Regrets and Wishes by Quill and Saber

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Angst, Sci-Fi
Published:2006-06-04 13:14:20
Updated:2006-06-04 13:14:20
Packaged:2021-04-22 03:24:11
Summary:Max thinks about the things she took away from the Flock and what she thinks they want. Oneshot.

Regrets and Wishes

Regrets and Wishes

Disclaimer: I do not own either of the Maximum Ride books. This story was written for my own enjoyment (and yours, hopefully) and not for financial gain.

AKA: Don't sue me, please; I have no money.

All we do is fly, eat, and sleep. It's not the ideal life by any means, but if you compare it to being eaten alive by human-lupine hybrids, it's pretty good.

But I owed the Flock so much more than a life on the run. Which we were back in, once again, as I led them out of Florida to God-knows-where.

Angel is just a kid—my baby. Not literally a baby, of course, but to be six and flying for your life every waking moment? She can't just be normal and relax or she'd die. I wouldn't fell so badly about dragging her around the country if she didn't know—if I didn't know—what her life should have been like if she didn't have wings. But we did know; the entire flock knew. We all had a glorious taste of normal life with Anne in Virginia where the worst problems were getting your homework and keeping your room clean and where problems about finding food and shelter and simply staying alive were irrelevant. That marvelous memory, that unreachable vision of not being hungry and tired and of not having to fear for your life for two minutes, is just a dream now.

Gazzy was also a little kid, but he's a big brother. One of his instinctive responsibilities is watching over his little sister. I know how it feels to not be able to protect what you love, your wishes aside. It sticks around like guilt, but sucker-punches you every once in a while when the one you love gets hurt, especially if you know in your head that you couldn't have done anything to prevent it but your heart screams that you could have, should have been able to protect her. Gazzy feels responsible for Angel's kidnapping; I know it. He couldn't have done anything against those Erasers, but he asks himself if he had just kicked a little harder, just punched a little more, would she have been captured? I know he asks himself this. Because I've asked myself the same things millions of times, and I can't answer them and will never be able to answer them.

Nudge lost the most once we left Anne's. Nudge had a group of friends whom she liked and who liked her back. She had a type of camaraderie with those three girls (whose names to this day I don't know) that she had never experienced before. The bonds between groups of people who are forced together for survival are different than those between groups of people who just want to be together. The Flock could never provide Nudge with those types of friends that she so desperately needed. For all those long years, she never said anything about that loneliness within the group. We hadn't chosen her; Fate did, and she has been well aware of that. What hurts me is that I can't do anything about it. I can't give her back those friendships that we snatched from her.

Iggy needs us. We keep teasing him about being blind and heap upon him responsibilities that he is bewildered by. I mean, how did he figure out how to cook, being blind? One day I just threw some pancake mix at him and asked him to figure out how to make some. He didn't remind me he was blind; he went to Fang and asked him to read aloud the instructions. Ever since, he's been the official Flock cook. It's like the tests back at the School—once you prove you can do something once, they make you do it again, and again, and again, until they find your limit. Unwittingly, we were just as bad to Iggy as the whitecoats were, only our method of torture wasn't physical pain; it was betrayal. We turned into the very monsters we claimed to save him from. And for some reason, he's never protested that. He's been strong and silent and we've just taken advantage of him for years. I guess it's because he needs us.

Fang. I think I've been cruelest to him, of all the flock. We forced him to spread so thin I'm surprised he's still able to keep it all up. Fang is Angel's "uncle," Gazzy's and Nudge's guiding older brother, and Iggy's eyes. He's my unwilling second-in-command that I've scared by nearly making him leader too many times to count. He's the shoulder I've cried on when things look hopeless for me, and I haven't considered how bleak it looks for him too. Out of all of us, he's nearly died the most times. And every time he recovers, I rely on him even more. It wasn't until recently until I realized that some mortal injury in the future might indeed be fatal. Could I watch the light in his eyes grow dim and not feel responsible for his death? No; I couldn't. Ari attacked him twice for no reason other than because Fang tried to defend me. Both times Fang was badly wounded, once to the point of near death. The first time I could do nothing, but the second time… I could have told him to not risk his life for me! I could have done much for him to save him from pain and fear, but I haven't done it because I'm unwilling to cause myself pain; I haven't even done anything to give him what he really needs. He needs to leave us, not attached to a Flock he doesn't think he belongs in. If you were to ask my mind, it would say that there are both advantages and disadvantages to letting him leave, but if you were to ask my heart, it would say I don't want to give him up, that I need him.

"Max?" I was shaken from my reverie by a warm hand on my shoulder. Fang. It had to be him. "Are you all right? You haven't said a word since we set up camp." I didn't reply.

"Max," he said with more insistence. "I know something's up. Tell me." He came around to face me, searching my face with his black eyes.

"I'm just so sorry!" I blurted out. "You guys have suffered so much, and I haven't been able to help at all!"

"Listen to me," Fang said firmly. "Life hasn't been a piece of cake for us, and yeah, it's been pretty bad at times. But you've done everything in your power to keep us alive, and that's not easy considering the opposition."

"It isn't the life you all deserve," I muttered.

"What do you think we deserve?" Fang asked. From his tone, I could tell he wanted a good, honest answer.

"Angel and Gazzy deserve parents who love them and wouldn't consider giving them away for anything. Nudge deserves to have friends like she did with Anne. Iggy deserves his sight back. And you—" I almost choked, "you deserve to be somewhere you don't have to be strong all the time."

He didn't say anything for a long time. Suddenly, he said, "What do you think you deserve?"

I was taken aback. "I—I don't know. I know what I want, but I don't know if I deserve it."


"Well…I want to not have to keep everyone running. I want to not have to worry about whether we're going to be able to feed the Flock the next day. I want the entire flock to be safe and happy." And while we're at it, let's add in a unicorn and world peace and faeries…

"I mean for yourself, Max, not the entire Flock."

"I want to not have to feel sorry for all I've done to you because of this chip—"

"—that is going to stay in your arm unless you get surgery done by a professional!" Fang interrupted.

"I know! I want to be able to feel safe. I want to be able to settle down somewhere we can all be safe together." I hugged my thighs close to my stomach, letting my head drop and eyes close. "I want to know I'm doing the right thing, and all I seem to know is that I could do so much better."

"Max, you're doing fine as leader."

"Really?" I half-opened one eye.

"Really. You're doing right by us."

"You're not joking?"

"Do I sound like I'm joking?" he said, a touch of impatience in his voice.

"No," I said softly. "Not at all."




"What do you want?" To be truthful, I didn't expect an honest answer. To be brutally honest, I don't think I expected him to answer at all. But he was Fang, and Fang doesn't lie or not answer when I ask a serious question.

"I want to be safe. I want to never see another Eraser in my life. I want us all to be able to just go save the world and then settle down together and become invisible, like almost everyone else in the world."

Together. He said the word together. Was he serious? I opened my eye all the way. Yes, he looked absolutely serious. Nothing to indicate a joke was in his face.

"It all seems so impossible," I whispered. "I-"

"Not. Another. Word." Fang said slowly, deliberately, and just menacing enough to make me stop talking right away. "You said I shouldn't have to be strong all the time. Max, my purpose in life is to be strong for the Flock. For you. Just as your purpose is to save the world; just as Iggy's purpose is to show us how much the world needs help; just as Angel's purpose is to remind you that the world is worth the saving; just as Nudge's purpose is to help us be happy once in a while; just as Gazzy's purpose is to remind you that you're important. Do you get it?" I nodded. Well, I nodded as much as I could with my forehead digging into my knees.

Then came one of those un-Fang yet strangely Fang-like moments: he took one arm and placed it over my shoulders, holding me close enough so I could feel the warmth and strength radiating from his inner self. I slowly started to uncurl: first my arms, then my right leg, then the left, until I could turn around and hug him back. It was in that moment that I knew that I had done something right, and that everything could be all right in the end, and that we may eventually get what we want and deserve.

It's a nice dream, after all.