Face Down by Twilight in my Eyes

Category:Maximum Ride
Summary:songfic. After SOF. By a twist of fate, the Flock has disbanded and Max is with Ari. Fang is in New York and comes upon the pair. He watches regretfully, as there isn't a lot he can do as Ari abuses Max. He must stop things. But how? Fax COMPLETE!

Face Down part one

A/N: Hey, there. This is my first Fax fic, so I hope it doesn't disappoint you. I had written a previous version of this and I didn't like it at all. Too many people were out of character. So, I completely rewrote it. And let me tell you, this is way longer than I had originally thought it would be. Also, I love this version way better so I won't even bother telling you how much my first draft sucked. Because this version is so much longer, I've split it into two parts. I think some readers might complain if I stockpiled it all as one part. I mean, really. Would anyone have the patience to read 8,122 words? Uh, no, I didn't think so.

This is also a songfic. My first songfic to be precise. I believe the song "Face Down" by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus fits nicely. But, after reading it, you feel as though it doesn't, tell me. Please note that the whole song is not in the first part. I've stretched it out so that the second part will contain a part of the song too.

Just a heads up: there is swearing in case you're offended. That's why it's rated Teen.

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride, that belongs of James Patterson. I only own the plot. I don't own the song either, that belongs to the band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I'd love to own Fang, but that sadly is not possible.

Please enjoy and review!

The Flock had disbanded. That was the bitter truth. Under normal circumstances, the thoughts of separation was insane, suicidal even. Gazzy and Angel had stuck together. Nudge was off somewhere on her own. And Iggy had returned to his parents to see if they had changed their minds about him. And Max . . .

Fang shook his head. Max was with Ari. That had been what caused them to disband. Ari had tried to capture Max, yet again. But this time, the number of Erasers had been overwhelming. They had gotten their butts kicked. Badly. The Flock (with the exception of Max) had been caged. Fang and the others had waited with apprehension for something to happen. And when it did, no one had been ready.

They had been set free. Without a fight. Not even a threat. Okay, so maybe there had been a threat. Max had been forced to stay behind. And no one wanted to leave. Particularly Fang. But then Ari had pulled out a rather intimidating gun. Jeb and Ari needed Max, they wouldn't hurt her. But the same couldn't be said for them. Max had smiled grimly at them before they had left.

"Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. You'll see me again . . . someday."

The words of that day a year ago haunted him still. He hadn't seen Max since. That had been two years ago. The Flock had tried to stay together. They had tried so hard. But, in the end, they weren't a flock without Max.

They were mutant freaks. Bird kids.

Fang made his way through the park, cloaked in a black leather trench coat, the collar turned up. He'd been in the park before, plenty of times. But it still didn't stop the stares. What else would you do if a tall guy decked out in black with his hair dyed to the liking of bird plumage walked by? Heck, he'd stare too. They probably thought he was some psycho or a drug dealer.

He settled himself on a bench under the shade of an oak tree. His dark eyes studied his surroundings carefully. There didn't seem to be anything suspicious. There never was. Nonetheless, he was wary. Caution had kept the Flock alive and it was keeping him alive too. He didn't have a lot of money; they'd spilt it up before they all departed. After two years, there wasn't a lot left. More often than not, he had to steal. It was easy with his skills, but that didn't mean he had to like it. People would sometimes find their garbage raided. People might find a few valuable items missing, not too many, one or two. The seemingly random acts of destruction or the many disappearing items were all caused by him.

He sighed as a family of four walked by, the kids gawking at him. The parents hurried them on by, seeing him only as a dangerous homeless bum. He tilted his head down so his hair fell into his eyes. It didn't provide much security, but it was better than having to see the staring eyes. His stomach growled again, reminding him he hadn't eaten in several days. Since his body needed a lot more calories than the average human, he wore down fast without food, especially when he flew.

That was another thing that had changed. He didn't fly as often as he used to. He was simply too tired anymore. Food was scarce and energy scarcer. His raven wings were pressed in tightly against his back. They ached to be unfurled and spread wide. But he refused. It would be disasterous. Fang glanced around briefly, a flicker of a look. He was tempted to do a quick 360, but resisted. It would look too suspicious. After a bit of time, he was ready to leave. But went to stand, but some nagging urge, some instinct made him glance one last time at the gates of the park. His eyes widened. He tensed, ready to respond at any moment to the fight-or-flight instinct taking over his body. Fang bit his lip and glowered darkly at the couple who had just arrived.

Ari and Max. Together.

He looked away, disgusted. Okay, Max had to be under some brainwashing influence. There was no way in H-E-double toothpicks that Max would willing walk in public with a mongrel like Ari without causing mass mayhem. She hated Ari. There'd be no way any treaty could be developed between them. Unless it involved the saftey of the "Flock". That must be it. Ari and Jeb were using the lives of the "Flock" as blackmail. But it still didn't explain the neutral look in Max's eyes. What had happened to Max in the past two years? No matter how much Fang tried to convince himself that this was all some brainwashing scheme, he couldn't help but feel the sharp blade of betrayal.

It was time to leave.

Fang stood quickly and silently, a shadow withing the oak tree's shade. He couldn't face Max without doing something stupid. Like attacking Ari in broad daylight. He hurried away, fleeing the park before he did something he would regret later. But his mind stayed in the park, on the bench hidden beneath the tree's leafy branches. Max and Ari. They didn't seem like two rivals trying to get along for the sake of preserving lives. They looked . . . friendly . . . with one another. Brainwashing. That had to be it.

But why hadn't Max escaped by now? Jeb couldn't cage her for even a week without her causing some damage and escaping. It ad been years. It freaking years. And Max hadn't contacted anyone. Not even him. He would be the one Max turned to if she needed help. He was like second-in-command, he could help Max. But hadn't escaped, she had stayed. Well, maybe not stayed, but was imprisioned. Had Eraser security really increased that much? Enough to keep Max caged up? God, what kind of torture had she gone through?

Guilt flooded him. He should have tried harder to break her outta there. But . . . they had tried. They had tried hard to rescue Max. it just wasn't enough, though. Max was with Ari. She may not eve nrecognize them now. And it was all his fault. He was second-in-command and he hadn't tried hard enough. Simple as that.

Oh, Max. What have I done? The Flock is split up and no one knows where anyone is. No one knows what to do. In the end, you were the glue that held this Flock together. I tried, but I guess I don't have what it takes. I'm sorry.

Hey girl you know you drive me crazy

One look puts the rhythm in my hand

Still I'll never understand why you hang around

I see what's going down

Fang finished the remains of a greasy burger he had found still intact and fairly clean in the dumpster of a fast food restuarant. It was something more in his empty stomach, but not enough to take the edge of hunger away. Wherever the others were, he hoped they weren't as bad off as he was. Tugging the long overcoat around him, Fang walked down the sidewalk. He fingered the bills in his pocket as if they would bring him luck or at least some peace of mind. It had been a few days since glimpsing Max in the park and his mind was still in turmoil.

No, she didn't betray me or the Flock. She wouldn't, he thought absently.

Where would he go today? Not to the park, that would just bring back bad memories. It was too early to lurk in a movie theater. He wouldn't risk exposure by finding something amusing to do. He knew New York almost like the back of his hand. He was aware of the areas claimed by gangs, the neutral points, the theif hotspots, the wealthier side of the city, and the places where rejects like him lurked. He turned a corner and spotted a coffee house. At this time the place would be buzzing with activity. He glanced at himself in a large window display. At least he didn't look like a gutter rat. Just a misplaced wanna-be goth. He didn't think anyone would mind his presence too much if he sat in the corner. Fang approached the glass door and nearly froze. But he recovered from his surprise and entered the quaint little shop. He headed for a shady corner and sat down, leaning his chair back.

His dark eyes wandered over to where Max sat. She was sipping absently from a styrofoam cup, a platter of pasteries in front of her. Fang scanned the room quickly. There was no Ari in sight. He released a soft breath that could have been a sigh, but fell short of it. e concentrated on the former Flock leader. Okay, so no Ari. Didn't that mean escape? And freedom? So . . . why hadn't Max taken off yet? Or was she trying to get in touch with the Flock? If she had searched their old haunts, she wouldn't find anything. Fang hadn't bothered to return to their previous hang-outs. He was being as careful as possible and had picked another run-down, forsaken apartment building.

Fang narrowed his eyes. Did he dare approach her? Would she spook and run off? Or would she welcome him and begin to plan finding the others? After two years, Fang wasn't sure how Max thought. He felt like he almost didn't know her. With a sigh, Fang stood and moved silently over to her table, which also was in a corner. So some things didn't change. That was good to know. His gaze flickered around the coffee house again, half expecting Ari to leap out from under a table and attack. But the Eraser didn't and so Fang sat down across from her.

"Hey, Max."

She blinked, startled. It took a moment for recognition to light her eyes. "F-Fang!" she stammered. "What are you doing here?" He wasn't sure if she was shocked or terrified. But Max was never terrified, so she must be surprised to see him.

A small smile quirked the corner of his mouth. "Nice to see you too, stranger." he said. Fang leaned his elbows onto the table. "Soooo. How are things going?" It was a casual enough question. But the look in his eyes was all but casual.

"Fine. Things are just fine." Max replied, looking at her pasteries. Fang tried his best to ignore the sugary smell. He looked at the treats briefly and then turned his attention back to Max. "I almost didn't recognize you," she continued. "You're hair is longer and you've gotten taller, if that's even possible. Do you make babies cry when you walk by?" she teased with a grin.

"Yeah, all the time." he muttered. "What about you? Have you kicked Ari's arse and escaped?"

She looked down at her coffee, her strawberry blonde hair falling over her face, a curtain. "That's the funny thing, Fang. I don't hate him anymore."

"What?!" Fang exclaimed a little too loudly, causing people nearby to stare. He lowered his voice. "What do you mean? Are you . . . are you friends or something. Dare I say siblings?"

Max looked back up at him, tucking a portion of her hair behind her ear, also revealing a dark brusie on her jawline. Fang narrowed his eyes. "I don't hate him, but that doesn't mean we're on good terms." she said simply. Max pushed the plate of sweets toward him. "You want these? You looked starved."

Fang had strangely lost his appetite. "No, I'm fine. But, what happened?" he asked, rubbing his jaw inconspicuously.

Max quirked one eyebrow at him. "What are you talking about?" She noticed his pointed look and set her jaw stubbornly. "Nothing happened Fang, just a slip-up."

This time Fang rose one brow skeptically. "A 'slip-up'? What's that supposed to mean? If you fought him, you won, didn't you? You got away, right? You're free?"

"Free? Fang, you make it sound like I was a prisoner."

"You were, weren't you?"

She sighed. "I guess you could call me that for the first year, but things got a little better. I don't leave the radius of a couple miles, and, well, everything turns out all right."

He knew she was lying through her teeth. She sipped her coffee again and Fang sat back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. Fang waited expectantly for the truth. "Max, you can't lie to me and you know that. So you might as well tell me what's going on."

"Nothing is 'going on'. I'm staying at Jeb's home with Ari and we don't kill each other. And the Flock gets to live. Isn't that enough?"

"No. Do you realize who is all missing, or hasn't that sunk in yet?" Fang asked. Max frowned and looked around the coffee house. She searched for a few long minutes, the frown still in place.

"I don't--Oh, my God! The Flock! Where are they? Fang, what happened?" she asked, sounding panicky.

"The Flock is no more, Max. We split. Disbanded. Left." he replied with a hint of sourness in his voice.

"But . . . but, why?" she exclaimed, confused and worried. "How could you let them go like that?"

"Hey, I tried." he replied calmly. "We all tried to stay together. But the Flock wasn't a Flock without all of its members. You left and we became nothing. I've no idea where everyone is. Maybe you could tell me?"

"Me? I don't know anything more than you do!" she exclaimed again, eyes wide.

"Sure you do, Max. You just aren't telling me. Two years and not a peep? Now, all of a sudden, you two show up in the park! What's happened to you, Max? Before you'd beat Ari senseless and fly off. You would've found us and kept us together. Now, you're sitting in a coffee house, no Ari in sight, and you have no idea what a disaster the Flock has become." Fang questioned.

"Listen, Fang. You're the one who doesn't understand. I had to do this. For the Flock, for you. There are certain rules I have to keep and right now, I need to leave." Max said, standing up, a steely expression on her face.

Fang stood quickly. "Hey, wait. Don't walk out on me, on the Flock!" But she was gone before he had even finished. People were staring at him and he sat down with a real sigh. He stared bitterly at the pasteries and wrapped them in a napkin. He wasn't hungry, but he would be eventually.

Cover up with make-up in the mirror

Tell yourself it'll never happen again

You cry alone and then he swears he loves you

Fang stared at the dark ceiling above him, restless and unable to sleep. He stood, leaving the tattered blanket in a heap on the cold floor. He walked over to the window and stared longingly at the night sky. He cast a glance below. Not too much traffic passed on this side of town. He was sure if he was careful not one would see him, especially on a night as dark as this. Fang wondered briefly if he had enough energy to fly. The pasteries were long gone. He shrugged. He'd try it, see how much stamina he had. Fang stepped onto the window ledge and let his cramped wings slide out of the slits in the overcoat. He sighed with relief and cringed at the stiffness in this muscles. Ah, no matter. He'd get them stretched out tonight.

Fang fell out into the open night air and spread his raven black wings. For a moment his feeble wings couldn't catch the wind and he felt a nagging sensation of dread. He turned his concentration back to flying and felt for a wind current that would take him up to a thermal where he wouldn't have to expend as much energy. The ground moved closer. And closer still. Then, finally! Fang took the current and shot skyward. There wouldn't be a strong thermal considering the cool of night, but he might get lucky. Maybe. Besides that, Fang was having a wonderful time. Never had flying felt to so soothing. He was free. Free of the troubles below him, the scarcity of food and money, the questions and worries that haunted his mind. Gone. All of it.

Then he noticed another shape in the sky. He wouldn't have noticed it if it weren't for his habitual cautiousness. The figure was small and sleek, gliding softly on a wind current. Then another shape joined it, big and bulky, awkward and not meant for the sky. Fang dropped lower to the ground, as much as he dared without falling. It was Ari and Max. The two of them soared high and strong above him, making him slightly envious. Fang looked below and tried to figure out where they were flying to. The only thing close enough for a secret landing would be the park.

And that's exactly what they did. Fang hung back as they landed smoothly, becoming smaller in his vision. He hovered there for a moment, working harder than he should be to locate them among the trees. Ignoring a building weariness, Fang drifted back and landed on the grass, silently but far from smooth. Okay, I'm definitely going to need more practice more often, he thought. He crept forward through the trees, trying not to make a sound. He moved toward a clearing and saw them standing there together. He crouched on the ground and waited. He was sure Max was hiding something, lying about something. But what? Maybe he would find out.

They were talking. Fang couldn't hear them, but he knew they were talking. The conversation seemed neutral enough at first. But then he heard faintly exclaimations that made no sense to him. He waited, apprehensive. Max spat something, probably an insult, at Ari. And then Ari struck without warning. Max's head whipped to the side, her blond hair flying around her. Anger burned withing Fang. But he waited, hiding in the cover of the tree. Max would handle him. And then Fang would move in to finish Ari off and send him home with his tail between his legs. But Max simply glared back at him and muttered something low under her breath. Fang's brow furrowed with confusion. What was going on?! The old Max would've hit right back. Harder. But this Max didn't. That wasn't like her at all. Just how much had changed?

Ari hit her again and it was all Fang could do to keep from leaping out of the shadows at that moment and beating the crap out of the Eraser. But he stayed with clenched fists and gritted teeth. Come on, Max! Fight back! Prove to me you haven't changed! Max screamed out at Ari, rage clear as glass in her voice. Ari hit her again and again. Fang wasn't sure he could hold back any longer. Max wasn't going to do anything, so he, being the bodyguard of the Flock, might as well take out the huge fridge with wings. Finally, it was too much. The sight of Max being hurt again and again without her fighting back was too much.

He burst from the treecover with a swift stride and his fist connected with Ari's jaw before the Eraser even knew what had hit him. Ari staggered back and glared upon seeing him. "What the--? What are you doing here? Why don't you go crawl back to the birdcage you broke out of?"

"Why don't you go beg treats from Daddy, Dogbreath?" Fang snapped. Unconsciously, they each had taken fighting stances, ready to attack or block in a moment's notice.

"Stop this!" Max shouted.

Fang looked over at her incredulously, hardly daring to believe what she had said. "What?! Max! He--he--no! I won't stand by and let this happen! I don't know what's wrong with you, but you have to fight back!" he exclaimed.

"Stop it, both of you just stop! Fang, leave, you've butt in where you shouldn't." Max said. "Ari, cool off."


"No. If you won't leave, I will." Max said, irritated. Before Fang could do or say anything, Max took off with her speed-of-light flying. Fang's attention turned immediately back to Ari who was still glaring at him.

"I don't know what you think you're doing, but I'm going to stop you." Fang warned.

"I'd like to see you try." Ari snarled.

"Then watch me if you want." Fang shot back. With one fluid leap, he was off. Flying high and leaving everything behing. Or, at least, trying to. Rage fueled his wings and the weariness was long forgotten. There was no hope in finding Max now. She could be in another state by now. And Ari would find a gutter to crawl into if he knew what was good for him. Fang purposely took a winding, confusing path back to the apartment building, not wanting to lead Ari back to the only safe shelter he knew of. When he landed, the exhaustion kicked in just as expected. Folding his wings, Fang shuffled over to the pathetic pile of a blanket and pulled it around his shoulders. Laying down on some mouldy cushions, he tried to fall asleep. Try being the operative word.

Do you feel like a man

When you push her around?

Do you feel better now

As she falls to the ground?

Well I'll tell you my friend, one day this world's going to end

As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found

Another day. More questions. More tormented thoughts. He had no answers. Not even the slightest clue as to what was going on. What had changed Max. Fang tried to block out all the confusion, all the thougths demanding to be answered. But some thoughts couldn't be completely smothered.

Fang wandered through the alleyways, picking out intact or edible looking food from the dumpsters. It was how he lived now. As a scavenger. He was still a little tired from his flight the night before. He was trying to find as much caloried packing food there was. He didn't dare spend what precious little money he had left. That was his emergency stash. If it could be called a stash. He was walking down a street known for the popular shops and wealthy people crowding the sidewalks. Fang spotted him almost instantly. With his large muscled build and model looks, Ari stood out. Fang glared, his eyes a black fire. Ari suddenly stopped and looked around above the head of the crowd, as if sensing the dark gaze.

Fang approached him, black coat billowing out behind him like the wings that were hugged to his back. His eyes were locked on the Eraser and Ari was going to just disappear anytime soon. Ari stared back at him, the rage flaring in his eyes too. The Eraser nodded slightly and turned off the sidewalk. Fang followed him into a long side street with a one lane road. The two faced each other, none daring to blink.

"Stay out of this, you rat with wings." Ari growled. "This is none of your business."

"I make it by business when one of my friends gets hurt." Fang retorted, clenching his fists.

"Your mistake." Ari said off-handedly.

"No. It's not, it's yours. I'd watch your back if I were you, Ari. You never know when a rat might lunge out from the gutters." Fang warned.

Ari sneered. "We'll see about that."

A pebble in the water makes a ripple effect

Every action in this world will bear a consequence

If you wade around forever you will surley drown

I see what's going down

"Yes, we will." Fang challenged. Oh, how he wanted to pummel Ari into the cement, see how he liked it. Fang had rage to spare and he hadn't quite gotten his full revenge against Ari for the beach incident and for tearing his side open. Ari knew this too.

"I wonder what Max will say when she finds out I had to kill her ex-boyfriend." He mused.

"What?! What are you talking about?!" Fang demanded.

"Oh, it's just that she's gotten over you, Fangie." Ari taunted.

Fang winced. Fangie? What the hell? "Over me? Since when was she interested?"

"You weren't there when she was bawling her eyes out 'cause she had to let you all go. Stupid Flock. All you ever did was pull her down, make her a whining, vulnerable, little bitch." Ari spat.

"Don't talk about her like that!" Fang's patience broke and he send a vicious kick into Ari's chest. With surprising speed, the Eraser caught his foot and wrenched it around, swinging Fang into the concrete wall. Fang stood and shook off the slight dizzyness. He nimbly ran toward Ari, leapt over him and crouched down, swinging one leg out low to the ground and tripping Ari.

The Eraser caught himself before he hit the ground and sent a kick backward at Fang. "It's the truth, isn't it?" Ari called back. He jumped up and landed on Ari's back, slamming a foot down onto his spine. Ari's breath left with a oof and he fell to this knees. Standing swiftly, the Eraser flung a fist. Fang jumped back but not before the strike clipped his shoulder. Unbalanced, Fang staggered before finding his center of gravity again.

Ari straightened and paused, as if listening to something. He sneered. "You aren't worth my time, pigeon. Later." With that he walked off, leaving Fang seething.

"Bastard." he muttered. Fang left the alley way, ignoring a throbbing shoulder. It had been slammed into cement and punched, but he didn't let that stop him. He wandered his way in a labyrinthine pattern to his unofficial home. It seemed colder in the abandoned apartment than ever before. He slouched against the wall and slowly slid to the floor, his head in his hands. He didn't know what to do. Max had changed too much. He wondered if he would ever have the old Max back. Since when did Max side with Ari?

He leaned his head back against the wall, closing his eyes. He wondered if he would be able to find the others. Iggy was somewhere nearby, not too far off. Unless he had wandered off on his own, which wasn't exactly a smart idea. Fang had no idea where the others would be. So maybe he'd never find them. Unless the local pigeons could give him a few clues. What was Ari up to? What had he and Jeb done to Max to change her so? Surely two years couldn't completely erase the old Max. The old Max was a fighter, she'd never give up. Never. So who was this? Another copy? No, he'd know if this new Max was a copy. But it certainly wasn't the Max he knew.

An image of Ari beating Max flew into his mind. He gritted his teeth. The coward had backed off before Fang could even warm up. Ari needed to be punished. Severely. Fang's dark eyes flitted about the desolate room, finding the holes and tears in the walls and ceiling, proof of his short temper. The old musty couch that had been the only furniture in the entire apartment was shredded and gutted. Broken glass that was once whole windows lay scattered around the room. The door hung awkwardly off its broken hinges. Okay, so Fang had a very short temper. Wasn't entirely his fault. Anyone would have a short temper if a team of screwed up whitecoats messed with your genetics and attached wings to your back, experimenting on you until you passed out, hunting you down with their lap dogs on steriods, and finally forcing the only family you ever had apart. Yeah. Anyone would have a short fuse after all that crap. And that was without the troubles Ari created.

I see the way you go and say you're right again

Say you're right again

Heed my lecture

Do you feel like a man

When you push her around?

Do you feel better now

As she falls to the ground?

Well, I'll tell you my friend, one day this world's going to end

As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found

A/N: So . . . what do you think about the first part? Tell me in a review please and I'll get the second part up as soon as possible! I hope the characters, especially Fang and Max, were in character. I didn't work out the first time and I hope it worked out this time. Tell me what you think. I love reviews! I also apologize if the length is too long. I'm new to this, so I'm not sure if this qualifies as "too long" or "just long enough".

Face Down part two

A/N: And now, what you've all been waiting for . . . (drumroll please!). . . Face Down Part Two! Yay!!! Definite Fax in this one, but please tell me if it's too . . . fluffy or not fluffy enough. This is my first real fanfic with fluff, so tell me how I rate on the fluff-o-meter! Please and thank you!

Note: For all of you that know Face Down by heart, I apologize for not putting in the last few lines. I felt that if I did, it would take away from the conclusive mood I had set. See, the whole song is bittersweet and I tried to finish the fanfic on a good note. If I had added in the last lines (which are: "Face down in the dirt, she says this doesn't hurt, she says I've finally had enough.") I don't believe the fanfic would be as satisfactory as it is. So, I apologize if you're offended.

Disclaimer: Again, I don't own the books (but I have copies!) or the song (but I have it downloaded!), they all belong to their respectful owners. I wish I owned Fang though . . . What?! A girl can dream, can't she?


Fang kept an eye out for Max over the next few days, but he didn't see head or feather of her. He just hoped Ari knew what was good for him and left her alone. Fang couldn't guarantee Ari would walk away next time. He might have to crawl, but he wasn't going to walk away again, that was for sure. Fang visited their old haunts: the park, the huge malls, and that fancy restaurant that they had escaped from when the stupid manager had to ask questions. He sighed. Those days seemed like decades ago. In any case, Fang hadn't seen her for days.

He was walking absently along a street, not really knowing where he was going. His hands were stuffed into the deep pockets of the coat and his hawk plumage hair fell into his eyes. He stared at the sidewalk in front of him, his mind wandering down the hallways of his memory. He remembered with a slight smile the time he and Max had shared a warm Coke after the fiasco with Max II. He remembered laughing with her as he told her how he knew Max II from the original.

He stopped next to a bus stop, oblivious to the crowd moving around him. Fang shook his head. Those days were gone. Now, he didn't even have the Coke, let alone the Flock. He remembered sneaking up on Max and acting innocent when she startled in surprise and scolded him for it. He remembered teasing Nudge with the "carrion" when they had been staying with the hawks. Then there was the time Angel had begged to keep the bear, Celeste, and then Total. Those stupid bambi eyes of hers. He shook his head with an amused grin. There had also been the time when they were looking for their families, how hopeful they all had been. How much they had wanted a real family with real parents who loved them and actually cared about them. He and Max had been the closest things the Flock had for parents. Now they were just orphans again, this time without each other to depend on.


He blinked, the voice snapping him from his thoughts. He looked up and realized he had been standing there in front of the bus stop for a while. He looked around for the source of the voice and saw Max sitting there on the bench, looking up at him with a puzzled expression spread across her face. He tried to smile, but knew it was a simple quirk of his mouth.

"Hey, Max. Haven't seen you around for awhile." he stated and took a seat on the bench beside her.

"I've been . . . busy." she said evasively. "How have you been?"

"Ah, hanging in there, you know." he replied casually. "How 'bout you?"

"Fine." she responded.

Fang kept his disapproval hidden. Lying again. He didn't like it. He could see the bruises marking her arms and face. "How's Ari?" he asked icily.

Something flashed in her eyes. A cross between anger and apprehension. "He's . . . fine too." she repeated. Fang glanced to the sky, not knowing where else to look. He noticed the thick, dark clouds looming above them in the sky. A raindrop fell to the pavement.

"You should leave him." Fang said tightly, glancing at her barely contained frustration. He realized with some shock it was directed toward him.

Max was silent for a moment. "I . . .can't."

"Why the hell not?" Fang asked, irritated. The rain thickened, falling steadily around them. Neither took notice of the increasingly wet clothing.

She shook her head, sighing, sudden looking distraught. "I don't know, Fang. I want to, I really do. But, I just . . .can't."

"That doesn't make any sense." He pointed out with frustration of his own.

"I know." Max sighed, sounding defeated. "I just don't know what I want anymore. Ari and Jeb must be doing something to me. Maybe putting some pills or tranqs in my food, making me obey without having any problems."

"I coulda told you that in the first place." Fang smirked.

She shot him a look. "Don't be such a smart alec. You know I don't like it." She became serious again. "So what should I do?"

Fang shrugged wet shoulders at her. "Get your own food, make sure no one touches it first. Refuse the food they give you, complain of a sick stomach or that you aren't hungry. Or you could go 'missing'."

She shook her head, sending raindrops flying from her wet hair. "No, they'd figure out I'd found out what they're doing. They'd go looking around for me."

Fang pondered over the situation a moment and then brightened. "I have an idea. I say we go find Ari and Jeb and beat the living sh--"

"Fang!" she exclaimed. "I hope you didn't talk to the Flock with a mouth like that. That's just what I need! A six year old mouthing off at an adult for who knows what reason!"

Fang grinned. This was the Max he knew. This almost made up for the rain pouring down buckets around them. "What can I say? You kinda have a free rein when you're the only one living in a fabulous bachelor pad."

"It's that run-down?" Max asked.

"Well, I can't say all of the mess was there previously." Fang said with a grin.

Max sighed dramatically. "Men. You just can't pick up after yourself, can you?"


She shook her wet head again. "Unbelievable. I can't imagine how hopeless you are without me around."

He smiled at first. But then, inadvertently thinking about what Ari said, he asked: "So . . . we're okay?"

Max looked at him quizzically. "Of course we are. When weren't we?"

Fang shrugged. "Ah, nevermind." At that moment, the bus pulled up. They both stood.

She looked over at him. "Well, I guess I have to go. Unless . . . you want to come with me?"

He regarded her silently. He was going to miss the old Max when she left. As bad as he wanted to go with her, he knew he wouldn't. He couldn't face Ari without causing trouble. As much as he hated to leave her alone with the Eraser, he had to. "Nah, I don't think I should. Besides, I'm not too sure Ari would be happy seeing me again so soon." She raised an eyebrow in question at him. He waved it off.

"Well, then. I'll see you around. Later." Max boarded the bus. It left after a moment and disappeared in the haze of rain. Fang was left alone, but somehow content.

Face down in the dirt she says, this doesn't hurt

She says, I finally had enough . . .

Face down in the dirt she says, this doesn't hurt

She says, I finally had enough . . .

Fang felt lighter somehow. It seemed as though the tattered blanket, the lack of cash, the cold apartment, and the spoils of someone else's dinner didn't matter now. Or, at least not as much. He woke the next morning and smiled merrily to himself. The scene only lacked the singing birds on the windowsill and the bright spot of sun in the sky. But reality was nothing compared to a fairy tale with a "and they all lived happily ever after" ending. This was probably as good as it got. He stood and stretched out the cramps in his back. Sleeping on hard floors tended to do that. He'd probably be more comfortable in a tree. Ah, well.

He tried to focus on the brighter points of life. At least he knew Max wasn't totally gone. He had that to look forward to. Fang left the old apartment building and made his way out of the slums of the city. He tried not to sulk and look like a totally druggie, but that profile seemed to fit him better than that of a "normal" person. Whatever that was.

He wondered where Max would be today. It was early, so maybe she was at the coffee house. He decided to go there first. Fang ran across the street, ignoring the blast of car horns and their cursing drivers. He peered in through the window and nearly broke his face smiling. But that wasn't like him. No, if Max saw him this happy, she'd think something was up. Fang carefully composed his expression, mild amused thrown in with a slight scowl, and entered the coffee house. Max was sitting in the same chair as the last time, back against the wall with a clear route of escape. Fang made his way gracefully among the table that seemed to be strewn across the floor.

Fang stopped quickly as he saw Ari join her. The amusement, or rather, the traces of it, disappeared fast. The scowl became dark. He unconsciously clenched his fists. Okay, Fang, just take a deep breath. A really deep breath, he told himself. No need to panic the people with random acts of violence. Just calmly walk out and wait. Then you can beat the crap outta Ari. He smirked tightly. See? Not that bad. Now, just turn around and leave. Maybe you won't have to stain the clean tiles with dirty Eraser blood. Fang tried to do as he had told himself, but the morning just got worse. Fast.

"Hey, Fangie," a cool voice said behind him.

What the hell is up with the Fangie crack? Honestly, can't he think of something better? Fang smiled a sticky sweet grimace. A sneer, really. "Hello, Dogbreath." he muttered. I know, I know, very original, but let's not scare bystanders.

Ari rolled his eyes. "Why don't you sit down and have a sip of coffee with us?" The challenge was clear in his ruddy eyes. Fang knew it wasn't the smart decision, but he sat away. Right next to Max. She shot him an annoyed look. A look that shouted: "Idiot! Leave before this turns into an all-out brawl!"

Fang simply smiled at her. It wasn't a normal smile. It was a cross between a smirk and a twitch in the corner of his mouth. It was a Fang smile. "Hey, Max. Nice to see you again. Get home okay?"

"Yes, I did. Nice to see you too, Fang." Max said tightly, clearly disgusted with the arrogant nature of men.

"Again?" Ari echoed, shooting a murderous glance at Fang.

"What? Is it illegal to see your girlfriend?" Fang shot back, relishing the outrage in the Eraser's eyes and Max's suddenly shocked expression.

"Girlfriend?" Ari repeated.

"Were you a parrot in another life?" Fang quipped.

"And I bet you were a real comedian." Ari growled.

"Temper, temper." Fang tsked. "Max, have you asked Jeb about taking him to anger management classes? I hear there's a real good one out somewhere in Death Valley. I think they use live targets as a stress reliever. Oh, but you would know about that, wouldn't you Ari?"

The Eraser's right eye was twitching. His massive hands were making dents in the table. Fang wondered how much more Ari would be able to take before snapping. Though he didn't let it show in his face, Fang was laughing hysterically. Max was struggling between a smirk and a frown. Her mouth wavered and she hid a smile as she sipped at her coffee. Ari released a huge breath through his nose and glared at Fang. If looks could kill . . . Fang mused silently.

"Well, I think I've outstayed my welcome. I really hate to eat and run, but . . . well, you know how busy New York is." Fang grabbed a napkin and bundled up the sweets on the table. He gave a small smile to Max and walked out the door. He turned down a back alley, eating his stolen breakfast. He'd have, oh, maybe two minutes before Ari came charging out of the coffee house, intent on ripping Fang apart. Fang seemed to have that effect on quite a few people. He noticed, with some amusement, that not even a minute had passed before Ari came charging into the nearest alley, the alley Fang was standing in. Fang pushed away from the wall he had been leaning against and faced Ari.

He sneered at him. "Hey, there's my favorite mutant." Fang laid on the sarcasm heavy.

"Just start saying your prayers, pigeon, you'll need 'em." Ari muttered.

"At least I'm no lap dog for Satan himself." Fang shot back.

Ari growled, tense. His hulking body was in a fighting stance and his fists were shaking with rage. That's when Fang spotted Max a few feet behind Ari, walking closer. Max, don't be like me and do something stupid.

One day she will tell you that she has had enough

It's coming round again

Max edged out from behind Ari and stood between the two males. She faced Ari first. "Ari, just how dense are you? How stupid to you think I am? Didn't you think I'd see through the tranqs eventually? Face it. Nothing you or Jeb does will get me to work with you, let alone trust you." Max looked over at Fang. "Fang, I swear to God, if you get yourself hurt, I'll kill you myself."

"Et tu, Max?" Ari muttered.

Fang shot Max a sidelong glance. "Oh, God, he's quoting Shakespeare. The whitecoats really are screwed up." he muttered. Max smirked, but kept her eyes trained on Ari. With a final roar, Ari lunged. Fang met the attack with a fierce kick. It was enough to stop Ari's charge and to make him stagger slightly. But, as before, Ari grabbed Fang's foot and sent him flying through the air. Fang flipped around and landed with his feet against the brick wall. Using the momentum, Fang thrust out away from the wall and slammed a fist into Ari's jaw. That sent Ari flying backward.

Fang landed lightly and caught Max's glance. She rolled her eyes. "Showoff." she muttered. She darted in and, like a mutant wasp, hit Ari left and right, kicking and punching every which way. The Eraser didn't know what hit him until he was flat on his back, dazed and breathless. Fang tried to keep the impressed look from his face as Max continued her onslaught. The Flock leader slammed her foot into Ari's side and Fang thought he heard a few ribs crack. Max, charged with her own excessive supply of anger, picked up Ari by the collar and shoved him into the brick where he slumped to the ground, finally unconscious.

Fang burst out clapping. "Bravo! Bravo! Encore! Encore! Do it again, that was so much fun!"

Max shook her head at him, smirking. "Nah, let's leave him. I still have a healthy supply of rage. Who else am I gonna vent it out on?" she replied. They started to leave the alley, both somehow lighter.

"Hey, stop it. You're starting to sound like me." Fang told her.

She elbowed him in the ribs. "Ah, stop it. You're making me blush."

Fang stopped and turned to her, gazing down at her intently. "Am I?" he asked quietly, stepping closer.

A smile wavered on her lips and her cheeks flamed ruby in color. "Um, yeah, you kinda are." she said lamely. He could tell she was kicking herself mentally. He reached out a hand and gently traced a fading bruise on her jaw line. Then he casually tucked a strand of blonde streaked hair behind her ear, though the action was far from casual.

"You know what this means, right?" Fang asked, drawing her close.

She visibly swallowed. "What?" she breathed.

Fang smiled and touched his lips to hers, a teaser. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled back, their faces inches apart. He kissed her fully this time, gentle and soft. The warmth tingled through him, addicting. He'd never felt something quite like this, and not just in the past two years. His life was crap. So was hers. Who could possibly know what two messed up Avian Americans could feel if they simply admitted the affection to the other, despite all of their rough spots, their scars both physical and mental, and their possibly doomed life.

But Fang wasn't thinking so much as relishing the warmth that boiled and flooded. For once in his entire life, Fang felt whole. Whole, complete, loved. The sensations were alien to him and it was more potent than the adrenaline rush or the fear of losing someone he cared for. The sweet bliss was uplifting, hopeful, and satisfying. So he wasn't all too disappointed when he was forced to draw apart to fill his lungs again. He was almost dizzy with the emotions, the high, coursing through him. Max was the same if not worse.

He managed a quivering smile. "It means . . ." he paused, watching Max's wild eyes and flushed face. "It means we go for a flight and cool off that blush. It wouldn't do it the Flock found out I'm turning you into another Fang. That's the last thing we need."

She completely deflated and Fang laughed. Actually, genuinely laughed. It startled him for a moment, and apparently surprised her too. But a scowl found a way into her expression. "You--you . . . kiss me and then you completely shrug it off like it never happened! Just what kind of boyfriend are you?!"

Fang smiled warmly, a real smile, and pressed his lips to hers again, watching her eyes close and her body still. The kiss was shorter than the one before but not without the same warmth. He pulled away for the second time and was beginning to miss the addictive warmth flushing through him. "One of a kind." he replied. "And I didn't 'shrug it off' as you so nicely put it. I just thought you'd like to look for the Flock now that you're back."

"Well, you certainly thought this out." Max said sarcastically.

"See, that's what I'm talking about. The Flock is going to pluck my feathers when they find out how much like me you've become." Fang teased. He wrapped an arm around her, pressing her to his side. "Now, seriously, about that flight. I haven't flown in awhile and I couldn't think of anything better than feeling the wind through me feathers with you beside me."

"But, Fang, in case you haven't noticed, it's morning. What are people gonna think if they see us flying past their window?" she asked.

"They'll think they're crazy and go back to sleep." Fang said with a shrug to show he didn't care. He looked at her intently, staring into the soft brown eyes.

She smiled and seemed to think about. "Well . . . okay." she said. "Are we looking for the Flock too?"

"Sure, if that's what you want." he said.

"Well, maybe not right now. C'mon. I thought we were going for a flight." Max pulled out of his embrace and spread wing. She shot into the air gracefully, soaring high to the clouds. Fang chased after her with a grin and a flurry of black feathers that glinted violet when the sunlight caught them just right. Together, they streaked past the skyscrapers and left the already hustling city behind. They flew as close as they could to the other, wingtips brushing gently.

Do you feel like a man

When you push her around?

Do you feel better now

As she falls to the ground?

Well I'll tell you my friend, one day this world's going to end

As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found

Right now, nothing mattered. Right now, he was alone in the sky with Max, flying freer than he ever had. Right now, his heart soared with every wing beat. Right now, he had never felt more alive.

A/N: So, tell me how good it was! 'Cause I know it's good! Also, how'd I do on the fluff? Too much? Not enough? On a scale of 1 to 10 rate me, okay? Thank you all for reviewing, I loved reading them! Please review and I'll love you forever! Well, I hoped you enjoyed reading this and maybe I'll write another Max Ride fanfic sometime. Again, thank you!