Sir, Yes, Sir by lavalamp29

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Humor, Romance
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2010-11-19 18:37:10
Updated:2012-12-26 20:41:01
Packaged:2021-04-04 12:58:46
Summary:Fang's dad is the head of the country's best boot camp. Fang wants to prove to his dad that he is the perfect son. The camp acquires the worst trouble maker, Max, and Fang is assigned to whip her into shape. Will he be able to tame Max? FAX! DUH!

Table of Contents

1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12
13. Chapter 13
14. Chapter 14
15. Chapter 15
16. Chapter 16
17. Chapter 17
18. Chapter 18
19. Chapter 19
20. Chapter 20
21. Chapter 21
22. Chapter 22

1. Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


I shifted in the plastic chair in anticipation. The general never summons me and when he does, it's usually to tell me about what a great man he was and to question where he went wrong with me.

You see, the general is my father, but I never referred to him as anything other than 'the general' because he was far from earning the title of 'father'. When he is not overseas, he is the head at the Florida Behavioral Correction Camp or simply put, a boot camp. The camp takes on thousands of kids around the world and is known to be the best.

Growing up with the general was difficult and my mother passed when I was five. I practically grew up in a boot camp. I was up at six for exercise and lessons, taught by the general. Then it was chores around the house until lights out at eleven.

The general was tough, but that only made me tougher. I have mastered an emotionless mask that was impenetrable, even by the old man himself.

Now here I am, eighteen and still worrying what the general could possible want with me now. I looked down at my usual cargo pants and black t-shirt. I checked to make sure nothing was wrinkled or out of place because God knows that I will never hear the end of it if there was so much as a fuzz on my shirt.

"Private Amersham, General Amersham will see you now," Ms. Thompson informed me.

I looked up to see the general's secretary standing by the open door, waiting for me. She was wearing her tan skirt that went passed her knees and her tan jacket to match. Her face was always wrinkled in distaste, which didn't surprise me, considering that she was still single at the age of thirty.

I stood up from my chair and stood stick straight. I walked past Ms. Thompson and into the general's office. He was sitting in his chair behind the desk, working on paper work. I stood tall with my feet together and saluted him like I had every morning of my life. "General, sir," I said loud enough for him to hear.

"At ease, private," He responded, not looking up from his papers. I drop my hand and spread my legs, which to me wasn't 'at ease' at all, but who am I to correct him. "Take a seat," he nodded to the chair, still not looking up from his papers.

Another thing about the general, he never referred to me by my name. I use to be cadet, but now I'm private. I am only just a rank to him. Always have been and always will be.

I did as I was told and sat straight up in the chair to my right. I sat patiently until he was finished with whatever paper work he was doing.

I looked around his office to pass the time. It, like every room in our house, was in pristine order. Everything had been dusted, every book was alphabetized, and all his papers were stacked neatly upon his desk. The wall behind his desk was loitered with metals of his many accomplishments and pictures of him and other important politicians.

"How long have you been away?" he asked, breaking the silence.

He was referring to the camp I had attended in preparation for the army reserved. Personally, I kicked ass, but I have been doing the same drills since I was twelve.

"Three months, sir," I responded, but this time not so loud.

"What was your take on the camp?"

"Exceptional," was all I could say.

The general nodded, "Lieutenant Charles told me you breezed through the training and shattered records."

I nodded in conformation. I felt some hope boil up in me; maybe he was going to praise me for my hard work.

My hopes were shattered when he said, "There's dirt on your shoe."

I look down and sure enough, there was a small streak of dried mud at the tip of my black combat boot. How he was able to spot it without looking up, I will never know. I looked back up to see the general looking at me. The same dark eyes that I had inherited looked right back at me.

"Today, we are gaining a new attendant. Says she's been to thirteen different discipline camps and none have been successful," he informed me in a very business manner. Looking at this scene, you wouldn't have guessed that this was a conversation between a father and son.

She? Wow, this girl must be hardcore. Probably a spoiled brat too because boot camps aren't cheap.

"I would assign her to a group, but she has a history of breaking young women's noses and kicking young men in," he uncomfortably cleared his throat, "the lower region."

I choked back a chuckle at his discomfort. He looked at me disapprovingly before continuing. "I am assigning her to you. You are to teach her to be disciplined and respectful. I expect you to be able to handle one girl by yourself,"

"Yes, sir," I said with a confident nod.

"She's waiting outside for you. Get her settled and start training today." The general said, leaning back into his chair. "Dismissed,"

Without a second thought, I stood from my chair and stiffly walked to the door. I had my hand on the doorknob when I heard the general's voice from behind me.

"And private," he said as I turned around, "don't disappoint me," he said before turning back to the paper work in front of him.

Once again, I nodded and opened the door with a turn of the knob. I closed the door and let out the breath I didn't know I was holding. I realized, as much as I wish I could deny it, that I cared a lot of what the general thought of me.

I started to walk down the hall with a new sense of determination in my step. He was giving me a chance to prove myself and I will not fail.

I opened the double doors with my head held high. The light streamed into the dreary hall, illuminating the grey walls. I stepped down the stone steps and looked around to find my new cadet.

I just realized that I forgot to ask what the girl's name was. I debated going back in there to ask, but thought better of it.

I scanned the large grassy area in front of me. There were many different groups training and doing team activities. Some were running and others on the obstacle course.

Then I spotted her off to the right. She was sitting, with her long legs crossed, on her black suitcase across the drop off lane that was in front of the building. I'm guessing when the car dropped her off, she just sat down. She was wearing ripped jean shorts and a plain purple tank top. Her arms were crossed, but I could tell that she had a very athletic body. Her dirty blonde hair hung loosely on her shoulders as she continued to look around the camp.

I started to walk toward her and it wasn't till I was a few yards away from her that I saw how breathtaking she was. She locked eyes with me and looked me up and down.

"Come on, Sunshine. Let's get this over with. I've got plans this weekend back in Arizona," she called to me, standing up.

Sunshine? "Private Amersham," I introduced myself while extending my hand to her.

She kept her arms crossed and just looked at my hand, "Max," she simply replied.

I retracted my hand and returned it to my side, "This way to the dorms," I said as I took off toward the girl dorms, "there you will unpack. You might want to cancel your plans for this weekend because you'll be here for a while," I said over my shoulder.

I looked back to see Max jogging to catch up to me, suitcase in hand. I stopped to wait for her to catch up. Once she was by my side again, I took off towards the dorms.

She let out an irritated huff, but kept up this time. "So how old are you? My past drill sergeants have been, well, older."

"Eighteen," I answered shortly.

"What?" I turned around to see Max had stopped walking and was staring at me with wide eyes. "I'm seventeen."

"Your point?" I asked in a bored voice.

"My point is," she stressed, "that's one year older than me! I don't take orders from anyone, much less someone who is one year older than me!" she said, exasperated.

I shrugged and kept on walking. As you can tell I'm a man of very few words.

Max huffed again and picked her bags up. "You know, a gentleman usually carries the lady's bags," she voiced from behind me.

"And ladies usually don't find themselves at a behavioral correction camp," I countered.

She didn't say anything after that. We reached the girl dorms and I escorted her to her room. I held up her keys to her dorm room in front of her face. She snatched them roughly from my hand with a very annoyed look on her face.

I turned to leave when I felt Max tug on my arm to stop me. I turned to look at her questioningly.

"What do I call you?" she asked, releasing my arm.

"Private Amersham," I said in a duh voice. Didn't I tell her my name already?

She looked up thoughtfully and tried out my name. "You have a first name?"

"Yes," I replied vaguely.

"Are you gonna tell me, stickers?" she asked me as if she was talking to a five year old.

"Nope and what's with the nicknames?" I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.

She shrugged and placed her key in the lock, "Just till I find a more suitable nickname."

I was about to retaliate when I came face to face with her door. "Meet me out front when you have changed into your training gear," I said through the door.

"Can't wait," she shouted, sarcastically.

Shaking my head, I made my way down the hall to the exit. I sighed when I had walked through door. This Max doesn't seem to bad. I'll just breeze through this like I breezed through my training.

There's not much to really say, but REVIEW! Tell me if you think the story line is interesting or if it has been done way too many times before. This is my second fanfic so be brutal if you have to.

Peace out!

2. Chapter 2

QUICK UPDATE, RIGHT? What can I say, your reviews inspired me…NO JOKE! I certainly didn't expect to get this kind of response. I'm glad you all like the plot and thanks for all the reviews! ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"Meet me out front when you have changed into your training gear," Private Amersham said through the door. Yeah, I refer to him by his fancy shamancy title in my head and not aloud.

"Can't wait," I shouted back, sarcastically.

I dropped my bags and looked around the depressing room. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, was grey. The walls, shelves, pillows, blankets, carpet, lamp, furniture, and even the ceiling was grey! These people need a new decorator…

I was sooo consumed by all the grey that I didn't notice a girl sitting on the bed across the room. She has really curly brown hair and mocha colored skin. Her eyes were lit up and she was biting her bottom lip.

She opened her mouth and I just knew that she was a talker…lovely (Note the sarcasm). "Hi! I'm Monique, but people call me Nudge and this is the wonderful room 134 of the Florida boot camp. I know the grey is a lot to take in. The first time I walked through that door, I fainted. LEGIT! I fainted and sent a complaint to the general about the color pallet and what it is doing to my health. By the way, what are you here for?" she tilted her head to the side in question.

I always have something to say, but once that girl opened her mouth, I was speechless. My mouth was opened and my eyes were bugging out.

"OH NO" Nudge cried, worriedly. "I knew I was going to scare you! Ugh, even Angel warned me and I just go and screw it up!"

"So, she talks to angles. No big deal," I said more to myself as I sat down on my bed. I had recovered enough to sit on my bed, but I was still amazed that someone could talk that much and so fast.

She must have heard me because she snorted, "No, Angel is my friend,"

She opened her mouth to say more, but thought better of it and shut her mouth. Huh, smart girl.

We sat in silence for a second before I remembered her question, "I'm here because my parents can't handle me," I said with an indifferent shrug.

"Oh," Nudge said, thoughtfully, "I'm here because I've hacked into one too many security programs," she finished with a sheepish smile.

I'm not gonna lie, I was impressed. I told her this and she blushed. "It's really easy. I've hacked into my school computer to change my grades and one time I hacked into the mall security cameras to freeze their cameras so I could sneek into Stacy's Shoes. It was a success."

"You know, I could use someone like you," I said, my mind drifting to all the possible damage I could do with someone like Nudge on my side…ahh, endless possibilities.

I snapped out of my evil scheming when I realized I didn't introduce myself. I extended my hand and said, "I'm Max, by the way."

"Yeah I know," she responded, but shook my hand anyway.

I raised an eyebrow in question at her, How'd she know my name? "I hacked into the database to do a little research on my new roomy!" she said in a duh voice.

I didn't know whether to be flattered or creeped out…probably the latter. "So what do you know about Private Amersham?" I asked Nudge because she probably knows everything about everyone.

"I know he'll beat your butt if you're not out there soon," she said while throwing me a pair of clothes.

I looked down to see the same cargo pants Sticker's was wearing out there and a grey t-shirt with the camp's name on it. Below the name, it said Excellence is no Accident. WOW! That's cheesy…

I held up the enormous t-shirt and grimaced. Nudge giggled at my expression and added, "I also complained about the uniform."

I looked back at her and remembered the pocketknife I packed. No, I don't use it as a weapon because I'm not some crazy psycho! Jeez, give me a break people. I unzipped my duffle and pulled out my purple pocketknife.

You'd think they'd search your bags once you arrived…

"Ah! Sharp!" Nudge squealed and tried to put as much distance as she could between us.

I smirked to myself, which probably freaked her out even more. Ignoring her, I turned to my cargo pants and sliced through the material. I cut the leg so that they were cargo shorts that reached about two inched above my knee.

Next, I grabbed that awful grey shirt and cut through it relentlessly. I cut the about five inches off the hem so it actually covered only half an inch of my shorts. I cut the sleeves off and cut the armholes a little wider because it was freaking HOT out there.

And, NO, I was not referring to Private, although he is kinda cute and has really nice muscles…

AHHH! Awkward! I'm swooning over my drill sergeant!

Anyways, I pulled my new shirt over my purple tank top and slipped on my new shorts. I turned toward the floor length mirror behind the door and took in my appearance. Much better, I thought.

I pulled my hair up in a ponytail and looked at Nudge. She was looking at me with wide eyes and a frightened expression on her face. What can I say? I have that effect on people.

"Well, better not keep Sunshine waiting. See ya around, Nudge," I called over my shoulder as I made my way outside.


I wiped away the thin sheet of sweat that had collected on my forehead. I understand that girls take awhile to get ready and all, but we're just going to be doing the obstacle course! I doubt she needs make up for that.

I let out a frustrated sigh. Where is she? I screamed in my head.

I looked toward the dorms again and watched as the door swung open to reveal Max in her…uniform? She had cut her pants so that they were shorts and cut the sleeves of her shirt.

As she passed other training groups, guys would literally stop and stare at Max. I glared at them and wanted to go over there and punch their stupid, drooling mouths shut…

WAIT! Why do I even care? She is just like any other girl…

Max walked right up to me and gave me an innocent smile. "Explain," I said sternly, not falling for her innocent façade.

"So there was this bear…" she began before I raised my hand to stop her.

"You're not going to give me a straight answer, are you?" I questioned.

She looked up thoughtfully for a second before looking back to me, "Nope," she replied sweetly.

"Thought so," I said under my breath, "Ok, we're going to start with the obstacle course and I'll time you," I said louder to Max.

She looked over at the course behind me and made a disgusted face. "I'm not doing that," she said as she pointed over my shoulder.

I looked behind me to see a series of tires, the dreaded ten-foot wall, and the series of hurtles that she'd have to jump over. There was also my favorite bridge that was a foot off the ground that Max would have to crawl under…in the mud that was always wet…don't ask why.

"Yes, you are," I said as I took a step toward her. I was a good five inches taller so I was looking down at her. I used my height to scare people and towering over her, as I did, should have scare her into listening. Yeah, you heard me…Should have.

Instead, Max took a step toward me and glared with such intensity that it's make a grown man cower away in fear, but not me. I glared back with the same intensity, but she held her ground; not even flinching once.

We stood like that till I came to my senses and decided this was juvenile. I stepped back and wiped my face clear of emotions. Our eyes were still locked, but I decided to be the bigger person. "Run the trail," I ordered, nodding towards the sign that labeled the two mile trail that wrapped around the camp.

"You're joking," she stated, her eyebrows raised.

I looked down at my watch and started the timer. "Ten seconds in…" I said, tapping my watch.

Max let out a huff and jogged over to the trail.

I watched her retreating figure as she took off. It shouldn't take her long; it's just two miles. If she's out of shape, she'll be back in about twenty minutes…

One Hour Later…

IS SHE WALKING THE TRAIL! There is no way she could've gotten lost; all you have to do is FOLLOW THE TRAIL!

I was sitting in the grass when a car pulled up. Hmmm, we're not expecting anyone new..?

Then Max stepped out of the car.

I stood up as she waved to the car. The turned around and coolly walked over to me.

"Where were you?" I snapped.

"You know, that sounds like what an over protective boyfriend would say," she said with a shrug.

I continued to stare at her. She stared back at me and brought a drink up to her lips. It was then that I realized the cup in her hand with the name of a gas station, not far from here, on it.

"You went to the gas station for a drink?" I asked furious.

"Don't worry, Sprinkles. I got you a slushie," she said and handed me a cup with a bumpy blue liquid inside.

I looked down at it in disgust and grabbed her drink too. I walked over to the nearest trashcan and dropped the drinks into the black bag.

"Hey!" Max protested.

Ignoring her, I pointed to the obstacle course, "Now," I ordered.

"You really shouldn't have done that," Max said, seething.

I shrugged and looked at her indifferently. That seemed to make her even madder because she stomped over to the starting line.

I stood by the finish line and reset my watch. "Go!" I yelled to Max.

I watch as Max WALKED through the course. She got to the tires and lightly walked on the edges. She looked up at the wall, scoffed, then walked around in. She came up to the hurtles and decided to weave through the bars.

Even before she got to the bridge, I knew that Max would walk around it, but she surprised me. Instead, she moonwalked around it. When she moonwalked her way around the bridge, she walked across the finish line.

"Well, safe to say, even a pregnant snail could have beat you." I said, looking down at my watch, "It took you ten minutes to do a three minute course."

I looked down at Max, who had her hands on her knees and was breathing heavily. "Ten minutes of hard work, but it was worth it. Now, I'm covered in the sweat of a champion."

"And that's what you're going smell like for the rest of today and tomorrow,"

Max looked up at me confused. "I'm taking away you shower privilege for tonight," I elaborated.

"What?" Max snapped up from her hunched position.

I shrugged as I heard the dinner bell ring out. "It's not like you did anything today," I pointed out as I made my way to the mesh hall.

"We'll see about that," Max mumbled under her breath as she brushed past me.

I smirk at her frustrated face. Not if I have anything to say about it. I thought to myself.


3. Chapter 3

Ta Da! New chappie just like many of you requested. Thank you sooo much for all of your reviews and enjoy the new chapter. R&R

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


Psh! No shower privileges!I thought to myself.

Let's be honest here, Sprinkles is not coming between me and MY nice warm shower.

I was plotting some total intricate plan to sneak a shower when I heard someone call my name. Only then, did I realize that I had gotten a trey of some unidentifiable food and was standing in the front of the mesh hall, staring into space. Great, I probably look like an idiot.

"Max!" someone shouted again.

I whipped my head to the right to see Nudge standing on her chair and waving her hands frantically. Wow, this girl sure knows how to draw attention to herself…

I walked over to her table and sat next to her and a boy I had seen earlier doing a group run around the campus. Although Nudge is stalker potential and has a big mouth, I was glad I had someone to sit with.

"This is Iggy," Nudge pointed to the kid next to me, "and that's Gazzy and Angel," she pointed to the people across the table from me that looked oddly alike.

"He's my older brother," Angel pointed out, no doubt reading my mind.

Well, no point in introducing myself since Nudge practically introduced me to the whole camp. "So what are you all in here for?" I asked instead.

"Bombs," both Iggy and Gazzy said at the same time, identical devious smiles spread across their faces.

"I'm manipulative," Angel said sweetly.

"What about you?" Gazzy asked…wonder why his name is Gazzy…

I gave the same reason I gave Nudge, "Parents couldn't handle me," I said simply.

"And she was kicked outta thirteen other camps for punching people and because she has an attitude. She also pranked her last drill sergeant by glueing his hat to his head. And one time…" Nudge rambled before I stuffed a roll into her mouth.

"Huh, never thought about doing that," Iggy said, thoughtfully.

I shrugged, but they all continued to stare nervously at me. "Don't worry, I like you guys," I reassured them.

They all visibly relaxed except for Nudge, who removed the roll from her mouth and threw it at Iggy.

So, I have one computer hacker, two pyros, and a little girl who can talk her way in and out of anything. *sigh* All the possibilities.

I was poking at my food when I heard Angel say under her voice, "Her she comes."

I snapped my head up to see Angel looking at something behind me in disgust. I followed her line of vision to see another cadet walk into the mesh hall. She walked with her nose slightly in the air and her hair was a fiery red.

I turned back around to see Angel practically glaring at her. "She made me run extra today," she hissed.

"Ha! What for this time?" Gazzy asked, nudging Angel with his elebow.

"I don't even know! She just poked me in the chest and said 'run'." Angel explained, throwing her arms in the air.

"Who is she?" I asked, following her figure to the designated table for all the people who run the camp. I looked pointedly at Nudge because I know she's the one with the dirt.

An evil grin spread across her face as she began, "That's Lissa and she's the daughter of the general's assistance. She thinks she's better than everyone…" she droned on.

I looked down at my food again. There was some brown mush here and some green slime that looked like it came out of someone's nostril. I was poking at the food when I was pulled out of my trance.

"…and she's like totally hung up on Private Amersham. They'll probably end up together," she finished with a gasp of breath.

Hmmm…I discretely looked over my shoulder to see Giggles was leaning back in his chair next to Lissa. She was whispering in his ear, but he just stared straight ahead.

That's what bugged me about Private, he was just soooo unemotional. Like right now. I couldn't tell whether he like this Lissa girl or not; he just crossed his arms over his black shirt.

I was trying to analyze his reactions when his eyes found mine. I stared into his dark eyes and waited for him to look away, but he just stared back. He raised one eyebrow at me as I continued to stare back.

"Max!" Nudge shook my shoulder.

I turned toward her and gave her a sheepish smile, "Yeaaah…" I dragged out.

"I said," Nudge said rolling her eyes, "how is it with Private Amersham?"

"Lovely," was all I could say.


Coast is clear. I looked down at my watch to read that it was two o'clock in the morning. I had my towel in hand as I crept in the shadows.

I looked at the series of 'watchmen', if you could even call them that. Two were sleeping and the other was catching popcorn in his mouth. Psh, Excellence is no Accident, I scoffed.

Rolling my eyes, I calmly walked toward the shower house. It was far away from the guards that I didn't have to worry about being silent.

I stopped in front of the shower house with a key that Angel gave me. I was about to insert the key to paradise, when it swung opened by itself.

Well, at least I don't need the key, but who's taking a shower at two in the morning?

My question was answered when I came face to chest with none other than the Private himself.

Before I could react, he snatched the key from my hand. "Hey!" I protested.

"Going on a late night walk, Ms. Ride?" he asked politely.

"It's more like an early morning walk, Mr. Amersham," I countered just as politely, looking at my watch.

"What? No cute nickname?" he taunted.

I let out a laugh, "I have a ton, Giggles. I just haven't found the right one."

"Well why don't you ponder a nickname in your dorm before I make you stand in for one of the targets in the paintball field tomorrow," he warned.

"I don't take orders, much less threats, from anyone," I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

He shrugged and for a second I thought he was going to let it go. Yeah, one whole second before he picked me up, effortlessly, and slung me over his shoulder.

"Let me go," I said as I hit his back repeatedly.

Giggles ignored my request as he made his way over to one of the sleeping guards. "Butch," he shouted at the man.

Butch fell out of his chair and let out a startled scream. He peeled himself off the floor and stood up straight. "Sir, yes, sir!" Butch saluted.

"Ms. Ride, here, was wandering around the camp," Private Amersham said as he shrugged the shoulder that I was on. I let out a grunt and hit him hard on the back.

"I can assure you, sir, it won't happen again," Butch yelled.

"Don't need to yell buddy. We're right here," I said in a bored voice. I had given up on hitting the freaking rock that was carrying me now and just unhappily laid there on his shoulder.

"See to it that it doesn't," Private ordered, effectively ignoring me, "or else General Amersham would have to hear about it."

"Sir, yes, sir!" Butch yelled again.

Sunshine turned around and started heading toward the dorms. "See ya round, Butchy!" I waved to him with a devious smile.

Butch looked at me with confusion. It's like he just realized I was on Sticker's shoulder. I can just tell that he will do great things.

After awhile, the silence was too much for me. "So, your brother is the general?" I asked, trying to start a conversation.

"No," he replied.

"Well, don't talk my ear off," I warned, sarcastically.

Private Sunshine sniffed the air dramatically, "You smell, Max," he said.

I let out a humorless laugh, "Take it all in. Let the smell fill your nostrils and fill your empty head," I said knocking on his head.

He lent his head away and unexpectedly slipped me off his shoulders and onto my feet. "Watch it," I snapped.

"You better watch how you talk to me," he warned calmly.

"Or what?" I challenged. I looked up at him, only now noticing we were an inch apart. I could feel his body heat radiating off him and onto me.

"Or I can make your life a whole lot harder than it already is," he threatened.

I scoffed and took a step away from him, "You don't know anything about my life," I said in a deadly tone.

"I know enough," he assured in a deadly tone. He took another deliberate step forward; his eyes penetrating into mine. We were an inch apart again and I was conscious of the door being another step behind me.

"Enlighten me," I responded, venom dripping at every word.

"You're spoiled, self-centered, stubborn, and lazy," he spat every word. He slowly stretched out his muscular arm and rested his hand on the door behind me.

I backed up a step again, only to have my heels hit against the door. Trapped…Splendid. I may have backed myself into a corner, but I refuse to be the victim.

I discretely placed my hand on the knob and in one swift movement, I turned the knob and swung open the door. I stepped to the side and just missed the Private as he fell forward, losing his balance.

Ahh, the look on his face. Priceless.

Private Stickers totally ate it right before my very eyes. I would've felt sorry for the guy, if he hadn't called me 'spoiled, self-centered, stubborn, and lazy'.

He turned so he was sitting and looked up at me in shock. Well as much shock as he could portray.

I smiled sweetly down at him. I carefully stepped around him and leaned down so he could hear me, "You better watch how you talk to me," I mimicked his very words and gave him a wink.

I took off down the hall toward my room where sleep awaited me. "See ya tomorrow, Fruit Loop," I called over my shoulder.

I may be going to bed, stinky, but at least I have the satisfaction of seeing the surprise on his face. Yeah, I've been doing that a lot lately.

A little treat before Thanksgiving! Hope you liked the new chapter! Reviews are greatly appreciated!

Peace Out!

4. Chapter 4

Thank you soo much for your reviews! I hope you like this chapter as much as you like the last! This one is a little longer so ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


With a show of hands, how many of you wake up before 11:00; and don't try to be cute and raise your hand because we both know you're crazy…No one?

That's what I thought; so why am I standing in front of the dreaded obstacle course at 7:30 IN THE MORNING? Mind you, I only got about five hours of sleep.

I woke up at seven, against my will, and was dragged to the mesh hall to eat rubber eggs and burnt toast. The only thing keeping me awake was the stench I was giving off.

"Max! You ever heard of personal hygiene?" Iggy asked, dramatically pinching his noise closed.

"Yeah," Gazzy, of all people, agreed, "even I think you smell," he finished, waving his hand in front of his face.

I smacked Gazzy on the back of the head because he made the mistake of sitting next to me. Unfortunately, Iggy was out of reach, so I threw my toast at him and nailed him right in the eye.

"Ow," Iggy complained, rubbing his eye, "it felt like you just threw a brick at my eye."

Angel gave me a high-five and Nudge was still in the process of waking up.

After breakfast, I was called to the obstacle course. Now, here I am, standing in front of this stereotypical boot camp obstacle course. From my very extensive experience, I can honestly say that the creators of these obstacle courses lack creativity.

I was standing there with my arms crossed when I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Listen, Bubbles, if you think I'm doing that at 7:30 in the morning, you're up for a rude awakening," I said, glaring at the ten-foot wall.

"Bubbles?" an unknown voice said from behind me.

I whirled around to see a boy giving me a curious look. "I thought you were someone else," I explained, giving a sheepish smile. How embarrassing?

"I'm Dylan," the guy, Dylan, replied with a smile that said 'hey, look at me! I wore my retainers every day!' His eyes roamed over my body, shamelessly, before they returned back to my eyes.

"Maximum, but call me Max," I introduced, crossing my arms again.

"Yeah, I heard about you," he said bluntly.

I raised my eyebrows at him until he realized what he just said. "Oh, not in a stalker way," he backtracked quickly, "It's just not every day someone gets a one-on-one with the General's son."

"Son? I thought they were brothers," I said thoughtfully.

Dylan let out a short laugh at my assumption. "Nick is like the prodigy son. His father ran his house like a boot camp after his mom died. Now he's basically super human," he informed me.

"Huh," was all I said. Interesting. I really should have Nudge dig up dirt on 'Nick'. Wow, that name does not suit him. I wonder if that's why he's soo emotionless. Losing your mom and then having your own sanctuary turn into a jail must be rough.

I was pulled out of my trance by a third party's voice. "Having a nice conversation, Steven?" the real Bubbles asked from behind me.

"Why, yes I am, Private," Dylan answered, subconsciously standing up a little straighter. I half expected him to salute the Private, but he didn't; much to my surprise.

"Steven? You said your name was Dylan," I accused.

"Steven is my last name. We're not on a first name basis. Are we, Private?" Dylan asked over my shoulder.

Stickers didn't answer so I decided to speak, "So, you have two first names?" I questioned, "Classy," I added sarcastically.

"And your name can double as an adjective?" Dylan questioned, "Sophisticated," he added with the same amount of sarcasm. With that, he turned and started toward a group who had already started their training.

"See ya around, Max," Dylan called over his shoulder.

I smirked before turning around, "So, what are we doing today, Bubbles?"

Nick, as Dylan said before, was wearing his cargo pants and black t-shirt. His arms were crossed in a similar fashion to mine and he was wearing a grimace.

Instead of responding, he just nodded toward the obstacle course. He still hadn't taken his eyes off of Dylan's retreating figure.

"Now, let's be realistic, I'm not doing the course and you know it," I reasoned.

He looked at me for the first time and just shrugged, "Then you'll run."

"Wow, you're definitely not the sharpest tool in the tool shed. Remember last time?" I asked in a 'duh' voice.

"I haven't forgotten. That's why I'll be running with you," he said this while beginning to take off his shirt.

"Whoa," I yelled, shielding my eyes, "No one wants a free show, Nick!"

"You called me Nick," he said suspiciously.

I peeked out from under my hands to see that he did, in fact, have his shirt completely off. Psh, No big deal. Yeah, right! That's a pretty big deal!

I shrugged indifferently, "And you took your shirt off. Now, let's not go stating the obvious and get this shin dig over with," I said, working my way over to the trail.

I glanced over my shoulder at the Private to see him smiling and shaking his head. "Whoa!" I yelled, dramatically falling to the ground.

"Max," Fruit Loops said from above me, "you're embarrassing yourself."

I got to a sitting position and looked up at him, "Sorry, I was expecting to see fangs when you smiled, not actual teeth," I said, stalling for time. What can I say? I really didn't want to run.

He opened his mouth to say something before I jumped up and shook his shoulders. Giggles' eyes widened a fraction at my sudden gesture. He regained his composure and grasped my arms to stop me from shaking him crazy.

"That's it!' I screamed in his face. I dropped my hands to my side and looked at him incredulously.

He just stared at me blankly. I let out an exasperated sigh, "Fang!"

"I don't get it," he confessed straightforward.

I smacked my forehead. "Your new nickname!" He continued to stare at me, "Well, it's that or Princess," I said thoughtfully.

"I like 'Fang'. 'Fang' works," he said quickly.

"That's what I thought," I said with a smug smirk. "Fang," I tested.

Fang let out a sigh and wiped his hand down his face, "Let's just run," he suggested.

"Whatever you say, Fang," I answered with a shrug and started jogging down the trail.

We were jogging side by side for about five minutes when I noticed Fang was a step ahead of me. My competitive side got the better of me and I sped up two steps to be in front of him.

I peeked from the corner of my eye to see that Fang was about a foot behind me.

Obviously, Fang has a competitive side also because he sped up to be in front of me. I looked to my right to see that he was looking at me from the corner of his eye; daring me to try to beat him.

Challenge Accepted. I let out a determined huff and strode in front of him. Fang, in turn, strode in front of me. Then I ran in front of him and vice versa.

We continued like this for another mile and a half till we were full blown out sprinting. I was always in great shape, but Fang pushed my limits.

We sprinted all the way back to the obstacle course where we both collapsed on the green grass. The only sounds were our heavy breathing and other drill sergeants yelling at their cadets in the background.

"Max," Fang said between gasps of breaths, "I didn't…know you were…in such…great shape," he finished, still trying to catch his breath.

I just shrugged and struggled into a sitting position. "Where can I get some water around here?" I asked, ignoring his comment.

Fang struggled into a sitting position as well and gave me an incredulous look. "Max, you've been holding out on me," he said sternly.

"Wow, nothing gets past you," I rolled my eyes.

"Private Amersham," a voice said behind us.

I turned my head to see that girl from the mesh hall. Liz? Laura? Lindsey? Heck, he name could be Skittles for all I care.

"Private Stuart," Fang slowly picked himself off the ground and stood in front of Skittles.

Skittles looked down at me; probably expecting me to stand up. Psh, good luck. Instead, I swung my legs around so that I was now facing her. I gave her a sweet smile, which she returned with a disgusted look.

Well, she's certainly not filled with rainbows…I'm going to have to think of a more fitting nickname…

Private Stuart looked back at Fang; all traces of disgust were replaced with a flirtatious smile. "I saw you running and was wondering if you need water?" she asked, glancing obviously at Fang's abs. She looked back up at Fang and batted her eyelashes as she shifted from one foot to the next.

I had to hold in my laughter at her pathetic attempt at flirting. Fang looked down at me, wondering if I wanted water.

"I'd love water," I said to Twizzlers, "and could you fetch me some popcorn? I'm really enjoying your bad acting," I explained, batting my eyelashes like she had.

Her face twisted in anger as she stomped away. Hmm…Twizzlers…Nope! That's an insult to the delicious candy.

"If she brings us waters I'm drinking yours," I shrugged and stood up, "because she'll probably spit in my water," I explained.

Fang let out a sigh and gave me a pointed look, "What?" I asked, "She gave me a dirty look," I defended.

He shook his head, "I don't care about her," he said, which caught me by surprise, "You can run."

"And walk backwards, and stuff ten grapes in my mouth, and can kill someone with my sarcasm, and I can do an elaborate tap dance…," I counted off with my fingers.

"Max," Fang interrupted.

"Okay, you got me. I can't tap, but I can do a number of other things."

"Max, do the obstacle course," Fang ordered.

"Sir, yes, sir!" I saluted him, lining myself up at the starting line.

"Go!" Fang yelled, clicking his pathetic little watch.

I breezed through the tires because if you can't jump through a bunch of tires then you should hit yourself on the head…hard.

I got to the wall and didn't hesitate to grab the rope and start to climb the ten foot wall. I was at the top in less than a minute before I stopped and sat there on the top.

Yup, surprised? You shouldn't be! You didn't actually think I'd do the stupid obstacle course?

The wall was pretty thick so it was comfortable to sit on. I situated myself on the wall and looked down.

Fang was staring at me like he should've seen this coming. I smiled down at him and waved. He dropped his dinky little watch and made his way to the wall.

As he climbed the wall, I looked around the camp at all the miserable people. It was almost noon so the sun was high in the sky.

To the right, there were four rows of six people doing pushups. Their drill sergeant was looking down at all of them and walking between the rows, yelling as he passed by everyone.

To my left, I spotted a group about the same size running sprints. They were paired up in twos and would sprint the length of a soccer field only to turn around and do it again. The sweat was visible on their grey shirts from up here.

I grimaced at their faces; pained and covered in sweat. This doesn't make you excellent, it only makes you crazy.

I was so transfixed on their faces that I didn't realize Fang sat next to me. "Do I have to do everything with you?" he asked.

"Looks like it," I answered with a shrug. See, my thinking is that he won't make me do anything hard because then he'll have to do it too. Go ahead and say it, I'm a genius.

Fang sighed as I continued to look around. A little ways away, I spotted a series of blow up shapes the height of a one-story building. "What's that?" I asked, pointing to the objects in question.

"Paintball field," he answered simply.

"What? Why don't we do that?" I questioned. Anything would be better than running and staring at this stupid course.

"Because you haven't completed the obstacle course," he answered shortly.

"Hmm, that presents a problem," I said thoughtfully. "Well, what can I do without completing the course?"

Fang thought about this, "Nothing," he answered after awhile.

"Well, I hope the red haired wonder returns with that popcorn soon because I'm going to be up here awhile," I reasoned.

"Private Stuart?"

"Yup. I'm trying to find a suitable nickname for her too."

We sat in silence for a while. I was surprised he hadn't ordered me to get down. Instead he looked over the camp too. He, too, grimaced at the faces of the runners when his eyes had landed on them.

"Aren't you scared of heights?" Fang asked abruptly.

"No, I like being high up. Closest thing to flying I'm ever going to get to," I answered while returning my gaze to the camp.

"Nothing can scare the great Maximum Ride," Fang stated.

I was immediately flooded with images of shadows. All the figures were moving so fast that I couldn't get a clear view. Screams that only I could hear filled my ears, followed by someone calling my name in desperation.

"There are some things that scare me," I answered still in my trance. After realizing I had said that out loud, I immediately wanted to take it back. I was not about to have a deep conversation with Fang about my past that had made me who I am today. *shudder*

Fang snapped his head to the side to look at me. He opened his mouth just as the lunch bell rang out.

"I'm starving," I said before grabbing hold of the rope and jumped off the wall. I slid down as the rope burned my hands, but right now, I just wanted to get away. I braced my feet against the wall and slid down quickly.

Once my feet hit the ground, I took off for the mesh hall. I started running as fast as my legs would carry me, leaving behind a confused Fang and a nightmare slowly making its way to the surface.

Review! I hoped you liked it! Also, I need some help. When you review (wink, wink) give me some nicknames you'd like Max to call Lissa. I'll use as many as I can in my writing because I'm not going to choose just one. So be creative and give me as many nicknames you can think of. Thanks!

Peace Out!

5. Chapter 5

Well, that update took longer than I had expected. Fair warning: Exams are here and that means A LOT of studying, but I'll do my best to update. New chapter so ENJOY! and REVIEW!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


The whole time during lunch, I kept thinking about what Max said. What could be so scary that it would even freak Max out? Her eyes had been glassed over as she had just stared out into the distance, focusing on nothing and listening to nothing. Although I doubted I even saw it, I saw fear and sadness flash through her eyes. Hmmm…I guess I don't have her figured out after all.

I was lost in my own thoughts when the bell rang to indicate lunch was over. I looked down at my tray to see that I hadn't even touched my food. Psh, like I'd eat it anyway.

Sighing, I stood up and walked over to the trashcan and dumped my lunch in the can.

"Not hungry today?"

I snapped my head in the direction of the voice to see Max with a full tray too. I shrugged one shoulder and placed my tray on the tray holder. "You either?" I asked, nodding to her tray.

"Nope," she replied, dumping her food in the trashcan, "I saw you from across the room and lost my appetite."

There was never a simple 'yes' or 'no' from Max. She always had to add some smart-alecky comment to everything she said. It always made me a little eager to hear what sarcastic comment she'd make up that day.

"You were staring at me?" I asked, raising one eyebrow at her.

She let out a humorless laugh, "Don't flatter yourself, Fang. I have better taste."

Images of Dylan immediately flashed through my head. I never really liked the kid. He's always so arrogant and out-spoken. He's one of those guys you just wanna take your knee and swing it right at his little…

Max pulled me out of my trance by placing her hands on her hips and sternly saying, "So, are you seriously going to try and make me do the obstacle course again? I mean, I thought you'd take a hint after, what, five times of me just blowing it off."

"You are a lost cause," I agreed, and took off toward one of the many gyms we have here. It closely resembled a prison with its tall tower and caged windows.

"That's not what I meant," she mumbled as she followed me. "Might I ask where we're going?" Max asked impatiently.

I looked back at her, "Isn't it obvious?" I asked in a 'duh' voice, nodding my head at the building we were walking toward.

"Someone took their sassy pills today," Max commented.

I rolled my eyes, held the glass door open, and waited for Max to walk in first. She stopped walking and looked from me to the door and then back to me. I was about to hurry her up when she stubbornly opened the other door and walked into the building.

Sighing to myself, I followed her in there to see that Max had stopped dead in her tracks. She was staring at the gym in front of us with her mouth wide open.

I looked at her face then back at the gym. The room was filled with weight lifting machines, punching bags, a basketball court in the corner and a track on the second level that circles the gym.

I followed Max's gaze to the center of the room. Of course, she was looking at the boxing ring where two guys were fighting each other.

I cleared my throat and leaned in a little closer to Max, "You're drooling," I informed her.

She quickly snapped out of her trance and turned to glare at me. "I want to do that," Max pointed to the arena. Sounding like a little kid at an amusement park and pointing at all the roller coasters she couldn't go on.

"Not without some training first," I replied sternly. "You're starting off with weights, then the punching bag. If you pass those two, then you can box."

Just as I had expected, Max crossed her arms over her chest and got that stubborn look on her face that I have become all too familiar with. "I don't need training," she said, dead serious.

"Look," I reasoned, "I'm not letting you get up there, inexperienced, just to get your butt kicked."

She shrugged indifferently and looked back at the ring, uncrossing her arms. I thought she had let it go before she said, "You don't have to let me, I'm doing it on my own."

With that, she started off toward the arena with me at the tow. Before I could stop her, she had grabbed the spare gloves on the ropes and draped them over one of her shoulders. She hoisted herself up, pretty gracefully, and looked at the two guys who had stopped fighting to stare at Max.

"Anybody up for a friendly match?" Max asked, re-pulling up her hair in a pony tail.

They guys looked taken aback and exchanged looks, both wearing identical smirks. The smaller of the two stepped forward and I couldn't help, but let out a breath of relief. At least the heftier guy didn't challenge Max.

Max looked the scrawnier guy up and down before saying, "Great, you can be the water boy because he's going to need it," she said, pointing to the bigger guy.

The two guys looked even more surprised, but this time they looked at me for instructions. Might as well teach Max a lesson…

I nodded my head in approval and watched as the 'water boy' leaped off and Max slipped on her gloves. "You might want to get an ice bath ready for Max while you're at it," I whispered to the water boy as he passed me.

I crossed my arms and watched intently as the match started to unfold right before me. Max and, let's just name him Hank, circled each other.

Hank was one of those wannabe Hulk guys. He had the handlebar mustache, the beach blonde hair, and a cocky grin to complete the whole ensemble. He was buff, like steroid buff and his massive arms were glistening with sweat.

Despite Hank's appearance, I have to say that I was impressed by Max's form. She had her eyes trained on Hank, her hands were raised to protect her face, and her legs were bent as she took her stance.

A devious smirk spread across Max's face and I knew, right then, that Hank was going to be the one who needed the ice bath.

Before Hank knew it, Max had already landed five punches on his face, abs, and shoulders. Max's fists were flying at inhuman speeds as she used different styles of punches. Uppercuts, hooks, jabs, and even a few kicks.

Before two minutes were up, Max had delivered a round house kick to Hank's chest and knocked the wind out of him. He fell to the ground with a loud thud.

I stared at Max as her chest rose and fell only slightly while Hank was on his hands and knees, breathing raggedly. I watched as she walked over and lightly nudge him with her foot, consequently, making him fall on his back.

"Where's that water boy?" Max asked me with a satisfied smirk.

"Preparing Hank's ice bath," I replied, "Now, let's start your training."

"What?" Max asked, surprised. "Did you watch me? I totally owned that guy," Max pointed her thumb to Hank as he crawled away.

"Wasn't impressed," I shrugged.

"Then you get up here, Fang. Unless, you're scared a girl will put you in your place," she taunted with a smirk.

Usually, I would just shrugged, but my competitive side got to me. "Stakes?" I asked as I hoped onto the ring.

I don't even know this person anymore. After living with the general, I had learn to not let anything get to me, but Max knew just how to defy me.

"I win, I don't have to do training or the obstacle course," she bargained.

I nodded thoughtfully, "I win, you get your shower privileges taken away for a whole week."

Fear passed over Max's face before she wiped it clean with a cocky smirk. "Deal," she stuck out her ungloved hand for me to shake.

We shook hands roughly before backing away from each other. I swiftly took off my shirt and slipped on my gloves. I caught Max sneaking a peek and couldn't help the twitch at the corner of my mouth.

I got into my fighting stance as Max mirror my same position. Just as she and Hank had done before, we started to circle each other. Max's muscles where taut and she bounced on her toes as we continued to dance lightly on our feet around each other.

Getting a little too eager, I decided to make the first move and swung a punch at Max, but she swiftly dodged it. I hope the surprise wasn't apparent on my face, but on the inside I was having a little freak out. No one ever dodges me.

Moving too slowly, Max clipped my chin when she had quickly snapped her fist forward. After that, I was a goner. I had lost my focus for a millisecond, but that was all Max needed to start landing punched left and right. Her fists came down like hail and backed me into the ropes.

I quickly ducked out of the way of her fists long enough to compose myself. This time, when she struck, I was ready for it. Her fists came up to hit my jaw again, but I had dodged it before she could clip me again.

Seeing an opening, I took it. I landed a punch to Max's side that she hadn't been expecting. She lost her composure and I took advantage of this. I started to land punches on her stomach and placed a few good kicks here and there.

I placed another punch to her stomach before I heard her breath leave her in a whoosh. Max fell to her knees as I stood above her. "You smell that?" I asked her with an arrogant smirk, "That's the smell of your shower privileges down the drain."

Max opened her mouth to say something when she surprised me...yeah, she's been doing that a lot. She swiftly swung her leg around, hitting my ankles and knocked me on my back.

Before I could get to my feet, Max was already on top on me, pinning me to the ground. "Pinned," she stated victoriously.

Not if I have anything to say about it…While Max basked in her short-lived 'glory', I took this opportunity to switch the roles. Taking her off guard, I rolled us over so I was on top of her. My hair was falling in front of my face as I stared at Max's surprised face, "Pinned."

Usually, a guy or a girl would be excited to be in this position, but that wasn't the case with Max and I. No, this was a battle of dominance, power, and authority. It didn't even phase me that Max's slender body was in contact with mine and vice versa.

Max glared up at me. She tore her glare from me and shouted for the water boy, "Hey, buttercup, what does a girl have to do to get a drink around here?" she asked.

Curious to see his reaction, I looked up to see that the water boy was nowhere to be seen. Crap.

Before I knew it, Max had me pinned again.

Her knees were on either side of my hips and her hands secured my wrists above my head. She smiled down at me before sniffing the air dramatically, "You smell that, Fang?" she asked innocently, "That's the smell of freedom."

I glared up at her, not liking the fact that I've been beaten. Max ignored my glared and hoped off me, "Looks like I'm the drill sergeant and you're my cadet," she called over her shoulder.

Okay, so nothing really happened this chapter, but that's only because the original was too long. So I broke it up into two chapters and that means that the next chapter will either be up today or tomorrow. Now you have something to look forward to! REVIEW as always!


6. Chapter 6

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


Finally! Something to look forward to!

Now, when I'm slowly dragging myself out of bed, at least I know I can hit something later on.

I was dozing over my rubber eggs when the general demanded everyone's attention. "Attention!" he yelled.

"Get out. They actually say stuff like that?" I asked, a little surprised despite the time.

"Yup," Angel answered, "They say all the corny lines you see in movies."

I turned in my chair to face the front of the room like everyone else. I struggled to keep my eyes opened, but did my best.

The general was at the front of the room standing behind a podium. He was in his uniform, as usual, but today he had hat on and looked cleaned shaved.

"Today, we are being visited by a general of the Maryland Behavioral Correction Camp. He wants to see how we do things here. May I remind you, we are the number one behavioral correction camp in America," he paused to add effect, "So your cooperation and compliance is expected."

I snorted to myself. Good Luck, buddy.

I turned around in my seat to look at everyone seated in their spots as usual. "You get people visiting this hell hole a lot?" I asked everyone around the table.

"Nope, this is actually a first," Gazzy answered, shoveling artificial food in his mouth. "You gonna eat that?"he pointed to my tray with his fork.

I looked down at my food distastefully. "Have at it," I pushed my tray to Gazzy.

"Don't look so happy to be here Maxy," Iggy taunted.

"Iggy," I said exasperated, "Do they know you left your room without your helmet on today?"

His hand flew up to his head and he feigned shock. "I guess I'd have to use yours," he replied with a shrug.

"No can do. I gave mine to Gazzy," I pointed to Gazzy who had a piece of flimsy bacon hanging out of his mouth.

"Really attractive, Gazz," Angel commented with a roll of her eyes.

Gazzy was about to salvage what little pride he had left when he was cut off by the bell.

Here we go.

After about twenty minutes, everyone had filed out of the mesh hall and formed a line in front of the main building.

I stood next to two people I've never seen around the camp. Both were standing as if they had a wooden board attached to their back. The boy's hair was buzzed and the girl's was slicked back into a neat ponytail. Their shirts were tucked in and they instantly reminded me of the people on the brochure.

Then I looked down at my uniform and almost laughed at the contrast. My shirt and pants were still cut and my shirt was halfheartedly tucked in. My hair was disheveled and my posture just screamed, 'I really don't want to be here.'

I leaned out of the line to get a better look of this general from Maryland. I had missed the whole introduction and his whole lifelong story, but I couldn't care less. He was wearing a uniform similar to the general. He was lankier than the general, but he still had a hint of muscle.

Well, it looks like we're going to be out here for a while, might as well entertain myself. I looked to my right and saw a kid, about three spots down, slowly move his hand behind him. He kept looking straight ahead so he didn't see me watch him pick his wedgies…yeah.

"Briefs are a bitch," I whispered to the kid.

He snapped his head toward me and turned beat red. I just smirked knowingly at him. He suddenly took an interest in an unseen object in front of him.

I just love messing with people.

I swung my head to the left and scouted out my next victim. No, no, no, no, no,…ahhh! There you are.

This girl was shaking like a leaf. I had to hold back a laugh when her eyes started to water in fear. Psh! I wander what terrible thing this girl did to end up here. Maybe she cut her sister's hair. Whoa! Badass!

I let out a disbelieving laugh when she looked around to see if anyone else was freaking out as much as she was.

I was brought back into the present when the sound of someone clearing their throat sounded right by my ear.

Turning my head slowly to the right, I looked up to see rotting teeth and crusty lips. Ugh, you'd think they'd be a little more strict about hygiene…

My face twisted in disgust as I straightened up and looked at the general from Maryland in the eye. "Can I help you, Buttercup?" I asked sweetly.

"You can start by learning how to speak to a higher-up," He hissed, leaning in very close, "Here, your nothing, but an inconvenience taking up space."

Whoa! This guy was hardcore. I'd have to keep an eye on him…

"And here, your nothing, but a low-life general not good enough to command your own military force," I replied with just as much fierceness.

Surprise crossed his face before he straightened his back even more and took a step away from me. He looked at me with that look that said, 'I'm better than you'.

General Amersham scurried over to Buttercup's side and looked at me, "Cadet Ride, you will refrain from your usual manner and welcome General Edward Speaking with the utmost respect," he said sternly.

Not gonna fly, "Whoa, whoa, whoa," I gestured with my hands in a 'slow-down' manner, "Your name is General E. Speaking?" I questioned.

They both just stared at me and waited for me to explain. "Well, generally speaking, you're an ass," I concluded. See what I did there? Play on words? General E. Speaking and generally speaking…? Oh, never mind.

Both the generals were silent as they stared at me. Huh, I guess they didn't get it. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

"Well, that saves me loads of time to try to think of a witty nickname for you. I mean, your name is a joke already," I went on when the silence continued.

It was short-lived, though, when a short laugh shattered it. The generals snapped their head to the side and I just realized Fang standing there. His face was emotionless and I wasn't even sure if that was him who laughed.

I returned my stare to Pumpernickel and continued to glare at him. He sensed my glare and cowered away slightly from me.

"If you don't mind, General Amersham," General Speaking said, not breaking eye contact with me, "I'd like to conduct the group Cadet Ride is residing in."

"Cadet Ride," General Amersham cleared his throat, "isn't in a group. Due to her past and upon her Father's request, she has been arranged to be trained by Private Amersham," he nodded toward Fang who was standing next to General Speaking.

"Her father must have connection to set up something so...out of the ordinary," General belly button went on conversationally as if I wasn't there.

"Yes well her father is Mr. Jeb Batchelder, the successful scientist," General Amersham said with meaning only 'higher-up' people and I would understand.

"Ahhh," General Sprinkles replied as if it all made sense. He turned to Fang, "I will relieve you of your duty today, Private," he commanded rather than asked.

Fang just nodded, not giving anything away.

"Right then," General Buttercup clapped his hands together and turned his attention to me, "You will meet me at the obstacle course."

Ha! He's in for a rude awakening…

I stood there, as I had the first day I came here, and glared at the obstacle course. Forming a plan in my mind, I couldn't decide whether I should sit on top of the wall or show off my mad moonwalk skills…Decisions, decisions.

"What's your best time, Cadet?" General Pumpernickel asked, walking up behind me.

"Usually two seconds flat," I replied sarcastically with a shrug, "One and a half on a good day."

"I'd like to see that," he replied, not picking up on my sarcasm.

I let out a humorless laugh, "Dude, I don't take orders," I said crossing my arms and glaring at him.

"Oh you will, Cadet Ride," he replied with an evil grin slowly creeping onto his face, exposing his rotting teeth, "because I know who you are."

Like that's suppose to scare me, I scoffed. "I'm flattered you're a part of my fan club and all, but if you wanted an autograph you could've just asked," I replied, sarcasm dripping with every word.

"How's Ari?" he asked, his grin still intact.

Flashes of my baby brother flashed through my head. Ari pointing at his missing tooth. Ari bundled in his snow gear; ready for the snow. Ari looking up at me with the utmost trust in his eyes and his hand so small in mine.

I felt a pang of sadness strike my heart, relentlessly, and open up a hole I had so desperately tried to close again.

He looked at me expectantly and when I didn't answer, he went on, "What will your friends think when they find about your past?" he questioned with feigned concern.

"I don't have friends," I snarled, hoping he would buy it, but no such luck.

He made a clinking noise with his mouth and shook his head, "I have sources within the camp, Cadet. You can't lie to me," he assured.

"My friends would understand," I growled, taking another approach.

"Maybe," he agreed, looking thoughtfully to the sky a placing his hand under his chin, "but will they be so understanding when you are the reason they are sent to juvie?"

"You don't have that authority," I replied confidently.

"Oh, I have connections. Like, I know your two friends are a little too interested in bombs. They are possible threats to anyone and everyone around them. Surely they'd be much safer in a concealed room with no windows," he taunted.

"And the girl with the mouth," Nudge I thought as he continued, "It's to my understanding that she has a record of stealing and impeccable tech skills. A Possible threat to our country."

My hands had dropped from being crossed over my chest and were now at my side. My fists were clenching and unclenching as the general accused my friends.

"And then there is the blond," he continued, but then stopped short, "Well, I guess we can make something up for her," he concluded.

"Why?" was all I could choke out.

"I've heard things, Cadet. And I'm simply curious," he answered.

His answer, no matter how vague it sounded, made sense to me. My father, Jeb, had done unspeakable things to me that make me different and I've worked hard to forget, but it's hard to forget when you're scarred.

"What else?" I questioned, because there just had to be more.

"Your father has done some unspeakable things and yet he is trusted more than me!" he screamed in my face, but didn't get even a slight flinch from me. "I'm a general and my talent is wasted on selfish children like yourself!"

"You have no proof," I replied. It was true, there was no evidence of the things Jeb had been accused of, which is why he still had his title.

General Belly Button snarled, much to my satisfaction, and yelled, "Run!" to me and pointed at the obstacle course.

So I did the most un-Max thing I ever did.

I ran.

I ran for Nudge, Gazzy, Iggy, and Angel. I ran because they shouldn't suffer by my hands. I ran for my brother, who should be in grade school now, not six feet under. I ran because there was no way out of this mess, but to ride it out.

I ran that ten times without stopping. Every time I ran back to the starting line, General Speaking would yell 'Again!' and I'd take off.

With every step I took, I felt a little piece of myself fall to the ground. I was losing myself. This is not me.


It's been thirty minutes since General Speaking had went outside to meet Max at the obstacle course and I had half expected him to be back twenty-nine minutes ago.

Sighing to myself, I stood up and walked out of the main building. I should probably go and check to make sure Max didn't knock him out or something.

To my surprise, Max was running the obstacle course.

"Again!" the General yelled and, get this, Max ran it again.

I made my way to the general's side, "How'd you do it?" I asked with a bored look on my face, but inside I was genuinely curious.

He turned to me in surprise of my presence, but returned his gaze to Max, "It's all about a display of power, Private," he answered with a victorious grin.

"How many?" I asked. Yeah, I prefer phrases to sentences. The less words the better.

"Ten," he answered.

I snapped my head to the side to look at him incredulously. I couldn't even get her to run it once and he got her to run it ten times?

Just then Max ran back to the starting line, her audible breathing coming fast. "Again!" the general yelled and Max started it again with not even an eye roll.

I turned to the general, "Sir, I think ten is enough. Permission to bring her in to catch her breath, Sir," I asked.

He turned toward me and looked me square in the eye, "Permission denied," he replied, turning his attention back on Max.

"Sir?" I asked, a little surprised. Why wouldn't he let Max have a quick break? I mean, she already ran it ten times and that was more than most people could handle.

"Cadet Ride is doing fine," he answered.

I looked back at Max to see that she was back at the starting line. Whoa, that was fast…

"Again!" the general yelled and once again Max took off.

"Sir, Cadet Ride should get some water and then she will return," I assured the general, not taking my eyes off of Max as she ran through the course effortlessly.

"Private," the general snapped harshly, "Cadet is fine," he repeated before we both watched as Max step on her ankle wrong and fell to the ground.

She let out a sharp breath and struggled to her feet. She tried running again, but she was too slow.

Before Max could make it to the wall, I was already at her side, "Max, stop," I told her, grabbing a hold of her arm.

"Private," the general yelled, crossing the obstacle course to where I kept a firm grip on Max. "Cadet is not yet finished with her training,"

"With all due respect, Sir, I think you're needed elsewhere," I replied coldly, my glare penetrating his wimpy glare.

He flinched a little from my glare, but composed himself quickly, "The general will have to hear about this," he said before turning around to stalk back into the building.

Sighing, I shook my head, "Sit," I ordered Max.

She reluctantly sat down on the grass, careful not to injure her ankle anymore than she already had. "Thanks," she mumbled.

Max was staring off into space as her breathing started to return to normal. I wanted to ask her what she was thinking, but figured it was the same thing she was thinking yesterday when we sat on the wall.

"Take off your shoe," I ordered and again she complied in a sort of dreamy state.

Her brows furrowed in pain as I watched her slide her boot off. Max extended her legs as I sat crossed legged by her ankle.

I carefully picked up her ankle into my hands and started rolling stretching it slowly.

Max let out a sharp breath. I looked up to see her watching my hands as they stretched her ankle.

"You just landed on your ankle wrong," I assured her, "no bruises or swelling."

Max didn't say anything as we fell into silence.

I like the silence, it let me think, but the only thing I could think of was why she ran the course for a general who isn't even stationed here? I thought she never took orders from anyone.

Something must have happened between Max and the general because when they first met she was her sarcastic self, but now she was a ghost. It was really starting to worry me.

"Why did you run the course for General Speaking?" I couldn't help but ask.

Max seemed to snap out of her trance and look at me as I continued to stretch her ankle gingerly. "You wouldn't understand," she whispered in a very un-Max like manner.

At that moment, I really hated General Speaking. I've seen Max take on a guy weighing about two hundred pounds more than her with a determine face and amusement in her soft brown eyes.

But now, they were troublesome and a hint of fear in them. If he was able to make Max feel that way, then he must have done or said something inexcusable.

I was pulled out of my revere when I felt Max's hand on mine. I looked at her hand on top of my hands that were still holding her ankle. I turned my gaze to her face expectantly, "You're squeezing my ankle," she explained.

I looked down at my hands and sure enough, while I was ranting in my head, my grip on Max's ankle had tightened.

I slowly loosen my grip and gently set her ankle back on the ground.

I opened my mouth to ask her to explain when someone came up behind me, "Private Amersham," I turned around to Lissa standing above me, "General Amersham would like to see you."

I turned to look back at Max, "Will you be okay?" I asked.

What? I never ask anyone about their feeling because, frankly, I don't give a shit about other people's problems, but Max was speci…different. I meant different.

Max nodded and slipped her boot back on, "Hurry back so I can beat you in a round of boxing," she replied.

I smirked to myself as I jumped to my feet and headed to the General's office.

"General Speaking has reported to me about your behavior," the general informed me after he told me to sit down. "Unacceptable. I've trained you better."

I noticed how he said 'trained' and not 'raised'. He just sees me as a Private and not his own flesh and blood.

I stayed silent as I watch the general peer out the window at his beloved camp. "If I have known Cadet Ride would have this effect on you, I wouldn't have entrusted such a responsibility on you," he continued.

"With all due respect, Sir, I am perfectly capable of handling Max," I replied. That was probably the longest sentence I have ever said to the general and it didn't go unnoticed.

"You are getting attached, Private," the general said as he turned away from the window and took a seat in his chair behind his desk. "You are not to be involved with anyone, much less a cadet. Love is simply a delusion that will weigh you down."

My father had made it no secret when it came to his beliefs about love. He says to never fall in love and that it doesn't exist. The love for one's country is the closest form of love that one can posses.

That even included my mother. He also made it no secret that marrying her and settling down was a mistake. He could have done great things if my mother wasn't weighing him down. The only good thing that came out of it was me. I could be everything he wasn't.

I gritted my teeth together to refrain from speaking out again. The general looked at me expectantly before continuing, "I'm giving you one month to show me that you can tame Cadet Ride. Failure to do so, will result in you being stripped of your title and you'll be banned from the military," he said in a casual business manner.

"You can't keep me out of the military," I replied in a low deadly tone.

"I am a powerful man, Private. If it is my wish it can be done," he replied just as deadly.

All this because I refuse to demand Max to fall to my every word?

Although the consequence meant freedom, it also meant a world unknown to me. Without the military, I would be lost and alone.

"Permission to be excused, Sir," I said,

"Permission granted," the general answered with a wave of his hand.

I got up from my seat and placed my hand on the doorknob when I heard the general from behind me, "One month, Private. Don't disappoint me any further than you already have."

With that, I left his office and made my way to the boxing arena.

I will whip Max into shape if it's the last thing I do as a Private.

REVIEW! And just a reminder, I might not be able to update for a while because of exams, but I'll do my best! Plz don't be mad! :)


7. Chapter 7

Ta Da! Bet ya didn't think I'd be able to update so soon! Well, good news! I was exempt from my Calculus exam so I had time to write another chapter, but I still have three more! You're welcome! Anyways, ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


I walked into the gym and immediately started toward the boxing ring. I bet if there was music to my life, it'd be playing that music that goes like 'Awwww!' and a shaft of light would stream down from an unknown source and illuminate the ring.

Yeah, that's my life in a nutshell. I'm kidding, for all those who are like, 'That's freaking awesome!'

Anyways, unlike yesterday, the ring was deserted. Ugh, looks like I'm going to have to wait for Fang.

Hopping onto the ring, I situated myself at the edge so my legs dangled off the platform and folded my arms on the rope.

Tick, tock. What is taking him so long. What? Is the general smacking Fang around or something?

Unlikely, considering Fang is inhumanly strong. If it weren't for my swiftness, he would have knocked me clean out.

Although, he didn't hit my face. Not once. Which is strange because that's every fighter's weakness. One well aimed hit to the eye and you've taken one side of their vision. Which is perfect for sneaky punches here and there, but Fang didn't even punch higher than my shoulders.

He, being a well trained private, should have utilized my weakness, but he didn't…I'm going to have to ask him why. Maybe it's some tactic that I can use in the future or something.

Ugh, but if I ask questions he'll just counter with his own questions. Questions I'm not ready to share with him and have no intention with sharing anytime soon.

How can I tell him I am the reason for Ari's death when I haven't even admitted the words out loud before? I just can't because then it would make everything all too real.

"Max," Fang said sternly, effectively snapping me out of my trance. How long had he been standing there?

"Fang," I answered and looked back at him.

Fang's jaw was tight and his eyes were dark. What did the general say to him to make him look so pissed? "You're going to start off with running two miles then you're to report to the gym to do agility exercises," he ordered.

I let out a humorless laugh and slid off the platform so I was standing in front of Fang, "I don't think so," I answered and stared right back into hit eyes.

You can always tell Fang's mood by his eyes. When he's amused, his eyes turn to a lighter shade of brown. When he looks at me, sometimes you can see gold flecks, but I don't know what that emotion is. Probably annoyance. When his eyes are so dark that you can barely distinguish the pupil from the iris, he's pissed off. Kinda like he is now.

"You are going to follow my orders or suffer the consequences," he ordered again, his face as emotional as a rock.

"It didn't work then and it sure as hell won't work now," I snarled and crossed my arms over my chest.

Fang seemed to contemplate this and, before I could react, Fang had already swiftly slung me over his shoulder. De ja vu.

Like I had did the night he caught me sneaking around, I hit his back repeatedly till I got tired and gave up. Fang walked out of the gym and into another building, I have never been in before.

I couldn't see what this place looked like, but I guess it was spacious because peoples' voices were echoing off the walls. There was also a smell of…chlorine…?

SPLASH! This place has a pool too? I was suddenly surrounded by water, while I was still in my uniform and all.

I emerged from the water and saw Fang standing near the edge of the pool, just looking down at me. His face was emotionless, but his eyes where back to the light shade that I like so much. Uh, I mean I like the color because it reminds me of…chocolate…yeah, milk chocolate…yeah, it didn't convince me either.

"Seriously?" I asked, furious. I grabbed hold of the edge and prepare to hoist myself up when Fang stopped me.

"Since you're in the water, you might as well swim some laps," he suggested, but it was implied that I had to.

I pretended to look up at the ceiling to show that I was thinking. Then, with my psychedelic reflexes, I latched onto the jerk's ankle and swiftly pulled him in.

Fang, taken by surprise, landed with a splash in the lane next to me. He emerged from the water and I couldn't help, but laugh. His hair was matted down so he looked like a wet cat. A really mad wet cat. I told him this and he just returned my amused look with a glare that could kill.

"Laps," he ordered, his fists clenched under the water.

"Aye, aye, captain," I saluted before diving into the water. I came back up halfway down the lane and turned so I was floating on my back.

I could just feel Fang's frustration as I lazily floated back to him. Once I had made it all the way back, I stood up and said, "Ta, da!" with my hands thrown into the air and a smile on my face.

Fang just stared emotionlessly back and asked, "What made you run for General Speaking?" he asked bluntly.

My arms dropped to my sides and my smile slowly retreated, "I told you before," I said in a deadly voice, "it's none of your business."

"Well, maybe we can just arrange the general to be transferred here to be your own personal drill sergeant because I'm obviously not getting to you," he threatened, stepping closer to me.

I stepped closer too so the only thing separating us was the floating rope divider, "Call him up," I answered even though inside I was begging him not to.

"What is it that makes you so afraid of the general?" he asked harshly, seeing right through me.

"Afraid?" I scoffed. "I am not afraid of General Twinkle Toes."

"Yeah you are," Fang accused in a sure voice. "Your face said it all. What? Did he scare the Great Maximum Ride?"

"Screw you," I spat in Fang's face before hopping out of the pool and walking toward the towel rack.

I heard Fang pulling himself out of the pool, but didn't turn around. I grabbed a towel and started drying my hair.

Soon, he came up and stood in front of me. Fang's shirt was clinging to his abs so you could clearly count his eight pack. Drips of water were slowly following the contour of his muscles as they fell down his arms.

"Max, talk to me," he said with a hint of pleading in his steal voice.

I turned to Fang to see his face portraying nothing, but his eyes were showing genuine concern. His eyes flashed down to my wet clothes than snapped back up to my face. Well, he's not all innocent now is he?

"Why?" I asked. No one ever cared about what defined me. They just thought I was the way I was because my parents were divorced, but that wasn't the case.

It looked like he was going to answer with a number of reasons, but he just shrugged.

I shook my head, "No," I told him firmly.

"You said some things scared you," he said, reminding me of the day I was sitting on the wall and was lost in my own little world.

"Ok," I said, hanging my head, "I'll tell you," I said helplessly as Fang took a step closer. "I'm scared of unicorns," I whispered.

Fang straightened up and glared at me.

"What?" I asked innocently. "Are they a horse or a rhino? They can't be both! And how did they get that horn? Did they have a brain aneurism or something because what if I get a brain aneurism? I don't want to sprout a horn!" I rambled, praying Fang would forget the whole conversation.

"What happened to you?" Fang asked quietly.

That shut me up real fast. It wasn't just his words, but his tone of voice also caught me off guard. He just seemed so…I don't know…caring maybe?

"Max, you can talk to me," Fang reassured, dropping his hole badass façade for the moment.

I looked back into his eyes. Those gold flacks were there, but he didn't seem annoyed. I studied his eyes and tried to pick up anything that would tell me if I could trust him.

I opened my mouth when I saw a flash of red over Fang's shoulder. Lissa. She was standing by the pool and supervising her group while they did laps. She kept sneaking glances over at Fang and me, a look of curiosity mixed with jealousy on her face.

My eyes narrowed as I continued to stare at her, "I can't tell you here," I said, still staring at Lissa.

She glanced over at us again and noticed me watching her. She quickly snapped her attention back to her group and pretended like I didn't just catch her eavesdropping.

Fang looked over his shoulder at Lissa. He shook his head and looked back at me. "Max you have to tell me," he said sternly, badass Fang came back out again.

"I don't have to do anything, Fang," I snapped with a little more force than I intended.

"Yeah, you do Max," Fang answered, his voice rising.

Lissa's curious eyes wandered over to us.

Fang face was set in a determined expression as he waited for my answer. I can already tell there was no way around this.

"Fine," I said hissed against my will, "but not here." I headed toward the door so I could go back to my room to change and escape Lissa's penetrating stares.

A warm hand suddenly clasped around my wrist, sending a series of pleasant sparks up my arm. I stopped in my tracks and looked behind me to see Fang. His mouth was set in a stubborn frown as he looked at me disapprovingly.

I let out a sigh, "Tonight," I told him.

"Tonight," he agreed and let go of my wrist.

My wrist elapsed into numbness with the sudden absence of the tingling that had once dominated my whole arm.

Fang turned to go back into the gym as I turned for the door while to make my escape.

"Go for a little swim?"

I looked around to see Dylan had walked to my side. "Fang threw me in," I explained.

He was wearing cargo pants and the camp shirt, but his wasn't cut up like mine was. "Fang?" Dylan questioned with a furrow of his brows.

"Oh," I said as I realized I'm the only one who calls him that. Now, what was his real name…? "Private Amersham!" I said as it finally came to me.

A tight smile crossed Dylan's face, "You piss him off?"

"Eh," I answered with a shrug, "same old, same old."

Dylan relaxed and chuckled as he continued to walk with me to my building. "Shouldn't you be with your group or something?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he replied simply.

"And…"I prompt.

"No 'and'. I'm supposed to be with them, but I'd rather be here with you," he replied.

I looked at him to see he was staring straight ahead, but there was a hint of pink on his cheeks. It was…kinda cute the way he got embarrassed.

"Hey, what are you doing tonight?" I stopped in front of my building and looked up at Dylan. An intricate plan was concocting in my head.

"Sleeping?" he answered, confused.

"Well, I'm going to get my friends together to go to the beach. Wanna come?"

"The beach?" he asked.

"Yeah, I mean, it's kinda depressing if you go to Florida without visiting the beach," I explained.

Dylan nodded in agreement, "And how are we going to get to this 'beach' you speak of?" he asked.

"Let me worry about that," I said mischievously.

"Then I'm there," he replied.

"Sweet," I said before I walked into my building, leaving Dylan behind.

What? Gotta have your backup. I might as well have a crowd so I can have an escape route if I need to get away from Fang. Hence the little group I am now assembling. Mwhahaha!

Yeah, I'm a genius! So you can stick that in your juice box and SUCK IT!

Not much had happened, but next chapter will hopefully answer all your questions about Max's past so you have something to look forward to. For all you Fax lovers, I promise there will be some fax moments in the next chapter too! Not making any promises as to when I'll update, but I'm hoping before Christmas. It'll be my little gift to you! Don't forget to REVIEW and tell me what you think!


8. Chapter 8

EXAMS ARE FINALLY OVER! Whoo Hoo! Not much to say, but ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


Some people can sleep all day if you let them and then some. Me? I just can't sleep even if my life depended on it.

So here I am, wandering around the camp at night with my hands in my pocket. I shuffle past the guards to see Butch sleeping…again.

I sighed to myself as I fixed my eyes on the sky. I gazed at the stars and named the few constellations my mom had taught me. Although she had taught me them a long time ago, I still remembered some because they were the only thing normal in my childhood.

I remembered the time I had told general about the stars, to which he replied with, "Stars are for dreamers and dreamers are failures. I will not tolerate failures in this house," he said sternly. That's the day I stopped dreaming.

Sighing to myself, I tore my eyes away from the enchanting sky to see a figure creeping through the shadows of the building. Even if I hadn't seen the flash of dirty blonde hair, I would've known it was Max.

Ever so quietly, I glided toward the building and peeked over the corner. Max was on the other side, peering around the corner.

Seeing that Max's attention was elsewhere, I crept up behind her and coolly lent against the wall right next to her. She still hadn't noticed me so I went ahead and broke the silence, "Looking for someone?"

Max spun around so fast and gasped out of shock. "Damn it, Fang," she hissed, her hand over her heart.

"So, are you going to tell me or what?" I shrugged off the wall and took a step toward Max.

She peered over the corner again, "Yeah, just not here," she answered, looking back at me.

Before I could protest, Max had already grabbed my arm and was towing me across the campus. She steered us toward the deserted parking lot.

Max stopped in front of the assistant general's car. She tapped a rhythmic pattern on the glass and stood there, waiting.

I looked at her and lifted one eyebrow in question when a mop of curls popped out of nowhere.

Despite myself, I took a surprised step back as the girl opened the door.

"What took you so long? I was getting so scared you got caught and then I was like 'What if we got caught?' And then I started freaking out and Iggy threatened to shove his sock down my throat…" The girl rambled before her eyes landed on me and she stopped talking abruptly.

"Max," she girl whispered, not taking her eyes off of me, "Don't look now, but Private Amersham is right next to you."

Is this girl for real?

Max rolled her eyes, "I know, Nudge. I brought him. That's what took me so long," she answered.

Nudge (weird name) stepped out of the driver seat, walked over to the other side of the car, and climbed in. I stood there awkwardly as I looked at Max then back at the car.

How do they plan on driving the car if they don't have the…

My question was answered when the car roared to life. Surprised, I looked at Max to see her let go of the wires under the steering wheel.

"Fang," Max said looking at me, "grow a pair and get in the car."

Grow a pair? A pair of what?

Hesitantly, I opened the door and slid in.

I situated myself next to Dylan, of all people. Next to him was a tall guy with blonde hair and the girl, Nudge, on his lap. Then there was a girl with blonde curly hair sitting in the front.

Max turned from her seat in the front and introduced everyone, "Fang, this is Angel, Iggy, Nudge, and Dylan. Everyone, this is Fang."

"Fang?" the blond kid, Iggy, scoffed.

"Iggy?" I questioned with a quirked eyebrow.

"Touché," he replied then turned to Max. "Let's go. I don't think Gazzy can survive in an enclosed space with his own odor for very long."

Max shrugged and pulled out of the parking lot. Everyone fell into silence.

"What's a Gazzy?" I asked out of curiosity.

"It's a special bomb with its own homemade ammo that it can be reused over and over again," Angel simply answered from the front seat, "Just keep your distance."

I wonder how they got a hold of a Gazzy. It sounds like a pretty serious weapon and I didn't know if I should report them or let is slide.

The rest of the car ride was filled with mindless chatter. I kept to myself, but listened to their random banter.

In no time, we were pulling up to the beach. I guess that'd make sense to go to the beach. I mean, it sucks having to work in the sun all day when the beach is ten minutes away.

Max parked and everyone spilled out of the car. I stepped out and watched as everyone ran to the dock that jutted out into the water.

I was about to start walking to the beach when I heard a loud thumping coming from the trunk. What the…?

I opened the trunk and a boy with blonde hair sat up, gasping for air.

"Usually I'm proud of my bodily perfume, but that was excruciating!" the boy said as he climbed out of the back.

Noticing he wasn't alone, he slowly turned his head in my direction. He jumped a foot in the air before standing straight and saluting me, "Sir," his squeaked. The boy cleared his throat then said, "Sir," in a deeper voice.

I let out a sigh, "At ease, cadet."

He dropped his hand, but remained in his tense posture. "Gazzy!" Max yelled from the dock.

The boy snapped his head in Max's direction. Oh, so his name was Gazzy! Strange name.

"Uhh," the boy hesitated, looking at me, "permission to be excused?" he asked.

"Permission granted," I replied.

Gazzy didn't waste time to scurry off toward the dock. I started off after him, but at my casual leisurely pace.

I stuffed my hands in my pocket and looked at the dock in front of me. The moon was illuminating the water surface as waves crashed the shore. Everyone was walking to the end of the dock where a light was shining on a platform where we could all sit.

Max was still watching as Gazzy rushed passed her and toward the rest of the group. She was about to yell up to me when Dylan came up behind her and picked Max up.

She let out a surprised gasp as Dylan wrapped his arms around her waist and pretended to throw her into the water. Max kicked and tried to pry his hands off her till he let her down.

My jaw tightened involuntary as I watched Dylan set Max down, but stayed close behind her. Did they have a thing? Max didn't look like she was aware of Dylan's presence, but he was really close to her.

I stopped at the beginning of the dock and just looked at Max. I stood there till she took the hint that she was not getting out of our talk by bringing her friends.

She sighed and started walking down the dock toward me, not even acknowledging Dylan as she left. The corners of my lips twitched as I saw the disappointed look on his face.

In no time, Max appeared in front of me, "Something funny?" she asked me.

Am I really that easy to read? I just shrugged and started walking down the dock. Halfway down, I stopped and sat down. After a second of reluctance, Max sat next to me.

"What do you want to know?" she asked in attempt to act nonchalant.

I didn't fall for it, "Start from the beginning," I said.

Max looked out at the water, refusing to look at me, and began, "My parents had me in an attempt to repair their marriage, but by the time I had turned five, it was no use. They had lost the spark and divorced each other. Five years later, Jeb had a kid with a woman who died in childbirth, Ari," she coked out her brother's name.

Max took a second to compose herself and continued, still refusing to look at me, "My mother had to travel to Europe for two months for her job so she left me with Jeb. The first week was normal. Jeb would make breakfast, lunch, and dinner while I would play with Ari. We were inseparable and it was clear that he looked up to me," Max paused as she watched the wave lap against the dock.

I stared at the side of her face as she continued to stare into space. I noticed the light sprinkle of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her lashes weren't long, but they weren't short either. They were just the perfect length to cast light shadows on her cheeks.

"By the second week, Jeb asked to bring me to work. I was so excited and quickly agreed. He took me to a white room that smelled heavily of a doctor's office. He sat me on the steel table at the center of the room. I didn't think anything of it except that the table was cool against my skin and raised goose bumps on my arms. I trusted him so much, but all of it was shattered when he took a needle out and walked toward me. I watched him as the needle pierced my skin and the liquid was injected. Then, my whole body erupted into an unseen fire,"

I felt a sharp prick in my hands and noticed my hands were gripping the dock so hard that it had given me a splinter. I loosen my gripped and focused on Max again.

"I went to Jeb's work every day and everyday I'd receive tests. I was able to run faster and hit harder. They would work me till I collapsed from exhaustion. That's why General Speaking had made me do the course over and over again. Rumors had spread about my…endurance," she struggled for words. "With the lack of treatment, my endurance has lessen, but not to the point to where I'm normal."

"The tests got to be so bad that I would beg Jeb not to take me to work, but he would disregard my plead. It became routine every morning. He would grab my arm harshly and drag me toward the door. I'd scream for Ari as he desperately latched onto my other arm. Tears were in both our eyes as Jeb raised his hand and smacked Ari on the cheek. Everyone, even Jeb, froze as the sound lingered in the air. Ari's cheek was red and tears were falling freely as I was dragged away."

Max's eyes were starting to collect tears as her past unraveled before me. Her eyebrows scrunched together, no doubt hating her vulnerability. I reached for her hand, but thought better of it and quickly retracted it.

She took a shaky breath and continued, "My mom came back in town before they could graft the wings on my back as they had wanted. Jeb made me swear to not to tell or he'd drag me to work again and keep me there permanently. My mom picked me up and took me back home. As we drove away, I looked back and instantly regretted it. In the middle of the street, was Ari. His eyes were red and in his hand was a suitcase. He watched the car as we drove away and I didn't do anything about it," a tear fell down her cheek and she wiped it away furiously.

"I thought that Jeb would never do to Ari what he had did to me because he was the only thing he had left of his second wife, but I was wrong. Two months later, with no communication, I was informed that Ari had died. It was a close casket wake because his body was mutated. They didn't tell me the details, but they questioned Jeb. Two weeks of questioning and he was in the clear. He walked and we had to bury my brother. I'm the reason he died," Tears were freely falling as Max brushed her hair to the side to try to conceal her weakness from me.

Without thinking about it, I wrapped my arms around Max and pulled her to me. The action felt foreign, but at the same time, it felt right. She was shocked at first, but then buried her head into my shoulder.

It took me a little while longer to relax, but eventually my back slacked as I held Max. I've never been this close to anyone, physically and figuratively.

"It was my fault. He'd still be alive if I wasn't so selfish," Max cried into my shoulder.

"Shhh," I soothed Max. I stroked her hair as my mom had did for me once. It soothed me then and it seemed to be what Max needed now. "Why don't you tell the police what Jeb did to you?" He can't threaten to take you back to that hell hole if I have anything to do about it, I added subconsciously.

"It's just my word against his. They won't believe a delinquent like me," she shook her head, her tears subsiding.

"I believe you," I said so quietly that I didn't think she heard me as we lapsed into silence.

We sat there, together. Her warm body heat against mine as I tightened my arms around her. I rested my chin on her head and looked at the moon.

I would give anything to punch this Jeb guy in the face. I bet he doesn't even know the impact he has had on her life. She had perfected a convincing mask that I bet not even her family saw through. If the general hadn't made her run, I would have never known Max was keeping her past a secret.

All of it made me see red. Not because it was just Max, but no one deserves to feel this way. I looked down at her only to see the top of her head, her face still buried into my shoulder.

It was all a very story book moment, but this can't be my life. Nothing in my life is suppose to feel this…peaceful…good…right…

Max started to pull away from me and I let her, my arms loosely around her waist still. Panic flashed through her eyes, but before she could say anything, Iggy's voice sounded over the sound of the waves, "Max, Fang!"

We snapped our heads to the group to see everyone squinting at us. I guess they couldn't see us in the dark because Dylan wasn't glaring at me for having Max in my arms.

Max jumped up and quickly wiped away the lingering tears off her cheeks and called back, "Coming," without a hint of distress.

Without another look at me, Max started off toward everyone else with me just a step behind her. We reached everyone and I sat down next to Iggy as Max sat down between Dylan and me. What is the phrase? Bittersweet? I'm glad she sat next to me, but I didn't like they way Dylan scooted closer to Max.

Max turned her whole body to the group so her was back was to Dylan, much to my delight. We all talked, well I mostly listened. I'm not yet comfortable around all of them and they weren't yet comfortable with me.

The night was getting late and conversation was dying down. Max was staring out into space again when Dylan decided to make his move.

He leaned in and whispered something in Max's ear; his lips so close to her ear. He smirked as Max turned her head to whisper something in his ear. She pulled away and a flirtatious smile playing on her lips. There was a hint of taunting in her smile, but I bet she said some witty comment to Dylan or something.

I couldn't take it. I turned my back to the two and focused on the rest of the group. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why I felt so…protective of Max. Not only protective, but a desire to be with her. I wanted to be the only one to be with her and the only one she wanted to be with. Not Dylan.

Crap. Protective. Desire. I'm falling for Max. This was not supposed to happen.

We had all made it back to camp without suspicion. The guards were sleeping as we all crept to our respected buildings.


I turned around to see Max biting her lip as she looked at me.

"Can we talk?" she asked.

I shrugged as she walked to my side, my arm brushing hers as we walked.

I waited patiently for Max to begin when she was ready as we walked toward her dorm. "About tonight…" she began.

"I won't tell," I assured her before she could finish.

She stopped in her tracks and looked at me. I stopped too and looked back at her. The moonlight lit up her face and accentuated the blonde in her hair. "I was going to say thanks," she said.

I was taken aback for a second but composed myself, "No problem," I said with a shrug.

"No, Fang, you're the first person I've ever told and probably the last," she explained.

"Because I forced you to," I said bitterly and started walking again.

Max jogged to my side, "Fang, I needed to tell someone," she reassured.

Finally, we had stopped in front of her dorm. I turned toward her to see her studying my eyes. I closed myself off and looked emotionless.

"I'm glad that person was you," she said stubbornly. I couldn't help the little excitement I felt in being the one she trusted. She told me and not Dylan.

Suddenly images of Dylan's arms around Max and his lips by her ear flooded my head. "You could've told Dylan," I said, masking the bitterness I felt.

"But I told you because I trust you," she said sternly, crossing her arms over her chest.

I couldn't help the smirk that appeared as a result of her stubborn look. Without thinking about it, I raised my hand to catch a lock of Max's hair that fell from behind her ear. I slowly tucked it back behind her ear.

"Get some sleep," I told Max as I turned and left.

No matter the amount of distance I put between Max and me, I already know I'm in too deep.

LPOV (Lissa's point of view)

Where are they? They've been gone for longer than an hour now!

I paced in the shadows as I waited for Nick to return with the rest of the creeps.

There is something going on with Max and Nick. The way she looks at him. Ugh, she is totally head over heels for him and when she totally dragged him into that car! She is defiantly an overbearing stalker.

The sound of a car pulled up. I eagerly peeked around the corner to see everyone heading to their dorms. I spotted Nick with Max. They were talking as they walked toward the girl dorms.

I kept an eagle eye on them as they stopped in front of the building. What are they saying? I knew I should have hid in the tree.

Watching intently, I witnessed Fang tuck a piece of Max's hair behind her ear. He turned around to leave before Max could pounce on him. He really shouldn't lead her on like that.

Nick walked away as Max stood there, smiling like the idiot she is. I know that look! She is totally in love with my Nick!

Oh, I can't wait to hear what the general will have to say about this.

An evil smile crossed my face as I entertained the possibilities.

I can't say I was crazy about this chapter. It was a little too serious for me, but I hope you guys enjoyed it. Merry Early Christmas! Hope that answered all your questions, but if you still have some, feel free to ask so I can straighten out any confusion. REVIEW!

Peace Out!

9. Chapter 9

New Chapter! This is kinda a chill chapter with the whole flock. Enjoy and don't forget to review!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"Everyone in position?" I asked, holding my walkie-talkie up to my mouth.

How, might you ask, did I acquire a walkie-talkie? Never underestimate the power of persuasion when you have Angel on your side. Poor guy was in a daze when he handed over three walkie-talkies to Angel.

I got a series of 'yes's from Gazzy, Nudge, and Angel.

Iggy, being the major idiot he is, answered, "Affirmative, Captain Butt Munch. Soldier Awesome in position and ready for some action."

"You are so lucky I'm too far away to punch your sorry excuse for a face right now," I said with a smile.

I heard him chuckle before looking down at the plan map I had in front of me. At the top, in big black letters, said, 'Operation Pickle Toes'. Don't ask me why we named it that, it was Angel's idea.

Everyone's position was marked and circled in red. Nudge, Gazzy, and I were hiding in the bush right outside the main office. Iggy was hiding behind the wall of the obstacle course. Angel was on the roof of the main office, acting as our watch-out. Again, don't ask because I have no idea how she managed to get up there.

We had this thing planned right down to the very last second. What? I told you I had endless possibilities. You are just about to witness one of them.

I looked around to see not a single Private in sight. We set up a faux 'Faculty Meeting' that all the Privates had to attend. Well, that and for free donuts. Fang almost didn't go, but I made him a bargain. If he goes to the meeting, I'll do the obstacle course. He looked at me strangely, but agreed.

I pressed the side button on the walkie-talkie, "Demolish the Great Wall."

Two seconds later, a big boom sounded, followed by the sound of a bunch of rocks hitting each other repeatedly.

"Phase one, complete," Iggy confirmed with a chuckle.

As if on cue, the doors to the main hall banged open. There, stood the general. His face was twisted in anger as he looked at the pile of bricks that use to be the ten-foot wall.

Looks like I won't be doing the obstacle course. That's one problem solved. *wink, wink*

Once the general took off, we wasted no time to take action. Gazzy, Nudge, and I scurried up the stairs and entered the dreary building. We sprinted down the hall and stopped in front of the general's office.

Without hesitation, I twisted the knob and stepped into the office. The general left in a hurry because the light was still on to reveal a very neat office. Everything was in its place and not a dust particle in sight.

"Nudge," I said, nodding toward the laptop that sat on the desk.

An evil smirk spread across her face as she sat in the general's chair. Her fingers moved at lightning speed across the keyboard.

"Gazzy," I said, turning toward him. He looked at me expectantly, "Just, don't touch anything," I told him.

He opened his mouth to object, but quickly shut it. "That's probably a good idea," he agreed with a nod of his head.

I smirked at him before walking behind the desk by Nudge. Her eyebrows were furrowed in concentration as her fingers continued to press random keys.

"I'm in!" Nudge exclaimed. She looked down at her watch, "Seven point eight seconds. I've done better," she shrugged indifferently.

I let out a chuckle before looking over her shoulder at the screen. "We agreed on thirty," I reminded Nudge.

She nodded her head once and carried on typing.

"How's everything looking, Ang?" I questioned into the walkie.

My walkie-talkie clicked and Angel's voice sounded, "It's hilarious. The general is yelling orders, but everyone is at the faculty meeting," she answered with a giggle.

"How about Iggy? Did he get away?" I asked.

"Oh he got away alright. He's currently hiding behind a bush, rolling on the ground laughing," she responded.

"Remind me to get that kid a helmet," I responded back. Turning toward Nudge, I questioned, "How's everything coming along?"

"Almost got it…and," Nudge raised her finger and hit the enter key with a little more theatricality than necessary, "done!"

"How long?" I asked immediately.

"Half hour. Not bad," she allowed.

After a little hesitation I decided to ask, "How much access do you have?"

She looked up at me, "I have everything at my fingertips," she responded looking down at her nails, "which need to be manicured. I mean seriously, look at my cubicles! They are almost nonexistent! And don't get me started on my hair…"

I slapped my hand over her mouth, "If you say so." I held the walkie-talkie up to my mouth again, "Angel, how much time do we have left?"

I waited a second for her to contemplate this, "Five minutes tops," she responded.

"See what you can find out about Elmo," I hurriedly told Nudge, focusing on the laptop screen again.

"Elmo?" she asked confused and started typing 'Elmo' slowly into Google search.

"No, I meant Lissa," I corrected with a smirk.

Nudge let out a giggle as her fingers went to work. "Daughter of the assistant general. Born and raised in Virginia. Became a Private two months ago," she rambled off.

"Okay, get to the good stuff," I said with a devious smirk.

Nudge mirrored my smirk and sucked in a big breath before continuing, "Deathly afraid of insects, the dark, and pandas. Was a party girl till her daddy sent her to a boot camp. Failed her test to become a Private, but her daddy was there to pull some strings. She enjoys dancing on bars and switching up her boy-toy every week," she finished.

"Pandas?" I asked incredulously. "Who's Cherry Pit's flavor of the week?" I asked curiously.

Nudge looked at the screen for a second before replying, "Pippy Long Stocking has her eyes set on…Nick Amersham," her eye brows rose in surprise and snapped her head to look at me. She looked at me like I would be offended by this.

"What?" I asked Nudge, confused by her look.

She shrugged and turned toward the screen, "Just thought you two had a thing," she started typing again on the computer.

"A thing?" I asked surprised, "Fang is…" I struggled for the right words. Frustrating? Stubborn? Impossible? Mysterious? Understanding? Warm? Strong?

"Just like you?" Gazzy supplied from his post by the door.

Nudge chuckled, her eyes glued on the screen, "No, she had the hots for Dylan."

"Dylan?" I asked even more surprised.

"Oh don't act surprised," Nudge said, looking up at me. "You two looked awfully cozy on the dock."

I let out a shudder, "Ugh, he kept scooting closer to me so I told him if he didn't keep his distance, I'll shave his legs while he's sleeping," I explained with a shrug.

"She's right," Gazzy said from the door, "she rather get closer to Private Black Panther."

I glared at him and opened my mouth to defend myself when my walkie-talkie beeped and Angel's voice sounded on the other side, "The fungus is infecting the toenail!"

"Does she always have to tell everyone about my medical history?" Gazzy threw his hands in the air.

"Gaz," Nudge began slowly, trying to contain her laughter, "that means the general is coming."

Gazzy turned beat red, "Oh," was all he said. He peeked out the door and a look of horror crossed his face. "The fungus is upon us."

My eyes grew to twice their size as I made a split decision, "Release backup cheetos," I ordered.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" Nudge asked in a nervous voice.

"Yeah, are you sure?" Gazzy asked.

"Yes! Just do it!" I whispered/yelled.

Immediately, the room erupted into a thick green smoke. The smoke was so strong that even my eyes began to water.

I heard the door swing open, but I couldn't see who it was through the smoke even though I was sure it was the general.

"What the…," he began, but erupted into fits of coughing.

Feeling my way around blindly, I finally touch the windowsill. I yanked open the window and some smoke rushed out the window.

"Nudge, Gazzy," I whispered.

Then, out of the smoke, emerged Nudge. She quickly dove out the window and into the shrubs that lined the building.

Gazzy soon followed, but he was slowly walking with his hands behind his back and a smug smirk on his face. I rolled my eyes before grabbing the front of his shirt and pushing him toward the window. He, too, dove out the window.

By now the green smoke was thinning and I could almost make out the outline of the general hunch over. Not sticking around any longer than I had to, I climbed out the window and closed it.

The three of us ran to the side of the gym where Iggy and Angel were waiting for us.

"That was epic, man," Iggy complimented Gazzy and gave him a high-five.

"We should have called it 'backup burritos' because that definitely didn't smell like cheetos," Nudge said between coughs.

"Why was it green?" I asked Gazzy, horrified, while waving my hand in front of my face. The smell was everywhere!

Gazzy grinned, "Jalapeños," he answered, simply.

Angel crinkled her nose, "You're going to have to burn those clothes."

"Bonfire?" Iggy asked hopefully.

I placed a finger on my chin in the universal 'thinking' pose. "I like the idea," I agreed.

He and Gazzy did one of those jump in the air high-fives. *sigh* Pyros.


I slowly turned to see Fang standing there with his arms crossed. He looked at me pointedly.

I mirrored his posture and answered, "Fang."

"What are you up to?" he asked suspiciously.

I put on my best innocent face, "What ever do you mean?"

He was about to answer me when two cars pulled up. 'Freddy Pizza Emporium' was written on the sides of the doors. The two drivers climbed out of their cars carrying fifteen pizzas each.

Nudge looked down at her watch, "Wow, thirty pizza in less than thirty minutes. Impressive."

Fang looked over his shoulder at the vehicles then back at me. "Max," he said again, but in a warning tone.

"Don't worry," I said with a wave of my hand, "courtesy of the general." The day I learned about Angel's amazing pick-pocketing skills, was the day I realized where all my pocket change disappeared to. It was also the day I sent her on a mission to retrieve the general's credit card. She was successful.

Fang's eyes widen a fraction of a centimeter, "What?" he asked in a deadly low voice. Everyone winced, but I stood my ground.

I pretended to let out a defeated sigh, "Obstacle course?" I asked. *wink, wink*

Fang nodded and started walking ahead of me. I was a step behind him when he stopped in front of the course. He just looked at the pile of rocks and shook his head wordlessly.

I stood next to him and let out a low whistle, "Bummer," I tried to conceal the smile on my face. I patted his shoulder once, "Want some pizza?" I asked.

Fang just looked at me, "There's no winning with you," he shook his head, the smallest hint of a smirk on his face.


"I saw them!" I screeched at the general. I stood in front of his desk in his rancid smelling office. Despite the windows being wide open, it still smelt like…tacos?

He just sat behind his desk, not even looking up from his papers. "Private, I'm aware of your status, or lack thereof, with my son, but I can assure you that your father won't be able to persuade your way out of a demotion."

I opened my mouth to argue, but the general cut me off, "You may be excused, Private."

I snapped my mouth shut and nodded before exiting his office. On the way out, I bumped into General Speaking. "Excuse me, Sir," I apologized.

"Private," he called and stopped me in my tracks, "I heard you are having some trouble with Cadet Ride and Private Amersham."

"Sir?" I asked, confused on where this is going.

"Would you like to get rid of Cadet Ride?" he asked with a grin.

I took a step toward him, interested in his proposition, "You know how?" I asked eagerly.

"Jeb Batchelder," he said and turned to enter the general's office.

Jeb Batchelder? What is that suppose to mean?

Well, if General Speaking can make Cadet Ride do as he says, then he might know some things. Looks like I'm going to have to do some research and find this Jeb Batchelder.

Dun dun dun! So I used some of Lissa's nicknames, but there is still more to come! I wanted to thank everyone who gave me nicknames, even if I don't use all of them. They seriously made me laugh. Anyways, like always…REVIEW!

Peace Out!

10. Chapter 10

Sorry it took me longer than usual to update, but there is an author's note at the bottom that explains. You don't have to read it if you don't want to. It just explains why it took me so long to update and why my updates won't be as frequent. With that aside, Enjoy and Review!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


She blew up the wall. It's night time right now and I'm still not over the fact that she blew up the ten foot wall and ordered pizza. I couldn't say that I wasn't impressed… I would bet good money on Max planning this whole scheme the second she got here.

I looked up at the sky and frowned when I saw that it was cloudy. No star or even the moon was in sight. Now what am I suppose to do all night?

Stuffing my hands in my pocket, I walked toward the faculty lounge, hoping that there were left-over donuts from the meeting today.

I turned the knob and was more or less surprised to see Max. She was in her pajama shorts and a sleeping t-shirt. She held up the bowl of popcorn in her hand and smiled innocently at me, "Popcorn?"

"What are you doing in here?" I asked, getting straight to the point and crossing my arms over my chest in the 'no non-sense' gesture.

She shrugged and plopped down on the couch in front of the flat screen TV, "Couldn't sleep," she replied over her shoulder.

I walked around the couch and sat on the opposite end of the couch. "What's your excuse?" Max asked me, not taking her eyes off the TV.

"Can't sleep," I answered with a shrug. The screen lit up and the movie started, "What are you watching?" I asked out of curiosity.

"We," Max emphasized, "are going to watch Fight Club."

Max stuffed a handful of popcorn in her mouth. I was glad that the room was dark so she couldn't see the smirk forming on my face. I don't know if it was because she said 'we' or because she looked like a little kid with popcorn in her mouth.

"Who said I was sticking around?" I challenged her.

She looked at me and raised one eyebrow, "You got something else better to do?"

I looked at the door then back at Max's satisfied smirk. Well, she had me there. I had nowhere else to go and sitting next to Max wasn't such a bad idea.

I shrugged one shoulder and took a huge handful of popcorn. Max's eyes widen at the significant less amount of popcorn in her bowl and glared at me. "I thought we were sharing," I said, emphasizing the 'we' like she had.

"I didn't know I was sharing with a bottomless pit," she replied.

Just to add to her frustration, I shrugged.

I was rewarded when she huffed and turned her stubborn eyes to the TV.

We sat in silence, just watching the movie when Max decided to break it, "Why don't you ever sleep?"

It was such an innocent question, but the idea of me telling Max about my life made me stiff. I sat up and kept my eyes trained on the screen.

I watched out of the corner of my eye as Max sensed my discomfort. She turned toward me, completely ignoring the movie now, and sat crossed legged to study me. "What's wrong, Fang?" she asked slowly.

I turned my head slightly and took in her confused expression. "Nothing," I answered shortly and indifferently. My calm mask immediately came up and covered the discomfort I was feeling.

She crossed her arms over her chest and got that stubborn look on her face. "I told you about my life, now it's your turn," she reasoned.

I'm not one to gush about my feelings and the idea of me spilling my guts to Max was horrifying. "You ask a question then I'll ask a question," I bargained.

Max thought this through and nodded, "Deal." She situated herself on the couch in a comfortable position before looking at me expectantly.

I turned toward Max and draped my arm along the back of the couch, movie forgotten, "You go first."

"Why can't you sleep?" she asked right off the bat.

"Not tired. Why else wouldn't I sleep?" I with a 'duh' look on my face.

Max took the pillow from behind her and smacked me on the stomach, "Serious answers," she said.

I let out a defeated sigh and looked at the screen without seeing it, "When I was little, the general told me that dreamers are failures. Ever since then, I wasn't able to sleep." Saying it out loud made me feel weak, which I wasn't. It sounds ridiculous that his one comment altered my life and that's what I was most ashamed of.

After a long silence Max said, "Screw him," I snapped my head to look at Max. "Your turn," she said acting like it was no big deal.

I couldn't help the crooked smile that formed on my face. It felt weird and out of place, but it felt good to finally tell someone.

"What are you going to do when you turn eighteen?" I asked. I knew for a fact she won't be going to anymore boot camps after her next birthday. She would be free of her parents' control and God knows what kind of damage she is capable of. Max looked like someone with a plan once she was free of her parents.

Max got a dreamy look on her face before she said, "I'm going to travel to Europe. I don't know where, but I figured I'd start with France."

Max caught the smirk on my face and hit me with the pillow again, "Don't do that smirk thing of yours. I am! I have it all planned out. I've saved enough money and my parents won't be able to tell me otherwise…" she rambled on about all the details.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, I was filled with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Max will leave and I'll be stuck here. Here, the only thing I know with no knowledge of the outside world. She'll see sites and I'll see guns. It was all very unsettling.

"Yo, Fang," Max waved her hand in front of my face.

I shook my head once to clear it of my previous thought process. "Yeah?" I asked, my full attention on Max.

"Have you ever killed anyone?" she asked.

"The opportunity hasn't presented itself, no," I replied coolly. After I've trained Max to the general's satisfaction, I will be shipped to the army where there more likely be opportunities where I will not hesitate. It's a little morbid to think about, but that's how I was trained.

Max nodded her head thoughtfully for a second then said, "Your turn."

I thought of a question, but found there was nothing I wanted to ask her. After a while I asked, "Why this movie?"

She shrugged, "It's an oldie, but a goody."

I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. Really? I don't mind the movie selection, but 'it's an oldie, but a goody'? Odd choice of words.

She took her pillow and hit me again, "No judgment or I'll be forced to release the wrath of the Flaming Chicken Butt on you," she threatened.

My eyes widened a fraction of a millimeter in fear. Fear over the thought of Lissa coming anywhere near me or fear over the fact that I knew Max was referring to Lissa, I didn't know.

"My turn," Max announced. "Why didn't you hit me in the face?"

Max must have sensed my confusion because she explained, "When we were boxing, you hit everywhere except my most vulnerable spot."

I froze. I didn't even realized I hadn't hit her face. What I should've done is hit her in the eye first and create a blind spot for me to sneak in a couple of punches. I thought about this and settled with an , "I don't know."

Max was about to object when I pointed at the black screen, "Movie's over.". She stood up and popped another movie in. Within seconds she was sitting on the couch again.

The movie started playing, "Donnie Darko," Max whispered as the movie started playing.

This time, we sat through the whole movie without a word. Our game of questions was forgotten once the movie had stared. Soon, the end credits came up as I stretched my arms above my head.

I looked over to see Max was out. No wonder it was quiet…

Her head was resting on the armrest with her hands under her head, acting like a pillow. Her breathing was deep and slow.

I stood up, turned the TV off, and kneeled in front of a sleeping Max. "Max," I whispered as I shook her shoulder lightly.

She mumbled something unintelligible and furrowed her brows a second before falling back to sleep. "Max," I said in a normal voice as I shook her shoulder with a little more force.

Once again, she mumbled something unintelligible and fell back asleep. I couldn't have her sleep in here and let her be found by some drill sergeant in the morning. Although I'm sure Max would be able to find her way out of the punishment.

Sighing to myself, I effortlessly picked her up bridal style and carefully walked out the door. She didn't even stir as I walked into the girl's dorm building. Man, she sleeps like a rock.

I stopped in front of her room only to realize that I didn't have a key. I rolled my eyes at my thoughtlessness and kicked the door lightly.

No answer. I kicked again with the same results.

I looked down at Max and saw that she had her head resting on my chest and a ghost of a smile on her lips.

I kicked again only to hear the sound of my kicking echo through the hall. Giving up, I walked to my dorm room. At least someone will get some use out of my bed because God knows I never use it.

I skillfully opened my door to my room and walked in. I closed my door with my heel and started toward my bed.

Gently, I laid Max down. She instantly curled up into a ball at the edge of my bed and continued to sleep. I grabbed the blanket and draped it over her small frame after I slipped off her shoes.

For someone who is so sarcastic and tough, she looked pretty peaceful when she slept. If only she could be like that when she's awake. One can only hope.

I looked at my clock to see that it was two in the morning. Max will be getting up in five hours so I might as well stick around just in case she wakes up. Don't want a freaked out Max when she wakes up not knowing where she is.

Quietly, I climbed onto the bed on the opposite side. I put as much distance as I could between us. To get comfortable, I crossed my ankles and folded my arms above my head. To pass the time, I stared up at the shadows that were casted onto the ceiling.

I listened to the sound of Max's quiet breathing as it filled the room. The sound was rhythmic yet soothing.

The general's request for me to whip Max into shape is becoming more difficult with every passing day. All I had to do was bring out the peaceful, sleeping Max for him to see, but it's proved to be more of a challenge than I had thought.

I was about to get up and walk around again when I heard Max shifting next to me. I turned my head slightly to look at her curled up form, "Max?" I whispered, checking to see if she's awake.

Max let out a sigh before rolling over to my side of the bed. Her head rested on my chest and one of her hands lightly gripped my shirt.

Well, this is different.

This is probably every guy's wet dream. Having a beautiful…an okay looking girl in your bed and laying her head on your chest. Me? I didn't know what to do. I was frozen in panic.

I didn't know what to do so I slowly brought my arms from behind my head and wrapped my arms around Max. She unconsciously snuggled closer so I wrapped my arms tighter around her. I uncrossed my ankles as Max scooted closer in search of body heat.

"Fang," Max voice split through the dark room. My name actually passed through her pink lips.

I looked down to see her still sleeping. So Max was dreaming about me? I don't know whether to be pleased or worried. Pleased that she is dreaming about me or worried about what role I may play in her dream.

I laid there with Max secure in my arms as I felt my eyelids getting heavy. As my eyelids drifted shut, I was vaguely aware that for the first time, I was actually going to get a good night's rest.


Beeeeeep! Beeeeeep! Beeeeeep! Thwak!

I squinted my eyes to read those merciless numbers. 6:00 a.m. I groaned once before closing my eyes again. Five more minutes…

Beeeeeep! Beeeeeep! Beeeeeep!

That could not have been five minutes. That felt like a minute at the most. I was about to hit the snooze button again with as much force as possible when someone beat me to it.

A tan arm, definitely male, reached out from behind me and pressed the snooze button once before returning to its position on my waist. It wasn't till that arm was positioned on my hip did I realize that I wasn't alone.

My senses were on hyperaware. I felt the warm breath on the back of my neck. I was conscious of the warm legs that were tangled with mine under the blanket. I was aware of the hard arms that latched onto my waist and secured me to an unknown heat source. The fingers that had tapped the snooze button was now rubbing the little skin exposed by my hip.

I looked behind me to see Fang, of all people. His eyes were still shut and his nose slightly flared as he breathed in and out. His hair had fallen in front of his face to cover one eye. Even when he's sleeping he looks mysterious.

I should have been furious that Fang was this close to me or at the very least annoyed, but I couldn't find it in me to be mad.

Slowly, I slipped out of his arms and immediately missed the warmth once my feet touched the cold floor. I tip toed toward the door to make my escape.

I reached the door and slowly turned the knob. Peeking over my shoulder, I saw that Fang hadn't even stirred. He was still laying on his side when a smile crept onto my face. It was hard to believe that not a minute ago I was asleep in his arms.

I shook my head to banish the thought. It was all a mistake that will never happen again. He is Fang and I am Max. There is no 'us' or 'we'.

Sighing to myself, I slipped into the hallway and strode toward my room.

I reached up and took the spare key from on top of the door frame. I unlocked the door and closed it quietly just in case Nudge was sleeping. I rested my back against the door and let out a sigh as my eyes settled on a sleeping Nudge. Hopefully she didn't wake at all last night to notice my absence in the bed across from her.

Crossing the room, I plopped down onto my bed and waited for Nudge to 'wake me up'.

Five minutes have passed as I continued to stare up at the ceiling. Had last night really happened? Did I seriously wake up in Fang's arms? And why did I want to wake up like that every day?

As I was pondering those thoughts in my head, a strong knock came at the door. Who could be up and knocking at our door this early?

I got up from my bed and stood in front of the door. I turned the brass knob and opened to reveal…


"Good morning, Max. Pack your bags. It's time to go home," he said with an evil grin that made my stomach turn.


Important Author Note! (You don't have to read it if you don't want to)

Ok, so I hate it when authors dedicate a whole chapter to say that they won't be able to update. That said, I won't be able to update for a while, but I wrote a whole chapter to soften the blow. I'm sorry if it felt rushed, but I wanted to write a chapter with the authors note.

There was a tornado that hit close to my house. Half of the roof was torn off and water started to leak into my room as well as other rooms. The gas pipes are all twisted so we can't use the heat in fear that there might be a leak. It wasn't as bad as some other houses whose whole house was destroyed, but my family and I are unable to live there.

My family and I are currently living at my grandparents' house and it tends to get crowded. So it might take me awhile to update since I should really need to try to focus on my family because of our situation. I have four sisters and one brother and my dad is a single parent. My mom passed away when I was ten and my dad never remarried. So not being able to live in our house really sucks.

So I'm sorry if anyone is disappointed, but I will try my best to update as much as possible.

Peace Out!

11. Chapter 11

Thank you sooo much for your reviews! I really wanted to thank all the people who shared their personal story with me. You guys are truly inspirational and I appreciate your reviews and concerns. I seriously almost cried when I read all of them. I'm still at my grandparents' house, but my house is suppose to be finished in a week. Without further ado, here's the new chappie!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride



"Good morning, Max. Pack your bags. It's time to go home," he said with an evil grin that made my stomach turn.

I forced back the feeling along with all the haunting images of Jeb's 'work'. "I would say good morning too, but seeing your face isn't a great way to start the morning," I grounded out between clenched teeth. How did he find me? The only person who knows where I am is my mom.

Jeb let out a sigh and his face changed from his sickening grin to an exhausted face. The tired frown on his face made him look older than he really was. "Maximum, I don't have time for this. You're coming with me even if I have to drag you to the car by the ear," he threatened.

"Well, Jeb," I whispered so I wouldn't wake Nudge up, "that would attract some unwanted attention now wouldn't it?" Realization flashed across his face as I continued, "Plus, you're gonna need something a hell of a lot stronger than your wimpy chicken arms to drag me away."

A smirk spread across my face when Jeb looked down at his arms then folded them behind his back to hide them. He cleared his throat and decided to take a different approach, "If you don't come with me, then you're putting other people's lives at risk."

"The only life that is at risk is yours," I hissed as I took a step toward Jeb.

I carefully watched him as he slowly pulled out a chain from his pocket. The silver shimmered in the light as he held it up with two fingers in front of my face. An all too familiar sparkling trinket hung from the chain. It was a silver key coated with diamonds. My mom's necklace; the key to her heart.

"Where did you get that?" I snarled.

"Come with me," he began with a shrug, "and she'll be spared."

He doesn't have her. For all I know, he could've stolen that when he visited my mom and I in Arizona. "Bullshit," I sneered into that pathetic, low-life's face.

He took a quick and unexpected step toward me, "Don't test me, Maximum. You, of all people, should know very well of what I'm capable of."

Mixed images of Ari and my mom flashed in my head. The two people I love. One is dead because of me and one may or may not be in danger. It wasn't worth letting anyone into my life if all they do is get hurt.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but my mom's life isn't something that should be jeopardized because of my stubbornness, "I'll meet you outside," I said as my jaw clenched in anger.

"That's not how it works, Maximum," Jeb replied.

"Max," I corrected with irritation, "my name is Max."

He ignored me and pushed passed me into my room, "I'm going to watch you pack," he stated before sitting down on my bed.

I looked at Jeb then at Nudge and back at Jeb. Jeb put a finger to his mouth and made a 'shhh' before looking pointedly at Nudge.

I rolled my eyes, but started packing.

An escape plan started to formulate in my head although it is a little difficult because I haven't been to his work in Georgia. You see, Jeb's 'work' is all around the country and I had the liberty to visit only one of their many convenient locations. After Ari's death, I did my research and found all the locations of Jeb's work and the closest one here being in Georgia.

I zipped up my bag and looked over at the sleeping Nudge. A smile spread across my face. I was so lucky to have a friend who was so willing to put up with me, but maybe it was for the better that I was leaving.

I picked up a paper and pen and started to write a note. Jeb snatched my wrist in his hand and hissed, "What are you doing?"

"I'm writing a farewell note to my friend," I hissed back.

He thought that over for a second before slowly releasing me. He didn't move away, just stood there and read over my shoulder as I wrote. Talk about invasion of privacy.

I finished my letter and slid it into an envelope. Sighing to myself, I quietly set it down on my bed and walked to the door, Jeb following close behind. With one more look over my shoulder at Nudge, I closed the door and started to walk down the hallway; taking my sweet time.

I stepped outside with the sun shining and birds chirping. I suddenly had the urge to just pick up a rock and chuck it at one of those birds. What? Why should he be happy when I'm going to be stuck with the spawn of Satan? I think if the bird was in my situation, he'd understand…Just saying.

Jeb grabbed my bags from my hands and started toward the parked car. A victorious grin spread across his face, "Hurry up Maximum. We have a long drive ahead of us," he said oh so chipper.

"It's Max," I corrected again which he in turn ignored…again.

I took a quick glance around the deserted camp. No one would be out for another ten minutes. Maybe I can stall until someone comes out because I'm sure no one knows of Jeb's presence.

"I'm waiting," Jeb sang irritatingly, standing by the driver side of the car.

I let out an annoyed sigh and climbed into the passenger seat, "Jeb, you ever wander what you'd be like if you had enough oxygen when you were born?" I asked curiously.

Jeb pulled the car out and started driving down the road. He tried to ignore my comment, but who can ignore me? Not many.

So I did what any reasonable person would do…I used my gift of charm and talked his ear off. "You know, I'm a firm believer that everyone has the right to be ugly, but you abuse that privilege."

Jeb, once again, didn't respond. Instead, he kept his eyes straight and his firm grip on the wheel.

"Any similarity between you and a human is purely coincidental. A llama, though, is a different story. Has anyone ever told you that you could double as a llama and no one would ever know the difference?" I asked Jeb, turning toward him.

No response. Big surprise.

I kept talking and insulting Jeb nonstop for twenty minutes. I was starting to feel like Nudge right about…NOW.

"You have the perfect weapon against muggers, you know?" I asked Jeb. He didn't respond so I carried on, "Your face," I finished with a shrug.

I was about to carry on when Jeb decided to use his voice, "A thought crossed my mind…" Jeb started before I cut him off.

"That must have been a short and lonely journey,"

Jeb snapped his head toward me to glare. I countered with my own glare and was rewarded when he winced and focused back on the road, "Like I was saying, I was thinking," he began, but I cut him off again.

"I hope you were wearing your helmet because thinking without protection could further damage your peanut of a brain," I said with fake concern.

"You will not talk to me like that. I am your father and I demand more respect from you," Jeb shouted, anger shown clearly in his tense posture.

"Not by choice," I grumbled.

Jeb chose to ignore this and continued, "Maximum, you have so much potential and I want to unleash it for all the world to see. At birth, I knew you were destined for greatness."

"What? Was I able to fart on command because that would be a kid with a bright future," I interrupted…again.

"No. You had a spark that set you apart from children and adults alike," Jeb said sternly. "Right then, I knew it was my duty to reveal your potential. When you left, I searched for a new canvas, but none as promising as yours arose."

"Well," I said clasping my hands together, "I'd like to you see your point of view, but I don't think I can stick my head that far up my ass."

"You don't see what I see," Jeb said calmly.

Isn't that what I said? The man is too slow for his own good. I don't know how much longer I can take! Jeb is spitting out nonsense and I can't find it in me to listen. He drones on and on about the 'potential I had' and 'the greater good'.

It's for mom. It's for mom. I chanted in my head over and over. My mom was a busy woman. She was hardly home because she worked all the time, but I didn't mind because she always found time for me.

The only day off she got was Sunday where she did her routine. Wake up at six, make coffee, watch the sun come up, read her book, then she would make herself lunch before spending the rest of the day with me. Now, since I was at camp, she would volunteer at an animal shelter instead. Jeb had to know her routine to kidnap her otherwise, there would be witnesses everywhere she went…

"How'd you do it?" I interrupted Jeb in a calm voice.

He wiped his dreamy expression off his face and looked at me in confusion. "How'd I do what?" he asked.

"How'd you kidnap mom?"

"She was at the house Saturday afternoon when the boys picked her up," he answered.

Stupid, stupid Max! He doesn't have mom!

I nodded my head coolly and looked to my right to see the door was locked. It wasn't the kind of lock where you can pull it up to unlock it. Nooo, this lock went into the door so there was no humanly way possible to unlock it manually.

Think, think, think. I urged myself. "Bathroom break?" I asked Jeb.

A look of panic flashed through his face. "Uh, sure," he stuttered, "but any funny business and your mom will suffer the consequences."

I rolled my eyes at this, but didn't reply.

Five minutes later, we pulled up to an abandon gas station. The windows had so much dirt on them that you couldn't even look through them. On the count of three, everybody say SKETCHY! One, two, three! Nobody? Yeah, another time.

Jeb parked the car in the abandoned lot and unlocked the car. "You have five minutes," he warned.

"Time me," I said sarcastically as I took off toward the bathrooms on the side of the building. I placed my hand on the knob and turned my head to the left to see Jeb sitting in the car staring at me.

I flung open the door and stepped inside the nasty bathroom. The light was flickering, the faucet was dripping, the ground was covered in dirt, and someone left a present in the toilet…unwrapped, if you catch my drift.

I crinkled my nose before rushing over to my escape. The window. It was just big enough to squeeze through. After many attempts, I finally twisted the lock and slid the window open. Smirking to myself, I hoisted myself up by the ledge and slipped through the window.

Now, I hadn't thought too far ahead and I was just realizing that now. I was in the middle of nowhere and I had no money or phone. Not to mention, if I ran, Jeb would see me and he has a car that he can chase me down with. All I have to say is"Way to go, genius!"

Groaning to myself, I turned around to scout out the area when two sets of hands grabbed my arms. I looked right and left at the owners of the hands and froze. Erasers.

I remembered them all too well. They were the enforcers, but answered to the scientists at Jeb's work. They hadn't changed much, but they didn't look as intimidating as they did when I was younger.

I was struggling against their grips when I head Jeb walk up, "You didn't think I'd come without backup, did you?" he questioned with a grin on his face, no doubt enjoying the view.

"You don't have my mom," I snarled as I thrashed against the erasers' hold again.

Jeb's grin grew more prominent, "No, but it was the only way you would come with me willingly. After what happened with Ari, I knew you wouldn't refuse,"

"You'll pay for this," I glared at him with such intensity that he flinched before composing himself.

"Highly unlikely," he smiled widely. He reached inside his pocket and pulled out a tiny syringe.

I watched him with steady eyes as he uncapped it and flicked it a few times before a few drops shot out. With his smile still in place, he started walking toward me. The erasers' grip tightened as Jeb positioned the needle at my neck.

My muscles tensed as the needle plunged into my neck. The cool liquid rushed through my body as my muscles started to loosen.

My legs started to shake involuntarily and my vision started to blur. The erasers released me and I couldn't help but stumble a little to stay up right.

I was vaguely aware of Jeb coming up to me, "You will do great things, Maximum. I can tell," he whispered into my ear.

Fueled by anger, I mustered up all the strength I had left and punched blindly in the direction of his voice. I was rewarded when my fist connected with something hard, followed by a surprised cry of pain.

"Get her into the car!" Jeb yelled.

I felt the same hands grab me and drag me away before I lost consciousness.


Have you ever had a dream so great that you didn't want to wake up from, but when you did wake up, you tried going back to sleep in hope to pick up where you left off from? I'm obviously not talking from too much experience, but right now, that's exactly how I felt.

In my dream, I was out of my uniform and just walking around in a small town. The sun was shining and people were bustling to and fro, but I was just strolling leisurely down the sidewalk. Suddenly, something warm slipped into my hand and sent pleasant sensation flow from the unknown source.

"Back so soon?" I asked, a smile actually creeping onto my face.

From beside me I heard a sweet, short laugh, "I never left."

I shook my head lightly and chuckled, "Max," I breathed as I slowly turned my head to see…Lissa.

I jolted upright in my bed; a light sheen of sweat covered my forehead. My breathing was ragged as I sat up in bed. Just a dream.

Just then, a frantic knock reverberated though my room, "Nick! Are you in there?" Lissa's voice sounded from the other side. So that's why she was in my dream…

I let out a sigh and slowly wiped my hand down my face before getting up. I opened the door to reveal, as Max put it, the Flaming Chicken Butt herself.

"I thought you left too," she said as she let out a visible sigh of relief when she saw me.

Confusion washed over me. Lissa took my silence as the moment to explain, "Max left," she said with a shrug. I could see the smile she was holding back. Her and Max hated each other if I had to point out the obvious.

I pushed passed her toward Max's dorm room and ran into Nudge in the hallway, "Where is she?" I asked as calmly as I could. Max wouldn't leave without saying anything, would she? I thought we were friends, at least.

"I don't know. I woke up and her bed was empty and she's never up before me. I went to the mesh hall, but she wasn't there either. So I came back to our room and almost peed my pants when I saw all her stuff was gone. I checked under the bed because I thought it could be a practical joke and Max looks like one of those people who really know how to play hide-and-go-seek, but she wasn't there. Then I found this note," she finished as she pushed an envelope into my chest.

Without hesitation, I ripped open the envelope addressed to me and read the letter as fast as I could.

Dear Gumball,

What kind of cadet would I be if I didn't tell my Private where I had gone to? Although you probably guessed that I wouldn't stay in this awful camp for too long. Don't get me wrong, the people are great, but the camp is not my cup of tea.

Of course, I hate tea so I guess that analogy doesn't apply. Anyways, please tell Nudge, Angel, Iggy, and Gazzy that I'm sorry and I'll miss them. They will probably be mad at me so stay back a few feet if you see Gazzy turn a shade of green.

Regardless of their reaction, I want them to know that I feel bad for leaving them. I'm going back to Arizona so don't try to contact me.

Kicking your butt in boxing will definitely be the thing that I will miss the most. Also that time everyone got pizza and blowing up that stupid wall. Who knows, maybe someday another person like me will come along and kick your butt for me, but until then, take care, Applesauce.


I read over the letter again and ignored the stares from Nudge and Lissa. I read it for the fifth time before something inside me exploded.

Suddenly, I was running toward the front of the camp with the letter in my hand. I don't know what I was doing. It's not like she would still be there.

Just as suddenly as I took off, I was there; standing in an empty lot and looking at absolutely nothing. My hand that wasn't holding Max's letter flashed up to my hair to tug on it in frustration.

Did she leave because of me? Did I go too far last night when I brought her back to my room to sleep? Was it as hard for her to leave as it is for me to know that she's gone?

All these thoughts circled in my head. It was getting to be too much when one questioned stopped all the rest. Was it for the best?

Max and I haven't even kissed and I already have this horrible feeling of her absence. What if the general was right? Maybe love is just a fantasy that isn't worth the trouble?

I stood there for a minute, just staring at nothing. Lissa came to stand beside me, much like she had in my dream except we weren't holding hands.

"It's for the best," Lissa said after a moment of silence.

"How is it for the best?" I calmly asked, but my jaw clenched involuntarily. Although I was thinking the same thing, hearing it in words was difficult.

"She's done nothing, but cause trouble for the camp. After that little stunt, it was just a matter of time before she got kicked out," Lissa said in disgust.

I shook my head and withdrew my hand from my hair to look down at her, "Your wrong," I said so quietly that even a high-tech sound chip would have trouble hearing me.

"You can't actually tell me you like her," Lissa turned to me, her voice growing louder in shock.

I didn't have an answer for that because I honestly don't know. Instead, I turned to look at the empty lot one more time and stayed silent.

"People like her should stay away. They don't belong anywhere. Not here and certainly not with you," Lissa said, trying to sway my reasoning. "You're a private and your dad is a general. Cadet Ride is nothing more than the dirt on the bottom of our boots."

My fists clenched at her words. I watched out the corner of my eye as Lissa flinched and walked away; leaving me with my thoughts.

Max was anything, but dirt. Yes she was sarcastic and had difficulties with respect, rules, and orders, but she was, for lack of a better phrase, pretty fucking amazing.

I stared down at the note one more time before stuffing it into my pocket. Stuffing my hands into my pockets, I set off for the general for further instructions. I didn't want to do anything today, but I refuse to wallow in self pity because Max decided to leave me… I mean, the camp. She decided to leave the camp.

Ta Da! I hoped you liked it! Criticism is welcomed and REVIEWS are appreciated.

Peace Out!

12. Chapter 12

I am sooo sorry! You guys have every right to psychologically poke me! I've just been busy reading a book for school and picking out my classes for next year. It's all been very exhausting, but I made this chapter extra long. Enjoy and then REVIEW! Because we both know you want to ;)

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"She just left?" the general asked as he continued to read over Max's letter.

"Yes, sir," I replied in a clear voice, the hands behind my back clenching and unclenching together.

I stood in front of his desk with pristine posture, hoping to conceal the disappointment I felt. She left a note. Just a note. What? Am I not good enough to get a face-o-face goodbye? Was I really that much of an inconvenience to her?

"Very well," the general said dismissively as he set the note down on his desk, "I have no other plans for you because I thought that you would actually succeed.," my jaw clenched as the general continued indifferently. "Just attend to anyone who needs assistance till I figure out what to do with you."

I stared hard at the general as he looked down at some other papers that occupied his desk. Strange choice of words, 'till I figure out what to do with you.' Just like old times…I thought bitterly. "Sir, yes, sir," I replied again.

"Dismissed," the general answered back.

I nodded my head slightly as I swiftly retrieved the letter off his desk. The general's eyes snapped up to me as I quickly stuffed the letter into my pocket. I made for the door, but stopped when the general cleared his throat. I turned around and stood stiffly by the door.

"I would hope that you learned from this," he stated.

I waited for him to elaborate, but he didn't. "Sir?" I prompted.

"I'm not stupid, Private, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't insinuate that I am slow. I taught you my one rule to live by and I can tell there was something there between the two of you. I may be your general, but I'm also your father. You're foolishly attached to a girl who is incapable to return the feeling much less have any," he finished.

I hated the way he talked about Max as if he knew her. The way he treated her like Lissa had. Her words, the day Max left, echoed through my head, "Cadet Ride is nothing more than the dirt on the bottom of our boots."

I kept my mouth shut. Years of experience and months of practice have taught me that.

His words lingered in the air before the general made himself busy with the papers on his desk again. I took this as my cue to leave, so without another word, I walked out of his office. Each step heavier than the last. I may have left the office, but his words followed me out.

-Four Days Later-

My eyes swept over all the groups doing various activities outside. Legs shoulder width apart, hands clasped behind my back, and head held high. The perfect image of calm and in control; opposite to the misery I was really feeling.

I spotted Lissa a little ways away making her group run sprints. She noticed me standing there and seductively smiled at me. I fought back the look of disgust that was threatening to arrange on my face when she waved her fingers flirtatiously at me.

My eyes continued to sweep across the grounds when I spotted one of Max's friends, Iggy I think? Whoever he is, he's way better than Lissa. He was standing off to the side while his group ran sprints much like Lissa's group. It didn't look like anyone was supervising them so I decided to go there.

I silently approached Iggy and stood next to him without his knowledge. I leaned a little closer and asked, "Shouldn't you be running?"

He turned around and a goofy grin spread across his face when he saw it was me, "Fang! Long time no see, man!" he exclaimed and smacked me on the back once.

He was a few inches taller than me, but I was more intimidating so a few inches was nothing. "Shouldn't you be running?" I questioned again and looked pointedly at the people running in front of us as I crossed my arms over my chest.

Iggy looked back at all the sweating cadets in front of us and shrugged, "Yeah, but our Private isn't here so I chose not to run. Those poor saps are too freaked out to stop because they're scared the Private will come back."

I nodded my head thoughtfully and continued to watch the cadets run back and forth. I was always comfortable in silence, but Iggy always had something to say; at least judging by that one night on the dock.

"You got any good pick up lines?" Iggy asked anxiously, suddenly turning toward me.

Pick up lines? Like what do I say when I pick up a pencil? I usually just say, 'Found it.' Since I didn't want to sound like an idiot, I just shook my head.

"Dude," Iggy said exasperated as he shook his head, "every guy should know at least one good pick-up line. Lucky you, I got enough to write a book."

For ten minutes straight, Iggy rambled off corny lines that a guy would say to a girl to break the ice. His rant went a little like this:

"So I walked up to this blonde at my school and said, 'I was so enchanted by your beauty that I ran into that wall over there. So I am going to need your name and number for insurance purposes.' We went out for a month," he grinned victoriously.

"Oh, and one time I saw this beach bunny when I went to California for vacation. I walked up to her and ever so smoothly asked, 'Do you have a Band-Aid? I just scraped my knee falling for you.' Worked for one good make out session," he said dreamily.

After a second, he quieted down. I thought that was the end of it before he broke the silence with even more pick-up lines

"This is a good one! I was out with my friends when I spotted this girl with her boyfriend who was clearly a butter face. I walked up to the girl and said, 'Hey baby... drop that zero and get with the hero. In other words... you better come with me.' Got her number that night, but never called her," he finished with a shrug.

"Why?" I asked out of curiosity and in hopes that he would stop with the endless pick-up lines.

"Always leave them wanting more," Iggy replied with a wink.

All of the pick-up lines were very corny, but coming from Iggy made them shamefully funny. I'd smirk at a few of his corny lines, which is the equivalent to a chuckle for me. "Those don't actually work," I stated doubtfully.

"Hell yeah they do!" he exclaimed, a little offended I didn't have much faith in him.

I shrugged it off when Iggy said, "Watch this." With that, he took off toward a group of girls that looked like they were heading back from the bathroom.

I watched out of curiosity as Iggy approached the girls and started gesturing with his hands as his mouth moved. The girls all giggled while Iggy grinned at all of them.

I'm not going to lie, I thought Iggy was pulling those stories out of his butt. I mean, come on! Who would give a guy their number after he comes up and says, 'Can I borrow a quarter? I want to call my mom and tell her I just met the girl of my dreams.' Apparently a lot of girls do. I turned away from Iggy and gazed at the landscape in front of me.

I wonder if Max would fall for those cheesy lines. She doesn't look like the person who would fall for some cheesy line about how some guy lost his own number and asking for hers instead. She would probably let loose her infamous ice-cold glare on whoever unleashed something as bone headed as that onto her.

God, I miss her. I have absolutely nothing to do. Normally, I liked being alone, but now I just can't stand it. I crave her presence next to me. I craved her witty remarks and her badass façade. I just wanted to see her smile one more time. I craved my inner man to come back and kick this mushy wimp in the pills.

I'm a soldier. I'm strong. I don't need anyone or anything. I know I can do this alone, but I don't know if I want to be alone anymore.

"Hey," I heard someone say timidly.

I looked to my right and saw that Angel had walked up to me without me knowing. I nodded in response and continued to watch Iggy's group run. It doesn't surprise me Max was friends with all the people who seem to do nothing while everyone else is working their butts off.

"So do I call you Fang, Private Fang, Private Amersham, or Private?" Angel listed off.

"Private, but Fang when no one is around," I answered.

Angel nodded and followed my gaze to the group in front of us. We stood there watching a minute before she broke the silence, "Nudge said Max left a note," she said in a small voice.

I nodded as I fished into my pocket and handed her the letter. Angel looked down at the letter and back up at me.

I peeked at her from the corner of my eye to see her studying the condition of the paper. It was creased so many times from me unfolding it to read and folding it back up to fit in my pocket. It was crinkled and some of the letters were fading because of the countless times I had stayed up at night, running my fingers over the indents her pen had left.

Pretending not notice her curious looks, I watched the groups, but did not see them. If that makes sense.

She must have read it over and over again because she stared at the note for at least five minutes. After what felt like a year, Angel finally said, "There's something wrong."

That got my full attention. I turned toward her and hung on her every word. "It's just not like her," She continued. "Max never left a camp until they had to kick her out. Why would she freely leave now?" The confused look on Angel's face increased as she talked it out, almost as if I were no longer there.

"The only people she really hated were General Speaking and General Amersham, but General Speaking left and she never sees General Amersham. There had to be another reason, one she's not telling us," Angel's eyebrows scrunched up as she stared out into space.

Shame washed over me when I confirmed that the reason Max left was indeed because of me. There was no other reason why she would have left. "Me," I whispered before I could stop myself.

Angel snapped her head toward me. "What?" she asked.

I cleared my throat, embarrassed that I had actually said that aloud. "She left because of me."

"Bullshit," Angel scoffed.

My eyes widened a fraction as the words left her mouth. I never knew someone who looked as innocent as Angel was capable of cussing. Quickly composing myself, I shrugged and stared forward again.

"Max cared about you Fang. She just has her own way of showing it," Angel explained. I refused to believe that and just shrugged again. "Plus," she added, "Max wouldn't have left so suddenly because of a boy."

Boy? Did she just refer to me as a 'boy'? I'm definitely not a boy. Man is more like it.

We stood in silence again, with her reading the letter and me measuring her reaction from the corner of my eye.

"Does 'work' mean anything to you?" Angel asked, her eyes still glued to the letter.

I turned toward her again and watched her lips moved soundlessly as she read something over. "Work?" I questioned.

"Yeah," Angel replied as she pointed to the letter, "The first letter of each paragraph spell out 'work'. Does it represent something? Maybe something only you and Max would know?"

I was brought back to the night at the beach when Max told me all about her past. Her words as clear in my head as if she was right next to me now.

"By the second week, Jeb asked to bring me to work. I was so excited and quickly agreed. He took me to a white room that smelled heavily of a doctor's office. He sat me on the steel table at the center of the room. I didn't think anything of it except that the table was cool against my skin and raised goose bumps on my arms. I trusted him so much, but all of it was shattered when he took a needle out and walked toward me. I watched him as the needle pierced my skin and the liquid was injected. Then, my whole body erupted into an unseen fire,"

She always referred to the terrible place as Jeb's 'work'. She knew I would know the meaning behind the word because I was the only one she told. The possibility that she didn't leave because of me washed me with relief. It was short lived when I realized she must have been kidnapped.

"Private Amersham," I heard Angel yell from far behind me.

It was then that I realized I had grabbed Max's letter from Angel's hand and took off sprinting. My legs were on autopilot as they sprinted across the campus. My body was in motion, but my head was thinking of different ways to beat up this Jeb guy.

Without realizing it, I had stopped in front of Nudge, barley breathing hard. "I need your computer skills," I told a very surprised Nudge.

She opened her mouth to talk, but I had already grabbed her arm and started towing her to my room where my laptop was waiting. If I was going to find where this 'work' was, I was going to need some help.

We barely took two steps before Lissa stopped me by stepping in front of us. "Where do you think you're talking my cadet?" she questioned, shocked at my sudden action. Like she cared about any of her cadets…

"Cadet is needed elsewhere," I said quickly before taking another step around Lissa.

Lissa mirrored my step, "Where?" she asked.

"To help a friend," I grounded out between clenched teeth and glared, making Lissa flinch.

"Max?" Nudge breathed out.

Not answering Nudge, I glared at Lissa one second longer before stepping around her again. We started toward the dorms again when I heard Lissa mumble, "The only person who needs help is Jeb."

I stopped dead in my tracks. Releasing Nudge's arm, I turned around to Lissa, "What?" I asked calmly. There is no possible way she knew who Jeb was.

"Her dad, Jeb, is the only one who'll need help. Having a daughter like that can't be good for anyone's health. Good thing he took her back," Lissa explained in disgust, crossing her arms over her chest.

How did she know about Jeb and how did she know he took her? "What?" I asked again, this time not so calmly. Anger started to surface and I did nothing to try to cover it up.

"General Speaking told me about him. So, I called him and told him about the trouble she was causing and he said he'd pick her up," she replied slowly, uncrossing her arms and looking guilty under my glare. She widened her eyes and batted her eyelashes as she tried to look helpless and pathetic.

Despite her fail at trying to play the sympathy card with me, Lissa tried to up the whole innocent façade. If she were a dude, I would've punched her right then and there. Unfortunately, she's not.

"You're not worth my time," I snarled out before gently towing Nudge with me again.

"Bullet dodged! I thought Max was kidnapped from some nut job, but she's just with her dad. I was watching this CSI episode and this guy kidnapped this girl and then killed her. I don't know why they air stuff like that. I mean, is anyone else as nervous as me that some serial killer is watching these shows taking notes on how to commit the perfect murder and get away with it? "She asked incredulously.

We came to a stop outside my room. I had let go of Nudge's arm in the middle of her rant and now I turned toward her with my hand on the doorknob. "We're getting Max back," was all I said before twisting the knob and stepping inside.


I hate dumb people.

We all know that kid who, after the teacher said the test would be Friday, will still ask, "Wait. When's the test?" with the most clueless expression on their face. Major face-palm moment.

Or the people who point at their wrist when they are asking for the time. It takes all my strength not to yell, "I know where my watch is, buddy. Where's yours? I don't point to my crotch when I'm asking where the bathroom is! So stop pointing at your wrist!"

Don't get me started on people who spend ten minutes trying to push a door that clearly says, 'pull'…Don't tell me you are one of those people... Awkward …

Anyways, where I'm going with this is that I hate dumb scientists, to be more specific. Aren't they suppose to be smart anyways? Well, experience has shown me otherwise.

REWIND! *five minutes ago*

Day four of this hellhole and they're making me take tests after tests. Yeah, I've been in here for four days! All day, they run pointless tests. For example:

Test No. 43: The Labyrinth.

Objective: Find your way through the maze as fast as you can.

My thought: When turtles can lick their butt. Yeah, they're both not happening anytime soon.

I stood in the middle of the large empty room with my arms crossed over my chest. I looked down to see the awful uniform they had me get dressed into. It was the same plain black tank top and light blue shorts they had me in all those years ago. I already had two puncture marks on the inside of my arm where they injected me with the fluid that made my whole body burn.

I looked up to see two scientists looking down through their window room set into the wall. "Begin," the voice ordered over the loud speaker.

Wind rustled my hair from behind me and the sound of a thunder echoed off the walls all around me. I slowly turned around to the once empty room to see that it was now occupied by large white walls. Hm, must have shot up from out of the ground. The Labyrinth.

I turned back to the two scientists and cocked an eyebrow at them, "I don't know what makes you guys so stupid, but it really works for you two," I called up sarcastically.

That's when I got a very unpleasant zap on my feet. I jumped a foot in the air and let out an involuntary gasp. Pain shot up my legs for a mere second that felt like hours. I regained my balance and tried to appear as relaxed as I could with a throbbing pain coursing through my legs.

"Shit," I mumbled as I looked down at the shoes on my feet. They had given them to me before sending me into this room and now I knew why. The shoes had sent an electric current through my feet that had quickly spread throughout the rest of my body.

"Begin," the voice boomed again, irritation clear in his voice.

I rolled my eyes before sitting down defiantly. Before they could shock me again, I had already slipped off the electric shoes. I threw them across the room and watched them slam into the wall as a few sparks flew out of the soles of the shoes.

I sat there crossed legged and looked up at the scientists in their little booth, "Didn't see that coming did ya, turd-burger?" I called up to them.

I watched as they bustled around in their booth and talking on the phone frantically. That is when, my dear children, the thought of dumb people came to mind.

Why wouldn't they permanently attach the shoes to my feet? Not that I'm complaining…

Resting my elbow on my knee and placing my chin in my hand, I waited for their next plan of attack. I let out a sigh and let my mind wander.

Fang. Don't ask me why it wandered there, just go with it. I bet he thinks I left because of what happened that morning I woke up in his bed. Should I let him think that? I mean, yeah, Jeb kidnapped me, but should I tell him think it was a contributing factor?

The picture of Fang sleeping popped into my head as I relived that night. His breath on the back of my neck, his warm hand on my hip, and the peaceful look on his face only made me miss him more. Well, I miss all my friends at the camp as well as my friend: Fang. Emphasis on 'friend'.

I thought he said he couldn't sleep? Judging by that night, I say he can sleep pretty well. He was in such a deep sleep that it wouldn't surprise me if he started snoring loudly and drooling heavily. A smile unconsciously tugged at the corners of mouth just thinking that I was the only one to cure his insomnia.

Unfortunately, the fact is: he's a private and I'm a delinquent. 'Nuff said. His dad is the general and my 'dad' (notice the quotations) is a nut job scientist.

People say opposites attract, but they never say if they actually work. Plus, whoever said magnets were a good analogy for relationships should be punched in the face…hard.

Relationships in the friendship sense…thought I'd clear that up.

I was lost in my own thoughts when the door swung open. Whipping my head to the side, I watched as an Eraser came in. I slowly stood up from the ground and sized up the Eraser that stood menacingly by the door. "Come with me," he ordered.

I started to map out my attack silently in my head. Punch to the throat to choke Eraser and momentarily stun it. 1.8 seconds opening to lift leg and plant one precise kick between the shoulder blades. With opponent out of breath, I'll have 2.6 seconds to set another well placed kick to the temple. Instant knock out.

I sighed as I slowly realized I was falling back into old habits. Mapping out a precise attack was mastered by yours truly at age twelve.

As if in slow motion, my strategy worked out just as I planned it in my head. The Eraser laid motionless at my feet. Yes, you have my permission to be jealous, but please don't drool on my awesomeness.

I dramatically dusted off my hands and looked up at the scientists. They were both looking down at me with their mouths wide open. One of them let the telephone slide out of his hand as he stared at me in awe.

Crossing my arms over my chest, I waited for their next genius move. I was about to yell some sarcastic comment up to the gob smacked idiots, when someone pinched the back of my shoulder.

I whipped my head around to see nothing, but the maze behind me. My eyebrows scrunched up in confusion till I noticed a shiny glint on my shoulder where I felt the pinch. I reached behind me and pulled out a slender dart. Empty.

By the time I realized what it was, my body had become numb all over. Shortly after, I was enveloped into darkness.

"Overall, you scored a negative seven percent on your general knowledge test," Jeb said business-like with a hint of disappointment. "Congratulations, you are the first ever to score a negative percent on the test. I don't know how you did it, but you managed." He dropped my test onto the table in front of me with a smack.

"I take pride in being the first," I answered smugly. I leaned back in the cool metal chair and folded my arms behind my head. After I woke up with a major headache, I was sent into the interrogation room to get the results on a test they had me take over survival, leadership, blah, blah, blah… "I can't take all the credit, though. I get all my brains from my father."

Jeb's jaw clenched at my comment, but tried to hide it as he took a seat across from me. He rested his arms on the table and laced his fingers together. Calm on the outside, but the twitch of his jaw told me otherwise. "Maximum," he began before I cut him off.

"Max," I corrected.

Jeb gave me a pointed look before continuing, "Maximum, you need to start taking your life seriously. You are going to be an adult soon, so you should start making decisions like one."

"You're right," I said, lacing my fingers in front of me much like Jeb had, "and for my first order of business, I'm going to kick your ass," I finished with a menacing glare.

Jeb's eyes widened a fraction before averting his eyes down to my tests that still lay in front of us. He cleared his throat uncomfortably and shuffled the papers around uncomfortably, "On your scantron sheet, you marked either more than one answer or no answer at all. Why?" Jeb asked as he peered down on the scantron (answer sheet where you fill in the bubble for your answer).

I leaned over to point the scantron in Jeb's hands, "That's because it's a picture of a penguin sun bathing," I said in a 'duh' voice.

Jeb looked down at the scantron for a second before looking up at me with the most intimidating look I've ever seen on him. The anger in his eyes were apparent as he glared at me. The intensity of his gaze was so great that I almost flinch. Almost.

I sat up in my chair and glared back at him, but this time he didn't flinch. Instead, he let go of the papers and stood up abruptly. The table shook as he slammed his hands down; the sound reverberated in the room. "I am done. I know what you are capable of and I am not going to wait around for you to figure it out on your own," Jeb yelled.

My cold glare remained locked with his wild eyes. I refused to show him the fear that was bubbling in the pit of my stomach. I refused to show him the mental damage he did to me. I refused to feel sorry for myself when all I do is leave destruction behind me. I refused, but in the end, that will only get me so far.

"Tomorrow you will have one more test that you will complete," Jeb said calmer now. He straightened up and walked toward the door.

My glare remained on his back as he opened the door. "And Maximum," he said as he turned toward me with his hand still on the doorknob, "there's no going back," he said with a dark chuckle as if he was laughing at an inside joke. With his parting goodbye, Jeb closed the door behind him.

Anger suddenly coursed through my veins. What does he think he's going to accomplish by treating me like this? Every stunt he does pisses me off even more than the last. I just want to go home. I want to forget about everything and live a normal life.

In my rage, I slammed my hands down on the papers in front of me and swept them off the table as I suddenly stood up, knocking my chair backward. The papers flew against the wall and floated to the floor.

My rapid breathing started to slow down as I took a couple of deep breaths to calm down. I started to rub the back of my neck as I stared down at the papers. I was looking down at my platypus when something caught my eye.

I knelt down to the pile and pulled out a paper that was sticking out from the bottom of the pile. The drawings on it were what caught my attention as I peered down at the designs. I scrunched my eyebrows together as I scanned through the page. I was halfway through the paper when realization hit me hard. No…

I started to shuffle through the other papers when I saw that I was smearing black ink onto them. Confused, I peered at my hand to see black ink on my fingertips. What the…?

My back! I stretched behind me to brush my fingers on my back. Slowly, I brought my hand in front of my face to study the fresh ink on my fingers. Frantically, I stood up and turned my back toward the two-way mirror on the opposite wall.

I stared at my reflection in horror as I saw the very marks that were on the paper now on my back. My fear was confirmed as I studied incision marks on my back; showing where they will be cutting on my back.

They were going to be giving me wings.

Congrats to those who spotted the 'work' hint in the letter! I'll try to update as soon as possible, but school really caught up to me and my teachers are trying to make up for all the snow days we had. Until then…REVIEW!

AFTER THOUGHT: So I realized that I had blocked anonymous reviews, but I just unblocked it. Just FYI.

Peace Out!

13. Chapter 13

Ta Da! It didn't take me three weeks to update! Yes, I know I'm awesome…*wink, wink* This chapter is pretty long so I expect some REVIEWS. Good or bad, I can handle it. ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"You're going to have to give me more than just the word 'work', Fang," Nudge said, getting more and more agitated.

I was pacing back and forth in my room as Nudge sat behind my desk and typed away on my laptop. Think, think. I urged myself. "Check the police database and see if there were any complaints filed about any buildings. Check missing people too," I ordered. If they are experimenting on humans, they have to get them from somewhere. I thought grimly.

"Where do you want me to narrow down my search to?" Nudge asked as her fingers moved across the keyboard.

"Surrounding states," I answered. Jeb wouldn't risk taking Max through a long distance. Even I know that it would be risky with someone like her.

"There have been no complaints about any specific buildings and as for missing people, there's too many scattered unsolved cases to pin point them to a certain location," Nudge said, defeated. She slouched back into her chair and stared at the screen.

"Don't give up on me, Nudge," I insisted. "Check any properties owned by a man in his late thirties, early forties, named Jeb."

Nudges leaned forward again as her eyebrows scrunched together, the screen lighting up her face, "Last name?"

"She never said," I answered in exasperation. I could probably go and ask Lissa, but A) I don't want to be anywhere near her, in fear that I might spontaneously combust and B) We don't have the time. Max doesn't have the time.

"Forty-six Jebs. Huh, you wouldn't think Jeb would be a popular name, but here we have forty-six Jebs. It's probably an old person name because I've never met anyone with that name. Is it supposed to be short for something like Jebediah?" Nudge ranted.

"Focus," I ordered, but not too harshly, because I knew she had a tendency to rant about something and get totally side tracked.

"Right, right," Nudge agreed before typing on my laptop again.

There had to be something else in that letter. Maybe there was another hidden code like 'work'. I closed my eyes and analyzed the letter in my head. You're probably asking why I don't just pull out the letter and read it, aren't you? Well, why would I do that when I have already memorized the darn letter? Yeah, I have a lot of time on my hands.

I took the last letter of every paragraph and came up with, 'Anee'. Well, I think we can all agree that that's not a clue. Maybe the first letter of every sentence…? 'Wad Oat Ri Kaw'. Nope, not that either.

My hands tangled themselves in my hair and tugged a little out of frustration. I continued to pace while Nudge's eyes followed me with a weary look on her face.

I'm missing something…THAT"S IT!

"Gumball!" I exclaimed, turning toward her.

"I don't have any," Nudge said with a shrug.

"She called me Gumball!" I clarified, disentangling my fingers from my hair.

Nudge looked a little shocked, but answered in a confused voice, "Yeah, and sprinkle, sunshine, snickers, princess…," she counted on her hand.

"No," I interrupted her. "I'm Fang."

"And I'm Nudge. Where are you going with this?" she asked in confusion.

"Max's nickname for me is 'Fang', but in her note, she called me 'Gumball' and 'Applesauce'," I explained.

Nudge's face lit up as she started typing feverishly again. "So, look up anything with the reference to 'GA'," she filled in for me as she stopped typing and read what was on the screen.

I walked around my desk and leaned over Nudge's shoulder to stare at the screen.

"Gamblers Anonymous, General Atomics, Georgia's abbreviation, Giant Aquarium, General Assembly," Nudge rambled off.

"There!" I said and pointed at the screen a little too hard. "Georgia. Search for abandoned buildings in any secluded spots in Georgia."

A second later Nudge jumped a little in her seat. "There's three abandoned buildings!"

I sighed to myself. We don't have time to check each building. I slowly wiped my hand down my face and continued my pacing in front of my desk. We are so close… "Any of them abandon labs or hospital building?" I asked once the thought dawned on me.

She read through the page for a moment before looking up at me, "There's an abandoned hospital with its own laboratory attached to the main building."

"Where?" I demanded eagerly, leaning over the front of the desk toward Nudge.

She subconsciously leaned back in her chair, trying to put distance between us. "863 Summer Crest, Charlton County," she replied and began typing again.

While Nudge continued to type, I reached under my bed and grabbed an old duffle bag. I dropped it on my bed and rushed over to my dresser. Pulling out random clothes, I flung them over my shoulder toward my bed. Feeling satisfied I grabbed all the clothes I could possibly need, I dashed back to my bed and started shoving the clothes into my bag.

After much resistance, I finally zipped up my bag and started for the door. I was about to fling it open when I remembered I had a few problems.

One, I don't have a ride. Two, the general will surely see me pull away if I were to acquire a car. Three, I have no idea where Charlton County is.

I turned toward Nudge to speak my concerns when she said, "I already arranged a car to pick you up with a GPS. It already has your destination typed in so all you have to do is drive. As for the general, Angel is keeping him preoccupied," she finished with a smirk and all this time, not looking up from the computer.

I walked over to her and gently closed the laptop screen so not to smash her fingers. She looked disappointed, but smiled at me as I shoved it into my bag. "You're really protective of her," she stated matter-of-factly.

I shrugged once before walking out the door. Truth is, I do feel protective of Max. Whether I confirm it or deny it to Nudge makes no difference because she'll still know she was right. I'm not one to give her that satisfaction.

I walked toward the parking lot in time for a sleek black 2009 Nissan GT-R to pull up. I threw my bag in the back seat as a guy in a business suit got out of the driver seat.

"Mr. Amersham, I presume," the guy stuck out his hand to me, but I ignored it as I walked around the front of the car to the driver side. He lowered his hand before continuing, "Um, if you could drive me back to the dealership, that's be gre..HEY!"

Before the guy could open the passenger side door, I had already started to drive out of the parking lot. I looked in the rearview mirror to see the guy standing there; his face was turning redder the farther away I got.

Hold on Max. I'm coming.

Third Person

Smoke drifted into the air as Fang pealed out of the parking lot. His dark eyes stared forward and a look of determination was set into his face.

Iggy, Nudge, and Gazzy watched as Private Amersham started to split at the seams all because of their friend, Max.

The businessman who drove the car mumbled something to himself about inconsiderate customers as he walked toward the main building. Ignoring the spectators standing there, the man stomped away in search of a phone, dreading the ridicule from his coworkers about his situation.

Nudge let out an exhausted sigh, "He is one deranged kid," she commented, standing in between the two pyros.

"I don't know," Iggy shrugged, "I like him like when he shows emotions. At least the theory of him being a robot is out the window."

"Naw," Gazzy disagreed, "theory still stands. They just upgraded him to a robot who can show feelings."

"Do you ever listen to yourself talk and think, 'Wow, I should really be medicated because no sane person thinks this way,'? I mean, beside the fact that you need some serious Pepto Bismol or Gas-X for your little ruptures, you really need to be on something for your head. Were you hit on the head too many times as a kid? I've heard of studies done by real scientists who say that mmmh…" Nudge rambled before Iggy took Nudge's hand and slapped it over her own mouth.

Iggy smiled down at Nudge and silently wondered if she too noticed the pleasant shock he felt when their hands made contact.

Nudge rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to say something when Angel came to stand next to Gazzy, "Hey! Did Fang leave already?" she asked, searching the parking lot.

"Yup, you just missed him," Gazzy answered.

"Where were you?" Iggy asked, leaning forward to look past Nudge and Gazzy at Angel.

"Distracting the General," she said with a small smile.

"Manipulating," Gazzy coughed.

"No," Angel denied as she looked at her brother defensively. "It was totally his idea to have a camp event that didn't require bulky boots," she defended as she stuck out her dirty boot to show emphasis.

"Suuure," Gazzy replied with an eye roll.

Before Angel could retaliate, Nudge jumped in, "Like a dance?" she asked eagerly.

A devious smile spread across Angel's innocent face as a frantic yell sounded from behind the group. They all turned their heads toward the source to see a mess of red hair racing toward them.

"Nick!" Lissa yelled hysterically as she surged past the group and stood in the empty lot. Her shoulders rose and fell as she tried to catch her breath.

"Hey, Oompa Loompa," Nudge called to Lissa who in response to the nick named turned around, only then noticing them, "he left a loooong time ago."

"That's impossible! He's suppose to be here. With the camp. With the general. With me!" Lissa shrieked. "This isn't suppose to happen. He was suppose to forget about her and move on! What will the general think? What is he gets sent away? Then I'll be stuck with all of you!" she continued to rant.

Lissa's arms were flying as she continued to yell, but in the midst of her rant, she was oblivious to the person standing next to her.

It wasn't till the new aroma filled her nostrils that she then noticed the blonde haired boy next to her with a satisfied grin on his face.

Her nose twitched as the smell started to make her light headed. She was vaguely aware of the sounds of people laughing, but didn't stick around to be sure. Coughing, Lissa ran from the stench and toward the showers.

"Nice!" Iggy exclaimed as he held up his hand for a high-five, which Gazzy gladly returned.

The two girls shook their heads at the boys, their smiles still in place. Angel took the two steps toward Nudge and closed the gap between the two. "They're crazy for each other," Angel stated, staring out at the empty parking lot.

"I'm going to go crazy if I have to stand here and smell Gazzy's creation any longer than I have to," Nudge replied as she plugged her nose.

Agreeing with Nudge, the cadets all made their way back to their groups where they belonged. Gazzy and Angel walked together toward their stations in the gym, while Nudge and Iggy started after their groups on the fields running sprints.

Nudge senses were on hyperaware as she realized that it was just the two of them. They walked in silence, when Nudge noticed the gum wrappers Iggy pulled out of his pocket. "Do you have gum?" she asked excitedly as she stopped and turned toward Iggy.

A look of panic crossed Iggy's face as he looked down at the girls' numbers in his hand. He shrugged as he looked down at Nudge, "Just trash," he smiled down at a disappointed Nudge.

Iggy crumbled up the papers and threw the tiny ball of paper over his shoulder as he continued to walk side by side with the only girl whose number he really wanted.


"This is your final test, Maximum. These aren't like other tests. If you fail, you die," Jeb's voice echoed off the walls.

I rolled my eyes at his dramatics and looked around me. They had so lovingly escorted me to what looked like a replica of the inside of the Coliseum. The floor was dirt, the room was dome-shaped, and there were a series of doors on the side of the walls where I'm sure my opponents were going to be coming out of.

"Send out the butterflies," I called up to Jeb and two other scientists as they sat in a booth above the arena.

I crossed my arms over my chest and tapped my foot impatiently as I stood there. I didn't stand there long because suddenly the sounds of the stone doors filled the room. The doors lifted to reveal only darkness.

Slowly crouching into a fighting stance, I focused on that one entrance when the sound of another door behind me opened.

Looking between the two entrances, I slowly backed up so that the doors were at either one of my sides. I watched carefully as two erasers poured out, both coming straight for me. Taking one deep breath, I jumped into action.

I dropped to the ground and swung my leg to collide with the first eraser. He fell on his back while the second eraser continued to charge. Jumping to my feet, I sidestepped the second eraser and planted a roundhouse kick in between his shoulder blades.

While Eraser 2 tried to recover from getting the wind knocked out of him, Eraser 1 got up off the ground and stood in front of me.

He got into a fighting stance while I stood up straight and looked at my nails mockingly. As I had guessed, he got angry by my lack of fear and dashed toward me with his fist positioned to hit my face. His arm was three inches away before I smacked it so that his fist only grazed the top of my shoulder. Before he could retract his arm, I chopped at it, hearing a satisfied crack. He screamed out in pain before I knocked him out with a punch to the temple.

I watched him drop to the floor like a pile of rocks before feeling arms wrap around me. No, it isn't the strong arms the I want…you guys wanted. These arms were hairy and closing tighter around me.

Freeing one of my arms, I was able to swing my arm with enough force to elbow Eraser 2 in the gut. It was all I needed for him to loosen his grip just a fraction for me to slip out of them.

Much like Eraser 1, I fought Eraser 2, 3, and 4. One right after the other, they came sprinting out of those doors. Unfortunately for them, one right after the other, they fell harder than a fat guy after Thanksgiving.

What felt like hours of labor was soon to be over as I poised my fist to knock out the last Eraser. I had my knees on either side of Eraser number 5's hips, about to punch his lights out when I really looked at his bloodied face.


I was leaning around the corner, trying to listen to my mom and the police officer's conversation. He had showed up at our house and asked to come in to speak about some business. Now the two were sitting across from each other in the living room.

"I'm sorry to be the one to inform you, but Ari Batchelder passed away," the officer said sadly.

My mom choked out sob and covered her mouth as tears streamed down her face. Even though Ari wasn't her child, he was close enough to be considered one of her own.

"What happened?" she managed asked in a strained voice.

"We don't know, ma'am. When we found his body, it was mutated and," the officer's eyebrows scrunched together as he struggled for the right words, "enhanced. We are taking Jeb Batchelder into custody for questioning."

My mother nodded her head, but continued to cry.

Her sobs carried over to me as I slowly backed away from the corner. Tears collecting in my own eyes, I turned around and took off. I pushed the back door open and ran. I don't know how far or how long I ran, but by the time I reached home, my mother already knew I had heard.

She pulled me into a hug as I walked through the back door. Together we cried until there were no more tears to shed.

What have I've done?

*End Flashback*

The officer's words echoed in my head as I stared down at the Eraser. Is this what Ari looked like? I questioned as I imagined Ari's eyes staring up at me.

"Finish," Jeb's voice yelled at me from his booth.

That snapped me out of my reverie. I jumped off the Eraser, who continued to lie there limply, and stood in front of the booth.

"I'm finished!" I yelled as I threw my hands in the air to show how fed up I was with them. "I'm done with all your pointless tests!"

"That's just it, Maximum," Jeb replied calmly as he leaned forward to stare down at me. "These tests stop being just experiments and start becoming a part of your life."

"That was really touching and very fortune cookie like, but I'm out," I turned to start toward the door I had entered from when two Erasers entered.

Why, might you ask, didn't I just kick their butts? Well, it's probably because they had the stupid dart guns in their hands. One word: Wusses.

I was calculating my odds of kicking these two Erasers butts when I noticed a flash of black hair pass by the window in the door. Great, they had backup in the hall. Well, can't blame them for being cautious. I mean, this is me we are talking about.

"Escort Maximum to her room and prepare her for her operation," Jeb ordered the Erasers.

I rolled my eyes as the Erasers slowly approached, their guns pointed at their target, me.

They stood on either side of me, each gripping an arm. "Touch me, and you'll be on the ground with your buddies," I warned.

They looked over their shoulder at the unconscious Erasers and the one still groaning on the ground. Immediately, they pulled their hands away as if I had burned them.

I grinned to myself before the Erasers urged me forward with their guns to my back. "Hey, easy with the gun, you disturbed little muppet," I snapped as they continued to poke me with their guns.

"Subject 843 and 761," Jeb called.

The two Erasers swung their heads behind them toward Jeb as he gave them instructions. I smirked to myself as I listen to the instructions, my back still to Jeb. 'Don't retaliate,' and 'Ignore smart-alecky comments,' were commanded by Jeb. He knows me too well.

I listened while Jeb rambled off a whole list of don'ts when dealing with yours truly. Which, I might add shamelessly, was a pretty long and descriptive list.

Soon, Jeb's words were just background. I stared at the door and dreaded what was in store for me on the other side. This really is it. They are really going to give me wings.

Reality hit hard as I glared at the door and all the evils that were awaiting me. If they are going to give me wings, I'm going to give them hell.

I started mapping out an elaborate 'attack and escape' plan when I saw the flash of black again. Shoot, I almost forgot about the Eraser in the hallway.

Factoring him in was going to be difficult, but I think possible.

The flash of black passed by the window again, but this time it stopped. My eyes narrowed a bit before the Eraser turned around to look through the window.

Not Eraser…Fang.

He's here! I screamed in my head. I thought he was never going to figure out the codes in my letter. I let out a breath of relief at the hope that I might be getting out of here.

Fang surveyed the room. His eyes widened a fraction as he took in all the Erasers on the ground. I smirked as he looked back at me in complete shock. Well as much shock as a rock could portray.

He returned the smirk and winked at me before disappearing. My face dropped a little at his absence, but then I felt a poke on my back.

The Erasers were urging me forward with their guns again. They must have turned around right as Fang had disappeared because they didn't suspect a thing.

We walked through the doors and made our way down the hall. "So, Subject 843 and 761," I started conversationally, "are those his pet names for you?"

I smirked when they didn't answer and refused to make eye contact with me. "I think I'll just call you Cotton Ball," I nodded my head at the eraser to my right, "and you Pom Pom," I nodded to the eraser to my left.

I was beginning to worry that Fang was some trick my mind was playing on me. My doubt was diminished, though, when we rounded a corner and Cotton Ball dropped to the ground.

I looked up in shock to see none other than Fang. His eyes were murderous and his hands were clenched at his sides.

Before the Pom Pom could recover from shock, I knocked his gun away while Fang swept his feet from under him. Before Pom Pom could get up, I kicked him right on the temple. Just hard enough to knock him out, but not too hard to do much damage to his brain. Like he has one…

"Took you long enough," I said turning toward Fang.

He shrugged as if he didn't just knock a dog looking thing with a gun. Taking my arm, Fang took off down the hall with me in tow.

"Cotton Ball?" Fang questioned, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.

I slipped out of his grip and ran next to him. I shrugged as we rounded the corner.

I know a lot of you were hoping for some FAX, but I promise there will be a ton in the next chapter. I hoped you enjoy the snippet of Niggy in there, though. I don't know when the next time I'll update, but I'll try not to make you wait too long. As always…REVIEW!


14. Chapter 14

I would give you the reasons why it's taken me so long to update, but I feel that you are probably all annoyed with my excuses. Anyways, get comfortable and make some popcorn because this is probably the longest chapter I have ever written.

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride



I looked up in shock to see none other than Fang. His eyes were murderous and his hands were clenched at his sides.

Before the Pom Pom could recover from shock, I knocked his gun away while Fang swept his feet from under him. Before Pom Pom could get up, I kicked him right on the temple. Just hard enough to knock him out, but not too hard to do much damage to his brain. Like he has one…

"Took you long enough," I said turning toward Fang.

He shrugged as if he didn't just knock a dog looking thing with a gun. Taking my arm, Fang took off down the hall with me in tow.

"Cotton Ball?" Fang questioned, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.

I slipped out of his grip and ran next to him. I shrugged as we rounded the corner.

The sounds of hurried footsteps stopped Fang and I dead in our tracks. Without missing a beat, Fang opened a door nearby and pulled me in, crushing me to his chest. The wind left my chest with an audible oof before the door closed silently.

Fang shushed me, his breath blowing on my face; we were that close. His arm had wrapped around my waist protectively as he drew me in closer to him when the footsteps grew louder.

We both stared at the door in anxious silence as we waited a few minutes after the sounds had disappeared. Not a sound was made in that dark room as we stood there. Once a few minutes had passed without any noises, I let out a breath I had been holding.

Fang looked down at me, his nose lightly brushing mine. I looked up at him and both our breaths hitched at the close proximity. His eyes had those gold flecks in them that I still have yet to figure out what type of emotion to associate it with.

One blink of an eye. That's all it took for me to realize what I was doing. If we kiss, then the moment our lips touch will be the moment he realizes he had made the biggest mistake of his life. So, to save him from the embarrassment and me from the hurt, I quickly turned to walk deeper into the closet.

I reached blindly for the string connected to the light bulb dangling from the ceiling. My fingers finally grasped a string and I pulled it to illuminate the once dark room. The light bulb bobbed around a little to reveal a supply closet with one bookcase shelf that was filled with toiletries, clothes, and cleaning supplies.

I felt Fang's stare and turned around to meet his dark eyes. They were watching me carefully as if to calculate a complex math problem. I raised my eyebrow in question to which he just shrugged off.

I rolled my eyes at his gesture, but came to stand next to him again; this time with some distance. I could feel Fang was trying to shake off the earlier instant like I am as we stood there awkwardly.

Deciding it was time to go, I stuck my head out of the open door, and looked right and left to affirm we were clear to make our escape. I slipped through the crack of the door with Fang on my heels.

Like earlier, we took off down the halls blindly, hoping that we would stumble down the hall that led to the exit. The sounds of our shoes hitting the linoleum floor and our controlled breathing echoed off the walls.

Fang and I rounded another corner when Fang stopped abruptly. Unable to stop my momentum, I ran into his outstretched arm.

I opened my mouth to voice my annoyance when I saw what stopped Fang. A few feet away was a door with the word 'Exit' glowing red letters.

Unfortunately, I forgot to check my calendar to see that today was 'sucks for you!' day.

Let's review: You have been stuck in a hellhole for five days…sucks for you! Almost kissed Fang…sucks for you! Your 'dad' is a psycho…sucks for you! You are literally feet away from the exit that is being blocked by said 'dad'…sucks for you!

See how that works? Yeah, it's a national holiday that I'm pretty sure everyone has experienced at one point. You can literally put that after every sentence and it'll make sense. That and 'put down my monkey'. Try it out sometime.

Jeb took a step toward me with a sickening grin plastered onto his face. His arm was extended out toward me as he stepped closer.

"Take another step, I dare you," Fang growled as he pushed me slightly behind him with his extended arm.

A look of amusement spread across Jeb's face before he stopped. Looking between Fang and me, he chuckled lightly to himself, "So you got your boyfriend to come to your rescue."

Fang tensed slightly, but kept up his protective stance to keep Jeb away from me. I appreciated the gesture, but I'm not totally incompetent.

I took a step to the side, but still stayed slightly behind Fang's shoulder. "My friend," I stated with emphasis, "and I are leaving this awful place. You might want to step down, Jeb, because your woman arms are sure as hell not going to stop us," I finished with a menacing grin.

Like he had the day he practically kidnapped me, Jeb put his arms behind his back to conceal his skinny arms. "It's no use, Maximum. Backup is coming and you won't be able to push past me and still have enough time to escape," he stated confidently.

My grin faltered as I stared back at Jeb's smug face. How could I bring Fang into this? Now we were both going to be stuck here and I have no idea what they'll do to him. The thought of Fang getting hurt on my accord scared me. I'd never admit it out loud, but the constant worry was nagging in the back of my mind.

Jeb saw my hesitation and took it as my compliance. He took another step and grasped my arm with his outstretched hand.

Like a reflex, I used my free hand to chop at his arm. He cried out in pain and cradled his wrist to his chest. I was shifting my weight to my back foot so I could kick him in the stomach when Fang beat me to it.

Instead of kicking him, however, Fang pulled his arm back and snapped it forward to connect with Jeb's right eye. Fang punched Jeb with so much force that Jeb dropped to the ground like dead weight.

I gave Fang a disappointed look, "I was about to kick him."

He shrugged indifferently with a slight smirk playing across his lips as he looked down at me, "Beat ya' to it."

I rolled my eyes in mock irritation and grabbed his arm. I started towing him toward the exit right as we heard yelling down the hall.

"Stop them!" Jeb ordered from the ground, holding his now rapidly swelling eye.

Fang and I pushed through the doors. Not knowing where Fang's mode of transportation was, I allowed him pull me along.

We almost reached this sleek black car when I felt an all too familiar pinch. Except this time, I felt a pinch on my right calf and on the side of my left thigh. While still running, I awkwardly reached down and pulled out two darts, both only a quarter empty, and threw them to the ground.

My legs were beginning to tingle, but I willed them to keep pumping. By the time we reached Fang's car, I had to hold onto the door handle to steady my legs. I swung open the door and practically fell into the car.

Fang started driving off before I could even close the door. I frantically grasped the handle with both hands before slamming the car door shut.

My breathing was erratic from our careless getaway. I snapped my head in Fang's direction, "Chill out, spud. Next time make sure I closed the door."

"You're welcome," he said with his eyes on the road.

"Oh right," I said smacking my palm to my head. "Thank you for almost throwing me out of the car without waiting for me to close the door. And they say chivalry is dead."

"Are you always sarcastic even to people who practically saved your life?" Fang looked over at me with a smug smirk on his face.

I crossed my arms and sunk into the seat, not having a witty retort. I'm not use to having someone's help because I've always been able to get out of any situation. I'm not some damsel that needs a knight in shining armor to wisp me off my feet at the sign of distress.

"Thanks," I grumbled.

"What was that? I couldn't quite hear you," Fang inclined his head toward me with a smirk playing on his lips.

My lips formed a line as I refused to speak those forbidden words aloud again. Instead, I tried a different tactic: Distraction. "I'm convinced squirrels are born full grown," I stated mater-of-factly.

"What?" Fang asked in confusion.

"Think about it. Have you ever seen a baby squirrel?" I asked, smiling to myself as he fell into my trap.

"No they're not."

"Yes they are!"

"I'm going to Google that," Fang warned.

"Go ahead, but I expect a reward of a batch of cookies when you find out I'm right."

"Now that your distraction is out of the way, what did you really say earlier?"

Damn. He's good. "Nothing," I shrugged.

Fang shrugged in return, "Doesn't matter. I know you were praising me."

I turned in my seat to study the relaxed way Fang drove. His left elbow was propped up on the door while his right hand steered the car. "You're pretty cocky for someone who never talks," I observed.

Fang let out a chuckle, but kept his eyes on the road.

I turned to look out the window to hide my reaction to his chuckle. It was musical yet, dare I say, sexy. I yearned to hear him chuckle again and found myself wanting to hear his real laugh.

Fang continued to weave in and out of traffic as the sun began to set. Leaning on the palm of my hand, I slowly spiraled into a comfortable sleep. The hum of the car helped me relax and played as a constant reminder that I was no longer at Jeb's work.


"Max," I whispered as I shook the girl who was sleeping peacefully in the seat next to me.

We had finally arrived back at the camp and it was three in the morning. Even after the long strenuous drive, fatigue still didn't find me.

"Max," I whispered again, but this time shaking her a little harder.

Her eyes fluttered open as she looked around and took in her surroundings. Her eyes settled on me as a relieved smile spread across her face, "Finally," she breathed.

I smirked at her still sleepy state before I opened the door and hopped out. I walked around the car to Max's side toward the main building. I looked back over my shoulder to see Max had opened the door, but she was still in the car.

She answered my confused look, "I can't walk," she called sheepishly.

I chuckled to myself. No doubt, Max was hating all the help she's been needing lately. I walked over to her and rested my elbow on the car door, "Legs turn to jelly in my presence? Understandable," I allowed with a nod.

Max, being the oh so kindhearted person she is, smacked me in the stomach before saying, "I liked you better when you were a mute."

I smirked at her comment before bending down into the car. My arm encircled her waist while the other one grabbed her wrist of her right arm that was draped across my shoulders. I tried to ignore the feel of her breath in my ear, but couldn't help peeking out the corner of my eye at her.

Max was biting her lip as if to restrain from something as she stared at the side of my face. She was probably restraining from making another snide comment. At least, that's what I thought before I saw a light pink color her cheeks.

I easily hoisted her out of the car and pulled her into my side. Her legs shook, but she was able to move them unsteadily with great difficulty.

We walked side by side slowly across campus. I watched Max carefully as her eyebrows scrunched together in annoyance at her slow pace.

"What's with the marker on your back?" I asked Max as I studied the intricate designs.

Max craned her neck in attempt to look at her back. "Get it off," she said a little hysterically and desperately as she used her free hand to swipe at the already dried marker.

"Okay, okay," I soothed. Quickly, I picked Max up bridal style and jogged to the shower house because it was closer than the bathrooms. The only problem was that there weren't any sinks; hence the name 'shower house'.

I dug into my pocket and pulled out the key I was looking for. I inserted the key into the lock and swung open the door swiftly. I kicked the door shut before carrying Max inside.

I set her on her feet next to the shower with one arm still securing her to my side. Her one arm was still draped around my shoulders as I reached into the shower and turned it on.

Once the water reached a reasonable temperature, I helped Max into the shower with her clothes still on. I watched her as her legs continued to shake under her weight. She held onto the soap shelf on the wall for dear life in order to keep her upright.

I chuckled at her struggle, which earned me a well-deserved glare. Taking my eyes off Max for one second, I grabbed a washcloth and took my shoes off.

Her eyes widened as she watched me step into the shower with my clothes on too. "No, Fang," Max neared whined, her arm outstretched to stop me.

"Twenty bucks says you slip," I challenged with a raised eyebrow.

Max seemed to weigh her options when she finally sighed, "If I slip, I'm taking you down with me," she said in defeat over the sound of the shower.

I took that as her compliance before wrapping an arm around her waist cautiously and positioning her so that the water was hitting her back. Turning slightly to the other soap shelf behind me, I rubbed some soap onto the washcloth and turned back toward Max.

I looked her in the eye for a while and waited for her to give me the okay to proceed. I watched as Max bit her lip, but whether she was indecisive or nervous was unknown to me.

Instead of giving me a nod or a simply, 'ok', Max just leaned her forehead against my shoulder and let me hold her. I could feel the tenseness in her muscles as she struggled to relax.

I started slowly massaging the washcloth in little circles on her back. The marker slowly began to disappear as ink ran down her back and dripped onto her tank top and shorts.

I tried to assure Max that this wasn't in anyway sensual, but I couldn't calm the fast-paced beating of my heart at the close proximity. I kept my arm on the middle of her back; not too low and not too high. I also held her protectively against my chest as oppose to desperately.

It took awhile, but eventually Max relaxed into my arms. It felt good to have someone lean on me. Figuratively and metaphorically speaking.

My wet clothes started to cling to my body and drops of water trickled from my hair, but I didn't even notice. Instead, I watched as the streams of water ricocheted off Max's skin or traveled down her back till they reached the fabric of her tank top.

Once there wasn't a trace of marker left on her back, I reached behind her and turned the shower knob to off. Careful not to slip and totally eat it, I climbed out of the shower with Max still sheltered to my side.

Wrapping the towel around her shoulders, I started to notice the signs of fatigue in the way her eyes began to droop.

I bent down slightly to pick her up bridal style when she slapped me on the shoulder, "I'm not a complete cripple," she replied snidely. She began walking considerably less shaky now.

I can tell she was in a bad mood at all the help she's been needing. Not wanting to upset her more, I shrugged, but kept a loose arm around her waist.

We walked to her room that was now vacant because Nudge moved to a room closer to Angel. "The key is on the top of the doorframe," she stated, not even going to attempt to reach up and retrieve it herself.

I grabbed the key and swiftly turned it in the lock, swinging the door open wide. Max walked in first and immediately sat on the bed, releasing a huge exhausted sigh,

I stood there awkwardly before saying, "I'll leave you to get dressed."

Before she could reply, I was out the door and heading to my room for some dried clothes.

I was dressed and in front of Max's room in seven minutes. I wasn't counting the minutes I was away from Max if that was what you were thinking. I mean, yeah, I went five days without her, but that was 4 days, 1437 minutes, and 35 seconds too long. Once again, not counting …(AN: There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Just FYI)


Stupid noodles for legs, I cursed as I attempted to walk to the door where I had heard a knock come from.

After what felt like hours of excruciating struggling to walk mere feet to the door, I finally gripped the doorknob. I opened the door, but kept my grip on the handle to keep me upright.

Fang stood in the doorway, his shoulder leaning against the doorframe and his arms crossed. "Good, you changed," he stated.

I had to change into the very little clothes I did leave behind. Unfortunately, that only left me with an old Bullet for My Valentine t-shirt and some equally old gym shorts.

I rolled my eyes at him, "No shit, Sherlock. Want a cookie for your ground breaking discovery?" I asked. I tried my best to hide my lower body behind the door so Fang wouldn't see that my legs haven't fully recovered from the numbness yet.

Fang stepped into the hallway and motioned with his arm for me to exit my room. "I don't need a babysitter, Fang," I stated, holding my ground and refusing anymore help from him.

"Max," he said exasperated, "just come with me."

"Why would I do that?" I challenged him.

Fang tensed and looked over his shoulder before looking at me, "I don't want him to come back."

It finally clicked. Jeb is still out there and probably still wants me for his sick experiments. I know it's stupid to come back to the place where Jeb would suspect me to be at, but this place felt more like home than any other place.

"I don't need a bodyguard," I stated firmly, standing up a little straighter to emphasize my point.

"Remind me again where you were for the past five days," Fang inquired.

I released my glare on him and began to shut the door in his face. Sad to say, I underestimated Fang's reflexes. He had stopped the door from closing before I could lock him out.

"It'd make me feel better," he said quietly, his eyes burning into mine.

"Well if it makes you feel better…" I trailed off, sarcasm seeping at every word.

Fang took a step into the doorway, "It would," he assured seriously.

I looked hard at his face. It was only then that I noticed faint worry lines creased into his forehead. His eyebrows were scrunched together in a determined fashion and his arm muscles tensed as it held the door firmly open.

He really did worry about me…as a friend should. Even in my mind, the thought of Fang and I being just friends left me with a sense of longing.

Gathering what dignity I had left, I grabbed my key and walked out the door. A tingling sensation shooting up my legs with every step I took. It felt like my legs were permanently asleep.

In no time, I was standing in front of Fang's room just waiting for him to open the door. Fang unlocked the door and stepped aside to let me in.

I had taken one step when he gently placed his warm hand on my arm to stop me. I looked over at him to see he was looking down at my feet with a frown.

I follow his gaze and saw that there was a fresh cut on my ankle. I simply shrugged it off, "I must have cut myself when I was answering the door. Hm, didn't even feel it," I answered thoughtfully.

"I'll get some stuff to clean it up," he offered.

"No, Fang, you don't have to…" I began to protest, but he was already gone. That kid can disappear pretty quickly and quietly. I should've thought about nicknaming him ninja…

I folded my arms together and looked around the chilly room to see nothing had changed since the first time I'd been here. It was still insanely clean and organized.

A shiver went down my spine and goose bumps covered my arms and legs. I rubbed my hands up and down my arms till I spotted Fang's dresser. Without hesitating, I walked over to it and pulled out black sweatpants and a black hoodie.

It wasn't till I slipped on Fang's clothes, carefully rolling up the pant leg to avoid my cut, that I noticed his whole wardrobe was black. I was so use to seeing him in the same cargo pants and gray shirt that I wouldn't even guess he was emo.

I was marveling at his wardrobe when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I whirled around and came face-to-chest with Fang. I looked up at him as his minty breath blew into my face. "You sure like the color black," I said, not moving away.

"I guess you don't mind it either," Fang stated with a slight smirk as he pinched the black clothing I had claimed.

"I didn't take you for someone who is emo," I mused, my eyes flashing to his temptingly soft lips before looking into his eyes again.

Fang raised an eyebrow at me, "Do I look like the emotional type to you?"

I shrugged before slipping away from him and sitting on the bed. I stuck out my foot to Fang and he got working on my cut.

We sat in silence as Fang dressed my wound. His lifted my ankle in his hands while his warm fingers moved gingerly around my cut and his eyebrows scrunched together in concentration.

As I was watching Fang, an involuntary yawn escaped my lips. His head snapped up to me, amusement playing across his eyes, "Almost done," he said as he began wrapping my cut with some gauze.

I was looking away from Fang while he finished up when I felt a pleasant tingle on the inside of my ankle. I snapped my head toward the source to see Fang's lips leaving my ankle, his hand still holding my ankle delicately.

My mouth opened in shock, but before I could say something, he had already rolled my pant leg down, his fingers grazing my skin. Before I could comprehend what just happened, Fang had already hopped off the bed to sit by the window.

Although I was bundled up, I still got the feeling of a cold abandonment course through me. Ignoring the feeling, I scooted under the covers and waited for sleep to claim me.

I laid in the same spot at the edge of the bed with my back to Fang for an hour with not even a hint of tiredness. I kept my breathing deep to make it seem that I was sleeping. My back muscles tensed as I sensed Fang looking at me, his eyes practically scorching my back with his stare.

"Can't sleep," Fang stated rather than asked from his spot by the window.

"Do you ever sleep?" I retorted as I rolled over to face him.

He shrugged, "Only once, recently."

My cheeks began to burn as I remembered that one time he did sleep. I was praying he couldn't see the blush that had shamelessly crept onto my face when it dawned on me, "How did you know I wasn't sleeping?" I accused.

Fang shrugged again and looked out the window, "You move a lot in your sleep."

A fresh blush crept its way onto my face. How embarrassing… I thought to myself. I turned my back to him again in attempt to conceal my blush and laid there; preparing myself for a sleepless night.

Suddenly, the mattress shifted at the new weight being added to the bed. I snapped my head over my shoulder to watch as Fang climbed into bed. He laid there on the opposite side of the bed with his arms folded behind his head and his ankles crossed.

Feeling my stare, Fang looked over at me and shrugged.

I rolled my eyes and made a mental note to count how many times he shrugs tomorrow.

With the new addition to the bed, my eyelids began to steadily get heavier. It didn't take long for me to be encircled into the sleep that had finally found its way.

3rd person

Despite Max's attempt to stay on her side of the bed and Fang's attempt to stay awake, neither were successful. Max had subconsciously rolled over to the heat source known as Fang who had drifted off into a dream-filled sleep.

Like two gears in a machine, their bodies moved in synch.

Max would roll over to place her head on Fang's hard chest as his arms enclosed her to pull her closer. Her bent leg was secured by his hand under her knee while she rested her hands on his chest.

As Fang had said before, she in fact did move a lot in her sleep. In minutes, Max would move so that her back faced Fang. Unconsciously, he scooted closer to spoon Max. His left arm provided a nook where Max laid her head as his other arm wrapped around her waist protectively and their legs tangled together.

Both were tired from the eventful day. Each experiencing their breath being taken away by the one they were now tangled with.

Max's breath left her when she felt the caring way Fang had taken care of her in the shower. Although she tried to mask it with annoyance, she secretly loved the feeling of being secure in his arms. Nerves succumbed her body at the horror that Fang would take her as a whinny girl who didn't like marker on her back.

Although the marker had been long washed away, Max could still feel the mark Jeb left on her. The fact there was marker on her back wasn't the reason she had a minor hysterical attack. It was the fact that they probably wrote on Ari's body as they did hers. Flashes of all the Erasers she had fought had raced through her head and released fear within her.

Fang's breath escaped him at the sight of Max in his clothes. His baggy clothes hung loosely on her significantly smaller frame almost as a sign that she was his. Although Max puzzled him to no end, he couldn't break the longing to be close to her if not touch her.

He decided right at that moment to screw his father. He wanted to be with Max because he loved the way he felt around her. He felt as if she needed him as much as he needed her. Love? He didn't know what love was or what it was suppose to feel like, but he figured what he had with Max was pretty damn close.

'Ignorance is bliss,' is not the case here. Both are ignorant to the fact that they should be together and that together, they can overcome every obstacle thrown their way.

Ignorant to the same longing they shared to claim the other as their own, off limit to others.

Both were ignorant to the fact that as they lay there in each other's arms, both were dreaming of the other.

Both were ignorant that by tomorrow, Fang would be offered a promotion of a lifetime to a rank that not many have been able to achieve at such a young age.

Ignorant to Fang's decision to the general's offer.

Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge can be explosive.

Ok, so probably the longest chapter I have ever written, but I really wanted to keep all of the events together. Soccer season is starting up so updates will more than likely come every two weeks.

You know the drill! Click that review button and tell me what you think…or yell at me…whatever!

Peace Out!

15. Chapter 15

Next Chappie! Also, thanks to Froyogirl27 for the picture of a baby squirrel! It's now my computer background.

Keeptappin92- I don't know how many chapters are left because sometimes I add chapters and take some out if I don't like the way they're turning out. A guesstimation would be ten or more chapters…but don't hold me to it. :)

Now that that's out of the way, ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


Everyone has his or her embarrassing moments. Examples: Did I really laugh that loud? Did anyone see me eat it tripping up the stairs? Or in my case, did I really kiss her ankle?

The worse is when you relive an embarrassing moment while you are all alone. I had woken up from my restful sleep, but refused to open my eyes.

I squeezed my eyes shut as I tried to remember what I was thinking when I had kissed her ankle. How did I think that was even remotely normal? I kept my eyes closed and willed the familiar sleep to confine me once again.

I was vaguely aware of some movement next to me, but kept my eyes shut in suspicion. Without my consent, my body started to move. I was on my back, but now there was a lightweight on my chest that was radiating a pleasant heat.

I was on the brink of sleep again when my hand snapped up and came into contact with something smooth. Prying my eyes open, the first thing I saw was a black marker poised in front of my face. Flashing my eyes to the clock, I saw that I had only gotten four hours of sleep. Shifting my gaze, my eyes met with the all too familiar chocolate eyes.

Max's wrist was trapped in my hand, her innocent looking face inches away. I've become accustomed to having Max so close, but I wasn't used to our current position. Max leant on her elbow and was situated perfectly into my side with her bent leg secured across my hip by my other hand.

I lowered her wrist that was holding the marker so I could see her face. "Max," I tried to say as calmly as I could, "what are you doing?"

"Would you believe me if I said I was about to make your face a lot more appealing to look at?" she asked, her wrist still in my grasp.

I shrugged, "I would, if it were possible to make me look more appealing than I am already."

"Oh, trust me, it's possible," she reassured me.

I smirk to myself at our banter, loving the way I felt around Max. Just being myself. It's weird acting this way when I'm so use to formalities.

I shrugged again, neither of us daring to move in fear we'd break the spell we were both currently under. Feeling sleep creep up on me again, I closed my eyes, waiting for Max to move away or try to draw on my face again, but she didn't.

After a few minutes, the anticipation was starting to get to me. There is no way she isn't thinking of different scenarios that would either hurt me or be incredible embarrassing.

Slowly peeking out of one eye, I saw Max was studying me. Her eyes roamed over my face and then down at the rest of my body. Her eyes widened a fraction, taking in our current arrangement. I prepared for a slap when a smile touched her lips.

"You done looking?" I asked, closing my eyes. I smirked to myself just imagining the shocked look on her face that would no doubt change into a glare in a matter of seconds.

I heard the sound of a marker being thrown across the room before I felt the hard slap of Max's hand on my chest. A restraint grunt left my throat before I trapped her palm to my chest with my free hand, effectively preventing her from hitting me again. I don't know who initiated it, but suddenly out fingers laced together as they rested on my chest.

"I was sleeping," I stated not really tired anymore, but wanting to get a rise out of her.

"Could've fooled me," Max said in an annoyed voice that sounded forced to my own ears. "I'm really starting to consider nicknaming you ninja," she continued conversationally.

I chuckled lightly at her attempt at coolness. My hand, holding her leg, started to trace little circles on her soft skin. It was then that I realized she must have off my sweatpants during the night. "I don't know, 'Fang' is starting to grow on me."

I listened carefully as Max's breathing accelerated the tinniest fraction. Opening my eyes slowly, they immediately came into contact with warm chocolate eyes. Her breath still smelled of mint from when she brushed her teeth last night as it fanned across my face. Every freckle was discernable from this distance as well as every eyelash.

Electricity flowed out of every pore in my body, aching to get closer. Untangling my hand from hers, I reached up and wrapped my hand cautiously behind her neck. Max's eyes flickered to my lips then back up to my eyes. As I pulled her closer to close the two inches between us, her mouth parted and her eyes looked down at my lips again where they stayed 'till our lips connected.

My lips captured Max's bottom lip and slowly pulled on it. She reciprocated the same with my top lip as I skillfully turned our bodies so Max was in her back and I hovered above her. Her hands found their way to the hair at the nape of my neck and tugged. A growl escaped my throat at the feeling coursing through my body in a way only Max could do to me.

Our kissing sped up and released everything we were feeling. Every kiss had a meaning that only we could detect.

I was propped up on one elbow while my other hand gripped her hip and held her impossibly close to my body. Max let out a small gasp when my tongue traced across her bottom lip. I smirked at her reaction, but continued to kiss her.

I was relishing in the way Max's lips fit with mine when she abruptly pulled away from me. Her hands had left my hair and were now on my chest. I pulled back, confused as I watched her bite her bottom lip.

"Um…I…We…" she stumbled as her brows furrowed in frustration.

My hand left her hip and brushed the hair from her face, my fingertips lingering along her temple. "What?" I asked gently.

Max's mouth opened before she shut it again. "I got to go," she said in a rush.

Before I could protest, she was already up and running toward the door. I watched as she gracefully ran on the balls of her feet and grabbed the pair of training clothes I had gotten for her yesterday off the table by the door. As fast as she jumped out from my grasp, she was out the door with a slam.

I sat in bed, the covers haphazardly draped around my legs. What just happened?

I didn't know whether to be excited that I had finally kissed Max or hurt that she ran away.

A few minutes after Max left, Private Lewis came to my door and said the general had to see me. So here I am, sitting outside his office when I should be at with Max.

Ever since we got back, I'd been anxious to leave her alone. I am more than aware that she can take care of herself, but I still couldn't forget the desperation in her voice when she wanted to get the marker off.

The sound of someone clearing their throat pulled me out of my thoughts. I looked up to see Ms. Thompson, "The general is ready to see you now," she said in a robotic tone. She was clad in her tan outfit as she is every day with a distasteful look on her face to match.

I nodded before standing up from the plastic chair and walked stiffly to the general's office. I stopped in front of his door, my hand on the door knob, and did a quick assessment of my appearance. No wrinkles, no mud on shoes, no fuzzes in sight, and hair in its usual messy fashion. I had always found it strange that the general would go on and on about my clothes, but never utter a word about my hair.

Finally satisfied with my appearance, I twisted the knob and prepared for whatever the general threw my way. My face wiped clean of emotions as I stepped through the room and stood in from of his desk.

The general was situated behind his desk, his eyes intent on his computer as he typed away. "Sir. Private Amersham in attendance, sir," I saluted as I stared at the wall behind the general.

"At ease, Private," the general dismissed, his eyes never straying from the screen in front of him.

I spread my legs shoulder length apart and clasped my hands together behind my back.

"General Stevens contacted me just this morning and informed me that Corporal Andrews had passed away," he stated, his voice void of any remorse. He talked as if he were placing an order for a pizza. "The General is in need of a new corporal."

The general finally looked up from the screen and met my eyes. I continued to stare right back into his eyes, confused as to why he's telling me this because I'd have to be a Specialist before I could become a Corporal.

"He has seen your records and is very impressed. He's asked for you specifically to take Corporal Andrews' place in Fort Brady," he verified.

"Sir, I'm not even a Specialist yet," I stated the obvious.

"We are aware of this, but we feel that you are more than qualified to take the position," the general sat back in his chair and studied my reaction.

I can't say that I wasn't excited about this news, save from the Corporal's death. It also didn't pass me when the general said 'we'. It was hard to believe that he was remotely proud of my accomplishments after years of emotionless interactions.

His eyes raked over my uniform and I waited anxiously to see what he'll say about it, but when his eyes fell on me, he just looked back. "Have a seat, Private," he motioned to the chair behind me.

I did as he said and tried to process what he just told me. A corporal? I'd be the youngest corporal…ever. Me, going to Fort Brady in Michigan? It all seemed surreal to me.

"I'm pleased with your success and if you keep it up, Private, soon you'll be a sergeant," he said, a proud look crossed his face as he stared back at me. "You remind me a lot of myself when I was your age. Determined, ambitious, strong."

My mind was racing with my achievement and the general's approval when it all came to a halt. Everything stopped when my lips began to tingle and my arms became warm. "Max," I whispered, my head lowered in shame that I had forgotten all about her.

"Speak clearly, Private," the general ordered, irritation coloring his tone.

I cleared my throat before looking up, "Cadet Ride is back and will be needing my aid. I hope General Andrews doesn't need my assistance till I am finished with my work here," I rambled, hoping against all hope that there was time. Time for me to sort out my feelings and see if Max will continue to run from me.

"This is a once and a lifetime offer, Private," the general ground out between his teeth, trying to stay calm.

"I'm aware of that, sir," I replied, trying to contain my own anger. Max could be my only chance at being normal and just…happy.

The general pursed his lips slightly as he got a faraway look on his face. "Once Cadet Ride is under control, the position will be open for you, but it might not stay that way," he warned.

"I understand, sir," I replied through clenched teeth. I hated the way he acted as if she was an animal that needed to be tamed or something.

"As long as you're made aware of what's on the line. Dismissed," he said with a wave of his hand right as his phone rang.

I stood from my seat and walked over to the door. My body was on autopilot as my mind continued to spin. Images of Max flashed in my head mixed with the image of the split second where the general actually looked proud of me.

I had just opened the door when the general called to me, "Take a seat, Private. Cadet Ride will be joining us shortly."

The tone of his voice did not seem pleased and neither did his face when I turned around. I sighed to myself as I closed the door. I tried to conceal the smile on my face, What did you do now Max?


Called to the general's office.

Might be awhile.

Meet you in the boxing ring when I'm finished.


I sighed as I made my way to the gym. Don't get me wrong, I was all for boxing, but some space from Fang wouldn't have been all too bad either.

My fingers began to tingle at the memory of my hands I Fang's hair. His lips on mine. My body flush against his warm one…

"MAX!" two voices screeched across the campus.

I whipped my head just in time for Angel and Nudge to tackle me to the ground. My breath left in a whoosh as I struggled to get to my feet, all the while laughing.

"You're back!" Angel squealed and hugged me once I was on my feet.

"Not for long if you guys don't contain your excitement," I said, practically being crushed by Angel's hug.

"Don't worry. You're not that exciting," someone scoffed behind me.

I whipped my head to see Iggy and Gazzy walking up. Iggy had a wide grin on his face, thinking his remark was clever. "Says the person who finds the prizes in Cracker Jacks exciting," I countered.

"Because they are!" Iggy defended. "You never know what you're going to get!"

"Should rename it Psychedelic Bag of Astonishment," Gazzy agreed, nodding his head in thought.

"You two are impossible together," I smiled as I shook my head.

"Max!" Nudge began, but was cut short by Iggy's hand. Her eyes narrowed as she looked up at Iggy.

"I knew it was coming," he explained with a shrug. "You're welcome, by the way," he addressed to the rest of us.

We all watched as Iggy slowly pried his fingers from Nudge's mouth. "I was going to ask," Nudge began, looking pointedly at Iggy, "Where were you?"

"Really? Nothing else?" Angel questioned.

"That and What happened? And did Fang come to your rescue because he was so cute without you. He was like a lost puppy and Angel told me the letter you left him was crinkled from reading it so many times. Did he sweep you off your feet? Did you guys kiss? Are you two even together because I think you'd make a cute couple. OH! Did you mahehea…"

"I prefer the shortened version," Gazzy replied as he tried to take in everything Nudge was saying.

"Umm…" I trailed off, not sure if I should tell them or how to say it.

Right then, I decided I couldn't tell them. I love them all enough not to worry them about my problems or bring them into their lives. The fear that Fang could've been stuck with Jeb because of me convinced me not to tell them, no matter how hard it was.

"I was just with my dad, but I missed you guys too much," I lied easily.

"Well, we missed you too," Nudge replied.

Iggy had removed his hand from her mouth, but had his arm wrapped around her waist instead. Conversation carried on as I studied the two. I noticed the way Iggy tucked Nudge into his side and the way Nudge was oblivious to the whole gesture. I was going to have to talk to her about that…

"So where is Fang?" Angel asked, looking around before looking back at me.

I let out a sigh, "He's probably in the boxing ring waiting on me. I'll see you guys later," I said with a wave before jogging toward the gym.

Upon entering, I raked my eyes over the mostly empty space to see that Fang was not here yet. Shrugging to myself, I walked toward the boxing ring and leant up against it.

I gazed around the gym and observed all the people in it. My gaze lingering on the athletically challenge. No offence to those who are, but you should video tape yourself and try not to laugh when you watch it. Yeah, next to impossible.

What could the general want with Fang that it would take this long? He's never asked for him before, so why now? Is Fang mad about this morning? See? This is what happens when I have nothing to do. I stand around and ask myself questions that I don't have the answers to.

Besides, it's not like I didn't like kissing him because believe me, it was amazing, but it scared me. It scared me how he changed me, but not in a disciplinary way, in a more personal way. Then you have to factor in that he's a Private and I'm just me who's going to go to Europe once I turn eighteen. It just would never work, so I'm saving myself the heartbreak. Call me selfish, but I'm saving Fang too.

Frustrated with the whole situation, I angrily stuffed my hands in my pockets to hear a crinkling of paper. My brows furrowed in confusion as I pulled out a folded piece of paper. I unfolded it and looked down at a picture of a baby squirrel. On the top of the page, written in black pen was, 'I Googled it'. I smiled down at the picture and saw he got it from Froyogirl27(dot)com. Hmm, I'll have to check the site out later because if this girl has pictures of baby squirrels, then imagine what other random, yet useful, stuff she'll have.

"It's good to have you back, Cadet," a sickly sweet voice said.

I looked up from the paper, my smile immediately disappearing. The last person I wanted to see, Lissa. "I'd say the same thing to you, fireball, but then we'd both be lying," I replied in the same sweet voice she had.

"Listen, Ride," Devil Barbie sneered, taking a step closer to me. "You're not supposed to be here and frankly, no one wants you here except your delinquent friends. So do us all a favor and run back to your daddy."

"My turn?" I asked innocently. I took her confused face as compliance and took a step toward her so that I was towering over her, "Listen, bitch. If I find out that it was you who called Jeb, then you better have left the country because I will hunt you down. Come near me, mess with me or my friends, and you'll regret the day you laid eyes on me. Got it, Strawberry Shortcake?"

The look on her face was enough to make me pee my pants, but I restraint myself to keep up with my badass look.

Lissa composed herself as she took a step away from me, "Well it's a good thing your brother got out early. I mean, being related to you would be enough punishment," she smirked at me, arms crossed over her chest.

"What did you say?" I grounded out. My face twisted on anger, but my chest ached with sadness.

"I said," Lissa emphasized, "it's a good thing your daddy killed your brother."

Actions speak louder than words. So I did what any sensible person would do…I punched the bitch in the face.

Ta Da! Hoped you liked it! As always, REVIEW!

Also I need some of your opinions. It was mentioned in the chapter 13 that Angel had persuaded the general to have a camp dance and I'm on the fence on whether to do it or not. The only reason I wouldn't is because I don't want it to be too cliché. So give me your thoughts of what you want. Thanks!

Peace Out!

16. Chapter 16

So I took in everyone's advice about the dance and I decided that I'm not going to do it. I'm sorry if anyone is disappointed, but there was no way I couldn't make it sooo cliché. I probably rewrote the dance chapter eight times and each time, I felt like it was getting more cliché and just crappier in general. I'm really sorry if I let anyone down, but I want to be original and do the story how I envisioned it.

Next chappie to soften the blow! Enjoy and Review!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


Before I could do any serious damage to Lissa's already messed up face, I was being pulled off her.

"Let go of me," I screamed as two people continued to pull me off Lissa. She was on the ground clutching her nose and crying like a three year old that dropped their ice cream.

A shameless smirk was plastered on my face as I was carried out of the gym. "I can walk," I demanded after I finally pulled free of the two strangers' grasps. I held my head high and continued to walk toward the main building where the general was awaiting my presence.

I am not ashamed or regret punching Lissa. Hell, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. If she wants me gone that bad, then she better be prepared for another fist to the face because I'll never pass up a another chance to rearrange her repulsive face.

Before I knew it, I was standing before the general's office door and getting the stink eye from his secretary. Giving her my sweetest and cheesiest smile, I opened the door and walked in.

Fang's back was to me as he stood behind the chair in front of the desk that the general was situated behind. I confidently walked in and stood next to Fang. While the general still had his eyes on the paper work in front of him, I stole a quick glance at Fang.

His jaw was clenched and his eyes stared straight. His shoulders tensed, no doubt feeling my stare, but he refused to look at me.

I tore my eyes away from Fang and tried all my might to concentrate on the problem at hand. By crossing my arms over my chest and looking at the general expectantly, I could only hope that it would conceal the hurt I was really feeling. I am such an idiot for running out on Fang like that. Now he can barely look at me because I hurt him first.

"I'd say welcome back, Cadet, but I think we both know it's never pleasant around here when you're running rampant around the camp," the general finally spoke up. He lifted his face and I could see the annoyance and anger behind his eyes.

"Technically I wasn't running, but imagine the damage I could do if I was running," I responded seriously

The general's face turned a shade of red as I prepared myself for his outburst. Let's say, he didn't disappoint…

He immediately stood up from his seat and paced behind his desk as his voice grew louder and louder to show he was in charge, "We do not tolerate this behavior. You must understand the magnitude of ranks, Cadet. Everyone here is superior to you, including the cadets around you. In fact, including the dirt on your shoe."

My eyes flashed to my shoes where a streak of mud was smeared from being dragged half the way here. My eyes met his before I prepared myself to retaliate. "I understand your ranking system perfectly, but don't you think it's a little flawed? Saying that someone who was handed their rank because they have connection, just shows that the ranks don't mean anything. They're useless. If they can be given out like free candy, then they're not all that superior than me, who's been through a lot more shit than the crap that comes out of your mouth," I yelled back, referring to Lissa getting her title because of her dad.

"You will refrain from that kind of language while you are at this camp, Cadet Ride. You are here to better yourself as a person for our society. It is people like you who dirty civilization with your attitude and disrespectfulness," he shouted back.

"I'm already a better person than you, although I would hardly call that an accomplishment," I replied in a cool and collective voice just to make him even more mad.

And it worked. "Do you see these medals and awards?" he points behind him at all the wall loitered with medals and pictures. "I have earned all of these through hard work and perseverance. Not once did I disobey an order that was given. That's more than you can say."

The thing that ticked me off the most? Through our whole fight, Fang just stood there. Not saying a word and only occasionally reacting to something one of us says. That made my blood boil more than having Lissa say those words and having the general yell at me.

"Sounds easy enough," I say as I nod my head and purse my lips in false thought. "Okay, I order you to lick my boots clean. Oh, by the way, you'll get a medal," I said mockingly.

The general slammed his hands down on his desk and snapped his head toward Fang, "Control your cadet, Private."

"Control? I am not some animal you can…" I began to yell back before Fang cut me off.

"Sir, yes, sir," he said in a clear voice.

My heart just stopped as I whipped my head to look at Fang's profile. Is that what he thinks about me? An animal? I studied the side of his face only to see the same face I saw the first day I got here. Cold, distant, and heartless.

Giving the general one last look, I quickly turned and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind me. The back of my eyes started to sting, but I forced them back.

They are not worth my tears. Not Lissa, not the general, and certainly not Fang.

It was noon so everyone had gone to the mesh hall for lunch. I looked around the deserted campus before making my way toward my room. After the rendezvous in the general's office, I found that I had lost my appetite.

"Max," I heard a voice call from behind me. My heart hammered in my chest before slowly breaking into many discernable pieces.

I kept up my pace and refused to acknowledge him, but before I could get too far, I felt a hand grasp my upper arm.

I wretched my arm out of Fang's hand and glared at him with all the hatred I was feeling. "Don't touch me," I warned, trying to ignore the familiar tingling that traveled up my arm from where he touched me.

"Max," he breathed, hurt clear in his dark eyes. Gold flecks began to appear as they dance around his pain stricken eyes.

"What?" I snarled at him as I cross my arms over my chest.

"Please," was all he said. His eyes desperate for me to understand what he can't get out in words.

"Thanks for having my back in there," I said coldly before turning to walk away.

Fang stepped around me and stood in my way. I stepped to the right to walk past him, but again, he blocked my path. "You're in my way," I grounded out.

"Max, you have to believe me when I say that I had to do what I did in there. I didn't want to, but I had no choice," he said desperately. His hand moved to cup my cheek, but it immediately dropped when he remembered my earlier comment.

I didn't know if I was relieved he didn't touch me or regretful that I couldn't feel his touch. I knew that if he touched me that all the anger coursing through my body would cease the second his hand made contact with my skin. Unfortunately, I would do anything to feel his arms around my waist or his thumb stroking my cheek.

Covering up my internal struggle, I glared at Fang, "How can I believe you when you don't believe me? Lissa said some things…" I began sadly, but forced the feeling back. "She deserved it," I finished, looking at the ground, embarrassed by my emotional slip up.

"I never said I didn't believe you," Fang said quietly.

My head snapped up to see him looking at me earnestly. "Then why didn't you say anything in there? You just stood there while your dad tore me apart," I yell exasperated.

Fang flinched when I referred to the general as his 'dad', but masked it up before taking an earnest step closer to me. "I know, I just…I just couldn't show him I was weak," he struggled for the words.

"Trust is not a weakness and neither is telling the truth," I whispered, all the anger beginning to melt away.

"No, it's not that," Fang said as he took a step away from me. His hands went to his hair as his fingers combed and pulled in frustration.

"Then what is it?" I ask, a little in annoyance and slightly desperation. I want to understand Fang, but it's hard when he's speaking in code.

His hands fell from his hair and hung limply at his sides. Fang started to pace nervously with a thoughtful look on his face. "I can't show the general my weakness," he says deliberately slow so his words didn't give anything away. He stopped his pacing and looked at me, begging me to understand.

I couldn't help the confusion that swept over my face. "Then don't…?" I suggest.

"It's not that easy," he says, getting frustrated again.

"Then just tell me what it is and maybe I can help," I offer, secretly hoping he will.

"I can't," he answered.

Anger courses through me all over again. "I thought you said you trusted me," I demanded.

"I do," Fang said hurriedly, "but I can't tell you this." He turned his body away from me to avoid eye contact.

I scoffed at him before stating, "Your definition of trust is way different from mine."

"You don't get it," Fang said as he shook his head, irritated at my lack of understanding. His hands flew up to his hair again, a nervous tick of his, as he let out a defeated sigh.

"Then just tell me, Fang," I yell at his back, all this beating around the bush was really starting to annoy me. "I can't keep up with all these cryptic messages. You trust me one second and the next you don't. I'm done guessing what your problem is, so just tell me!"

I glowered at the back of Fang's head as he continued to stare at nothing in particular. Suddenly, Fang's hands fell to his sides and his head swiveled around toward me, followed by the rest of his body. Using the momentum, he strode toward me with determination set on his face. He was mere inches away from my face when his hands gently grabbed my face and urgently connected our lips together.

Unlike the kiss this morning, this kiss was much slower and sweet. My hands slipped around his neck and pulled his lips closer to mine as his hands slid down to my waist. Through his shirt, I could feel his define muscles flex with each of his little movements.

After a while, Fang pulled away, but kept his forehead against mine. We kept our eyes closed as we reveled in the silence, only our breathing filling the quietness.

Fang's placed his lips on my forehead and kept them there as the silence drug on. I was disappointed he pulled away when his lips were suddenly lingering over mine, "You're my weakness, Max," he whispered against my lips.


I reluctantly opened my eyes, fearing that I'd be staring at nothing, but air. Don't run, I chanted in my head.

My eyes connected with Max's as I stared intently into the brown eyes before me, anxious yet hesitant to see her reaction through her eyes. My eyes flickered between hers, anticipating to measuring any flicker of emotion that might reveal itself.

Slowly, Max's eyes filled with a look that was unknown to me. Was that a good look or a bad look? Worried I had put her into an uncomfortable position, I began to pull away.

"No," she said in a small, hurried voice. Her hands gripped the back of my neck tighter as she eliminated any chance of me pulling away.

A grin spread across my face as I watched Max look down in embarrassment. Her action and words told me she wasn't going anywhere and I wouldn't have it any other way. "So, you punched Lissa?" I asked, humor clear in my voice even to me.

She looked up at me, not bothering to hide her evil smile, "I would've done more than punch her if I didn't get pulled off of her by force," was all she said, disappointment coloring her tone.

My body shook as I chuckled at the thought of Max looming over a cowering Lissa. "And what possessed you to punch her?"

Immediately I regretted asking her that question. Once the question left my mouth, her face was filled with sadness and her eyes avoided mine. "She said something about Ari," she said with a shrug, but I could tell that it wasn't that simply. Something Lissa said really shook Max and I didn't like it one bit.

Not saying one word, I crushed Max to my chest and stroked her hair when I neatly tucked her head under my chin. No tears fell from her eyes, but I could still feel the sadness slowly dissipate from her body. I placed my lips on top of her head, taking in the sweet scent of her shampoo.

We stood there for so long that time meant nothing. That is, until the bell rang signally the end of lunch and the beginning of training.

Max looked up at me as I looked down at her. Our eyes conveying the same thing. We have to keep what we have a secret. I may not know the consequences of being found out, but they were not worth losing the only real thing in my lonely, pathetic life.

Reluctantly, we pulled apart as people started filing out of the mesh hall.

"Boxing ring?" Max asked me hopefully.

My lips twitched at her eagerness, "Nope. Someone got us banned from the boxing ring," I explained, looking pointedly at her.

Max put on a mock expression of shock, "Surely that someone isn't moi."

"Who else would it be?" I raised my eyebrows at her. It was true though, no one else would have done it because no one else was like Max. I didn't know one person who had the guts or intelligence to put together an intricate plan just to blow up a wall just to avoid the obstacle course.

"Good point," Max allowed as she nodded her head. "Well, what are we going to do now?"

By now, groups were starting to assemble for afternoon training. To all of the people bustling around, we looked the same as we always did when we were with each other. Private and Cadet. Only Max and I knew that something had changed.

After much contemplation, I finally turned toward Max with a smirk on my face, "I got an idea." I took off in one direction with Max falling into step next to me.

My mind was buzzing with everything that just happened. I smiled inwardly as I remember how our fight had led to this moment now. I couldn't think of anything else until I remembered one event that might jeopardize everything.

My meeting with the general and the opportunity to become a Corporal. The proud look on the general's face looking appreciatively at me.

I glanced at Max from the corner of my eye and studied her. Her freckles, her eyelashes, her Arizona tan, her…Arizona. Her life is in Arizona and mine is here, in Florida. How could we work this out when we don't even live in the same state? Is this going to be just a fling? Will to escalade to something more? Do I want it to be something more? What the hell am I doing?

Suddenly, I felt like I was in over my head.


And that's it…

Peace Out!

17. Chapter 17

I am sooo sorry! It's been what? More than two weeks since I've updated? I'm am sooo terrible at these kind of things, but I'm working on it. Thanks for all your reviews and I hope you all have something good to say about this chapter! Don't forget to REVIEW!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"Everyone in position?" Fang asked into the walkie-talkie poised by his mouth.

"Extreme Blaze ready," Iggy answered.

"Scratch 'n sniff is in place," Gazzy answered.

"Hey guys, just F.Y.I, I changed my name from Shopping Queen to Bodacious Outstanding Brave Oatmeal because I just had some this morning and now I feel like I can do anything hence the 'Brave' in my new name..."

"Let's just call her Bobo for short," Angel interrupted.

Fang and I chuckled quietly before the walkie-talkie crackled again. "Celeste reporting for duty," Angel added.

"Operation will take affect right….now," Fang declared.

"Target acquired," I stated in a monotone, trying to contain my excitement. Fang and I were hidden behind a few massive bushes, lying on our stomachs. Our 'target' was leaning against the side of a brick building, in the protection of the shade.

After being banned from the boxing ring, Fang introduced me to the next best thing…paintballing. He's been training me to shoot a paintball gun the way he would with a sniper rifle.

Now with my newfound skill, how could I not factor it in to a plan that could very well be my best scheme yet? Doubtful. However, unlike my last plan, we have a new recruit. Fang. Yes, he has converted to the fun side.

"Wind speed?" the deep voice whispered.

"About six miles per hour," I responded, my eyes never wavering from my target.

"Wind direction?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the American flag whipping in the wind, "Northeast."

"Target distance?"

"Approximately ten yards."


"Hell yeah," I answered, not able to control my excitement any longer.

"Release Dirty Rainbow," Fang ordered into the walkie-talkie.

My twitching finger finally steadied once I pushed the trigger.

Right as the first shot had hit the wall, Lissa jumped in the air and immediately assumed the fetal position. Now, before you yell at me for hitting the wall and not Lissa, I couldn't hurt her (again) and risk being sent away. So instead, I aimed only inches away from her face as my ammo continued to fire.

I kept my one eye on the wall as I maneuvered my paintball gun around. Before I could run out of paintballs, I was finished with my work. Opening both my eyes and lowering my paintball gun, I looked at the scene in front of me with a ruthless grin.

Lissa peeked her head up cautiously and scrutinized the paint on the side of the building. From her crouched spot, she immediately jumped up with her eyes and mouth opened wide as she read the banner that Iggy had dropped from the roof. It was flapping in the wind as Lissa continued to stare at it.

I have to say, I did a pretty banged up job. The look on Lissa's face as she read, 'Pandas are coming for you' on the banner with a red, paint ring circled around her body as a target on the wall is a look I will commit to memory and cherish forever.

Fang and I watched her reaction carefully as she began to look around. The look on her face changed from scared to anger. Her face showed that she wasn't falling for something this unbelievable, but that's why my planning didn't stop there.

I grabbed Fang's walkie-talkie and brought it to up to my mouth before pressed the side button, "Ronald McDonald is in place for operation Flaming Ginger."

"Rodger that," Iggy's voice sounded from the other side.

Seconds later, the silence of the camp was filled with loud popping noises as Iggy dropped firecrackers from the roof of the building. The firecrackers dropped all around Lissa, making her jump and squeal at every pop that exploded.

I had to slap my hand over my mouth to contain my laughter. Fang's shoulders were shaking, silently chuckling at the Flaming Ginger in front of us.

Firecrackers dropped for about a minute before I ordered Iggy to cease-fire. The silence was deafening at the sudden absence of the loud pops.

Lissa looked around again before her eyes settled on the message on the building again. Her body went stiff for a moment, and then she quickly turned and sprinted to the main building. Just as expected, she was about to inform the general which will in turn give us an opening to proceed with our plan.

I turned to look at Fang with a satisfied smile on my face, "Are you impressed or what?" I asked cockily.

Fang mirrored my satisfaction in smirk-form, "We're not finished yet."

"Oh, right!" I said suddenly before grabbing the walkie-talkie. "Inferno fart is in the chamber. Release plan Explosive Tickle."

"Explosive Tickle?" Fang raised a brow at me after I gave the order.

"Yup," I answered with a shrug of my shoulders. "Just be glad you're out here with me."


I peeked around the corner at the kitchen doors. The sounds of pots banging and people talking filled the empty mesh hall.

The anticipation was killing me as I forced myself to pull my head out of view of the kitchen doors. I slid down the wall and sat next to Gazzy who was bouncing around in excitement.

"What if they got caught? Or Iggy fell off the roof? Or the general came out? Or the..." I began to name my many concerns when I was interrupted by the crackling of the walkie-talkie.

"Inferno fart is in the chamber. Release plan Explosive Tickle." Max's voice ordered.

I looked over at Gazzy whose excitement seemed to have sky rocketed. His smile was evil and his eyes wide like a crazy person. "One explosive tickle, coming right up."

I cringed from his statement, but opened my mouth to voice more of my many concerns. Before I could take a breath, though, Gazzy slapped something firm onto my mouth.

My eyes grew wide before looking murderously at Gazzy. He did not just put duct tape on my mouth!

Gazzy shrugged his shoulders, offering an innocent smile, "Max told me to."

"Imma gonna urt hou," I mumbled against the duct tape, trying to express that I was going to hurt him.

Gazzy ignored me and turned to make his way to the kitchen door with me on his tail, but a safe distance away. Experience has taught me that Gazzy never runs out of ammo no matter the demand.

We situated ourselves on the ground as I started pulling out the supplies necessary. I pulled out a wad of cotton balls and didn't waste time with shoving some up my nose. I'm guessing you know what that means…

I gave Gazzy a thumbs up before he opened the door a crack. Despite my fear, no one had noticed the door opening.

Living up to his name, Gazzy pointed his weapon (a.k.a. his massive butt) and let the ammo go (a.k.a. unknown air substance that only he has the ability to produce).

In no time, the kitchen was coated with a mixture of green and yellow gases. We heard pots and pans falling, followed by strangled coughing.

The voices from the cooks carried over to us and we couldn't help the smile on our faces at their statements. Well, as much as a person can smile with duct tape on their mouth.

I mean why is it even called duct tape? I always thought it was duck tape and was confused as to how these so called ducks produced this tape. I would always imagine mean ducks behind counters and packaging rolls of tape to sell. I mean, have you ever met one nice duck? Everyone makes them out to be sweet, but I got bit by one and was convinced I would turn into a duck over night.

Wow, even in my head, I ramble…Anyways, where were we? OH, yeah. The comments of the cooks had me on the brink of peeing my pants.

"It's coming from the dining area," one of the cooks managed to gasp out before falling into a fit of coughing again.

"Dear Lord, what is that smell?" another cried out.

"It smells like Taco Bell's bathroom!" one cook answered.

"No, it's worse. It smells like a massive fart from a ninety year old grandpa who's jacked up on beans," another choked out.

Hmm, he's not too far off the mark. I thought, but as I looked pointedly at Gazzy, he mistook it as a 'job well done' look. How he managed that, puzzles me.

"Could you image the massive bombs I could drop when I'm ninety?" Gazzy said excitedly, totally not taking it as an insult.

I rolled my eyes at him. Boys…

"I don't care what it is," someone from within the kitchen declared, "I'm getting out of here." With that, the sounds of people running toward the back exit carried over to us.

Gazzy and I waited in silence before he grabbed the walkie-talkie. "Explosive Tickle completed. Release Squishy Toaster."

Right after the words left his mouth, Gazzy and I scurried up to a standing position. We each stood behind a door, peeking into the fog-filled kitchen. Gazzy's gas slowly seeped through the cracks of the doors, but went unnoticed by me. Thank you, cotton balls.

As planned, the ceiling window snapped open. The fog quickly filtered through the window, clearing the room only a fraction. Plan Squishy Toaster was underway.

With a chord wrapped around her waist and a gas mask secured to her face, Angel was lowered through the window by Iggy. Her blonde curls contrast to her all black attire stood out as she landed onto the table in the center of the room.

She looked around for a second before standing up and striking a pose much like one a gymnast would do after sticking a difficult flip.

I rolled my eyes while Gazzy scoffed next to me. We both watched anxiously as she untied the chord and hopped down from the table. Angel expertly moved around the kitchen 'till she found what she was looking for. Slipping it into her pocket, she hopped onto the table again and yanked on the chord after she had it tightly wrapped around her waist again.

As quickly as she had descended, she ascended back through the window with a grace that left me envious.

"Plan Squishy Toaster completed," Iggy's voice sounded from the walkie-talkie.

"Good work guys. Operation Snooki Booger is finished. Meet at the paintball fields," Max instructed from the walkie-talkie.


I set the walkie-talkie in the grass after I gave the order to convene at the paintball field. Shifting my weight onto my elbow, I turned toward Fang, "You may now worship me and kiss my feet, but don't get crazy," I said with a cocky smile.

Fang smirked at me, "Don't hold your breath." Still hidden behind the bushes, Fang scooted closer to me and touched his lips to mine.

It was moments like these that I still haven't grown use to and, God, I wish I never do. The feeling that coursed through me was indescribably good that I never wanted it to stop. I was use to scanning the area before touching Fang discreetly or rounding a corner just so I could place my lips on his.

What I wasn't use to was the way his kisses made me feel. I'd be lying if I said that I always thought Fang was capable of being gentle and caring as he is now. All the stolen kisses, the reassuring touches, the meaningful glances showed that he was not the cold Private I first met when I came here.

Fang's body moved flushed against mine as I tugged on his shoulder so he now hovered over my body while I laid back into the grass. Fang's minty breath filled my mouth as I gently sucked on his lower lip. My hands skimmed over his exposed arms, feeling the light sheen of sweat that coated them.

"One Punch Knockout, come in, One Punch Knockout," Iggy's voice carried over to Fang and I from the walkie-talkie as he called my codename.

Fang and I broke apart, our breathing both heavy as we just looked at each other with wide eyes. Fang was propped up on one elbow while his other hand was still latched onto my neck. I was still under Fang with my back flat on the ground and my hands still on his arms.

"One minute," I whispered to Fang before I started kissing him again.

Our kissing became more urgent because we didn't know the next time we would be alone like this. My hands found their way to Fang's hair, tugging a little just to hear that small groan he always makes. Without disappointing, a low groan erupted from his chest and his kissing became more urgent.

"Black Harmonica, come in, Black Harmonica," Angel's voice called from the walkie-talkie.

Fang buried his head into my neck before letting out a regretful sigh. I let out an annoyed breath, my hands traveling from Fang's hair to his neck. "We should go," I said, disappointment clear in my voice even to me.

"Mmhmm," Fang mumbled against my skin. Despite my statement, Fang continued to brush his lips up my neck, randomly placing warm kisses here and there.

I gathered all my will power, or lack thereof, and pushed against Fang's chest. I couldn't think straight with his lips on me so this was the only way, no matter how much I hated it. "They'll start looking for us soon," I reasoned, looking into the gold speckled black eyes.

Fang let out a long breath before kissing me once on the lips and hopping up. Once he was on his feet, he extended his hand out to me, which I took happily.

We walked around the bushes, our hands still connected. Unfortunately, we had to drop our hands to our sides once we were out of the secure confines of the bushes. You never know where lingering eyes could be and what they might see.

Fang and I walked side-by side toward the paint ball fields, the backs of our hands brushing together occasionally.

We were about to enter the paintball field when Fang placed his hand on my arm to stop me. "Give me the walkie-talkie," he ordered.

I raised a challenging eyebrow at him. Although Fang and I are 'together', that doesn't mean I'm going to take orders from him with a smile on my face.

"We need an alibi," he explained.

Confused at what he meant, I handed him the device just to see what he might do with it.

Snapping off the back of the walkie-talkie, Fang took out one of the batteries and tossed it into a trashcan nearby. "That way, we have a reason for being late," he said as he snapped the back in place. "Our walkie-talkie stopped working," he explained with a grin as he handed it to me.

I rolled my eyes; he's beginning to think a little too much like the delinquent I am.

Fang and I spotted everyone else hidden behind one of the many blow up structures that were coated with sporadic colors of paintballs.

"What took you two so long?" Gazzy questioned as we came into view.

"There was people by us, so we had to wait them out before we could climb out of our hiding spot," I lied easily.

"Oh. Why didn't you respond to us then?" Gazzy asked.

I held up the walkie-talkie, "It needs new batteries," I explained.

The others nodded, but Angel's eyes stayed on me as if she was searching for something. I looked back at her as her eyes drifted to Fang and then back to me.

Does she know? I panicked. She can't possibly know…can she?

I cleared my throat to get everyone's attention, "So, did we get it?" I asked to draw Angel's attention away from Fang and me.

"Yup," she smiled. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a set of keys to the kitchen.

"Who's up for a late night snack?" I asked as we all erupted into cheers of excitement.

"Nudge, you can take off the duct tape now," Iggy pointed out as Nudge was jumping along with Angel.

Realization dawned on her as she went to pry the tape off. Her eyes grew wide at the pain and let out a small whimper.

I took a step to help her out, but Iggy beat me to it. He gently slapped her fingers away and gingerly took the tape between his forefinger and thumb. Placing his other hand on her cheek, he slowly pulled the tape off.

Once again, I saw the gentle way Iggy treated Nudge. However, the moment was over when the tape was fully off her mouth.

"MAX! I'm going to kill you! Do you know what duct tape does to your skin?" she yelled as she began to charge me.

I easily dodged her and took off running with Nudge not too far behind. Man, that girl can hold her own for someone who worries more about her nails than anything else.


I watched as Nudge chased Max around. Max was definitely faster, but Nudge was furious.

A smirk crept onto my mouth as Max's carefree laugh filled my ears. The sound I never wanted to forget.

I stood there with my arms crossed over my chest as I just watched for once in my life. Just taking in the scene before me without having to think or act, but just stand there and live in the moment.

Max and my secret relationship was working out well. Even though all I'd want to do is take her in my arms and show everyone that she was mine. I could hear all the complaints Max would have about me being sexist and how women are not property, but I couldn't help it. I didn't want anyone touching her the way I did, much less look at her the way I did.

I felt Angel's stare on my again and subtly drifted my gaze away from Max to some of the paintball structures. She was looking between Max and me when we first arrived. If we weren't careful, that little blonde sneak would rat us out.

Max's laugh carried over to my ears again as Nudge continued to chase her. It took everything in my power not to look at her and smirk, but I had to be mindful of the watchful eyes.

Sorry I jumped around this chapter. I hope that Nudge's point of view and the random switches between points of view was ok. It was the first time I wrote from Nudge's perspective, so sorry if it was total crap.

Personal goal…Update a hell of a lot more! I appreciate all the reviews I've been receiving and it kills me not having enough time to update as fast as you guys want. Anyways…REVIEW because we both know you're dying to ;)

Peace Out!

18. Chapter 18

Well I suck at goals. So much for updating a lot more, but I seriously haven't had time to sleep in for the past two week because of soccer and siblings' graduations. Summer is coming up, but I have no idea how often I'll be able to update then because I'm going to be even more busy. I'll try to get in as many chapters I can, but exams are coming up so I won't give anyone false hopes as to when I'll update next.

With that depressing note said, here's chapter 18! ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"Fang," I cautiously whispered as I walked into the mesh hall. My head swinging left to right for any sign of Fang.

I could hear Iggy's witty jabs, Angel's charming voice, Nudge's insistent chatter, and Gazzy's joking tone carry over to my ears from the kitchen across the mesh hall. Fang had told me to meet him outside the kitchen before we had to spend the rest of the night with our friends.

It was weird to say 'our friends', but that's what Fang is to us now. Well, he's more to me, but Iggy, Angel, Nudge, and Gazzy have all accepted him as a friend.

A little ways away from the kitchen was a hallway that led to the rest rooms. I poked my head into the hallway to see if Fang was hidden in there, but came up empty handed. I let out a sigh before turning to head to the kitchen.

Well, I was about to before I felt someone tug on my arm and swing me so that my back was pressed to the wall. I tilted my head up to see none other than Fang looking down at me.

"Looking for someone?" he whispered, a smirk prominent on his lips.

I shrugged my shoulders indifferently, "I was looking for this insanely hot guy, but I guess I'll have to settle for you."

He smirked down at me, "You wouldn't by any chance have seen this beautiful girl I've been looking for? She, more than likely, has her arms crossed over her chest and is glaring at nothing in particular just for the hell of it."

"Not true," I countered. I opened my mouth to argue further, when I noticed I was indeed glaring up at Fang with my arms crossed over my chest. "I'm glaring at a certain pain in my ass."

Fang smirked at me and brushed a lock of hair away from my forehead.

I looked up into his eyes and saw the caring side to Fang. It scared and thrilled me at the same time when I realized the care in his eyes was for me.

Not able to help myself, I pulled on the back of his neck to connect our lips together. His lips were warm against mine and his minty breath encompassed me as his body pressed me further into the wall. The quiet sounds of our lips meeting seemed filled the empty space as we took advantage of our time together.

Fang was the first to pull away, but kept his forehead pressed to mine. I would have been embarrassed by my heavy breathing if Fang wasn't breathing as hard as I was.

When our breathing was somewhat under control, Fang let out an almost defeated sigh, "I missed touching you," he breathed. As if to show his point, he brushed the backs of his fingers up my arm and continued up my neck 'till he cradled my face in his warm, calloused hand.

My eyes threatened to flutter close, but I resisted the action because, simply put, that's not me. I am still the same girl who jumped out of the second floor window in school and took off running just to escape a history test. The same girl who punched a random guy at Starbucks for making a sexist joke to his buddy. The same girl who would rather stick a knife in her eye than wear high heels.

All these mushy feelings and gestures, that I sometimes ache to act on, will not change that Max. I refuse to be one of those girls who change themselves to fit the relationship they are in. No, I'm still the same Max and I hope to God that that is the Max Fang wants.

I was brought back to the mesh hall when sounds of pots falling echoed off the walls. Fang and I turned our heads toward the kitchen doors and listened to the shouts coming from within there.

"Way to go, slick!" Iggy bellowed from inside the kitchen.

"Why are you looking at me? It was Nudge," Angel defended herself.

"I'm all the way over here! How could I possibly knock over those pots when I wasn't anywhere near them. Unless I had some superpower like Jean Gray where I could move things with my mind, but why would I use it on a pile of pots? I would use it to, like, pick up clothes in ten different stores at once so no one else can reach them," Nudge answered in a 'duh' voice.

I let out a sigh and rested my forehead on Fang's chest. I could feel the vibrations of his chest as he chuckled at their insane chatter.

"Angel kept staring at me today," Fang stated.

"Yeah, she's been giving me suspicious looks too," I answered, lifting my head up to look at him.

"You don't think…" he left his question hang there, knowing that I would know what he meant.

"No, I don't think she knows, but we should be careful."

He nodded before giving me one more chaste kiss on the lips. "We should probably go."

It was my turn to nod, "Wait three minutes," I instructed as Fang tilted his body away to let my slide out from between his body and the wall.

I couldn't tell you how much it sucked to have to walk in there without Fang. Anytime we went somewhere, we had to make sure we arrived separately as to not stir up suspicion. Sometimes, like now, Fang would wait awhile before entering or other times I'd have to wait somewhere out of sight 'till the proper amount of time had passed.

As I walked through the doors, however, all the depressing feeling I was feeling immediately evaporated as I was greeted by my friends. Iggy had Gazzy in a headlock while a piece of pizza hung precariously out of Gazzy's mouth. Nudge was sitting on the counter behind Angel as she braided Angel's golden blond hair in some intricate hairstyle.

"Ay! Max! The evil mind behind the master plan!" Gazzy greeted with the pizza still hanging out of his mouth.

"Classy, Gaz," Angel commented with a distasteful look on her face.

"You already started eating without me?" I pretended to glare at Gazzy who was still in a headlock.

Gazzy attempted to shrug his shoulders, "Iggy had already made the pizzas and my stomach was practically digesting itself."

"Wish it would digest your face," Nudge commented, her eyes still on her hands as she worked on Angel's hair.

A round of laughs echoed in the vast kitchen before Angel asked, "Where's Fang?"

She looked at me with innocent eyes, but I could see the mischief behind them. I shrugged my shoulders indifferently and hopped onto the silver counter next to the pizza. Grabbing a piece, I answered, "How should I know?"

"You two are connected at the hip, but not literally like Siamese twins," Nudge commented She leaned back a bit to admire her work on Angel's hair. "Gorgeous, magnificent, brilliant, sensational! You take your pick," she said to everyone with a big smile plastered onto her face.

Angel touched the back of her head gingerly, a wide smile spreading across her face, "It's perfect!" she squealed. "Now let me do yours."

Iggy, who had walked over to the two girls and was now leaning against the counter next to Angel and Nudge, said, "Eh, I like it down." He casually grabbed one of Nudge's curls in between his pointer finger and middle finger to examine it before letting it fall back into place.

Nudge looked down, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. She playfully bumped her shoulder with Iggy's, "I was planning it on leaving it down anyways," she looked at Iggy with a shy smile before looking at me. "But I think we need to do something about Max's hair. I mean, you've had your hair in a boring ponytail every day since you got here."

"What's wrong with ponytails?" I asked defensively while I stuffed a piece of pizza into my mouth.

"Nothing," Nudge shrugged, "except it looks like one of those ponytail those motorcycle riders wear."

"Hey, don't hate on bikers. I know this really nice biker, Big Steve, who baked me cookies because I helped him install an exhaust pipe that shot fire," Gazzy defended.

"And this Big Steve, did he have a scary teddy bear tattoo?" Angel asked, trying to conceal her smile.

"Oh, yeah, Big Steve," I said to Angel, going along with the whole joke. "The one that knitted me those sick pair of socks."

"And collects glass figurines?" Nudge joined in, her face portraying fake excitement.

"Oh, the same Big Steve who can makes a mean artichoke dip?" Iggy chimed in.

"You guys talking about Big Steve?" a voice question from the door.

We all turned to watch Fang walk in, automatically making his way towards the pizza. "He does make a good artichoke dip," he commented before taking a bite of his pizza.

"Wait, you know Big Steve?" I questioned, a little surprised.

Fang nodded once, "Don't you guys know him?"

"No. We were just making all those things up," Angel answered, her face looking as surprised as mine.

"Well you were right," he said as he chewed. Fang swallowed his bite and added, "Except he collects wooden figurines. Great guy."

"Thank you!" Gazzy threw his hands up in the air. "Wait," he said as he dropped his arms to his side and looked at Fang with a confused look, "how do you know Big Steve?"

Fang just shrugged one shoulder, "He's an ex-marine," he answered simply.

"Big Steve? A marine?" Gazzy started to cracking up while everyone else just stared at him.

I was watching Gazzy clutch his stomach as his laughter filled the kitchen, but I wasn't actually seeing him. The only thought going through my mind was, Everything in Fang's life revolves around the military.

His father is the general, his education was all learned from a military school, he works at a boot camp, and he met me here. What's going to happen when I leave? Is that it? Will our 'fling' be over and forgotten? Where does he even live?

I tired pushing away the fear and dreaded the day Fang and I had to sit down and talk about it, but it still pestered in the back of my head.

In the middle of my reverie, I faintly heard Nudge asked, "Hey, how were you able to find all of these ingredients to make an awesome pizza when all they serve is watery macaroni and artificial meat?"

I shook my head and my eyes locked on Fang's. His face was impassive, but his eyes communicated his worry. I offered him a small smile and shook my head to dismiss his concern. It was all in vain, however, because he could see that something was bothering me, but I'm not going to tell him my previous thoughts. I don't want to ruin what we have right now with some unnecessary drama.

Breaking the staring contest I was having with Fang, I turned to see how Iggy would respond.

A huge, devious grin was plastered onto his face, "I got it from the secret stash for the staff cooking," he said proudly. Then he snapped his head over to Fang and ducked his head a little in apology, "Sorry man."

Fang shrugged indifferently and grabbed another piece of pizza.

I smiled as conversation flowed easily with Fang chiming in every now and then with his one line contributions. The five pizzas Iggy had so generously made were almost gone, only four slices left. Yeah, we were that deprived of normal food.

We were all sitting around the kitchen; Nudge sitting next to me on the counter, Fang, Gazzy, and Angel sitting on the counter opposite of us, and Iggy grabbing another piece of pizza from the table behind Fang, Gazzy, and Angel. Conversation was dying down and you could tell it was about time to wrap up.

We were about to before Iggy slammed him hands down on the table. We all turned to him in alarm, "I can't believe it," he whispered, his eyes wide.

"Care to explain, Extreme Blaze?" I asked, using his code name.

"The group is balanced. With our new addition," Iggy pointed to Fang, "men are no longer the minority. We will no longer be outvoted when deciding between dirt biking and pedicures."

"We've never had to choose between dirt bikes and pedicures," Angel objected.

"Ew, I hate people touching my feet. Especially strangers who probably have some weird foot fetish," I cringed at my first and last experience at the nail salon.

Ignoring our comments, Iggy continued, "We will be the three amigos. Stunningly handsome, charmingly witty, insanely strong, and ridiculously awesome." As he said this, he got a dreamy look on his face as he walked around the room.

Looking off into the distance, Iggy continued his whole speech, "We shall storm high-security facilities because we can. We will make epic bombs that will be written about in history books. We will receive medals from important people like Obama just for being ourselves."

Iggy walked around the table and walked in between the two counters, "We will have women throwing themselves at us from left to right. They will swoon over our good looks and defined arm muscles," he said as he patted Gazzy shoulder once and continued to walk down the aisle.

I couldn't help, but laugh at his dreamy and hopeful expression. Then I laughed a little harder when I imagined him in a sombrero when he mentioned the 'three amigos'.

"We'd have to beat them off with a bat and tell them that we had made a vow to stay single, but were not against a little kiss here or there," he claimed as he patted Fang on the shoulder once. "We will…" Iggy stopped short.

Iggy's face was set in confusion as he looked down at his hand that was on Fang's shoulder. Iggy looked straight into Fang's eyes and then snapped his gaze to mine. I just looked back at him as he snapped his head back over to Fang.

"Oh, man. Since when did you guys get together?" Iggy questioned accusingly, pointing at Fang and me.

My eyes widened in surprise and horror. How the hell did he figure us out by just touching Fang's shoulder?


Well, that was certainly unexpected. After Iggy had called Max and me out, we had admitted to it. At first, they were a little upset that we didn't tell them before, but that was quickly replaced with excitement and a little bit of smugness from Angel. Iggy was still bummed out that we were not the three single amigos, but still elated that men were no longer the minority in our group.

It was a bittersweet moment when they all found out Max was mine. Sweet in the sense that that's one less place I have to restrain myself from Max. Bitter in the sense that the risk of Max and mine relationship being exposed is greater.

I let out a sigh and dragged my hand down my face as I stared at Max's door. I had been standing here and pacing her hallway for the past half hour. Everyone was asleep and I didn't know if that included Max because I didn't want to wake her up.

Screw it, I thought to myself as I took the two determined steps it took me to stand in front of Max's door. Fist poised to knock on the door, I was about to let my fist come down when I backed out for the seventh time.

What was I going to say when she opened the door? Oh, hey. Sorry to wake you up from your sleep after a tiresome day, but I couldn't sleep. So, I figured we could both suffer from lack of sleep. Hell no.

I let out a frustrated sigh and took a few steps down the hallway before stopping again to look at the door over my shoulder. Should I?



Ugh, this is annoying. Make up your mind! I demanded myself.

Ok, I'm going in, I decided. I closed the space to Max's door and stopped. I just stood there and stared at the door. I let out another sigh before resting my wrist on the doorframe and pressing my forehead against my wrist.

Before I could turn around and walk away, again, the door swung open.

Taken by surprised at the sudden movement, I snapped up from my hunch position and stood up straight to look into two curious brown eyes.

I smiled down at Max, relieved that she was awake. She was wearing a white Point Fest t-shirt and black pajama shorts.

"Fang?" she asked surprised before smirking up at me and leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed. "What are you doing here?"

The moment I was dreading and Max knew it. She knew I didn't want to admit to being a pussy, but I really wanted to be with her right now. Therefore, either be that whipped guy who comes crawling to his girlfriend or be the indifferent boyfriend who plays it cool.

The latter is becoming more and more appealing.

"Couldn't sleep," I shrug nonchalantly.

"Couldn't stay away could ya?" Max taunted. "I don't blame you. I'm pretty amazing."

I ignored her little jab, "What are you doing up?"

Max straightened up from her relaxed position against the doorframe, taken aback. "Uh," she stuttered as a faint pink blush colored her cheeks.

I smirked at her flustered expression and took a step closer to her so that I was towering over her. "Is the indestructible Max blushing because she got caught about to leave her room to look for me?" I teased as I brushed the back of my fingers against her soft pink cheeks.

Her eyes narrowed and she put her hands on her hips as she took a deliberate step away from my lingering touch. "What do you want Fang?" she demanded.

Crap, she's mad at me now. Well, it looks like the whole 'indifferent boyfriend' wasn't really working out. Ugh, I am so whipped.

I gently grabbed one of her wrists and pulled her to me slowly. I looked into her eyes the whole time for any sign that I should stop, but there was none so I kept bringing her closer.

I pulled her 'till she was in front of me. Resting my forehead to hers, I let out a defeated breath, "I missed you," I whispered, hating how needy, vulnerable, I must have sounded.

I was always taught to never put myself in a situation where I am vulnerable, but right now is an exception. Although right now I felt as exposed as a naked baby on one of those diaper commercials, I was glad it was in front of Max.

"I missed you too," Max's voice sounded small and soft, no doubt feeling as unguarded as I do now.

I looked into her melted chocolate eyes. Brining my hand up to her face, my fingers gingerly traced the faint dark circles under eyes.

I furrowed my brows just imagining how tired Max must be. "You're tired," I said, stating the obvious.

"So are you," Max said, studying the faint circles under my eyes.

Without another word, Max laced her fingers through my hand that was cradling her face. She dropped our hands to our sides and pulled me into her room behind her.

The click of the door closing sounded ten times louder in the dark room. Max climbed into her bed and I slid in behind her after she got settled.

I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her flush to my chest. Max let out a content sigh as she scooted closer to my chest. I placed one last kiss on her head before closing my eyes and finally feeling relaxed enough to sleep.

This was kind of a filler chapter because I really want to develop Fang and Max's relationship before I move further into the whole plot of the story. ;)



19. Chapter 19

I AM SOOO SORRY! I don't even know the last time I've updated so you know it's been way too long. I won't bore you with all the reasons why I haven't updated because I know you just want to read the chapter.

Also, for all of those who are worried that I had abandoned this story, don't worry because I always finish what I started.

With that little reassurance, here's the new chapter.


Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


"Bullshit!" I said as I looked down at Max. We were lying in her bed and just talking about everything and nothing. We were on our backs with my arm wrapped around Max's slim body to clasp her to my side.

Despite my futile attempts to lull Max to sleep, nothing worked. Once we both had gotten comfortable on her bed, neither one of us could shut our eyes or our mouths.

"You doubt my ability to pull off something as awesome as that?" Max said in disbelief as she pulled away slightly to look up at me, her hand pushing down on my chest.

"There is no way I believe you put Icy Hot on every single toilet seat at your old boarding school," I replied confidently.

"Believe it," Max said as she placed her head back on my chest. "How else do you think I got kicked out?"

"I'm sure you thought of something to piss people off."

"Not likely. I'm just an enjoyable person to be around. They even cried when I left."

"Tears of joy," I offered.

"More like tears of sadness," Max corrected as she absentmindedly traced her finger on my chest in random patterns.

"They were probably sad they weren't sending you to jail or something," I shrugged my shoulders.

SMACK! Max's hand came down hard on my chest and the noise echoed in the quiet room. She laughed when my body jolted a little in surprise. "You are the worse boyfriend ever," she said as she shook her head in disbelief.

My eyes grew wide and I could feel a smirk shamelessly displayed on my lips. Did she call me her 'boyfriend'?

She noticed my tightened grip as I pulled her closer to my chest. "What?" she asked as she lifted her head up and suspiciously stared at my wide smirk.

An enjoyable warm feeling spread through my body at her confused expression. She had unconsciously called me her boyfriend. I knew she must have slipped went she said it, but the fact that she had probably thought of me as her boyfriend was enough to put a stupid boyish smile on my face.

"You called me your boyfriend," I pointed out, my smirk growing gradually bigger as I said, 'your boyfriend'.

"Oh," Max looked down, a light pink blush creeping up her neck and settling on her cheeks. "I didn't mean to say that," she back tracked.

My smirk began to slip away as Max continued to stumble her way through her explanation, her eyes fixed onto my black shirt. "I just thought that it was implied that we were together, but if that's too fast for you, I totally understand because we are both new to this. I'm sorry if that made you uncomfortable and I don't expect you to call me your girlfriend or anything."

My smirk returned at Max's somewhat indirect declaration. She wants me to be her boyfriend and she wants to be my girlfriend. I had referred to Max as my girlfriend in my head, but never have I said it aloud before.

To save Max from further embarrassment, I interjected, "Max."

"Huh?" she looked up at me, a somewhat hesitant expression on her face.

"Shut up," I told her.

You know that hesitant look on Max's face before? Yeah, it disappeared and was replaced with anger despite her earlier speech. "Jerk," she said as her hand came up to smack me again, but I had already anticipated her hostility.

Swiftly, if I do say so myself, I flipped us over so Max was pinned under me. I looked into her eyes and studied them full on so she couldn't hide anything.

"Fang, let me go," Max demanded, her eyes burning fire into mine. I could almost feel the heat directed straight to my eyes.

This whole time, my smirk stayed on my lips. Even now, when Max looked like she was about to murder me, my smirk never wavered.

"So I'm your boyfriend?" I asked Max.

Her face softened to that slightly embarrassed expression again as she refused to look into my eyes. "Umm," she hesitated.

I swiped some hair away from her forehead before lightly nudging her chin, urging her to look at me. When she did, I spoke, "Because you're my girl."

Max's eyes got that sparkle in them that I loved so much. "That's sexist, Fang. I'm not some property you can just claim," she replied, trying to act offended, but her eyes told another story.

"I apologize," I said, though I wasn't the least bit sorry.

Max shrugged her shoulders once before placing a kiss on my cheek. As she pulled away, she noticed my confused look. A kiss on the cheek? Really? I was expecting at least a kiss on the lips after I told her she was my girlfriend and I her boyfriend.

"Morning breath," she answered.

I bowed my head on the bed above Max's shoulder. No better way to kill the mood than to kiss with some sick-nasty morning breath. Instead, I kissed her neck gently before pulling away to look down at her.

I looked over at the clock on the nightstand and let out a frustrated breath. "I gotta go," I said simply.

"We didn't even sleep!" Max complained

"Yeah, because you kept talking."

"Hey! You were talking too!"

"Not as much as you."

"No, I distinctly remember a rather lengthy speech about the time you out shot your Sergeant when you were sixteen," she recollected.

"I'd hardly call it a speech. More like an enjoyable story," I defended. I rolled to the edge of the bed and bent down to lace on my shoes.

"By the way," Max said as she crawled over to sit next to me, her knees curled up to her chest, "what happened to General Speaking?"

I started to lace up my other boot, "He got transferred to another camp," I replied with a clench jaw. It took a little convincing, but I had finally convinced General Amersham that General Speaking was no longer needed. The general was then sent to another camp in California to torture other cadets. As long as it's not Max, that's fine by me.

"Man, I was hoping he just got abducted by aliens to be taken back to his mother ship," Max replied.

I straightened up and looked over at Max. The morning light that filtered from the window gleamed off of her highlights and gave her a certain glow. If I were some girly dude, I would say that she was too goddamn beautiful.

"You keep staring at me like that and I'll punch you so hard, you'll forget your own name," Max threatened, but a smile was fixed onto her face.

"Sure you would," I challenged. I stood up and headed to the door. I heard Max's soft footsteps behind me as I opened the door.

I turned around once I was out in the hallway. "Can't stay away, can ya?" I questioned cockily.

"Just making sure you successfully leave my room," she shrugged.

"Mmmhmm," I murmured as I pulled Max in for a hug. My arms wrapped around her waist and her arms around my neck. "I don't think that's any way to talk to your boyfriend," I chastised.

Max pulled back and look up at me, a smile fixed on her lips. "Really? Maybe I should read the, How to Treat Your Boyfriend manual," she said, looking away in deep thought.

"You probably should," I agreed. "I could check it out of the library for you."

"Don't bother. I won't read it anyway."

I chuckled at that, "Figured." I kissed her cheek one last time, my lips lingering on her skin longer than necessary.

"See you soon," she whispered before stepping back into her room.

I smirked as she shut the door. I shook my head and started walking down the hall.

So much has happened that I don't know what to make of it. Max. The Max. Is my girlfriend. I never thought something that could feel so exhilarating could ever happen to me. I just feel like I can punch through walls and run miles nonstop.

I don't know if this feeling has a word, but I want to feel it all the time.

Unconsciously, I navigated through the series of hallways to the exit. The double doors where in my line of vision when I was interrupted from my thoughts.

"She deserves better," a voice said from behind me.

I stopped abruptly in the hallway at the sound of the deep voice. All feelings of my previous happy high are gone. Slowly, I turned around to see none other than the ever so charming Dylan.

"Cadet?" I questioned, pretending I hadn't heard him. My voice was hard as I said 'cadet'. Although I would never force Max or even Gazzy to refer to me as 'Private', I still wanted to remind Dylan that he is speaking to someone who is indeed higher up than him.

He had walked around the corner and was now leaning up against the wall casually with his arms crossed over his chest. Dylan was well built, like me, but in a hand-to-hand combat, I am pretty confident I'd have him crying for his mom.

"She deserves better," Dylan repeated. Everything about him told me that Max and I were caught. His tone was hard, his face was one of restraint anger, and his body, although relaxed, shook slightly.

"You don't know what she deserves. Only Max can decide what she wants, so stay out of it, Cadet," I said, my words cold and threatening.

"You're right," Dylan nods, before continuing "but I know that she deserves better than someone who is cold hearted and incapable of giving and receiving love."

I'm trying to keep my composure, but he is making it very difficult. My hands clench at my sides, just itching to connect with his jaw. My body is radiating rage and consumes the atmosphere in the air. I want to tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about, but I don't know if I can.

I have no idea what love is and what it's supposed to feel like. The only love I had was for my mother, but with age, that feeling has only become faint memories of smiles and carefree laughs. What if I really can't give Max what she deserves?

Slowly, I walk straight up to Dylan. "Do me a favor, Cadet, and stay away from Max. If I see you stalking her, like you are now, I will personally see to it that your life here is a living hell," I threaten in a low voice, my face so close to his face as I tower two inches taller than him.

I had the satisfaction of seeing him cringe slightly at my words before I turned away and started walking toward the double doors that led outside.

I smirked at the memory of Dylan's terrified face as I walked down the hall. I was about to push open the doors when I heard Dylan call out to me, "See you around, Corporal."

My smirk fell and my heart thudded in my chest. I whipped my head around to look at Dylan's smug face. "What?" I questioned dumbly.

"I'm going to be nice and give you an out, Private," Dylan spat as he started walking toward me. "End this little fling with Max and I won't tell her about your little offer. Oh, and I think the general would be more than happy to hear about your little relationship with Cadet Ride too."

I was glaring daggers at Dylan, but inside I knew I was done for. The way I see it is to either convince Dylan that I'm staying away from Max, which may prove to be hard if he's stalking her every move. Or I could totally screw myself over and lose Max and her trust.

Not to mention if the general found out, he'd have Max transferred and I'd be sent to Michigan to take Corporal Andrew's spot.

I could just tell Max… I banished the thought right after I thought it. If I tell Max, then that's a guarantee that I'll never see her again. She would most likely attack me if I tell her that I was keeping the general's offer from her.

Dylan noticed I was thinking things over and smiled triumphantly. He walked pass me, "Think about it," he called over his shoulder before disappearing.

I just need time to find a loophole, I assured myself and I'd be damned if I didn't find one.

My hands found their way in my hair. I pulled at my hair in irritation, ignoring the pain emanating from my scalp and focusing on the pain in my chest. After a while, I withdrew my hands and let out a slow breath.

I know what I have to do.


"Attention!" the general's voice reverberated through the speakers that hang in the corners of the room. He was in usual spotless uniform with numerous medals and badges. He was standing stiffly on the normally deserted stage behind the podium.

Everyone immediately dropped their forks with loud clanks and whipped their whole body toward the general. Unlike everyone else, Iggy, Gazzy, Angel, Nudge, and I slowly turned and slouched in our seats, preparing ourselves for his speech.

"For the first matter of business, Private Lissa Neyer has been relocated so all of her cadets will be reassigned to other Privates. With that said, I have another pressing matter that should be issued," the general looked down to open the manila folder on the podium before looking up. His face was set in a scowl as he scanned the hall before continuing.

"Unfortunately, at zero six hundred hours, our cooking staff found their kitchen a mess. Someone had broken in and stolen a large amount of food," his voice boomed overhead.

Gazzy snickered, "Not someone. More like a group of insanely hungry masterminds."

"However, they did leave this note," the general went on as he held up a piece of paper above his head. "Our thieves have so kindly left a note that I will read aloud."

My eyes widened, a note? I don't remember there being a note!

I whipped my head around to look at everyone at my table in shocked panic. My eyes landed on Iggy as he tried to contain his laughter with his hand over his mouth. "You," I accused venomously.

Iggy got this look on his face that resembled a kid getting caught stealing a cookie from the cookie jar before dinner by his mother. "I couldn't help myself," he snickered.

I rolled my eyes, but turned around before he could see the smile on my face. What? I'm interested to see what he wrote.

"Dear fellow people of this fine establishment," the general started.

"Gotcha! We are the ninjas of the night, an organization who is always hungry for danger, mischief, and cheeseburgers. Forgive us for our intrusions, but I think we have helped you out by pointing out the flaws in your security system. Don't feel bad, Sensei Yamagota had taught us well and our skills are well above that of the skills you think you posses. Count on this, my fellow penguin, we will be back and we will take no food prisoners. We will eat all your food with no mercy."

The general looked up from the letter with an explosive look in his eyes finishing with, "Sincerely, Ninjas of the Night."

The general slammed the letter down on the podium with a boom that echoed off the hollow podium and spread through the mess hall. Despite his obvious anger, I could see people's shoulders shaking.

"This type of behavior will not be tolerated. From now on, we will have posts at every door to the dormitories where you must check in for the night. They will be in shifts through the night to ensure that no one may leave without someone's knowledge," he yelled into the microphone, drops of spit flying out of his mouth.

I snapped my head at Iggy and narrowed my eyes at him. Angel punched him on the shoulder for me, but he continued to chuckle.

"Ow," he rubbed his arm. "There is always a loophole in every system. We just have to get creative," Iggy defended himself.

"That's true," Nudge agreed. "It'll be good to have a little challenge. I mean, come on, that was almost too easy. We could've broken into the kitchen with our eyes close while walking backwards…"

"Shhh," Iggy said as he put his hand over her mouth and looked around to see if anyone heard her. Once he was satisfied, he removed his hand, but rested it on the back of Nudge's chair instead.

"If anyone is upset by this new change," the general continued, "take it up with your fellow ninjas." With that, he walked off the stage.

The whole mess hall was silent as the sounds of the general's loud footsteps slapped against the floor. No one dared to move until he walked through the double doors and out of sight.

The door closed with a loud click and just like that, everyone was snapped out of the terrified trance they were all captivated in. People picked up their forks again and murmured to one another about what had just transpired.

"Way to go!" I congratulated Iggy as I turned in my seat to face the rest of the table and the unidentifiable food in front of me. My face twisted in disgust as I pushed away my tray, the pizza from last night seeming like a distant dream.

"Hey! No hating at this table. Only smiles and compliments are allowed," Iggy argued.

"Ok," I shrugged, "Iggy, you are without a doubt the smartest dumbass I've ever met."

"That's not a compliment!" he pointed out unnecessarily.

"Well, it's all I got," I answered as I sat back in my seat.

"That's probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to him," Angel commented.

Conversation flowed easily from there with Iggy failing miserably with trying to defend his intelligence or lack thereof. I nodded and threw in a comment here and there, but my focus was on the table across the room.

I kept sneaking discrete glances at Fang's table, but not once had he looked my way, which is weird because we always glance at each other during lunch. Today, however, Fang is staring down at his food, his shoulders tense and him mouth fixed in a straight line.

My eyebrows scrunched together as I silently begged Fang to look up if only for a second so I can read what was going through his head. I could tell he feels my stare because his shoulders tense up even more and I can tell he's fighting the urge to look up. What's up with him?

Frowning, I returned my attention back fully to the table. Angel noticed my disturbed expression before I could wipe it off my face. "What's up Max?"

I snapped my head in the direction of her voice, "Hm?"

"You look kinda frustrated," Gazzy observed.

"Oh," I said as I tried to think of something. I didn't want them thinking I was obsessing over Fang just after they all found out about us. "I was just trying to figure out how Iggy knew about Fang and me," I lied easily.

"A mastermind never reveals his secrets," Iggy said smugly as he slumped into his chair.

I narrowed my eyes at his and was about to threaten him within an inch of his life when Angel spoke up. "I told him," she said nonchalantly.

"Angel," Iggy yelled, sitting up in his chair now. "Not cool."

"How did you know?" I exclaimed, looking at Angel.

She just shrugged her shoulders, "I had my suspicions, but Iggy just confirmed it by studying your body language."

"Body language?" I looked at Iggy.

"Yeah," he shrugged indifferently. "Like, your bodies were always turned slightly toward each other. Also, when one of you would get up, the other would flinch like they were going to get up too."

I thought back to the time we were in the kitchen. Did I really do all of that? "Wow, Iggy. For someone who definitely isn't street smart, you're pretty book smart," I commented.

"I think that was a compliment, Ride," Iggy smiled.

"Wait," Gazzy said, his face set in confusion. He looked at Iggy and Nudge, "Since when did you two start dating?"

Nudge just about spit out her water she was drinking out onto the table. Angel and I were cracking up at the matching red blush on Nudge and Iggy's face.

Between coughs, Nudge finally sputtered out, "We're n-not."

"That's not what your body language says," Gazzy criticized.

Sure enough, Iggy's arm was sling across the back of Nudge's chair, their chairs were closer than usual, and their bodies were angled to make a triangle with the table.

I was banging on the table obnoxiously as I continued to laugh uncontrollably. Tears were forming at my eyes from all the laughing.

"What's so funny?" Dylan asked as he slid into a chair, literally. He efficiently scooted the chair over and he sat so that his arm grazed mine.

"Just the two love birds," Angel gasped out between laughs.

Dylan stiffened next to me as our laughing began to die down. "You guys knew about them?" he asked.

"You knew about Iggy and Nudge?" Gazzy asked.

I turned my head to see a light pink blush creep on his cheeks as he looked down, "Never mind," he mumbled. "So," he continued uncomfortably, "Ninja's of the night? You guys really outdid yourselves."

"What? That's not us. We're nothing like those so called 'ninjas'. I mean, if I were to come up with a name I would have named us something way cooler like 'Dangerous Deviants' or 'Classy Intelligence' but I'm pretty sure all my ideas would be shot down. I mean, I see myself as a closet genius, but no one knows it yet because I spend most of my time talking about things like nails , hair, hygiene,"

"Nudge!" I interrupted her. "It's pointless. No one here is creative enough to pull off the ninjas of the night but us."

Nudge looked around at the surrounding tables. Seeming satisfied she shrugged her shoulder and stabbed the piece of brown meat. "How'd you know?"

It was Dylan's turn to shrug, "Like Max said, no one else could have pulled it off. But don't worry," he reassured as he slung his arm around my shoulders, "your secret's safe with me."

I laughed a little before slyly shrugging his arm off. Sneaking one last glance at Fang's table, I turned to see it was empty. I frantically scanned the mess hall, not caring if anyone saw me anymore.

Across the mess hall, I just caught a glimpse of Fang as he stalked through the doors. His fists were clenched and his shoulders squared. I sat back in my seat as I pondered Fang's weird mood swings.

Was he having second thoughts about this morning?

I got a sick feeling in my stomach as the bell rang to dismiss lunch and to begin the day.

I found Fang right outside the mess hall. He was just standing there with his back to me, his arms folded across his chest. I walked up to him and looked at the side of his face, trying to discern this sudden change in his mood.

Without a word and without so much as a glance in my direction, Fang started walking. My eyebrows scrunched together as I jogged to catch up with his long strides.

We walked in silence as we grew farther and farther away from the camp and the other cadets. We were well away from wandering eyes when I discretely brushed my hand against Fang's. Our discrete touches would always soothe one another, but this was an exception.

As my fingers brushed Fang's, he immediately flinched away as if I had burned him. Was I really the only one who felt the pleasant tingle spreading from where I had touched him? I quickly covered up the hurt I felt and replaced it with annoyance.

"So what are we doing today?" I asked, trying to dispel the uncomfortable tension.

He stopped abruptly as we came to the entrance to the trail that circled around the entire camp. Fang tried to look around without my notice, but failed.

I opened my mouth to ask what he was looking for when he cut me off, not looking at me.

"Run the trail and be back in fifteen minutes or I'll have no choice but to report you to the general," he said coldly, staring straight ahead. His voice was one of business much like it had been the first day I met him.

I was silent for a second before attentively saying, "No one is around Fang."

He turned his head toward me, looking at me with that emotionless expression that I loathed so much, "Private Amersham," he corrected me.

All I saw was red when I realized what he was implying. How dare he think he was better than me because he had a title higher up than mine. My eyes narrowed dangerously and my jaw clenched, "What?"

In a calm voice, Fang replied, "You will address me as Private Amersham, Cadet Ride."

My anger skyrocketed, "You know very well that after the whole Lissa incident I have only one more chance. You report me and I won't see anyone again," I said through clenched teeth. I wont' see Angel, Nudge, Gazzy or Iggy again. And as much as I'd hate to admit it, I would even miss Fang even though he's acting like an ass right now.

"Then I guess you better start running," he replied with a shrug.

I shook my head at him, a look of disgust and betrayal clear on my face. I tuned in one swift movement and took off running.

"Fifteen minutes," he called after me.

"Make it ten," I shouted back. Adrenaline pumped through my vein as I let the burn in my muscles dull out the burn in my chest.

So much for this morning, I thought bitterly.

Long chappie because I feel terrible! I'll try to update, but I feel like I'm even busier this summer than I am during the school year.

Don't hate, REVIEW!

Peace Out!

20. Chapter 20

Wow, it's been a looong time. So long that I don't want to think about it. I owe all of you an explanation for my absence and it's at the bottom of this chapter. Read it or not, it makes no difference to me, but be mad at me for my lack of updates and not the story. I would hate for people to stop reading the story because of my actions, or rather lack thereof.

As per usual…ENJOY and REVIEW!

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride


In a calm voice, Fang replied, "You will address me as Private Amersham, Cadet Ride."

My anger skyrocketed, "You know very well that after the whole Lissa incident I have only one more chance. You report me and I won't see anyone again," I said through clenched teeth. I wont' see Angel, Nudge, Gazzy or Iggy again. And as much as I'd hate to admit it, I would even miss Fang even though he's acting like an ass right now.

"Then I guess you better start running," he replied with a shrug.

I shook my head at him, a look of disgust and betrayal clear on my face. I tuned in one swift movement and took off running.

"Fifteen minutes," he called after me.

"Make it ten," I shouted back. Adrenaline pumped through my vein as I let the burn in my muscles dull out the burn in my chest.

So much for this morning, I thought bitterly.


Nights like these, when I can't sleep, I would always find peace in walking under the stars. But now, that has all changed. I changed. I changed from someone who knew what he wanted to someone who doesn't have the guts to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

To summarize my messed up life: Max changed me.

I leaned my back up against the side of the gym building and looked up at the night sky. The stars mocked me with all their good memories they had once shared with me. Now a painful reminder that my mother is gone for good and I'll never look at these stars with Max.

Letting out a frustrated growl, I whirled around and punched the wall. I welcomed the pain that shot up my arm, closing my eyes to revel in the feeling. The action was rash and overdramatic, but it did its job; it made me forget if only for a second.

I let out a sigh of relief as the pain distracted me from reality. As the throbbing pain began to dull, I lazily opened my eyes and stared down in fascination at my now bloody knuckle. The blood trickled down my fingers to leak onto the ground from my fingertips.

I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity as I took my shirt off and wrapped it around my hand, leaving me in my black wife-beater and my black gym shorts.

Facing the wall, I leaned up against it with my arm bent so that my forehead could rest against my forearm. I let out a sigh as images of Max once again flooded my head for the umpteenth time tonight.

Images flashed through my head until just one image came to a halt behind my eyelids. It was the look on Max's face when I had told her she was my weakness after the general had chewed her out for punching Lissa.

Her face was one of surprise and happiness. I remember silently wishing that I would be the only person in her life that would ever make her look that way.

Groaning to myself, I realized I needed an escape from this feeling of guilt, regret, and loss. All these foreign feelings that kept rushing in and out of my head like some kind of fast food drive through was doing nothing to soothe me now. I needed another alternative to distract me that didn't involve punching brick walls.

Pushing off the wall, I decided to go into the gym for a nightly exercise where I could punch the punching bag 'till I didn't feel anything at all.

Upon opening the heavy door, I noticed that the dim light was already on. The light illuminated the boxing ring, but left everything else around it in darkness.

That was weird because usually someone came through and made sure all the lights were off in the buildings. I was about to shrug it off 'till I heard a grunt.

I squinted my eyes to get a better look and forced my eyes to adjust.

Sure enough, someone really wanted to torture me because standing to one side of the boxing ring was Max. But the kicker? She was just wearing a red sports bra and black shorts with her headphones in as she punched at the punching bag.

It's like the clouds parted and God snickered down at me and said, "Let's see how you handle this one, tough guy."

Being the total creeper I was, I stood in the shadows and watched her with greedy eyes. I hadn't gotten to really look at her all day because I could feel the betrayal she felt, but standing all the way over here, all I could see was anger. Anger was good. I could handle anger.

"Not my problem he has daddy issues," Max grunted as she continued to punch the bag between each word.

She couldn't think I was only with her to defy the general…could she? I leaned against the wall, curiosity getting the better of me, as I continued to listen to what was coming out of those soft, red lips of hers.

"Knock some sense into that pretty face of his," she grunted.

A light sheen of sweat covered her toned stomach and arms. Her fists only had wraps on them with the boxing gloves thrown to the side, but that didn't seem to slow her down.

"Sir, yes, sir. Private Amersham," Max mumbled.

I felt like punching myself in the face. I hated the way I was making Max feel right now. When I had corrected her to call me 'private', I thought the look of betrayal on her face would have killed me. And it did a little inside when she took off and ran as I told her to.

Shaking my head, I reminded myself that I was doing this for us, so there can be an 'us'. Oh God, I hope there is still an 'us'. I needed something to take my mind off of this whole situation.

So, I feel back into what I knew best and started to analyze the way she punched and kicked at the bag. I couldn't help but silently criticize her tactics as she carried on, oblivious to my presence. I tried to convince myself that the only reason why I was watching her so closely was to provide her with tips to improve.

I mentally rolled my eyes. Yeah, right.

I watched as Max delivered one last hard punch to the bag that made the tough material split down the middle. I could tell that it was the chemicals that her father had injected into her recently that made her strong enough to rip the bag.

She let out a loud huff and glared at the punching bag. I could imagine her picturing me she was punching and internally winced.

She continued to glare at the bag 'till I decided to break the silence and reveal my presence. "You're not aiming," I called out, my voice echoing off the walls. My voice was just loud enough for Max to hear me despite her headphones in her ears.

Max took a sharp intake of breath as she whirled around and yanked out her earphones. "What?" she called into the shadows that I was still concealed in. Her eyes searched left and right, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise.

"I said," I emphasized as I stepped out of the shadows, "you're not aiming. You're just hitting the bag and hoping for the best. You rely too much on your strength."

She narrowed her eyes at me, but I caught them flicker down to asses my apparel. I smirked as I noticed her eyes lingering on my bare arms and shoulders. I crossed my arms and smirked at her knowingly.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but I just tore that bag within twenty minutes," she snapped as she pointed to the bag to prove her point.

I shook my head and let a small smile break away my lips. "With a few well placed hits, you could've done it in ten." I looked down to unwrap my hand, thankfully it had stopped bleeding. When I looked up from under my lashes, I noticed Max staring at me uneasily.

Max's eyes moved between mine as she studied me cautiously. She was no doubt trying to figure out my mood swings, but I felt no need to hide from her because I knew we were alone. "I don't need this," she shook her head with finality and tossed her iPod aside before turning her back to me to leave.

She took two steps before I placed my hand on her right shoulder turning her to face me. On instinct, she pulled her left fist back and swung at me as she turned. Anticipating her move, I easily deflected her punch by grabbing her wrist.

My grip tightened around her wrist as she glared at me. My arm flexed with the pressure I was putting on her wrist, but I knew she couldn't feel the force of my grip. I pulled her toward me so she was mere inches from my face.

"Where were you aiming?" I asked in a low, dark voice. Given the dimmed gym, I knew my voice added to the whole eeriness of the place.

Her breath blew into my face and intoxicated me with her sweet scent. People say your sense of smell can trigger memories and I can tell you that I agree one hundred percent. I could remember the way she tasted against my lips and the way she felt against my body when she was wrapped up in the protection of my arms.

I found myself hoping against all hope that she was experiencing the same thing that I was at this moment.

She stared steadily back into my eyes as she tried to answer the question. "I was aiming for you," she answered coldly.

I shook my head slightly before moving her fist easily to tap my shoulder, "Here?" I asked.

Max's eyes widened a fraction as her fingers, still in a closed fist, brushed my shoulder, sending a small tremor up her spine. Her momentary relapsed made it even easier to move her arm as I wished. I manipulated her arm again to move her fist to lightly touch the center of my chest, "What about here?"

Max still didn't move, but I could see her mask of irritation wavering. "Or maybe even here," I said quietly as I placed her fist on my cheek. I held my breath as I looked down at her and gauged her reaction; just waiting for that moment when she wakes up and pushes me away.

She looked up at me; her fingers loosening as the feel of my skin on her hand sparked something inside her. The beginnings of the fire, that I've become accustomed to, started to ignite itself within her eyes again. I willed those flames to grow as they continued to flicker within her deep brown eyes.

All too soon, she shook her head roughly as if to dispel the moment permanently from her brain. I knew full well that with my face being this close to her, she wouldn't be able to think clearly.

As I predicted, she roughly pushed me off of her and fell easily into a fighting position. "I'm aiming anywhere that would make you wither in pain, Private," she snarled.

I couldn't help but flinch briefly. I knew that my words would hurt her, but I didn't anticipate the impact it would have on her, which was evident in her eyes.

Quickly recovering, I smirked at her and fell easily into a fighting stance of my own. I beckoned her with one hand, like in the movies, before she lunged for me.

Her left fist automatically extended, aiming for my face, certainly trying to wipe the smirk off my face. With a swift move of my head, I was able to dodge her punch and land a punch of my own to her side.

"Always quickly return your arms to your body," I coached. I made it obvious that I was going to punch her shoulder so she would deflect it easily. "Punch. Protect," I instructed as I recovered from my blocked punch, drawing my elbows back into the side of my body.

We circled each other for a minute to size each other up.

Max let out a frustrated huff as she lunged at me again, but only clipping my side as I jumped out of the way. She swiftly turned around and saw me standing right behind her. I had my bare fists drawn up and was bouncing on my toes as I ordered, "On your toes. You're fast, but you'll be faster if you're constantly moving."

Despite her resentment towards me, she did as I said and bounced on her toes as she calculated her next move.

Max got that look on her face she had when she was at Jeb's work right before she took down all those Erasers by herself. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was planning her next moves and my reactions to those moves.

I mentally prepared myself as she threw a fake right. I went for the block, exposing my left rib cage to Max, but before I could protect my body, she had already landed a solid punch to my side.

Taking a few steps toward me, she picked up the pace of her punches. Her punches were coming in quick consistent blows as she forced me to take a few steps back. She had me where she wanted me and I knew it.

Think, I urged myself. Max landed a punch on my lower abs, making me wince slightly. Okay, that's not working fast enough. She smirked at me as she continued to advance on me, slowly backing me towards the wall while still punching with lightning speed

Think like Max. Okay, Max would expect me to take involuntary steps back, but she won't expect me to A. step toward her or B. take steps backward purposely to create space between us.

Max extended her arm again towards my face. I just blocked her fist right at the last second, feeling the tape on her hands brush my ear lightly. What is with her and trying to hit my handsome, to die for, breathtaking face? So, option A. was out because there was no way I was willingly stepping close to Max when she was this pissed off.

Going with option B., I took a quick step back. Max kept the unfazed and determined look on her face although I could tell that my new tactic had caught her off guard.

I continued to retreat, making Max reach her arms out more in order to land a decent punch. The more space I put in between us, the longer Max would have to stretch her arms and the lighter her hits became.

I shook my head at her as we continued to fight, with me effortlessly blocking her punches now. "The closer you are to your opponent the more power behind your punches," I informed her.

"Then stop retreating and man up, Fang," she retorted.

I raised an eyebrow at her as she used my nickname unconsciously, and damn did it sound nice coming out of her mouth. You know, despite the circumstances.

I countered the force of her punch to me against her. As she punched my forearm, I took a step and pushed her fist with my forearms, forcing her to take a step back.

She glanced down at her feet so she didn't lose her balance from the sudden counterforce.

I quickly punched her forearm, "Eyes on target," I instructed. Her head snapped up, but I was already behind her.

Swiftly, but with the right amount of pressure, I kicked the back of her leg that she had all her weight on. As expected, her knee bent involuntarily. Trying to recover, she kicked up her other leg, aiming for my ankles.

"Keep your balance and deliver hits you know will be affective," I ordered as I watched her, bouncing on my toes and just out of her reach.

I expected her to try to punch me again, but as she regained her balance, she turned her back to me and took off. I started to match her for every step she took away from me. I was about to yell at her to never turn her back on an opponent, when she jumped and kicked off the cement wall. Turning her body as she kicked off the wall, Max extended her leg toward me.

This is one of those moments when all you can think is: Wow, I can't believe I fell for that. Her foot connected with the center of my chest, stunning me and knocking the wind out of my lungs. I tried to absorb some of the force of her kick by wrapping my hands around her ankle and taking a few steps back.

Drawing in a big breath to decrease the pain in my chest, I regained my footing and looked at Max, her ankle still in my grip.

Her fists were still drawn up and her body slightly to the side as she continued to stare me down. The muscles in her legs stood out as she kept her leg extended and steady.

I held her ankle for a second longer before twisting it so that her whole body twisted with it. My plan was to have her land on her stomach, but she unexpectedly kicked up her other leg and kicked me in the face.

As we both simultaneously spin in mid-air, my protective instinct kicks in during the nanosecond we are both airborne. Impulsively, my arms grabbed a hold of Max's waist and pulled her body flush to my chest. My right arm broke our fall as I rolled onto my back with Max still in my iron embrace.

"We have a lot of work to do," I grunt out, trying to cover up the fact that I got the wind knocked out of me.

With all the grace and swiftness of a leopard, Max jumped up off of me, effortlessly freeing herself from my grip. She gathered her stuff up and without another word, made her way toward the door.

I sat up slowly, bending my legs and resting my elbows on my knees. I couldn't help but wonder if this is how Max and my relationship is going to be like from now on.

My mind conjured up the foolish image of a two-way mirror in comparison to what we have. Max would be in the interrogation room looking into the mirror searching for me when I was just on the other side with my hand on the glass.

One of us was always trying to see through to the other, but instead we get shut out. Secrets, deceptions, and hesitations. This is not what relationships are built upon. If you can even call what we have a relationship, that is.

When Max had gazed into my eyes earlier today, I could tell she was trying to decipher what my thought process was. She tried so hard to read me and all she got was her own reflection staring right back at her through my empty eyes.

It would be so easy to open my mouth right now and tell her everything, but then what? Do I lose her? Would I even survive with that kind of hurt? Something like this was surely to break me beyond repair; I was sure of it.

Max pushed open the heavy door, but paused in the doorway to look back at me. "Permission to be dismissed, Private," she called in her best military tone of voice.

Her statement knocked me harder than any punch I've ever taken. Pain ached everywhere. More pain scorched my skin in areas where Max's touch still lingered. My throat felt like it was being stitched closed from the inside.

Max looked at me expectantly, awaiting for my answer. All I could do was nod as she walked out, with her head up while mine hung in despair.

Come back to me. I thought desperately.

Once again, I AM SOOO SORRY! I know it sounds repetitive, but it still holds true. Feel free to read the author's note or not.



First off, I do not need sympathy here. I am not pouring out all my problems to hear how sorry you feel for me because depriving all of you of a story you love is unfair to you and I put the blame on my shoulders. I don't want to sound rude; I just want to know that people are reviewing my story because of the story and not my life.

With that said, I am a closet writer. My family and friends have no idea how much I enjoy writing and I'd like to keep it that way. My family always teases me that I'm writing an angry blog about how I hate my family, but that's our sense of humor. Kinda messed up I know, but I wouldn't have it anyway. In a family when everyone shares and knows everything, it's nice to say that this secret is mine. It's something that I don't have to share with my twin and something that no one can take away from me.

Anyway, with them constantly breathing down my neck, I was never able to escape to have some alone time to just write over the summer. I am also very dedicated to soccer which they decide to amp up over the summer since no one had school.

Then school started and I finally thought I could start writing again until the dreaded subject of colleges came up. Now my sister has set up three college tours and the classes I'm taking are demanding so much from me.

To top it all off, I'm on crutches which means I can't play soccer, my other release next to writing. It seems like nothing can go right now a days and it's gotten to the point where I would sit in front of my computer and my fingers wouldn't move. My mind just went blank and everything I typed was just not me. I was so scared that I'd screw up that I had messaged some people who read my story and asked if my story was cliché.

And now here I am, just feeling awful all round because I haven't updated in literally forever, I can't play soccer, and just a lot of other emotional problems that I won't bore you guys with because that is an entirely different story.

REMINDER: this is a no sympathy zone. I want you to review my story to give me criticism whether good or bad.

This concludes my rant/apology ;)


21. Chapter 21

I feel like 'sorry' doesn't cut it anymore…but I do feel terrible. I know I owe everyone an explanation, but I really can't talk about everything that has happened. Please just understand that I am not abandoning and that I'm trying my hardest, for what it's worth.

I hope my mindset while I wrote this did not reflect in my writing and if it does, let me know so that I can try to make some changes.

This is probably the longest chapter I've ever written and I hope that it's not too confusing. I also suggest maybe reading last chapter to refresh your memory.

Sorry for re-posting the same chapter, but I was given some really helpful advice and I wanted to put it to use. Thank you so much dancingonmytoes13 for your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

Feel free to reread to see all the little changes I've made, but you don't have to if you don't want to.

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride

Day 1 (MPOV)

Everyone has those nights when no matter what you do, you cannot fall asleep. We all know we should sleep because tomorrow morning we'll be tired, but that doesn't matter. We will still be stuck in sleeping limbo no matter how hard you try to fall asleep. Go ahead and close your eyes, but you're not fooling sleep into coming to you. It's pointless and yet we will spend an hour or more in our beds just lying there and growing more and more frustrated.

I rolled over to my right side, hoping that this would feel more comfortable. Nope, feels the same as the left side, I thought bitterly to myself.

After four hours of this, I knew that sleep, that little sneaky bandit, will continue to hide from me like the jerk he is. Heaving a sigh and throwing my blankets off me, I stood at the foot of my bed and paced.

What are you doing? I chastised myself. I stopped abruptly in my tracks and threw my head back in annoyance; eyes shut tightly and fists clenched at my sides.

I feel so out of control of everything around me. I don't know what I'm going to do about Fang or how I even feel about him. I don't know what comes after this camp of hell. I don't know what I'll do if I can't see Iggy, Gazzy, Angel, or Nudge again. I don't know when the next time father dearest will decide to show up again.

I have never been so uncertain about my life before and it scared the ever living crap out of me. I have no idea what the future holds or what I want out of the future. My eyes snapped open and my head dropped to look straight again.

It was hard to believe that four hours ago, I was inches away from Fang. If I was being honest with myself, I would say it was even more unbelievable that a few days ago I was his girlfriend.

I started pacing again as I considered the possibility that my insomnia was caused by the one guy I wanted to forget.

"No, that can't be it," I muttered unconvincingly to myself. I walked up to my door and gently laid my forehead against it. My hand on the doorknob, I was about to turn it and march to his room to give him a piece of my mind. A certain Max-Ass-Kicking if you will; whether with words or my fists. Maybe both.

How dare he do all those things to me? How dare he kiss me and pretend that he would still be around to kiss me again. How dare he tell me all those sweet nothings and stare at me like I was his everything when he had no intention of sticking around. I still couldn't wrap my head around him. Was there a motive I don't know about? Usually I'm really perceptive when it comes to other people's hidden agendas.

My hand clutched the knob so hard, my knuckles were white. I was about to turn it when I stopped myself. Why should I confront him about the ways he hurt me when he already knows the damage he's done? The damage he did purposely.

Slowly releasing the doorknob, I took three steps backwards; not taking my eyes off that haunting door. Shaking my head, I turned around and climbed under the covers once again. This time, I didn't bother to close my eyes because I know that, like Fang, sleep will never come back to me.


There is something disturbingly wrong with me. I thought for the hundredth time as I sat in this dreary hallway outside Max's door.

Bending my legs up, I placed my outstretched arms on my knees and leaned my head back. I closed my eyes as I heard Max toss and turn in her bed. She's been tossing and turning for hours now and it's really starting to worry me. The only good side to her insomnia is that I can hear that she's in there.

Right after I pushed her away, I came and sat outside her room because I couldn't stand the thought of Jeb coming back and taking my Max when my back was turned. I would hate myself if she was taken because I wasn't watching over her. If I can't be in there with her, then I'll be damned if I'm not at least outside her door as I am now.

My eyes snapped open and I stared at the door when I heard covers being thrown back and feet hitting the floor. Jumping up, I quietly walked over and placed my ear on the door.

It sounded like someone was pacing back and forth, but I couldn't tell if that was Max or not. Taking a step back, I fell easily into a stance with my right foot front and my left foot back. I was seconds away from lifting my foot to kick down the door when I heard a voice on the other side.

"No, that can't be it," her voice sounded on the other side.

Her voice. Keep talking Max, I begged silently. I just needed to know she was in there. I had to be certain she was okay.

I pressed my ear up against the door again in desperation to hear her voice without the coldness that I've become accustomed to lately.

That's when I heard Max walk up to the door and grab the doorknob. The wind got knocked out of my chest as I stayed frozen in position just staring down at that shiny brass door knob; waiting for it to turn.

I should move, I tried to reason with myself, but nothing would move. I was immobile and just waiting for what felt like the decision that would make or break my life as I know it.

My heart beat was obstructing me from hearing what Max was doing through the inch thick wood that separated us. Slowly, I raised my hand up and rested it on the door because at this moment, Max and I are the closest we've been in hours which for me was unbearable. The thought saddened me, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was for the better.

All too soon, the sound of Max letting go of the door knob reached my ears followed by the sound of her retreating footsteps. In that moment I realized I wanted Max to find me. I wanted her to take one look and know that I'm hers and she's mine. Or beat me to a pulp which she no doubt wants to do.

No, I quietly begged. Don't walk away just yet. Find me. Yell at me. Anything. Please…

The sound of blankets rustling filled the now quiet room. I felt like the most helpless person in this world at that moment as I rested my forehead on the cold door.

Day 2 (MPOV)

"General Amersham will see you now," a bored voice informed me.

I looked up to see the general's secretary, Ms. Thompson, looking at me with her permanently disgusted expression etched onto her face. She wore her usual tan color skirt suit that seemed to match her bored tone.

I stood up and flashed an all too cheery smile in her direction. "Single and thirty?" I asked in my insufferably sweet voice. "Living the dream," I winked at her before abruptly turning to walk toward the general's office.

Slipping into the general's office, I took a quick peek around to see that nothing had changed. Not even the faint lingering smell of pure Gazzy.

"What's that smell, Pumpkin Cakes?" I asked, wrinkling my nose as I closed the door behind me and stepping further inside enemy territory.

The general's pen stopped moving and his head slowly looked up to see me, in all my glory, standing in front of his desk. His eyes darkened, but his face remained emotionless.

"Cadet," was all he said as a greeting. He set down his pen and sat back in his chair, his back straight and his hands fold neatly on top of the desk.

With that one word, my mind went blank. I heard that tone of voice before, but from different lips. A shiver went down my spine, but I concealed it. Or at least, I hope I did. I did not want the general to think that he intimidates me.

Shaking my head ever so slightly so that the general doesn't know he hit a nerve, I got right down to it. I crossed my arms across my chest and took a defiant stance, "I have some business to attend to with you."

"Business?" he asked, intrigued.

"More like a negotiation," I corrected, looking him straight in his deep dark eyes. He's not Fang.

"I'm listening," he urged.

I subtly took a deep breath and let it out, "I demand a new coordinator in place of Private Amersham. In return, you can count on my full cooperation and no trouble in the near future."

Surprise crossed the general's face followed by a look of pride then a look of contentment. All too soon, his eyes set in his usual emotionless demeanor, but this time, a smirk painted his lips.

God, you Amersham men smirk a lot, I thought to myself, annoyed.

"Whoa there, general," I said sarcastically, holding up my hands in a slow down gesture, "you've just reached your emotion quota for the day. Simmer down, I don't want you to overdose on feelings."

His smirk did not waver as he continued to stare at me. "Request denied," he finally said. He swiftly picked up his pen and began to write where he left off.

No one dismisses me.

In my anger and desperation, I slammed my hands on the desk and leaned forward. The general jumped slightly in his seat, which only added to all the emotions acting within me. "This is me asking nicely," I said through gritted teeth. "Station me somewhere else or I will continue to wreak havoc. You have no idea how capable I am of placing a bad reputation on you and this hellhole you call a camp."

"Cadet Ride," the general began, leaning closer to me, "although I have no trouble believing you, however, I do not think you thought this all the way through. You see, if you were to, as you said, 'wreak havoc', I would be forced to take action immediately."

My arms flexed as I continued to stare down at this smug jerk, "What action would that be Snuggles?"

The general shrugged carelessly as his smirk grew, "Banishment."

I couldn't help but laugh at that one. That's it? I was hoping for something more epic like he'd chop me up and serve me to the whole camp in their beef stew or that he'd try to take away my shower privileges. I pushed off the general's desk and crossed my arms again, the smile never leaving my face. "That's all you got? Quite frankly, my grandma can literally beat you in a punishment battle, but let's hope it doesn't comes to that."

My mind quickly flashed to my mom's story about how her mother would make her kneel in grits sometimes. My mom said it was excruciating and that that was how grits got its name. It was an acronym for Girls Raised In The South.

My mind quickly flashed back to the present as the general leaned back in his chair with a satisfied look on his face. "Wait for it…," he said in a low voice that sent shivers down my back.

Wait for what? For him to 'banish' me from this god forsaken place? For him to deliver the ultimate comeback? For him to take me away from my…

"You wouldn't dare," I snarled, leaning over his desk again.

"Cadet, I thought by now you would know that I have no problems with doing any of the dirty work. That would include splitting you up from your friends who, from my understanding, have become a sort of 'stand-in' family to replace your dysfunctional one. Or rather, nonexistent family; take your pick."

My chest grew tight at the possibility of losing Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel.

Stay strong. Without even meaning to, I found myself applying Fang's boxing advice to my current predicament. Keep your balance and deliver hits you know will be affective. Eyes on target.

I glared at the general and used all my power to stay calm so he doesn't know how pissed off I really am. "Avoiding dealing with me won't do anything good to your 'we can fix anyone' attitude. I wouldn't be bruising your reputation because you'd be doing that all by yourself."

The general stood up abruptly, his chair sliding back and hitting the wall behind him. In two strides, he was at the window and looking out at the few people loitering around before breakfast. His hands were clasped behind his stiff back as he stood there.

I glared at his back as I awaited for princess to make up his mind.

Without turning to me, he began to speak, "Are you aware, Cadet, of where your partners in crime currently reside?"

I stayed silent because the truth is, I wasn't sure where everybody was from. I got that pain in my chest again as I anticipated where he was going with this.

"Arkansas, Michigan, and California," he answered, saying each state slow and precise. He turned slightly to me and added, "In case you were wondering."

I clenched my jaw hard. So hard to the point that pain radiated from everywhere along my jaw. I stayed silent as my mind continued to race with the possibility of not seeing any of them again.

The general turned back to the window, seeming satisfied of the corner he painted me in. "How expensive are plane tickets these days?" he asked snidely.

"Probably between being as overpriced as your ego or as cheap as your cologne," I offered with venom in my voice.

I couldn't do this. I needed space to think. A place where dark eyes can leave and grant me peace if only for a moment. Without another word, I turned and strode out of his office with my head held high.

Space. That's all I need. Nothing else.

Day Three (FPOV)

I looked around the mesh hall, although filled with bodies, it still felt empty and yet unbearably crowded at the same time.

My table was filled with other instructors, but none of which expected me to contribute to their obnoxious conversations. I only caught snippets of what was being said around me, but none that sparked my interest. There were comments like:

"…and then I said, 'get that crayon out of your nose'" or "well I told him not to try to light the candle only using a match and his fart…"

However, the moment I knew I had to get out of there was when someone so boldly said, "Well I meant to fart…" After that, I stood up abruptly, my chair making an earsplitting noise in the nearly silent room.

Everyone turned to me in expectancy, but one stone cold glare into the crowd from me and everyone turned their attention back to their food. All except one.

My eyes locked with Max's from across the room. Her brows were furrowed as if she was trying to read me. I stared back at her, oblivious to the fact that my face had softened minutely.

Even from across the room, I could tell she was exhausted. Faint dark circles touched below her brown eyes that seemed a tint darker these days. Her back was straight with defiance and her fists clenched with restrained frustration.

Before I knew what I was doing, I had already nodded my head towards the door leading to the hallway, signaling to Max that I needed to talk to her. I didn't want to do this anymore. I didn't want to run around anymore trying to make everyone else happy when the outcome can only make me and Max miserable.

I hated how weak I was at that point. I mean, it's only been a few days and yet I can't stick it out. I was whipped and I knew it, but no one else had to know.

With strong force, I pushed the double doors with both my hands and walked swiftly out of there. Once the doors closed behind me with a loud clank, I finally relaxed. My lungs could finally breathe in air and my shoulders released the uncomfortable tension they were holding onto.

I turned down the hallway closest to the doors I just came out of and slumped against the wall. I listened intently for the sounds of the door to open and close and then to be followed by a set of familiar footsteps.

I stood there for twenty minutes without seeing the one person I desperately needed to see. A few times I would bend my neck around the corner and stare at the metal doors, begging them to open, but all attempts were futile.

She didn't want to see me and I wasn't sure if I was ready to see her either. At least, not in an intimate environment like this one.

Was I ready to tell her everything? To tell her that I lied, that I'm just like the general, and that I'm a coward?

But I'm not a coward and I wasn't acting on selfishness when I lied to Max, but there is no denying that I'm like the general. There seems to no longer be any liveliness or caring traits from my mom anymore. All that had disintegrated from my life like she had; like my 'relationship' with Max is.

No, I'm glad she didn't show. I wouldn't know what to say or I'd say too much. All I could think of saying is:

Max, I can't do this anymore. I can't pretend we're both not hurting and that this is what's best for us because if it were for the best then it shouldn't hurt this much. I'm being framed by that jerk, Dylan, who knows about us. He threatened to out us to the general and I couldn't do that because I knew the general would see fault in you and send you away. Dylan also threatened to out me on a secret I've been keeping from you because I didn't want to lose you…

Then what?! I screamed in my head in frustration. I tell her that I made a deal to 'fix' Max and then ship her off like some bad dog that needed training before it went to its owner?

No, I can't do that. I'll just have to find another way to reveal my secret without losing everything. Without losing Max.

Suddenly, the sound of the door opening and closing got my heart rate speeding up. Do I deliver the speech I thought up in my head? Or just a bunch of groveling on my knees?

I couldn't help but crack a smile at the idea of me getting down on my knees for anyone. Well, not so unbelievable when I get down on one knee for Max, but I don't even know if she'd say yes and…

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! I mentally smacked myself in the head. We can barely be in the same room together and I'm thinking about making her mine for the rest of my life? I need to see a specialist or something because Max is making me go crazy.

The footsteps were so close now, but they sounded different. I furrowed my brows as I listened to the approaching footsteps.

Before I know it, the general was standing right in front of me, his eyes looking blank yet full of critical comments he's restraining to make.

"Private," he greeted.

"General," I greeted back, my voice implying that I don't want to talk. Pushing off the wall, I take two strides around the general, but didn't get any farther than that.

The sudden grip on my arm was nothing new to me. The searing pain crept up my arm gradually like a slow burning fire as it had countless times through my childhood.

Memories of the general's angry face leering down at a seven year old version of me flashed in my mind. Memories of him chastising me for forgetting to shine the boots or yelling at me for talking out of place.

It's sad to see that I'm still his puppet on strings.

"Focus, Private," the general hissed at me.

Like I learned to do a long time ago, I ignored his hand gripping my arm and distanced myself mentally from the general's angry wrath. I stared ahead without even flickering my eyes in his direction because I knew that even if he was angry at me, he still wouldn't show any emotion on his stone cold face. He would display few emotions to others, but never to his own son.

I scoffed to myself, like he would even consider me as his son

"Don't let me down again," the general continued in an angry whisper. "You're already not headed in the right direction so I suggest you don't embarrass me and fix your attitude along with your tactics."

"Yes, sir," I responded loud and strong.

"Cadet Ride was in my office yesterday requesting a new coordinator," the general said matter of factly.

My jaw clenched at the thought that I was that repulsive to Max. The thought that she didn't want to be near me was understandable, but did she really not care about me anymore? Was I the only one who wanted to fix things between us?

I said nothing, but that didn't stop the general from saying, "Keep it up, Private."

With that, he released my arm and stepped around me like I was a puddle he was trying to avoid stepping in at the last second.

This was what I wanted all along. I wanted his approval. I wanted that little comment that told me that I did a good job, but I wanted him to say it. Now that he has, though, I realize I don't want it anymore; especially not at this price. His comment didn't make me feel accomplished at all. Quite the opposite, really.

I stood there and listened to his retreating footsteps as the one realization played over and over in my head.

She didn't show.

Present (MPOV)

My body was on autopilot as I walked into the mess hall and strode over to the table we always sit at. With no avail, Iggy, Gazzy, Angel, and Nudge were already there with their "food". Please notice the quotations.

"So what kind of rat poison are they feeding us this fine morning?" I greeted the table. I cringed a little as the chair I pulled out made a loud screeching noise.

"Today's special includes: cat poop pancakes, dusty fruit pieces, watered down orange juice, and because they are feeling extra generous today, a muffin," Gazzy listed off the contents of his tray in a voice similar to one of a sports announcer.

I looked at the blueberry muffin he was talking about and decided it looked the least disgusting of the bunch. I snatched it off his tray, but my efforts were useless when I realized the muffin was practically a rock.

I grimaced at the muffin in my hand and dropped it to the table with a thud. Gazzy looked back at me, grinning like he just beat me at a game of chess.

"What? No 'stone-berry muffin' or 'brick-berry muffin'?" I snapped at him with a little more bite than I intended to. Annoyed, I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back in my chair. All I want is a normal breakfast. Is that too much to ask for?

"Whoa!" Iggy chimed in. "Someone is cranky."

I think everyone can sympathize with me here when I say that that is the last thing a "cranky" person wants to hear. It's like saying: "Hey, let's name off a list of characteristics that describe you, but they can only be negative traits that express what a terrible person you are!"

"Not cranky," I mumbled even though I knew that was a lie, "just starving."

"Come on guys," Angel's sweet voice intervened, "leave her alone."

I look up at Angel and mouthed a 'thank you' to her. She smiled and gave me a wink before tossing a granola bar my way.

I snatched that puppy out of the air and barely got the wrapper off before I took a monster bite out of it. I moan in satisfaction as the only real food I had all week made its way to my stomach. All too soon, I was gripping nothing, but an empty wrapper. I looked down to see that I had finished my granola bar with great disappointment.

I groaned as and sat back in my chair again. "I think we need to make another pizza run," I said exasperated. I wrapped my arms around my stomach in an attempt to stop the growls that were currently protesting.

Nudge's head popped up and her eyes wide, "Can we order extra bacon pizzas this time because last time I only got one slice. I was unaware that the smell of pizza automatically turns people into viscous carnivores who would kick a puppy and punch a baby for a slice of pizza. Even the drill sergeants were climbing over people to get a piece. Which I think is sooo hypocritical of them because it's their fault we have terrible food here and if they were that desperate then they should do something about it. In conclusion, I say we set aside one pizza for the drill sergeants, but put laxatives in it."

Nudge finished with an evil smile and she rubbed her hands together to give her an even more sinister look. Sometimes I worry about Nudge. She seems like the type of girl who would never want to get her hands dirty, but I know better. Sometimes she's worse than me with all her scheming.

"Laxatives?" Gazzy asked.

Angel leaned over toward Gazzy and whispered loudly enough for the whole table to hear, "They're pills that make you poop."

For a second, Gazzy's eyes went wider than Nudge's then he busted out laughing. "P-p-poop!" Gazzy gasped out between fits of laughter.

Although there was a smile on my face, I rolled my eyes at Gazzy's red face, "So immature."

Breakfast went on as usual. Iggy and Nudge made goo-goo eyes at each other, Angel continued to plan for the next pizza run, and Gazzy would chuckle every now and then; no doubt thinking of the word 'poop' again.

Me? I simply just sat back and watched. Okay, not stalker watching for whomever's creeper alert beeped in their head. It was more of a basking in the moment watching. It struck me then that we are family. As corny as it sounds, it's true. We know the right buttons to push, but we also know each other well that we can read each other.

This scene in front of me just made me even more determined to find a way out of the general's threat. I can't lose them, not yet. It scares me that everyone will inevitably have to go back to their home state, but not right now. Right now, it's just our time. It's our time to be surrounded by people in the same predicament and with the same sense of humor. We all just clicked, and I'll be stupid if I ruin it by being the first to leave them all.

Life is good….a little too good.

"Attention!" the general demanded at the front of the mess hall.

Aaaand that's what I was waiting for. I knew no good moment lasted forever.

Everyone snapped their heads to the front awaiting the general's words. I sat still, my back to the General and my shoulders square to the table. I'll listen to what General Twinkle Toes has to say, but I'd rather let Nudge paint my toenails before I gave him my full attention and respect.

"Due to the unexpected weather conditions, we have no choice but to relocate today's activities to an inside facility," the general's voice echoed off the walls.

I lifted my head up to look out the closest window to see that the sky was coated with grey clouds and sheets of rain were falling from the sky as if in a rhythm to music that I could not hear.

How did I not notice the rain? I asked myself, momentarily zoning out; not hearing what the general was squawking.

I always loved rain. I loved the smell, I loved the sound, I even love the mystery behind it. Rain just seems so ominous and sinister, like it's hiding a dark secret from the world. I use to fantasize that behind the curtains of rain was a secret so great and yet hidden in plain sight. It was within my grasps, but in the same time, out of reach.

"Max," someone whispered, but it was just background noise to me. All I could see was the rain and the little trails it left behind on the glass of the windows.

Those little trails brought me back to a time with my mom back in Arizona. She was driving me to school one morning and I was so tired that I was silent the whole car ride. Instead, I just looked out the window next to me and watched as water fell in little drops from the clouds. I watched as the drops on the glass streamed down or joined with other drops to become bigger only to fall faster.

I curiously watched the drops move and would even pretend they were little cars in traffic. I would command some to stop and others to go. In a way, it is similar to the real world. You can command people all you want, but in the end, some may follow and others won't.

Although I hate people who don't listen to me or think that I am the most awesome person that I know I am, there was always one exception. I know you all know who that is…


This has puzzled me the most. Why would I be so drawn to someone who inferiorities me as much as Jeb and who is as impossible as the general? Still, I have no answer, but the world is full of questions and lacks answers.

Suddenly a sharp pain to my shin radiates up my leg and makes me jump.

"MAX!" Nudge fiercely whispered.

"Ow!" I narrowed my eyes at her. "Do it again, I dare you," I threatened in a louder than appropriate voice given our surroundings.

Nudge's eyes widened slightly and minutely tilted her head to the front of the mess hall where the general was practically burning me with his stare. I looked up at his calm face, but could tell that he was irritated by the way his jaw clenched a little tighter.

Throwing him one of my sweet smiles, I motioned with a wave of my hand for him to continue his speech.

He stared at me a second longer before clearing his throat and continuing, "Groups will be divided up according to lunch table that you are currently seated at. Tables one through five will report to the pool…" The general listed off all the stations, but I just zoned out knowing I could just follow Angel and the rest of them.

"You're coming with me."

Closing my eyes and letting out a breath to calm me, I answered in my strongest and most defiant voice, "No, I'm not." Today will be the first time I'll be able to spend the day with my friends and I'll be damned if someone tries to take that away from me.

His hand was suddenly on my shoulder, his thumb lightly brushing the skin right above my shirt collar. That was strike one.

Strike two came when he bent down and whispered in my ear, "Yes you are. End of discussion." The underline growl in his voice was clear as well as the finality in his words.

I sat still in my chair and refused to move. It could be seen as childish, but I saw it as defiant. Take it as you will, but I'm right and I'm am not moving.

Seeing that I wasn't going to budge, Fang took action. I rolled my eyes internally because I knew Fang is just as stubborn as me. I could just tell a stalemate was brewing in the air.

Using the heel of his combat boot, he kicked the back leg of my chair, forcing me to stand clumsily. Strike three, ladies and gentlemen. Please turn off all phones and pagers because the show is about to start…

I regained my balance and grabbed his hand that was still on my shoulder, twisting it behind his back. I could feel the muscles in his arm and back flexing; the veins in his arm turning bluer and becoming more pronounced.

Reaching with his free hand, Fang reached behind himself and pinched my stomach. Even the most childish actions can be effective. Taken by surprise, I loosened my grip on Fang and backed away from his long fingers.

That's all he needed in order to swing me around with the arm I was holding so that my back was to his front. With his hand gripping my wrist, he firmly held our adjoined arms across my shoulders.

It surprised me how much fighting resembled dancing. In a sick way, they were the same thing. Two people using their bodies in the most graceful fashion. However, I was never one to follow and I'm not about to let Fang lead.

I turned my head to the side and spoke lowly so only Fang to hear me, "I could easily elbow you in the face, heel you in the groin, or flip you over my head. Take your pick."

"Do it, I dare you," he growled back, his face inches from mine.

I narrowed my eyes at him as adrenaline slowly started to course through my veins. Don't get me wrong, I thought about letting my instincts take over and fight Fang till he's unconscious on the ground, but part of me couldn't do it.

I hated myself for not wanting to just bury Fang. Bury him so far into the ground for making me feel this way. He made me angry, depressed, frustrated, and lonely. Although that is true, he also makes me feel important, loved, cared about, and desired. I miss the feeling of knowing that I was on his mind. The feeling that I was the first and last thing he thought of when waking up and going to bed. I miss feeling like I was the only person that mattered to him.

If I was being honest with myself, I just missed him. All of him.

I don't know who loosened their grip first, but the next thing I know, I am striding out of the mess hall. I could feel the stares of every pair of eyes in the room set on me, but I didn't care anymore. I didn't care about much these days and especially now. All I needed was space from Fang and even from my friends.

It was all too much…

The heat of his stare burned more than the rest and I could still feel that heat as I stormed out of the mesh hall. Gathering up my hair in one hand, I used the other to grab the ponytail on my wrist and wrap it around my gathered hair.

Forcefully pushing through the heavy double doors, I was assaulted with cold air and a sprinkle of water on my face. The grey clouds covered the sky and the sheeting rain was coming down with no sign of stopping. My running tank top and running shorts did nothing to protect me from the stinging rain, but I welcome any kind of feeling at this point.

I had taken three steps into the rain before I heard the doors open and close again behind me. I was about to take off running when I felt something warm being draped over my bare shoulders.

Without turning, I stubbornly grabbed the piece of clothing and pulled it to the ground before I actually took off running.

"Max!" his voice shouted, but I could barely hear him through both the rain and the thud of my own heart beat in my ears.

My legs moved on their own accord. Effectively blocking out his voice, I focused more on my strides and the contraction of all my muscles as I sliced through the rain. I would have ignored him to my heart's content if he didn't run up behind me and wrap his fingers right above my elbow, bringing me to a halt.

"What are you doing?" I yelled right as his hand made contact with my arm. My voice was one of outrage and surprise even though I knew he would try to stop me.

"Coming after you," he replied simply.

I heard the double meaning in his voice, but refused to acknowledge its presence. He can't be coming after me to mend the break between us. Can he?

No, I told myself sternly. He did this to you and you are not going back because he says he's sorry.

All the pent up frustration I was holding back, all the things I wanted to say, and all the anger I was feeling just burst the moment he turned me to face him more fully, "I don't need you Fang. I've been doing fine without you so far, haven't I?" I screamed over the rain as I wretched my arm free from him.

"Dammit Max, let go of your pride. Just because you're mad doesn't mean you should make yourself sick," he yelled just as forcefully; holding his soaked jacket in his hand.

Fang looked down at his jacket, a slight frown gracing his lips. He watched as water trickled out of the sleeves, making the jacket now look two shades darker than it really was. Figuring it would be counterproductive, he tossed the jacket off to the side and turned back to me.

Water was dripping down his face in streams as he glared down at me. I would have been entranced by the drops of water streaming down the tips of his hair and across his lips, but my anger made it easy to stay focused.

"I can take care of myself," I screamed as I pointed to my chest to emphasize my point. "I don't need you or anyone else. I am done with everyone thinking that I need to be contained and giving me the run around. No one is as they seem. Everyone pretends to be the person they think they should be and no one is left to be who they really are. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it."

Fang's hands pulled at his hair as he turned his body abruptly to the side so he wouldn't have to look at me. I could tell that a look of utter exasperation was painted on his face even from the side. Frustration was radiating off his body in waves and hitting me, but I couldn't really explain how I could feel it.

I waited patiently as he continued to stare at nothing and shake his head slightly as he contemplated some unknown thoughts in his head. I debated whether to just leave him there and take off running again. I doubt he would've noticed, much less cared, but there was something about the look on his face that grounded me where I stood.

Suddenly, Fang turned towards me again, dropped his hands from his hair and thrust them out in front of me. "You have no idea Max. You say you don't need anyone, but you are so oblivious to all the potential people you can lose. The worse part? You don't even care. You say that people aren't who they appear to be, but you're just like the rest of them. You hide behind the tough, badass façade of yours, but you're just trying to hide the fact that you're afraid! You have everything right in front of you, but you're too afraid of losing it all just like you lost Ari."

To say the least, I snapped. How dare he bring up my past that I shared with him in confidence! I poked Fang in the chest and forced him back a step, "You have no idea, Fang. I've lost everything before and I know I can do it all over again. You think I'm afraid? Well I think you're full of shit. In the end they're just assumptions. I am not afraid, I just don't want to drag anyone else into my messed up life. I would never wish my life upon anyone else. Regardless of what you think, you can't do it all and you can't fix everyone. Some people are beyond being saved."

Fang let out a bitter laugh, "Beyond being saved?" he asked dubiously. "I think you just don't want to be saved Max."

My mouth open slightly, but no words came out. My moment of hesitation was all Fang needed. He knew that what he said hit close to home. He knew he was right, but too bad my pride and my ego are just too great to undergo any of his idiotic treatment.

I poked him another time and again forced him back a step. "I can save myself. I did it before and I'll be damned if I can't do it again," I said through gritted teeth.

Fang looked down at me as I looked up at him. Water would have been pouring into my eyes if Fang's hunched figure wasn't protecting me from the downpour. The feeling of his closeness was familiar and comforting, but in the heat of the moment, all those familiar feelings seemed to fall to the ground like the rain.

"Stop playing the martyr and open your big brown eyes," Fang demanded as he yelled over the rain, the veins in his neck slightly popping out against his smooth skin. "You have friends who would bend over backwards just for you, so don't even dare write them off as some insignificant chapter in your life."

Is that what he thinks I'm playing at? He thinks I want peoples' pity? Well, I guess he didn't know me at all, I thought bitterly to myself.

"Don't you talk about my friends like you know them. I know very well what they would do for me and I would do the same, but they are not safe. No one is safe near me and those who are safe, couldn't care less what happens to me," I yelled back.

I looked straight into his dark eyes, daring him to say or do anything to push me over the edge; daring him to say anything else about my friends or Ari again. He just stood there dead silent. His eyes flickered between my two eyes as if he was searching for something. He doesn't know me at all, I thought to myself again.

That conclusion, although I hate to admit it, crushed me. I tried telling myself that the water in my eyes was in fact the rain and not tears. I set my face in a fearless expression and looked straight into the eyes I use to wake up to, "I don't need anybody and I certainly don't need you." The coldness in my voice even gave me chills, but the strength and conviction behind my words was almost tangible.

Fang's face was one of complete shock before it flashed to pain, then to his stone hard mask. I don't know which expression hurt the most.

We were both speechless as we stood in the rain, drowning. Or, at least it felt that way.

"You don't need me, Max?" Fang asked quietly. His face portrayed nothing to me; not even a hint of curiosity.

My throat threatened to close, but I willed it to stay clear as I replied, "No," in the strongest voice I could muster.

Fang's brows furrowed slightly as he inched impossibly closer to me. His body is radiating onto me and sending more chills down my spine. By the look in his eyes, I could tell he was determined to call my bluff. His warm breath assaulted my face when he asked, "Do you want me, Max?"

Aaaaand that was it. My throat closed and my hands itched to touch him. He found my weakness before I even knew about it. Truth is, I do want Fang. Not just in some sexual way though. I wanted him in my life. I wanted to bring him home to my mom to have dinner and to listen to all her crazy animal stories that she's strangely proud of. I want to be able to kiss him in public without having to worry about anyone seeing. Most of all, I just wanted to call him mine because I was, and always will be, his.

I looked into Fangs eyes, but there was no indication of whether he was just egging me on or if he was searching for a deeper meaning. He just stood there, not even flinching when thunder sounded and shook the ground beneath us.

Biting my lip, I was at a loss. No longer did my anger fuel the adrenaline in my veins. Now, I was just confused and desperate. Desperate to understand what was going on and desperate for things to go back to the way they were. However, I was just as equally desperate to fool Fang into thinking I didn't want him.

Ever so slowly, Fang raised his hand to my face and rested his palm on my cheek. The simple touch of his hand warmed my whole body in an instant. He studied my face as if to ask permission to leave his hand there.

He must have found what he was looking for because then he stepped closer to me. Without my knowledge, my hands went up and gently rested on Fang's chest. His shirt was soaked through and through so that even the smallest of muscle contractions could be felt under my hands. As his other arm wrapped around my waist, I felt myself grow impossibly warmer.

Gently, he dragged his thumb across my bottom lip so that I would stop unconsciously biting it. "Say it," Fang whispered, his eyes flickering to my lips before returning back to my eyes. "Say you want me in your life." His voice was tittering on the edge of sounding like a plea. It almost sounded like he needed me to admit to him that I wanted him in my life in order for him to live another day.

My mouth opened, but slowly closed when I thought of why we were here in the first place. "Fang, you can't just decide on your own when we can be together and when we can't. Just a few days ago, you were strictly business without so much as an explanation. You were cold," my body involuntarily shivered as if to prove my point. "Now you want 'us' to be together again out of the blue without any reason. You can't do that and I won't let you," my eyes narrowed to show my seriousness, but it did not hold any of the anger I felt from earlier.

"Max," Fang said desperately, "I'm miserable. I can't explain now, but give me time. I want to figure everything out with you and I know that some of the things I have to tell you will make you angry, but I have to risk it. I have to risk it because…because Max I want you. I want the feeling of you in my arms to never go away because this," his arms constricted slightly to emphasize his point, "is when I'm happiest."

More tears threaten to spill over, but I doubt Fang would be able to decipher the tears from the rain. My mind was spinning and I didn't know what to do. I refused to be just another girl who will forget everything that has hurt her and run into the arms of the inflictor.

No, I decided. That is not me, nor will it ever be.

Fang dropped his head and took in a very shaky breath before looking up at me again; never taking his hands away from my body. His brows furrowed as he contemplated what to do and what to say next. His eyes looked darker than ever, but there was still a certain gentleness to it.

My fingers inched to trace the lines under his eyes. For the first time in the last couple of days, I was worried about him. I worried that he wasn't getting any sleep and about that maybe he'll be the one to get sick out here.

Man, do I care about this boy right in front of me.

He looked at me expectantly, but I didn't know what he wanted from me. I can't just forgive him because that would be too easy on him. I can't deny that some sick and twisted side of me wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to know how it feels to have something right in front of you, but have no control over it. I wanted him to feel pain, but not know what to do to make it stop. I wanted him to know how I felt.

"Max…" he whispered.

My mouth opened slightly, but the thoughts just kept on piling in.

He could do this to us again; do this to me again. I don't know if I can trust him or the words that are coming out of his mouth. It's so easy for him to switch off his feelings, so what's keeping him from doing it again in the future? Are we just two lonely people who are just using each other? What if he just needs me so that he can feel emotions again? Feel the adrenaline of being with someone who cared about him, but forbidden to be with? I need him because I craved the love that he gave to me when I was deprived of it since I was younger.

We're both being selfish, but am I being more selfish from keeping all these thoughts in my head from him?

I'm protecting myself, I decided.

"Max, look at me," Fang said gently as he used two of his fingers to tilt my chin up. "Tell me what you are thinking."

I bit my lip and began to shake my head when Fang shook his head in return. "No, don't do this. I can see in your eyes that you are psyching yourself out right now." His eyes flashed with something, but I didn't know what it was. Desperation? Understanding? Love?

"Let me help," he said patiently while he stroked my chin lightly.

For some reason, that was my undoing. All of a sudden all the thoughts in my head came rolling out like an avalanche that cannot stop. You just have to ride it out and hope in the end that there aren't too many casualties hidden within the snow. Everything has to be uncovered…eventually.

I pulled away from him slightly, his arm still around my waist and my hands on his chest. I tried to read his face as the truth poured out, "I don't know if I can trust you Fang. I don't know if I even want to trust you again. You just… you have this ability to abruptly switch off your feelings and I can't do that. You say you were miserable, but I don't believe that you were. Why would you do this to us if all that came out of it was your own misery? It doesn't make sense to me…" I swiftly turned my head; I couldn't look at him as I remembered the cold, desolate look he gave for the past three days.

Goosebumps were appearing on my skin, but I went on with my rant. I willed myself to turn my head towards Fang and continued, "I can't be looking over my shoulder all the time and waiting for the moment when you realize that I'm not worth it. Or the moment when you realize you should've stuck with the arrangement we have now. We are only in this mess because we are just two egotistical people who needed some emotional purpose and we found that in each other. What we were feeling was new and different, but it wasn't…" I trailed off, shaking my head again as I looked into Fang's eyes.

"Real," Fang whispered. I wasn't sure I heard him over the rain, but the look on his face said it all. His brows pulled together as if in pain and his lips pursed slightly in thought. We both knew that was the word I was looking for, but saying it out loud made it seem harsh.

I took a step farther away from Fang as it all came crashing down. One wave after the other started to convince me that we were naïve to think this…"us"…could work out. Both our arms hung limply at our sides as we stared at one another like we were strangers. I hated it.

"You can't just expect me to forgive you and let you back in again. You think you were miserable? I spent my whole life coping with my own father being a psycho scientist who is out to get me and my brother's blood on my hands. It should have been easy to cope with you being a total shithead, but it wasn't. So just saying that you want me in your arms and not expecting any consequences isn't how it's going to work, Fang." I'm breathing heavily, but I just stare at Fang. I wait for his move now and just hope that pouring out my heart was the right move.

A part of me silently begged Fang to say or do anything. I wanted him to tell me that I was wrong about the whole thing and that he'll stay. Oh God, I want him to say he'll stay, but the look on his face was unreadable. I couldn't tell if he agreed, if he was thinking over every word I said, or if he's like me and sees that this was the beginning of the end.

I studied Fang's face as he stood there, speechless. His eyes blank and his face clear of emotions. Suddenly thunder sounded again; making both Fang and I flinch this time.

In that moment, it felt like it was over. Like that thunder was the Universe's sick way of sealing the deal. I got a sick feeling in my stomach as the reality hit me with a force that I was not expecting. My chest grew tight, and suddenly it was becoming harder to breathe.

It's finally over, I thought. We're over.

I couldn't take it anymore. This whole scene, this feeling, and the look on Fang's face. It is all way too much to handle.

Taking a shaking breath, I turned and ran.

My legs were shaky, but I forced the tingling sensation down as my feet continued to pound on the soft earth. My heart was beating painfully against my chest as I sliced through the rain as if it were a curtain. I barely ran the one hundred yards to my dorm before I was gasping for air.

I burst through the door and almost collapsed on the floor out of exhaustion. Like a reflex, my arm reached out to steady myself on the wall and I was able to regain my balance. Thankfully the hall was empty because everyone was still in the mess hall. The sounds of my gasping breathes filled the empty halls; the noise bouncing off the walls and coming back to my ears as if to mock me.

There was no denying I was mentally and physically exhausted. After what happened in mere minutes, I suddenly felt like a nap was much need; preferably one that lasted for days without interruption. With my hand still on the wall, I hunched over and tried to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate.

Deep breath in, exhale out, I instructed myself.

Five minutes later, I was able to stand without feeling like I had to puke. With my back fully pressed against the wall, I was able to relax easier. I let my head fall gently back against the wall and closed my eyes.

I don't think I could really say what I was feeling. I was feeling so much that it felt like…numbness, but not the kind of numbness I have felt before. Is it even numbness when you still feel like there is something else aching?

It's times like these when I wish I had someone to tell me that I did the right thing. I need someone to just pat me on the back and say that that was the right decision. Too bad it's never that simple. There's too many grey areas when all you want is a 'yes' or a 'no'.

Life is not that simple. Fang isn't simple…


Without any warning, my thoughts were cut off just as the heavy double doors burst opened to reveal a dark shadowy figure looming in the doorway.

"Hello?" I called to the figure. I was surprised when my voice rang out clear and strong despite the contradicting feelings raging in me.

The figure took one step inside; still concealed by the shadows. Suddenly, lightning stuck to illuminate the face of the figure…

Reviews are appreciated, as always. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer or for those who have started school already…my condolences.


22. Chapter 22

Another Semi-Filler chapter, but I swear it's leading to something big.


Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride




Without any warning, my thoughts were cut off just as the heavy double doors burst opened to reveal a dark shadowy figure looming in the doorway.

"Hello?" I called to the figure. I was surprised when my voice rang out clear and strong despite the contradicting feelings raging in me.

The figure took one step inside; still concealed by the shadows. Suddenly, lightning stuck to illuminate the face of the figure…

"Max!" Dylan breathed out as the lightning illuminated his dark, honey-colored hair while his turquoise eyes pierced straight through mine. He was as soaked as I was from the rain and it made me wonder how long he was outside.

I let out the breath I was holding and pushed off the wall I was leaning against. "Oh, hey Dylan," I said, trying to make my voice natural.

It suddenly struck me as odd that Dylan conveniently showed up right after my fight with Fang when everyone else was supposed to be in the mess hall. "What are you doing here anyways?" I asked suspiciously, my eyes narrowing as I crossed my arms across my chest. All thoughts of fear dissipated and were replaced with fierce intensity.

Dylan took two strides from the door to stand in front of me. His eyes bore into mine, making me feel slightly uneasy. Without taking my eyes off of his, I noticed his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides; forcing the veins in his arms to stand out more than usual.

"Did Private Amersham hurt you?" he asked ferociously. An expression that looked out of place on Dylan encompassed his features. His brows furrowed and his nose took on an angry scrunched up look. If he were a cartoon, I would bet his face would have been red and steam would have been coming out of his ears. However, this Dylan was angry and violent looking, which was not something I would thought he was capable of feeling.

Sudden confusion washed over me. Fang? Hurt me? I would have laughed in Dylan's face at the mere suggestion, but I was stunned into silence. My mouth hung slightly opened as I tried to wrap my head around what he was implying.

Before I could deny anything, Dylan wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his chest. His slick arms slid without resistance against mine as his arms created an unbreakable seal around my shoulders.

Without thinking about it, my eyes slipped closed, reveling in the feeling of his strong arms. I didn't feel ashamed in my lapse of resolve, though I know I should have. There was no feeling of anger or disgust as I got lost in the sensation of Dylan's muscular arms. I felt no unfaithfulness for letting someone else hold me in such an intimate way.

I didn't feel any of those feelings because in that moment, in those few seconds that I let all my senses leave me, he was not Dylan. Those were not Dylan's arms around me and that was not his chest that I buried my head in.

It was Fang. It always has been and will always ever be Fang because he has unquestionably ruined me for any other guy. I knew that no matter how hard I tried to convince myself and others, I will still forever be hung up over Fang…That jerk.

Slowly, these arms transformed into something else. These were not the arms I wanted. They were the same arms from moments ago, but something changed in me. Something alerting me of the difference in what I wanted and what I actually had.

I tried pushing away from Dylan, but he just tightened his grip on me. "Dylan," I said calmly, "let go of me."

"Shh, Max. I got you now. Amersham won't hurt you now," he cooed as if he actually believed he was protecting me. He stroked my hair and smashed me almost painfully closer to his chest.

"Dylan," my voice strained as I pushed against his chest, "get your hands off of me." I banged my fists against his chest, refusing to use the remnants of my artificial strength from Jeb.

Dylan just continued cooing in my ear as if he didn't hear what I was saying or feel me trying to push him away. "I saw everything happen. He won't hurt you anymore. Not while I'm around; he won't get close enough to even breathe the same air as you," Dylan rambled as his voice started to rise and his arms tightened painfully around me.

I would never admit it out loud, but he was starting to scare me. His words and actions just weren't conventional. This was not some Twilight book, this was some delusional creep trying to crack my ribs and collapse one of my lungs. His aggression was getting out of control and all because of some altered reality that he thought he witnessed.

"Dylan!" I roared as I pushed him a step back; his arms still around me, but looser now.

"Stop resisting me, Max!" Dylan roared back as he slammed me against the wall with his hands firmly on my shoulders. A sharp pain radiated all over my back and I had to bite back a groan of pain.

Not one to follow anyone's orders, I pushed back again; still refusing to use all my strength. Despite the situation, I didn't want to use my strength to harm others like my father would have wanted. Even Dylan. I had resolved to using my strength only to train with Fang and to mess around, but never for violence. That is one thing that I can control.

"Why him?!" Dylan yelled in my face. "Answer me goddammit!" He pulled me away from the wall and for a second I thought he was going to let me go. Instead, he slammed me against the wall again, this time scraping my shoulder in the process.

As I felt my skin being scraped from my shoulder, I finally lost all patience.

Without a second's hesitation, I brought my forearm up and slammed it across his collarbone. I used that stupid synthetic strength to push Dylan back against the opposite wall. His arms dropped to his sides and his head hit the wall, but I felt no remorse.

Dylan's face was awestruck as he stared right back into my eyes; no doubt burning with anger and frustration now.

"It's him because he doesn't treat me like this," with that, I pushed him further into the wall. "I didn't choose him and he didn't choose me. That's why it's him; because it just happened," I sneered in his face.

I opened my mouth to speak, to tell him to never come near me again, but I was interrupted by the sounds of the doors slamming open again. This time, I didn't need to look to see who it was. I could just feel it was him.

Fang strode right over to Dylan and me, his boots quietly squeaking on the linoleum floor. Without needing explanation and without breaking stride, Fang grabbed my wrist and pulled me down the hallway. I let him pull me; too tired to put up anymore fight against him.

We had made it halfway down the hallway before we heard, "Take your hands off her!" Dylan's voice rose to fill the empty hallway; his footsteps not far behind.

I let out a frustrated sigh. Did this kid not know when to quit? One moment he is practically attacking me and the next he's trying to be all chivalrous and 'save' me? Jeez, I just don't get men. I've heard of girls being complicated, but guys are just in a league of their own.

I opened my mouth to let out a witty retort, but Fang beat me to it. Without turning his head, Fang raised his voice so Dylan can hear him say, "This doesn't concern you, Cadet. Cadet Ride is my responsibility and she's being punished for her scene in the mess hall." His voice was full of so much authority that I didn't even question him.

With that, I thought Dylan would back off, but like I said earlier, I just don't get men.

Before I knew it, Dylan had grabbed my other wrist, yanking me to a stop. I rolled my eyes; everyone pulling on me was getting really old really fast. I pulled my wrist free of Dylan right as Fang made his move.

Using the momentum, Fang let his fist fly. It all appeared to happen in slow motion as I watched Fang's fist pass inches in front of my face and land squarely on Dylan's face. With a sickening crack, Dylan's hands flashed to his nose as blood began oozing out. He let out a cry of pain, but his cries started to die down as Fang began to pull me down the hall again.

We were out the door in seconds; the rain hitting my cold skin again. It felt like little tacks were piercing through the sky and the only warmth was coming from where Fang's hand met my wrist. I looked down at his hand on my wrist and scoffed silently as I realized this will probably be the closest to holding hands we will ever get.

People say I have a pessimistic view on life, but I like to think of it as realistic. The sooner I accept the fact that Fang doesn't belong in my life, the sooner we can stop this little dance. The sooner we can move on and just forget about each other. Ahh, Ignorance, please come back to me.

Fang hasn't said another word as we trudged through the wet grass. My shoes were beginning to fill with water again and I got that uncomfortable feeling of water squishing in out of my shoes with every step.

We continued in silence as Fang guided me toward the boxing gym building. Without breaking stride, he pushed open the door and unnecessarily tightened his grip on me as he brought me through the door. He dragged me toward the back of the gym toward the nurse's room.

I could feel the eyes of all the cadets and the sergeants in the room as they stopped to watch the spectacle. Fang's tightened grip finally made sense to me; he was putting on a show. He was showing everyone in that room that he was in control of the "Wild Maximum Ride". My jaw clenched and I glared at anyone we passed who had the nerve to make eye contact with me.

I was both relieved and annoyed as Fang led me into the nurse's room. The nurse in there let out a squeak as Fang barged in.

She was wearing blue-green scrubs and her brown hair was pulled back into a slick ponytail. The small wrinkles by her eyes and mouth made her look like she was in her late thirties or early forties. She seemed sweet enough, but now and days, I've learned to trust no one; even the 'sweet' ones.

The nurse composed herself and opened her mouth to say something, but Fang cut her off. "There's someone in the dorm hallway bleeding. He'll be needing your assistance," he said swiftly and sternly.

"Oh, okay," she rushed out. She looked flustered as she grabbed her first aid kit, "What happened?"

"I punched him," Fang said in an eerily calm voice that the nurse did a double take.

Her mouth opened, but one look from Fang and she practically sprinted out the door. It wasn't until the door closed that I realized Fang didn't tell her which dorm. Poor lady is going to be running in the rain looking in every dorm for a bleeding kid.

Fang let go of me and made his way across the room to the counter with the sink. Placing his hands on the edge of the counter shoulder width apart, he exhaled harshly and bowed his head. His shirt was still soaked and I could see every muscle flexing in his back. I watched as his shoulder blades came closer together and then father apart as he took in a deep breath and let it out.

I leaned against the nursing table and crossed my arms across my chest. My temper caught up to me and I was suddenly pissed off that despite Fang's speech outside, he still hasn't changed. "I could've punched him myself, you know. Instead of you almost nailing me in the face," I snarled out between clenched teeth.

"Max, just…shut up for a second," Fang snarled out just as venomously. His grip on the counter tightened immensely and for a second I was afraid the pure force of his grip would break the counter.

"A simple 'please be quiet' would suffice," I mumbled before hopping up on the table.

We stayed silent and I couldn't decide whether I was happy for the quietness or not. I welcomed the time to myself to think, but like Fang said, my thoughts tend to freak me out rather than comfort me.

Part of me didn't want to be here, but another part of me did. Now all I have to do is figure out which part was more dominant. Unfortunately, staring at Fang's back and the veins standing out on his forearms was messing with my thought process.

Did everything that happened outside mean nothing to him? Thinking about it now, I was glad that I walked away when I did. This is proof that he didn't mean anything he said in the rain. Right? He didn't mean it when he said he wanted me and that he was willing to risk everything for us. His actions just show that everything he said was a bunch of lies. I scolded myself; I couldn't believe I let myself believe him.

My jaw clenched involuntarily. I debated on whether quietly leaving the room or hopping off the table and smacking Fang upside the head.

Luckily I didn't have to choose because Fang made the first move. With one final exhale, Fang pushed off the counter and abruptly turned. The steps he took toward me were powerful and his body radiated rage. I half expected him to try to grab my arm again, but he did the opposite.

Fang stood right in front of me, his eyes on mine. I sat still, not even daring to breath in fear that it would set him off. His eyes were hard, but when his eyes flickered to my shoulder, they soften immensely and were quickly filled with concern. His eyes watched mine again for a second until he broke eye contact and settled on staring at my shoulder instead of my eyes.

Despite the anger rolling off of him in waves, when he reached up to touch my shoulder he was nothing but gentle. His fingers traced the edges of the scrape that Dylan had inflicted. His brows furrowed and his nose scrunched a little in anger.

I peeked over my shoulder to see what he was seeing. It looked worse than it really was. A patch of my skin, about the size of my fist, was an angry red. The blood from my broken skin had already dried and was beginning to scab. I wasn't too worried about it because I knew that in about an hour, it would completely disappear. Just another one of the perks bestowed upon me by father dearest.

I rolled my eyes and turned my head to the side so I wouldn't have to look at my shoulder or at Fang, "It's nothing." I tried to brush it off, but he was not having it.

From the corner of my eye, I watched as he shook his head, his brows furrowing even more. "It's not 'nothing'," Fang snapped. I quickly turned my head forward to study him. Immediately after he said that, he caught himself. He bowed his head and let out a harsh breath again. "Don't dismiss it like this will happen again," he said gently as he grabbed some antiseptic and gauze that I didn't notice he brought with him from the counter.

I stayed silent as Fang cleaned my wound. I watched as his fingers worked diligently; his eyes never leaving my shoulder. His anger died down as he focused on my shoulder, but I could still sense it simmering beneath the surface. I watched as he grabbed a roll of tape and ripped off a strip with his teeth.

Fang was tapping the gauze to my shoulder when I decided to break the silence. "It will," I barely whispered; my teeth began to worry on my bottom lip.

Fang stopped; his fingers still pressed to the tape on my skin. "What?" he asked just as quietly; his eyes flickering to mine for a millisecond.

"It will happen again," I turned my head to stare at the wall opposite of where I was sitting. I refused to look at Fang in fear of what I'd see or what he'd see. There was just no way of knowing how he'll react anymore. "I will get hurt again. Whether it is physical or mental, I'm ready for it. Preferably physical; that I can deal with."

There was a long pause where Fang said and did nothing. Slowly, he began working again, but it wasn't until a few minutes passed that he finally spoke up. "You're right."

I snapped my head to the side, staring at his profile. His black hair had grown a little longer, more shaggy now. It fell across his forehead and was too close to his eyes for my liking. My fingers began to tremble with the desire to familiar myself with the feel of his skin and hair between my fingers.

I was half expecting him to argue with me like he always did, but he didn't. Instead, he kept talking as if he didn't notice my shock.

"You will get hurt. I'm not going to tell you, you're not going to get hurt because I'm not going to lie to you. You will be hurt by strangers and even people you…love," he explained hesitantly.

He finished tapping my shoulder and resumed his earlier position across the room. He gripped the counter and leaned against it. For a second I was hurt by the distance he felt needed to be between us. Could he really not bare to look at me anymore? I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but Fang cut me off by finishing his earlier thought. "Even me," he said as though it was the hardest thing he ever had to admit.

Silence engulfed us again. I was beginning to really hate it.

"Fang…" I began before he cut me off.

"I need to talk to you," was all he said, his head still bowed and his arms still tense. I watched as his fists continued to clench and unclench his grip on the counter; making his muscles contract noticeably.

I itched to just run my fingers down his arm to relieve some of the tension. I wanted to help him; no longer wanting him to suffer anymore.

Again, Fang pushed off from the table and stood in front of me; his arm outstretched to me.

I looked down at his hand and then at Fang's face. He was just looking at his outstretched hand, brows furrowed as he stood perfectly still as if any movement on his part would somehow shatter any chance he had at talking with me. The longer I waited, the closer his eyebrows pulled together in what seemed like nervousness and the more his lips began to purse in concentration.

Without delaying any longer, I grabbed his hand and hopped off the table. I just hope I won't look back at this moment and wished I would have slapped his hand away.

I don't know who let go first or if it was mutual, but right as my feet hit the ground, our hands were disconnected.

Fang strode over to the door and opened it for me. I walked through and waited on Fang to lead the way.

He swiftly walked passed me, his body brushing mine for an instant. I followed behind him trying to match each stride, but Fang was moving too fast. I had to do that awkward jog to catch up with him, but my efforts were moot because just as Fang walked outside my jogging faltered. The wind and the rain have seemed to increase and now I could barely see anything in front of me. Between the rain literally stabbing me in the eyes and the sound of thunder erupting every other minute, I could have very well been in the middle of a tropical rainforest for all I knew.

Goose bumps covered my arms and legs as I was assaulted with the cold rain. I started walking straight, eyes down so I could focus on the heels of Fang's feet and keep the rain out of my eyes. Somehow, though, while I was following him, I lost sight of his heels in the rain. Stopping dead in my tracks, I looked up and squinted through the rain, but there was no sight of Fang.

Annoyance filled me as I crossed my arms over my chest and yelled into the rain, "Fang!" My voice got lost in the ciaos, but I continued to call out his name a few more times. My logic was, if you want to drag me around like some doll, then you're sure as hell going to have to escort me to whatever location.

I made a mental note to get the kid some reflector gear. Another possibility would be to ransack his closet and replace every piece of clothing with Nudge's clothes. That way, I would be able to watch Nudge wear something baggy and watch Fang wear pink. I couldn't help but take a second and sigh to myself. Only in a perfect world would that plan end with me not having to do any sort of physical labor.

I scolded into the rain as I opened my mouth to call out for the hundredth time when something made me stop. I don't know what it was, but my skin warmed in an instant and I felt my anger dissipate a fraction.

Suddenly, Fang's face was inches from mine. "Forgetting something?" I asked him over the rain, my eyebrow raised and my feet firmly planted themselves into the soggy ground.

"Yeah, I left this beautiful girl in the rain and now I can't get her off my mind," he yelled back.

I took a step back and uncrossed my arms. My face was one of total shock. What the hell?

Fang smirked at my expression before adding, "But I guess I have to settle for you."

Now instead of shock, I was outraged. Without thinking, my hand came up and smacked Fang in the chest hard. My hand landed on his wet shirt that covered his strong chest as small water droplets erupted from beneath my fingers. All the anger I was feeling seemed to have gravitated toward that one slap.

Of course Fang couldn't just take the hits I throw his way like a gentleman. Instead, he used my slap to his advantage. Swiftly, he grabbed my hand and laced our fingers together before leading me farther into the rain. He seemed to slice through the rain as he strode toward some unseen destination.

My brows furrowed and I have to admit that I regretted not hitting him harder. Even five minutes in the boxing ring with Fang wouldn't be enough to expel all the anger and confusion I was feeling right now.

It's weird to think that his joke is exactly how he has dealt with…'us'. He says things and does things that make me want him, but then he brushes it off and hopes his smirk is enough to excuse him. I can never tell if it's just a big joke to him or if it's some hobby for him. Whatever his reasoning may be, I'm not so sure I want to hear it.

I didn't think I zoned out for that long, but the next thing I know, we're standing outside my room. I shook my head and looked around, as if this place was unfamiliar to me. I snapped my head to the side to see Fang just standing beside me looking at the door. From the side of his face, I could see his jaw clenching and unclenching, but I couldn't pinpoint the cause of his distress.

Fang looked out the corner of his eye at my confused gaze. In an almost panic manner, he flashed his eyes forward and nodded toward the door. "You going to unlock the door or should we just continue to stand here?" he asked sarcastically.

"Depends," I answered, making no move to unlock the door or tear my eyes away from Fang.

"On what?"

"On whether or not your ego will be able to fit through the door."

"I'm sure if your attitude can fit, then my ego will meet no resistance."

Rolling my eyes, I finally drag my eyes away from Fang's figure long enough to unlock the door, but not before I saw a small smirk. Turning the knob, I walked in and heard Fang's footsteps followed right behind me.

Suddenly something clicked in me, or maybe it was the door closing, but either way, I suddenly wanted to know what the hell Fang wanted to tell me. I whirled around to see Fang watching me from the door. His arms were crossed and his shoulder blades rested against my door. He was the epitome of tranquilly, but I could tell that his shoulders were a little too stiff.

"Okay Fang, you have me here. Now talk," I demanded. My hands clenched and unclenched at my sides as I prepared myself for whatever came out of his mouth.

I stood there, brows furrow, and with a stare that should have left burn marks on Fang's retinas. Instead, his eyes just stared back as one of his eyebrows raised. His eyes seemed to search mine as if he were studying me.

"Well?" I asked with force behind me. "Are you just going to go back to not talking now too?"

The corner of Fang's mouth twitched as he slightly shook his head and looked at his feet. "Naw," he said, his voice taking on a soothing tone. I could see that his eyes were moving side to side as if he were contemplating his next move; his lips slightly pursing in the same accord.

I opened my mouth to argue before Fang held up one finger without even looking up. "You," he said as he pointed his finger at me, "need to get some sleep first." With that, he peeked up at me from under his eyebrows. My resolve seemed to wither away with that one look, but I was not going to be fooled that easily.

"I'm not tired," I denied. Squaring my shoulders, I tried to make myself look stronger than I actually felt. Truth is, I was exhausted with the lack of sleep, but Fang didn't have to know that.

Pushing off the door, Fang's long legs carried him the two steps to right in front of me. He towered over me and I was suddenly reminded that he was still taller than me when I was forced to tilt my head up. His hand slowly rose to my face, but then fell just as slowly to his side. "Your eyes," he nodded towards me, "they looked tired and there are dark circles under your eyes."

I tilted my head in confusion. His voice sounded so sincere and concerned that I almost believed him, but it was the way he looked at me that stopped me short of kicking him out. I was always able to tell what he was thinking and feeling through his eyes. Over the past months, I have gotten used to reading him to the point where I could tell if he was lying to me or not. If our relationship was one big poker game, then his eyes would be his tell.

So when I saw that he actually cared, it made me want to know why. It made me want to understand. It made me realize that I didn't want out. I wanted in; I wanted him.

"Then you'll talk?" I asked cautiously.

His eyes moved between the two of mine before answering, "Anything you want."

I nodded my head once, trying not to lead on what effect his choice of words had on me. Trying to not seem flustered, I moved to the closet for some dry clothes. I had grabbed a t-shirt and sweats when I turned around to see Fang twisting the doorknob.

"Wait!" I said a little louder than I had meant to.

Fang stopped, his hand still on the doorknob, and coolly turned his head toward me. "What?" he asked. His brows rose in a way that made me feel like he was searching for a particular answer; an answer that he yearned for, but was too afraid to ask for himself.

I started biting my lip again in contemplation. Why did I tell him to stop again? What was the purpose behind my actions? I know there had to be a reason, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

My head was trying to calculate a plausible explanation while my mouth opened to say something—anything.

It's because I don't want him to leave…well shit.

I knew I couldn't tell him that so I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, "Someone might see you."

Fang's face didn't change, but there was a hint of confusion and disappointment in his eyes.

"It's just," I quickly tried to explain, "If someone sees you outside, they will be suspicious and then we'll both be in trouble."

Fang smirked at me; letting me know he knew that was not the real reason. Was I really that transparent? Jeez…

Instead, he released the doorknob and walked across the room to the window. As smooth as only Fang could manage, he crossed his arms and leant up against the window frame. I watched as he looked out the window and drops of water dripped from the tips of his hair onto his shirt.

Walking back to my closet, I grabbed a too big Rage Against the Machine band t-shirt I had and some of Fang's sweats that I stole from him before. Turning toward Fang, I threw the bundle of clothes straight at his back. The clothes hit his back and landed on the ground before, but the shirt remained draped on his head. Fang turned around, his eyes peeking at me from under the t-shirt. I watched as his eyes trailed down to look at the sweats that were now on the ground.

His eyes met mine in confusion as he pulled the shirt off of his head. "You should probably change out of your wet clothes," I explained with a shrug of my right shoulder. "But I don't have any…um…boxers or anything for you," I finished as a light blush threatened to appear.

Fang lifted an eyebrow and smirked back at me, "I'm glad."

"Glad you have to sit around in wet underwear?" I scoffed.

Fang's smirk widened more, "No, glad because if you ever have boxers in your room, they better be mine."

Without even realizing he was moving, Fang had slowly walked across the room to stand in front of me. I just watched as he looked down at me, "And I'm pretty sure I didn't leave any boxers here," he finished with a mischievous smile.

My eyes flickered down to his lips and I was suddenly reminded of how much I missed him. "Or," I retorted, my eyes traveling back up to his, "I've just gotten really good at hiding them from you."

"Is that all you're hiding from me, Max?" he asked, his head slightly tilting to the side.

"Wouldn't you like to know," I challenged. Fang just smirked again and just shook his head at me. "Now, get over there so I can change," I ordered as I pointed to the other side of the room.

Fang held up his hands in a surrender position and walked a few steps backward before turning around to walk to the corner of the room. Clothes still in his hand, he faced the corner before saying, "Go ahead," over his shoulder.

I narrowed my eyes at him for a few more seconds just to make sure he wasn't watching. I was waiting to yell at him the moment he would peek over his shoulder at me, but he didn't. Deciding that he wasn't going to look, I quickly stripped down and changed my clothes in record time.

Now fully clothed in warm, dry clothes I told Fang he could turn around. He told me it was his turn to change, so I climbed into bed and closed my eyes, but when he wasn't looking…I may or may not have peeked.

Call me a hypocrite, but I regret nothing. Watching Fang's washboard abs glisten from the rain water and his bare back muscles flexing as he pulled my shirt on was worth it. When he informed me he was done, I opened my eyes and pretended that they were closed the whole time.

Then came the awkward silence. I sat up in my bed and Fang stood by the side of my bed. Before, I would have grabbed his hand and pulled him into bed. Fang would have fallen on top of me obnoxiously and would claim it was an accident, but that's not what happened. Instead, he stood there and I sat there like we were two strangers who use to kiss.

Knowing that Fang could stay silent for days, I decided to take control. "You can lie down too," I offered.

Fang stared at me blankly and shook his head, "I shouldn't," was all he said.

I rolled my eyes and lifted myself to my knees. Slowly I moved over to Fang until I was kneeling on my bed in front of him. Slowly, I raised my hands and carefully traced my thumbs along the dark circles under his eyes.

It was the first intimate touch that was done unnecessary, but purposely. In that touched, I had initiated the first unspoken communication that we both wanted. It said that I cared, but I am cautious too. "You should though," I responded.

My hands left his face and slowly slid back down to my sides as I let him decide.

I watched as Fang stared at me—calculating. "I get the right side," he finally said after what felt like hours later.

I smirked back victoriously as I scooted under the covers. Fang walked over to the door and locked it before he came over and climbed in on the right side.

Automatically, Fang draped his arm over my hip and pulled both of us flush together. I could feel the heat his body was giving off and his breath on my cheek. My body stiffened involuntarily under his arm. Although I initiated the first touch, this was just too much. I had to remind myself that he hurt me. He wasn't getting away with treating me like garbage and then expect to gather me in his arms in bed like nothing happened. No. I'm not going to be a pushover for anyone; not even Fang.

"Fang," I whispered in a disapproving tone.

"I know," Fang breathed out just as quietly. "A guy can still hope," he said as he let go of me, but not before squeezing me one last time.

Fang may have retracted his arm, but his breath was still on my face. He didn't move away from me and I silently thanked him for not moving. My feelings were conflicting to the point where I wanted Fang close, but not too close.

We closed our eyes simultaneously and we laid there in silence. I was on the verge of sleep and I could tell that Fang was too because his breathing was becoming shallow.

"Fang?" I asked through a yawn.

"Hmmm?" his velvet voice further sent me into slumber.

"Did you peek at me when I was changing?"

"More than once," he answered matter-of-factly.

I fell asleep with a smile on my face that morning.