching position in a split second. Iggy was awake in an instant, scrambling after me. One glance across the room showed me that the kids were in similar stances, their backpacks already on them.

I'd taught them well.

"Was that...?" Iggy rasped, and I nodded stiffly.

"Windows?" I asked.

"Three, one on the south wall, two on the east." Nudge rolled off her tongue immediately. "Door's locked and reinforced with a door, should buy us four seconds."

"There's one below the south window, another by the parking lot." Angel told me stoically.

"There's another parking lot to the west of us with two Chevys, a Jeep, and a pickup truck that's beaten up enough to be stolen." Gasman nodded at me. "I saw them yesterday."

"Erasers?" Iggy asked. I nodded again and held up a hand to be quiet.

"We've got twenty seconds." Angel warned, and immediately I got up, throwing open one of the east windows. I whipped Fang's pack around my arm and shoved Gasman out the window, then Angel, Iggy, and Nudge last. I looked at the door and bit my lip, running back in and pushing the teacher's desk against the door. I dove out of the window, shutting it behind me. Seeing that my well-oiled mutant kiddy machine had already taken down the Eraser beneath us, I signaled to them to run toward the west parking lot, and they had just taken off when I heard the frustrated roar come from the room we had just fled.

"Find them!" A familiar voice screamed, and I blanched.

Zuko was back. Joy.

We sprinted to the west parking lot, me only having to drop kick one Eraser on the way there. It was a pretty decent morning, in Eraser-attack standards. We found the beat-up pickup truck easily enough, and left it to Iggy to quickly hotwire it as we all piled in. Some things you just don't forget. Nudge and Gasman got into the truck bed as I shoved Iggy and Angel inside the passenger side, rolling like a boss over the hood of the car and getting in the driver's side. The Erasers started falling out of the window just as we pulled screeching out of the lot, heading seventy-miles an hour south towards nowhere.

"And we are homeless, once again." Gasman sighed, leaning into the small window thing behind us.

"What, are you kidding?" I asked, whipping my head back at him. "We're not homeless, dude. We got a car!"

In our book, anything you could sit in semi-comfortably and not get shot at close range in was a home. We generally preferred our homes bulletproof, but we took what we could get, and we got a car. A car that was surely going to break down after fifty miles, but a car nonetheless.

It was a good morning.

Thoughts? Wow, if we don't get some reviews in for the button soon, it's gonna go through withdrawal, and everyone knows that I do NOT have the time to deal with that. Thoughts?

Oh, yeah. So I saw the announcement for the last MR book coming out in August, Nevermore. I mean, seriously. Where's the Iggy love? Non-existant. But still, I'm kind of excited, kind of filled with a sense of dread. We'll see, Patterson. We'll see.

11. Wishing's For Pansies

Resurrected from the dead, heck yeah! So. This is totally a filler chapter, but I don't care, 'cause I like it. You know, I've determined that May is the busiest month ever. You don't want to hear my spiel. Let's sum it up: Concerts, Exams, Birthday. There ya go. Oh, I also did this Relay For Life thing at my school overnight one weekend for cancer. That's a great event. Look it up.

I saw the Avengers for my birthday, and I've become enthralled with it. So that's why it's here. Don't judge me.

SO, I'd like to thank the people who actually DID review last chapter...-sob-. Come on, guys. I don't want to lose you! I'll try to crank up the funny/dramatic/Iggytasticness. Just PLEASE review! It makes me happy inside and all that. Enjoy!

"Max?" Gasman piped up, sticking his head through the small window between the truck bed and the car seat, where I was currently napping, thanks. "Max? Max? Max? M...Max?"

"What?" I snapped, peeking open one eye and realizing it was near noon now. We had driven some way down the Canadian roadways, almost hit a few deer, nearly drove off a horrible inconveniently placed cliff, and wound up somewhere off the road in a sorta-kinda-not really clearing in the middle of the woods. I could find my way back to the road. I knew I could. The problem running through my head was the fact that I had seen a sign a few miles back that told me we were nearing the American border. However awesome it would be to be back in the States, I was pondering whether to risk confrontation with the Mounties or fly over the border, leaving my newly beloved car (which I had affectionately named 'Otis') behind. While I was contemplating this we decided to get some much-needed shut-eye so we wouldn't have to waste all of our money on Monster drinks. That was an experiment of our own that didn't end well.

I had called the awesome peeling interior of Otis as my bed, while Iggy, Nudge, and Gasman took the truck bed. Angel slept above me on the roof with Total (whom of which I had completely neglected to talk about, as he himself doesn't talk that much anymore, save to Angel, since the whole 'Iggy's memories going poof' incident. Who am I kidding, I had enough to be in shock about without getting used to the talking dog that stayed in my six-year-old's backpack and whimpered about his aching paws). I peered at my watch and discovered it wasn't near noon, no, it was eleven freaking thirty in the morning. The little kid was gonna pay.

"Uh, Max..." Gazzy twitched his feet, effectively waking Iggy up with the slight movement. He rubbed his eyes and let out a big yawn, the skull cap on his head a bit miscombobulated. Heh. I liked that word. I fought the urge to get out and fix it, turning my head back to the Gasman. "Can we wake everyone up? I stole some Twinkies from that convenience store we stopped at like ten miles back cause Iggy needed to pee, remember, and I want to have them. I even remembered to steal some candles. Not the whole box, though, I only got nine."

"What are you talking about, Gaz?" I let out a yawn of my own, pulling myself upright with one of Otis' handy dandy handles protruding from his ceiling. As a girl, I had full authorization to call my car a guy. It worked that way. Gasman flushed a little bit, startled, then angry, then embarrassed. He shuffled his feet, and now Nudge was blinking awake, smirking slightly as Iggy fell out of the truck bed on his way to take a piss. I was almost sure that Angel was awake by now, too, probably just listening.

"Well, it's...it's my birthday today." Gazzy said sheepishly, almost like he was ashamed that he brought his own fake birthday up when we were in the middle of a potential bird kid crisis. I blinked rapidly for a minute, working his words through my head. I backtracked through the past months, from when Angel was first taken, to the battle at the Institute, the whole Epcot debacle, our time at Dr. Martinez's house, the weeks at our house in rural Canada...yes. It was Gazzy's birthday. I could feel my own blush coming up in red waves across my ears, to my cheeks, and down my neck. Gasman's birthday...I had forgotten Gasman's birthday in all this confusion with Iggy and Fang. I could have slapped myself. It wasn't his real birthday, of course, but it might as well have been, seeing as we all picked a date that fit nicely on our tongues because we had no real idea when our actual birthdays were. Gasman's birthday...I didn't even have a present to wrap in newspaper and duct tape.

"Uh, yeah, Gazzy." I replied quickly, shooting up quickly and making Otis creak with my weight. "Of...of course! It's your birthday! Yay! Let's celebrate!"

"It's your birthday?" Iggy asked, stumbling back toward the truck and zipping up his fly. "That's cool, Gazzy! Can I light the candles? What do you want for a present? I could get you a squirrel! Do you want a squirrel?"

Nudge chuckled and shushed him. "Being talkative is my job, Iggy."

Iggy let out a little hmpf sound, crossing his arms. I opened one of Otis' ready-to-fall-off doors and circled around to the truck bed, seeing Angel sitting on the rusted roof, Total silent in her lap. Iggy and I hopped into the bed, sitting down with everyone else. I couldn't help it; I reached out and fixed his skull cap. He stuck his tongue out at me. I realized that I had naturally tuned out one of Nudge's tongue tirades, and blinked in surprise at the training of my own ears. "I found this thesaurus in the church, right, and I looked up 'talkative' because I was so bored just sitting there and Gazzy was going on about that suspicious stain on the floor that I totally thought was just coffee, I mean, it was brown, but then again dried blood can turn brown, so maybe the mafia or something met in that church, that would be naughty, wouldn't it, doing illegal stuff in a place of worship? Either way, I looked up 'talkative' in the thesaurus because I'm talkative, you know, and there are so many words! You guys don't need to describe me with just 'talkative' anymore! You could say I'm voluble, or chatty, or loquacious, or conversational, or even garrulous! Isn't that a funny word, garrulous? It sounds weird, like-"

"That's just too much, Nudge!" Iggy yelped, throwing his hands up to his ears. "My ears, my poor sensitive ears! I think they're bleeding!"

Everyone started cracking up, but I stopped sooner than I would have usually, suddenly guilty for feeling normal when Fang wasn't there with me. When he was still there with him. Angel took Gazzy's Twinkies from a plastic bag he had kept in his pack and arranged them all fancy-like, sticking one in six Twinkies and placing a Ring Ding on top, sticking the extra three candles in that and leaning back, smiling at her handiwork. Iggy leaned forward, producing his trusty Bic lighter from somewhere and gingerly (look, I made a punny) lighting each candle with amazing accuracy. Gasman was grinning ear to ear, and I couldn't help but smile too. Sure, back at the E house Iggy made strawberry shortcake for most of our birthdays, but given the current circumstances, this was a pretty good deal.

"Make a wish," I told him. "We could use a little magic."

Gasman nodded and took the biggest breath a now-eight-year-old mutant kiddie could muster, leaning forward and blowing out all of the candles in one go. We clapped for him and he beamed up at me.

"What'dya wish for?" Iggy asked, adjusting his position so that he was sitting criss-cross-applesauce. Gazzy scratched the back of his head.

"I uh..." He blushed. "I wished that we could go back to the way things were when we were at the E House, after Jeb 'died'."

"No, Gazzy!" Angel cried, throwing her small hands up to face. "You weren't supposed to say! Now it won't come true!"

"Oh." Gasman looked down at his feet, a wave of disappointment crossing his face. "Well, those things never work anyway."

"It's okay, Gazzy." Nudge consoled him. "We can try again tonight at 11:11. I read somewhere in an editorial in a teen vogue magazine or something that 11:11 wishes work better on your birthday, so you get two wishes!"

"Nah," Gasman shook his head a little bit. "It's okay. I don't think it's ever gonna really come true, anyway. Erasers have that place swarmed, and Jeb's alive. I used to love him and all, but things were so much better when we thought he was dead."

I huffed, smiling. "Hey, buddy. What do you say we actually do something for your birthday other than sit here and try to smuggle Otis across the border?"

"Really?" Iggy asked, looking at me with that weird closed-eyed face that still made me feel insulted. "We're really calling the car 'Otis'?"

"Hell yeah." I nodded. "It's a great car name."

"Cars are girls."

"Not this one." I said affectionately, stroking the side of his rusty exterior. "He gets all the ladies."

Iggy gave me a look even more condescending than the one previous. "Of course he does."

"Can we really do something for my birthday?" Gazzy asked with a small voice. "I mean, like...something fun? Shouldn't we be trying to go to Michigan or something? What about Fang?"

He was right, but I wasn't going to let this day go unspoiled. A kid only turns eight once. "Hey, we'll allot three hours to fun, grab some lunch, and then drive Otis through the Canadian wilderness to avoid the Mounties. We don't have passports, as we're not legally supposed to exist, and I really like this car. It's better than all the other ones we stole."

"I don't like vans." Angel shook her head. "They remind me of all those battery commercials where the mom thinks her son gets abducted."

When Angel had free time to watch commercials, I had no idea. "Yeah, they're all stuffy." I agreed. "So, Gazzy. What do you proclaim as King For Three Hours?"

Gasman seemed to ponder this, stroking his invisible beard. He perked up considerably, smiling. "Can we see a movie? I've never seen a movie in theaters before."

I thought about it. Movie theaters were enclosed...but they also had gazillions of exits, because for once someone was sane enough to be paranoiac about the very real possibility of a fire, or an alien invasion. Two hours of a movie, swing by a Sonic, and jet out on Otis...it was a good plan. An achievable plan.

"Okay." I shrugged. Gasman nearly gasped, and everyone else gaped at me.

"Really?" Gazzy cried. "We can really?"

"We can really." I told him, and he practically did a flip with all the spazzing he was doing.

"Oh my God!" He clapped his hands. I hadn't seen him that excited since...I'd never seen him that excited. "Let's go! Let's do it all out! We'll see a 3-D movie, with the free glasses and everything! Let's see the Avengers! I wanna see the Avengers! I wanna see Hulk smash everything, and Thor, Thor with his hammer, and Iron Man! I love Iron Man!"

Iggy smiled at me, and I grinned back, knowing that he could feel it somehow. He was funky like that. Even though something was nagging me at the back of my mind for enjoying myself while Fang was stuck in that place, I couldn't help it. Gazzy deserved a couple hours of happy. I could plan while everyone else was enjoying the movie. And I'd speed once we got into America. I'd make up for lost time. I'd make it up to Fang.

"This Twinkie," Total groaned from Angel's lap. "Is one of the worst things I have ever tasted, next to dog food."

I crossed my arms. "Not all of us have exquisite tastes like you, Total. Some of us like the simple things."

"The simple things will give me a heart attack." Total gripped. "And gas."

Right on cue, Gasman ripped a big one, beaming. Seeing the look on Total's face, I fell over, cracking up.

I was a huge liar. Especially to myself. I really needed to work on my self-discipline, because I totally did not do any planning whatsoever in that movie theater. What could I say? The 3-D magic got the better of me. Oh, and...

"Captain America!" Nudge swooned, nearly throwing herself at a cardboard cut-out. "Ugh...marry me!"

"Back off, sister." I fake-snarled, stepping in front of the cardboard cut-out of the sexiest superhero ever. "He's totally mine."

"Max, admitting to having a crush? Nonsense." Iggy shook his head. Angel smiled, her hand gripping two of his fingers. I could have sworn I say something wiggle in her backpack, but I knew better. I had threatened Total with his life if he moved in that thing. I whipped toward Iggy.

"Hey, don't talk." I accused him, pointing a finger in his face, lowering my voice a bit so that I could make my joke. "I could totally tell you were ear-sexing Black Widow in there."

Iggy shrugged, his eyebrows disappearing in his mop of ginger hair. He needed a haircut...where did these thoughts come from? "What can I say? Her voice was mesmerizing. There's nothing sexier than a woman who can speak Russian."

"You and your turn-ons." I shook my head.

"At least I don't have an unrequited love for a mutant soldier from prehistoric times!" Iggy smirked. I grabbed Angel's hand and made for the exit.

"Um, okay, he's from World War Two era, and he is just as mutant as me, so I see no trouble in loving him." I barked back.

"You know," Iggy pulled up beside me. "I would've thought you'd go for a superhero like Hawkeye or something."

"Don't get me wrong, he's awesome." I raised my eyebrows. "But I tend to like my men...a bit more genetically enhanced."

"Max!" Gasman cried, running in front of me. "Max!"


"I have to...I have to pee."

Gasman and his stupid nine-year-old bladder. I narrowed my eyes, longing for the days where doing a face palm was socially acceptable, "man cave" was a valid term, and Justin Bieber was still Canadian.

"Fine, Gazzy." I steered him toward the men's room. "We'll wait out here for you, okay?"

"Okie dokie." The kid nearly skipped on his way to the washroom (we were in Canada, after all). It made my heart happy to see my kids so happy, especially considering everything that was going on. Sure, Fang would be a little mad that we had seen the Avengers without him, and in theaters, even, but I had a feeling he'd get over it, and we'd probably watch it again the next time we were in an abandoned house with On Demand. As long as we got Fang out of there, I wouldn't care if the popcorn was burnt. Or if we had any at all.

It was weird thinking of the kids as 'my kids'. I was only fourteen, but it seemed right. They just weren't my siblings, like Fang or Iggy are. Heck, 'sibling' was just a word I used because of the lack of a better term. Nudge was more of my sister, though. But the Gasman and Angel...they were my siblings, and my responsibility, my kids. My head hurt. If they were my kids, who was the dad?

That was awkward.

"Can we see another movie?" Angel asked, looking up at me. She still had that burned, cut, ragged, messy thing of a stuffed bear in her arms. I needed to either wash it or burn it.

"Nope, sorry, honey." I pulled my lips to one side. "We got a job to do."

"Oh, yeah." Angel stared at her feet. "That's way more important. After we rescue Fang, can we see another movie? I like it here."

"Uh, sure." I half-lied, twirling my hair. "We'll try."

There! Not a full promise. I could bullshit my way through life, I knew it.

Suddenly my attention was brought up to two big kids loitering outside of the washroom (I had a right mind to call the cops on them, the hoodlums). Gasman came trotting out of the washroom. The two boys looked at one another and then stepped forward, stopping Gazzy in his tracks.

"Hey, kid." One taunted, sizing Gasman up. What were they doing? Didn't they know that the movie theater was a public venue?

"Hey, dude." Gasman snapped back, having to look up to give the delinquent the evil eye. Aw, he'd learned it from me.

"Nice shoes." The other kid mused, stepping forward toward Gasman.

"Really?" Gasman raised his left foot to look at his rumpled, stained Vans, which, despite my best efforts, still had peanut butter in the creases. "I got them from a dumpster behind Stride Rite. They had this weird stain on them, but I'm used to stains, and I thought they were cool. Plus, they were only two sizes too big when I got them. I nearly fit into them now!"

Dumb shared a look with Dumber, and then they directed their gaze back to Gasman. "Well, we want them. How about you hand them over?"

"What do you need my shoes for?" Gazzy asked incredulously. "You've got your own."

"We want yours, runt." One of them snarled. I decided that I'd had enough, and begun to make my way over to them. Sure, Gazzy's feet were big for a nine-year-old, but come on. I walked up behind the two douchenoodles, poking both of them on the back. They both turned around and glared at me.

"What?" Ugly growled, and Uglier crossed his arms. I smirked, mirroring his actions.

"I'd appreciate it if I could have my brother back, shoes and all, if you don't mind." I told them. Gazzy got that gleam in his eye he acquired whenever he knew I was going to beat something up.

"Move along, chick." Wimpier told me, nudging Wimp with his elbow like I was the fortune in his cookie that told him he was going to grow up alone and bald. Because that was impossible. "We're not hurting anyone."

"Yeah, well, you're hurting my feelings." I pouted back at him, and then turned my expression stone cold and unforgiving. "So let's let the kid leave with me before he and I shove your shoes so far up your ass you'll be hiccuping aglets for a month."

Who would've guessed someone could have used aglets as a threat? What could I say, I was pretty damn awesome. "How about you go make me a sandwich, girl." Asshat Numero Uno suggested.

I laughed mockingly. "Oh, you're a sexist ass, aren't you? Let me know how that works out for you. You know, I think they've got job opening at DoucheWads R Us down the street."

The two of them stared at me, and I rolled my eyes. "You're boring me now." I sighed. "Gasman, show them number eleven."

Gasman's face split in an evil grin, and I plugged my nose. Within seconds the two boys were tripping over each other, trying to escape the wrath of the Gasman. I grabbed their shoulders and slammed my knees into their kiwis. I then knocked their two empty heads together and left them writhing and squirming on the ground. I could've sworn one pissed himself and the other had vomit coming from his mouth, but I had no time for that. I grabbed Gazzy's hand and ran toward the others, picking up Angel and shoving her into Iggy's arms.

"Max!" Nudge cried, looking in horror and admiration at the two guys on the ground.

"That. Was. So. Awesome!" Gasman cried, throwing his hands up in the air. "Best birthday ever!"

"Yeah, yeah, we gotta skedaddle." I ushered them all quickly toward the side exit, looking behind me as the boy who wet himself pointed me out to a security guard. Great. Just fan-freaking-tastic.

"Hey!" He yelled, starting to run after us. "You there, girl! Stop!"

Uh, ahem. I had a name! How inconsiderate.

"Sorry!" I shouted back. "Gotta go! Late for a funeral!"

I busted the emergency exit open with my shoulder, sounding the alarm. Great, more attention. I slammed the door shut, tossing Gasman up into the air. He floundered, awkwardly unfurling his wings and pumping them against the air to gain altitude. Angel and Nudge followed suit. I grabbed a nearby dumpster and pushed with all my might, grating it closer to the door. Iggy dropped by to help me out, and we got it partially in front of the door when the guard slammed into it.

Ouch. That had to hurt.

After we had flown back into the woods and uncovered Otis from the number of branches we had concealed him under, we all piled into the car, catching our breath.

"Well, that was fun." Nudge stated, and we all chuckled.

"Happy birthday, Gazzy." Angel panted.

Total climbed his way out of Angel's pack and flopped on the floor, breathing heavily. Stupid dog. He hadn't even ran. He was probably getting portly. "Well, I think we've caused enough destruction in Canada for one lifetime." I mused, running a hand through my hair and starting Otis up, listening to the put-put-vroom of his engine. "Let's go destroy Detroit. What do you say?"

"Hells yeah."

There you have it. So, some people have been asking me how I am able to write Max so...in character, I guess (?). If you guys haven't noticed, I completely suck with the whole "review reply" thing. I'm still so technologically inept. Truth is, I guess Max is kinda like a more muscular, more badass version of myself, really. Personality-wise, I mean. Sometimes. I just write what I would probably say in my ideal little world in my head. Know what's cool? She even kinda looks like me :) In FANG, when they described her hair color, I was like "but that's mine!" So...I'm still not as awesome. Sigh.

Know what else is cool? Reviewing. hinthint. :D

12. Pancakedemonium

Hey howdy. I'm back with another chapter! Hoorah! I'm glad you guys liked the last one, and thanks bunches for all the reviews, guys. You make my heart smile.

Now, I'm writing MORE since I'm out of school (thank goshes), but it's not all...this...fic. I still lovles it, though, and I still lovles all of you who review. I won't be able to update next weekend, as I'm going to counselor training at a camp, but I'll probably update the week after. If not, feel free to throw baked goods at me.

"Oh, no, come on, Otis!" I groaned, pressing harder on the accelerator. My baby creaked and moaned as he puttered along the now semi-American roads (I didn't believe we were in Minnesota at first, because everything just looked exactly the same). I looked backwards and swore softly as I witnessed jet-black, diseased puffs of smoke swirl out from Otis' exhaust pipe. I could have sworn his hood was puffing out smoke, too. This was bad. Very bad. "No, baby, don't do this to me!"

"Is Otis dying?" Gasman inquired, poking his head in from the truck bed.

"No!" I cried, nearly hysterical. "Otis is not dying, he's just tired. We'll stop for the morning-it is morning now, isn't it?-and, and, and we'll have breakfast, and then everything will be fine because I will fix him!"

Iggy looked at my placidly, and placed a gentle hand on my arm, looking at my face so accurately that it was nearly eye contact. "Max. We'll get another one."

"I don't want another one!" My voice cracked, and Gasman giggled, earning one of my death glares. I pounded on the gas pedal again. "Go, Otis! Come on, you can make it!"

"Don't go into the light!" Gasman offered. Iggy shook his head. Angel giggled behind her hands. Total snored. I think Nudge might have been talking, but I had no time for that. Otis was dying out. I would not allow Otis to die out. He began to lurch and rumble, put-put-puttering until I eased him over onto the side of the road, where his engine promptly backfired and then went silent. Gasman let out a whoop, and this time Nudge biffed him for me.

"He was such a good car," I choked, throwing my body across the steering wheel. "I will bring you back! I will avenge you!"

"Come on, Max, get out of the Otis." Iggy nudged my arm. He must have hated being in the middle of the bench seat for a good nine hours, us being claustrophobic and all, but he had dealt with it pretty well, considering. Maybe he needed to piss again. Boy had the bladder of a three-year-old. "I'll help you fix him later."

"What do you know about fixing cars?" I asked, incredulous. Iggy raised an eyebrow at me.

"Max, I'm a boy." He scoffed. "I know everything about fixing cars."

"Not true!" I exclaimed. "Some boys are inept at machinery! Sexist! You, sir, are sexist!"

"Against myself, sure." Iggy rolled his eyes. "Now get out of the car."

I grudgingly hopped down from the driver's seat, walking around Otis' smoking hood and peering at the thin forest in front of me. "Well, this is just as good as any other place." I commented. "Iggy, do you have that frying pan we borrowed from that Wal-Mart five towns back?"

"Borrowed, yeah." Iggy scoffed.

"Nudge, food?" I inquired.

"Bisquick, milk, eggs, and chocolate chips are all accounted for. Well...half of the chocolate chips. Gazzy ate some. So did I."

"Okie dokie." I nodded. "Angel, plates?"

"Decorated with pretty flowers and honey bees."

"Gasman, whisk?"


"Great." I nodded, jumping up into the truck bed. "Iggy, get to fire-bending up a cooking fire over on the side of the road. I'm sure Otis wouldn't like it if we burnt his butt."

"Uh, Max." Gazzy smirked. "You do realize that it's a-"


"I'm just saying that it can't feel-"


"Stop trying, Gasser." Iggy mused, smiling. "I've gotten used to the fact that Otis is a new part of our family already, and it's only been a day and a half."

I couldn't help but smile at Iggy calling us a family. Including him. Our family. A messed up, underage, dysfunctional family, but still a family nonetheless.

"What Max really needs to realize is that there is indeed a difference between a pyromaniac and a fire-bender." Iggy sneered at me, bending over the pile of dry sticks and leaves we had gathered in a plastic bag in case it rained. Which it did. Hard.

"Eh, whatever." I made a dismissive hand gesture. "Whatever gets me food."

"Well, come and help me." Iggy growled good-naturedly. "I may still have the wonderful gift for cooking, but that won't help if I completely miss the pan. I don't think the five second rule applies to dirty Minnesotan pavement."

"I'll do it!" Gasman cried, jumping over to his former-still-kinda-it-was-really-complicated-we've-been-over-this-already partner in crime. "Before the whole 'Evil School Came Back' thing that went on, you said you were gonna teach me how to cook, 'cause I was tired of having to eat Max's food every time I did something bad and I wanted to make my own."

Iggy nodded enthusiastically, happy that he had a little admirer. Everyone knew that Gasman's primary goal in life was to be just like Iggy when he was Iggy's age. Right about now, with the now-partial amnesia and all that, I wasn't sure if that was a great thing to aspire to, but I guess it was just Iggy's personality that he wanted. The ability to pull through despite the whole world practically pitted against him, to make awesome explosions without sight, to be as good a cook as Gordon Ramsay without the television shows and accented yelling. I found myself wishing that someone ached to be just like me. Angel used to be like that, but now she was starting to free-think, change...she was so much different now than she was before the kidnapping. We all were. I walked around to Otis' hood, cracking it open and coughing horribly at all of the smoke and foul-smelling gases that protruded from his engine. I pulled the toolbox we also conveniently 'borrowed' from the Wal-Mart from below the passenger seat and propped a sturdy-looking log next to the front right wheel. I covered my mouth and nose with my sweatshirt (Wal-Mart had truly been generous) and set to work with tools that I hoped were supposed to be used on cars.

"Right in here?"

"Yep. One cup of milk with the egg and Bisquick. No, no, Gazzy, one cup of milk, one cup!"

"But I like milk!"

Nudge sat on the edge of the truck bed, reading a copy of Seventeen magazine that I was unaware that she had swiped from a newsstand (I mean, I only supported the temporary theft of useful items), while Angel and Total snuggled up together on the front seat. I peered down into the depths of Otis' engine, unable to control my coughing and wheezing as I tugged and pulled at things I hoped were the same things I had seen on a diagram we had printed out at a library we passed in case Otis broke down (Good thinking, me). I pulled the folded paper out of my bra and looked at it again, skimming the instructions. I could do this. I could fix a car.

"Gazzy, give back the chocolate chips!"

"No! I need them!"

I sighed, resurfacing from Otis and pulling back my hair. I needed pancakes, then I could read the instructions to Iggy and have him do the dirty work. I couldn't see anything in there, so maybe he could make some sense of it. For some reason, I felt racist. Or blindist. Something. Iggy ripped the chocolate chip bag back from Gazzy, spilling a bunch on the ground, and sprinkled them into the pancakes sizzling on the frying pan. It would have been more convenient if we had just borrowed a portable stove, too, but I drew the line, saying that we couldn't take anything remotely expensive. I wished I could have reiterated that to Nudge, who had snuck two new tops into Iggy's backpack. Iggy took the spatula he had also snuck into his own backpack (we weren't going to restock for months, after all that) and started flipping the pancakes, whistling. A smile broke out across his face, a real, genuine smile, and he shook his head slightly, stuck in his own thoughts.

I gathered the plates and stacked them on the truck bed, preparing for Iggy to feed us. Not for the first time, I wondered who would take his place as cook. We had barely eaten when he was gone, and only had bought cheap fast food when we needed to refuel. After the whole thing with Itex, I didn't trust my Maxcard anymore. It was in the bottom of my bag, and I swore that I'd only use it in case of emergencies. Like the next time we had to go to the hospital and they didn't give us a window (I still couldn't believe that). I leaned back and watched Iggy and Gazzy cook, well, more Iggy than Gazzy. Gazzy was watching the pancakes sizzle with a look of craving and fascination. I grinned.

Total noticed it before anyone else, barking a quick warning in his native tongue of Dogese and alerting us. "Angel." He stressed, this time in English. "Angel, what's wrong?"

The dog sounded panicked, worried. For the very first time I realized how attached Angel and Total really were. In an instant I walked briskly to the passenger side door, flinging it open. Total was pointing his face at Angel's, and if you've ever seen a dog look freaked, Total beat them all at the look in his eyes. Angel had her legs pulled up with her knees on her chest, hands on her ears and hair covering her hands. Her eyes were squeezed shut, and she was murmuring almost painfully under her breath, rocking slightly back and forth. I brushed back her hair, putting a hand on her knee. "Angel, honey." I soothed. "Baby, what's wrong? Angel, open your eyes, tell me what happened."

Angel shook her head vehemently, rocking even faster. "N-n-no," she whimpered. "S-stop."

"Stop what, sweetie?" I asked. Nudge and Gazzy came running around, Iggy close behind.

"What's wrong with Angel?" Gazzy cried protectively. "What's wrong with her?"

"Angel, I need you to open your eyes." I whispered to her. She swung her head back and forth. "It'll be alright, I promise."

"S-stop!" She cried, tears streaming from her eyes. "Make it stop!"

"Come on, sweetie." I was near to tears myself. Finally I grabbed her little wrist in my hand, attempting to pull it away from her face. Angel struck out violently, screaming as she tried to pin her hand back on her ear once more. It was a primitive, terrifying sound, and I was sure that I heard Total and Gazzy break into tears.

"S-STOP!" Angel shrieked. "Stop!"

"Who needs to stop, Angel?" I demanded. Angel wept, falling into my arms with her hands still clamped down on her ears. "Who needs to stop?"

"I-Iguh." Angel sobbed, and my eyes widened. "Stop it. Stop it."

"What?" Iggy asked now, eyes wide with terror. "What am I doing?"

Angel screamed again, and I held her tight. Suddenly, her eyes flew open, and she stared right at Iggy. "Stop it! Stop remembering!"


I glanced around the room warily, wiping away some spit from my mouth with the back of my hand. I narrowed my eyes at the light creeping underneath the doorway, the only thing that lit up my pitch black containment chamber. Shadows of feet passed by it occasionally, but I was looking for only one set.

It was time. It was the day I'd escape this hell. I had to get out, get back to Max, warn her about what was going to happen. What Bob was going to do. She had to know, and she had to protect Iggy, no matter what.

I wondered if his memories were already coming back. If they were, the flock was in trouble. We were all in trouble. Which was another reason why I had to get back.

Two feet paused outside the door, and I froze. It was time. I clenched one fist at my side, the other around one of the bars of my cage. The sound of a lock being opened met my ears, and then a blinding light made me shrink away, just a little bit. I wasn't a complete vampire.

"I'm hungry." I growled.

"Too bad." My favorite person in the world sneered (Iggy said that I needed to become more skilled in the art of sarcasm. I think I'm on my way). The Eraser that was my prison guard sauntered over to me, chewing obnoxiously loudly on her Kit Kat bar. I bet she ate real kittens. She didn't even eat Kit Kats the right way. She stuck her face in front of mine, making sure to breath some of her disgusting dog breath into my flared nostrils. "Came to check on you, Feathers. Had to see if you had recovered from our last session."

If you ever had the slightest inclination that female Erasers were better looking while they were wolfed out, you're an idiot. Probably a dead idiot, but still an idiot. Like other Erasers, when human they were beautiful, more beautiful than I'd like to admit, actually. Not the case when they were Erasers. They were just as wolfy, much more violent, perhaps even more ugly, and they still had a human menstrual cycle. I thought Ari was hairy when he was dog-i-fied, but he had nothing on this Eraser. Girl Erasers, if they kept their hair long whilst human, had very long hair when an Eraser. It was like comparing an Irish Setter to a chihuahua. My guard had very long, kinky red hair. While it made for a very amusing pelt on a wolf/dog/thing, it also helped me with my plan immensely. Good thing she didn't know it, or else I'd probably been Fang Juice on the wall by then.

The smug look that was naturally my face probably pissed her off again, and she came closer, her pulled up hair falling around her arms. She reached in and grabbed my shirt collar in one deceptively strong hand, pulling me up against the bars. I didn't resist. "Do I need to teach you another lesson, runt?" She snarled, pulling up her lip. Huge canines glinted in the artificial light, the chocolate smeared on them making them look even more grotesque.

"No." I growled right back. "...Ma'am."

"Good choice, Feathers." She chuckled, throwing me back into the cage with brute force. I spat into the metal, and she sneered at me. "Good morning."

She thundered out of the door and slammed it shut, leaving me in the darkness again. I smirked, sitting up and uncurling my fist, revealing a couple bobby pins I had collected over the course of a few days. I chuckled darkly to myself, and then set to work, reaching around the bars of the cages and grabbing the lock in my hands. Using some of the skills I had picked up from observing Iggy pick locks with various pointy objects, I worked at it until I heard the soft click that let me know I got it. Smirking, I yanked the lock off of the door of the cage and opened it quietly. I climbed out, turned around, and locked the door again.

Phase One complete.

While I was good at being silent and carrying out plans, I was not particularly skilled in making said plans. There was a reason Max was leader other than the fact that she could beat me in arm-wrestling. I found that hot, though, so it was okay. It had taken me a few days to contemplate over my less-than-foolproof plan and tolerate the pain tests they decided were fun to put me through. I just had to wait until the hall was clear, get to an air vent, navigate my way through the facility until I reached the vent that led outside, and then fly off and backtrack my way until I found Max. I had to find Max. The flock's lives depended on it.

I waited and listened until I couldn't hear any more footsteps, and then cracked the door open a little bit to peer outside. Really, they'd think that they would lock the door to the prisoner's containment chamber, too, but maybe they were just that stupid. Seeing no one in the hall, I rushed out, closed the door quietly, and slinked down the hall, barely daring to breathe. I kept to the minimal shadows of the hallways, turning a corner cautiously and heading down to a dead end that I happened to know had an air vent big enough to fit me and my wings in a tight squeeze. Thirty feet...twenty feet...ten feet...there. I heaved a sigh of relief, giving one more paranoid glance to the wall behind me before taking the bobby pin and working on the lock on the air vent. I guess someone had tried to escape before. Or maybe they just put their caution into different areas.

I just had the lock click open when I heard the voice behind me. "Where do you believe you're going, Fang?" Bob asked as innocently as he could in his voice that sounded like he used to be a smoker. I cussed loudly, not moving from my position, half of my knee in the vent and my head bent down. I heard Bob tsk tsk behind me. "Come on up."

I slowly turned around and stood, hatred the only thing to be seen on my face. My ugly Eraser guard stood behind Bob, snarling, along with Ari, who to my pleasure still looked a little worse for wear. I had beat him down pretty good. Pride swelled in my chest, but it was trampled by the dread working its way down my body. "Did you really think that we didn't have cameras, Fang?" Bob asked, folding his gnarled hands in front of him. "Your faith in me is astounding."

"Didn't hear an alarm." I murmured under my breath with shame, because I knew that I had screwed up, that I was stupid and weak. That I couldn't save Max.

"What was that?" Bob asked, holding a hand to his ear. "Oh, I guess it doesn't matter. Nothing really matters, now, does it, Fang? Come along."

I didn't even object, just followed Ari and Bob down the winding hallways while my guard took pleasure in poking me in the wings with her claws and howling with laughter. Bob paused outside a blank, unmarked door, and turned to me, his mouth in a twisted smile. "This is a tremendous moment." He said a tad maniacally. "You two, experiments, wait out here." He turned to me, opening the door slowly behind him. "Fang, I'd like you to meet yourself."


Literally: A place for all the demon cakes.

Oh, yeah, the review got a promotion a little while back. It went from being a little green link thingy to a full out blue button. We had this moving up party and everything, so show your love for the button! :D

13. Born To Be Unlucky

I'm back on the MR side of writing! Hurrah!

Well, I'm a couple days off in terms of when I said I was going to update, but...I'm here now :D With some inspiration and some guilt-inducing pleading on part of a certain reviewer (coughflYegurlcough), I have written this chapter. It's a cool chapter, I think. New POV and whatnot. Really helps you guys understand what's GOING to happen, so you guys won't be like fish out of water during the next chapter or...any of the chapters after that. Oh, yes. Don't forget to review! You guys know I love that stuff. It makes my heart beam with joy.

Anonymous reviewing I guess I am allowing now, thanks to FF's new process. As long as you're awesome, you're reviews shall be allowed. Review on, sneaky account-less ninjas. Enjoy the chapter.


I remembered. I remembered everything. Taking in all of Iggy's memories, it wasn't like reading minds. Reading and understanding other peoples' thoughts was easy. Remembering someone else's whole life as if you were reminiscing your own? It hurt. It hurt bad.

I whimpered, tugging at Max's hair as if it would calm me, but it didn't. Max kept whispering nothings into my ear, trying to make the pain go away. I couldn't blame her for trying. Gasman was looking around as if he couldn't believe what was happening, and Nudge was supporting Iggy. I blinked painfully, wondering why, until I saw him falter in her grip, and slide to the ground with her.

"Iggy!" She cried, and Max whipped around, making me dizzy. I blinked harshly again, trying to banish the swirls from my vision. With me in her arms, Max skidded onto the ground beside Iggy. Tears were making their way steadily down my face, and I could do nothing to stop them. Iggy looked dazedly from Nudge, to Max, to me, and then his eyes rolled back in his head, flopping onto Nudge's lap. The pain exploded tenfold in my head, and I screamed, clutching my head and hair. Max held me tightly, and I gazed into my pseudo mother's eyes. Fear was held there, with tears unable to fall. She was so tough. That was why Fang loved her. That was why Iggy stayed. Those were more or less the same thing.

Panicked thoughts penetrated my brain, and I shrieked again, unable to tolerate the pain. I could see the edges of my vision turning black. I just wanted it to be quiet. Iggy was remembering too loud. I wondered vaguely if all amnesiac's path to remembering their lives hurt this much. I doubted it. It was probably gradual, not harsh, like Iggy's. Everything Iggy had to deal with was so hard...but he had never had the advantage in life. He had always been so unlucky. We all had been. Nudge, Gasman, Max and Total kept panicking, which made the pain so much worse. I sighed against Max's shoulder and cried.

"Angel, sweetie..." Max's voice was muffled. Everything was blurring. If only their thoughts weren't so loud...

"Stop." I whispered. "Stop, please."

I closed my eyes and nestled in Max's shoulder, letting the painful memories I had been trying to hold back come forward and wash over me.

A sterile hallway was silent as a whitecoat pushed a lone cart down the tile of the School. On the cart was one crate, a dog cage undoubtedly intercepted from a truck delivering its cargo to the local Petco. Inside the crate was a horribly small little boy, with bony limbs and sunken cheeks. The only thing that made the whitecoat sure the thing was alive was the twitch of the hybrid's teeny wings, and the tremble of the boy's head, donned with bright orange, fuzzy hair. The School had been none too kind to the little boy. He didn't even know why it was called the School-he sure wasn't learning anything worthwhile. The man with the moustache had told him that he was going to meet others like him, now that he was three and able to somewhat stand on his own. He didn't talk much, but who was there to talk to? The man with the moustache rarely came to see him. The boy thought that maybe he liked the other birdies more. He didn't really think that was fair, but what did he know? Maybe the other birdies were nicer. Nicer than the scary Erasers, anyway.

The whitecoat pushed the cart into a dimly lit room with a few crates placed on either side of the narrow room, with the fronts facing each other. All was still as the whitecoat opened the crate holding the little boy and reached inside, grabbing him by the hair and yanking him out carelessly. The boy cried out in pain, but the whitecoat just pulled open the door to another cage and threw him pitilessly onto the metal floor of the crate. The boy sniveled as the man locked the cage and walked away, offering no food and no comfort for the small children. Everything was silent for a moment as the boy sniffled, shifting into a criss-cross-applesauce position and wiping the back of his hand messily across his drippy nose. He pushed furiously at the ginger hair that tickled the bridge of his nose and tried to see out of his orange mop. Two small pair of eyes were staring at him, one from the cage next to him and the other from the one across from him. Suddenly, a small hand shot out from between the bars of the cage and held itself out to him. He strained his eyes and saw a little girl with dingy, dirty long hair that fell into her face and warm brown eyes. She blew her hair out of her face with a puff of air and smiled at him. The boy looked at her tiny hand, and then tentatively took it in his own.

The girl smiled wider. "I'm Max."

My head burned and I whimpered, trying to expel the memories from my brain, but they kept coming like some freaky montage of Iggy. I mean, I loved Iggy, but this was all too much.

"Fang!" Iggy rattled the bars on the front of his cage, attempting to harness the attention of his friend. "Fang, look what I can do! Fang!"

The dark-haired boy raised his head at the ginger boy from across the narrow room and sighed, bringing in his legs to his chest. Iggy tried to stretch in his cage, but the small-sized dog pen he was stuck in limited his mobility. Three years together in the same room, in the same pens, made Iggy terribly restless, but the horrible days were made better by having friends. The three bird-kids had bonded, banding together with Iggy as soon as he showed up. They even gave him his own special nickname, like theirs, since they didn't know their real names. Well, maybe Max was Max's real name, since the man with the moustache, whose name, Iggy found out, was Jeb, called her that all the time anyway since before she could remember. Fang didn't have a name when Iggy arrived either, since he didn't talk much, and unlike Iggy, who talked more and more with his friends' company, Fang just wasn't talkative, or was very shy. He had some sharp teeth, though, and one of the whitecoats had been stupid enough to try to pick the kid up by the shirt collar after a particularly bad testing day. Max and Iggy still laughed about it, and the name stuck. Iggy, on the other hand, got his name by accidentally burning one of the scientists and nearly all of his eyebrows into oblivion after weaseling out of the holding room he was in and into the room next door with a lot of chemicals and some badly placed matches. Describing it to his friends, Iggy had said that the bottle had ignited in a burst of pretty colors, and Fang had suggested that that should be his name. At the time, however, Max had just lost her front teeth, and couldn't pronounce the whole word, resorting to calling him Iggy. It suited him rather well, but Jeb kept calling him Ignatius, and he didn't like that all. What kind of six-year-old wants to be called Ignatius, even one with wings?

"What, Iggy?" Fang said listlessly, rubbing his eye with his knuckles. He had no problem sitting with his legs criss-cross in his cage, but Iggy couldn't even manage that anymore. The whitecoat that fed them their gruel breakfast with their respective vitamins or whatever kept saying that they'd get Iggy upgraded to the next size of dog crate because his limbs were so long, but they never did it, leaving the kid with sore muscles. Iggy folded his knees and stuffed his lower legs beneath him, conjuring a quarter Jeb had given him to play with from his fist.

"I can do magic!" He boasted. "Here, watch." Fang stared at him as Iggy began his 'magic'. Iggy's magic tricks were the only thing that interested Fang when Max was away during her individual tests, so he locked his dark eyes onto Iggy's sharp, clear blue ones. Iggy waved the coin in front of his face, and then twisted his wrist, smiling broadly as he waved his now-empty hand at Fang. Fang leaned forward, grabbing the bars of his cage in his hands.

"Where did it go?" He asked, furrowing his eyebrows. Iggy wiggled his own eyebrows, which were growing back nicely, and reached under the bowl in his cage, bringing the quarter out and smirking at his friend. Fang stared for a moment before snapping his head to the side along with Iggy as the door to their room opened. Instead of seeing Max like they were expecting, a whitecoat rolled a cart into the room and deposited a small girl, no more than three, into the cage next to Fang. Iggy scooted forward and pressed his face against the bars of his cage, struggling to see around the big whitecoat. The small girl had dark skin, not at all like Iggy's fair complexion, and a poof of black hair in tiny ringlets and fuzz, like it couldn't decide whether to be styled or a regular toddler's hair. The little girl blinked at them, and Iggy smiled at her. Coming out of the little girl's back were two fluffy light brown wings. Iggy waved, and the girl waved back.

"Hi." Iggy smiled. "I'm Iggy, and that's Fang. We have wings too. There's another girl too, her name is Max. You'll be okay here."

It was a total lie, but what was he supposed to tell her? She sat up and knotted her fingers together, grinning at Iggy. She unlocked one of her hands to point at his head of flaming hair, smile as bright as the sun. "You look funny."

Iggy's smile, which I felt throughout my whole body as if it was my elation, was heartwarming. I watched his memories go by like a movie, and I felt bad when I started craving popcorn. I was watching Iggy, Max, and Fang learn how to write with Jeb with Nudge watching from the side, giggling. Suddenly, without any warning, there was a very bright light, low voices, and the sound of metal on metal. I was frozen as the images flashed through my brain, disjointed, panicked. I, Iggy tried to turn his head, lash out, but he was restrained. There was a few painful slashes of red, and then everything was black.

It stayed black.

I felt tears leak under my closed eyelids, because I knew most of what happened next. I didn't know the exact memories, no, but I knew that I wouldn't be seeing any of them. Only hearing them, staring at the horrible expanse of black that occupied my panorama. I wanted to curl up in a ball as the memories continued, but they were all dark. So dark. Iggy crying, weeping, trying to scratch at the gauze on his face. Max's hand on his shoulder, comforting, but not enough. Nudge, not understanding the situation. Fang, quiet. The pain from fighting, literally blind, the shame, feeling less than adequate, a waste of space.

When Gazzy arrived, Iggy couldn't contain himself, and starting crying silently. Gazzy started crying, too.

The day came when Jeb came to break us out of the School, and all Iggy could feel was the overwhelming, horrible sense that he was going to be left behind. He knew he was going to be left behind, stuck in hell forever. But then Max grabbed his wrist. Jeb handed her something, which I knew somewhere in my mind was myself as an infant. Iggy followed the rest of them, piled into a car, drove off.

They weren't full memories, like before. Just snippets of life. The good ones longer than the bad ones, but I guess I could understand that. I didn't want to remember the bad times, either. They sped by my ears so fast I could barely hear them, but I understood. I was sure Iggy did, too.

Learning to fly.

Learning to cook.

Burning his hand trying to make shortcake.

Picking strawberries.

Finding Jeb's matches in his drawer.

Making his first bomb, fingers oh-so-sensitive.

Blowing up Nudge's drawer.

Apologizing to Nudge.

Goofing off with Gazzy. Feeling happy.

Sitting with Nudge and listening to Fang and Max laugh. Feeling jealous.

Holding me in his arms.

Finally being able to walk around the house by himself.

Jeb, 'dying'. Baking Max a cake to try to comfort her, only to have his heart crushed when she just sobbed into the cake and slammed her fist into it. Going for a fly. Getting lost. Feeling guilty as Fang brought him back. Staying in his room for days.

Then, it came. The day was exactly like I remembered it, only through Iggy's ears. He was the last one to fall unconscious, unable to move, slumped on the ground. But he still heard my screams. And he felt helpless.

The events of the last year passed by, but I didn't pay any real attention. I knew what happened. That is, until Epcot. I wanted to plug my ears as well as be blind as I heard Iggy's anguish, his pain and panic being in a crowd, being taken. I just wanted to plug my ears and make it all go away.

I didn't feel that way when the deaf spells came.

It was a whole mess of pain, agony, hope that came and then was smashed down again and again and again. I heard myself screaming as suddenly the lights came back on, only to see the flock, myself, Max, everyone die at the hands of the Erasers, fatal gunshot wounds across our bodies. I knew it wasn't real. Iggy knew too.

Not real, not real. It wasn't real. It just couldn't be real. Couldn't.

It was after we had left Dr. Martinez's house that things started to get messed up, even for us. It was after Iggy had gotten shot that I realized that some memories weren't right.

Iggy hadn't woken up to an empty hospital room. He hadn't wandered out in the hallways to find me. He hadn't called to me, and I hadn't run away from him. Gazzy hadn't tried to blow him up. Nudge hadn't attempted to knife him, hadn't called him a traitor. Fang hadn't attacked him and tried to kill him. Max hadn't stood over his fallen body, hadn't told him he was worthless. She hadn't told him that he wasn't worth rescuing, that he was nearly dead anyhow, that we had no use for him, didn't care anymore. She hadn't called him a worthless parasite. We hadn't left him there, weeping, only to fall once more into the hands of Itex and Bob, with their masks and needles, telling him that it was okay, that he would forget.

...Had we?

The back of the van opened with a pop, a gunshot. And then everything from the past month whizzed forward in a cracked audio so fast that I didn't have time to process it. My mind shot forward, nearing the end of what felt like a tunnel, but I didn't know if there was an opening or a concrete wall at the end of it. I braced myself and then gasped, opening my eyes to a pale blue sky.

Gasman kneeled protectively over me, and Total licked my face. I absentmindedly stroked his ear as I tried to sit up, trembling from head to toe. Max gathered me in her arms and I welcomed her hold openly, eager for affection. Anything to get the memories out of my head. Anything to get Iggy out of my head.

"Angel, honey, are you okay?" Max fussed, stroking my hair. I realized that I hadn't blinked yet, but when I did, tears came pouring down my face. I nodded, though, and released myself from Max, fear taking over everything as I looked at Iggy, Nudge hunched over him. No. No, she had to get away.

"I think he's waking up!" Nudge called happily. Iggy groaned, bringing a hand to his face, and Nudge helped him sit up. I was shaking visibly now, terror skyrocketing through my body, and Max held my hand. No, Nudge, no...

"Angel." She stressed. "Are you alright?"

I nodded hastily. "Yeah, but..." I pointed a shaky finger towards Iggy, who was starting to creak open his eyes. He stared ahead blankly into the space around us, and Nudge tried to gather his attention to no avail. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. My voice wavered. "But Iggy-"

That was about the time he started clawing at his eyes.

Soo...yeah, I'm still evil. But guess what? This is like the first chapter I haven't sworn in! Damn, that's insane :P Hehehe...

Reviews = love and love = HEDGEHOGS.

14. How Convenient

Hiyo :D I'm back! I meant to update this on Thursday, but I've been a tad under the weather (happens every summer, meh) and we went on some impromptu-ish trip to the Cape and then I had stuff and stuff and stuff. But it's here now, and extra long for you guys! I wasn't feeling well, but I listened to some Imagine Dragons, watched some Olympic Beach Volleyball, wrote the remainder of the chapter and I felt better. Just remember to review! Oh, and if you didn't, go check out my new MR one-shot. Lovles and stuffles.

This is a heavy chapter. Things are picking up now, gosh...


We all had pretty much mastered at that point the art of dealing with Iggy episodes. The normal ones, anyway. Oh, ew, that sounds weird and horribly grosstastic.

This...this was not normal.

Iggy was scratching at his eyes. Check. He was squirming around like a worm and a waterless fish's hybrid child. Check. He was screaming. Check. He wouldn't let any of us touch him, even kicking me in the gut (which would not go unpunished) when I tried to console him. Uh...not check. That was bad.

"Iggy, Iggy, it's okay, I'm here." Nudge soothed, attempting to grab his flailing hand. Once she got a good grip on his palm he seemed to tone the freak out down a notch, breathing really heavily and looking close to sobbing, but not trying to kill himself and others. Nudge ran a thumb over his lifeline, silent tears coming out of her eyes. Gasman had Angel gathered up on his lap, holding her tightly and protectively. "It's alright, it's going to be all right, Iggy. I'm here, and Max is here, and Gazzy, and Angel. We're here, nothing's gonna hurt you. We're fine, and you're fine, okay?"

I had to say, Nudge was good at this comforting thing. She was officially on comfort duty.

"N-No," Iggy sobbed, his voice breaking. "D-dead."

"We're not dead, Iggy." I whispered. "We're right here, alive, we're okay."

I reached out and took his other hand, placing it gingerly onto my jawline. Iggy stiffened, and then relaxed, sinking into Nudge. But then he tensed and shook his head, muttering under his breath. Nudge and I leaned forward, trying to decipher his mumblings.

"No, no, no." Iggy moaned. "Alive, they're alive, dead, no, here, abandoned me, here, no, gone, left me for Bob, no, no, no, heard them, heard them, heard them. Messing with my head again, getoutgetoutgetout..."

Nudge and I shared a terrified look for a split second before I heard Angel moaning again. Dear God, what else could go wrong?

Ugh, I didn't want to answer that.

"Angel, what's wrong now, hun?" I asked, turning toward her.

"He-he's sending me a message again." Angel groaned. "Through Iggy."

I whipped back around to Ig, biting my lip seeing him rock back and forth, hugging his legs and squeezing his eyes shut as he muttered to himself. "Who, Bob? I thought that that was a one-time deal!"

Angel shook her head. "Ugh. N-no, there's...something in Iggy's...head, he can...mess it up. False memories, that's what's happening, Max. He thinks something else happened at the hospital. He thinks we left him there to have Bob take his memories away."

"What?" Nudge snarled, gathering Iggy in her arms and trying to get him to stop...whatever he was doing. Iggy would have none of it, clocked out from all of us as he tried to sort things out in his mind. Angel groaned again, and I crawled forward to her. Total poked his head up under her arm and licked her in his own little attempt to make her feel better.

"Are you okay, Ange?" Gazzy asked.

Angel nodded stiffly. "Y-yeah, hurts less than Iggy's memories. Short. He just...oh."

"Iggy remembers everything now?" I wondered. "Is that why-" I trailed off, my question answering itself with one quick look at my pseudo brother. I felt so informed, but so behind. Everything was happening too fast, and I wasn't a mind reader. I was out of the loop.

I didn't like that.

Suddenly Iggy stopped all of his muttering, becoming silent as he rocked back and forth. Angel flew her head up, little blue eyes alarmed.

"He gave me an address." She rasped. "In Detroit. He says...he says that if you, M-Max, if you want F-Fang back, to b-bring Iggy to him, and he'll...trade."

"What?" Gazzy cried. "Is he stupid? Trade?"

"He says that if we don't trade, he'll just take Iggy and kill Fang." Angel gulped. "But he wants you to know...he intends to give Iggy back. He doesn't want anyone to die. But we have to...cooperate, or there will be consequences. He calls it...incentive."

"I'll shove his incentive right up his ass." I whispered, clenching my fists.

Angel closed her eyes tightly. "He says...ta ta for now." She opened her eyes and looked at me. "I think this man is insane."

"Iggy?" Nudge muttered. "Iggy, can you hear me? Open your eyes, Ig."

We all stopped where we were and stared at Nudge try to rouse Iggy, who had seemed to have fallen unconscious in her arms. Gazzy inches sideways and tucked Angel into his shoulder, putting his little arm around her little shoulder. Happy for the shelter, it seemed, Angel buried her head into her brother, staring at Iggy like the rest of us. I crawled forward very slowly on my hands and knees, uneasy at the sense of impending doom we all felt in the air. Nudge shook Iggy gently, her hair obscuring my view of Iggy's face.

"Iggy." Nudge stressed, her voice hushed. "Iggy, it's Nudge. I need you to wake up, okay? We need to get out of here, we're gonna get you some help."

Nudge's definition if help was pretty different than mine. Mine consisted of duct tape, ice cream, and Reynolds Wrap.

Everything was silent for the longest time. It felt like like hours, though it only could have been a few seconds. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath. It was utterly, completely silent.

Until it wasn't.

Noise exploded all around me as suddenly Iggy's eyes flashed open, his hand flew up, and Nudge cried out, hand to her face. Nudge was falling to the ground, Iggy was jackknifing up into the air, a crazed look in his eyes. Total ran under Otis, tail beneath his legs, yelping. Gazzy fell back on his butt, and Angel screamed, not in pain this time, but in warning, fear...

I was on top of Iggy before I even realized it, pocketknife that had been inside my boot suddenly open and hovering above his neck as I pinned him down. Iggy looked as if he was either about to start laughing or crying, or both. Nudge, clutching the right side of her face, crawled away desperately to where Gasman and Angel sat, terrified. Angel was leaning forward, but Gasman was holding her back. He held out another arm out for Nudge as she crawled over to them, and she gratefully wrapped her arms around the two of them. My arm shook above Iggy as I stared down at him, expression hard. He had just hit Nudge.

He. Had hit. Nudge.

"Max, don't hurt him!" Angel cried, her breaths coming out like sobs. I was pretty sure she was crying, but I wasn't going to risk looking back at her. Not with Iggy here. Just in a split few moments, Iggy had suddenly gone from 'friend' to 'threat'. "It's not his fault, Max, it's not him! Don't hurt him!" Her voice broke. "Don't hurt him, please!"

I blinked rapidly, sweat beginning to blossom on my face as I looked back at Iggy's face. His blind eyes showed all emotion, but they were changing way to fast for me to read. Anger, defeat, denial, loss, frustration, confusion, fear, so much fear...

"Well?" Iggy's voice croaked. "You gonna do it?"

I was shocked for a moment, and I stared at him, my grip slackening just a little before I hardened it again. "What?"

"You gonna kill me or what?" Iggy asked, voice leaking dare. Challenge. "I know, it would be so easy. Everything they want, gone. All the pieces to the puzzle thrown in the trash can. So do it." He tilted his head up at me and whispered it. "Do it."

I gulped, blinking again. I tried to deliberate what to do, but the challenge in Iggy's eyes suddenly flashed to a look of despair, and he was talking again, manipulating the both of us, and I was powerless against it. "Please, Max. Do it, please. Do it now!"

"NO!" I screamed at him, hair falling in his face, sweat dripping onto his freckles. "Snap out of it, Iggy!"

"Just leave!" He screamed back, eyes flashing, emotions changing, I couldn't keep track. "Leave me like before! Leave me for the dogs Max, show me what you really are!"

"I didn't leave you!" I roared, arms shaking. Iggy flinched back at that, head hitting the ground. "I didn't leave you, Iggy, you know it." My voice lowered seriously. "You know it."

Iggy gulped now, his expression so lost that it wanted to make me just break down. He glued his sightless eyes on my face, his lips moving soundlessly until he managed to break words out in a coarse rasp. "It's so real." He ground out. "It's so real, Max. The feelings, the memories, oh God, they're all there..." He started to tremble. I didn't dare move a muscle. "Help me, Max, please, make them go away, make him go away, please."

"I will, Iggy." I said back, my voice seemingly so much louder than his. "I promise, we're going to find him. And I'm going to kill him."

Iggy nodded, turning his head to the side and panting into the grass. "I feel...normal." He breathed. "But it's there, it's there, and...I can't trust myself, Max. I can't trust it."

"I know." I hung my head. "I know. We'll make it right."

We stayed like that for a while. I don't know how long it was, really, but it felt like years, and when Iggy's eyes didn't change, his emotions and memories didn't flare, I finally decided I could let him go. Cautiously. "I'm gonna let you up now." I told him. "Make a move, I end you."

Iggy let out a rough laugh. "I know that's a promise."

And then I was laughing, too, a weird laugh that I don't think I'd ever laughed before. We both cracked ourselves up as the kids and the dog looked at us like we were completely insane. Our lives were insane, the villain to our story was insane, the whole thing was insane. Why couldn't we be a little crazy too?

After we killed Bob, I'd take us all to a shrink. Something told me we'd need it.

Iggy didn't suddenly go from happy pyro ginger to axe murderer in a split second, but he was far from normal. Even without-memories-of-the-last-fourteen-years normal. He walked around, paced, like he was itching to run, and when he wasn't pacing, he was sitting on the bed of the motel room I rented out of desperateness, eyeing us all distrustfully. He'd laugh at Gazzy's farts, apologize profusely to Nudge, crack a joke, but he was straining, and he knew it. It wasn't completely his fault, I knew that. Mess with a guy's memories of everything he once believed in and he was bound to be climbing the walls a little bit, but that didn't mean I didn't have my eye on him. He spoke quietly with Angel on the bed so none of us could hear them while I packed some supplies we had gotten from the nearby Seven-Eleven. Nudge insisted in helping in some way, even though her eye was blackening and I wanted her to rest. I gave her the job of trying to find some information on Itex and Bob, whatever she could, and where the place of the address Bob gave us was located. What it looked like. Where the vantage points were so I could perch up there and wait for Bob to emerge so I could descend on him and stick my pocketknife into his flailing-


Gasman felt pretty useless, standing around in the motel room. Nudge's eye was throbbing, but I didn't exactly have the right supplies for that, so I gave him some Reynolds Wrap and told him to go run and get some ice from the soda machine in the McDonalds across the street, no stopping. Happy for a job, he was back in record time, and Nudge had something to rest on her bruised face. I would have given her a raw steak, or whatever people give people with black eyes to make it heal lickedy-split, but I was preoccupied and out of rib-eyes, so she'd have to deal. Until I gave her the opportunity to return the favor to Iggy, that is. It would come.

"Max?" Iggy asked, his voice small. I turned my head toward him, but his face was tilted toward the floor. He wasn't doing anything now that Angel had stopped their conversation and had gone over to Gasman on the floor to play Jenga. Jenga was about the only game we carried on us because you could shove all the pieces in one box, it didn't matter how many you lost, and in extreme cases, they made cute little throwing knives when you sharpened them.

"Yeah?" I grunted in response, tucking away an extra sweater for Angel into a pack. I opened my pack to find my clothes blocked by one of Fang's sweatshirts, and I held back a choke of air by holding my breath and then exhaling calmly before cramming the thing into the nearest bag I could find and out of sight. "What do you need?"

"C'mere." Iggy moaned, tucking his legs up and putting his head in his hands. I turned around, stopping what I was doing. When Iggy didn't move, I started towards him.

"That a good idea, Ig?" I tried for a smile. "Don't want you to go all Hawkeye on us."

"We just saw the movie, and you're making bad puns." Iggy groaned.

I shrugged, sitting cautiously across from him on the other bed. "It's what I do."

Iggy shook his head, but underneath the mop of orange hair I could see a smirk, and that in itself was a victory for me. It was gone as soon as it came, though, and Iggy sat still for a while before speaking in a hushed tone. "Nudge is mad at me."

"We're all mad at you." I replied, and he snapped his head up. I cuffed him on the shoulder, smirking. "We're mad at you, but we don't blame you, Ig. Sure, you went bat shit crazy out in the middle of nowhere while you were making pancakes and Nudge got hit in the eye. So what? As far as I'm concerned, none of that is your fault."

"I attacked Nudge." Iggy muttered. "I...I thought you guys abandoned me. I thought you were monsters, that I couldn't trust you, and that you were gonna hurt me. I still think it, even though I know you wouldn't. But you did. I don't know what to think."

"I think that you should think whatever we tell you to think." I crossed my arms. "I mean seriously, would you ever take us to do that?"

"Yes." Iggy mumbled. "No." He threw up his arms, agitated. "I don't know."

"The answer is no." I replied. "You failed the test. Well, I'll give you a C, because of the whole memory manipulation thing. I'll let it slide this one time."

"I just want it to stop." Iggy bit his lip, kneading his head with his knuckles. "Angel said that she saw the memories, too, but that the...events at the hospital didn't happen. I believe her, but I don't. I'm scared. I don't want to second-guess myself, and I don't want to hurt any of you."

"You won't." I deadpanned.

"You don't know that." Iggy looked up at me. "How can you know that?"

"Because I know everything, and I'm always right." I told him. "Look, you don't really have a grip on the situation right now, so it's my job to do that for you, and make sure you remember who're the good guys here. Who are the good guys?"

"You are." Iggy barked out, a smile on his face, and this time, I could see it in his eyes.

"And who are the bad guys?"

"People who make the little plastic things on the ends of shoelaces."


"Bob, the magical wizard of child abuse." Iggy's teeth showed in his smirk. I stood and clapped him on the shoulder again, turning and biffing him on the head for good measure.

"And don't you forget it." I growled good-naturedly, turning back toward my packs. "Don't make me regret saving your life, mister. I've only done so like three times this week."

"Who was it that beat the evil clone, huh?" Iggy put up his hands.

"I seem to remember you getting thrown off a cliff and getting a concussion." I shot back. "If it wasn't for our healing you'd probably have permanent brain damage by now, Bird Brain."

"Taking out the bird puns. That's low, Max, that's low."

"Low? I'll show you low. Do you want to go back to Canada?"

"If you are finished," Nudge snapped from the kitchenette table, eyes (well, eye, the other was kinda swollen shut, nice going, Igster) urgent as she held up the screen of the laptop we 'borrowed' from that library back in Arkansas. "Max, I found where we're looking for. I found Fang."


"Fang, my dear boy, would you like a beverage?" The voice I decided I hated the most in the world asked me, the tone so sickly innocent that I wanted to puke. I thought about doing so, too, just to spite him. It would have been funny. Bob turned around from the waiter who had brought food and drinks into the first-class douchecanoe section of the Itex brand jet, which was flying me to who-knows-the-hell-where. I was kind of hoping that it would crash, so I could fly away, but I doubted my chances with that. I was just thankful that the evil scientist in the room was blocking my view of the waiter's head. Small graces. Bob took a step toward me, so I glowered at the floor. "An appetizer? Cheese? Crackers?"

"Can I have a knife with that?" I growled, not looking up. Suddenly my jaw was wrenched upwards so that I was forced to look into Bob's eyes. His fugly little beetle eyes.

Bob's face was contorted with anger, his own jaw clenched as he held mine in a vice grip. "What did I tell you?" He snarled. "You look at me when I'm talking to you, experiment. Or else the only place you'll find a knife is in your girlfriend's pretty little neck."

I glared at him for a good thirty seconds, which was a decent record. He tried to keep up, I knew he was testing me, but he broke away before he blinked and submitted, tearing his face away and stomping across the room.

"Did that feel intimate to you?" I asked innocently, mocking him. "'Cause I think it kinda did."

He ignored me. "If you refuse to accept my offers then you will not eat at all."

I rolled my eyes. "The whole 'hands tied to the chair' things here isn't really helping."

"Would you like to be cut free?"


"That would be nice, wouldn't it?" Bob smirked at me, and I felt my scowl go even deeper into my face.

"I didn't know you had a sense of humor." I bit back.

"I don't."

"So, what are you, a robot?" I asked.

"I'm a scientific genius with hopes to bring the world a better future." Bob turned and glared at me with the deepest loathing, venom spewing from his words. "You are a prototype that has long since been obsolete and keeps getting in my way."

"What can I say?" I shrugged my restrained shoulders. "It's kind of what I do."

"It's infuriating."

"I excel in that, too."

Bob walked away and to the doorway leading toward the pilot's area, whispering something into the servant's ear and then watching he walked out of our section of the plane and away from us, leaving me alone with him. I gulped down the rugby ball lodged in my throat. "Where are we going, anyway?"


"Any particular reason why? Are you a car lover? I once saw this wicked '67 Chevy–"

"Shut up." Bob snarled. "I hate the city. I plan on blowing it to pieces as soon as I'm finished with it."

"Then why bring me there?" I demanded. "And lure my family, when you don't even need us anymore?"

Bob bore his eyes into me, and I felt a chill run down my spine. "Like I said. I plan on blowing it to pieces as soon as I'm finished with it."

There was a pause.

Then the rugby ball made a reappearance.

I nearly puked all over his shiny floor and goddammit, he was smiling and turning around and leaving through the door, hey, wait a minute, douchebag, where do you think you're going I have to kill you!

"Don't touch them!" I roared, thrashing in my holds. "DON'T YOU TOUCH THEM!" I'm pretty sure I started foaming at the mouth, I was so angry. I wasn't about to let him kill my family after everything he'd done to us. He'd kidnapped my brother and best friend, tortured him, traumatized him, shot him, wiped his memory, forced us to flee, blew up our house, and taken me from Max and Iggy right when they needed me. He couldn't end the fight like this. He couldn't. I wouldn't allow him to.

When my bonds didn't budge, I sunk forward in a sweaty defeat, hanging my head before whipping it up again. I had to get out of this. I had to find a way out of my shackles, out of the room, out of the plane, back to Max. To warn her not to come, not to fall for it, not to die...

The holds didn't move. I let out an agonized, frustrated shout. I rocked around, but all of the chairs were nailed to the floors.

Please let the plane crash. I begged in my head. Please let it crash. Crash, crash, CRASH!

I looked up, ripped my vision frantically around the room in a panic. And then it clicked.

"Hey!" I snapped. "Hey, you!"

He didn't move.

"Come on, help me out here." I hissed. "I need you to help me. It's life or death."

"No." The servant's voice was a deadpan.

"Don't you understand life or death?" I growled now. I was annoyed. I had to get out. "I'm not asking you to do anything, okay? Just...kick over a pair of scissors or a knife or something. A bobby pin. Anything with an edge, I'll get myself out. I'll knock you out and everything, if it helps."

"That wouldn't matter." He replied, and he chuckled without any glint in his eye. "You wouldn't be able to knock me out anyway. I'm stronger than you."

"Is that why you're here, a lousy slave, being held like an animal? Face it, you're just like me."

Now he rounded on me, his arm out before I could take anything back and hitting my face with a force I'd only been subject to once before. I cursed as my neck snapped with the hit, and I rolled it back flexing my jaw. The servant was in front of me now, an anger I understood shown directly on his face. "I am nothing like you!" He spat. "You...you're a prisoner. A prototype. A mistake. We aren't alike in any way."

I spat a globule of blood onto the floor and smirked at him, raising my eyes to his face. "I have a birthmark on my ear that begs to differ."

I stared into my own eyes, threatening the copy of myself with a look in my irises that he attempted to imitate, and succeeded. He bared his teeth, loathing in his eyes, but I relaxed my face, tried to throw one last line into the water.

"Come on." I rasped. "Help a brother out. Bird kid to bird kid."

The clone stared at me for a little while longer with an extreme intensity, but then he visibly flinched and turned around. Without a word he walked away from me, and I watched the back of my own head grow farther and farther away. My only hope, myself, had failed me. To add a cherry to the little self-hating sundae we had going on, the clone stopped at the doorway.

He spoke without looking back. "I hope she screams."

And I was alone.

flYegurl, I hope you're happy.

I apologize. Only New Englanders use the term 'wicked' as an acceptable adjective. Actually, I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry for my lexicon. I'll stay here and pa'k my ass he'e with my tonic while it pours buckets and I take somefin for a wicked bi'in banger. XD If someone deciphers that, I'll love you forever.

:) Review buttons are lonely little things. They need some love. Donate your words today.

15. Showdown of Showdowns

I'm pretty convinced that I can only write a full-out chapter when I'm sick.

Man, guys, my life has been so hectic. If you care, I have some cool news though. Well, cool news slash excuses. I'm taking five honors classes and an AP this year, plus I made varsity volleyball. I'm part of school newspaper, the touring program, and a talent club, which meet on weekday nights (except for Thursday and Friday, whoot). Oh, haha, and I'm taking a creative writing class -hides-. So I am writing...just not...this... But I'm back for now! I worked all day today to churn out this chapter for you guys. I apologize for being gone so long, hopefully I'll be able to update sooner. I would love to thank EVERYONE who reviewed from the bottom of my heart, and if you're still around, I hope you'll drop a review once you've read. :D

Now, this chapter is lacking humor-wise, but it's all action, and...Can someone say "climax"? :) We've only about five to seven chapters left before the final installment! Ooh, exciting.


The wind was strong. Like, over-twenty-miles-an-hour strong. Run-you-over-like-Otis'-older-cousin strong. It was pretty damn strong.

But it made my hair whip around my face all bad-ass like, so I was willing to deal.

Angel slipped her hand into mine and squeezed it. I read everything she could ever say in that, and she didn't even need to speak in my mind. She was determined to get Fang back. She was happy we had left Total behind outside the city, guarding our stuff. She was ready. I squeezed back lightly, not taking my eyes off of the warehouse across the street from the roof we were currently perching on. I imprinted every aspect of the building in my mind. This was the building where I was going to get Fang back. This was the building where I was going to turn the tables. This was the building where I was going to kill Bob. This was where I was going to end it, once and for all.

If it hadn't been for the overwhelming sound of machines and Gasman's cry of "Look!" I wouldn't have noticed the high-tech-looking airplane/helicopter hybrid land behind the abandoned-ish warehouse, the wind was so fudging strong. Nudge grabbed Angel as I let go of her so she wouldn't blow away. I mean it. I grabbed Iggy's arm, and he flinched slightly, bringing his unseeing gaze down toward me and then up again. He gulped. I'm pretty sure I did too.

"You ready?" My voice sounded quiet. I didn't like it.

"It's eight." Nudge's voice was faint, too.

I nodded, turning around and facing Iggy. I looked into his eyes, for my own comfort. I asked it again, "Are you ready?"

Iggy nodded, his chin barely moving. His eyebrows quivered like they do when he's nervous. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "Let's go."

Five sets of wings unfurled simultaneously, and we all leapt off of the roof, trying to keep our path of flight straight in the wind. I landed first, calmly keeping stride all the way to the door. No one stopped moving, even as I reached the door in three seconds and kicked it open in two. We walked inside, arms tight and bent at our sides, breath heavy and cautious, feet not making a sound.

The first thing I became aware of was the fact that the warehouse was actually a makeshift hangar. The second thing I became aware of was that the lights were on instead of off and creeptastic like I had imagined in my brain. The third thing I noticed was the fact that they were above us. And that was not cool.

"Hello, Maximum." Bob boomed, his hand latched onto a chain. My eyes flitted until I thought I might break, but I kept my composure. I needed to keep my composure.

"Hello, Douchewad."

Bob chuckled. I wanted to shank him. He glanced down at me. "I see you've brought me a present. How thoughtful."

"Shut up." I snarled. "We're here for Fang. Nothing else."

"Our negotiations stand strong, I would hope."

"Just give him back, you liar." I snarled.

Bob sneered. "I fully intend on upholding my honor, I'll have you know."

I scoffed. "Oh yeah, because you're such a boy scout."

Bob frowned. "Oh, yes, I'm being quite rude, aren't I?" He turned and ripped the thick piece of duct tape off of Fang's mouth. His shackles clanked as he flinched, and I noticed with a pang that his wrists were red and raw.

"Max!" He cried.

And then I fell apart. My right knee buckled while my left on stayed strong, and Iggy latched am abnormally strong hand onto my shoulder. I blinked furiously and rapidly, willing myself not to look at him. If I paid attention to him instead of the mission, it would fail. I would fail, and I couldn't let that happen. I kept my face stoic.

"Hi, Fang." I deadpanned.

"Max, you have to go!" He shouted. "Get out of here!"

"We came!" I shrieked, ignoring him. "So give him back. Now."

"Why should I, until you've held up your end of the deal?" Bob sneered.

"Deal?" Fang barked. "Max, what deal? What are you doing? Just get the hell out of here!"

"Shut up, Fang." I replied automatically. I stepped forward. "You go first."

Bob looked at me for a moment before his fugly face broke out in a smile that made me nauseous. His eyes broke to the side for a split second before coming back to me, and I felt all of the color drain out of my face. I couldn't breathe. "How stupid do you think I am, girl?"

I was shivering. I should have left the kids behind. "...Do you really want me to answer that honestly?"

Bob's smile grew. "I don't think you'll have a chance to."

I cursed myself for being so stupid. For being five seconds too late. I whipped around to come face to face with an Eraser, who turned me around and wrapped me in a stinky, repulsive, breath-stealing bear hug before I could even register that my plan would have never, ever, ever worked. All of the flock was subdued, and I was an idiot.


Like we could have ever just grabbed Fang and ran. He would have found us again, if we had gotten that far. He would have taken them again. We'd go through the same thing. Over and over and over again.

"Now that we know where we stand," Bob spoke again, his voice slime over gravel. "You have a decision to make. Give me Subject Five, I'll return Subject Three to you, and you can all go on your way."

"What?" Fang cried. "No, Max, he's lying!"

"Liar, liar, pants on fire." Bob mocked. "Isn't that what you said, Fang? When I told you that I was truly the good guy?"

I blinked, snapping my attention to Fang just for a second. "He's going to kill you! He's full on Bates psycho! I'll be fine, Max, grab Iggy and the kids and go! He'll kill you, Max!"

"I sort of expected that." I muttered.

"Max." A hesitant, quiet voice spoke. I turned my head to Iggy, being held beside me. He didn't look toward me, just fixed his head toward where Bob and Fang were standing. "Do it."


"Do it, Max." He was nearly whispering now. "And then get out. I'll forgive you."

His words were still bouncing around in my head when Nudge screamed at the top of her lungs, thrashing against her captor. Her elbow went into his eye, and he cried out, releasing her just long enough for her to whirl around and take a jackknife out of her pocket, sinking it into the Eraser's neck. My eyes widened, Gasman ripping free of his hold and attacking the Eraser holding Angel. Screams and shouts resonated through the hangar, and in a surge of fury I thrust my foot back and into where I knew my Eraser's kiwis were going to be. I tore myself out of the grip and started to run forward toward Bob and Fang, the sharpened letter opener in my boot making itself known. I was about to launch myself up and fly to where they were standing when a searing white pain blinded me. I collapsed to the ground, my heartbeat beating in my head, my skull burning, split open, it had to be broken. My ears rang furiously, and I grunted as I landed on the concrete. Someone was screaming my name. Fang...Iggy, no...a boot placed itself on my vulnerable neck, and I got a whiff of something awful. My eyelids danced on eyes blinded with light. Someone screamed. Someone young and female. My heartbeat grew faster and more frantic, and I blinked my eyes, willing them to open, to see past the pain. A flash of orange caught my vision, but it was too much to be Iggy's hair. I opened my eyes to the Eraser above me, and everything seemed to grow eerily silent.

It was a girl Eraser.

Bob was on the floor of the hangar, someone that looked like Fang beside him. But it wasn't Fang, he wasn't wearing Fang's clothes, and he was holding the real Fang up beside him, a gun trained on his head. Erasers held the kids all in a line, Nudge's head hanging and Gasman bleeding from the mouth. Iggy was standing with his arms held back behind him, barely struggling. And Fang's clone was training a gun on Fang.

"This is your choice, Maximum." Bob's voice echoed inside my head, paining me. I clumsily brought an uncooperative hand up to the back of my skull. It came back bloody. "The rules are changed. Give me Subject Five, and I won't kill Subject Three. One or the other."

"No, Max..." Fang growled, squirming against his hold. "Max, don't do this."

My blurry eyes somehow met Iggy's, or at least he knew I was looking at him. He nodded, just once. My heart cracked. I took a ragged breath, unshed tears at the back of my throat breaking it.

"N-no..." I whispered.

"You have twelve seconds, Maximum." Bob taunted. "Twelve."


"Max, just go." Fang broke out. "I'm not worth it, just go."

"Max." Iggy barely whispered it. It was all he said.


Angel screamed in pain as her Eraser dug his nails into her little arm, sprouting blood. Gasman started roaring at the monster in anger, and then cried out himself as the Eraser holding him cuffed him with his paw.

"Nine. Eight."

My breath caught. I shook my head, my neck burning under the female Eraser's boot. "Max!" Fang barked.


"Max, don't!"


Fang flailed in his captor's grip, nearly screaming. The clone pressed the pistol against Fang's skull. "I will shoot him!"


"Max, don't you do this!"

"Four. Three."

"I will shoot him, I swear to God!"


"Okay," I sobbed, the word a rasp. Bob stopped counting, but the Eraser didn't lift her foot off of my neck, and the tears didn't stop from sprouting from my eyes. Rage burned through me. I couldn't, I just couldn't. "Okay."

Bob grinned. Fang shook his head. "Max, no."

"I'm sorry." I choked. "I'm sorry."

The female Eraser reached down and grabbed me by the throat, throwing me on the floor near the kids. One of her long red hairs got caught in my mouth and I gagged. The Eraser holding Iggy edged him forward.

"Bring it here." Bob ordered. Without a second thought, the Eraser flipped his gun in his hand and thrust the butt into the side of Iggy's head, catching him by the collar as he slumped forward, eyes rolling back in his head. Gasman and Fang cried out in anger. I was numb. The Eraser lugged Iggy toward Bob and past him, toward the parked airplane. A moment later, the airplane started, putting and turning around with a quiet whir.

Bob turned to Not-Fang. "Kindly take Subject Three back to his room, please."

"Max!" Fang cried, the stronger clone tugging him by his shackled to the nearby plane. The ramp lowered, and he was dragged aboard. I shrieked in anger.

"NO!" I shouted. "No, bring him back! Bring him back, you promised, you bastard! You promised!"

Angel and Gasman caught Nudge when all of the Erasers let them go, running to the plane. Nudge groaned, her head rolling as she tried to open her eyes. I clawed myself forward, watching the female Eraser's hair bounce as she leapt onto the ramp. Fang disappeared with one last shout, and I broke. "Bring him BACK! You promised!"

Bob stepped on just as I made it to my feet, the world swirling around me. He smiled. "I lied."

The door closed and I roared, more fury in my voice than I think there had ever been. I half sprinted, half stumbled after the machine, launching myself into the air as it began to fly, its engines toward the ground like a helicopter, no runway required. I attempted to push myself up into the air, but my wings failed me, and the white pain stabbed my head as I crashed on the ground, effectively giving myself a bit of road rash. I pulled myself to my feet, swaying.

"FANG!" I yelled to the sky. "IGGY!"

The kids appeared in the hangar doorway behind me, Gasman helping Nudge from not falling over. I whirled around.

"We have to go." I tried to demand it, but it sounded more like a sob. "We have to catch up with them. Nudge, can you fly?"

Nudge looked at me with wary eyes. "Can you?"

"Of course I can," I snapped. "We have to go."

I launched Angel up into the air and then helped Gasman heave Nudge up. Before I began to run Gasman grabbed my hand, his eyes sharp with determinism and scary maturity. "We'll get 'em back."

I nodded shakily, watching with stunned eyes as Gasman ran and powerfully beat his wings until he was up in the sky. After a moment I followed suit, and we sped after the plane as fast as we possibly could. It was beginning to shrink in my sight. I cursed vehemently and didn't care. I powered on more juice, flapping my wings with as much strength as I could muster.

"Max!" Angel's small voice called. I looked at her. Sweat drenched her face and hair as she struggled to keep up. Nudge was lagging behind. Gasman dropped for a moment and grabbed Nudge's hand, attempting to help her fly faster. Angel panted, coming by just above me. If my baby looked this bad, I was sure I looked like death. My head was pounding, the back of it cold, my limbs ached and my neck seared every time I tried to swallow. I knew I probably looked read to drop. But I didn't care. "Max, we have to land!"

"What?" I cried. "No, Ange!"

Angel tried to draw a breath, her shoulders shaking with exertion. "W-what Fang said, he was scared–"

"We have to catch them." I shouted.

"There are bombs!" She cried. "In the city, they're gonna–"

The world exploded.

All I knew was a collage of red, orange, yellow, and dark, dark grey. My eyes stopped seeing, my limbs stopped working. Angel screamed as a force carried us up, and I flipped in the air. Nudge cried Gasman's name, and then mine. I realized I was falling two seconds after I started descending, and frantically twisted in the air, unfurling my wings and beating them down until I started to rise. Angel was trying to hover thirty feet above me, crying my name. Nudge was slowly sinking, her body ladened down with something...something Gasman sized. Something completely limp. I shot up and took his other arm, and he stirred in our grasp. The ground below us was burning, there were people screaming, car alarms having seizures. The hangar and the whole neighborhood around it was demolished. Panicking, I switched my gaze from Gasman to the plane to the kids again.

"Get to ground." I ordered, my voice hard. "Get somewhere safe. I'll find you."

"Max, where are you going?" Angel yelled, but I was already gone. I poured on more speed than I had ever before, the wind roaring in my ears, my heart beating in my throat. The plane was little more than a speck in the sky.

"FANG!" I cried. "Come back!"

Something crashed into me. I didn't know what it was, it was small enough to have been a goose or something, but it was enough to knock me off balance, and my beaten body couldn't take it. I rocketed toward the fields of outer Detroit, almost content with letting myself splatter on the ground. I pulled myself up with my last bout of strength, crashing through a canopy of trees and landing on the ground in a sprint. I ran, then stumbled, and finally fell, landing on my knees, tears streaming and breath nearly existent. I felt no sorrow, only blinding, deafening rage and a horrible utter sense of failure.

I slammed my fists into the ground and screamed.

Guess what my favorite verb was this chapter. If you couldn't tell.

Please leave a review as you go! Be my favorite person.

And before you ask, no, I have not read Nevermore yet. It's on my to-do list. -sobs-.

16. Back To Black

It was a concussion this time. I swear.

I'm sorry (again) for being so late to update (again), but life got in the way. The matter of a maybe-storm and the fact that I don't have school tomorrow compelled me to write a chapter today for you guys. If anyone's still reading, I'd love for you to read and review. I can't thank everyone who reviewed last chapter enough. Seriously, because HOLY FUDGE this story has reached its 100th review! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much. axtra nonymous xxx, thank you for being the review that helped me reach this milestone, but thank you all for supporting me and my writing. :D

Now, first we'll get back to a little humor, Fang pain and scheming, and then we'll get to the depressing stuff.

By the way, I finally read Nevermore, and boy...


Really, in retrospect, leaving the fate of the world in a PTSD blind ginger fourteen-year-old with wings probably wasn't the greatest idea.

Way to go, science.

Seriously, what went through these peoples' minds? Half of them, the sadists, like Bobby there, they're thinking 'oh, world domination, yes, let's make these genetically enhanced bird things that we'll clone in fourteen years to rule the human race, and while we're waiting, we can ruin their lives'. The other half, like Jeb, the people I decided to call the Kill Me Maybes, they're deciding 'quick, shove them in Canada before evil can figure out how to cross borders! Oh, you're blind now, way to take one for the team, buddy'.

Either way, the bird kids get screwed. We're still human, you know...ninety-eight percent, at least. That counts for something. I swear.

"Fffff..." I hissed, holding my right bicep with my left hand in pain. I had forgotten that my clone was a douche for a second and leaned against the wall of my cell-type thing, causing blood to start spurting out of a gash in my upper arm that they hadn't bothered giving me any napkins to clean up. Gone were the handcuffs and the comfy nailed-in chairs of ass-class. Bob decided I got my own little cell room basically made out of that virtually indestructible plastic they made airline trays out of just to make me as uncomfortable as possible as I bled out. I had a horrible feeling that he wouldn't let me die from loss of blood, though. They'd shock me back into my shitty life and pump be full of Iggy's blood before he let me die of my own accord.

Shit, Iggy.

"Hey, assbutt!" I called, my voice gruff and raspy. It had better have sounded sexy and not pathetic. "Can I see my brother now? Think you could waive visiting hours for the guy on death row?"

There was no response. Time to take things into my own hands. I struggled to my feet, prepared to strut over to that door and kick it down for all it's worth. I would have, too, if I hadn't collapsed back to the ground after half a step.

So manly.

"Alright," I grumbled, staring at my bloody arm. "You're going down, cut." I took the bottom of my shirt in my teeth and ripped it, practically shredding it up to my belly button before I got a good amount of clean (ish) fabric to work with. I wiped away the blood one last time and stifled a hiss of pain and annoyance before laying a couple strips of my black shirt over the wound. Then I took the longest strip of whatever my shirt was made out of, the Walmart Dumpster Special, and wrapped it around the other strips, tying it off in a knot an eagle scout would have been proud of. After I shook the black dizzy circles out of my eyes, I took a deep breath and steadied myself before struggling onto my feet again and making my way slowly toward the door. Why there wasn't a food slot or a peep hole in the door was beyond me. Probably just to make my life that much more difficult. To make matters worse, Bob had probably found out how to make cameras invisible, so he could watch me twenty-four/seven like the creeper he was. I leaned my right forearm on the door for support and cupped my left hand against the door to try to listen. I heard a few garbled pieces of gibberish, but then it all suddenly stopped. I raised my eyebrows as I heard footsteps and threw myself backward, the door opening against me and knocking me down on my butt. The room was so small my back crashed into the wall, and all of my breath left my body. Black edged my vision, but everything else burned red.

"Good job, jackass!" I spat venom at whoever came in, some Eraser lowlife, whatever. "Go to door school, you stupid...oh my God, Iggy."

The Eraser sneered as he dropped the seemingly lifeless form of my kinda-brother onto the hard, plastic-y floor of my chamber. He looked at me with this stupid smile on his face, like he was deliberating whether to stick his tongue out at me like a five-year-old or not. He settled for giving me the bird instead (which was kind of ironic, really), and then walking out and slamming the door.


I cast a glance over at Iggy, and then gulped. Nothing seemed totally out of place. I was afraid to approach him, let alone touch him, in case he was hurt. We had a tendency to lash out when we were scared and injured. I knew that first-hand. Nothing seemed broken at first glance, however, so I scooted a little closer to him, biting my cheek. Iggy was completely out, lights off, punched his card and taken his leave from consciousness. I decided to take a risk and poke his foot, which only donned socks. At least they left him with socks, even if his had holes in them. I didn't even get anything on my feet. My toes were cold. I poked Iggy's foot again. Nothing. I nodded and then did something even more stupid, poking his sternum, which was facing the ceiling like his gaping mouth. His eyes flashed open.


Iggy jackknifed up into a sitting position, eyes wild and unfocused, even for him. His hair poofed out in eight different directions, shiny and dark in the artificial light, the tips coated in blood I was pretty sure wasn't his. I caught his shoulder and he cried out, literally jumping back two feet off of his ass into the wall, sputtering and gasping.

"Whoa, whoa, Ig," I tried futilely to calm him down. It didn't really work. Calming wasn't really my gig. "You're fine. You're cool. It's just me."

"F-Fang." Iggy blinked furiously, trying to get his bearings.

"Yeah, man." I sighed. "Yeah, it's me. You're gonna be fine, 'kay? We're on Bob's plane thing, but we're both here, and we're gonna get out."

Iggy swallowed, blinked hard. "Max?"

"She's...they're not here."

Truth was, I was terrified for Max. I knew that the bombs would have gone off, but I had no way whatsoever of knowing if Max and the kid had gotten out in time or not. Angel was there, she knew, she would have known...I just had to believe that they had, because I knew that even if they were alive, Bob would tell me that they were dead. And I couldn't believe him. I wouldn't let him break me like that. Not now, when Iggy needed me.

Iggy nodded, teeth clenched. "Okay." He didn't say anything more about Max or the others, but instead leaned back on the wall and sighed. "You got a Pop-Tart?"

I scoffed, disbelieving. "Why the hell would I have a Pop-Tart?"

"Then please tell me you at least have some bacon. I'm starving here."

"Sorry, man." I chuckled. "Could go for some bacon cigarettes right now, though."

Iggy rolled his eyes. "We'd get so high."

"Any high is better than no high here."

"This place is like the lowest level of hell." Iggy groaned, dragging his hand over his face. "Man, that girl Eraser, she's evil. Fugliest dog I've ever seen."

"Her name's Erin." I muttered, absentmindedly holding my arm.

Iggy looked confused. "Are you sure?"

"Pretty sure."

He shook his head. "That's not right. That's too...pure sounding. Innocent. That...thing is not innocent. She hurt Max. She slammed her head–"

"I know." I cut him off. I couldn't think of Max that way. I couldn't think of her injured when I wasn't there to help her. She had to be alive. She had to be strong. "She's all kinds of messed up."

Iggy looked at me in all seriousness. "We're all pretty messed up, Fang."

I raised a fake glass in a fake toast. "True that. Hey, Iggy...are you okay? I mean...what happened? When I was...gone."

"Stuff." Iggy muttered. "Nearly froze to death, stole a car...got all of my memories back."

All of my caution with him melted away in an instant. "Really?"

Iggy nodded tensely. "Really. But, with some consequence." He tapped his noggin. "Got a little...jacked up here."

"Jacked how?"

"Like they messed with my memories."

"Messed how?"

Iggy hissed. "Like even though I know you're my brother and I'd die for you, I'm having trouble not beating you until you resemble hamburger meat more than person right this moment."

"...Oh." I muttered.

"Yeah, 'oh'." Iggy closed his eyes. "We've got ourselves in a mighty big pickle, huh, Sir Sparkles?"

"You haven't called me that since we first watched Twilight on Netflix with Nudge at the E House." I narrowed my eyes. I became steadily aware of the burning sensation in my arm and tapped it a few times in an attempt to keep it numb.

"Yeah, well, memories, remember?" Iggy made a swirl-y motion in the air with his with his index finger. "The similarities between you and that Edward guy? Uncanny."

"Iggy." I glared at him, but I couldn't help but smile a little too. You know, on the inside.

"Really, the only differences between you and Mr. Curren–"


"–Stop proving me right. The only differences between the both of you are that you and fly and he can't die. The flock is like is coven or whatever. I call being Eric."


"Now you're just creeping me out."

I shifted my position, closing my eyes shut for a moment. Or an hour. Same difference, really. My thoughts kept going back to Max, and that made me angry. If I ever wanted to get back to her, I couldn't be thinking and worrying about her all the time. She was a big girl, she could take care of herself. Yet, I had heard the resounding thud when Max had hit the floor under Erin. I had seen the blood matting her hair and dripping sluggishly down her face onto her chin. I had seen the look on her face–dear God, that look–when my clone had dragged me back into the plane of evil, leaving her there, leaving them all there.

I was so helpless. I hated it.

"So, what's your big plan?" Iggy asked without moving, his eyes still closed. My eyes opened and snapped to him. "I doubt you're gonna start busting out some AC/DC anytime soon. Gonna sulk your way out this plane? Maybe melt through the floor? That would be cool."

I edged closer to him, but Iggy moved his legs a little farther away with each inch I came closer. That had to be the third time he had done that in our time together in Happy Happy Jail Land. I was starting to get a little offended. So much for a touching reunion. I furrowed my eyebrows at him.

"You're different." I speculated.

"I'm dealing." Iggy opened one blind eye to glare at me. "Really, I'm kind of proud of myself for not punching you in the mouth at least once so far. I shut down around Max the last few hours, I couldn't stand it. But I'm getting better. My mind is a very bad place, Fangles."

"I get that." I stiffened my jaw. "But you're gonna help me get out of this plane, and you're going to do it willingly and fully, like I know you can. And once we're free, I'll let you sock me right in the face. As hard as you can."

Iggy raised one eyebrow and opened his other eye. "Will you buy me food?"

"Only from McDonalds."

Iggy scoffed, straightening up. "Whatever crashes your plane, man." He froze, turning toward me, his smile growing devious. "Whatever crashes your plane."


Angel stood beside me, gently taking my hair in her hands and smoothing it out as softly as possible with a brush, pulling it to the side. She took a tissue and dabbed at the side of my head, making me gasp involuntarily, black spots flirting with my eyes. She didn't bother apologizing. It had to be the millionth time I'd done that. She took my hair and gathered it in a hair tie on the other side of my head. It tickled my neck.

"Don't move." She whispered, taking something from the bed behind me. I wanted to shift uncomfortably from my position on the floor, but the last time I'd done that I nearly blacked out. I didn't respond, and instead let Angel do her thing. She pressed a pad of gauze over the laceration in my temple, and I tried to ignore the overwhelming ringing in my ears. Angel taped the pad down and piled all of my hair on the top of my head, wrapping gauze around and behind my ears a couple of times before taping that down and letting my hair fall. "There."

Gasman and Nudge were on the other side of the room, singing the same tune. Gazzy was very carefully cleaning Nudge's cuts, putting a couple of stitches in a particularly nasty one on her elbow and putting more ice from a nearby Wendy's on her black eye, which had seemed to become increasingly darker as our horrible day went on. I cast my eyes to the moon outside. Even though we were towns away, I could still hear the sirens, the wails, the screams from the section of the city that had been ravaged by the explosion. I didn't stop it. I didn't stop him.

I wasn't fast enough.

"Max." Angel murmured, sitting down next to me on the dingy carpet of the evacuated motel room. "Max, look at me."

I blinked lethargically, bringing my head slowly over to connect my eyes to Angel's. "We're gonna find them." She said it with so much conviction that it made me want to cry. "And if we don't find them, they're gonna find us. I know that. I believe that, Max. You gotta believe it too."

I bit my lip and shook my head, bringing my knees shakily up to my chest. Without a word, Angel reached up and wiped away the tears I didn't know that had fallen. She leaned her head against my shoulder and remained silent.

"No, no, no, Gazzy." Nudge whispered on the other side. Without looking I knew that he was crying, and I knew that Nudge had gathered him in her arms. "It's gonna be okay, Gazzy, it's gonna be okay."

"He's gone." Gazzy choked out, his voice more a sob than speech. "They're both gone."

"We're gonna get them back." Nudge soothed. "They're gonna get us back. I promise."

Gazzy sobbed into her shirt, and the roll of gauze he had been holding fell to the floor.

"Listen, no, listen." Nudge muttered. "Fang and Iggy, they're gonna come back. And you know what we're gonna do?"

Gasman hiccuped. "What?"

Nudge smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. She laid her cheek on his blonde head. "We're gonna go out for food. Real food. And you're gonna get so much food that for once your eyes will be bigger than your stomach and you can't eat it all, even when Iggy helps you. And then we're gonna go out and see a movie, the six of us, all together, in a movie theater, like during your birthday. And...and then we'll go back to those caves, right, remember the caves, with the hawks? And we'll eat chocolate chip cookies until we can't eat one more, after we had a contest to see who could eat the most."

Gazzy buried his head in her shoulder. "Do I win?" He muttered.

"Of course." Nudge whispered. "And then you'll stink up the cave so much that we'll all just go out for a fly together, with the hawks, like before, until dawn. Until the sun comes up."

She grew silent, hugging Gasman until I was sure that they had both fallen asleep. Angel stirred against my arm.

"We're gonna be okay, Max." She said, but her voice sounded sad and uncertain. She sniffed. "Just tell me that we're gonna be okay."

I was aware of the tears that fell down my cheeks now, but I made to effort to stop them. "I just don't think I believe in angels anymore, sweetie." I whispered, and then let the sirens fill in the night.


Even though I love you all, I'd love you even more if you'd spare a few words for the review box here, I'm afraid I've left him very lonely over this four+ week absence of mine :(

Also, if anyone was as put down by Nevermore as I was and wants to rant/hear me rant about it, review it up. JP disappointed me on so many levels. I'm going to go re-read my favorite MR fanfiction now to make it better.


17. Sarcasm Is My Greatest Attribute

Back! Again!

I hope you all didn't get horribly bored waiting for me to update. I had some troubles with time, my sworn enemy. I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving (I know I did! Apple pie, breakfast of champions), and to all of my readers who didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that your Thursday was simply wonderful. Now, I think you all can expect another update before Christmas, hopefully. I'll try to stay true to that.

Of course, reviews help tremendously :) THANK YOU SO MUCH to EVERYONE who has been reviewing or have reviewed my story, it means a lot, especially now in the final stretch of the second part like this. Just a little bit more to go!

On that note, I'd really just like to put out there that over the course of this story Iggy's gone through some changes in his attitude, and that's not going to be stopping in the immediate future. Now that Ig's got his memories back, he's going to be snarky again, but almost overly so, to make up for himself before, and those sneaky little false memories he has are going to be messing things up too. I just wanted you all aware as you read forward. :D


"Do you think it would kill them to give us some food?" I groaned, rolling my head around exasperatedly. "Like, some pie or something? I could go for some pie. Or a good steak. If they give me tofu, I swear to God I will kill myself right here and now."

I heard no sound from Fang, even though I knew he was awake. He let out a small sigh, and something came loose inside my noggin. I jerked my head sharply, biting my lip and controlling myself. I resisted the urge to jump on Fang, to grab his shirt collar in my shaking hands, to shake him, to scream...

ANSWER ME! Answer me, damn it, you owe me that...

"How long do you think?" Fang's voice startled me, and I brought myself back to reality. I shook my head quickly and wrung my hands in an attempt to keep my mind off of...things.

McDonalds and punches, Iggy. I repeated the mantra in my head over and over and over. McDonalds and punches. Black eyes and chicken nuggets.

"I dunno," I muttered, vigorously rubbing at my palms. "Not long. Can't have us starve in here. He'll wanna gloat. Brag about how awesome he is. Wave Fang and Iggy 2.0 in our faces." I raised my eyebrow at him. "Your clone needs a name, dude. I don't think going around calling him 'The Other Sparkles' is going to fly."

Fang shrugged, the fabric of his t-shirt scraping against the wall. It might as well have been nails on a freaking chalkboard. I hated when he shrugged. Hated it.

"H-How about...Damien?" I threw words out of my mouth before obscenities came. "Or...or Howard. Wyatt. Wyatt is a scary name."

"No, it's not." Fang moaned, rubbing his knuckles into his temples. "C'mon, your clone doesn't even have a name."

"Zuko is a very reasonable nickname for an evil bazooka-wielding ginger pyro." I pointed out. "And it's too late, now. Your clone's name is now Wyatt. May he stay Wyatt for the remainder of his short, short life."

"My clone's name is not going to be Wyatt." Fang protested.

"You didn't give up any good names, so I chose one!" I snapped. "Be more decisive!"

"You didn't give me a freaking chance–"

I held up a hand. "Wait." I crawled to the door, pressing my ear to the metal of the wall beside it. Fang was deathly silent. He was a good prisoner. He was also a good rioter. "Someone's coming."

"Plan A?" Fang asked hoarsely. I nodded.

"Good as any other plan." I crawled back over to the wall and felt for Fang. I touched his foot and then his shoulder, which I grabbed. I smiled. "Brace yourself," I said, and then punched him in the arm, where his wound was. Fang stifled a scream, a cold sweat breaking out across his body.

Damn, that felt good.

"O-Okay, Iggy." Fang's voice shook. It made me deliriously happy. "Y-Your part."

"Right." I made myself focus on something other than Fang's pain. I made myself boneless, flopping down into the corner and closing my eyes. I slowed my breathing and hesitantly allowed Fang to smear some blood from his cut on my temple, adding to a small trail of blood from a cut that had stopped bleeding a while ago. I clenched my jaw tightly, but with Fang's forced whisper of "Iggy!" I let it fall slack.

There was an odd sound of tumblers, and then the sound of the door opening with an ominous creeaakk. Fang sat up, breath hitching from the pain in his arm. I stayed absolutely still. Heavy footfalls broke the silence, and I knew that it was an Eraser. Perfect.

"Get up, runts." The voice was deep, thick, and stupid. Great, it was just another minion. It wasn't Erin or Ari, Sir Shoots A Lot.

"Do you have a wheelchair?" Fang asked, voice smug. "Because he's not goin' anywhere, and I sure as hell ain't moving."

Ain't? Since when did Fang turn into a redneck? Since when was that even close to being threatening?

"Get 'im up."

"Why don't you get him up? And while you're at it, get me a Coke. I'm parched."

The Eraser grunted and came closer. My fingers twitched underneath my sweatshirt. The fugly wolf man leaned over me, hooking a paw under my shirt collar. I struggled not to puke from the stench and not to squirm from the Eraser practically trying to cop a feel under my shirt while I was pretending to be unconscious. The Eraser bent to lift me up, and that's when I moved. My jackknife slid out of my sleeve and into my hand as I flicked it open and launched my hands up, my left palm cupping around the back of the Eraser's furry head and my right holding the knife as I drove it up into the flesh under the Eraser's jaw. I held myself up as the Eraser squirmed, and I blinked in disgust as he coughed blood all over my face.

"Weapon check, bitches!" I growled into the Eraser's face, and then let myself drop as I threw the dying Eraser to the side. I picked myself up as the Eraser struggled in vain on the floor. He tried to swipe a clawed paw at me, but I kicked him in the stomach, and then in the face, which shut him up pretty effectively. I turned to Fang. "Let's go."

"Right." Fang swallowed. "Uh, good job."

"Not an invalid anymore, buddy." I smirked, and helped him up. "Now let's go commence Operation BOB."

We turned and walked the short distance out of the cell door. I let Fang go first and closed the door behind us. I followed Fang down the short, narrow hallway and then turned the corner–

Right into an army of fuglies and a smug Bob.

Come on!

"A valiant effort." Bob exclaimed. He gave us a small golf clap before settling into being a douchecanoe again. "Subject Five, I wasn't aware you contained such...vulgarity."

"Oh, I'm full of vulgarity." I replied snidely. "I'm gonna take my vulgarity and shove it right up your wrinkly–"

"That's quite enough, Subject Five." Bob growled. "Now, tell me, what did you think you were going to accomplish with this plan of yours, this...Operation BOB?"

"See, I'd love to tell you," I remarked, cocking my head to the side. "But then I'd have to kill you."

Bob sneered. "Wouldn't you love to try."

"What a great party game that would be, don't you think, Fang?" I asked, directing my eyes toward where I knew he was. "See who can kill Bob the best! The most entertaining wins."

"Slowly would be nice." Fang growled dangerously.

"I'm thinking industrial shredder myself." I placed a hand on my face and stroked my imaginary beard in thought.

"I like the way you think."

"Too bad you won't get the chance," Bob mocked, making a tsk, tsk sound. "Before your final tests and your inevitable death, I'd like to show you both something grand." He whirled on the nearest Eraser, voice mad. "Isn't it grand?"

The Eraser coughed uncomfortably, shifting from foot to foot. "Uh, yes, sir." He cleared his throat. "V-Very grand."

"So grand!" Another in the crowd threw out.

"Silence." Bob barked. He turned to us with an air of achievement and arrogance. "Come, children."

"We're not the ones wearing a diaper." I ground out through my clenched teeth.

"I didn't know you to have such a temper, Subject Five." Bob said as Erasers grabbed us by the arms and forced us down the hallway. I tried to trace the path through the plane, even though I knew Fang would be doing so and would remember it better than I would. I couldn't explain it. I just didn't trust his eyes anymore. "You should be careful. That could draw to you some serious repercussions."

"I'd like to give you a serious concussion." I murmured, and stifled a yelp as the Eraser holding me dug his claws into my arm. They kicked us forward, and we trudged toward our doom. Fang nudged me with his foot as a warning. I raised my eyebrows. "What? Haven't you people ever heard of a joke?"


"What do you think he wants with us?" I asked Iggy in a whisper, leaning over discreetly in between our two beefy indistinguishable Eraser-guard-guy-people-things (?) to communicate. Iggy pulled his lips to one side and chewed on them in thought, and then brightened, straightening up toward me.

"Our bodies." He grinned broadly, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"You're gross, man." I scoffed, turning away from him. Only Iggy would take the oh-so-very right answer to a grave question in a grave situation and turn it into a sexual joke. Only the real Iggy. I was smiling on the inside. Beaming, really.

"You never know," Iggy replied, shrugging his shoulders and closing his eyes. "Maybe Bob wants to reward us for being so awesome and eluding him for as long as we did. We could be heading to our death by Angelina Jolie. I wouldn't object."

"I sincerely doubt that, Ig." I deadpanned, peeling my eyes for escape routes, dead ends, bathrooms, time bombs, anything, since Iggy couldn't and Max wasn't…Max wasn't…

"Oh, right, I forgot." Iggy opened sightless eyes. "You're more of a Kristen Stewart fan, aren't you? I'm ashamed, but we could set that up, I bet. Bob's all into cloning and stuff. You'd have fun. You know she's a vampire now?"

"Shut up, runt." One of the thick Erasers grunted. Iggy, smirking like an imbecile, turned his head up (yes, up, these things were big)toward him.

"Or what, Kujo?" Iggy jeered. "You'll gimme a titty twister?"

"You'll wish it was just that." Kujo growled.

Iggy shrugged again. "Come at me, bro." He turned to me again. "Damn it, Fangles, I forgot my cup again. You've got no balls, can you take this one for me?"

Ouch. I'd need to make a withdrawal from the nearest ManTM to get over that man burn. If Iggy wasn't practically suffering from some PTSD of some sort, I'd have socked him in the mouth, brother or not. I stiffened my jaw and controlled myself.

That is, until I saw Iggy wink.

"Jackass," I roared, and swung at him–swung to miss. Iggy easily side-stepped and rolled over my back as I landed on all fours on the tile of the floor. Iggy swung his legs up as he rolled, catching the Eraser that had jumped forward in the face. He landed beside me next to the wall, kicking up with his back on the tile. His feet pushed me forward as I straightened up, my fist landing hard in the next Eraser's kiwis. I kept going, falling onto the floor and sliding in between his legs. I rolled onto my back just as Iggy planted a knuckle sandwich to Kujo's teeth, and he fell forward, face to my shoes. I struggled under the weight, and growled as more Erasers just took the place of the ones we had taken down. I was heaved to my feet and shoved into line with Iggy, and we continued walking down the hall as though nothing had just happened. Iggy was attempting futilely to stifle laughter.

"What?" I snapped, frustrated. Iggy turned his head to me from his bent over position, smile plastered on his face and his eyes gleaming with mischief and mirth.

Iggy tried to find a place to speak between snickers. "Sixty-nine, Fang." He squeaked out, and then erupted into full blown laughter.


"I didn't know you were into that," Iggy hiccupped. "Max…Max'll…"

I went to cuff him on the back of the head, but stopped myself. I'd save that one for Max. I would.

"You know," Iggy straightened up, pulling his hair back away from his face with his fingers. "We haven't…that felt…we haven't fought that way together since…"

"I know what you mean." I nodded. "It's…it's good to have you back, Ig. You."

He still stiffened when I put my hand on his shoulder, and it stung worse than any gash an Eraser could have inflicted.

"I'm sorry." Iggy blurted out, stepping slightly away. When he looked at me, his eyes were full of fear and despair, hidden underneath the overly deliberate jokes. "I…it's just you–"

Before I could ask what he meant, or even respond, Erasers flanked our sixes and a set of doors about fifteen feet ahead of us opened widely. Our little parade began trudging inside, Bob and his band of merry mutants leading the way. The doors slammed shut ominously behind us once we all made our way in.

"Hey, look, it's Wyatt!" Iggy cried enthusiastically, mask neatly back in place. He waved to my clone over the tall bodies of the Erasers, which, of course, elicited no response. "Oh, oh, and his brother, George! And…whoa, Fang, you didn't tell me you were a quintet."

"I'm not."

"That would explain nothing."

"How...can you see them?" I asked, barely able to see the bodies of my clones (ew, that just sounds so wrong). Iggy hadn't even tried to look over the sea of mutants surrounding us.

"Nah," He replied nonchalantly. "They sound like you when you're sulking. Which is all the time. Smell like your dirty socks, too."

I stood on my tiptoes, straining to see over the mass of stinky, sweaty Erasers. I caught sight of Bob's head in front of the small army, standing at the edge of a railing with a big glass wall in front of it. Below that...

"There's an army." I rasped, turning back to Iggy, whose pale face was draining of whatever color was left in it. "An army...of us."

"That's not weird." Iggy whispered back, but before I could respond, the whole room fell silent. Bob turned around, and a way was parted by the Erasers so that we could see him.

"My vacation's been fun, if you were wondering." He smiled sinisterly. "Got a lot of work done. I'm quite proud of it, really. I think it's time you met my successes."

"Well, uh, I'm fine, really," Iggy held out his hands. "Nice of you to offer, though. Dropping us off at the next Denny's would be great."

Bob snickered. "Put the cuffs on them." He ordered, and Erin came forth from the ranks, holding two metallic cuffs that glowed bright blue. My blood boiled when I saw her and her Irish Setter hair. She had hurt Max. It was her fault...

She secured the cuffs on our biceps with a snort and then shoved us forward toward the balcony where Bob was standing triumphantly. There was a glass door near the railing, and we were directed toward that. Another Eraser opened it, and then we were standing on an edge, about to topple into a room full of us a dozen feet below. I turned and glared at Bob one more time. He grinned.

"Told you it was something." He sneered. "Now you get to be part of it."

Erin pushed us into the pit none too gently, and Iggy and I both parted our wings a small amount to lessen the fall. We landed on our feet and whipped around, but the door was already shut and locked, almost undoubtedly bulletproof glass. Bob smiled and waved at me before turning and walking out of the room, leaving only Erin and two other Erasers sneering down at us. I gave them the middle finger, then turned back to Iggy.

"Okay, game plan, we need a game plan. I..." I looked at Iggy, but he was turned to my left, gazing astonishedly at something I barely saw in my peripheral vision. I pivoted to see, and immediately took a step back in shock, mouth gaping.

"Howdy, boys." Max greeted, putting her hands on her hips. "Didn't think I'd let you have all the fun, did you?"

Heh. Heheh. The cliffhangers are back. ;D

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18. Names Are So Difficult

Last update of 2012! Woot!

Sorry for the lateness, everyone, but I ran into a couple of roadblocks, two fellas named 1) bronchial pneumonia and 2) Adventure Time. I'm fine now, and thoroughly entertained.

A little bit of a move-along chapter here, and we get a little foresight in what may be to come. Let your imaginations work, and be sure to let me know what you think, I love hearing what you have to say. Happy New Year's, everyone! Cheers to 2013!

"Max?" I gasped, stepping forward in shock. A smile nearly split open on my face. Iggy whipped his head around, panic beginning to set into blind eyes, but I shoved it behind the fact that Max was here and alive. I wanted to wrap her in a hug and never let go. Never again. "Where–where are the kids?"

Max's face was suddenly downcast. Iggy was pulling on my sleeve. I shrugged him off. His voice was strained and angry. "Fang–"

"The kids, they..." Max swallowed soberly, and looked up at me, pain in her eyes.

"We gotta go, Fang." Iggy shouted at me. I paid him little mind. "Remember the plan? We had a plan, you jerk! We have to get out of here!"

"What happened, Max?" I stepped even closer. Her hair was all over the place, and there was a cut slashed across her cheek, dripping slightly down toward the corner of her mouth. "M-Maxie, are you okay?"

"Who the hell is Maxie?" Iggy growled, nearly ripping my sleeve. "Move your ass!"

"F-Fang. Fang, they–" Suddenly Max was in my arms and I was hugging her and she didn't smell like I remembered but I didn't care because she was there.

"Shh," I whispered into her hair, my eyes wide open in shock. "Shh, it's okay. It's okay."

"I'd beg to differ!" Iggy barked. "Fang, these things, they're alive!"

"The clones?" I asked, raising my cheek off of the top of Max's head.

"Yeah, dummy." Iggy scorned, turning back on me. His eyes were full of panic and fear and rage. "And I for one remember our fight with Zuko and would rather not relive it. Let's go."

Max hugged me harder. "I don't think I can." She rasped.

"Come on." I stroked a piece of her hair, glancing at Iggy. I blinked furiously, beginning to realize what was happening around us. The clones were beginning to wake up and move. Toward us. With anger in their eyes. Our eyes. Whatever. They were coming closer, and I was starting to feel like an extra in The Walking Dead. "We gotta get outta here, Max. We'll go somewhere safe, find the kids."

"No," Max bit. "No, we can't!"

"Damn it, Fang!" Iggy roared, thrusting his arm around, out of reach of the Iggy clone nearly clawing his arm. He stumbled forward into a Fang clone and, astonished, punched him in the jaw. "That's not Max!"

My eyes widened dramatically. "What?" I looked down and pushed Max out to arm's length. She gazed at me fearfully, and then her look morphed into something a little more sinister. I backed away from her, flailing and kneeing an Iggy clone in the kiwis when he came too close for comfort. She stood there, staring at me, before her face twisted into a smile.

"It's a clone, you dumbass!"

I turned and ran at Iggy, who was struggling in a hold of a Fang clone. I socked him (me?) in the nose and grabbed Iggy's arm, pulling him away from his attacker. "Are you sure?"

"I think I'd know how Max walks, dude." Iggy spat at me, tripping another clone as we made our way to the edge of the room. The ceiling was high, and we had wings... but so did they. I looked back nearly involuntarily at Max, the Max clone, I didn't know. All I knew was that the kids weren't there, so how was Max, and Iggy had been by my side ever since...how did I know? Could he... how was I to know whether or not Iggy was a clone, too? How could I know for sure?

Iggy was probably thinking the same thing about me.

The thought alone was beginning to drive me insane.

"Man, you okay?" Iggy was shaking me. Since when had he been taller than me? He had always been so small, my little brother. "We gotta formulate a plan here, bro. How do we get out of this room? Remember? Operation BOB? Plane goes bye-bye? Boom boom? Tell me you're not checking out on me now. I know she probably looks just like Max, okay, but we gotta leave this meat bucket before we can see Max and Nudge and the kids again, right? So let's go!"

I didn't answer Iggy, only stared at him, and then Max, who was walking closer with the army of clones. They were going to tear us apart. God, they were going to tear her apart. All of a sudden there was a sharp sting on my face, and Iggy was right in front of me, shouting. He was shouting words.

"–You douchewazzle! I will punch you in the eye, just get your act together so I can get out of here and then murder your face!"

"Graphic." I muttered, wiping the sweat off of my forehead. Iggy screamed a muffled cry of frustration into his hand. "Uh, what do you suggest we do?"

"Get the hell out of here, for one." He stressed in return. "I can't see the room, duh, so I would love to hear some of your ideas."

"Vent." I spoke instantly. "Above the viewing room. Big enough for both of us, we can blow it behind us so they can't follow. Then we get to the engine room and get the hell out of dodge."

Iggy smirked, and the glint in his eyes washed away any doubt of his legitimate identity in my mind. "I love when you think pyro on me, Fangles." he winked. "Let's go. On six?"

"How about two." I murmured, and straightened, determined not to look at the Max nearly on top of us with her army of mes and Iggys. Iggies?

"Fine." Iggy nodded stiffly. "One–"

We jumped up into the air, unfurling our wings for what felt like the first time in ages, flapping furiously toward the vent above the giant viewing room. Inside people were shouting and moving all over the place, obviously shocked and disappointed with the lack of our deaths. I circled above the clones, who were oddly not unfurling and chasing us up into the open air. Iggy bulleted over the vent, slamming his feet into the wall with a loud clang and hanging onto the lip of the metal. A flash and he had his handy dandy screwdriver in his hand (I wasn't sure where he kept that thing, but who was I to judge?), opening our escape route in record time. As the door dropped to the floor, effectively nailing two clones on the ground, Iggy held onto the ledge and turned back toward me.

"Come on, Edward, time to go!"

I was ready to go, too. But then I saw her on the ground, and I broke.

I just couldn't leave her. I couldn't.

Suddenly I was diving down toward the masses below, Iggy was screaming my name and several obscenities, and I was crying her's.


Max, the clone, whoever that was that looked like her turned her head up in my direction, shock in wide eyes. I slammed my feet on the ground, hooked an arm around her waist, and pushed back up into the air before any of the other, sort-of stoned clones could get a hand on either of us. Max or Max II squirmed in my grasp, a growl forming behind clenched teeth. I held her tighter and struggled through the air to the ventilation shaft, where Iggy squatted with an incredulous look on his face. I landed awkwardly on the edge of the shaft, shoving Max II into the vent before crawling in myself and having Iggy follow us. Below, a couple of the clones had finally realized they had wings and were attempting to follow us up to the vent, albeit a bit futilely. I nudged Iggy and started to crawl down the shaft, pulling the Max clone behind me.

"Ig, blow it up! Blow it up!"

"With pleasure." Iggy growled, and planted a few of his handy-dandy homemade mini bombs, the Mini Iggies, onto the walls of the entrance to the vent. He army-crawled after us, maybe-not-so-accidentally pushing Max II forward, his hands pushing her butt.

I'd punch him later.

We turned the corner of the metal tunnel when somewhere behind us came the sound, smell, and feel of an explosion, everything that Iggy found pleasure in and loved dearly. Max II fell flat on her stomach, eliciting a yelp deep from her throat, something that sounded absolutely not like Max. I stopped dead in my tracks, dread filling my heart and seeping up my throat all over again. This girl wasn't Max, and that meant that Max wasn't there, which could mean...

"We stopping for tea time?" Iggy shouted behind me. I would have told him off for being such a jackass, but when I looked back at him his eyes were so full of freak-out level fear that I swallowed down everything inside me and started moving again.

"C'mon," I nudged Max II, suddenly not wanting to be within twenty feet of her and never let her go at the same time. "We gotta get to the engine room."

Max II was shaking slightly, from shock or anger I wasn't completely sure. She raised her head off of the bottom of the vent and glared at me, hair falling in her face. "Are you kidnapping me?"

I shrugged as best I could in the small space, which was beginning to make me very uncomfortable. "Depends on how you look at it. Now move."

We hustled down the vent, following Iggy's spidey blind senses through the vents. Whenever we passed an opening I cast a look down to make sure we were going in the right direction as according to the wall map we had passed on our way to the Clone Hall. "Why do you look like her?" I inquired gravely as we moved. Max II stared at me, and I gestured for her to answer my question. Which meant I cracked my knuckles, and Iggy laughed.

"I'm designed to look like her," was her answer. "To trick you, like the inferior idiots you are."

"You think you're better than us?" Iggy asked, and I could hear the smirk on his face. "Can't beat the original, baby."

"We were made to be better than you." Max II ground out. "Replace you."

"How'd they make you when they didn't capture Max?" I asked, and then froze, whirling on her and grabbing the front of her shirt in my fist. "They didn't capture Max, did they?"

"The great Maximum Ride?" The clone laughed. "Seriously, you think you guys are so important that Itex had to capture you? They've been scraping DNA off of Ride's feathers since she was born, they didn't need to recapture her. You guys were just blurry around the edges, so they needed more from you, especially from Blind Red Wonder over here." She jerked her head toward Iggy. "I came first, by the way. Where's my cookie?"

"I see they managed to transfer Max's horrible sense of humor." Iggy remarked dryly, which earned him a glare. He smiled at her. "Can't see it, sweetheart."

Max II nearly hissed at him, but I yanked her wrist and kept her tripping through the vent. "Why were all of those clones so–"

"Stupid?" Iggy finished for me.

"They're not finished." She bit back. "You've seen the prototypes, the smart ones."

"Like you and Zuko." Iggy offered.

"And the other Fang in Bob's room." I deadpanned.

Iggy made a distasteful sound. "Bob's been very naughty."

"We were made as commanders and test runs," Max II sighed. "Until Itex postponed the other ones like me until they finished making the other male clones super soldiers."

"Captain America turned evil." Iggy replied.

"And brainless." Max II barked a laugh.

I rolled my eyes. "You got a name?" I asked darkly. "I don't think calling you Max II is going to suffice."

"An official name or a personal one?" She looked sideways at me. "There's a big difference."

"Let's try personal." I frowned. "Seems less scarring."

"Maya." She muttered. "My real name is a bunch of random letters and numbers, like I'm some sort of project, but he calls me Maya."


She locked eyes with me, and I got a chill. "Ari."

All of the breath left my body and was replaced by pure shock. "What? How do you know him? He's still alive?"

Maya looked a little taken aback by my outburst, but gathered herself anyway. "A little worse for wear since you used his face as a punching bag, but alive and kicking last I heard."

"How do you know about that?" I ordered.

Maya shrugged with an amused expression on her face. "A girl hears things when she's just furniture."

Iggy nudged my ribcage with his foot. I looked at him. "Fang," he breathed. "Here."

I adjusted and saw the opening to the vent. After peering through it and becoming satisfied that there was no one in the immediate area, I backed up and let loose a hard two-footed kick on it, smirking as it fell to the floor on the second try. I slid out of it and dropped a good ten feet to the floor before turning around to help the other two out. Iggy practically pushed Maya out of the vent and I caught her before she could crumple to the floor. I propped her back up on her feet, but then she turned and slapped me across the face, backing up a few steps.

Maybe she was more like Max than I thought.

I rubbed my cheek and gave Iggy a hand as he fell from the vent, protecting his bulging pockets from meeting the floor. I clapped his back a couple times and he flipped me off, a grin placed on his face.

It was good to see him smile.

"How many of those little wonders you got?" I asked, quickly scoping out the engine room to make sure we wouldn't have any unexpected tourists. I barricaded what looked like the only door out of the room and turned back to Iggy. Maybe all of the guards were called to our little escapade in the hall.

"Enough to bust up these little mechanical wonders and make us a hole outta here." Iggy replied, moving toward one of the complex-looking machines. Maya was looking around the room, spinning slowly as she took it in. She glanced at me.

"How big is this plane?" She asked, and I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit. Iggy sent me a look that I couldn't really place.

"Big enough." I muttered.

Iggy suddenly dropped everything in his hands, stumbling over a pipe protruding from the floor. I moved toward to help him, but when I touched his elbow to help him from the floor, he squirmed out of my grasp like I had burned him. I backed up a step, stunned.

"Don't touch me!" Iggy hissed, eyes wide. He pulled at his hair for a moment, flat on his ass, and then backed up some more, gathering the things he had dropped in his arms. "Just...don't touch me."

"Okay, man." I rasped. Maya snorted.

"What's his problem?"

"None of your business," I snapped. A large noise sounded from outside the door, along with several shouts. I approached Iggy slowly, who was clutching his head almost in pain. "Buddy...we gotta do this. We'll deal with this shit later, okay? We gotta get out of here."

Iggy swallowed and nodded, rising slowly and then hurrying over the giant monstrosity in the middle of the room, fumbling with his explosives and placing them along the engines and the floor, as far apart as he dared. I turned on Maya.

"You didn't rat us out, did you?" I barked. "You got a tracker on you?"

"I'm not that important." Maya sneered. "Far as I'm concerned, I'd like to split from this hellhole nearly as much as you do."

I grimaced. "I doubt that."

"Well, I'm sure as hell not going back there." Maya shrugged. "What do we do now?"

Iggy stood up, explosive in hand. "Now," he coughed. "We blow shit up."

'Cause that's how Iggy rolls.

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19. Hell Or High Water

Writing again, and it feels so good...

So, guys. This is it. The chapter after this is the final chapter. BEFORE THE FINAL INSTALLMENT ha I tricked you.

So, I'll be putting all my thanks and pleas down at the bottom there, so that I won't clog up the final chapter with woes and sobs and such. It's been a ride, guys. I hope you'll all join me on the final stretch. Until then, well, enjoy the last two chapters. :) Don't forget to review now.

"They got out." He announced, voice low and unattached. Not angry. Not hopeful. Just nothing. Nothing was good. The Big Boss Man turned his head around, lips etched in an eerie grin.

"I know."

He was gulping before he knew he was capable of swallowing. "What do you want me to do about it...sir?"


He stammered for a moment before collecting himself. His eyebrows hitched in nervousness. Except he wasn't nervous. He wasn't hardwired that way. "Nothing, sir?"

"Yes," Boss Man said with that old creepy smile, and for a second he could have sworn he saw the already grey hair atop the boss's head turn a shade whiter. "We will do nothing. You will do nothing."

"Uh..." He scratched the back of his flaming head, then snapped his wrist to his side like the soldier he was supposed to be, the soldier he was. "Why, sir?"

The Boss seemed to mull this over, shifting from side to side until he was pacing back and forth from between his fancy recliner and the wall of the plane to look out the bulletproof glass window. The soldier boy stiffened where he stood, creaking his neck to dare to look about and out the window into the blue sky. Memories assaulted him, memories that were his own, his personal possessions, the few things he held dear. Not for the first time since boarding the oversized, overpriced rustbucket he was on he remembered flying, the way the wind shook through him when he unfurled his wings, the streamlined agility he possessed, the outrageous speeds he could reach, the feats he could accomplish that no one else could...not even them. The first ones. He was even better than the second winged attempt, the big, bulky, ugly security guards with the wolf faces and the makeshift wings. He didn't deserve to be locked in the plane with those idiots and the new batches. He was smarter than them. He had tried harder than them.

He had come first. Or...second, whatever.

"Do you want to know why, son?" The old man inquired, facing him once more with the crazy stare and the leather skin. Actually, no, he didn't want to know why, could care less about the first him and his brother wandering about their plane to find somewhere to curl up and die or have a moment or something. He wanted to fly. But he had orders from the Boss Man, the Professor, the Big Poobah, and he had learned early from the Erasers that when the Big Poobah asked you a question, then goddammit, you answered the damn question.

God, he wanted to burn something.

"I..." Stuttering again. He was supposed to be perfect. "I was just wondering, uh, sir, why you would want to, um, let them go."

The Boss let out a sharp, barking laugh, borderlining insane, way past concerning, if someone gave a damn. "Let them go? What makes you think I'm letting them go?"

Shit, another question. "Er...they're wandering the plane, sir, and you, uh, haven't given anyone the order to search and destroy. Sir."

The older man seemed to think this over before nodding and pressing a button on the intercom attached to the wall. "Send someone to find the prisoners, will you? Oh, and kill the prototype they're with, in front of the dark one, it'll be funny." He turned back around to face him, smiling and gesturing broadly. "See? All taken care of. Are you happy now?"

He blinked. "Well, sir, I–"

Boss cut him off, leering over him although he was ten feet away and a foot shorter. He laughed again. "Do you know what they call me, those experiments? Bob. What an absurd name, don't you think?"

He was staring at him. The soldier boy gulped uncomfortably. "I...I don't..."

In one moment all glee was washed from Bob's face, replaced by stony decidedness. He slid his gun from its holster fluidly, pointing it at the clone's face.

"You look like him," Bob mused, and fired. The carbon copy fell back, his body devoid of a pulse before he even hit the ground, splattering blood everywhere as the bullet ripped through his skull.

Bob tsked. "That'll stain." He muttered irritably.


It was all fire. Fire, pain, and laughter.

I shot out of bed and was halfway across the motel room by the time Gazzy was blinking his eyes open in shock. I tore over the carpet to the sink, grabbing a cup and filling it with water.

"Angel?" Gasman asked groggily as I began to chug water furiously. "What's...what's goin' on?"

I dropped the cup on the counter, holding my stomach. The agony laced through my head and the fire licked my fingers and toes. His laughter...his horrible laugh... I ran from where I stood to the bathroom in a split second, holding the sides of the toilet seat (which Gazzy had not put down) and throwing up messily, and, I'll admit, loudly, into the toilet. Gasman was at the door in an instant, but immediately recoiled, holding his face in his hands and groaning.

"Ange?" He inquired tentatively, voice muffled by his cover. "Are you alright?"

God, I loved my brother, but sometimes he was just so dense.

Max. I cried in my head, unable to stop the flow of tears that were trailing down my face for two reasons. Flashes of Bob, the clone, Iggy and Fang, and...another Max, ricocheted through my brain, and I squeezed my eyes shut to try to stop them. M-Max. It hurts.

Nudge ran and grabbed the doorway in her hand, taking in the sight of, well, me, in front of her. She called for Max because I was still puking, and then hesitantly stepped into the bathroom and squatted down beside me, pulling my hair back and rubbing my back absentmindedly, murmuring soothing nothings to me. As soon as I was done having show and tell with the toilet I sat back, panting. Max was suddenly there with a glass of water, which she handed to me to rinse out with as she flushed the toilet. I set it down after I was done and fell against Max's chest, letting her stroke my hair and gather me into a hug.

"Are you all done now, sweetie?" She whispered, and I nodded feebly. She hugged me tighter, and I returned the embrace, haunted by what I had seen. I had to tell her. We had to find them. "Was it something we ate, Angel?"

I shook my head, gathering my ragged breath. "N-no, Max." I trembled. "It was him. And, and Iggy and Fang."

Max didn't tense, or draw away, or anything. "What did you see?"

"He killed the clone." I rasped. "Um...the one that attacked us at the house, I think."

"Zuko?" Gazzy asked. I blinked.


"Did you see where they were?" Nudge asked. I bowed my head, suddenly exhausted. "Ange, did you see where Fang and Iggy are? Are they hurt? Are they okay?"

"Are they alive?" Max cut in, and my head shot up. Nudge snapped Max's name softly, but Max just set her jaw, gently seizing my shoulders. "I need to know, sweetheart."

I nodded quickly, tears pooling in my eyes again. "Y-Yeah, I think so." I mumbled. Suddenly I remembered something. "The clone, he–he was reporting to Bob, that they–Fang and Iggy, I mean–had gotten away or something. They were still on the plane, but they escaped. I think."

Max nodded, frowning. She lifted me up as she rose into a standing position, turning around and walking slowly out of the bathroom. Gasman grabbed some Nutella from a bag and brought it over as Max sat us all down on one of the big beds. Total jumped up and snuggled into my lap, and I started petting him. He licked the Nutella off of the cracker Gasman had in his hand.

"Hey!" Gasman snapped, but then softened. He grabbed another and held it out for me, the Nutella practically oozing off of the cracker. "Are you gonna puke any more, Angel?"

"No, thanks." I took the cracker and licked the Nutella off like Total. "Max, we gotta go get them, they're gonna get out, we have to be there."

"We don't even know where they are, Angel." Max pointed out, hoisting me and Total more comfortably onto her lap.

"They were over the ocean." I replied. Gasman blinked, considering this.

"Which ocean?" He asked. There was a moment of silence, and Max sighed. I fidgeted in her arms.

"But Max, we have to go!" I cried. "We can't leave them alone!"

"We can at least prepare, Max." Nudge pointed out. "If they do get away, before we have a chance to come up with a plan, which they might, you know, because they're awesome, we have to be ready to get them back and get them safe, no whoopsies, no gimmicks. Huh. That's a funny word, gimmicks."

"I want to go back to Dr. M's." Gazzy exclaimed. "It was safe there."

"Hardly." Max muttered. "We still had to run away, and I don't want to put Dr. M or Ella in any more danger than we already have. We...we need somewhere that we can be safe."

"Such a place doesn't exist, Max." I stressed, and she glared down at me. I remained unfazed–Max glared a lot lately. "Everywhere we go is a gamble. The best we can do is to get them back and try to stay together. Never leave each other's sight."

"Not even for potty breaks?" Gazzy gasped incredulously. Nudge shook her head solemnly, but she was smiling. Gasman relaxed. "But where can we go? Even Canada wasn't safe enough."

"We could try Norway." Nudge shrugged. "Or, like, Tibet, or something. Ooh! Ooh! I've got it. Iowa."

"We're not going to Iowa." Max groaned, running a hand down her face. "Angel, first thing's first. We need to find out whether Fang and Iggy have escaped or not, and where the plane is going."

"Germany." I answered immediately, which as much conviction as I could muster.

"Germany?" Max echoed. I nodded vehemently.

"That's where the Itex headquarters are. Bob has already created a bunch of clones, but they aren't an army. He's going to present them to the Itex Director to convince them that he should have one, an army, and that they should go forward with his plan instead of their other one, or other four, or whatever."

"Huh." Max said thoughtfully. "So there's organization to this evil."

"Little bit."

Max inclined her head, pulling her lips to one side. "Alright, everyone." She muttered, depositing Total and I on the bed and standing up, grabbing a cracker and some Nutella from Gasman's hands. "Who wants to go to Germany? We're getting our boys back."


I'm pretty darn sure that the only three things that would never leave me in life were my ginger hair, pie, and my pyromania. But if you thought about it, my hair could all fall out and some giant douchewad could eat all of the world's pie, so I guess really it was just the fire.

Gourd, I loved the fire.

"Blow shit...up?" Max, Maya, the clone, who-the-hey-ever, exclaimed, her voice nearly drowned out by the incessant banging on the door, which was getting very annoying, if I could say so myself. My grip on the explosive tightened.

"Yeah." I replied. "We blow it up. It'll be fun." Max could never tell where I hid all the ingredients for my bombs. Ingredients, like I was cooking. I liked both. Both involved fire. I couldn't cook on the go, though. I could build bombs on the move, but Max...Max could never figure out where I kept all the stuff for them. Oh, gosh, it amused Gasser and I to no end, that she couldn't discover...

She would discover a bomb down her shirt when I was out of there.

NO. Just...no, Iggy. No. Max was good. Max...I wanted to get back to Max.

"Look, if he's gonna be clocked out in La La Land, can you get this show on the road?" I heard Maya snap at Fang. "They're gonna get in here any second."

"I got it." Fang sighed in response. Yeah, right. He came close, but didn't touch me. He was learning. "Yo, Ig? You got an appointment somewhere else? 'Cause I'd really like to skedaddle."

I bit my lip and moved my head in something that I supposed could count as a nod somewhere in the universe. "Yep. Yeah, man, you got it. You can count on me."

"Never doubted it." Fang muttered, and my hand trembled. It was moments of brotherly niceness, the shit that Fang would never say, that got me. But he said it in a way that was just so him that I just couldn't tell...ugh. I balanced the detonator in my hands before moving away, ushering Fang and the girl that sounded like Max away from the boom site, as Gasman called it.

All of a sudden, it hit me like a freight train, and I stumbled a little bit as the other two backed into the far wall. I missed Gasman. Above anything else, above my loving hatred for Max, my cautious awareness of Fang, my tentative tolerance of the memories of Nudge, and Angel, and even the dog–I missed Gasman with all of my heart. I missed my partner in crime, my buddy. The one person that never seemed to judge me, that never chose anyone else over me.

That never betrayed me.

"Iggy?" Fang inquired. "You okay there? You're...tearing up a little."

I blinked blindly at him, trying to control the overflow of tears suddenly threatening to assault me. Maya broke up my little pity party before I even truly realized it was happening.

"If we wanna go, we gotta go." She hissed. "They're gonna bust through that–"

Bust through they did.

Shiitake mushrooms.

"Iggy, now would be a good time to blow shit up!" Fang shouted, clenching a discarded wrench in his fist and preparing to throw himself at the Erasers flooding through the door. Maya swore vehemently and broke off a piece of pipe from one of the trails on the wall, which probably hurt.

"Damn it, I swear, if you don't get us the hell out of here I will hunt you down and kill you five times!" She roared.

"That's violent." I muttered.

"Iggy, now!" Fang yelled as he launched forward, catching an Eraser in the nose (snout?) with his wrench. I fumbled with the detonator, not wanting to mess something up like I always do.

"Don't rush me!" I exclaimed, unfurling my wings and disastrously fly-leaping over the presumed carnage below. I landed unsteadily, seeking out the button in my hands and trying to determine my distance from my plotted boom site. Before I could hear the whole of Fang's returned "Rushing!", I was knocked over and pinned to the ground by what I assumed had to be big and ugly. The Eraser's big, hairy, smelly arm proceeded to begin crushing my windpipe, blocking out all of the air that might have otherwise gone into my lungs. Memories pushed their way into my brain, flashes filled with screams and guns, no air and blood. And hospitals. And seething betrayal.

No. That's not what happened. I yelled at myself. NO.

"You freaks are obsolete." The Eraser sneered in my face, his rancid breath making me recoil. There are something familiar about his gross smell and his angry voice that I didn't like recognizing. "It's time you were pulled off the market."

"I'm sorry." I croaked out from under him, my fingers fluttering above the boom button. "You might want to work on your threat presentation. You're sounding a little underwater."

I pushed the button. The floor ripped out from underneath everyone, sending the massive mob of Erasers in the middle of the room screaming as they were dragged under and thrown out into the open air due to the sudden suction. Loud noises flooded my ears–screams, tears, pulls, claws scratching, Fang shouting–but the loudest scream of all was Maya's shrill scream of "Ari!" as weight was lifted off of me and flung out of my new floor-window. I think I may have cried out for Fang, or Max, or maybe my Mom as my wings unfurled and I was ripped from the plane and pitched into open air. I had no way to tell which way was up or whether Fang had followed me before somewhere along the lines flying turned into falling and I let go.

Oh shiz.

Okay. Oookay. Yep.

I'd LOVE to thank ALL of you (all of y'all?) for being completely awesome and sticking with me and my random updates and the long stretches for these little blocks of words. It means a lot to me that some of you have stuck around this long. It means more than you could ever know, truly.

I'd like to especially thank my idol-turned-equal-turned-friend flYegurl, the amazing MR author who inspired me to actually post this stuffs in the first place. Without her, this second installment wouldn't have gotten this far, and I wouldn't have any idea what is going to happen in the next one. She's motivated me with encouragement and threats in the form of her own arrogance and drinking fountains (I call it a bubbler, sue me), and for that, I guess I can be grateful.

Now that all that sap's over, I hope you will review and read the next chapter and the next and final installment of this as well. Subscribe or look out for the next story in a month or two. It'll be called "Over Again". Dun dun dunn. :D

20. Wind In My Wings

Alright, guys. Here it is. Much later than it should have been, but here it is. Thanks for being awesome. You all inspire me to write more with your reviews and your support. I hope you've enjoyed it, and keep a look out for the first chapter of "Over Again", probably after school ends.

Love you all. And now, I present to you: The final chapter of "Taken Again".


My first thought was: Oh, well that feels good.

My second was along the lines of I could go for some pie.

But my third, oh, my third thought was absolutely and most definitely OH SHIT.

I couldn't see Iggy beneath, above, or beside me, couldn't see Max/Max II/Maya/Stopscrewingwithmymind or Ari or the Erasers. Couldn't see the explosions, or the plane, or the water beneath us. I couldn't see anything at all.

Well, that also meant that I couldn't see my life flashing before my eyes, so I guess that that meant I wasn't dying, and that was a pretty good deal in my opinion. Psh, perspective.

My wings didn't seem to be working, and everything around me was red and white and blue, but it was nothing like a flag; it was more like a tornado of chaos. That should be a book title. Called it. Right there. I tried fluttering my feathers in attempts to slow my fall, because dear God, was I falling, but it didn't work all that well.

That is, until the white sort of faded out into an expanse of open deep blue and I got so scared that my wings tensed and I nearly pissed myself.

Okay, so maybe I pissed myself a little bit.

Only a little, I swear.

Don't pick on me.

I unfurled my wings so quickly and suddenly that I felt them practically rip out of my back, and I'm pretty sure I screamed and fell another seventy-five feet before I shook the black spots out of my eyes and focused on flapping my aching wings and staying above the blue death trap that expanded forever below me. As my vision gradually came back I steadily began to notice the horror of what was happening around me. Plane parts and Eraser bodies rocketed through the air and slammed into the ocean, disappearing in rapid little splashes. I didn't see any come back up, and I struggled to swallow the baseball bat lodged in my throat. I screamed and dropped as I dodged a flaming huge piece of metal as it nearly cut my left wing into bits, swinging sideways and flipping before managing to right myself another thirty feet down.

I hovered and observed for a little while (meaning I don't know how long because the world was freaking burning), trying to swallow the tears pooling in the back of my throat and running down my face. Erasers and debris kept dropping, which means it couldn't have been for that long, because I thought that I was one of the last to be ripped through the giant gaping hole Iggy made in the floor, and I was definitely lighter than all of those heavy fuglies. But I just stayed there in the air, dodging various balls of fire and the occasional half a furry hand or something. I just stayed there and watched.

That is, until I saw a flash of orange on a speck far below me, on the surface of the blue, and was distracted long enough for half of a seat cushion to crash into my elbow and send me spiralling down toward the miles of ocean below.

My arm was on fire, and I couldn't see squat as I tumbled through the air, the wind threatening to rip my limbs from my core and pluck off every last feather from my wings. My vision grayed out for a few seconds and I prepped myself for the impact that would undoubtedly end my life. Just when I thought it would be all over and I'd never see my family again, Iggy ruined it like he always does.

But that's his job. He's my brother.

One second I was falling through space and time and air and whatever and the next second it was like I had hit concrete, if concrete had a couple feet of pillows over it. The wind was knocked out of me and I blinked rapidly to try to see again, but I was still falling, which was super weird. I expected to be drowning or to have had my neck broken, but instead my fall was just slowed marginally. I blinked my eyes furiously until I could see the ocean again, about three or four stories below me. Flames and pins stuck into and laced through my arm, making me bite the inside of my cheek hard enough to draw blood. I shook my head dazedly and realized why I hadn't become a wet and soggy Fang pancake yet.

"You ass," Iggy ground out, his teeth clenched tightly and his wings flapping double-time, a collection of feathers missing from the left one and in their place something that might have been a burn mark. "Getting hit with stupid chair parts. Making me do all the work, you freaking jerk."

I shook my head again, cataloging my aches and ouchies and making sure I still could feel all of my attached appendages. I could, which was nice. I looked at the ever-growing mop of red hair that was awkwardly close to my nose and swallowed blood. Iggy flashed his cloudy eyes at me for a second, as if he was smelling my consciousness or whatever the hell he does with his freaky blind kid ESP, and I wiped the back of my not-burning hand on my mouth, deciding what I should say.

I think I decided on something intellectual, like "Max?"

"Not right now, honey." Iggy scoffed, though it sounded like he was in pain. "Maxie's a little hung up right now, you know, in America. You'll have to deal with me for a little while longer."

"Mm," I replied, and I guess that really doesn't count as a reply because 'mm' isn't a word, but I was willing to roll with it. "'Kay."

"You really are a master with words, Fangles." Iggy grunted, continuing to flap his wings viscously even though we were still descending. "A real laureate. Yo, Fang?"

I blinked and swallowed. Tasted like iron. Iron was good for you, right? "Yeahkay, Igg'um."

"Sure. Uh, we're gonna have to go for a dip, that okay, Sparkles? You like swimming, right?"

"Mm." I said again. I really needed to stop with the non-words. I was taught how to speak. It might have been a good three years after normal children, but I learned. "Feathers."

"They'll get wet." Iggy deadpanned, like he was sick of explaining rain to a kid and just settled on 'Clouds get sad sometimes'. "They'll dry though."


Good thing I said that, because the next moment we were soaked to the bone as we sorta glided into the water. Iggy let go of me with one hand and focused on wading in the middle of the ocean, which, mind you, is freaking difficult. I kicked out feebly with my feet and attempted to keep my head up. The salt water instantly attacked my arm and tried to eat it, and I moaned from the pain. Iggy cast a kind-of glance toward me, an Iggy-glance, one where he tries to pinpoint you but is always a bit off by a foot or so. He nodded to himself and started to swim, pulling me along. We maneuvered around burning debris that was still buoyant enough to float and catch fire at the same time. We passed dead Eraser bodies, separated parts of Eraser bodies, something that looked like entrails and one still alive Eraser screaming as he caught fire from the burning remains of the plane beside him. Five minutes later I puked into the water, and Iggy grimaced. I think he was having trouble keeping down his non-existant dinner too.

"There." I coughed finally, pointed my hand at something in the distance. Our skin resembled prunes better than actual skin by that point, and we were probably so salty you could have served us for evening dinner. Tonight our special is Fried Bird Child, served with extra sodium and a side of Crispy Eraser Fingers...

I threw up again.

"You done, dude?" Iggy asked, voice exasperated. Exhausted. Maybe both. "What did you see?"

"A piece of somethin'." I responded, wiping my mouth again. "Think it's a crate or something. A platform. Wasn't burning."

"Figures the wood is the only thing that is fireproof on that damn plane." Iggy muttered.

We swim toward it and Iggy immediately hauls himself up onto the floating, kind-of charred and probably not stable platform, flopping out like a fish and kind of looking like a drowned one, his too-long ginger hair soaked down over his eyes and slicking onto his nose. He brings a hand up, slicks his hair back, and then helps lift me up onto our driftwood salvation.

We must have not been in the water more than five minutes, or Bob must have had some dedicated mechanics, because that's the moment we hear the plane go down.

Like, really go down. Into the water. A few miles away, maybe, but it's still loud as hell and Iggy and I wear the same panicked glance when we both realize what's going to happen.

"Got any rope?" Iggy's voice is shaky, and it isn't until I reply that I realize that mine is worse.

"Nope. We gotta hold on."

"Great. Just what I wanted to hear."

Time really doesn't mean shit to me anymore, because it felt like we were in the water for hours and it seems to take the freaking huge wave only a few seconds to reach us, and that's unlikely as hell. But it doesn't matter because in both circumstances Iggy and I are wet, in pain, and holding onto each other for dear life as we try our damnedest not to drown.

I don't remember much from the tidal wave of doom. Maybe I blacked out. I think I might have pissed myself again, but I was already too wet to care, and Iggy didn't give a crap anyway. He probably did the same. All I know was that we were scared out of our minds, we were wet, we were screaming, and then the ocean was calm as the ocean could be in our situation. We were still on our platform, which had miraculously stayed in one piece. Iggy was bleeding from a cut on his temple, which I hadn't seen before with his soaked hair. He rubbed one of his ankles with a grimace on his face, wrung out the tips of his hair, and shucked his overshirt, tossing it beside him. I just sorta stared, trying to ignore the fire in my arm, which I was pretty sure was broken, and letting the gears in my head start churning again slowly. Iggy blinked and placed his hand on the platform, splinters be damned. He turned his head toward me and cracked a shit-eating smile, one so genuine and so Iggy, one that I was sure I'd probably never see again.

"You think we can wrap that?" He exclaimed, pointing at my arm, and we were both silent for a moment before we just started cracking up, laughing loudly and obnoxiously to the miles of ocean around us and to anyone else still alive enough to care.

We were scared, hurt, wet, bloody, and a more than a little bit insane, but hey. For the first time in a long time, stranded in the middle of the sea, I got the feeling that maybe we were starting to be brothers again.


"Max, why are we in WalMart?"

"Are you kidding?" Gasman scoffed. "WalMart's awesome!"

"You only think WalMart is awesome because of that one time that old lady gave you a free churro because she thought you were homeless." Nudge pointed out.

"See?" Gasman shrugged. "Not showering does have its advantages."

"Stop taking after Iggy, I don't want to pay you to shower, you'll never get dates that way." I grumbled, searching the shelves as we walked through the aisles.

"Gross." Gazzy groaned, rubbing his arms like he was trying to banish the cooties around him. I smirked.

"We're in WalMart because we need to stock up. I'm not letting any of you buggers out of my sight, so we're going to each spot. We need food, clothes, some explosive ingredients and some tools. I probably shouldn't have said that out loud."

"Wait," Gazzy piped up. "What if I need to–"

"Then we dress you up as a girl using the shirt and wig I have in my backpack and you pee in the girls' bathroom with us." I deadpanned, grabbing a box of Lucky Charms and adding it to our basket.

Gasman was silent for a minute. "Gross."

"Alright guys," I announced, happy that I had all of the food and power tools that I needed. I led the kids over to the clothes section for children. "Pick out two outfits and three pairs of undies."

"What about a–" Nudge looked at me, biting her lip. She made an awkward gesture around her boobs.

"Oh, yeah." I interrupted her, content that Gazzy had been looking at the giant food sign at the other end of the store. "I need one too. Grab me a 34-C."

"What has sizes like that?" Gasman scoffed incredulously. "That sounds stupid."

"Yeah, it is." I nodded, turning him away as Nudge carted Angel toward the undies section. Once I made sure they were within eyesight, I steered Gasman toward the boys' section. "'Kay, buddy. Pick out some stuff."

Gazzy sort of gave me a weird glance before trotting over to the closest rack of cargo shorts, finding his size and picking two before stepping a total of two feet over to a table of shirts, where he picked the first two non-white shirts he saw big enough for him. He walked back over to me and thrust them into my hands. One of the shirts had a car on it, and the other had one of the bomb-ombs from Mario, stating "I'm the bomb!". I glanced at him, thinking boys, but I think what made its way out of my mouth was something more like "Great!"

Nudge and Angel dumped their stuff into the baskets, along with a couple things Nudge had grabbed for me. We started walking toward the checkout area when I spotted something and stopped. I turned and walked toward the teenage boy section, first going to the tall area and grabbing a couple pairs of cargos and jeans and then grabbing a few grey, black, and blue t-shirts to cram into the basket. Nudge gave a sad look as we walked toward the register, but Angel and Gasman looked more hopeful than I had seen them in the past couple months. It broke my heart. I paid in cash; turns out the Maxcard works on ATM's, too.

I had been saving the Maxcard for some special (expensive) occasion, but I think this more than qualified.

After I made Gasman and Nudge my personal servants to carry the WalMart bags we trekked across the plaza of the closest mall-ish area I could find and out into the woods behind it. We shared glances before unfurling our wings and taking off into the sky, flying low until no civilians were around to see us. We circled around back to our shady motel room, and I scouted the area for freaky clones or creepy old scientist men before unlocking the room with the old key and ushering everyone in, locking it behind me and pushing a chair up against the door.

Nothing like a little paranoia.

I took one of the bags and buried through it, emerging with a non-contract cell phone. It was just a shitty flip-phone, but for our purposes, it was perfect. I broke it out of its packaging (stupid person-proof hermetic sealing) and flipped it open, quickly memorizing the number it received and going through all the stupid stuff I had to deal with during the checkout before stuffing the plastic back into the bag and shoving the phone into my windbreaker pocket and zipping it up.

"That's an emergency phone." I told them. "In case any of us get lost, or they need a number to call for ransom, or if you fall and you can't get up, okay? Angel, you think you can memorize this number?"

Angel gave a look, like Max, please and nodded as I thought the number. She then relayed it onto Gasser and Nudge through her telepathy. Perks of having a psychic kid in your flock, enemies couldn't tap in.

Gasman flopped onto the bed, Angel closely behind them. I looked them over and decided that they didn't need to change, their clothes didn't have that many stains on them, except for Gasman's blood mark on the ankle of his pants and the little tiny splatter on Nudge's collar. There was a small spot of puke or something on Angel's shirt, but I could clean that off before we got the hell out of Dodge.

No wonder people thought we were homeless. Oh, wait. We were.

I swallowed something that tasted a little like bile and tears down before approaching the kids on the bed, tossing my windbreaker onto the other beside it. Nudge walked silently over as I crossed my arms, thinking.

"Alright, guys." I exclaimed, licking my lips and testing my courage. "We have to get over to the library, but not one here, we've spent too long in this town. There we can research, try to tap into whatever's going down in Germany at this evil science fair. Then..."

"We get Iggy and Fang back?" Gasman asked, hope sparking in his eyes so brightly it made me slightly nauseous.

"Yeah," I murmured. "We get them back. Here's the plan–"

But I never got to iterate my less-than-stellar plan, because right then, a shrill ringing went off, coming from the opposite bed. We all tensed and froze, our eyes narrowing in on my windbreaker. The ringing was coming from the phone in my pocket. The phone that I had just bought and activated not twenty minutes before.

We all stayed silent and still as I slowly reached out and swept up the jacket, taking the phone out of the pocket and holding it as it vibrated and rung in my hand. After a moment I gulped, ignoring the terrified looks on my flock's faces, and flipped it open, trying to ignore my own fear stabbing in my stomach.


To be Continued...