Red Handed by Moonlit Masterpiece

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Angst, Romance
Characters:Fang, Iggy
Published:2012-08-04 21:33:59
Updated:2012-09-17 14:26:09
Packaged:2021-04-22 01:56:52
Summary:Yes. I just killed my boyfriend's father... But once you've heard my story - heh - you'll be on my side.

Table of Contents

1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5

1. Chapter 1

Red Handed
Chapter One

Yes. I just killed my boyfriend's father.

It was a long time coming and I don't regret it – my only wish is that I'd done it sooner… Maybe then I would've made it in time.

I guess you want the whole story and I'll give it to you but you'll have be patient. We've got to rewind five years into the past. Before we go there I have to warn you that my thoughts are skewed and memory is twisted, you'll have to be patient with me but once you've heard my story – heh – you'll be on my side.

It was in eighth that I met my best friend, James Ignatius Griffiths. It was after school and he was leaning against the wall just outside of the office, feet crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, and a red/white cane leaning against his shoulder. Honestly I was curious, maybe even fascinated, it's sort of hard to say which it was when I look back at things. Anyways, I stood in front of him for a minute or two just to look him over and then I started inching my way closer, quietly as I could.

"So is this what you do in your free time," he said, his voice startled me because I didn't think he'd heard me – I'm really quiet when I want to be.

"No," I muttered.

Lazily he grinned at me, sat up from the wall, and opened his eyes. One of the very first things I remember noticing about him was his eyes because they were big and this silvery, baby blue color that I'd never seen before. They were totally out of focus and the left one sort of drifted in towards the right one. He stared about a foot to my left and I couldn't help but rock back and forth, his eyes didn't even try to follow me or acknowledge my existence. I took a few steps closer and waved a hand a few couple feet from his face – nothing.

Damn. It's strange looking back because if someone did that to him now, I would punch them in the teeth.

"You can't see," I said and took a step back.

"And you must be part of the special education program," he laughed, "Your hard work is paying off."

"So, do you see anything?"

"The opposite of anything, actually," he stood up from the wall then, I was surprised by how tall he was.

"What's the opposite of anything?"

"Nothing," he shrugged.

I swallowed that for a minute and it would take about two years to fully digest the meaning of that word. It's hard to imagine seeing nothing when you're constantly seeing something. Eyes closed I could see more than he could.

"I'm Nick," I said, still curious.

"James," he answered, "But you can call me Iggy."

He gave me this huge smile then and that's definitely the next thing that I permanently implanted into my memory. It was crooked and made his eyes crinkle and narrow into these rainbow like shapes and I could chest feel my chest tighten even though I had no idea what that meant. I won't ever forget that smile, no matter what happens from here. But we're not talking about that yet.

"Why're you standing out here?"

It was late in the afternoon, probably about time that the buses were leaving so there was next to no one around. I'd just gotten out of a meeting with my English teacher for an essay I'd written. It was one of the only times that I hadn't just been lectured about failing a class. Maybe that had something to do with why I approached Iggy, I was feeling so good maybe I would have talked to anyone, but I like to think it was more than that.

"They got the last of my textbooks in," he told me, he was rocking on his heels – something that he was doing just this morning – and used his cane to lean farther forward than otherwise possible, "I'm waiting till three-twenty because that's when they'll have them 'ready' for me – whatever that means."

"You read braille?"

See, curious.

"Want to help me carry them? I won't be able to fit more than three in my backpack and I can't carry the rest and see where I'm going at the same time."


Turns out there were twelve volumes total– for just five classes – and they were heavy as shit but we managed to get three in his backpack, two in mine, three in his arms and I managed with the last four. It was a lot to get used to at first but that was far from the last time I found myself lugging around braille volumes. As we moved up in grades they moved up in weight and quantity but I actually started liking the routine because it meant I got to spend more time with Iggy.

The fact that he used a fiberglass stick like I used my eyes fascinated me to no end and on that first day I found myself tripping over things on more than one occasion because I was too busy watching him to pay attention to where I was going. I'll admit that I still watch him shamelessly and no, it's not creepy because he is well aware.

I met his mother that day, too. She called to him from the end of the sidewalk and started getting out of the car. As soon as she spoke, I knew that she was one of the best people I would ever meet in this life. Her hair was messy and the same pale red as Iggy's, her eyes were also blue but darker and focused, and she had that same beautifully curving mouth. Once, we got all of Iggy's books into the trunk, she asked if I wanted to ride with them to their house and have some pizza and cookies. I said sure because at the time I was still living with my uncle and my mother – no wait. Mom was already missing by then, it was just me and my uncle.

I think going home with them was the lynch pin. When we got to his house we went up to his room, he didn't use his cane in the house but he still paused sometimes to reach out for familiar things – anchors, he called them. The more he got used to his house, the less I remembered his blindness but of course, there were plenty of moments that reminded me like a brick to the head. Like the time he crashed into the door I left halfway open – he actually has a scar on his forehead from that and sometimes I still feel guilty about it.

I noticed his hands next. Pale white fingers were so gentle whenever they grasped something, including me, but watching him read was – and is – definitely one of my favorite things to do. The extreme tips of his fingers – like the part just above the nail – barely touched the tiny blocks of bumps on the pages of his books and skimmed down the line so quickly that it gave me chills – still does, if I'm being honest.

His room definitely wasn't what I expected it to be. For one thing there were posters everywhere – bands, movies, books, TV shows – they were all over the ceiling and the walls and the doors. It looked like he'd already been living there for years rather than a week or two. The whole thing was absolutely magnificent. It was just another curious thing to add to my list that was ever growing.

"What's with the posters," I'd asked.

"Why does anyone have posters," he shrugged. He was putting his textbooks away on the top shelf of a cabinet whose lower shelves were already stacked with braille volumes, another fascinating thing, "It's a way of expressing a fandom to everyone who enters my room. Conversation pieces, if you will. That and I have a highly developed sense of irony."

We laughed together and that was it, he had me. I may not have realized just then the degree to which he had me, to which he held my organs in the palm of his hand, but what's important is that I know it now.

It wasn't until a week later that I met Iggy's father…


Sorry, it's – uh – it's kind of hard for me to talk about… Considering.

We were on our way out, actually, for what I can't remember but as we moved towards the door Iggy misjudged and bumped into the end table by the couch, spilling Mr. Griffiths beer. The man rose off the couch like a creature from the deep. The whole atmosphere changed and I wanted to just run. Believe me, I know what fear feels like and that night I could feel it seeping out of the walls. He was a big man with hands that spoke of hard work and eyes cold as the ice that scattered across the carpet.

"The hell, boy," he roared, it was strange how his voice filled every crevice of the room.

The way Iggy shrank made my chest hurt, his face cast to the floor. I hated that man already.

"I'm sorry, dad," he said quietly, calmly. He reached for the wall beside him to get away from his father. He was cowering. "I miss-stepped."

"Damn right, you're sorry," he started stepping around the couch and I didn't know whether to run or defend, "I ought to beat your sorry ass for making a damn mess! If you can't walk around the fucking house then use your goddamned cane. God forsaken handicap."

Mrs. Griffiths appeared then, already with another mug of beer and a towel to clean up the mess. As soon as she spoke Mr. Griffiths calmed down, deflated a little like she reminded him of what he was saying, of who he was. With all the gentleness in the world, she gave Iggy a hug and whispered in his ear before sending us on our way. I didn't want to know what would have happened if she hadn't of been there. Sadly, I would find out too soon… but we haven't gotten there yet.

A couple of days later, when we were walking to his house after school, I struck up a nerve, "Hey, can I ask you something?"

"Only if it has nothing to do with politics or apples," he shrugged.


"Is that your question," he raised an eyebrow and I shook my head to regain concentration.

"Uh, no," I muttered, he reached out and touched my arm – I know why he does that now, it helps him keep track of himself, "Has your dad – I mean, does your dad freak out a lot? I mean, like he did the other night?"

Iggy stopped walking.

"Only when he drinks," he answered defensively.

"I was just wondering because I-"

"You just want to know if my dad hits me."

I opened my mouth to say something – probably something stupid – but I shut it again quickly. Iggy sounded angry, well, not so much angry as frustrated and I'd never seen him frustrated in the entire month that I knew him. He's an extremely patient person, something I've always admired about him.

"He doesn't," he closed his eyes and when they opened again he gave me a smile.

I was somewhere around thirteen when he told me that lie for the first time and I believed him but if I knew then what I know now, things would be different. They say ignorance is bliss but it too has its consequences.

You see, in our eighth grade year Iggy and I had a lot of personal firsts. For instance, in the middle of our winter semester, Iggy's body decided that it was time to expand five inches height wise in a timespan of two weeks. Everything he did pissed him off because his spatial memory went to shit. Each and every time he reached for something he'd knock it over, counting strides did no good and he was constantly crashing into things, and he'd always hit his head on the outside of the car when he climbed inside. That was the first time he asked me to lead him. With this simple request there came a lot of trust on his part and surprisingly, there was a lot of trust from me too.

We also suffered through the Max Factor together. You see, there was this girl, now, she and I have been best friends since elementary school and in eighth grade she decided that we were more than just friends. I honestly wasn't interested but I tried because I was confused and having feelings for my best friend who had the same genitalia as me. It was wrong, a 'violation' of nature so I needed someone else onto which I could project those affections and that someone was Maxine Batchelder. We dated and held hands but realistically we spent less time enjoying each other and more time arguing or making fun of one another. But one day as I walked the halls of the school to get to my next class, I witnessed something that made me end the façade of a relationship and realized a few things about myself that would change my life.

I also managed to attain a nickname.

The sound of flesh against flesh echoed down the hall. I knew that sound, it was the sound of someone getting the shit beaten out of them. As I got closer I nearly tripped on a thin white segment of something or other. I jogged to the end of the hall and peered over a growing group of gawking kids to see Ari beating the shit out of Iggy. It felt like lava was slowly spilling though my veins and the next thing I knew I'd dropped my things and launched myself at Ari.

My fist colliding with Ari's jaw is the last thing I remember from that fight. I was so encumbered with rage that all I could see was red and all I could feel was this insane heat rising from my skin. And then, I bit off Ari's ear. From then on the kids at school called me Fang and not one of them would dare lay a hand on me… Or Iggy.

I learned later that Ari decided to use Iggy as a punching bag because Ari was secretly in love with Max. Since I was dating someone he cared about, he decided to get my attention by nearly sending someone I cared about to the hospital. Oh, and that thing I tripped on in the hall? It was a piece of Iggy's cane that Ari broke into pieces. When I learned that, I wanted to do the whole thing over again.

Even though that fight got me in trouble and sent Ari to the hospital, it made me realize what I had to do.

As we sat outside of the principal's office waiting for our parents to get there, I put my hand on his shoulder. Iggy turned his head towards me – he looked pretty bad with one eye swollen shut, a nasty cut on his cheek, and a lip that was split wide open.

"You alright," I asked.

He laughed, "I have to say that I've never been beaten up like that before. It was definitely an experience."

"You didn't answer me," I pointed out.

He took a deep breath, "I mean, I'm kind of freaked out… Mostly because I don't have a cane though, it's kind of like someone popping your eyeballs out and keeping them in their pocket for a few days – I guess you could say that I can't see shit without it."

Once again he started laughing but when he used his hands to talk – he still does that – I could see that he was shaking. I bit my lip and made a quick decision. I took both of his hands in mine and knelt in front of him.

"I really don't know how to say this," I said more to myself than the blind kid in front of me, I remember my heart was pounding in my esophagus, "I really care about you, Iggy, and I just – I hope you know that I will always protect you no matter what."

"Nick, or should I say Fang," he smiled, it faded quickly though as his lip started bleeding again, "I know that, you are and I are like best friends."

Even though I didn't know why, his proclamation of friendship made my stomach ache a little bit. But I knew that I wanted more and I knew that I could be patient.

Yea, Iggy and I experienced a lot of firsts that year but it was two years later that we got to experience our very own first together.

Our first kiss.

A/N: I've decided that I want to get back into Maximum Ride fanfiction. Well, I'm excited! So let me know what you think!

2. Chapter 2

Red Handed

Chapter Two

In our sophomore year, Iggy and I started drinking coffee. Every morning when I'd pick Iggy up, he'd have a hot cup waiting for me. I think it's because he felt guilty for asking me go out of my way to walk with him to school, normally he would have done it himself but there was – is, I guess – this crosswalk that he was afraid to tackle alone. Can't say I blame him, there's this tiny island you've got to sail to that lands in the middle of a four lane intersection and if you don't hit said island you'll find yourself stranded in traffic. I didn't know this before but it's completely impossible to walk in a straight line if you can't see, something about needing a visual center point to walk towards – so I had no qualms with going to pick up my best friend if it meant that he wouldn't end up worse off than most brands of road kill.

Back to the point – Iggy and I drink coffee. We drink a cup before school and make a fresh pot when we get back. Plain and simple. I know you're wondering where I'm going with this but I'll get there. It was kind of an unspoken rule between us that Iggy would make the coffee because I didn't know how and when I tried it never came out right. Can't blame me though, we never had coffee at my place. Never had much at my place. That day was a few days before the Worst Day and I was watching Iggy fill the coffee pot with the exact amount of water needed to make eight cups.

"How do you do that," I asked from the kitchen island.

He filled it perfectly every time, I'd never even seen him overfill his coffee cup.

"Do what," he asked, patient as always. By then we'd known each other for two full years, he was used to my questions.

"Fill the pot to the right line."

"I can hear it," he shrugged, I must have made some kind of noise like I didn't believe him because then he said, "What? I can, seriously. It's like as the water gets higher the pitch it makes also gets higher. I just had to figure out what sound went with what line."

"Just like that," I teased, he made it sound so easy.

"Yea, just like that," he gave me half a grin and turned on the coffee.

This god awful noise erupted from the hallway. It was a wet, bone rattling cough. Every time I heard it my eyes automatically went to Iggy, he'd be biting his lip, eyes toward the floor, he'd pause whatever he was doing because he was listening. As usual, once the coughing stopped his mother would step around the corner with a smile on her face. She wasn't smiling that day though.

"Hey, Mom," Iggy said quietly when she pulled out a chair at the table.

"Hey, baby," she smiled weakly, "Hi, Nick, how're you?"

"Great," I nodded, I had a hard time meeting her eyes.

Mrs. Griffiths looked terrible those days; she was too pale, eyes tired and rimmed with purple, lips and fingers slightly blue, she was too thin, too. The coughing came more frequently as did the hospital visits. You see, Mrs. Griffiths had cystic fibrosis which meant that her lungs would fill up with this viscous mucus that had to be loosened and drained every once in a while. Fact of the matter was, those lungs were wearing out. Everyone could see that, especially Iggy.

"You want some coffee, Mom," he asked.

"Sure, sweetie," her voice was breathy, "What are you boys up to?"

"Iggy's helping me with math," I mumbled.

"He's always," she started coughing again but tried to talk in between, "been so – good with math – "

As she coughed the coffee finished percolating and Iggy got three cups down from the third shelf up in the second cabinet above the sink, the cups rattled because he was distracted.

"Yea, I'd probably be failing if it wasn't for him," I gave her a quick smile and looked away – she was still coughing and I was embarrassed.

"Shit," Iggy hissed.

It was the first time I'd ever seen him spill the coffee.

We were in school when it happened, Iggy and I were on our way to physical science, his fingers were wrapped around the top strap/handle of my backpack – it's easier that way because he can walk behind me if he needs to. Something about the extra weight on my shoulders relaxes me. Guess it's because when it's there I know that he's there. The fact that he trusted me so completely – and still does – gave me this confidence that I couldn't shake and didn't want to. But when we got to our classroom and I saw that Principal Pruitt was standing by the door, every ounce of confidence I'd ever had melted away in that moment.

My heart sped up and raced to my ears, it was all I could hear, all I could feel. This had happened to me before, on the day my mom came to tell me that my dad got shot. A thousand questions vied for the attention of my brain but the one that won the gauntlet and made it to the front was:

Have they found my mother?

"Fang," Iggy's voice rattled somewhere in the back of my head but I was still too far away to answer, "Fang," there it was again and that time I could almost reach it. "Nick!"

Iggy's hand was on my shoulder, his eyes wide and searching my chest for a problem that I hoped he would never see.

"Nick, are you okay," he asked quietly, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," I muttered, "There's just the fact that the principal's standing outside the door," I gave him a gentle slap to the stomach, "Come on, let's get to class."

"Okay," his hand slid from my shoulder down to my elbow and I could still feel the ghost trails of his fingertips on my skin long after. Something had changed in his face but at the time I was too absorbed in my own personal hell to see it.

"Mr. Griffiths," Principal Pruitt said as I tried to take the two of us through the door to our classroom, "I need you to come with me to the office. Your aunt is here to pick you up."

"Oh," his fingers tightened and released around my arm – something that he does when he's nervous, "Um, why?"

"Please, James, just come with me."

I remember feeling cold as reality sunk in. In the midst of my own adolescent selfishness I hadn't considered the fact that it wasn't mine whose fears were being realized – they were Iggy's.

Later that day, I found out that Iggy's mom died.

There is nothing that can erase that funeral from my mind. The air was so thick with grief that I could barely see though it but that's not what I remember the most. No, what I remember most is the way Mr. Griffiths cried when they closed his wife's casket – the way it echoed around the room and stole everyone's oxygen, the way it broke over my head like waves off the sea. It's something that will be burned into my memory for the rest of my life.

At the reception – funny how there's a reception after both a funeral and a wedding, kind of like happiness and pain aren't so different after all – I tried to get to Iggy but every time I tried to approach him at his spot on his aunt's couch some family member or another would take the spot beside him to rub his back, ruffle his hair, or give him a hug. He looked strangely normal, gave everyone the I'm Fine smile, and then went back to looking uncomfortable. All I knew was that I needed to get to him. I didn't know what I would say or do but I felt this need to be there for him.

Finally I got my opportunity and as I made my way to him I realized just how bad things were. His tie was a mess, button down off by one, shirt un-tucking from his slacks, pale eyes rimmed red. I started thinking of what his mom would say and my chest tightened for him. I should've been able to see it sooner – I mean for Christ's sake! How the hell could I not think about how much pain he must have been in?! I was so fucking worried about being with him that I didn't think about how much he was hurting.

I hope I'm not like that anymore…

Anyways, before I could make it to his couch, someone bumped into me and in the time it took to exchange apologies Iggy had left the couch, his cane probing the way to the kitchen. By the time I got to him he was tangled up in the legs of chairs and a table that stood between him and the back door.

"Hey," I came up beside him and waited, not wanting to be like everyone else and start putting my hands all over him.

"I know the back door is somewhere around this table," he sounded absentminded, he kept trying to move around the table but only made things worse, "I don't know this house very well, I mean, I haven't been here in like three years so- I'm trying to say that I can't remember-"

Tears started pooling.

I tugged on his unbuttoned shirt sleeve, "Come on, I'll take you to the backyard."

He nodded.

At that point I think he just needed someone to tell him what to do, where to go. Just a little guidance. I could give him that and I was glad that I could at least do something.

We sat on the steps that led out to a rolling backyard full of green grass, a playground, and a sandbox. Some of the kids were playing and I remember thinking how their laughter didn't quite fit the feeling and yet it was somewhat reassuring to know that laughter was still possible, that it still existed. Iggy wasn't with me, not really anyways, he was staring out into the distance far, far beyond what I could see, eyes unresponsive to the sunlight that forced my pupils so contract.

"Tell me what you're thinking," I said.

He took in a long, deep breath and let it out slowly, his fingers picking at the grass between his shoes, "I feel like this is never going to end."

"What's never going to end?"

"This sucking pain in my chest," he was almost shouting, his face turned to me and it was like he was begging me to make it go away, "I still- I go down to the kitchen and I say good morning to her," he stood up so I did too, "And then she doesn't answer. Her perfume," tears were rolling down his face, "God, it's everywhere! I – I can't walk through the damn house without smelling it and then she walks into my brain and I swear- I absolutely swear, Nick, that I can hear and-"

His voice broke and this cry tore its way up his throat and before I knew it my arms were around him and he was holding onto me like at any minute he could fly off like a balloon with no control. So badly I just wanted to help him so I pulled him in tighter hoping to absorb some of his pain – give him some relief.

I couldn't. But for the next half hour I pretended that I could.

By the next Thursday things started feeling like they did before – Iggy started talking again, he got his never-ending appetite back, and at one point I even managed to make him laugh by giving him my best impression of Nudge – Max's best friend – after getting her nails done. Hah. Thinking back on it now, he probably laughed because it was so terrible. Anyways, it was at lunch that day that he would make a decision that would change our lives.

"Okay, so good news," Max said as she climbed onto the bench beside me.

Iggy's eyebrows went up at her voice but his fingers didn't stop on the page of his book – reading, it was something he obsessed over after his mother died.

"What is it this time, Max," I asked, she always had some adventure or another planned for us, that girl was – and is – a master storyteller. Seriously, she's the kind of person that can make jumping off a roof sound fun. It wasn't, by the way.

"There's a party this weekend," she smiled, waggling her eyebrows suggestively.

Iggy's fingers stopped on the page, "What night?"

Max and I both looked at each other, her brown eyes full of questions that I didn't have answers to. Iggy never wanted to go to parties, he was always saying that they were too loud and there were too many people and he hated alcohol and the smell. Not once up to that point had I ever thought that he'd want to go to a party that didn't involve birthday cake and a piñata.

By the way, never have a blind guy hit a piñata, they have an unfair advantage.

"Tomorrow night," she answered, slowly trading her confusion for enthusiasm. I think she knew that if she could get Iggy to go, she could get me to go, too, "I figured that we could all ride together in Nudge's car because obviously we won't be able to drive home ourselves and Nudge doesn't really like to drink – she's a lightweight – so, what do you think?"

"Sounds good," Iggy immediately answered and went back to reading.

Max started going on about something, plans I think, but I didn't hear her because I was too busy wondering where my best friend went and when he was coming back.

On Friday night I sat on a couch while I watched Iggy dance with Nudge. They laughed a lot, and danced awkwardly and I couldn't decide if I was happy or not. I mean, on the one hand it was great to see Iggy smiling and laughing again. On the other hand it wasn't me making him laugh. Of course, I had to factor in the part where he had three shots and a beer already. Still, I'll admit now that I was jealous.

A few minutes later and Nudge walked him back to the couch and he fell into it, nearly smacking me in the face in the process. His eyes were lazier than usual and they were so droopy that he looked like he'd smoked a few joints.

"That… was amazing," he managed to say, "I like dancing, Fang, you should try it sometime."

"Yea, I'll keep that in mind," I grumbled, I've always hated parties.

"Hey," he said, dragging out the Y farther than he should've, "Don't be so – so – so grumbly, have fun!"

"Is this what you call it," I retorted, I don't think he'd ever made me angry before but that night he just got under my skin, "You call this having fun?"

I stood up and pulled him with me just to prove that he couldn't even balance on his own, he wobbled and I grabbed his shoulder before he could fall over. I was more than fed up because I knew what he was doing and I hated it.

"It makes things dull," he said, he sounded confused and while he stood there his fingers played with the hem of my shirt, it was distracting me and I was getting more frustrated, "Sometimes things need to be dull."

"That's it," I mumbled, I grabbed his arm and tugged him after me without being a proper lead, he would get over it.

I dragged him through the house and through people who were all getting trashed and I leaned him against a wall in a relatively private hallway. For just a moment I felt badly because he looked kind of freaked out which he wouldn't have been were he not drunk – so that's where my guilt evaporated. Still, I had to take this really deep breath because with the way his pale hair fell into his baby blue eyes and his I've Had Too Much To Drink red lips were parting just slightly, my stomach was doing strange things that I couldn't explain – or maybe I could, I just didn't want to.

"Look, I know what you're doing and just- just stop!"

His eyes got wider then, like he was trying to focus on me.

"I don't- I don't know what you're talking about," he turned his face away from me and once again I caught myself trying to catch his eye before remembering that I couldn't.

"I know that you miss her, okay," I said gently, "But this – drinking and forgetting and being an idiot – is not going to make it better!"

"I don't know what else to do," he said quietly.

"You talk about it," I pushed his hair back from his face and he turned back towards me, "You have me."

"I don't know what I'd do if I didn't," his voice was suddenly serious and it was my turn to be confused.

Iggy's fingers brushed my side as they hooked into the waistband of my jeans, he pulled me closer as he pushed off the wall and I honestly didn't know what was happening because I couldn't have expected what happened next. Iggy's free hand slipped up to my shoulder and around to the back of my neck, his thumb just brushing the edge of my jaw. Slowly he leaned in closer and his eyes fluttered closed and I couldn't breathe so I just let things happen. I met him halfway and when our mouths touched my eyes closed and my arms wrapped around him and it was the best thing that I'd ever felt in my life. It ended two seconds later.

He jumped off of me like a live wire and immediately turned away, his hand on the wall beside him as he took a few steps down the hall.

"Oh god," he was mumbling, "Oh god… Fang, I'm so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking or doing I just- I'm so sorry."

"Iggy, wait," I was still confused and lost inside of Iggy's mouth and the warmth of his gently prodding fingers, "What-"

"I can't believe I just did that," he was muttering to himself and still walking but when he got to the end of the wall he stopped. "I'm so sorry, I get it if you're mad at me."

"Iggy," I sort of chuckled, "I'm not mad at you."

"You're not," he turned around, eyebrows scrunched as he tried to figure me out. "I just- I- sometimes I think things that I shouldn't and-"

"Iggy," I said more quietly this time, my hands running the length of his arms, "I think things sometimes, too."

There was a small smile on the corner of his mouth and slowly I pressed a kiss to that smile and made it my own.

It was the beginning of a relationship that I couldn't have dreamed of and also the beginning of the best two and a half years of my life.

A/N: Here is the second installment! That you so much to my followers and reviewers! I fully appreciate your support.

The next chapter should be posted sometime this week - unfortunately college starts back next week - but I'm going to do my best to consistently post every Friday evening. Also, the next chapter will be very relationshipy and filled with fun romantics. I warn you though, this fic is a rather serious one.

Thanks again my lovely people!


3. Chapter 3

A/N:Sorry for the wait! School has begun yet again and I have been a busy bee. But alas I have written this chapter.
For a moment I would like to sincerely thank those of you who have left wonderful reviews that just make my day! I swear they always come at the perfect times. I'm sorry for not responding to them individually but you do deserve the utmost thanks!

Last thing I would like to address is that the nature of this story is a prelude! There will only be a couple chapters succeeding this one but there will be a sequel to it with more romance and less angst! Thank you all for your support be it in the vein of reviews, follows, favorites, etc. They are all greatly appreciated!

Hope you enjoy!

Red Handed

Chapter Three

One day I asked Iggy why he's blind, he told me that he could see just fine and then asked me why I have black hair. I guess in a way he was telling me that we can't control what we are but there are things that we can control. That's the human condition, I guess, free will. All of these decisions that we make lead to our futures, we get what we deserve, and I'm not talking about me.

It wasn't until our junior year in high school that I started realizing the changes that Iggy was somehow implanting inside of me. For one thing, leading him forced me to notice things that I wouldn't have ever noticed elsewise. For instance, I knew that there was a pot hole in the crosswalk passing over fifth, a lamp post smack in the center of the sidewalk on Broad, tables poking out from a small café on Greene, and three steps down that lead to the high school's walkway but even that paled in comparison with the other things. See, Iggy had this way of listening that never ceased to amaze me, that kid heard everything. Once we were walking through the park together and he asked me if I could see who was playing the violin but truth was I hadn't even heard it until he said something. I mean honestly, how do you miss something like that.

But I think the best thing he taught me was patience. There were times that I would have to wait for him to figure things out for himself, like finding the bathroom in my house without a cane for the first time – that was so goddamned frustrating. But anyways, what I'm saying is that it made me realize how in a hurry everyone is to get things accomplished. The faster the better. But sometimes you have to slow things down to really see what's going on around you.

I won't bore you with anymore clichés – I get a little carried away sometimes… Just ask Iggy.

Our relationship officially began when we were seventeen, we'd been messing around throughout sophomore year but after our first kiss we decided that kissing in private would be enough for a while because we were boys and what we were doing was already wrong and neither of us were ready to be even more wrong, especially not publicly. But something changed in our junior year, I don't even really remember what it was but it seemed that we were at an understanding. But as we transitioned into a position of trust and honesty, lies started to fill in the cracks of our seemingly perfect pavement.

It was mid-junior year when I first started seeing them, not even two years ago. Anyways, it was freezing outside and we went back to Iggy's house so that he could change after we managed to run into each other – literally – while I was drinking strawberry soda. I don't know how many times I mumbled an apology but Iggy always shrugged it off.

I laid back against his headboard as he looked for a sweater in his closet – I always feel relaxed in Iggy's room because it smells and feels like him – but as he slipped his shirt off I noticed it. A patch of newly purpled skin was creeping its way up from beneath his waistband. My heart dropped into my stomach and before I realized it I was on my feet and standing behind him, my fingers tracing over the edges of the bruise.

"Fang," he chuckled under his breath, he turned around and leaned into my touch, "I swear, I can't even change my shirt without you-"

"Where did you get this," I interrupted. I was consumed by what I could see and despite the fact that my boyfriend was half-naked and beautiful I couldn't look past the marred skin on his perfect body.

"Get what," he sounded uncomfortable and he reached back to grab a sweater from a hanger.

"This bruise," I said, I looked up to his face in to catch the lie in action, though at the time I had too many holes in my net to hold it for long.

"Oh that," he grinned, his eyes took on the shape of incredulity, "I fell over one of the footstools that my dad didn't push in. Caught the edge of the coffee table. It hurt like a bitch for a while, still does if I bump it or anything."

I remember watching him for a few moments, waiting for something that would tell me he was lying, that it was something more than just a mistake. There was nothing.

"Fang," he said quietly, his long thin fingers working their way from my shoulder to my neck as he slowly pushed me backwards towards his bed, "I'm blind, totally- fucking- blind-" with each word he pressed a kiss to my neck and when my knees buckled against his bed he straddled my hips, "Sometimes I fall, or misjudge, or bump into shit, and my boyfriend needs to be okay with seeing the bruises that I can't. Can he do that?"

My brain was fuzzy from blood loss as my pants grew tighter and my head lighter, so for that moment I believed his lies, for that moment I let myself remain ignorant.

"Yea," I muttered as he overtook my mouth.

I thought I could.

But, as usual, I was wrong.

It's not that that was the first time I saw Iggy with bruises – dozens of times he had come to school with a spot here or there and he had just as many excuses to match – but lately they'd been getting worse, deeper, more sensitive and those brilliant excuses were getting less and less believable. It was a few days later, actually, that I discovered something that would change everything.

Together we were walking home from school, his fingers were hooked in the belt loop on my hip – it's his favorite way for me to lead but it's only functional when human traffic is low and he's familiar with the area – but when we stepped up to the crosswalk he dropped my lead to adjust his backpack. I didn't think much about it, he had his cane out already so it wasn't like he was unaided, he knew how to be blind. The light changed and traffic shifted but as Iggy stepped out into the crosswalk a car turned the corner.

"Iggy, wait!" I put my arm up instinctually, the back of my hand coming in contact with Iggy's chest. "Watch for pedestrians, jackass!" I yelled at the driver, "Goddammit. Iggy, you alright? That fucking idiot wasn't looking-"

His hand was on his chest and the look of pain on his face was unmistakable, I felt guilty, like I had done something wrong but then I remembered the bruise on his hip that he wrote off, the busted lip he had the week before that and the strained shoulder before that. These weren't injuries due to blindness, these were due to a drunken bastard.

"I'm fine, Fang," he shook his head, working his mouth back into a proper smile, "I wasn't really paying attention either."

"You going to tell me what that was about," I asked, tucking his elbow beneath mine as we started across the street.

"Only if you tell me what you're talking about," he retorted, he sounded genuinely but sometimes I think he forgets that I can see him even if he can't see me seeing him.

"You winced," I stated, more annoyed than I thought I would be, "Why? What's going on, Iggy, because I know you didn't run into the fucking door or something again-"

"Why are you doing this," he asked beneath his breath, upset.

I didn't want to press him, I didn't want to put him on the spot or make him uncomfortable but I needed to understand because how could I possibly protect him if I didn't know he was in danger? God, I was so angry. I know that I could've handled it differently but my anger was taking over, the fact that he didn't trust me enough to ask for help was like a slap to the face.

"Why are you," I asked simply.

We didn't speak the rest of the way to my house but as soon as we were through the front door I pulled him into my room. I can't say that I'm proud of what happened next – or where it led me – but I don't regret what I did.

My room was cool and quiet and as we stepped through the door I dropped my backpack to the floor and pulled his off his shoulders.

"Fang, what are you doing," he said, he sounded tired, like he wasn't up to the argument.

I should've noticed earlier that he was in pain, he wasn't walking normally and he was stiff and awkward. Looking back on it I don't understand how I couldn't have seen this sooner. I really don't.

I turned him around to face me and pushed his jacket off his shoulders but he pushed me away, "Stop it, what are you doing?"

"Tell me," I said.

He just shook his head slowly.


I continued with his jacket and he once again tried to fight me off but I shoved him against my wall, his hiss of pain not escaping my notice. Christ – I hate what I did, how I treated him but I needed to know, I needed to protect him. Too bad there was no one there to protect him from me.

"Fang, please stop," he whispered, his hands were barely fighting me anymore, "Please don't do this, please?"

I could barely hear him anymore, all I could hear was my pulse as it pounded behind my ears as my fingers made quick work of his button-down. He tried to push me away again but I brushed him off. I wish that I hadn't, I wish that I'd been paying attention because then I would've heard him crying. Once I got to his undershirt I yanked it up and my mouth dropped open. I knew that something was wrong but I don't understand how it got to that point. I just wish you'd seen it.

His chest was more black than it was white, like someone had kicked the shit out of him. The bruising went all the way down his left side, disappearing into the waistband of his boxers. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cry or to scream or what. I moved towards him but I couldn't bring myself to touch him, afraid that he would shatter.

"Iggy," I breathed, "What- did he do this to you?"

"I- I didn't want to bring you into this," he stammered, tears running down his face.

"How could you not trust me with this," I asked and touched his shoulder lightly.

"Why didn't I tell you, Fang," he all but shouted as he shrugged my hand away and pulled his undershirt back down, "Let's see. Maybe it's because I was afraid you'd react like this."

I watched wordlessly as he felt for his button-down and his hoodie, pulling them on in a rush, "Where's my cane?"

I grabbed his cane and handed it to him along with his backpack. I knew that what I'd done was wrong but I didn't know how to apologize. The words just weren't there. Silently I watched him walk out my door and it took me twenty solid minutes to work up the balls to follow him.

About thirty minutes later I found him at the dock, he was smoking a cigarette – which he never does – with his feet dangling over the edge. I sat down beside him without saying anything. Waiting seemed like the best option but Iggy's always been more patient than I have.

"We should call someone," I said, "Tell them what's going on. You can't live like this, Ig, you're going to get killed."

"He's not going to kill me," Iggy scoffed, "I'm all he's got left. 'Sides, he spends my disability on booze. He needs me."

"I don't understand why you didn't tell me how bad this was getting," I said more to myself than him, trying desperately to figure out what I'd done.

"You really don't know why, Fang," he asked incredulously, actually bothering to turn his face towards mine – which he never does, "I mean honestly, you can't think of one reason why I wouldn't tell you? 'Cause I gotta say I have about thirty."

"I- I honestly can't, Iggy," I replied softly, noting the way his tear stained face shined in the dying sunlight and how beautiful he was when he let me in like that.

"I'm already the bitch of this relationship, Fang," he shrugged with nonchalance and turned back towards the water. "I already need you to cross streets with me, tell me to watch out for fucking cars, escort me to the bathroom. Last thing I need is for everyone to know that my daddy beats up on me because mommy's not there to protect me anymore."

"You seriously think that about yourself," I'd seen him get frustrated before but I'd never heard him hate on himself for being blind. "Because when I look at you I don't see a weak person. I hate that you see yourself that way."

"Yea, well, it's kind of hard to see yourself when everyone around you tries to give you their own picture," he flicked his cigarette in the water and leaned back on his hands, "I've been blind for twelve years, Fang, and everyday there's at least one person who gives me their opinion about who I am. I'm either pathetic, an inspiration, a shame, a charity case, I mean the list goes on. Through all of that I go home and face a man who's tired of putting up with a son who he can't relate to and he can't handle that. He doesn't know what to do with me or himself so he drinks to forget and when he gets angry I'm the perfect punching bag.

"You knowing changes things," he paused, bit his lip and continued, "When I'm with you, you don't see me as weak, you don't think about my being blind and when I get confused you help and move on! I'm just a person to you and that is so rare. Despite everything you love me and this- this makes you see me in a way that I don't want-"

He was crying again but the tears were angry, not sorrowful.

"You, and wherever you are, is the only place where I feel human- where I feel like everyone else," he pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes before roughly wiping away the wet on his face. He stood up and I stood with him, not wanting him to fall into the river but of course I wouldn't tell him that, "I don't want that to change… I need it to be this way."

That was the moment that I stood at a crossroads. A choice with no guidance. Maybe I took the wrong path or maybe both paths led to the same place, either way my fate was set.

"Iggy," my voice was thick, embarrassingly so because guys aren't supposed to cry, especially over other guys and there I was crying with my boyfriend, "I will do whatever you want me to but I am going to help you change this. You wouldn't let this happen to me and I am sure as hell not going to let this happen to you."

I reached for him then and this time he didn't push me away.

A/N: I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter. I realize that this piece is highly emotional and not filled with romance but all of this is leading up to that!
Your opinions are very much welcome, including constructive criticism just no flames! Thank you!


4. Chapter 4

Red Handed

Chapter Four

As a senior in high school about the only thing that I had to my name was that at some point in time I had nearly bitten off another boy's ear. Officially, I otherwise didn't exist. I liked it that way. No one bothered me because they feared me or simply didn't know that I existed. In a way I suppose I was invisible. But in a world of bullies, gossip, cliques, and stereotypes, who really wants to be noticed. Iggy, however, was relatively well-known at our school. For obvious reasons, he was noticed for his differences, he was also quite friendly, a nice guy – you might say – but also a troublemaker. I realize that I haven't painted him in this light throughout my confession but Iggy often found himself in the principal's office for harmless pranks, usually aided by Max's younger brother, Gazzy. Even though Iggy and I were on totally different pages socially, there was one thing in which we were the same.

We were both painfully single.

This of course, was only true to the outside world because to us, Iggy and I were very much – heh, I can't believe I'm saying this – in love. But anyway, I could tell that this was starting to drive Iggy crazy and, I mean, I don't really blame him for that but he had to understand my desire to remain an Unknown within the high school that we only had to suffer in for one last year. Coming out of the closet to the entire student body just sounded like a complete nightmare. So, when asked, we would simply deny holding any affection for someone of the opposite sex.

If Iggy hated anything, though, it was people lying to him, so when I denied him in front of other people he would remind me that in doing this I was either lying to him or to everyone else. Honestly though, I don't think he cared so much about the lie as the denial. It hurt him and one day he let me know exactly how it made him feel.

"Why can't you accept who you are," he asked me out of nowhere as we were walking to our favorite study spot, we were meeting the others to prepare for an English exam from hell.

"Excuse you," I mumbled.

I couldn't be too bothered with what he was saying because I was more intent on the fact that he was in one of his moods where he didn't want to use his cane or my arm, so I was busy making sure that he didn't kill himself. I don't even know why he did that but there were just days that he needed the freedom… Or some shit like that.

"I think you heard me," he retorted, his foot slipped on a pebble or something and he touched my arm to steady himself, he continued like nothing had happened. "Every time someone asks about you and relationships you write them off and pretend that there's absolutely nothing going on between us! How can you not just accept the fact that I'm gay, you're gay, and together we make a gay couple of perfect gay love?"

"Are you seriously going to give me a lecture on self-acceptance right now? Mr. I'm Blind but I Don't Need My Cane."

"Oh my god," he groaned dramatically.

Sometimes the way he used his cane made me think of those over-zealous magicians who make things appear out of thin air without any grace or mystery. More often than not he kept said cane in his back pocket – when in a good mood, he takes it out and says, "Wand at the ready!" – and when he whips it out he lets it unfurl at the same time, in effect it looks like he reached back and produced a full length cane from nothing. You don't see it, now you do.

"Okay, can you now accept my legitimacy as a blind guy," he asked sarcastically.


"So, say something!"

"Ig, you know why I don't tell people," I shrugged, "Why does it bother you so much?"

"You seriously want the truth?"


"Like the honest to god truth?"


"I mean, the entire, whole-"

"Iggy, would you just tell me," I interrupted, he could seriously go on for thirty minutes if you let him.

"It feels like you don't even want me. It feels like you're so desperate to save your nonexistent social life that I've just become carnage in the spoils of war," he stopped walking, he always does when he wants me to listen, "And you know what, Fang, I can't even come out to my own friends because if I do they're going to assume that you and I do things – because we DO! It's unfair for both of us but especially me. It sucks that I can't be honest about myself because you're so homophobic."

It felt like he'd punched me in the gut, "I'm not homophobic."

"Yea, Fang, you are."

He was staring somewhere around the middle of my chest, eyebrows raised, rocking back and forth with his cane. He wanted a reaction from me. Only thing was, I didn't know how to react, I didn't know what I was going to do or say, and in some ways, I think I wanted this to happen.


He blinked a few times, "Okay what?"

"Tell them."

I started walking away and for a moment I didn't care if he followed me or got lost or hit by a fucking car, he'd shaken my comfort zone and my defenses had gone up. Only problem with that was, I did care and a few feet later I stopped.

"You coming or not," I raised my voice so he could hear me, he still looked shocked.

He followed me, but neither of us made a sound.

Everyone sat at a round table in the café down the street from our high school and by everyone I mean Iggy, Max, Nudge, Dylan, and myself. We had our own little clique so to speak and that day we were actually feeling productive – probably because graduation was just around the corner and if we wanted to get out we actually had to do well this year. Even though we were supposed to be concentrating, I would look over at Iggy every once in a while. His fingers were like a stop-motion film and I knew it was because he was thinking.

"I need to say something," he finally said, everyone looked up and I could feel my heart jumping into my throat. He stood up and ran his fingers through his hair, "This may freak some of you out but I have to say it…"

"Go ahead, Igs," Nudge smiled hugely, her brown eyes wide, "Is this about you being gay?"

He tilted his head, mouth open wide, Max elbowed Nudge in the side and Dylan blushed violently. I didn't react because that's what they expected of me.

"How did you- I- Well, yea."

"I'm so glad you've finally come out to us," Nudge hopped up from her seat and walked around the table to give Iggy a hug, he hugged her back but he still looked like he was lost in some other parallel universe in which he understood nothing. Were my heart not beating so painfully I would've laughed at his face.

"How long have you guys known," he still looked confused but relief was softening the edges of his mouth, "I mean, I thought I hid it pretty well."

"You did but I mean, you've shot down every girl who's ever asked you out, you don't even react when they flirt with you," Max rolls her eyes and gives Iggy's hand a pat, "We guessed that there was something you weren't telling us but we couldn't be sure."

"I honestly don't think you hid it that well," Dylan chimed in matter-of-factly.

"So, so, so," Nudge said over Dylan, interrupting as usual, "Is there anyone you have your sights set on?"

He blushed and my heart beat a little faster, he was nervous, his knee knocked against mine beneath the table, "Nah, though maybe actually having sights would help."

They laughed and I tried to join them but I couldn't bring myself to do so. Max kicked my foot beneath the table and looked at me with wide eyes. She thought that I was upset – I probably looked upset, maybe freaked out – and I was, but not for the reasons that she thought. Perhaps she thought that I was weird-ed out by the fact that my best friend had just stepped out of the proverbial closet, that he made me uncomfortable. This idea made me angry. Was I so inattentive that my friends couldn't believe for one moment that I was Iggy's boyfriend? Was I so distant and unaffectionate that they really couldn't see how much I cared about him?

As my friends sat across the table and fawned over my boyfriend, trying to set him up with some guy or another whom they heard preferred men to women, something sparked in me. It was small at first but with each name laid out on the table, it burned hotter and hotter until it boiled over and bubbled out of my mouth.

"Iggy is my boyfriend," I heard myself say, loudly and with convicted annoyance.

My hand was clasped over his and everyone's eyes were trained on me, wide and disbelieving, all except for Iggy whose head was tilted towards me with a small smile curving his lips. I can't tell you how good it felt just to know that my friends officially knew and that I didn't have to hide that from them anymore. At first there were a couple of awkward chuckles like I was joking or something but as I stared each one of them down they started realizing just how serious I was.

Noise erupted around me, everyone started talking at once, except for Max. I didn't expect her to react the way that she did but as she walked off I couldn't help but follow after her, leaving the others staring at our backs.

"Max," I called as she tried to disappear down the street, "Max, wait!"

She kept moving but I wasn't about to give up. Eventually she ducked into a dead-end, one that she knew was a dead-end, and I followed her. She was leaning against the wall, biting her lip to keep it still but I didn't understand her reaction.

"Max, what's going on," I asked softly as I reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, she wouldn't look at me, "Come on, Max, why are you acting this way?"

"Oh I don't know," she replied with this awful sadness in her voice, "Maybe I feel like I'm losing something-"

"Losing something," I repeated and took a step back, she looked at me with brown eyes drowned in tears, "What are you talking about? We haven't been together in years."

"That doesn't mean anything," she almost shouted, pacing in front of me, "If there was anything in this world that I counted on having in the future it was you, Fang, you!"


"Yea you," she took a deep staggering breath, "I just knew that if things didn't work out in ten years and we were both alone we would at least have each other, we would have a backup! Don't you remember, Fang, don't you remember that promise that we made each other?"

I nodded, feeling my own emotions as they caught up with me. It was freezing outside so I shoved my hands in my pockets because I simply didn't know what to do with them – should I touch her, hold her, stop her from pacing dents in the sidewalk, I didn't know, so I did nothing.

"God, I just-" she took another breath, this time it shook the trees in a heavy wind, "I just thought that I would always have you… Always. Now- well, now I don't."

"That's not true, Max," I said softly, "That's completely not true."

"Don't say that, Fang, because you can't mean it – It's not that I'm not happy for you- I am- I just-"

"Hey, hey," I finally took my hands out of my pockets and pressed them to Max's cheeks, forcing her to look at me with those ridiculously big brown eyes, "Just because I'm with someone doesn't mean that I'm not going to be there for you always. Besides-" she tried to look away but I stopped her, "You won't need me. You have everything to look forward to."

She looks at me for a long time and finally a smile toys with the left side of her mouth, "I can't believe I never realized how gay you are until now."

I rolled my eyes but smiled. That's the Max I know and love.

Two days later – this morning, actually – Iggy wasn't at his house when I got there to pick him up for school, I walked through his house, just to be sure but he wasn't there. That had only happened once before and it was because he had a doctor's appointment that he'd forgotten to tell me about. I can't say what it was but this time it felt different. Something was wrong.

Turns out he'd decided to start out for school without me. I caught up with him at the edge of the first crosswalk over the double intersection. I can't say for sure but I'm almost positive that he was waiting for me. Once I was beside him I tapped the back of his hand just in case he didn't already know that it was me. I looked up, he was wearing shades – Iggy never wears shades.

"I think it's been four light changes since I got here," he chuckled, his hand sliding up my arm, "I almost went across once but then I decided that I like my limbs too much to risk it."

"You left early," I noted, I figured while he was distracted I could take a better look at his face, "Usually I have to drag your ass out of bed-" that's when I noticed it, the discolored skin beneath his left eye.

"Couldn't sleep today," he shrugged, "'Sides, I figured I'd come out and tackle this crosswalk before I had too much of an audience but like I said – limbs and all that."

"Mm. What's with the shades?"

"Well, I'm blind so I figured I may as well fulfill my stereotype," he smiles but I can see beneath it, "At first I thought about getting a dog but then I remembered that they shit all over the place and you have to feed them… Although, I guess if you don't feed them they won't shit all over the place."

We crossed the street to the next crosswalk in the middle of the road, "Why won't you tell me?"

"I really don't want to talk about this," he said, his grip on my arm was loosening.

"I don't understand why you won't tell me," I retorted and grabbed his elbow when he dropped mine.

Eventually the light changed and we finished our trek across the street, in some ways I wish we'd never gotten there because by then we weren't speaking.

I went through most of today thinking about what exactly I had done wrong but I could think of nothing. Then I decided that I really had done nothing. This time it was all Iggy. For the last few months – years, really – I thought that we'd gotten everything on the table but apparently he still didn't trust me. Looking back on it now maybe he was right, maybe if I hadn't found out things would be different now but the past is the past.

I decided to skip my homeroom today, can't say why, just kind of knew that I had to. The sound reached my ears as I rounded the corner to the next hall – the sound of a body against metal lockers.

"What's with the shades, Griffiths," Ari's voice rumbles, my pace picked up speed but I slowed down after what he said next, "Jesus, Griffiths, looks like someone got to you first. The fuck happened to you? Did your boyfriend hit you?"

Ari had plucked Iggy's sunglasses from his face and take a step away to look at the carnage that was my boyfriend's eye. It was so swollen that he couldn't even open it and there was a cut near on the outer side of his socket. Once again I felt that anger swell up in my stomach, burning up my organs and the part of my brain that issues control over my anger. I just couldn't – can't – understand how anyone could hurt him like that.

"Back off, Batchelder," I called to Ari, he turned to look at me and I'd never seen the look on his face before – pity. He, the guy who messed with Iggy since day one, felt badly for the way Iggy was being treated at home.

"Whatever," Ari grinned, for the first time with no malice behind it, "I don't want to catch a glimpse of fag sex or anything."

As he walked by he pressed Iggy's glasses into my stomach.

"Are you happy," Iggy asked me as I walked up, he dropped to his knees to systematically search the floor for his cane – most likely dropped when Ari body slammed him against the lockers. He was nowhere close so I lowered to his level before handing it to him.

"Happy about what, Ig?"

"Really? Don't play games with me right now," he huffed and stood back up, "You have my sunglasses?"

I pressed them to the back of his hand, "I'm not playing games with you. Tell me what happened, please?"

"Fine, you want to know what happened," he laughed – I still don't know why he laughed, "I came out to my dad last night. Yea, I wanted to be honest with him- but you know, I don't know what I expected! I don't know why I was so stupid. I heard him stand up from the couch and go to the kitchen so I stood up, about to follow him and next thing I know I'm laid out on the floor – guess you could say I never saw it coming."

"That's it," I mumbled more to myself than to him, "We're leaving, you're going to stay with me for a while-"

"No, see this is why I left early this morning, I didn't want you to react this way and I was trying to avoid my father before he left for work," he shook his head, "Look, I know that you care about me and I- I don't know what I'd do without you, I really don't. But I need my independence-"

"What does your independence have to do with staying with me for a few nights so your dad doesn't beat the shit out of you?!"

"What do you think is going to happen after those 'few nights' that I'm not at home," he was shouting at me by then, something he hardly ever does. "Nick! I only have to survive for a few more months and then I can graduate and go to college and leave this life behind, then and only then can I have any peace and I know that. I need you to know that, too."

"You don't have to go back," I said quietly, once again I found myself trying to catch his gaze, an impossible task, but this was so important, I needed him to understand, "Just stay with me until school is over and then we can get out of here for good-" he tried to speak but I spoke over him, there were only a few minutes left before the bell went off and school was over, "I need you to trust me, James, I just- I don't want to find you dead in your house one day. Please?"

He bit his lip, his hand found my shoulder, thumb found my neck. I had him where I needed him to be. The bell erupted from above our heads and I closed my eyes against the close call. Iggy slipped his shades back on and folded up his cane as his fingers found his favorite belt loop.

"Let's do this."

This is where everything started falling apart.

I met Iggy at his house at five-thirty, about an hour before his dad was scheduled to get home. I stepped into his bedroom but when I flipped the light switch nothing happened. Seems once again I'd forgotten to hit the switch before I left his room the last time I was there. It's winter so the sun was already down, no light came through the windows and I could only make out silhouettes in his room.

"Iggy, the bulb is burnt so I'm going to go the basement and get another one," I said, backing out of his cavernous bedroom.

"Okay," he answered quietly, I think the weight of what we were doing was starting to dawn on him, "Most everything's packed anyways."

Why the fuck did it matter if the bulb was out? We were leaving anyways.

I didn't expect what happened next, I didn't plan it. It was all instinct, that I can swear.

I heard a door slam and footsteps on the floor above me, I didn't think it would be him, I mean, he wasn't supposed to be home for another hour! I- I thought it was just Iggy, that he was thirsty or something but- I was wrong.

When I got back up from the basement I could hear them upstairs, yelling, things were crashing. I just acted- most everything from here is- well it's confusing. For some reason Mr. Griffiths got off early and came home and when he saw Iggy packing he was pissed – I don't know the details. They ended up in the hallway and by the time I got upstairs Iggy was- he was unconscious! There was blood everywhere- Oh god, there was so much blood- and well, his face was messed up, he was- the blood-

I went after him. I just- I lost it.

Once I started I couldn't stop. He was- he had- I was so angry, so hurt, I thought he was gone- dead- I mean I still don't-

Okay, after I started hitting him things get blurry.

Sure he fought back, but I was stronger, angrier. I had something- someone to fight for.

Next thing I knew Mr. Griffiths was beneath me. My hands were loosening around his throat.

He was dead.

A/N: Alright people! One more chapter and this prelude fic is finished!

Let me know what you think thus far?!

5. Chapter 5

Red Handed


The detective who sits across from me looks perplexed, like he isn't quite sure what to make of everything I've told him. Every word has been the truth, though, and all I want to do now is sleep because I'm so fucking exhausted. But there is one thing, one thing that I have to know before I can allow myself the escape of sleep.

"Is he okay, Iggy, I mean, is he alive," I brace myself for the answer because I don't think I can handle bad news, not about this.

"I'm not sure," he says, I think his name is Jackson, last name at least. "I'll go try to find out, can I get you anything? Soda, sandwich, cigarettes?"

I shake my head because words are beyond me.

Once Jackson has left the room I look around, everything seems so surreal and I can see myself everywhere. There is nowhere to hide from me – the one way window spits my own face back at me. At this point I don't even recognize myself, that boy in the mirror is young, innocent, maybe too old for his age but that's life. Me? I'm a murderer. I took another man's life, stole a soul, watched the light go out in his eyes. I am a monster!



I look down to the table but there I am again, reflected in the stainless steel. I close my eyes and bury my face in my arm but just as I start to drift off the interrogation room door opens and closes.

"James Griffiths is still alive," Jackson says and despite myself, despite where I am and how I feel, a laugh jumps out of my throat – he's alive, that's what matters. "He's in serious condition, there was some brain trauma and internal bleeding but he's stable in the ICU. You saved him."

Everything rushes out of me – fear, anger, pain, confusion. Iggy is alive and I can't help but feel relief through every inch of my body. Earlier, when my hands finally loosened around that man's neck, when I finally remembered that there was a reason I was so feral, I saw Iggy laying in blood, so still – too still. Ice water had been injected into my veins, freezing my heart to the shattering point. To know that he is alive is warmth – is life.

"We're going to process you though the system," Jackson says, he sits on the corner of the table to my left and looks down on me with pity, in this moment I know that in my shoes he would've done the same thing, "Do you have any questions?"

"Only one," I say, "What's going to happen to Iggy now?"

The look on Jackson's face can be no better described than surprised, "His aunt. They've contacted his aunt, seems she wanted to take custody of James since her sister passed. He's going to be fine. You should be more worried about yourself."

I honestly don't care what happens to me. The guilt in my chest fills my lungs and discolors my blood and the only thing that can siphon it out is time and punishment. I couldn't stand to be around anyone I care about, not even my drug addicted uncle. I have committed the worst violation against nature and no matter how desperately I want to move on, my conscience won't let me.


The gavel drops and my life for the next five years has been decided.

I turn to look at Iggy in the gallery. He looks upset even though all the swelling in his face hasn't gone down. There's a wheelchair just outside the doors for him, he's still having some problems balancing and he's been having some issues with dizziness but he refused to be wheeled in because that's who he is. I'm just so glad to see him. I wish he could see me.

The bailiff nods to the police officers who're waiting to take me away and my heart pounds heavily in my chest. For the first time since I killed Iggy's dad I feel scared. Fuck that, I'm terrified. By the time I get out, I'll be almost twenty-four years old. Max, who's sitting beside Iggy, catches my eye and everything I see in her face is surely reflected in mine. Tears actually run down my face, I'm shaking like a leaf, I feel like I could pass out at any moment – this is me, this is my life changing.

Where will my friends be when I get out?

Will Iggy still love me after I've been in prison for five years?

Will I recognize myself?

All of these questions and thousands more are running through my brain but as the officers take me closer and closer to the side door they also take me closer and closer to the one thing in the world that matters to me most.

"Iggy," his name leaves my lips as I pass him, close enough to touch were it not for the cuffs and as they take me through the door I can see him stand, Max's hand on his arm.

The door closes, makes him disappear.

My sentence has begun.

A/N: I realize that it's short! But this is just the beginning of a rather long fic! I'm really, really excited for some of the stuff to come. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and review, it means so much to me!

The sequel to this fic will be posted on my other site along with many more Figgy fics! It's called Sandy Angels!

Till then!