High School Ride by Xx-Erin-xX-AthrunxCagallifan

Category:Maximum Ride
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2009-01-17 19:14:44
Updated:2012-07-08 21:02:55
Packaged:2021-04-04 12:07:10
Summary:All human. Max and her mum and sister have moved to Arizona much to Max's dismay. She doesn't believe that Arizona will have anything to offer her, until she meets Nick Ride, Fang, and his friends and family who call themselves a 'Flock'

Table of Contents

1. Freshman 1
2. Freshman 2
3. Freshman 3
4. Freshman 4
5. Freshman 5
6. Freshman 6
7. Freshman 7
8. Freshman 8
9. Freshman 9
10. Freshman 10
11. Freshman 11
12. Freshman 12
13. Freshman 13 Summer
14. Freshman 14 Summer
15. Freshman 15 Summer
16. Freshman 16 Summer
17. Freshman 17 Summer
18. Sophomore 1
19. Sophomore 2
20. Sophomore 3
21. Sophomore 4
22. Sophomore 5
23. Sophomore 6
24. Sophomore 7
25. Sophomore 8
26. Sophomore 9
27. Sophomore 10
28. Sophomore 11
29. Sophomore 12
30. Sophomore 13
31. Sophomore 14
32. Sophomore 15
33. Sophomore 16
34. Sophomore 17
35. Sophomore 18
36. Sophomore 19
37. Sophomore 20
38. Sophomore 21
39. Sophomore 22
40. Sophomore 23
41. Sophomore 24
42. Sophomore 25
43. Sophomore 26 Summer
44. Sophomore 27 Summer
45. Junior 1
46. Junior 2
47. Junior 3
48. Junior 4
49. Junior 5
50. Junior 6
51. Junior 7
52. Junior 8
53. Junior 9
54. Junior 10
55. Junior 11
56. Junior 12
57. Junior 13
58. Junior 14
59. Junior 15
60. Junior 16
61. Junior 17
62. Junior 18
63. Junior 19
64. Junior 20
65. Junior 21
66. Junior 22
67. Junior 23
68. Junior 24
69. Junior 25
70. Junior 26
71. Junior 27
72. Junior 28 Summer
73. Junior 29 Summer
74. Junior 30 Summer
75. Read this please
76. Junior 31 Summer
77. Junior 32 Summer
78. SORRY!
79. Senior 1
80. Senior 2

1. Freshman 1

okay here is the first chapter of my new Maximum Ride fic! ^.^ Personally I love this one and I have high hopes for it! so enjoy! and REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW!

The sun beat down heavily on the top of our car as we sped from California to Arizona. I will say this once again: I. Do. Not. Want. To. Go. Argh! Why didn't my mum listen to me? Did she ask me if I wanted to move? No. Did she ask me if I wanted to leave all my friends behind and brave a new high school, halfway through my freshman year? I think not. Did she even bother to ask me how I felt about it? No way. Now here we were me, my twelve year old sister Ella and my mum. We were on our way to our new home in Arizona where apparently my mum would earn more money from her new job at her OWN Vet Clinic.

"Where is this place exactly?" I asked, staring out the window at the dying grass.

"Not far," Mum replied.

"Sure, sure," I replied. I sighed loudly and I saw Mum's eyes flick to me in the rear view mirror.

"Max, honey, I know you don't like this but I think this will be a good experience for you," Mum told me.

"Can't I go and live with dad?"

"Jeb is a busy man. Plus he suggested this. He said there was a great high school there." I rolled my eyes.

"Max, I'm going to miss my friends too but I'm looking forward to this," Ella said softly. I looked at her. I loved my sister. I was never annoyed with her or angry at her like some people were with their siblings. I smiled at her gently and she grinned back. "See, your smile is great. You know, I bet that on your first days guys are going to be panting after you. You're so pretty, I am very, very jealous."

Despite my sour mood, I giggled. Ella always knew how to make me feel better. True I was kind of pretty. I didn't look much like my mother and sister who were very much alike. Both had dark hair, tanned skin, brown eyes and Hispanic looks but I took more after my dad. I had brown-blonde hair which, every day was becoming more and more brown but I had my mother's brown eyes. I liked my eyes. They were very pretty.

"Okay Max, that's a better attitude," Mum laughed. "Now I have everything unpacked already so your rooms are set up. I hope you like what I've done."

"You know us well Mum, I'm sure they're great," I said. I got a bigger room here so I was glad. Mum had come down earlier with all our things and had everything unpacked ready for us. Then she came and picked us up from our goodbye parties and we started the trip down here.

An hour later we drove into the town where we'd be going to school. I saw so many people on the streets. I saw tonnes of kids. There were teenagers just chilling everywhere. I even saw some guys who were kind of cute.

"Wow… there are so many people," Ella murmured. I nodded in agreement, starting to miss all my friends already. I used to have a boyfriend as well. He was so cute. But we had to break it off due to my leaving. I would really miss Sam.

We drove out of the town and neared a forest. On the edge of the forest was a small, cosy looking house. I had to admit, this was great. We were near the forest. I love trees and animals. Especially birds.

"Welcome home girls," Mum said. She pulled up and we all climbed out of the car. I was still staring at the house when the other two started walking towards it. I followed them and we went inside.

"Now I know you only got here but-" Mum started. I raised an eyebrow.

"We have to go to school tomorrow, don't we?" I asked. Mum nodded.

"Sorry girls but I have to work and what better to do on your first Monday here then start school?"

"A lot of things," I replied harshly. Mum sighed.

"Well go and explore," she told us. Ella rolled her eyes at me.

"You are in a really bad mood today aren't you?" she asked as we wandered down the hall. I shrugged one shoulder and stopped at the door that had 'Max's Room' on it. I winked at Ella and opened the door and stepped in. The room was perfect, decorated with blues, reds, blacks and other awesome colours. I dumped my bag on my double bed and sat down.

A new life. A new start. Yeah right. What did this place have to offer that LA didn't?

"Fang!" A loud voice called. A handsome, black haired teenager whipped around. He was dressed entirely in black and had messy, longish black hair and a long fringe. His eyes were a dark midnight and sparkled lightly like stars. Standing beside him was another male of the same age with pale skin, strawberry blonde hair and pale blue eyes.

"Yeah?" the black haired boy called back. A girl with long red hair rushed up to them. She was dressed in a mini-skirt, black boots and a red tank top.

"Hi Lissa," Fang's friend said with a small wave. He stuck his hands into the pockets of his jeans and glanced at Fang from the corner of his eye.

"Hi Iggy," Lissa replied. "Say, Fang, I was wondering… well, tonight they're playing-"

"Sorry, no can do," Fang replied. "Mine and Iggy's parents are going out and we have to look after Angel and Gaz." Lissa's smile fell from her face and she frowned.

"Oh… well maybe next time then," she said. Fang shrugged casually and gave her a dazzling smile.

"Sure, why not?" he replied. Her face lit up with a smile and she blew him a kiss, winked at Iggy and raced back to her friend down the street. Iggy turned to Fang.

"Did you really mean that?" he asked.

"Did I really mean what?" Fang replied. He turned on his heel and started walking up to where two women were standing talking. There were two blonde children with them.

"Fang!" the little girl shouted. She had bright, innocent blue eyes and long, curly blonde hair. Fang bent down as she raced over to him. She threw herself into his arms and he picked her up and hugged her tight.

"Hey little Angel," he said. She wrapped her skinny arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. Fang laughed and looked sideways at Iggy.

"Hi Iggy!" Angel shouted.

"Hey," Iggy replied. Fang and Iggy walked right up to the women and the little boy. Fang shifted Angel in his arms and smiled.

"Hey Mum, hey Mrs Griffiths," Fang greeted.

"Hi Nick, Ian what have you been doing? You have dirt all over your jeans!" Ms Kingston exclaimed. Iggy smiled ruefully.

"Just mucking around with the others Mum," he replied with a casual grin. His mother rolled her eyes. Fang looked at his mum. She smiled at him with the midnight eyes that he also possessed.

"You're not covered in dirt," she noted. Fang shrugged.

"I'm the sensible one," he replied. "Remember?" His mum laughed and Angel played with some of Fang's long fringe.

"But you did have fun didn't you?" Angel asked. Fang chuckled and smiled at her.

"Yeah I did," he replied. She smiled brightly at him, looking up at him with her trusting, bright blue eyes. Fang looked down at the young boy with blue eyes and blonde hair.

"Hey Gazzy," he greeted.

"Hi Fang," Gazzy greeted. Iggy grinned at his little brother.

"What have you been up to little buddy?" Iggy asked.

"Not much," Gazzy replied, grinning innocently at his older brother.

"Uh huh," Fang and Iggy replied together looking at each other.

"I wouldn't believe that in a million years," Iggy said. Fang rolled his eyes. Ms Kingston looked down at Gazzy with a hard look in her eyes.

"Gary was playing with your chemistry set again," she said. Iggy chuckled.

"What did you blow up this time? Did you film it? And how come you didn't wait for me?" Fang laughed as Mrs Griffiths frowned at her eldest child. Fang's mother giggled slightly.

"Well I'll see you tonight Alicia," Fang's mum said.

"Bye Alice," Alicia said. Fang, Angel and their mum walked towards a car. Across the road from them people were moving around a building. Fang paused as he was putting Angel in the car.

"Hey mum, I thought no-one owned that anymore," Fang said, pointing at the building.

"Oh a new vet has come to town, she got a job there and now they're reopening it," Alice replied. Fang nodded with a slight frown.

"What's their name?"

"Valencia Martinez. I plan on going in to welcome her to the neighbourhood tomorrow. I heard on the grapevine-"

"Mum, gossiping is not nice," Fang laughed. He climbed into the front seat.

"I know son but anyway she has two daughters and one of them is your age," Alice finished. Fang rolled his eyes.

"I bet she's just like every other girl in this town, up themselves, flirty, tarty and obsessed with clothes and boys." Alice waggled a finger at him as they pulled out onto the road.

"Don't think like that. There's bound to be one girl out there who will strike your fancy."


I sighed inwardly once again. Mum had to take Ella to her school and I was left all alone in the high school office, waiting to meet my principal. I had been shaking slightly but I controlled that. I was determined to hate this school as much as possible. I was determined not to make any connections here so that I could go back to LA without any angst when my dad wanted to let me live with him.

"Maximum Martinez?" a male voice questioned. I turned and looked at my principal. I hated him as soon as my eyes fell on him. He was a sour looking man with a shiny, bald patch in his dark brown hair. His eyes were a watery blue framed with thick lashes. They were small and beady. He had a moustache the same colour as his remaining hair. His mouth was set in a scowl and his expression soured worse as he laid eyes on me.

"I prefer Max," I said politely, standing up and holding out my hand. He eyed it darkly and huffed before turning into his office.

"This way," he said stiffly. I frowned and followed him into his office. On his wall was a calendar showing January and the picture was of an attractive model in a scanty swim suit. Oh so this was what he was, a man who thought women were no more than toys? Stupid sexist pig.

"Maximum," he said darkly, turning to face me. I resisted the urge to glare at him. "I'm your principal, Mr Turner. This is your timetable. Your homeroom is room twenty-three B and this is your homework diary. Any questions?"

Yeah, why the hell are you a teacher if you're such a horrible man?

"No sir," I replied politely. A buzzer went off and Mr Turner's face turned even sourer. He pressed the button to the one on his desk, looking mad.

"Linda, this is not a good time, I'm with a student!" Mr Turner yelled.

"It's Vance, sir, he says it's important," a small voice replied. Mr Turner's face changed. He sat at his desk.

"Send him in then," he replied. He took his finger off and gave me a pointed look as if to say 'well go on little girl, there is a male coming in, he's so much more important that you'. I gave as polite a smile as I could manage and slipped out as a senior guy went in.

I sighed and the office lady gave me a sympathetic smile.

"He's like that," she said, guessing at the look on my face. I walked over.

"Where's room twenty-three B?" I questioned.

"In the back building honey," Linda replied. "Leave the office and follow the path around to the left. It's right beside the bottom oval." I nodded.

"You shouldn't let him give you crap just because you're a female," I said. "We girls are important too. We are just as strong as men. We're much more amazing as well." Linda laughed lightly.

"I know but I can't exactly do anything, he's my employer," Linda replied. "You had better get going, you're already slightly late. Have a good day." I winked and turned and left the office. It was so infuriating when men are like that. Well I would have to do something about it.

I followed the path and I passed the cafeteria. I glanced at it and then kept walking around. I kept walking and walking. Where the hell was the bottom oval? I saw it and then saw the building. I went in and walked down the corridors. Why was my homeroom so far from everything? Ugh. So annoying.

I found my room and glanced up. Yup, this was it twenty-three B.

I bravely faced the door of my new homeroom. I was nervous, the palms of my hands were sweaty and I was shaking slightly. But this should be easy. I mean, come on it's just starting a new school. No pressure, easy. Take it easy Max. Deep breaths. Come one, no-one is going to bite you.

"Okay, calm," I whispered to myself. "Go to your happy place Max. Breathe. Alright, ready? Yes... I think. Great now I'm talking to myself." I took a slow, nervous step towards the door when the sound of running footsteps roused me. I turned my head in time to see a guy my age racing down the corridor. He spotted me and tried to skid to a halt but his forward momentum dragged him forward.

"Shit!" he shouted. And the next second he slammed into me and we both went flying. Great, what a wonderful start to my first day. First, the principal is a sexist pig. Second, my homeroom is as far away from the cafeteria as physically possible in this school. Third, some stupid jerk just crashed into me, causing me pain and he wasn't moving.

"Hey!" I shouted. He raised his head. Okay first good thing, the stupid jerk is really cute. He has long black hair with a long fringe that flopped in front of his eyes. Oh his eyes. They were a beautiful midnight. They were the kind of eyes that got you lost when you looked into them because they were so deep. His face was tanned and my, oh my, he was so cute. But my positive outlook on his features was marred by the first words out of his mouth:

"What's the big deal huh?" he demanded. Oh even his voice was sexy but what an arrogant son of a gun. "Why the hell were you just standing in the middle of the corridor?"

"Well why were you pelting at full speed down here? Maybe you should try being on time!" I snapped back. Well what a wonderful first impression. Oh well, he was arrogant and that usually meant also sexist. That meant I hated him. Simple as that.

"For your information- Wait, why should I have to tell you why I'm late? Who are you anyway?" He sat back on his heels and studied me. "I haven't seen you around here before." His snappy tone was gone to be replaced by mild curiosity. He looked kind of bored actually.

"That might have something to do with the fact that I am new," I replied tersely, sitting up on my knees and picking up my bag. I went to grab the books that had fallen out but his hand shot out and grabbed them.

"Maximum Martinez," he murmured. He looked up at me, his face expressionless. "Interesting name."

"I prefer Max," I told him. I went to snatch my books but he held them out of my reach and held out his right hand.

"I'm Nick Ride," he said. "But everyone, and I mean everyone even my mum and most of the teachers, calls me Fang."

"Fang?" I asked, incredulous. Then I was curious. "Why?" He shrugged.

"I've had it for a while. It might have something to do with the fact that I came to school dressed as a vampire one day on a dare. That was when I was eight though." I actually laughed. Okay so maybe he wasn't so bad. Maybe his day had just started off bad. I shook his hand and then he stood up and pulled me to my feet. He dropped my hand and passed me back my books. I took them and dropped them into my bag.

"So did you just move here?" he asked me.

"Yeah," I replied. "Hey, shouldn't we go in?" He shrugged, falling silent. I studied him for a moment. We stood in silence for a moment and I felt like I had to make conversation.

"Hey, why were you late exactly?" I asked.

"Why do you want to know?" he asked. A smug look came onto his face. "Are you already deciding whether to stalk me or not?" I stared at him, fury boiled in my blood. Now he could have been Orlando Bloom's identical twin but it would not have stopped what I did next. I pulled my hand back and then slapped him. He stared at me.

"WHAT THE HELL?" he shouted. At that moment the door flung open and there stood my homeroom teacher. He looked like an easygoing man but right now his eyes were narrowed dangerously behind his red glasses. His eyes were a startling shade of green and his hair was messy and pale blonde.

"Mr. Ride, what is going on?" he asked.

"Ask her Mr. Varner," Fang hissed. Mr. Varner turned to me and surprise lit his features.

"You must be Max," Mr. Varner said. "Wonderful to meet you." He glanced at Fang. "I will deal with you during break until then, since homeroom is nearly finished, why don't you walk Max to her next class? After all you two seem acquainted already." Fang stared at Mr. Varner and then stared at me. I glared at him. What the hell? This stupid jerk? Walk me to class? This had to be some kind of joke.

"Sure," Fang agreed, giving me a dark look and then plastering a fake smile on his face. "What's your first class Max?"

"Uh…" I pulled out the timetable that I had folded and stuffed into my pocket. I pulled it out and glanced at it. "I have Extension English." Fang nodded until Mr Varner ducked into the room and then he smirked.

"Nerd," he smirked.

"You shut it," I snapped. "Now are you going to take me to my class room or not?"

"Yeah, you're with me and my friend Iggy," Fang replied, rolling his eyes. "Come on, we have to meet up with him first."

"Looks who's talking. You're in the class too." Fang rolled his eyes again.

I wanted to glare but I settled for a sour, martyr look and followed Fang as he strode out of the building. The siren sounded and suddenly the school was full of activity.

Fang and I walked towards a different building. Everywhere we passed, girls stopped and made eyes at him but he didn't notice. Hmm, maybe he isn't so sexist after all. Wow. But as for that guy… I glared in the direction of a tall, pale guy with strawberry-blonde hair, leaning on the building. His hair was spiked up and he was watching some girls pass. He was wearing jeans, t-shirt and denim jacket.

"Ig!" Fang called. The guy turned his head and I stopped in my tracks. That was his friend. Great.

"Hey man!" Iggy called back. He pushed off the building. His eyes landed on me, trailing behind Fang unhappily. "Uh… man, who's that?" He indicated me and then appraised me. I suddenly wished I wore baggy cargo pants instead of my tight, flared jeans. I also wished I'd worn a jacket over my sports t-shirt.

"That is Max," Fang said. He beckoned to me. I went to his side unhappily. I was a real martyr. "She's new and she's in our extension English class. I have to show her around today." I stared at him.

"You only had to walk me to my first class, not all day," I protested.

"I want to show you around all day," Fang said sarcastically. "How could I leave a helpless damsel alone to find her way?"

"I'm not helpless!" I glared at him and turned and stalked off.

"She's so annoying," I heard Fang mutter darkly. Iggy laughed.

"Come on, she's really cute man," Iggy said. "Good figure." I stopped dead in my tracks and they caught up with me. I did not like Iggy at all. I threw a glare at him but he ignored me. Fang sighed.

"This way," he said and turned and walked into a building. He took me to a class room and went inside. There were people already in the class and teacher who was straightening a stack of papers.

"That's Miss Elissa," Iggy told me. Fang titled his head towards her and then when I didn't do anything he grabbed my arm and practically dragged me up to her. Iggy sat down at a seat and threw his bag to the side.

"Miss Elissa," Fang called. She turned and smiled at him. I liked her. She was young and very pretty with a kind face. Her hair was ash-blonde and she had pretty hazel eyes. Her smile was warm and I must say she had great fashion sense.

"Hi Fang," she said kindly. "Who's this?"

"This is a new student," Fang said dropping my arm. "Her name is Maximum Martinez but she prefers Max." I smiled.

"Hi Miss Elissa," I said. She smiled.

"It's wonderful to meet you Max," she said kindly. "Your mum is the new vet isn't she? I just took my cat in to her yesterday. She's very good."

"Thankyou," I said. Miss Elissa smiled and looked at Fang.

"You have a good choice in friends," Miss Elissa told me. "Fang here will look after you." I inwardly swore several times and forced my smile to remain on my face.

"He's been wonderful," I agreed.

"You can take your seats. Any seat will do Max." She smiled at me again and as Fang and I turned I glared at him. He rolled his eyes.

"Honestly, I am ditching you ASAP," I hissed at him.

"Fine with me but I'll warn you. The girls here are not your type of people," Fang said. "I can tell just looking at you that you won't like them. They're the kind of girls that make men think that females are toys." Now that shocked me right there. It was as though he knew exactly what I hated.

His statement made me curious. Was he one of the very few good guys in the world? My Sam was one of those. Could it be possible that I was lucky enough to meet two of them? I shook my head and glanced at Fang as we took our seats.

"What?" he asked.

"You don't think the same as every other male on the planet?" I asked quietly.

"I like to think I'm unique," Fang replied with a fleeting grin. It disappeared so quickly that I didn't think he'd even smiled at me. "But I know what you're talking about and you can figure that out for yourself. That is… if you're willing to stick around me." This time I know he smiled but it went away just a slight bit slower than the first time.


"Attention please class," Miss Elissa called. We all fell silent and she began the lesson.

2. Freshman 2

Okay here it is! My new chapter! I apologise who how long it has taken to update because of so many reasons but now I am focusing on this, a Death Note Fanfic and other peices of writing to keep the creative juices flowing. Then when I'm done with this my next Max project will be a version of Fang because I need to do something until it comes out. There is a preview on my profile for you to read and let me know what you think.

Okay so let us be on with this!

Max was an interesting person, Fang had to admit. His first assumption when he'd heard about her was so wrong. His second assumption was very right. She was incredibly opposite to all the other girls in their year. She was a tomboy for sure and she had a tendency for violence when she was angry.

Personally, he thought she was pretty awesome. Iggy thought she was hot and that seemed to anger Max. Secretly, he hoped that she'd hit Iggy. That would be very entertaining.

As Fang met with Iggy and Max at the cafeteria he was interrupted from greeting them when someone's hands slipped over his eyes. He suppressed a groan, already knowing who it was.

"Guess who!" a teasing voice trilled.

"Hi Lissa," Fang replied. Max had an eyebrow raised and Iggy rolled his eyes. Lissa removed her hands and Fang turned. Her arms were folded and she was pouting.

"You're no fun," she told him. "Anyway I was wondering if you'd like to sit with me and Jess and Lil." Lissa's eyes were expectant. Fang glanced back at Iggy who was holding back laughter. Max seemed curious.

"Um… no," Fang replied. "I'd like to sit with Iggy and my new friend." Lissa peered over his shoulder and when she spied Max her eyes narrowed.

"Oh… well alright then," she said icily. Her eyes narrowed dangerously as she looked Max over. "I'll see you later Nick." She was definitely mad at him. She only called him by his name when she was mad. Fang suppressed the urge to laugh as she walked away angrily. He loved it when she was mad; it meant that she wouldn't talk to him.

"Well, Max, you should hang with us permanently," Iggy said as Fang turned back to them. Max raised her eyebrows questioningly. "You made Lissa leave without asking Fang out."

"Technically-" Fang interrupted.

"Technically nothing, she didn't press the matter for a change," Iggy interrupted in turn. "Max, you are a miracle worker." Max laughed lightly and titled her head.

"You don't like all the attention?" she asked Fang. He rolled his eyes.

"Let's just get some lunch and find a table," Fang replied.

As I sat with Iggy and Fang at lunch I was filled with some raging emotions. I did like hanging around with them. They were both easy to get along with when you got past all the obnoxiousness and I could see why the girls loved them. Also that girl she was in some of my classes. I really didn't like her. I could tell that Fang and Iggy had thin patience when it came to her.

"So, what are your afternoon classes?" Iggy asked me. There were a couple of other people at the table, some guys and their girlfriends.

"Spanish and chemistry," I replied. Iggy nodded.

"You might have chemistry with me," Fang said. He was watching me from the corner of his eyes. I shrugged.

"What about Spanish?" I questioned.

"Neither of us, sorry," Iggy replied. I nodded. That made two of my six classes today without them. That was okay. In fact better, that was good. I didn't have to put up with their obnoxiousness all day, everyday. But I wonder how many of all ten of my classes were without them.

I pulled out my timetable and asked. They compared theirs and I noted down my classes. I had three classes without either of them all together.

I had English, History and Drama with both of them; PE, chemistry and general science with Fang; Maths with Iggy; Spanish, government and geography with neither of them. So there you go.

But I had to admit, they were definitely slipping into the category of friends, something I really didn't want to happen. I didn't want any connections here. I didn't want to stay here. As soon as my dad was done with whatever he was doing he would offer for me to live with him. Brilliant! Then I wouldn't have to stay here and I could go back to my friends and Sam.

By the end of the day I'd realised that Fang was a pretty quiet person but he talked to me a fair bit. He liked black (kind of obvious) and he loved to play guitar. I guessed he may have been in a band but he didn't like to brag so he never said anything. I realised that he kept his emotions bottled up tightly. He didn't even talk with Iggy about some things. I was getting good at reading him by the time the siren sounded at the end of our chemistry class.

We went to homeroom in silence. It wasn't uncomfortable like most silences are. It was filled with things. I realised that Fang was easy to communicate with, with no talking. He could express what he wanted to say with his eyes but he didn't do it very often.

"So, how was your first day?" he asked me as we were let out of homeroom.

"It was good," I replied. "Thanks for today."

"No problem, sorry about this morning," he replied. I smiled and he smiled back. Another thing I noticed, when he smiled it was special because he didn't give real smiles very often.

Iggy met with us and we walked towards the gate together but we were interrupted when a little-girl voice shouted out with happiness.

"Fang!" the voice shouted. I looked up and froze. Running towards us was the most beautiful little girl ever. She had long golden curls and big blue eyes. She was so cute. She ran right up to Fang and he bent down and picked her up.

"Hey Angel," he greeted. Oh, what a fitting name.

"That's Fang's little sister," Iggy explained, seeing me watching. I grinned at him.

"She's so cute," I replied. Iggy nodded.

"I know." We went up to them and Angel greeted Iggy happily too and fixed me with a curious gaze. God she was beautiful. She was so adorable.

"Fang, is that your girlfriend?" she asked. I stared at Fang, mortified but he just laughed.

"Angel, don't be silly," he chided. "This is my new friend Max. Max this is my little sister Angel, she's six."

"Hi Angel," I said with a bright smile.

"Hi Max," she greeted enthusiastically. I had a little brother but he had a different mother to me. His mother was dead and I hardly knew him. He was seven and his name was Ari. And honestly, he had nothing on this gorgeous little girl right here.

"Is Gaz up there Ange?" Iggy asked. Angel nodded.

"He's waiting in the car," she said. "You and he are coming to our place." Angel smiled happily and the immediate area seemed to brighten some. Fang looked at me.

"Gazzy is Iggy's little brother, he's eight," Fang explained.

"Max! Maximum! Come on!" an impatient voice shouted. I groaned.

"That's my little sister," I said. "Not as adorable as yours." Fang chuckled.

"I guess you'd better go," he said. "So, see you in homeroom tomorrow?" He seemed expectant that I would hang with them again tomorrow. The idea was actually very appealing to me. I grinned.

"Sure," I replied. "Drama first off tomorrow."

"Oh joy, we're starting Romeo and Juliet," Iggy said with mock enthusiasm. I laughed. To tell the truth I liked Shakespeare. I smiled at them as Ella called impatiently to me again. I gave them a parting grimace then turned and walked away.

"Bye Max!" Iggy and Fang shouted.

"See yous!" I shouted back. I waved and then raced out of the school and over to my mum's car. I jumped into the front seat and threw my bag on the ground. Doing up my seatbelt I threw my mum a smile and then looked back at Ella.

"Wow, you're in a good mood, amazing," Mum laughed. I rolled my eyes. "So how was it?"

"Good… I guess," I replied. "I have two friends and they're in most of my classes."

"That's good, what are they like?"

"They're names are Nick and Ian but everyone calls them Fang and Iggy," I replied. I looked back at Ella. "How was your day?"

"Excellent, I met a girl called Monique and everyone calls her Nudge," Ella replied. "She's awesome and we're going to hang around together tomorrow." I smiled.

"Great," I assured her.

In the morning as Mum dropped me off at the school I was surprised to see Fang leaning against the fence just inside of the gates. He spotted me and nodded as a greeting. I gave him a smile and then strode to his side.

"Morning," he greeted.

"Same to you," I replied. "This is a surprise." Fang shrugged nonchalantly and we started walking together.

"I felt like it," he replied. "Ig went straight to his homeroom. Something about a girl… which one is his infatuation with this week?" We both laughed, though I was slightly ticked off. Iggy would soon learn that women weren't toys. I would make sure of it.

"Her name is Tess, she was going to help him with his maths homework," Fang said, snapping his fingers as he remembered. I rolled my eyes. Iggy was a con artist. He was good at maths. He didn't need any help.

Fang and I reached our homeroom way before the bell had sounded. Neither of us was late today. Wahoo! Surprise? You betcha!

I dumped my bag down and pulled some books from my locker and shoved the ones I didn't need back in. Funny, I felt like I was already used to this place…

Fang sat on his desk beside mine and waited for me to sit. I sat on my desk and met his gaze.

"Romeo and Juliet," he stated calmly. I could see the twitch of his jaw muscle. I don't think he liked the idea of studying that play.

"Apparently," I replied. "I like Shakespeare."

"He's boring."

"Oh come on."

"It's a fact. Deal with it Max." I rolled my eyes just as some girls walked into the room. They strode past us and giggled.

"Hi Fang," they all chirped in flirtatious voices.

"Yo," Fang replied without looking, he kept his eyes on me.

"I will prove to you that Shakespeare is not boring if you know how to enjoy it," I told him. He raised an eyebrow, a smirk appearing on his lips.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah." I stared at him with a hard expression and he peered at me through his fringe.

"How?" he challenged. That had me. How could I make him enjoy Romeo and Juliet? I pondered that thought for a moment as Mr Varner walked in.

"How do we usually study the play?" I questioned.

"Miss Alike makes us act out certain scenes," Fang explained as we both sat in our seats. "We juggle the characters until she finds one that she thinks suits us and then makes us act them out for the entire semester of study."

"I'll make sure you get Romeo," I teased. He scowled at me darkly and then a smirk appeared on his face.

"Then I'll make sure you get Juliet," he replied sneakily. I felt my face heat up and then I turned away angrily. This is what I get for making friends with an obnoxious boy!

Fang was silent until we were let out to go to first period. I glared at Fang and he chuckled in his own special way and shifted his bag on his shoulder.

"Come on Max," Fang urged. "If you don't suggest me for Romeo than I won't suggest you for Juliet. Deal?" I was about to answer when we were interrupted.

"What's this about suggestions?" a teacher questioned. Fang and I both jumped and turned around. "Fang, what are you talking about?"

The teacher was a very pretty woman with short, bobbing red hair and hazel eyes. She was dressed in a black dress that was very flattering on her.

"Um… Hi, Miss Alike. What were we talking about? Well…" He frowned worriedly and then he remembered me. "This is Max. She's a new student and she's in our drama class."

"Oh Max, it's wonderful to meet you," Miss Alike greeted with a grin. "So, you were talking about parts for a study of Romeo and Juliet right?"

"Well…" Fang and I replied together slowly. Iggy appeared at our side and frowned. The other students were streaming into the class room behind us.

"Were you?"

"Were they what?" Iggy asked. He was confused.

"Suggesting each other for the main roles in the play," Miss Alike explained. Iggy grinned evilly and Fang and I glared at him.

"I'm sure they'd love to play Romeo and Juliet," Iggy assured her. "Every part of that play." I don't know whose glare was worse: mine or Fang's. Either way, if looks could kill then Iggy would have dropped dead as soon as he finished his sentence.

"Really? That's wonderful," Miss Alike laughed. "We'll try you out today once we've spoke about the play. Come on, inside."

Miss Alike stepped into the room and the three of us followed her. Fang and I had our eyes on Iggy, who was whistling, his hands in his pockets. He did not seem at all worried by the fact that Fang and I were going to strangle him the moment we stepped out of the classroom.

It turned out that we didn't get a chance to try out our parts for the play so Fang and I didn't have to strangle Iggy right away but as we walked out of drama he was sure to step away from us as we stopped walking.

"Now guys, really," Iggy stated. "There's no need to employ violence. Can't we just forget about this?"

"No we can't," Fang snarled.

"Let's leave him Fang," I stated. When he looked at me I raised my eyebrows and winked. Fang arched one eyebrow and then smirked.


Iggy stared at us suspiciously. He was right to think that. We weren't going to let him get away with this and he knew it but we would get him when he least expected it. The three of us walked to second period with Iggy disappearing to go to his class while Fang and I traipsed down to the stadium for PE.

I stood with Fang while the teacher explained the rules of badminton and then he paired us off and Fang and I stood together and looked over at a girl named Brigid- who was in our homeroom and almost as infatuated with Fang as Lissa was- and a guy named Marcus who smiled and waved at me. I waved back, surprised and Fang chuckled.

"Loser," he stated under his breath but I wasn't sure whether I'd actually heard him. "My serve." I moved back as Fang served and then we got into the game. It was easy being paired with Fang, it was like we knew how to move around each other despite the fact that we'd only met yesterday. And he only made me pissed off at him a grand total of ten times through the entire period. But I was laughing at the end of the game when we won and slapped high fives.

Okay so maybe this wasn't so bad after all.

3. Freshman 3

I love this chapter. I've had most of this written for a while and couldn't quite figure out where to work it in but now I have and I am so glad because I love it heaps.

Songs: Sleep when I'm dead by Bon Jovi and Inseparable by the Jonas Brothers. Inseparable is sort of becoming my theme song for this story because for a while it's been the song that best fits Max and Fang apart from I'm Only Me When I'm With You so I decided that both of them would sort of be joint themes for this. Because Inseparable is sung by a guy it is more the theme, you'll understand why in this chapter.

Anywho I've decided that I'm going to make the story go for their four years of highschool, don't worry I won't exhaust all of my ideas and it won't be dragging and annoyingly long it'll just have maybe five chapters for each year, possibly more depending on what ideas hit me while I'm doing this. Okay so here we go. I'll stop talking now.

On the weekend, after one week reluctantly becoming friends with Iggy and Fang, Mum took Ella and I into town and it turned out that there were markets on today.

"Third Sunday of every month," Mum stated as she parked the car. "Listen I have two people to go to so you girls go and have some fun okay." We waved goodbye as Mum walked off and Ella pulled out her phone as it buzzed.

"Nudge is here!" she trilled. "Is it okay if-?"

"Go," I laughed and Ella beamed at me. I had spotted someone tall and dressed entirely in black who looked suspiciously like one of my could-and-might-be-friends. Ella hugged me and raced off down the street as I crossed the road and snuck up behind Fang but he heard my footsteps and whirled around.

"Max?" he said.

"Hey," I replied. "I really didn't think a place like this was your scene." I gestured around the quaint markets that could even be described as cute. Fang rolled his eyes and gestured to his little sister who was on a merry-go-round.

"I'm babysitting," Fang stated. Angel spotted me and waved with a bright smile on her adorable six-year-old face. "Unfortunately I'm on my own because Iggy and Gazzy's parents took them to Phoenix for the day."

"Oh what a shame," I laughed. "My sister abandoned me for her friends so I'm alone too."

"Wanna hang?"

"Whatever." We looked at each other and both of us smirked as the merry-go-round finished and Angel ran up to us.

"Hi Max!" she greeted brightly. I bent down and allowed her to peck me on the cheek and then she hugged me with her skinny arms. I picked her up and cuddled her.

"Hi Angel," I stated. "I'm going to stay with you and Fang today, is that alright?"


Fang was trying not to smile but he was failing dismally. His little sister had this hold on him. She could make him do whatever she wanted. I wondered if she knew that she had Fang- Fang, of all people!- wrapped around her finger. She had a powerful and dark gift.

The three of us walked around, Fang and I allowing Angel to have fun on the rides while we ate junk food and stood quietly for some time or talked about the people around us. We discussed whether someone looked like they would break someone's neck if the time called for it or whether someone looked too wimpy to be running a stall that sold fine jewellery.

It was… kind of nice.

And it was pissing me off. I wasn't supposed to be enjoying myself here. I was supposed to hate it with all of my heart so that Dad would let me come and live with he and Ari.

I bought Fang lunch, ignoring all of his angry refusals and then threatening to kick his arse if he tried to pay me back. He rolled his eyes and we launched into a heated argument as Angel watched us with wide eyes.

This happened to us a lot. One of us would do something that the other didn't like and then we would be arguing heatedly. Like when Fang bought me lunch in the cafeteria on Thursday because I had misplaced my wallet (had it stolen more like!) and I hadn't wanted him to. We ended up having a shouting match in the cafeteria and were asked to move it into the corridor. Iggy brought our lunches out and then we were forced to eat in the hall but neither Fang nor I apologised for the fight because we both believed ourselves to be right.

"You are so annoying!" Fang growled.

"So are you!" I replied. "This is payback for Thursday!"

"And I told you not to worry!"

"Do I look like I care?"

My phone buzzed then, putting a stop to our raging argument and I flipped the phone open and looked at the caller. Mum.

"Hey?" I answered.

"Max, I'm going to head home now. I'm with Ella and we're waiting for you by the parking lot," Mum stated. I sighed and nodded.

"Sure I'll be there," I replied. I closed the phone and look at Fang. He rubbed his forehead.

"I guess we'll see you later," Fang stated. I rolled my eyes, God he was annoying.

"Yeah, later." I hugged Angel and walked away. I looked back at Fang and he actually smiled and rolled his eyes. I smiled back. Yeah, him and all his multiple personalities.


"What do you mean a dance?" I demanded. Ella shrugged. We were back home and Ella was trying to pester me into going to a social dance thing with her that night that Nudge was going to.

"You know, like a disco, at the club," she explained. "Mum says we can go and it's underage."

"No," I replied. "It's not my scene."

"Nothing is your scene."

"I don't want to go." I folded my arms and looked away.

"Come on Max, it'll be fun!" Ella pleaded. "Come on, please come. You can meet Nudge and your friends might be there." I frowned at her big brown eyes and then sighed. I waved my hand and offered her a smile.

"Sure, why not?" I replied. She squealed happily and hugged me.

"Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou," she trilled. "I'll go pick what I'm going to wear." I watched her bounce away and prayed that Fang was not going to be at the dance.


"Okay girls, here we are," Mum said pulling up. She turned around and smiled at us. "You guys have fun, alright."

"We will," Ella and I chimed. I hate to admit it but I was excited now. This was sure to be so much fun. I could see people going into the club and I could hear loud music. Wow, it sounded like it was awesome in there.

Ella and I climbed out of the car and waved as Mum drove away. Ella looked me over and nodded with approval. I was wearing my black jeans which had bits of silver glitter in patches on them. I was also wearing my knee-high black boots. I had on a red halter top and a black, translucent shirt with long sleeves over the top.

Ella was wearing her black skirt, beige boots and silver one sleeved top. The one sleeve was long with a wide wrist. The side of the shirt that had no sleeve had a spaghetti strap to keep it on.

"You look great," I complimented. She had left her long hair down and thrown hair glitter in it. She wasn't wearing make up but Ella didn't need it. She was gorgeous.

"You look better," Ella sighed. "How come you can look so pretty without even trying?"

"You're gorgeous all the time," I assured her easily. Ella smiled. I wasn't wearing make-up and I just had my long hair in a braid. Ella smiled at me and we strode to the entry way and paid our entry fee.

"Oh this is so exciting!" Ella cried happily as we walked in. I laughed happily. I was starting to relax now, this would be, hopefully, an enjoyable evening. As we walked in the music stopped and applause started. The room was long and at the far end was a stage where the curtains were closing over a band.

"Oh," I said.

"Yeah, all the local bands are playing," Ella said. I nodded. "I wonder if anyone you know at school is in one." I shrugged casually. I had a strange suspicion that someone I knew was in one of the bands at school.

"Next up we have The Flock," the announcer said.

"The Flock?" Ella said. "Hmm, I wonder what they're like."

"Well we're going to find out, come on, let's move closer," I said. Ella and I started walking towards the dance floor as the curtains opened. A tonne of girls started screaming loudly. Damn, now I definitely knew who it was. Ella looked up curiously.


"Must be a cute lead singer," I murmured. "It doesn't matter, let's go over here." She looked up despite my best efforts to prevent it and stared. Her eyes were wide and sparkly.

"Wow, you were right Max," she murmured. "He is super, duper cute." I slapped my forehead and glanced up.

Sure enough Fang was there, holding an electric guitar and standing at the microphone. By God, he didn't look cute tonight. He looked gorgeous! And hot! And my, oh my, did my heart thump. He was wearing all black as usual. He was wearing black jeans, a black button up shirt which had the first few buttons undone and a loose black and silver tie. Over the top he was wearing a black, leather jacket.

He strummed his guitar and I felt myself stop walking and watch.

"Hey, hey, hey… yeah, yeah, yeah,
Seven days of Saturday
Is all that I need
Got no use for Sunday
'Cause I don't rest in peace.

"I Don't need no Monday
Or the rest of the week
I spend a lot of time in bed
But baby I don't like to sleep.

Ella and I looked at each other.

"I didn't know Fang could sing," I murmured looking back up at him.

"You know him?" Ella asked.

"Sure, he's in most of my classes. That's Nick Ride but everyone in the town knows him as Fang. Remember, I told you on the first day that I was friends with him?"

"Nudge told me about him… hey there she is!" Ella waved and a girl her age came over. She had pretty brown skin and big brown eyes. Her hair was a wild mane pulled up into a pony tail. She was very pretty.

Up on stage they were close to the chorus and the other guys joined in with Fang to sing. I noticed Iggy on rhythm guitar move close with Fang on the lead microphone.

"I won't lie to you
I'm never gonna cry to you
I'll probably drive you wild eight days a week.

"Until I'm six feet under
Baby I don't need a bed
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones rest
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

"Hi Nudge!" Ella greeted. "This is my sister Max."

"Oh Iggy told me about you," Nudge said.

"You know him?"

"Yeah his parents, Fang's parents and my parents are all really good friends," Nudge said with a bright smile. "Iggy thinks that you and Fang are funny together. He says you have a mutual attraction but you refuse to acknowledge it and cover it up with heaps of arguments." I stared at her. This girl was a motor mouth.

"So you're looking for some action
I got everything you need
Better keep your motor running
'Cause I was built for speed

"This ain't no slumber party
Got no time for catching Zs
If they say that that ain't healthy
Well then living's a disease.

"Um, that's… great," I muttered. Nudge went to speak again but Ella commanded her attention, much to my relief. I glanced up at the stage. Big mistake. Fang's eyes were trained onto me while he was singing. A smile split across his face making Iggy glance at me. Great.

"We're never going to die baby
Come on let me drive you crazy
We'll make every night another new year's eve.

"Until I'm six feet under
Baby I don't need a bed
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones rest
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

"Sleep when I'm dead, Sleep when I'm dead
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

They broke into an instrumental solo and Fang winked at me. I cracked a smile. As annoying as he was, he was my friend and I did enjoy being around him. Iggy grinned at me and fluttered his fingers in a wave and then went back to strumming. I waved back.

Across the room I noticed Lissa glowering at me. Her two friends were on either side of her, glaring at me. I ignored them and grinned brightly at Fang as he got ready to sing again. His voice was very entrancing.

"Seven days of Saturday
Is all that I need
Got no use for Sunday
'Cause I don't rest in peace
I was born to live
You know I wasn't born to die
But if they party down in heaven
I'll be sure to be on time.

"Until I'm six feet under
Baby I don't need a bed
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones rest
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Fang winked at me again and I felt my cheeks flush slightly and then I giggled slightly. Ella looked at me with a small smile. She was glad that I seemed happy. Her eyes were also trained on Iggy whenever she looked at the stage. Oh… okay, so now I had some matchmaking to do. Fine with me.

"I feel like I'm exploding
Going out of my head
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

"Till I'm six feet under
And they lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead.

"Sleep when I'm dead, sleep when I'm dead
Gonna live while I'm alive
Sleep when I'm dead.

The music jumped to a close and applause and screams rang out. I clapped along and even whistled for them. Fang let go of his guitar slightly and gave me a wave. If emotions were represented in colours on someone's face then Lissa's face would have gone ten shades of green.

"Hey guys! How's your night been?" Fang asked. Several shouts rang up and he grinned. It was slightly off. For some reason when he was on stage he acted. The real Fang didn't smile that much and he certainly wasn't that openly nice. Oh well.

"Okay well our next song is one that I know that the ladies love," he continued. "We're going to sing 'Inseparable'!" His eyes flashed in my direction again and I rolled mine back at him. That put his real smile on his face. His heart-melting one.

"He's brilliant," Ella said. I nodded. I had no idea that he could play guitar that well or sing with that kind of voice.

"Take my hand tonight
We can run so far
We can change the world to anything you want
We can talk for hours just staring at the stars
They shine down to show us…

"You know when the sun forgets to shine
I'll be there to hold you through the night
And we'll be running so fast, we can fly, tonight
And even when we're miles and miles apart
You're still holding all of my heart
I promise it will never be dark
I know… we're inseparable…

"We could run forever if you want
And I would not get tired
Because I'd be with you
I'll keep singing this song until the very end
We have done all these things

"You know when the sun forgets to shine
I'll be there to hold you through the night
We'll be runnin' so fast we can fly tonight
And even when we're miles and miles apart
You'll still be holdin' all of my heart
I promise it will never be dark
I know… we're inseparable

"I would give it up
Never let you fall
Cause you know we're inseparable
I would give it all
Just to show you I'm in love
Cos you know we're inseparable

"You know when the sun forgets to shine
I'll be there to hold you through the night
We'll be runnin' so fast we can fly tonight
And even when we're miles and miles apart
You'll still be holdin' all of my heart
I promise it will never be dark
I know… we're inseparable.

The curtains closed and I looked at Ella and Nudge who were busy gossiping happily. I smiled at them and tilted my head. Ella smiled.

"Go ahead," she agreed. I smiled and walked through the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lissa also making her way through the crowd. Honestly, that girl had serious issues. Fang didn't even like her, right? Well that's what it seemed like but I could have been wrong.

Fang, Iggy and the other guys from their band were congratulating each other. Iggy caught sight of me, nudged Fang and they made their way over to me. Just as Fang opened his mouth to say 'hi' Lissa pushed in front of me.

"Fang!" she exclaimed. Fang's eyes darkened and the smile dropped away from his face.

"Lissa, hi," he said.

"Hey," Iggy muttered, fake politeness in his tone. Lissa barely spared him a glance.

"So Fang, how about that movie? Now that you've played we can always get out of here," Lissa said. Her eyes were eager and I felt my stomach knot up. He agreed to go to a movie with her? When? What was going on here? Why the hell did I feel like ripping her head off her shoulders?

"Um, actually Liss, I was hoping to hang around and enjoy the disco," Fang replied. "So-"

"Next time?" Lissa asked. Fang shrugged.

"Ah, why not?" She smiled brightly and then shot me a dark look.

"So, that was some show boys," she said, still trying to make conversation. I was pleased the see the irritation in Fang's eyes. He glanced at me over his shoulder.

"Iggy, Nudge is over there!" Fang said. "I haven't spoken to her for ages. Lissa, if you'll excuse us. Come on Iggy, Max." Fang grabbed Iggy's arm and then as he passed me he took my arm with his spare hand. Lissa stared after us. I glanced back and I swear if looks could kill then all three of us would have dropped dead right then and there. I laughed at her expression. Fang and Iggy looked at me and then glanced at her.

"Oh god," Iggy said before laughing. Fang cracked a smile.

"Wow, she is pissed," he said. His voice was almost cheerful. I frowned at him.

"You didn't dead straight say no to her," I told him. "She's going to keep bugging you."

"I'll keep saying no. Simple as that." Iggy chuckled and punched Fang's shoulder lightly.

"If you got a girlfriend then she would have to leave you alone," he told him. Fang rolled his eyes and pulled a face. I laughed.

"No-one to your fancy?" I teased.

"Not at the moment," Fang replied.

"I know one," Iggy said. Fang let go of my arm and pulled Iggy into a headlock. He ran his knuckles over Iggy's head.

"What was that?" Fang demanded. Iggy didn't reply. He pushed Fang off him and they started mucking around. I rolled my eyes.

"Come on you two!" Nudge called. She and Ella beckoned to us. Iggy and Fang composed themselves and strode casually over. The five of us moved closer to the wall as a DJ started up some music and people started dancing.

"That was brilliant!" Nudge said.

"Thanks, little sister," Iggy said. Ella raised an eyebrow and Iggy put an arm around Nudge. "Well you see-" He started.

"Shut up Iggy," Fang laughed. "Iggy, Nudge and I were practically raised as siblings along with mine and Iggy little siblings."

"Fang's little sister is the most adorable girl in the whole world," Nudge crooned. I nodded in agreement. Angel was gorgeous. I loved her so much!

"Iggy's little brother is adorable, too," I agreed. Nudge nodded.

"Girls," Iggy said. "So, we haven't been introduced yet." Iggy looked pointedly at Ella.

"Oh right guys this is my sister Ella," I introduced. "Ella, these are my two friends Iggy and Fang."

"Who said I'm your friend?" Fang demanded. I pushed him playfully. He put an elbow on my shoulder and leant on me. Ella laughed.

"It's nice to meet you both," she said. Iggy and Fang nodded in agreement. I looked at Fang. "So who was that girl talking to you before?" Ella's brown eyes were curious. Fang, Iggy and I exchanged looks and laughed.

"She's Fang's biggest fan," Iggy chortled. "I admit she's a looker but-"

"Iggy, she's a complete disgrace to the female race," Fang said. "She dresses provocatively; throws herself at any and every guy and flirts all the time. I swear she may have possibly even slept with someone and she's only fourteen." Ella stared at Fang while Nudge and Iggy exchanged looks.

"You don't like girls like that?" Ella asked. Fang nodded.

"I like a girl who's confident with who she is, who's strong, who doesn't think she needs to dress… like that or wear an inch of make-up to get her guys-"

"Fang, shut up," Iggy said, rolling his eyes. I put an arm around Fang's neck.

"He's a good guy then," I said. "You've got taste my friend." Fang laughed and ducked out from under my arm.

"Whatever you say Shorty," he teased. I glared at him and the others laughed at us.

"You're only four inches taller than me," I snapped. Fang laughed and pushed my shoulder playfully. We all laughed for a while and then a new song started and Nudge and Ella squealed.

"I love this song!" they shouted together. Nudge grabbed Iggy's hand and the three of them went onto the dance floor and joined the dancing crowd.

"Your sister is a lot like Nudge," Fang said. "It's good that Nudge has someone like that. Oh and her being your sister is just awesome. We're all one big group then." I smiled.

"I like your band's name," I told him. Fang grinned.

"It is cool isn't it? I never told you what we called our group. Since you're part of it I shall tell you that we call ourselves 'The Flock', thanks to our mothers calling us 'a flock of trouble makers' so I named my band by it too." He was quiet, thinking. "Say, can you sing?"

"Um… I don't know," I replied, taken aback. "Why?"

"We need a female singer and well… you're perfect for the band and, well you're the only girl I could stand to have in it. It's my band and I'm inviting you… if you can sing, of course." I laughed. He stared at me expectantly. I raised an eyebrow.

"What?" I asked.

"I want you to sing so that I can tell if you're good enough," he explained. I blushed turned away, folding my arms.

"No," I replied. He sighed.

"I'll convince you eventually." He looked at the others. "What do you say to escaping from here? There's a café next door so you wouldn't be too far away from Ella." I frowned.


"I don't like crowds. Plus Lissa is kind of spoiling my good mood," Fang explained. I smiled.

"Sure, why not?" I replied. I signalled to Ella who just shrugged and kept dancing. Fang and I manoeuvred through the crowd and we went to the door. The security guy stamped our hands so that we could come back in and we burst out of the building.

"Ah fresh air!" Fang sighed and closed his eyes. I rolled mine at him and looked to the left. There was a café there and it was open for another few hours. Fang and I walked up and stepped inside. I looked around and spotted an empty table by the windows that looked out over the botanical gardens behind the building.

Without even speaking, we both walked over and slipped into the seats. A waitress came over and smiled brightly.

"My name is Lucy and I'll be your waitress for this evening," she explained, handing us a menu each. "Call me when you're ready." I smiled at her as she strode away and fished in my pocket for my wallet but Fang shook his head.

"I'm paying," he told me.

"Nope," I replied. He rolled his eyes.

"Look, Max you paid last time so now it's my turn. Deal?" I frowned but nodded and he gave a victorious smile. "Order whatever."

I glanced down at the menu and pondered. I wasn't that hungry but I could definitely go for some death-by-chocolate mud-cake and a thick-shake. Fang chuckled and I looked up at him.

"What?" I demanded. He grinned unexpectedly and I blushed.

"If I brought any other girl here they would be staring at the low-fat desserts or the salads," he chuckled. "But your attention is being controlled by all the calories on the chocolate options." I rolled my eyes.

"I don't care what I eat," I told him. "I burn it off really easily. I have a very fast metabolism." Fang shook his head in amusement.

"We're ready to order!" he called. Lucy came over with her notepad and pen.

"What can I get you?" she asked. Fang smiled.

"I'll get the double-chocolate and caramel mud-cake and a strawberry milkshake," Fang told her. "Max?"

"Death-by-chocolate mud-cake and a chocolate thick-shake," I told her. She nodded and scribbled it down.

"Anything else?" she asked. Fang looked at me.

"A bag of chocolate-chip cookies, they're her favourite," he told her. Lucy made an 'oh-my-gosh-that-is-so-adorable' face and wrote it down.

I blinked and smile appeared on my face. I can't believe he remembered that my favourite food was choc-chip cookies.

Lucy smiled and walked away to get our orders. I stared at Fang.

"How did you remember?" I asked. He shrugged casually.

"I just did," he told me. "No big." I shrugged but secretly I did think it was big. I mean Sam remembered things about me but not until we were going out. When we were just friends he forgot so easily and then he had to remember as my boyfriend.

Lucy brought over our cakes, drinks and the cookies and left us with a bubbly, 'enjoy!' and walked away. She glanced back at us slightly and I suddenly realised that she thought we were on a date.


"Chill, don't think about it," he told me absently, picking up his fork and starting to eat his cake. I followed suit and we chatted about class and homework. We spoke about our family and friends and about people at school.

"Your sister is pretty cool," Fang told me as I reached for another cookie. I smiled and broke off part of the cookie and dipped it into my thick-shake. It tasted pretty good actually. No-one's cookies were as good as my mum's but these would do.

We had ordered two bags of them by now and more drinks. We'd been here for ages I think but I wasn't sure how long exactly.

"Angel is the most adorable little girl ever," I told him. Fang laughed.

"She idolises you." I smiled, that comment made me feel really good.

Outside I heard a horn beep and we both turned and looked. My mum's car was out the front. It had beeped. Fang looked at his watch and showed me the time. Ten? Jeez we got carried away here. We'd been in here for about three hours.

"We can get talking when we want to," Fang chuckled. "Cheque!" Lucy brought it over and Fang paid and gave her a small tip with a smile. God, what was with him tonight? So many smiles.

We walked out of the café and Mum waved to me. We strode over and she leaned over to the passenger seat and smiled.

"Mum this is Nick, also known as Fang, Fang this is my mum," I introduced.

"Hi Fang, it's nice to meet you," she smiled. "Come on Max, we need to get going." Ella waved from in the backseat and that's when I noticed Nudge and Iggy waiting on the path behind us.


"I met them. Come on Max." I rolled my eyes and Fang chuckled in that way of his.

"Okay," I sighed. "See you Fang."

"Yeah, bye Max," he replied.

"Thanks for… dessert." He grinned at me and I waved at Iggy and Nudge. Then I gave Fang one last smile and climbed into the car.

4. Freshman 4

Another chapter that I adore and there is another song in this chapter and before you all freak out, yes it is by the Backstreet Boys but in this story Fang sings it which makes it a good song despite the cheesiness of the lyrics but the whole point is that when Fang sings it he is trying to make the scene cheesy so understand that I went searching for the corniest lyrics that I could and, of course, I found them in a song by a boy band.

And I would like to ask anyone who read Hold Me Close, to vote on the poll on my profile and I would like to propose a competition for someone to design cover art for Hold Me Close. The prize will be that (should I decide to) the possible sequel will be dedicated to you and I will feature your arts on my profile and DA and on Max-Dan-Wiz if you approve. When you do your art, you can email it to me (see profile for address) or if you upload it to DA send me a link! Thanks so much, I look forward to your entries ^.^

Okay let's get on with this chapter.

"Okay, since Nicholas is not very familiar with the script I will have the pair of you create and improvised and adlibbed version of the scene where Romeo asks Juliet for a kiss," Miss Alike stated. I looked at Fang and he growled, I swore I heard him say 'It's Fang…' under his breath but I wasn't too sure.

"Ready?" Miss Alike asked.

"Whatever," Fang and I replied in unison.

We were in our Tuesday morning Drama class which, today, was extended because the school board had a meeting that morning and we missed out on some of our class and because first period was study for the seniors it was important to extend it.

The whole class was watching as Miss Alike tried to familiarise Fang and I with Romeo and Juliet. We were so going to kill Iggy, he reminded Miss Alike that Fang and I wanted the roles, which we didn't!

Miss Alike looked at Fang and I struck a model pose which just made him want to laugh and he counted to ten before deciding how best to try and be Romeo. Okay… that line sounds even weirder than I thought it would. Fang… be Romeo? I'm going crazy.

Fang then threw himself down at my feet like a beggar.

"Juliet! Juliet!" he cried in an overly dramatic way. I ended up laughing and so did the rest of the class.

"Romeo was slightly more romantic about it," Miss Alike instructed, trying not to laugh. Fang stood up and groaned.

"Seriously, I can't do this," he said. "Give it to Dylan, he can act." Dylan looked like he wanted to be given the part but Miss Alike shook her head at him and he looked disappointed.

"I know you can do this," she stated. "Look, Romeo fell in love with Juliet as soon as he saw her. All he wanted from her was a single kiss to last him until he could see her again. He wanted to charm her and make her love him too. Just pretend that you want to make Max love you, how would you go about it?"

At first Fang just stared at me, looking disgusted and I glared at him. Then he sighed and decided to actually take on the advice. Then his eyes lit and he left the stage area and went to the costume rooms.

"Nicholas, where are you going?" Miss Alike demanded.

"Okay, for starters I wish you'd call me Fang but since you won't, at least call me Nick!" Fang shouted. There was a rummaging sound. "And second, I'm doing what you told me to." Then he returned and he was wearing a black cloak and a hat.

And holding a guitar.

"Nick?" Miss Alike was frowning.

"I'm dressing like Romeo," Fang explained, gesturing to the clothes. "And I'm improvising but doing what I would do if I wanted to catch a girl's attention."

Fang talked the most in drama class. He loved Miss Alike and I think he actually really loved the class too. Not because it was a bludge but because he liked acting… just not Romeo.

Then Fang strummed the guitar, which was strangely in tune (probably because of him no doubt). I raised an eyebrow at him. He smiled at me and hummed.

"You don't run with the crowd
You go your own way.
You don't play after dark
You light up my day.
Got your own kind of style that sets you apart
Baby, that's why you captured my heart.

I heard the sighs from the girls in the audience and when I looked at Miss Alike she was smiling happily. Then I remembered that I was supposed to be Juliet trying not to be charmed by the ever-charming Romeo and turned away, rolling my eyes but Fang walked around in front of me, a gentle look on his face.

"I know sometimes you feel
Like you don't fit in.
But this world doesn't know
What you have within.
When I look at you I see something rare
I rose that can grow anywhere
And there's no-one I know that can compare.

I turned and walked and sat down on one of the fake, low garden walls and raised my eyebrows at Fang as if "and I'm supposed to care, why?". He didn't seem deterred.

"What makes you different
Makes you beautiful
What's there inside you
Shines through to me
In your eyes I see all the love I'll ever need
What makes you different
Makes you beautiful to me…

Before I could respond he continued, moving closer to me and looking at me strongly and I guessed that Juliet would be looking kind of flattered by this point and I looked down bashfully and then up at him from under my eyes lashes.

"You got something so real
You touched me so deep
You see material things don't matter to me
So come as you are
You've got nothing to prove
You won me with all that you do
And I wanna take this chance to say to you.

"What makes you different
Makes you beautiful
What's there inside you
Shines through to me
In your eyes I see all the love I'll ever need
What makes you different
Makes you beautiful to me…

I slipped off the wall and stood near to Fang, and he closed his eyes and hummed as he plucked the chords before continuing.

"You don't know
How you touched my life
Oh, In so many ways I just can't describe
You taught me what love is supposed to be
It's all the little things that make you beautiful to me…
So beautiful…

Fang stopped and looked at me earnestly. Okay the boy could act, well, so could I for that matter.

"Fair, fair Juliet," he stated and he moved his guitar to one hand and took mine with his other. I blushed automatically and was glad, Juliet would have blushed. I looked at Fang as Juliet might gaze at Romeo when she realised that she might very well fall in love with him.

"Yes, dear Romeo?" I replied.

"Please, favour me one thing. I shall not see you for many a nights from this and I cannot bear it without a reminder of you. Shall you permit me a token?"

"What token?"

"A kiss."

We stared at each other and I could see that Fang was fighting laughter as strongly as I was at that point. Oh please let it end soon before we ruined it by cracking up.

"Romeo, I shall permit thee one kiss," I stated. Then we both paused. We were so not going to kiss.

But we were off the hook when Miss Alike started clapping and everyone else clapped along with us. Fang leant the guitar against the wall after hastily dropping my hand and then both of us started laughing. Iggy was at the back of the class, red in the face from trying not to laugh. We bowed and then left the stage, Iggy burst into laughter and when we sat with him the three of us couldn't stop laughing.

"That was brilliantly done," Miss Alike stated when we were finally wiping tears from our eyes and clutching our sides but not laughing. "You both embodied the emotions of Romeo and Juliet very well. Nick, well done for remembering that I had said 'improvised', it was fantastic. I think I'll leave you two with Romeo and Juliet but first I want to try a few other people."

Fang and I looked at each other, incredulous. She was leaving us as the leads? Oh man. I prayed to god that she wouldn't make us kiss each other. Double, no triple yuk!

Fang sighed. "Well at least we get to watch other people try and best us," he chuckled as only Fang can.

I smiled as I realised that. "Nobody can best us," I laughed and then we smacked fists together. "By the way, you're still dead Iggy. But expect it when you least expect it." Iggy actually looked worried and shifted away from us slightly.

When the bell sounded, Fang and I escaped with Iggy before Miss Alike could corner us about being Romeo and Juliet for the entire semester. When we were outside, the three of us burst into laughter again.

"Oh man, you two are so pathetic!" Iggy laughed. Fang and I stopped laughing and stared at him. We glanced at each other and stepped towards Iggy. Iggy didn't notice. Fang looked at me and I nodded then he pulled Iggy's arms behind his back and I pulled out the fabric marker that I'd brought.

"What the hell are you two doing?" Iggy demanded.

"Punishing you," Fang stated. "You are not allowed to remove your shirt all day."

"That is not fair! What are you going to do?" Iggy sounded worried. I pulled the cap off the marker and started writing. When I was done I admired my handy work and Iggy looked down at his chest in horror.

"That is so not true!" he stated.

"Yes it is!" I laughed. Fang released Iggy who desperately tried to rub the marker off. He stalked off in a huff to the toilets to try and wash it off.

"I didn't realise he'd be so upset about the truth," Fang sighed, shaking his head. I laughed.

"Neither did I," I replied. "Thanks for telling me that by the way, it was perfect."

"No problem." Fang smiled slightly and we walked off to our third period class together. And what did I write on Iggy's chest? I'll let you know when it has taken full effect on the student body and the rest of the flock.


We walked out of the school that afternoon and down the street. I was going to watch movies with Fang that afternoon until Ella and Nudge got back from their excursion which wasn't until later. Mum had said that I could hang out with my friends and she'd pick me up after she got Ella and Fang invited me to come to his house to watch movies and have dinner.

A few girls walked past us and turned back curious at Iggy's shirt.

"Who's Ella?" one of them asked. Fang and I stifled our snickers as Iggy turned red and ignored the question. Iggy glowered at us.

"I'm going to kill you two," he said as he pulled a jumper out of his bag and put it on over the shirt. He'd been wanting to all day but Fang and I hadn't allowed him to but now that school was over he was allowed.

As we walked along the sidewalk, Iggy's mum pulled up near us.

"Hi kids," she greeted.

"Hi Alicia," Fang said. "Have you met Max?"

"No I haven't," she replied. "Hi Max, it's nice to meet you. I'm Ian's mother, Alicia."

"Hi," I replied. "Bye Ig."

"See you," Fang added.

Iggy glared at us, rolled his eyes, waved and opened the car door. Gazzy, Iggy's little brother, waved at us from the back seat. Fang and I waved back at him as the car pulled away from the curb.

"He could never stay mad for long," Fang chuckled.

"Unlike you," I felt inclined to add.

"Unlike me," Fang agreed. I laughed slightly and adjusted my bag on my shoulder as we continued along the streets. Fang knew the town by heart so he took me along a few of his shortcuts to his house.

It was a nice house, white with a white fence. So cliché but it was pretty. The garden was filled with roses and climbing vines and I loved it on sight. There was a birdfeeder near the side of the house under a leafy tree where a white bench sat. Further down the yard, sort of at the back behind the house was another tree with this one had a swing tied into it. One of those swings you see girls being pushed on by their lover in chick flicks.

"Welcome to my home," Fang stated, opening the gate.

"It's nice," I told him. He rolled his eyes at me. The door was flung open as soon as Fang shut the gate behind him and Angel ran out and Fang bent down and scooped her into his arms like the loving brother he is. He even let her give him a kiss on the cheek.

"Hi Max!" Angel trilled when she spotted me. Fang let me take her for a cuddle and then I put Angel down and the three of us walked inside while Angel gushed about her day, the words pouring out of her so quickly that we had to struggle to hear them all.

We kicked our shoes off behind the door and Fang shooed Angel into the lounge room where she had been playing with her soft toys and, with an amused smile to me, he led me down the hall to the furthest back room in the house.

"This is my room, just dump your things in here and I'll give you the grand tour," Fang explained opening the door that had a poster of Bon Jovi on it.

"You really like Bon Jovi," I stated.

"Love them," Fang replied. "I really like music from the 80's, I feel it is the best music in history. 70's, 60's and 90's are okay but the 80's are the best."

"I like the 50's," I stated putting my bag down with Fangs near his shoe rack. "Whoa your room is neat." It was true, everything was organised into its proper place. His wardrobe door hung open revealing all of his black clothes but there were some reds and blues in there too and I think I spotted one green button up shirt.

"It has to be or I'm not allowed to keep my TV, laptop or surround sound stereo in here," Fang stated. "If I lose any of those I'd be dead bored and besides this is where I record. It's sound proofed, courtesy of my dad." He gestured to the far end of the long room where there was a wooden section of floor and his instruments were all over there as well as his laptop which was hooked up to one of the amps.

"This is cool…" It was so much better than my room. Fang had a window seat beside his bed and near to the stage part of his room there was a set of French doors that opened into the garden. He had a bookshelf filled with the kinds of books I like to read and movies that I love too. He had posters of musicians and movies on his walls and I was pleased to see that there wasn't a single bikini-clad female in sight.

"Done assessing?" Fang asked. I turned to him and rolled my eyes.

"Sure," I replied. Fang led me out and showed me around the house to make sure I knew my way around and then he grabbed a bunch of food from the kitchen where his mother greeted me enthusiastically with a hug and kiss on the cheek, saying I was welcome whenever I wanted.

"Your mum is heaps awesome," I said as Fang and I lugged cans of soft drink, bags of chips and lollies and packets of chocolate into his room and dumped it on his bed.

"Yeah, she is pretty cool," Fang admitted not-too-reluctantly, kicking the door shut. "Go and pick a movie, I'll turn the TV on." He changed it from his X-box setting to the DVD player and I brought 'Death Note' over.

"What is this?" I asked.

"There are three of those," Fang replied. "And an anime."

"You like anime?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I've never really had the chance to watch any." I looked at the cover of the live action. "It's in Japanese?"

"We can put the English subtitles on or watch it with the English voice-over if you want." Fang was looking at me curiously. "Want me to lend you the anime and manga? I think you'd like Death Note."

"What is it about?" I questioned, intrigued by the pictures on the cover.

"Light Yagami, perfect ace student, discovered a notebook dubbed Death Note and inside it is written a set of rules, the first being 'the human whose name is written in this note shall die'. Does it interest you?" Fang was smiling slightly. "It's brilliant."

"Okay, you've converted me, let's watch it. English subtitles, I like the Japanese language," I stated. Fang grinned and put it on. We flopped on his bed and ate junk food while we watched. We ended up watching the first two when Alice came in with our dinner and Fang put on the third one.

"But Light and L are dead and the Death Notes have been found, what is this one about?" I asked, brushing away the tears that had welled up in my eyes at the end of the second movie and eating a spoonful of pasta.

"Don't you wonder what L did with the last twenty-three days of his life?" Fang asked. I blinked.

"Oh! Cool, all about L then. I prefer Light, even though he was psycho he had a fair point in killing criminals," I stated. Fang frowned at me.

"You've got to be kidding! What he was doing was wrong!" Fang stared at me incredulously.

"The crime rate dropped when they were afraid of Kira killing them. It was peaceful."

"Peace that's brought around by fear and death isn't really peace," Fang stated, holding the remote. "It's a sick and dark version of it. A world can't work through fear, it would eventually break down. L was trying to prove that killing is wrong no matter the reason or who it is."

I shrugged. "Fair point but still, no criminals-"

"There will always be criminals, Max." Fang tilted his head. "I'll allow L to convince you himself." He pressed the play button and 'Change the World' started. We only got partway through it when Alice called down to us that my mum was here.

Fang grabbed a bag, put the third Death Note movie, all ten anime DVDs and all of the manga books in there and gave it to me as we left his room.

"Watch them and then tell me you agree with Light," he said as we walked out to the front door.

"We shall see," I stated and smirked at him. Fang rolled his eyes and smirked back at me. Mum smiled.

"Thanks for keeping Max out of trouble," Mum sighed.

"No problem," Alice said. "She and Nick spent all afternoon in his room watching those Japanese movies of his anyway."

Mum raised her eyebrows at me and then smiled.

"Thank you anyway," she said. "Come on Max." I smiled.

"Bye Alice," I said and Angel ran out of the kitchen. I hugged her.

"Bye Max! See you soon!" Angel trilled.

"Bye Angel," I said and kissed her cheek. I straightened up as Fang took Angel's hand. "See you."

"Yeah, bye," Fang stated. He offered me a small smile and I smiled back at him and left with Mum. I got in the car and Ella grinned at me from the back seat.

"Hi Max," she said. "How was your afternoon with Fang?"

"Amusing," I replied. "How was the excursion?"

"Boring as. I honestly don't know why they insisted on taking us to that boring museum." I chuckled. I could feel Mum's questioning looks but I wasn't going to acknowledge them. I knew what she was thinking and she was dead wrong. So wrong!

We pulled up at home and Ella went to her room to change but I helped Mum unpack some groceries and sure enough she turned to me with a questioning look.

"No," I said before she could ask. "Fang is my friend."

"Okay then," Mum said agreeably. "I just thought, you know, you only just broke up with Sam. You need to take a little more time before moving on." I felt a pain in my heart at the mention of Sam. I missed him so much. Then I realised how close I was becoming with Fang and Iggy and the rest of the Flock and realised that I was doing what I said I wasn't going to do. I was becoming attached to this place.

But before I could reply, Ella came out of her room frowning at her phone.

"Hey Max, how come Nudge says that Iggy has something about me written on his shirt?" Ella asked. I blinked and then started laughing. "It says 'Hi my name is Ian Griffiths and I worship my goddess of beauty Ella Martinez'. Max?" I couldn't stop laughing at the look on Ella's face. Okay so Fang and I stretched the truth but Fang said that Iggy had told him he thought Ella was really pretty.

I wiped tears from my eyes and turned to Mum.

"You're right," I said to her. "I'm going to go and call Sam right now." I turned and walked to the office and locked the door and went and sat down by the phone to call my ex because I missed him more than words could say.


Fang leant back on the wall as he sat on his window seat and looked out at the stars. He strummed his guitar thoughtlessly, humming a random tune softly. Then the strumming began developing into a song and Fang paused and went back and played it again.

He hummed as he played it and eventually managed to think up some words. He grabbed a sheet of music paper and wrote the start of his song down. He finished it within the hour and then finetuned the guitar music. He took it over to his other instruments and played around with a beat on the drums (for Damen, their drummer) and a melody on the keyboard (Iggy would play that) and he managed to find a way to include another guitar for their bassist Steve. He'd get Nudge to play the flute for them, the song needed a flute.

There was just one problem with the song. It was for a girl to sing.

Fang sighed and looked at the lyrics with frustration. He have to find a way to get Max to sing and then if she was good to convince her to join his band. This song was so good and he really wanted Max in the band.

Fang ran a hand through his hair, messing it up even more than usual and found himself smiling slightly. Two weeks ago he would never have dreamed of wanting any of the girls he knew in his band except for Nudge but now that he had met Max he had re-evaluated his opinion of girls his age.

It was a pleasant change and Max was pretty cool. Fang thought he could get used to having Max around.


I smiled slightly. "Yeah, I miss you too Sam," I stated.

"I love you, Max," Sam said.

"… I love you too," I whispered but for some reason it sounded wrong. Sam hung up and I put the phone back on its stand and leant on the desk, resting my chin on my hands, troubled. I frowned and went to my room but that didn't help as there was a picture of me and Sam on my bedside table.

Frustrated, I picked up the frame and pulled the photo out and sat it inside one of the drawers and then laid the frame on my bedside table. I'd put a different picture in there later, maybe one of me and Ella but it felt wrong having Sam there. I wasn't with him and he was in LA, I was here. I had the face the fact that I might not be going back there if my Dad didn't finish what he was working on soon so I needed to hide Sam away until I could be sure we would be together again.

Call me crazy but that felt a lot better.

I apologise for my obsessiveness but I am in love with Death Note and making Fang like it too was just me being evilly obsessed ^.^

5. Freshman 5

Okay firstly I have to apologise to those who were confused by the Death Note subject in the last chapter and to the one person that I know I spoiled it for but also to anyone else that I spoiled Death Note for. I apologise, I won't do something stupid like that again.

If I'm not mistaken this is the fifth chapter of the story which means that each year probably will be much longer than five chapters (yay)!!!!! ^.^ My request for cover art still stands and only two people have voted on the poll. I'm tossing around ideas for a sequel but I need to know what everyone who read the story thinks so.... (shrugs) we'll see but if I do write one, I will dedicate it to the person who designs me the best cover art!!! ^.^ Please and thankyou!!

I love the last line in this chapter, I think it's really cute.

"You two are fantastic!" Miss Alike trilled. Fang and I looked at each other with the same exasperated expression. I used to love Romeo and Juliet but now it was seriously killing me.

Guess what, this is now the end of week four here in the-place-I-had-been-desperate-to-hate and Ella and I were going to be staying at Fang's place tonight with the rest of the Flock for a movie night get-together. I had replaced that photo but it was of a photo of Fang and I that Iggy had taken during a muck-around afternoon in Drama when Fang and I had dressed up in the most ridiculous costumes that we could find. We were both laughing in the photo and for some reason, despite the weird hat I was wearing, I loved the picture and Iggy had given me a copy.

I also had other photos of the members of the flock. I changed my picture board slightly. I left up some photos of my LA group but the Flock took up most of the space. Yeah, I was definitely settled in Avondale, Arizona, something I hadn't even meant to do. But… I was happy, which surprised me.

"Next year, I am going to suggest you for the leads in the school production!" Miss Alike continued, ecstatic.

"Leads?" Fang asked. "But sophomores never get the leads. It's always seniors and juniors who get them."

"You're good enough actors, I think you'll manage," Miss Alike stated, waving her hand. Fang and I tried not to groan. I didn't want to take the lead in a school play. The bell went then before she could promise us auditions for Broadway and we escaped with Iggy.

"Next thing you know people will be queuing up for our autographs," Fang stated.

"Yeah, I know," I replied.

"Honestly, I think Miss Alike is right though," Iggy stated. "As ridiculous as it sounds, you're both really good."

I stared at Iggy with wide eyes.

"What?" he asked.

"Is that what the aliens told you when you took off your tin foil hat?" I asked. That set Fang off laughing.

"Oh she got you good man," he laughed. Iggy rolled his blue eyes and glared at me.

"I'm serious."

"Sure you are," Fang and I said in unison.

"Fine, don't believe me." Iggy folded his arms and ignored us. Fang then looked at me.

"While we're on the subject of show biz," Fang stated.

"What?" I asked warily.

"How about you sing for me?"

"No! Absolutely not, Fang." He'd been trying to get me to sing for a while and I had no idea why. "Why do you keep pressing the matter?"

Fang looked away from me while he answered. "I wrote a song but it's the kind of song a girl should sing," he explained. "I don't want anyone else singing it."

"It's a good song," Iggy stated rejoining our conversation. "It's the first song that he hasn't thrown away as soon as he finished it." Fang grimaced and looked at me again.

"Please Max," he said.

"Did you just say please?"

"Yes I did."

I looked at Fang and groaned. "Sure, alright. Tonight I'll sing for you but only if its while we're okaying Singstar."

Fang nodded. "Alright then, I agree with that."

We were walking back to homeroom for the end of the day and Lissa stopped us in our path and Fang almost groaned. I didn't bother being polite. I did groan and Iggy grinned at me. Lissa shot me a dark look so I shot her the bird.

"Why do you hang around with such a bitch?" Lissa asked Fang while glaring at me. Fang opened his mouth to reply but I stopped him.

"Because this bitch isn't one that hangs around him like a bad smell when he doesn't want her around," I stated. Lissa flushed.


"Fang doesn't like you, he doesn't want to date you and Iggy and I hate you. Get lost." I glared at her and she glared at me, huffed and stalked away, furious.

"I wish you weren't so crass," Fang stated. "But thankyou for that."

"But she'll just delude herself into thinking that Max is trying to steal you from her and that she's the one you really want," Iggy said as we started walking.

"Maybe so but at least she left us alone," Fang stated. Iggy walked away from us and Fang and I went to homeroom together. It seemed like the longest five minutes ever. When Fang and I finally rushed outside I took a deep breath.

"Freedom!" I shouted.

"For two days and one afternoon," Fang reminded me. I rolled my eyes at him.

"If it's freedom then it's freedom regardless of the length." It was Fang's turn to roll his eyes and he even added a little headshake too. We met up with Iggy and started walking from school. Nudge and Ella would already be there, their school was closer than ours so it was just us three until the party was ready to start.

"Got everything?" Fang asked, taking my overnight duffel bag from me without my consent.

"Fang!" I complained.

"Nup." He poked his tongue out at me and I raised my eyebrows. "What?"

"Never mind." I let him carry my bag even though I really wish he wasn't. I was perfectly capable of carrying it on my own. It made me feel weak when people insisted on doing things for me. Fang knew I hated it and that's why he was doing it.

"Got the horror movie?" Iggy asked.

"You betcha!" Fang laughed.

"Which one?" I asked.

"The Grudge," Fang stated.


"Number three." I raised my eyebrows and smiled. "You weren't expecting that were you?"

"No," I replied.

"Oh man, I have been dying to see that!" Iggy crowed. "You rock, man." He and fang slapped high fives and I shook my head at them. Boys. I would never understand them.

We reached Fang's house and went inside and then we were bombarded by the kids. I hugged Angel and Gazzy and then Nudge hugged me in greeting. Greetings were exchanged and everyone talked over each other. And you know what? I loved every minute of it.

Before watching any movies, Angel and Gazzy wanted to play Monopoly. Angel and Gazzy each got to play with Ella or Nudge because of how young they were so there were five pieces moving around. I must say, placing Fang and I against each other in even a simple board game is a bad idea. In the end nobody won because I threw the money at Fang because he was beating me and then he tackled me and started tickling my feet mercilessly.

He'd discovered my ticklish spot in drama when I'd stood on a feather scarf in drama and started giggling like a school girl. And he had used it to his advantage several times now.

I tried to kick Fang off but he's heaps stronger than me so it was futile. Eventually Fang looked at me.

"Concede?" he asked.

"Yes," I sighed.

"You wouldn't last long under torture."

"You shut up. I'll discover your ticklish spot soon and then we'll be evenly matched."

"I guard that secret with my life. I doubt you'll find out." I glared at him and Fang helped me up and we discovered the others had packed up Monopoly and Iggy was putting on the first movie, Gazzy's choice, Narnia: Prince Caspian.

"It's an okay movie," Iggy decided, flopping in one of the arm chairs. Nudge and Ella sat on the three seater with Angel and Gazzy and Fang and I flopped into the love seat, glaring at each other light-heartedly.

We went through a couple of movies and then Alice and Peter (Fang's father) came home with Chinese and they ate in the lounge room with us while we watched I am Legend. Fang and I had abandoned the love seat to them so I was leaning on the last recliner where Gazzy was sitting, my knees bent up and Fang was leaning against them, his eyes turned towards the roof. He was humming along with the music in the movie.

The movie ended and Alice and Peter left and Iggy picked up the last movie that Gazzy had chosen. Eragon.

"That wasn't very true to the book," I muttered.

"Not it wasn't," Fang agreed. "For a movie, it's good."

"But for Eragon, it isn't so good. It would have been better as a mini-series for each book." We looked at each other and smiled. Now that Fang's parents were gone we reclaimed the love seat and Fang swung his legs up and leant on the arm. I glared at him.

"Move," I stated.

"Nah-uh," Fang replied. I growled and he shrugged. I turned and pulled my legs up and laid them over Fang's. He glared at me.

"Can you two not start this now?" Iggy asked.

"Yeah, the movie's starting!" Gazzy protested.

"Sorry, mate," Fang replied. I shifted my legs down beside his and he rolled his eyes at me and we watched the movie. I loved the book that this movie was derived from and the movie was huge let-down for me but I still loved watching it for some reason.

As the credits came on, I automatically started singing along with Avril Lavigne without even realising it until I saw Fang smirking at me and then I clapped a hand over my mouth.

"I guess we don't need to play Singstar," he stated.

"I hate you," I growled.

"Hey, you're the one who started singing with the credits," Iggy pointed out.

"Wow, Max, you're such a good singer!" Nudge gasped.

"Told you she was," Ella said smugly. I shot her a dark look. Stupid traitor. Angel smiled angelically at me.

"You sound really beautiful, Max," she stated. Gazzy nodded.

"You could be in Fang and Iggy's band!" he exclaimed.

I looked at Fang who had sidled up and was now looking at me.

"Will you join Max?" he asked.

"I don't know," I replied slowly. "How much will you pay me?"

Fang rolled his eyes. "Seriously, Max."

"Okay, seriously, I'll think about it. I mean I've always wanted to be in a band but I'm not so sure about it. Singing in front of all of those people…"

"We'll ease you into it," Iggy promised. "We need your voice, Max." Both boys were looking at me almost pleadingly and I sighed.

"Sure, fine, whatever," I replied.

"Thankyou!" Iggy shouted and Fang smiled at me.

"You won't regret it," he promised.

"Sure I won't," I replied.

After that the younger two went to sleep in Angel's room and Nudge and Ella brought out all the pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and mats and Iggy, Fang and I moved the furniture out of the way so we could set up our sleeping area.

Iggy set up his things on the three seater lounge which was, surprisingly, long enough for him to sleep on comfortably. Nudge and Ella made a soft bed between the two recliners and Fang and I pushed our pillows up against the love seat and sat there to watch the Grudge 3 which made me shiver at parts. So much scarier than the first two. Fang never got frightened by movies, lucky. I however, seemed to be easily frightened by horror and thriller films, it annoyed me so much.

When the movie ended we flicked the lights off and talked for a short while. Nudge and Ella were too scared to sleep at first but by the time Iggy's soft snores filled the room, both of them were fast asleep but I was still wide awake.

I was lying on my side, staring at the wall. Then I needed to sit up because I didn't feel like lying down.


I looked at Fang. He propped himself up on one elbow. When the movie had finished, he'd shifted to the edge of the love seat so that neither of us felt uncomfortable, this was the first time we'd slept close to each other. Last time he'd been sleeping on the three seater- Iggy hadn't been able to stay the night because his mum had wanted to take him to LA at three in the morning- and I'd been on the floor by the love seat so we hadn't been as close as we were this time and we'd only been friends for a month so… awkward.

"What?" I asked quietly.

"What's wrong?" Fang was frowning at me. It was so annoying. Like a said, we'd only been friends for a month but we knew each other pretty well.

"Nothing," I lied but Fang just arched an eyebrow at me.

In truth I was thinking about my dad. I was upset that he hadn't answered any of my calls about coming to live with him so over the last two weeks I had just lost hope that he was going to call back. But I didn't want to tell Fang that, it would make me seem like a stuck-up bitch who didn't want to stay with he and the others.

"Hang on," Fang said. He left the lounge room and I heard movements in the kitchen and then I heard a microwave whirring and a packet crackling. I was tempted to go and see what he was doing but I was comfortable and didn't want to move.

A few minutes later Fang came in with a plate of chocolate-chip cookies balanced on his forearm and a steaming mug in each hand. I jumped up and grabbed the plate before he dropped it and sat down. Fang handed me one of the mugs and I sipped it.

"Hot chocolate!" I whispered.

"I thought you'd appreciate it," Fang chuckled.

"I do, thankyou," I told him. Fang smiled and took a cookie and dipped it in his mug before biting it.

"I take it you don't want to tell me what's bothering you," Fang stated and I nodded. "That's okay but I thought that this might be comforting for whatever is upsetting you."

"Very thoughtful." Fang rolled his eyes but a flicker of a smile graced his lips before it disappeared and he drank some of his hot chocolate. We sat there in silence for a moment as the sounds of the sleeping flock filled the room.

"I know I wasn't very… nice, when I first came here," I started. Fang looked at me, amused.

"But you're sorry now because you've gotten to know me and you like me now? Yeah, I kind of guessed from the fact that we've been friends for a month now."

I chuckled. "No, I just wanted to say that… well, while I still miss LA, I'm glad I came to Avondale."

"How much do you miss LA?"

Damn, he'd called my bluff. I didn't answer and Fang made an 'mm hmm' sound. I looked at him but he didn't say anything until he'd finished his hot chocolate.

"It's like that then?" he asked.

"No," I assured him. "It isn't."

"Good. It was really hurt Angel, Gazzy and Nudge if you left." I nodded. "I think even Iggy would be sad." I frowned.

"And you?" I questioned. Fang shrugged.

"You know," he said, lifting and dropping one shoulder. That was it. I looked away from him and finished my hot chocolate, trying not to smile. Fang always closed off if anyone broached his emotions and wanted to know how he felt. It reminded me of how I was. I didn't like talking about my emotions so it had taken me a lot of courage to tell Fang what I had just then.

"Thanks for the chocolate and cookies," I told Fang. He shrugged.

"No problem." He took the plate and mugs to the kitchen and I don't remember him coming back because I fell asleep as soon as he'd left the room.


Fang strode back into the room and saw Max slumped down in her covers, fast asleep. Fang gazed at her peaceful face for a few moments, not realising what he was doing and then he shook his head.

"Stop it," he hissed at himself. He checked on the others and crept down the hall and peeked into Angel's room. She and Gazzy were curled up together under a bundle of blankets and Fang smiled despite himself. They were so adorable.

Then he went back to lounge room, his eyes darting to the windows, an instinctual reaction he had. He always checked for danger. He wasn't sure why but it was just how he was. Nothing else to it really.

Fang slipped into his sleeping bag and pulled one of the quilts over him and he rolled onto his side and his eyes slid onto Max's face again and he studied her for a long while, unable to look away until he finally slid into the darkness of sleep, a soft smile gracing his face without him even realising it.

6. Freshman 6

Okay here's the next chapter!!! God I'm having so much fun writing this now! I've had so many brainwaves and I'm getting closer to the parts that I am dying to put in! In other words their summer vacation! I've had it planned out for a while now so I'm really excited for you guys to read it so I'll try and get to it asap!!!

But for now we have chapter six! ^.^

"If we go into the whole concept of the book then we'll see that Ralph has the… ability to be the same as Jack," Fang explained, leaning back in his chair with a casual elegance that had some of the girls in our English preening and batting their eyelashes hopefully. I resisted the urge to scowl at them.

"And if we delve into the character of Ralph then we would understand that the only reason he is not like Jack is because he knows that he could be like that and he refuses that part of himself," Fang continued.

"Very good, Fang!" Miss Elissa stated, clapping her hands together and beaming at him. "That is exactly it. Ralph knows that if he let himself he would be the same as Jack, and that is proved with Simon's death and Ralph's reaction to it. Thereafter Ralph fights savagery and tries to be who he was brought up to be: a polite, British boy."

Brigid raised her hand and Miss Elissa nodded at her.

"So are you saying that Ralph is not at fault for Simon's death?" Brigid asked.

"Does anyone want to explain their feelings on that?" Miss Elissa asked. "How about you Max?"

I frowned. "I suppose that they are all at fault for Simon's death," I decided. "Jack started the war dance and sent them into a crazy frenzy, as Piggy said, and they were frightened but none of them had to join. In fact, Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric didn't have to stay. They could have left if they wanted. So they do remain partly responsible for it but Jack was the main instigator."

Miss Elissa nodded and smiled. "Very well reasoned Max. Jack is most at fault but each boy is responsible in some part because they all killed Simon."

"But how do we know Ralph actually touched Simon?" Brigid asked and I tried so hard not to groan. Fang glanced at her, interested. I'd never seen him look at a girl like he was interested before… it kind of irked me.

"It says that they attacked him," I pointed out.

"It also says it was hectic," Fang reminded me. "But Max is right, Ralph was part of it. His reaction the next day proves it. He knows he had a hand in Simon's death and he is truly guilty." The last part was for Brigid and she blushed under his gaze and looked at her notes, embarrassed.

Fang was top of our English class, something that I hadn't known until Iggy told me. Fang had an apt understanding of literature and Miss Elissa adored listening to his interpretations of books. For once, I think I actually topped Fang when I asked if we could compare our English grades. He seemed impressed by mine but his were really close.

"Also, the diplomatic reasoning that Ralph used towards the end of the novel is important," Miss Elissa stated. "Why is that so, Miranda?"

Miranda looked up from her nails and then gazed at her notes. I don't know how that bimbo got into the advanced class but she had and now we had to put up with it.

"Uh… because he's the real leader?" she said, making it sound like a question.

"You idiot!" Dylan groaned. "It's important because it proves what Fang was saying about Ralph knowing that he can be different from Jack. He was trying to bring about a peaceful end to the conflict through words rather than actions. It's how all conflicts should be solved. Instead of invading countries and bombing we should be talking."

Miranda huffed and went back to gazing at her manicure. Fang rolled his eyes in annoyance but looked at Dylan and gave him a stiff nod. Fang and Dylan didn't hate each other per say but they didn't get along either except in class where they backed each other up because they thought kind of similarly.

"Thankyou Dylan but could you refrain from insulting your class mates," Miss Elissa requested. "Alright, so we know that Ralph wants to be diplomatic about the whole situation but it ends in Piggy being killed by Roger on Jack's orders and with a manhunt for Ralph being staged. Sam and Eric are tortured into revealing Ralph's whereabouts. How is this significant? What does it mean? Your homework for tonight is to write your responses to Sam and Eric's betrayal and then continue on to interpreting the last few chapters of the book. Class dismissed."

The bell sounded about a minute after we'd finished packing up so Fang and I slipped out of the classroom as I shoved Lord of the Flies into my bag.

"William Golding had some interesting ideas," I stated.

"He did indeed and it's interesting how many ways people find to think of them," Fang agreed. "I bet you our English Final will be mostly Lord of the Flies."

"And Macbeth."

"Oh yeah. That doesn't leave room for anything else then."

"Finals are really close now," I stated. "Only three weeks and they are upon us."

"Then three more weeks and freedom of summer vacation," Fang sighed. I grinned and nodded.

Believe it or not but I've been here for almost the rest of the year now. It's half way through March, Finals start second week of April and end halfway through may. Then we have three weeks of unimportant work in class and summer is here! I can't wait.

Fang and I met up with Iggy who was flirting with Tess. Fang and I hung back wearing exasperated looks as Iggy finished up with a wink and Tess scribbled something on a scrap of paper and slipped it into his hand with a shy smile.

"Iggy, you're shameless, you know that?" Fang asked when he finally joined us.

"Am I?" Iggy chuckled. "Yeah, I suppose I am."

I rolled my eyes. "Come on Ig, lunch," I stated, gesturing towards the cafeteria. We walked over together, Iggy talking about his plans for his date with Tess while Fang and I pretended to listen.

"So, Spring Fling," Iggy stated. Fang and I froze.

"What?" Fang asked, eyeing Iggy like he was from another planet. Iggy shrugged. "I thought we agreed no Spring Fling."

"Yeah but I think I want to go with Tess," Iggy stated. "You know… I actually kind of like her and if all goes well then I'll ask her to be my girlfriend…"

"Whoa man," Fang stated and he and I exchanged a glance. "Max, this is serious, Iggy's thinking about not being such a flirt anymore and sticking to one girl."

"Wow," I gasped. "I never thought I'd see the day." Iggy looked kind of embarrassed.

"You know, I'm fifteen, I think I should probably have a steady girlfriend," Iggy explained. Fang and I exchanged a look, wondering what was going on with Iggy. He'd been quieter than usual and now this? Something was up.

"Iggy, is everything okay?" I asked gently.

"What? Yeah, I'm just… thinking, you know," Iggy stated. I searched his expression was signs of deceit but his light blue eyes were clear. "So, if I go to the Spring Fling, will you come Fang? Max?"

"Spring Fling is so not my thing," I stated.

"Mine neither," Fang agreed.

"Please guys, I'd feel so much better if I knew you were coming," Iggy pleaded. Fang and I looked at each other and sighed in unison.

"Sure," we agreed together. Iggy grinned.

"Thanks, guys."

We started back into the cafeteria and I was thinking that I was really going to regret agreeing to go to the Spring Fling. Then a worse thought occurred to me: I was going to have to wear a dress which meant dress shopping.


"Spring Fling isn't until May, we have to pass Finals before we're even allowed to go," I grumbled. Mum just rolled her eyes at me and Ella and Nudge giggled. "I don't want to go dress shopping."

"Look Max, do you even know anything about dresses?" Nudge asked.

"No," I growled.

"She's never worn one," Mum stated and Nudge stared at me with her bright brown eyes. She looked astounded.

"You've never worn a dress?" she asked.

"I didn't plan to either until Iggy made me agree to this." I scowled. "I hope Fang is as uncomfortable as me."

"He's going to be wearing a suit and he wears them for his gigs sometimes," Nudge laughed. "He'll be fine."

"I hate you. All three of you." Mum and Ella rolled their eyes and Nudge just smiled at me.

"We'll make you look gorgeous! I'll even do your hair and make up on the night," she promised.

"Do I have to?" I asked.

"Yes," Ella replied. "Of course you have to. Spring Fling is the dance. Unless you're a senior, in which case, Prom is the dance."

"I hate dances…" I folded my arms and looked at the windows of the dress shops we were passing. "Why do I have to buy a dress now?"

"We're not buying yet," Mum stated. "We're grabbing catalogues and browsing the selections. Look, there are girls from your school. It's what you're meant to do. Right, I'm going to talk to my friend Janice in that formal wear shop about what she recommends and you girls can go and look around." Mum walked into a dress shop and I tried to turn and leave but Ella grabbed my arm.

"Stay with us Max," she stated.

"I really don't want to," I stated.

"You made that clear when your Mum said what we were doing," Nudge replied. I rolled my eyes as they dragged me towards a small boutique. My phone buzzed and I pulled it from my pocket. A text from Fang. Save!

I flipped it and opened the message.

Fang: Hey, watcha doin?

Me: I'm getting dragged into dress shops to decide what I want to wear to that stupid dance.

Fang: Spring Fling is ages away.

Me: Trust me that chain of logic is not working. Can you come and save me? Please?

Fang: Do I have to? I mean… dress shopping!

Me: Why do you think I'm asking?! Please!

Fang: Eh… We'll see…

I growled and snapped my phone shut and tried not to notice Nudge and Ella looking through a book with colours and styles in it.

"Do you want a long or a short dress?" Ella asked. I just glared at her.

"It's not Prom," Nudge stated. "We'll go with a shorter dress but not too short, that wouldn't suit Max."

"Don't I get any say?" I asked.

"You don't want a say," Ella stated. "You wish we weren't doing this."

"That doesn't mean I don't want a say," I replied. In ten minutes Mum had joined us and had a bag full of catalogues.

"Come on girls, we'll go to the food court, get something of the chocolate persuasion and convince Max that she'll look gorgeous in a dress," Mum stated. I rolled my eyes but went with them, glad to be out of the dress boutique.

We found a table outside of a café and Mum ordered us all thick shakes and chocolate cake and she spread out the catalogues on the table. She, Ella and Nudge oohed and ahhed at the dresses while I scowled and wished Fang wasn't so annoying.

Just as Ella opened another magazine and I finished off my second shake, I saw Fang walked through the mall, his hands in his pockets and looking casually hot like he always did. Wait, did I just say that? Forget I said it, it was ridiculous. The other girls' gossiping in the change rooms was getting to my head.

"Fang!" I called and waved. He spotted me and nodded, causing several nearby girls to sigh at the casual way he did it, his fringe flopping over his eyes in a way that every single girl in the school (even the seniors) agreed was 'so cute'.

Fang reached us and smirked at me before looking at Mum.

"Hey Doctor Martinez," he greeted. "Ella, Nudge."

"Hi Fang," Mum said. She fixed me with a suspicious look. "I don't need to ask why you're here."

"Hi Fang!" Nudge and Ella chimed. They were too happy and easy-going to care that I asked Fang to bail me out. They probably knew I'd do it eventually anyway.

"So, dresses?" Fang asked, his eyebrows raised at the multitude of catalogues that my mother had gotten. "Jeez, what is it about dances that do this to people? I mean, it's just Spring Fling. Prom, I understand. It's the graduating dance. It's, dare I say it, kind of special. But Spring Fling happens every year."

"That's what I've been saying," I stated. "Listen to the genius boy."

"I'm not a genius, I just think," Fang stated. He pulled a chair around and faced it backwards to the table and sat down, resting his arms over the back of it and his chin on his arms. "Besides, Max doesn't wear dresses."

"Thankyou," I stated.

"It wouldn't make any difference, she'd still look…" Fang trailed off as I glared at him. He looked at Mum's still half-full thick shake and then back at me warily. Yeah, he didn't want to finish that sentence or I'd pour chocolate ice cream all over his smooth, black hair and new black t-shirt. That I had actually picked out for him… maybe I wouldn't have poured the thick shake on him.

Mum coughed. "Anyway," she stated. "I suppose you both are right but I just wanted to get ahead so that you can get the dress you want."

"I don't want to wear a dress," I stated. Then at the sad looks from Mum, Ella and Nudge I sighed. "I promise I'll pretend to be into this or even try to be into it but can we at least wait until finals are over."

"That's too late, then we only have two weeks!" Mum stated.

"Alright fine, most of my exams are in the first two weeks anyway so one month from the Spring Fling, which is halfway through the finals, I will actually get into this and be helpful about what dress I want, deal? But leave me alone about it until then."

"Okay Max," Mum stated. She scooped the catalogues into her bag. Ella and Nudge looked disappointed. "That's okay, we have other things to do. Your birthday is soon."

"Fifth of April," Fang agreed. "Very soon. So what do you want?"

"Nothing," I stated.

"Oh come on, I know you want something."

"Here we go," Nudge sighed.

"Come on Mum, before it blows up in front of us," Ella insisted. Mum nodded and the three of them hurriedly said goodbye and went to look for my birthday presents. Fang and I stared after them.

"Are we really that bad?" I asked.

"Must be," Fang stated. "Come on, I want to show you what I've got on order for Angel for her birthday." I smiled and stood up, going with Fang to the escalators. We went up a level and he took me to this toy store and showed me a poster on the window.

It was a picture of a beautiful wooden dollhouse. It opened up into a beautiful set of hand-crafted and hand-painted rooms.

"How are you paying for it?" I asked.

"I have a few months, instalments of pay each fortnight," Fang explained. "I got a job this morning at the music store. They pay big bucks, fifteen an hour, less tax."

"Sounds good," I stated.

"Yup and I got that special thing where your first five thousand bucks earned is tax-free so I'll be able to buy Angel's present and yours."

I folded my arms and looked at Fang with my I-ain't-gonna-lose-this-argument look and he fixed me with his it-isn't-going-to-work look.

"I don't want a present," I told him sternly.

"You're getting one whether you like it or not," Fang replied coolly. "Even if it's a CD or something, I'm getting you a present. Wait, I know!" Fang looked away from me.

"Oh, Fang, no, seriously," I said.

"Ah, Max, yes, seriously," he replied. "You can't stop me."

I sighed and turned away. "Right, well, let's just go look at music," I sighed. Fang nodded agreeably, looking very smug, and we went into the huge music store, that Fang now worked at. I knew he was happy about it. He'd be able to give people good advice on the instruments and he knew his way around the CDs better than anyone else. He practically lived in this store, so it was great that they'd let him work here.

"Hey Fang," Matt, the manager said as he walked in. "Hey Max."

"Hi," Fang and I said.

"Oh Max, those 3 Doors Down CDs came in yesterday," Matt said, smiling at me, his blue eyes twinkling. "Want me to grab them?"

"Sure," I replied. Matt was cute. As in, really cute. The senior girls flirted with him all of the time, only because Fang was too young for them, but still I could see why they liked Matt. His sandy hair was short, messy and spiky and his blue eyes were so bright they looked like twin swimming pools. He had a great smile and he had his ear pierced and he had a slight beard that made him look charming in a roguish way.

Fang worshipped his skill with an electric guitar. It was Matt who'd gotten Fang into music and they were pretty close.

Matt brought out the CDs I'd paid for weeks earlier and gave me the bag. I smiled.

"Thanks a bunch for these," I stated.

"Can I guess?" Matt asked. I frowned. "Fang got you into them didn't he?"

"Wow, how'd you know?" Fang asked. Matt laughed.

"You loved that kind of music. Nickleback, Foo Fighters and 3 Doors Down are some of the only modern bands that you like. By the way, want to see the new twelve string?" Matt's eyes were sparkling with excitement and I saw Fang's light up too.

"You got a new one?" he asked.

"Just a few minutes ago. I haven't opened it yet, I was waiting for you."

"Okay, let's see it. Coming Max?" Fang seemed excited about the new guitar so I shrugged.

"Sure, why not?" I asked. "Let's see it." Fang and I followed Matt into the employees part of the store and Matt led us past all of the lounges and to the counter where he'd sat the box. The picture showed a black and blue electric guitar with silver metallic swirls through it and twelve gold strings strung across it.

Matt ran his hands reverently over the box and Fang looked at it eagerly.

"Will you do the honours Fang?" Matt asked.

"It would be my pleasure," Fang replied and he opened the box and took out the case. He and Matt flipped a lock each and opened the case together. They stared at the guitar inside each wearing the kind of look I would expect to see a father wear as they gaze upon their new born baby. Men, what is with them?

"It's better than I thought it would be," Fang stated, gently brushing his fingertips along the shape of the neck and then around the body.

"I know," Matt agreed. "She's a beauty isn't she?"

"Definitely." Fang looked the guitar over and then picked it up. "Can I?" Matt laughed and pulled the cords out of the box and plugged the guitar to an amp. Fang plucked a string and listened to the sound. He sat down to make holding it easier.

"That doesn't sound right," I said. Fang flicked the tuner at the top and tuned each of the strings and then turned it off when he was happy. Then he started playing Blaze of Glory and hummed the words.

"That sounds awesome!" Matt said, his eyes closed. Fang grinned and stopped playing, resting his arm on top of the guitar.

"How much is it?" Fang asked.

"It'll be about six hundred," Matt stated, opening his eyes. "But with an employee discount it's three-sixty."

"You get a forty percent discount?" I asked.

"Yup," Fang stated and then he sighed. "But only after I've worked here for six months, until then, no discount." He sighed and lovingly ran his fingers over the guitar. "Someone will buy it before I can afford it."

"Sorry, mate," Matt said. "But rules are rules."

"Yeah, I know." Fang placed the guitar back in its case and looked at it longingly. "I've been dying for a guitar like that but I guess I'll have to find another one when I can afford it." Matt gave him a sympathetic look as he took Fang and I back into the shop.

Fang went to look at some vinyl records and I stepped over to Matt, a crazy idea in my head. Yeah, Fang was my friend… okay now that was a lie. I'd known him for nearly four months now and we got along so well. We could exchange thoughts with a single look and we got each other so well. Yeah we argued a lot but still, nobody got me like Fang did and I got him really well too. He wasn't my friend. He was my best friend. But I still couldn't believe I was doing this.

"Matt," I whispered. He looked at me.

"What is it?" he asked, following my lead and talking softly.

"How long are you allowed to hold a product?"

"Four months to let people pay it off in fortnightly or monthly payments. Why?" Then he frowned. "You aren't going to are you?"

"He had his heart set on that guitar when you and he spoke about it a month ago," I explained. "His birthday is only four months away pretty much… well in two weeks it'll be about four months and you haven't processed the guitar."

"He's so lucky he has a girl like you," Matt laughed. I rolled my eyes. "Chill, I know you aren't 'his girl' but he's still lucky." I smiled and Matt pushed a piece of paper over to me and I scribbled my phone number down.

"Call me when you process it and then I'll pay it off each month," I told Matt. "Fortnights will be too suspicious. Then I'll pick it up when you've held it for four months."

"Deal," Matt agreed. I rejoined Fang and we left, him still looking kind of down but me feeling very pleased with myself. Fang was going to be so happy on his birthday and that made me ecstatic already.

7. Freshman 7

Wooo we're getting closer to the Spring Fling!!!!! And summer!!!! This chapter took a bit of thought and I redid a couple of parts to make sure they were right. Next chapter we're getting a good glimpse into Fang's head for a while ^.^

But for now:

"Max is turning sixteen in two days!" Iggy cheered. I rolled my eyes but smiled.

"Exams Monday week though," Fang stated. The three of us were walking down the street. My mum was waiting at the mall for me so Fang and Iggy were walking me there. "Calc is going to be a killer."

"Smarty-pants," I said. Iggy and I both took general Maths but Fang was taking calculus. Stupid intelligent smart-arse. Fang rolled his eyes at me and looked at the exam timetables that had been handed out today.

"I think Government will be worse," I sighed.

"We have music instead of government and that is going to be super easy," Fang stated. He consulted the timetable. "Do you guys have the third Friday of exams free?"

"Yes," I said, pulling my timetable out.

"Uh-huh," Iggy grunted and then stuffed his timetable back into his bag. "Why?"

"I was thinking of maybe hanging out," Fang said. "We only have one or two exams after that so it would be nice to do something fun. My Mum has the day off so we could go to the beach."

"That sounds like a great idea," I said. "So four weeks from today we have a beach day?"

"I am so there!" Iggy said and then he stopped. "Nope, no looking at beach girls. Just there to have fun with my two friends." He was talking to himself. Iggy had asked Tess to the Spring Fling and she'd said yes but he wasn't sure if he wanted her to be his girlfriend just yet. He was still thinking but he was trying not to be, as I put it, a sexist-pig. Fang was helping him out where he could.

"Okay, I'll talk to Mum and you two check with your 'rents," Fang stated with a smile. "It is so going to happen."

"It'll be nice." I sighed and counted on my fingers. "Twenty days until I have to choose my dress."

"I don't know what you're complaining about," Iggy said. "Whatever you wear the guys in our year are going to be hanging after you." I shuddered.

"Gee Iggy, that's really going to make her enjoy herself," Fang stated, rolling his eyes. Then he looked at me. "Don't worry Max I'll deck anyone who bugs you too much." I rolled my eyes this time.

"Sure Fang, you do that," I laughed. We reached the mall and went up to the food court where Mum was waiting with Ella. They had a couple of bags and I eyed them excitedly. "What did you get me?"

"Not telling," Mum said. "You have to wait until Sunday." I folded my arms and Ella laughed.

"Hi Fang, Hi Iggy," she said.

"Hey El," Fang said. "Hey Doc." He and Mum exchanged a look and winked and I looked between them.

"What's going on?" I demanded. Fang and Mum just smiled and I folded my arms but that's when I noticed the slight awkwardness between my sister and my friend. I glanced at them but they weren't looking at each other.

Hmmm… I thought Iggy liked Tess. Fang and I were going to have to grill him about this later.

"Right, come on Max," Mum said. "Bye Fang, Iggy."

"See you," they said together. Fang looked at me.

"See you Sunday," he said.

"See you," I replied. Iggy waved to us and Fang tilted his head. "What's up Max?"

"Tell you later," I told him. "What are you doing this arvo?"

"Nothing," Fang stated but I knew it was a lie. I was walking backwards now.

"If it involved money then I'll murder you Nicholas Ride!" I shouted.

"Whatever you say Maximum Martinez!" he shouted back. I rolled my eyes and waved before turning and walking along with my Mum and sister. I stepped around the Ella's side and looked at her, my arms folded.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing," I replied, eyeing her carefully. Ella ignored me, her face flushing because she knew that I knew that something was up with her and Iggy and I was determined to find out what it was.

Just then we passed one of the dress shops and I saw Lissa inside with her two friends Jess and Lily. They were all trying on the skankiest dresses imaginable. I scowled. I turned and started towards the dress shop. Lissa had been giving me crap all week but Fang had stopped me from retorting, he didn't want me getting into trouble just before my birthday or the finals.

"Max, where are you going?" Mum asked.

"I'll be back in a few moments!" I called. "Don't wait up." I crept closer to the dress store and slipped inside without any of the three girls noticing. I slipped around a couple of racks of dresses and pretended to be flicking through the green ones. Yuck, that dress is awful.

"I'm not sure about this," Lissa was saying. She was checking her butt out in a mirror opposite her, turning this way and that in her short red number. It was tight and had ovals cut out at her waist. It only went to mid thighs. I rolled my eyes. Skank much?

"It looks great," Lily insisted, smoothing down the rippling skirt of her less-skanky baby blue dress. It had spaghetti straps and glittered in the light. It had a handkerchief hem. I always wondered why Lily was friends with Lissa and Jess. She was actually nice.

Jess had just come back from the change room with a emerald dress on a hander.

"Didn't you like it?" Lissa asked.

"Nope," Jess replied hanging it up. "I want to wear something a little more elaborate. More… fun, you know."

"Exactly," Lissa agreed. She ran her hands down to her hips and frowned at her reflection. "Do you think Fang will go to Spring Fling with me?"

"I heard he was going with Max," Lily stated, sitting down on one of the lounges. Lissa's eyes flashed and Max frowned. Yeah, she and Fang were going to Spring Fling but since when had it been together? Oh well, if it kept Lissa away from him then it was okay. Fang hated being bugged by her.

"Max!" Lissa said my name like it was acid in her mouth. Good. I hope it burnt real bad. "What does he see in her?"

"I don't think they're dating Liss," Jess said. "They're just friends. Tight. But just friends."

"Good because Fang is mine."

"Really? I don't see a label on him," I said and stepped into the change area. Liss whirled around and glared at me. Jess jumped and then glared. Lily just rolled her eyes and went to a change cubicle to change out of her dress.

"Were you spying on me?" Lissa demanded.

"No, this is a shop, it's a public place," I stated. "It isn't my fault your low IQ level remarks carry to my ears." Lissa flushed angrily.

"Fang won't be going with you to the Spring Fling for long," Lissa snarled. "He's mine so keep your hands off him."

I felt really angry all of a sudden so what came out of my mouth next was totally not my fault. "I can keep my hands off him but I can't guarantee he'll keep his hands off me." What? Did I seriously say that? Crap. Fang's gonna kill me.

Lissa glared even more heavily. And then she relaxed and looked me over. "Whatever," she said. "Besides, Fang won't want you for long. You're too much of a boy."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that you're not woman enough for him. Fang wants a real girl. One who can loo beautiful and good. It doesn't matter what you do for the dance, you'll still just be a too-tough-girl."

Ouch. That stung me for some reason. Lissa knew it too but I was too strong for that kind of stuff to stop me from winning an argument. "We'll see who he can't take his eyes off at Spring Fling," I stated coldly.

"Yes, we will," Lissa stated. I glared and left the store feeling like I wanted to tear something to pieces and then cry, yes actually cry.

I don't know why Lissa's comment hurt me so much. I mean I didn't like Fang so I didn't care about that but then I remembered Lauren, from LA telling me the same thing a couple of days before I caught my first boyfriend, Kyle, with his tongue down her throat. That was about a month before I started dating Sam. Sam had patched me up, fixed my heart, and taught me to trust again.

I sighed. Hopefully I wouldn't see Fang making out with Lissa. Not that I liked him or anything but I just didn't want to see the same thing happen twice. I hated being told I wasn't girly enough. What was wrong with being a tomboy?

I hurried into the car park and jumped into the front seat of the car. Mum looked at me and frowned.

"Max? What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," I replied.


"It's nothing." Then I frowned. I remembered Lissa in her dress and my challenge for who Fang would keep his eyes on. I don't know… I wasn't sure what Fang's type was and whether I could make him stare at me. I didn't want him falling for me or anything like that, no way, Fang was my friend and I had no alternative interest in him. But I needed to make him give me some attention in a way that meant he thought I looked good.

"Actually Mum," I said and she looked back at me. "I've changed my mind. Let's drag out those dress catalogues when we get home. I want to plan my Spring Fling ensemble perfectly."

"Really?" Ella asked excitedly.

"Really," I assured her. "Call Nudge, I need that fashionista."

"Why the change of heart?" Mum asked as she pulled out of the parking lot. She was smiling though.

"Dunno," I shrugged. "I just guess that I realised this is my first dance and I want it to be… nice." That also meant I had to swallow my pride and make it official that Fang and I weren't just going to the Spring Fling in each other's company but we were going to it… together.


"Happy birthday!"

I jumped. No I had no been expecting everyone to be here as soon as I woke up. I mean I always slept in on my birthday so Ella would have wanted everyone here but I wasn't expecting to be scared out of my wits at ten in the morning on a Sunday.

Angel and Gazzy ran up and hugged me and I kissed each of them on the cheek.

"Thankyou sweeties," I said, cuddling them both. Then Nudge and Ella hugged me and Mum came over and kissed my cheek. Iggy gave me a hug and a birthday punch (ouch, he could throw a punch that boy) and then Fang came over and touched my shoulder. He was not a huggy person.

"Happy birthday," he said. I smiled.

"Thanks," I replied and hugged him. Fang was still for a moment and then he hugged me back and I let him go. He gave me a half smile and then Angel dragged me over to the table where Mum had laid out a perfect birthday breakfast.

I sat between Fang and Angel, Mum took the head of the table, Gazzy the other end and Ella sat between Iggy and Nudge. We all served ourselves and then I spied the pile of presents in the lounge room and I glowered.

"I said no presents," I stated.

"Too bad," Fang replied. "You got them."

The phone rang and Mum looked at me.

"It'll be your father," she stated. Though I doubted it, I jumped up and answered the phone anyway. I had called Dad the day after I lay-buyed Fang's guitar to ask him to send a cheque for one-hundred-and-fifty dollars to Matt every month until I can pick up Fang's present. He agreed, a little concerned about the price but was willing to do anything the one time I called and didn't ask him to let me live with him.

"Hi?" I asked, picking up the phone.

"Hi Max!" a childish, boy voice answered.

"Ari!" I crooned. "Hi, little brother."

"Happy birthday Max! Dad's already gone but he told me to tell you happy birthday from him and he loves you," Ari explained happily. I tried not to scowl and remembered the cheques that were paying for Fang's dream guitar.

"Thanks, sweetie," I stated. I spoke to Ari for a few minutes and then he had to go so I was able to go back to breakfast.

"You have a little brother?" Nudge asked. "You didn't tell me that Ella."

"He's not my brother," Ella laughed. "He's Max's. Different Dad and Mum to me."

"How old is he?" Fang asked me.

"Seven, eight in May," I replied.

"I'm seven in June!" Angel trilled. "I want lots of presents!" We all laughed and I kissed her temple.

"Of course, sweetheart," I replied. "I'm sure you'll get them." Fang and I looked at each other and smiled. She was going to adore the doll house he had ordered for her. He spoilt her so much.

After breakfast I was dragged into the lounge room to open my presents. Nudge had gotten me a really cool black, satin coat with gold buttons and a strip of satin that tied around the waist. Mum had gotten me some vouchers for music, books and clothes as well as an awesome pair of gold and black hoop earrings that looked like vines were climbing around them. Ella had bought me some new black jeans (she'd heard me complaining about how the colour was fading on my other ones. I loved my sister). Iggy and Gazzy had gotten me the new Final Fantasy game, which of course I had been dying to get. And Fang and Angel had gotten me the Death Note movie trilogy and the first three of the anime as well as the collector's box.

"Thanks guys," I said. "This is great, even though I said no presents."

"Your father sent this," Mum said. I opened the envelope she passed me. Money and more money. Rich daddies were good for something at least even if you never saw them.

"Oh and one more thing," Fang said. "Can I go and get it Doc?" Fang was looking at my mother. She nodded.

"Oh no!" I said. "What did you do?"

"You'll see!" Ella sang as Fang left the room. He returned a few moments later holding a black case in his arms. I stared at it.

"This is from all of us," Fang said.

"But Fang chose it," Iggy stated. "And it was his idea."

"I have connections so I got it exactly as I imagined it," Fang stated. "I really hope you like it. Matt had to make a lot of calls." Fang laid the case down in front of me and nodded. I flipped the locks and raised the lid.

Lying nestled in the velvety inside was a beautiful, black, wood-style acoustic guitar. I ran my fingers over the strings and listened to the slight sound.

"I can't play guitar," I whispered.

"I'm going to teach you," Fang assured me. "I tuned it, bought you some packets of strings and I got a special pic for you." Fang held out a small, black, velvet box and I opened it. Inside was a black guitar pic with something silver glittering on it, I wondered what it was so I took it out and looked in the light. In silver on the pic were two words 'The Flock'.

"For the band and the group?" I asked.

"For your family," Fang stated. He half-smiled, embarrassed. "That was Nudge's idea, so Matt got it done to the guitar too." I lifted the guitar out of the case and turned it over, staring at the gold words on the back. Beside 'The Flock' were six names. The names of the others, my friends.

"This is so amazing," I whispered. "Thankyou so much." I put the guitar down and threw my arms around Fang and he hugged my back with one arm. Now I felt like I would have spent a thousand dollars on Fang's guitar if it had cost that, I would do anything for him, I think.

I put the pic box in the small compartment inside the case with the strings and cleaning things and closed the guitar case. Fang explained how to care for it and then he and I took all of my presents to my room while the others cleaned up from breakfast and got ready to go into town to the movies.

"This is so great," I said, laying the guitar case on my bed and running my fingers over it. I couldn't believe they'd done this for me and Fang was going to teach me how to play. "Hey, I need to go and use these vouchers and spend my birthday money, wanna come next weekend?"

"Study," Fang stated and I sighed.

"Oh yeah."

"We can go the first weekend after Finals are finished," Fang stated. I nodded. "I notice the dress catalogues. Did you change your mind?" He nodded to the magazines on my beside table. I looked at them and then remembered Sam's picture in the drawer and felt guilty being in my room with Fang while Sam's pictures were so close to me.

"Ah… yes," I replied. "I felt bad about ruining Mum, Ella and Nudge's fun." I shrugged and then felt nervous as I remembered why I really wanted to look at dresses. Fang was frowning. Crap, he knew I was lying. Luckily he said nothing.

"So, does that mean I have to start looking for a suit now?" Fang asked. "After all I need to correspond with you."

I blinked. Huh?

Fang shifted, embarrassed. Wow, he was embarrassed twice in the one morning, what was with him? "It's just, I've heard everyone talking. They're saying that we're going together so… if we're going to be spending the whole night together, might as well do what pairs are supposed to and look like we match."

"Since when are you into this kind of thing?" I asked. Truthfully I was so glad he'd brought it up, not me and that he was interested in going together too. Wait… why was he interested in that?

"Dunno," Fang stated. "I like to do things properly. Everything thinks we're going together and technically we are so…" He shifted slightly and shrugged. "Only if you're okay with it though."

"I'm fine with it," I stated, waving my hand and smiling but inside I was dancing. Take that Lissa! "I'll let you know what colour I'm wearing when I decide but according to the 'proper' rules of dances, you aren't allowed to see my dress until the night."

Fang rolled his eyes at my teasing but nodded. "True, true."

"Fang! Max! Come on! What the hell are you two doing in there?" Iggy shouted and then there was quiet for one second. "Wait! Forget I asked! I don't want to know!"

Fang and I rolled our eyes as Nudge, Ella and Mum all giggled and Gazzy and Angel made confused sounds. We left my room and joined the others, ready to leave for the movie.

Nudge and Ella took the double, front passenger seat while Iggy, Fang and I were going to take the back while nursing Angel and Gazzy (hello it's only a six seater car and there are eight of us!).

Fang and I looked at each other as we climbed into the back seat just before Gazzy and Angel came in to sit on our laps.

Fang's eyes had a small something in them that I didn't recognise but it sent a tiny flutter through my stomach. I frowned and looked away as Gazzy chattered to Angel who was sitting on Fang. What was that about? I shook it off and chose to ignore it and just enjoy what was slowly becoming the best birthday I'd had in quite a few years.

8. Freshman 8

Okay, I'm going back to school tomorrow so updates might be slightly less regular but I have several chapters written in case I don't get much of a chance to write. I have exams in the first half of the term... I think, that's usually how it works so I'm gonna have to study but hopefully I won't have too much homework so I'll be on the computer, updating and writing the next chapters. ^.^

Here's the next chapter ^.^

Fang groaned and ran a hand through his hair, his fringe just falling straight back into his eyes. Exams had started yesterday and he and Max had come out of the English exam smiling because they had both aced it, they were positive. But now, Tuesday, Fang was sitting in the gym with his calculus exam and no Max to look at to show how frustrated he was.

He looked down at the question again and tapped his pen on his thigh under the desk. He bit his lip in thought and scribbled down what he hoped was the answer.

Calculator buttons tapped and pens scribbled all across the hall. The Freshman and Sophomores were taking their calc exams together so the hall was only half full but it was still really noisy.

Fang looked at the next question.

Oh god he wished Max was here. He thought that he might be able to survive the remaining fifty minutes if she was here. He just wanted to be able to look at her and know that she was supporting him. He knew she was anyway but he thought he might feel better if she was here in the gym with him.

Fang sighed, biting his lip.

Come on, Fang, concentrate! he scolded himself. You can do this. You're the smartest guy in the year. He nodded and tried to concentrate on the exam.

Fifty minutes later he sat his pen down and waited as the examiners collected his paper and then he shoved his things into his bag and raced out of the gym, breathing in deeply as he reached the fresh air.

"Thank the lord!" Brigid said behind him. Fang glanced at her as she stopped beside him. He wasn't sure about Brigid. She was smart and nice, not like Lissa in the least, but she was kind of annoying sometimes. But he had to admit she was pretty with her long red braid and bright green eyes.

"I know, hey," Fang agreed. They started walking together. "Question fifty was so bad."

"Yeah I know," Brigid agreed. "Of course they made us think the last one would be so hard when really it was the easiest one on the paper."

"So true. I hope I passed that."

"Of course you did. You're so smart. You'll come top of the year and then you'll get Valedictorian when we're seniors."

"You reckon?" Fang looked at her, amused.

"You will," Brigid assured him. Fang chuckled and shook his head, his dark hair flopping everywhere.

"Fang! Hurry the hell up! Study! Now!" Iggy was standing by the entrance to the library and Fang laughed.

"Right, well I have to go," he said looking at Brigid. "Talk to you later?" Was he saying he wanted to see her? Sometimes he surprised himself greatly.

"Yeah, bye," Brigid replied, blushing and smiling. Fang jogged over to Iggy who had his eyebrows raised.

"Since when do you like talking to Brigid Dwyer?" Iggy asked as she joined her friends and they walked over to the gardens, pulling out science books to study. Fang watched them for a moment and then looked back at Iggy.

"Dunno," he stated. "She started it actually. Where's Max?" Fang glanced around but couldn't see her anywhere.

"Already up," Iggy stated. "She had a mental blank on the dates for the Civil War and went up to go over her notes." Iggy chuckled and Fang rolled his eyes. They entered the library and went through it into the study hall. Max had her books and notes spread over one of the small tables that made up the four person study island. Fang and Iggy joined her, Fang dropping into the seat next to her. She looked up at them, her brown eyes tired.

"Did you sleep at all last night?" Fang asked.

"No," Max yawned. "I was writing these out for Government." She gestured to the pile of notes. "I don't have any exams today but I have Government tomorrow and history."

"Then you should probably rest or you'll fall asleep halfway through the exam and fail," Fang stated. He frowned at Max. Something else was keeping her up. "Are you alright? Is something bothering you?"

"No, nothing," Max replied. A lock of hair fell down and she groaned. Before she could grab it, I reached out and caught it, pulling it back and reattaching it into her messy bun. "Thankyou."

"I think you should go home and sleep since you don't have any exams today," Iggy said, looking at her with concern. Max shook her head and rubbed her eyes again.

"I'm fine," she stated. Then she stood up to walk over to the computer bay and swayed. She held a hand to her forehead and Fang half rose from his seat. "I don't feel so good…"

Fang jumped up just as she collapsed and caught her around the waist. Iggy jumped up and ran around as Fang supported Max in his arms, staring down at her face worriedly.

"Max?" Fang asked. Iggy laid a hand on her forehead and then looked at Fang in shock.

"She's burning up," Iggy stated. "She's sick." He shook his head. "I'll pack up her things, you take her to the office." Fang nodded, hoisting Max into his arms and looking at her worriedly. He hoped she was alright and wondered what she'd gotten. He hoped it wasn't too bad.

Fang carried her over to the study hall doors and one of the seniors saw him and jumped up to open the door, her eyes wide as Fang passed her with Max in his arms.

"Thanks," Fang said. The senior nodded, shock written all over her face. Fang nearly laughed but he was really worried about Max. He'd hate anything bad to happen to her. If she had something really bad then he wouldn't leave her side and that would not be good for his marks. But Max meant more to him then passing school. Yeah, silly, but that was how he felt.


I groaned, feeling like I was on fire. My head was really fuzzy and felt like it weighed a tonne. I could barely lift it. There was a gentle rocking motion and I realised that a pair of strong arms were holding me close to a warm chest.


I opened my eyes slightly to look up at him. He looked back down at me with an unreadable expression.

"Man you weigh a freaking ton!" he exclaimed. "What have you been eating? Rocks?"

"Why is your head missing some?" I glared at him but then I noticed his eyes. He'd been really worried about me. Wow.

"You have a fever," Fang told me as we reached the office and he knocked. Linda came over and gasped as she opened the door.

"What happened?" she asked worriedly.

"Max has a fever," Fang explained carrying me inside. Linda hurried ahead of him and opened the sickbay door. Fang laid me down gently on the bed. "She collapsed in the study hall so I brought her here."

Linda opened the cabinet as I held a hand to my head. Yeah, I was kind of hot and this bed was very uncomfortable. I looked up at Fang who was watching Linda as she brought a thermometer over and stuck it in my mouth.

I glared at Fang and he just folded his arms and leant on the wall by my bed, seemingly satisfied.

"I'll go and call Doctor Martinez," Linda said. "Take that out in two minutes, Fang."

"Will do," Fang replied and eyed me carefully. I folded my arms, still feeling light headed and dizzy. I felt hot and sticky and nauseous. After two minutes Fang took the thermometer out and looked at it just as Iggy came into the sick bay with my bag.

"Thanks Ig," I said and he grimaced at me.

"How are you feeling?" Iggy asked.

"Crap," I replied.

"Your temp is ninety-nine point four," Fang stated and eyed me. "How long have you been sick?"

"I haven't been," I stated, holding my forehead as my head gave a nasty throb. Linda came back in and looked at me and then Fang.

"Ninety-nine point four," Fang stated, his arms folded. Linda tutted and went to get me some Tylenol for my headache. I took it gratefully and then sank down onto the pillows, my eyes drifting shut.

"Thankyou Fang, Iggy," I murmured.

"You sleep," Iggy stated. "I'm going to go and study, okay?"

"Sure," I heard Fang whisper and then everything else was muffled because I fell asleep.


Fang lounged in the chair beside Max. She was sleeping peacefully but building up a sweat on her forehead so Fang went to the sink in the bathroom and came back with a damp wash cloth that he dabbed over her face and then laid on her forehead.

Fang brushed the loose parts of Max's brown hair away from her face and sat back down. She'd been asleep for almost ten minutes now. Fang had pulled one of the blankets over her to keep her from catching a chill.

She looked so peaceful sleeping. When Max was awake she was like a wildfire but when she was sleeping it was easy to see how sweet and wonderful she could be. That side also showed around the Flock and Fang enjoyed watching her being gentle and kind.


He jumped and looked around at Doctor Martinez. She smiled at him and swept her dark hair away from her face as she entered the sick bay and picked up Max's bag.

"Hi Doc," Fang stated.

"Sorry I took so long," Dr Martinez said.

"That's okay. I was making sure she was alright." Fang looked at her, concern in his eyes and Dr Martinez smiled.

"Thankyou for that. I don't want to wake her… do you think?" She looked at Fang beseechingly and he nodded.

"I will be as gentle as possible so she doesn't wake up," Fang promised. Dr Martinez smiled as Fang gently took the blanket off Max. He slipped his arms under her and lifted her gently. She stirred slightly but she just curled into his chest, resting her head against his shoulder and holding his shirt with her hand slightly. Fang felt himself going hot around the neck from embarrassment but Dr Martinez took no notice and led Fang out of the office, opening the door for him.

When the warm air outside hit Max she stirred slightly but didn't wake. Fang sighed with relief and held her a little tighter without even realising it. Dr Martinez opened the door of the car and reclined the seat. Fang laid Max down and put her seat belt on for her, brushing her cheek gently as he straightened up, out of the car.

"Thankyou for that Fang," Dr Martinez said as she closed the door quietly. Fang nodded. "I'll call you if she gets worse, alright?"

"Thanks," Fang stated. "If she isn't any better after school tomorrow then I'll come by and see her, that okay?"

"Ella will probably catch the bus home because I won't go to work, I'll just stay home and take care of Max."

"I'll catch the bus too then." Fang ran a hand through his black hair and looked in the window at Max. "See you tomorrow then."

"Bye Fang." Dr Martinez smiled kindly at him and then walked around to the other side of her car and drove away. Fang waited until he couldn't see the car anymore and he turned and went back into the school.

Almost immediately Lissa stepped into his path and Fang almost groaned.

"Hi!" Lissa said brightly.

"Hey," Fang replied.

"I heard about Max," Lissa said. "I-"

"No fake 'I hope she's okay', please, I'm not in the mood," Fang stated. "What do you want?"

"Well, you know, Spring Fling is coming up, two weeks after Finals finish," Lissa stated. Fang knew where this was headed but he let her finish anyway. "So, I was wondering if you'd go with me."

Fang folded his arms. "I can't," Fang stated. "I'm going with Max."

Lissa blinked and her eyes flashed. "You are?"

"Yes, I thought everyone knew that." Fang walked past her and Lissa whirled around so he stopped and glanced back. "What?"

"Why are you going with her?" Lissa demanded. "I've been wanting to go out with you for over a year now!"

"Max is my best friend," Fang stated. "Why wouldn't I go with her?" He looked away from Lissa and kept walking, not looking back again.

Spring Fling, the twenty-third of May. It had to be the most irritating thing ever. Fang shook his head but then he thought about what Max might look like when she dressed up and let Nudge do her makeup. She might look really good. Dylan would be so jealous when he saw Max with Fang at the dance. It was enough to make Fang even look forward to the stupid dance.

Resisting the urge to smile, Fang rejoined Iggy in the library, sitting opposite him. Fang looked at his bag and then sank down in his chair. Iggy looked up.

"What is it man?" he asked.

"I can't study now," Fang groaned. "I'm worried about Max. Oh and Lissa just bugged me about Spring Fling."

"What did you tell her?"

"That I'm going with Max."

"Are you?"

"Sort of." Fang frowned and Iggy leant back, his arms folded.

"What do you mean 'sort of'?" Iggy asked and Fang fiddled with the zipper of his jacket.

"I asked if she wanted to go together since we were technically going together anyway and she said it was fine," Fang stated. "But it wasn't really asking her if you know what I mean. I more just suggested we say we're going together since that's what everyone thought." Fang shrugged. "I don't see any difference."

"There's a lot of difference," Iggy stated. "But you don't like Max, right?"

"No I don't," Fang stated, shaking his head.

"Well then it would only make a difference if you liked her and wanted to actually go with her." Iggy nodded at his own genius and went back to his text book. "Besides I bet you and Max will just spend the whole time sitting around complaining about the music whether you go together or not."

Fang cracked a smile as Iggy started taking notes.


Let me tell you, spending over twenty-four hours in bed when you should be doing exams is so frustrating. I had to lie in bed and hope my temperature went down while waiting for the bus to bring Ella and Fang home.

I spent the whole day reading dress catalogues. Not very much fun but I had found some dresses that I could stand to spend the night in. You see I had thought that I could get out of wearing a dress until Senior Prom, or even my wedding day and possibly get out of it for both of those too.

I flicked the pages and looked at the materials, colours, patterns. Urgh, I hoped we could just go into the store, see a dress that I can stand and get it. I didn't realise there was so much to picking a dress or was it just a problem that I had because my family is annoying and I hate dresses.

I heard the front door and two voices as they greeted Mum. YES! Company!

"Fang!" I shouted. I heard laughter and then my best friend came down to my room and leant in the doorway and smirked at me. "Thank goodness! I was going mad!" I threw aside the dress catalogue and sat up.

"You look better," Fang stated. He came and touched my forehead with is wrist. "You've still got a temperature."

"I know that," I replied, taking my head away from Fang. "I'm still kind of dizzy too and I don't have an exam until Friday so I'll take tomorrow off too."

"Alright then," Fang agreed sitting on the edge of my bed. "That's probably best. Call me tomorrow night though."

"I will, I'll be totally bored without anyone to talk to," I replied. Fang chuckled. "How was the history exam?"

"Easy," Fang said. "You would have passed so easily."

"Government would have been hard though." I played with the edge of my quilt and sighed. "I hope my assessment marks were good enough to make up for missing both exams."

"I'm sure they would have been." Fang relaxed slightly. "Iggy spent most of break making out with Tess."

"Ooh you must have had so much fun on your own."

"I wasn't on my own."

I frowned, raising my eyebrows. "Oh?"

"Yeah…" Fang was kind of embarrassed; he played with a hole in my quilt cover, refusing to meet my eyes. "I talked to Brigid."

"Brigid? Since when are you friends with Brigid?" This was interesting. I thought Fang disapproved of all of the girls who liked him.

"She's kind of… interesting when she isn't flirting or making a fool of herself," Fang stated. "And…" He mumbled something and I arched an eyebrow.

"What was that?"

"I said she's sort of pretty."

I stared at Fang. Oh-kay. He was starting to like Brigid. I'm not sure how I felt about that. I mean he was my best friend and surely if he got a girlfriend I would be knocked back a step and wouldn't get as much of his attention. I didn't like the sound of that and actually I didn't like the sound of him having a girlfriend full stop.

"So… do you like her?" I asked, to be sure. Fang looked up at me frowning as if 'where'd you get that idea?'. "If you do I bet you want to go to the Spring Fling with her. That's cool, I just, you know, thought we were going together."

"We are!" Fang protested. "And I don't like Brigid, not like that." Then he smiled devilishly. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were jealous."

My eyes narrowed and Fang backtracked.

"It's a good thing I know better then!" he stated loudly, waving his hands. "I know way better. Way, way, way better!"

"Good," I stated. "Now, back to Brigid."

"Let's talk about something else." Fang seemed embarrassed and I swear I saw his cheeks flush but I dismissed it. Fang never blushed. Never. But he also never showed signs of embarrassment when talking about a girl. We spoke about other things and Mum let us eat dinner in my room and I kept a close eye on Fang the whole time until he left.

I swear, something was going on with both my male friends and it was worrying me greatly.

9. Freshman 9

This chapter was so much fun to write because I got to make some characters of my own and give them personalities and all sorts of neat things! lol anywho I love the two characters that you will meet in this chapter, I hope you like them too because I'm very attached to the male character, he's funny! I based him on one of my own friends :P

Okay, here we go! Sorry about not updating for a couple of days!

"Woo beach day!" I cheered. "And next week, only two exams!" Fang, Iggy and I were all in the back seat of Alice's car, ready for our relaxing day the beach. We weren't going to LA but to one of my favourite beaches at Oceanside.

"Dress shopping this weekend though, so your Mum tells me," Alice said, glancing at us in the rear-view mirror. Fang laughed at my disgruntled expression. "And for Nick's tie, right?"

"Right," I agreed. "Thinking of that makes me wonder whether it would be worth it to wear a pink dress just to see you in a pink tie." Fang rolled his eyes and glared at me.

"If you do-" he started but I laughed.

"Then I remember how much I hate pink and the thought flies right out of my head."


Alice laughed at us. "It's so good that you two are going together," she said.

"Why?" Fang and I asked.

"It's better than going alone."

"Oh." The unison thing was so annoying when it happened. It made Iggy crack up every time we did it. Alice laughed too and she smiled.

"Do you know what colour you'll wear Max?" she asked.

"Nope," I replied. "Hopefully something red or blue."

"Red," Fang said and I frowned at him.


"So I can wear my red dress shirt and a black tie."

I rolled my eyes. "Fair enough but if I don't like any of the red dresses-"

"You won't like any dress," Iggy interrupted. Fang chuckled and I folded my arms. We teased each other relentlessly for the rest of the trip. When Alice stopped the car we burst out and I took a deep breath of the salty air.

"California beaches!" I sighed. "I love them."

"I can tell," Iggy laughed. We all grabbed our bags from the boot and the four of us walked over to the change rooms. I remerged and joined Fang and Iggy who were both waiting impatiently.

"You take forever," Fang complained. But I noticed that he raised his eyebrows at me and I rolled my eyes at him and pulled my tank top on over my bikini.

"Leave her alone," Alice chastised. She was holding the beach umbrella and had a book tucked under her arm.

"You aren't going to swim?" I asked.

"Not really my thing," Alice replied, her eyes, so much like Fang's, shining with amusement. "I'll keep your things safe while the three of you enjoy the water." I smiled and we walked down onto the soft sand and I relished the feel of the golden sand under my feet.

Alice took our towels and we raced each other down to the water. As soon as I was waist deep I dived underneath and oncoming wave and felt the warm, salt water wash over me. I came up from under the wave and Fang came up beside me. Iggy dived and joined us a few seconds later.

"This feels so good," Iggy sighed, floating on his back and moving up and down as the water moved under us. I watched it form into a wave and then crash onto the beach. This beach wasn't a good surfing beach but it was great for swimming because there were hardly any rips or currents and sharks barely came in.

"I know, man," Fang replied. He grinned at me, his wet fringe hanging in front of his eyes. I pushed it away because it was annoying me and grinned at him.

"I love the ocean," I stated. "Heat and ocean. Love them both."

Fang nodded in agreement. I dipped under the water to smooth my long hair back and then I braided it. I preferred to braid my hair after it was wet because it stayed easier. I secured it with a hair band at the top and then at the base so that it wouldn't bug me while we were swimming.

I swam a little closer to shore and then bodysurfed the next wave in. Fang and Iggy waited for me to swim back out to them. I accidentally bumped into someone and I stumbled back but they caught my arm.

"Sorry," I mumbled and looked up.

"Max?" the guy said, surprised.

"Chris?" I replied. I eyed his shaggy black hair and then his bright green eyes, gold-tanned skin and dashing smile and I grinned. "Chris!"

"Max, it is you!"

I straightened up and hugged him tightly. Chris hugged me back and tugged my braid playfully before letting me go. We were both laughing. I glanced over and saw Fang and Iggy making their way over.

"Is Anna here with you?" I asked.

"Yeah, she's just up at the kiosk! She'll be so glad to see you!" Chris replied.

Anna and Chris were two of my friends from when I'd lived in LA. They had been best friends since kindergarten and had been crushing on each other since seventh grade so I decided to play matchmaker just before I left and in all of their emails they both kept thanking me for finally getting them together. They were such a perfect match if I do say so myself.

Fang and Iggy reached us and I grinned at them.

"Guys this is Chris, one of my friends from LA," I introduced. "Chris these are my two friends Fang and Iggy."

"Hey," Chris greeted, all dazzling smile at my two friends. He was such an easygoing guy, that's why I loved Chris.

Luckily Fang and Iggy noticed the easiness about his smile that made people like him and they both greeted him with friendly smiles and handshakes. Good.

"Hey Anna!" Chris shouted. I looked up and my childhood friend looked up from where she had been putting a water bottle into her purple and brown beach bag. It was her favourite. Anna's long brown hair was braided and she flipped it back over her shoulder as she looked at Chris. When she spotted me she frowned and a smile slowly split across her face and she raced into the water.

"Max!" she shouted and threw herself into my arms. I hugged her back tightly.

"Anna!" I laughed. She held me for a moment more and then pulled back, blue eyes glittering the same colour as the ocean water.

"What are you doing here?" Anna asked excitedly. Her tanned skin was glistening from the water on it and she was just as I remembered her. As easygoing as Chris and as friendly and sweet as Nudge was.

"Fang, Iggy and I are taking a day off from finals," I replied. "Oh these two are my friends Nick, aka Fang, and Ian, aka Iggy. Guys this is Chris's girlfriend and one of my friends, Anna." They all greeted each other with smiles and Chris put his arm around Anna.

"So what are you two doing here?" I questioned.

"Same thing as you," Anna replied. "Taking a break. Finals are exhausting."

"They are," Iggy agreed.

"This is pretty far from LA," Fang said, waving his hand slightly. "LA has better beaches…"

"Yeah, but we can't have a day without being bugged by people from our school in LA," Chris replied. "Anna and I don't get a lot of time to just be a couple. What with taking care of JJ and James' desperation to go out with each other, Jessica getting over that jerk who cheated on her then dumped her and Sam-"

"Jessie got dumped?" I asked. "By who?"

"Brett cheated on her," Anna explained. "Then he had the audacity to tell her she wasn't that into him and didn't make the effort to understand him and then he dumped her. It was two weeks ago but she's still so cut up about it. It was so bad the day after because James found out… and you know how he is."

"Yeah," I replied. "So protective of his twin. I guess…"

"Yeah, Brett's not so pretty anymore," Chris explained, trying not to look to cheerful about it.

"Brett's lucky I wasn't there," I growled, angry. Poor Jessica. She was so sweet and gentle. She'd never hurt a fly and then he went and did that to her. That jerk.

"I am so lost," Iggy stated, shaking his head. I chuckled, slightly embarrassed.

"Your group sounds like an interesting group," Fang finally decided. His eyes were carefully guarded. I think he's noticed me cutting Anna off at Sam's name. He knew nothing about Sam. I'd told Fang about Anna, Chris, James, Jessica and JJ but I'd never told him about Sam. It hurt too much to talk and it would feel… wrong, somehow to tell Fang about Sam.

"I'm so glad that Spring Fling is coming up," Anna sighed. "We're hoping to get Jessica and…" She frowned. "We're hoping to cheer Jessie up and get James and JJ to go to the dance together."

"Spring Fling," I scowled. Anna laughed.

"You know you would have gone," Chris teased. "Does your new school have a Spring Fling?"

"Yes," Iggy replied. "I made these two promise to go so that I wouldn't be there alone except for my date."

"Good," Anna told him. "Max needs to be forced into this kind of thing."

"I do not!" I protested angrily. "I just hate dances and everything about them."

"So does Fang here so it's good that they're going together, they can sit there and complain for the whole thing," Iggy joked and I nearly slapped him. I looked at Chris and Anna worriedly. Both of them were wide-eyed with raised eyebrows, looking at me. Luckily they both composed themselves within a few seconds.

"Well at least Max will have someone to agree with her when she complains about the music," Chris laughed. "You don't like chart music do you?" Chris hated it too.

"No I don't," Fang replied. "It's awful."

"Good," Chris laughed. "Max, I approve of this one. I don't care if he likes country or reggae or even swing. He doesn't like Pop so I am happy." I laughed and Fang even smiled. Anna rolled her eyes.

"Not all pop is bad," she teased. "J-Pop is great."

"J-Pop?" Iggy asked.

"Japanese Pop," Anna explained. "Big fan. Guilty as charged."

"Fang likes it too," I sighed. "He had every existing Nightmare and T.M. Revolution CD courtesy of his connections at our Music World store."

"Ooh another J-Pop fan!" Anna grinned.

"So, man, do you play music?" Chris asked.

"Guitar, drums, piano and bass," Fang said.

"Guitar, bass and keyboard," Iggy added. "We have a band and we convinced Max to join us as our female singer."

"You did?" Anna asked.

"Yup. Fang does most of the singing though," I replied. "He can play most Bon Jovi songs perfectly and sings them in a way I never though possible."

"Oh my god! I love this guy! Can I take him home?" Anna asked me. I laughed.

"Sure, take him!" Iggy said. "We don't want him." Fang punched Iggy playfully and shook his head. A large wave caught up by surprise, drenching us all and causing us the burst into laughter, coughing and spluttering as we walked out of the surf.

Fang flipped his fringe from his eyes and grinned at me.

"That was funny," he said.

"I'm thirsty," I announced. "I'm going to head to the kiosk. I'll come back to you guys in a second." Anna and Chris nodded and Iggy winked at a girl who walked past so I rolled my eyes but when I started walking Fang came with me.

"Do you mind?" he asked.

"Not at all," I replied with a smile.

"You look happy to see your friends." Fang smiled at me. "They seem cool. I understand why you miss LA if your whole group is like that."

"We were all so close and they're all really nice," I replied. "Anna and Chris are the easiest going of the group. James and Jessie were so cool and nice and JJ was great, I was friends with her when I first learnt to walk."

"Long time." Fang shook his head and shifted. "Who's Sam?"

Oh I knew that was coming.

"Nobody," I replied. Fang frowned.

"Yeah, that's why you cut Anna off when she said his name."

"He's nobody. Someone I knew. That's it." Fang frowned at me and then shrugged, his eyes unreadable, even for me.

"Sure, okay." We bought a coke each and Fang grabbed one for Iggy and we went back to the other three. Anna and Chris brought their things up to where Alice had our towels laid out and Fang introduced them.

"They were friends of mine from when I lived in LA," I explained as I threw myself down on my towel beside Fang. Anna sat down beside me and Chris sat beside her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder.

"It's lovely to meet you both," Alice greeted.

"Gosh, Fang, you look like your Mum," Anna stated. Fang rolled his eyes and Alice smiled at him.

"His little sister is the complete opposite to him," I explained. "Angel has blonde curls and big blue eyes."

"Aw," Anna crooned.

"Hang on!" I said. I tugged my bag over and pulled out my wallet. I opened it and pulled out a folded photograph and handed it to Anna. She looked at it and smiled.

"That's the whole group," Iggy explained. "I can't believe you kept that picture Max."

"It was fun," I laughed. "Especially seeing Fang's face when he opened the box filled with his valentine's day cards."

The photo had been taken at the Valentine's carnival in town. The kids were dressed in shirts that we'd bought them at the stalls and all seven of us were wearing pink hearts- even Fang because Iggy and I had forced him and Angel had given him bambi eyes to make him keep it on.

"That's Angel there, Iggy's little brother Gazzy there and that's Nudge," I explained.

"Gosh, Ella looks pretty," Anna nodded.

"She looks the same as she did when we last saw her," Chris laughed, kissing Anna's cheek. "Besides, you're prettier."

Fang and Iggy rolled their eyes and Alice and I exchanged an amused look. Anna handed the photo back and I put it in my wallet. Anna was smiling gently at me.

"What?" I asked.

"You seem different," she murmured.

"Oh no," Chris groaned.

"What?" I asked, frowning.

"Anna's into this whole aura thing now," he explained. "Since she started seeing that psychic-"

"Stop it," Anna snapped. "She's very accurate, you know. Anyway Max, you seem lighter and happier."

"Really?" I asked.

"Really." I frowned. Being with Anna and Chris right now made me realise how much I missed the group but with Fang and Iggy on my other side I felt like I was in a very accurate physical representation of my heart at this second. I know that if both of my full groups were here I would be unable to choose who I wanted to be with but I never realised how much I missed Anna and Chris and the others until I was with them.

"I am happy," I assured her. Anna frowned at me and her eyes flashed slightly. Not angrily but more… confusedly. Chris was frowning at me slightly. I wasn't able to read what was in his expression. It was a mixture of a lot of emotions.

"Anyway," Iggy said. "I'm heading back into the water."

"Me too," Fang agreed. I looked at him and saw a whole world of emotions in his eyes before they turned guarded.

"I'll come!" Chris decided.

Anna and I stood and walked down the beach while the guys mucked around in the water. Alice was reading again but her eyes weren't moving and her forehead was furrowed. I hated it when people were perceptive of unvoiced tensions around them.

"You and Fang?" Anna asked.

"Best friends," I replied. "Nothing more, I swear."

"Good," Anna replied. "Because Sam loves you and I know you still love him no matter how gorgeous your new best friend is."

"You think I'm that shallow?" It was only half teasing.

"No, but you and Sam were made for each other." Anna was looking at me earnestly. "He's been moping around. He misses you and I can tell you miss him. I know you Max."

"I'm starting to think nobody knows me," I explained. "How can they when I hardly know myself?"

Anna shrugged. She glanced over at Chris and smiled and then looked back at me. "I know because you always know what's best when it comes to love. You knew with me and Chris and you told us to work on James and JJ."

I laughed. "With other people, not with me," I reminded her. "Besides, I won't know whether what Sam and I had is real until I see him again. Until then, I won't be able to tell how I feel."

"Fang's a great guy Max," Anna said and when I opened my mouth to reply she held up her hand. "But he's not the right guy for you."

"I don't like him," I protested. "Fang is my friend, nothing more. Besides, you hardly know him."

"He's so different to Sam though and you and he were like a… like a match made in heaven. I just can't see you with anyone but Sam."

I thought about Sam and mentally compared him to Fang and realised Anna was right about the kind of guys they were but I wasn't sure if she was right about me and Sam.

"I don't know, Anna," I started. "I think that I can have two guys in my life, not both of them boyfriends I mean, but two guys who are different and who are there for me in a different way. Fang is the perfect friend for me, nothing against you guys-"

"I know, Chris is my best friend," Anna laughed. "James and Jessica are twins so of course they're best friends and Sam was never so close as for you to call him a best friend. I get it, I'm not insulted at all. There are different kinds of friends."

I laughed. "Thanks. But as I was saying, Fang is the perfect friend and whether Sam is the perfect boyfriend… well, like I said, I won't know until the next time I see him."

"Fair enough." Anna smiled. "I hope you don't think I was trying to butt into your life and control you or anything. I was just concerned for two of my friends. I have loyalties to both you and Sam and everyone- even after the time you've been away- still considers you Sam's girlfriend, even though you broke up with him."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that," I replied uneasily. "But I do know you would never try and control me. It's okay, Anna, I understand." Anna smiled and we hugged and the boys shouted to us so we laughed and went and joined them.


"It was great meeting you," Anna said warmly. Iggy allowed her to hug him and she smiled at Fang and touched his shoulder- I'd warned her about him not liking hugs. Chris shook their hands and then they both hugged me tightly.

"Yeah, it was great meeting you," Iggy agreed.

"Definitely," Fang added. "Max always goes on about you guys so it was nice to finally find out what you were like."

"Likewise, Max's emails and the msn conversations left a lot to the imagination," Chris agreed.

"It was great to meet the guys who made her realise that Arizona was not a death sentence," Anna teased. "Bye Max, talk to you later."

"Bye Anna, Chris," I replied. "It was so great seeing you."

"It was," Chris agreed. "There's my brother. Come on Anna." They left, us waving to them until Chris's brother drove off and then we climbed into Alice's car and she smiled.

"Have a good time?" she asked.

"Great," we chimed together. I settled back in my seat and talked with Fang and Iggy and mentally prepared myself for the dress shopping day I had to endure tomorrow.

10. Freshman 10

I wanted to thank everyone who's been reviewing! It makes my day getting on the computer after doing homework to see all of those review alerts in my email inbox!! ^.^ I love it when people review because all of you are really funny and very appreciative so thankyou.

Sorry about the lack of Faxness in that last chapter, there's a little more in this chapter and some Brigid-hate from Max!! Yay ^.^ I dislike Brigid! Is it obvious yet?? lol Spring Fling is the next chapter, in which I promise there is a TONNE of faxness for our daily faxness fix! And then the chapter after that is the start of summer which I loved writing so much!! So hold on tight!

Here's today's update! ^.^ Enjoy :)

Red. Green. Blue. Pink. Gold. Aqua. Purple. Black. Lilac. Urgh why the hell are there so many colours? Yuck, tangerine, so not going to happen.

I stared at all of the dresses.

This was the first shop of this morning and I was determined to make it the last but to be perfectly honest, there were no dresses in here that I wanted to spend a whole night in. And that night was getting, so, so close. Spring Fling was coming up in three weeks from today and I had to spend that whole day being pampered. Luckily, I'd talked Mum out of a hair salon and she agreed stating 'we'll save that for your Prom'.

If Prom was more important than Spring Fling than I so didn't want to have anything to do with it.

"What about this one Max?" Nudge asked, looking at green one.

"Not green," I told her.

"What colour then?" Ella asked.

"Um… blue?" I replied, more like a question.

"I think you should wear purple," Nudge decided, taking the skirt of a dress and pulling it to rest against my skin. "It looks so nice with your skin colour and for some reason brown-eyed people suit purple."

"True," Mum and Ella agreed. All four of us girls were brown-eyed girls. Mum was standing with the shop owner, both of them sipping coffee. It turns out that Mum had saved the lady's cat and she was giving us a twenty-five percent discount on my dress. Awesome. I bet Lissa never got discounts just because of a cat.

"Actually, I like that colour," I mused, indicating the rich purple of the dress Nudge was holding out. "But I don't like that dress."

"We have a lot of styles in that colour," Ms Beatrice (the boutique owner) assured me. "You want a mid length dress, right? What kind of hem?"

"I think one of those," I said, pointing at a red dress's skirt cut.

"A handkerchief cut? I think those are the most flattering on mid length dresses." Ms Beatrice set her coffee mug down on a coaster and came over to us. "It's a good choice." Ms Beatrice looked me over and smiled.

"I think I have the perfect dress for you," she gushed excitedly, clapping her hands. I prevented myself from groaning as she bustled off into the back room.

"Don't worry Max," Mum said reassuringly. "We'd be done if you could just choose a dress."

I grimaced and then remembered I was supposed to be into this. I vowed to accept this dress no matter what it looked like… Then I remembered my challenge to Lissa, felt mortification fill my heart, trepidation made me shiver and then I sighed. I was going to pick a dress that would make me look stunning, no matter what.

Ms Beatrice came back with a champagne coloured box. She placed it on the counter and took off the lid, unwrapped the white rice-paper and took out a royal-purple dress.

Now, you all know how much I hate dresses but I actually like this one. Why? I have no idea but something about it spoke to me. I took it from Ms Beatrice and went into one of the change cubicles and put it on. I felt vulnerable already but as I looked at myself in the mirror that feeling ebbed away as I became confident in myself. I pulled my hair out of its pony tail so that the waves hung around my shoulders properly and I actually felt… pretty.

The dress had thick straps that split in half so that one half draped around my upper arm and the other one was over my shoulder. It was midriff bearing and the skirt was a few shades darker than the tight bodice. The bodice had very dark purple thread sewn in the shapes of vines and flowers across it.

I turned to the left and to the right and frowned at myself. This was the right dress and I got to make Fang wear purple, yay!

I walked out of the change room and stood in front of my family, blushing and looking at the tiled floor with embarrassment.

There was silence and I winced.

"I know it looks bad," I muttered. "I'll just-"

"No Max!" Four voices chorused and I looked up in shock.

"Max, honey, you look gorgeous," Mum said, smiling proudly. "Wonderful choice Lucile."

"It was," Ms Beatrice replied, her hands clasped in front of her chest, her eyes shining.

"You look great!" Nudge and Ella trilled.

"When your hair and makeup is done, Fang won't be able to take his eyes off you," Nudge giggled.

Good, that was what I was counting on these guys for. But I laughed.

"Fang never stares at girls," I reminded her, thankful for my brilliant acting skills.

"He will when we're done with you," Ella replied. "Every girl in the school will be jealous of how beautiful you look." I rolled my eyes and blushed. Every girl loves being told she looks great, even me. Besides, I was hoping to look like that so I could show Lissa that she was wrong. Both about me and about Fang.

I got out of the dress and back into my jeans and t-shirt with relief and Ms Beatrice put the dress back into its box and Mum paid for it and carried it while Nudge, Ella and I went into the Men's formal store next door and looked at the ties.

"We could be so horrible to Fang," Nudge laughed.

"I don't want to be," I said. "We'll get that one because it's purple and black so he'll feel better wearing it."

"Fair enough," Ella replied. I took it off the rack and bought it then went back out to Mum. She smiled as I showed her the tie.

"He'll feel okay about it because this is the only colour he'll have to wear," I explained. "Black and purple fit perfectly together.

"You need shoes," Mum said. Oh yeah. We went to one of the many shoe shops and Mum looks at the heels. I was okay at wearing heels but I'd have to practise. I was willing to wear them because I thought they might look good with the dress and that would work to my advantage.

I picked out a pair of black heels with a purple satin ribbon that laced them to my feet and then the ribbons criss-crossed up my calves and tied half-way up with a small flower clip to secure them. They went perfectly with the dress.

Urgh, I was turning into such a girl.

"Lunch time I think," Mum decided. We went into the food court and Mum ordered us food and I lazed in my chair. I spotted Brigid and remembered Fang had developed a sudden interest in talking to Brigid. As far as I know, he sat next to her in calculus now and they talked all of the time.

Iggy said that they even met up after school last week to "go over calc work". They didn't go to either of their houses, they just met up in the coffee shop that was only a few streets down from the school but still he met up with her after school.

Before you start, no I am no jealous, I am just concerned. Brigid may seem nice and everything but she's just a flirt and she wouldn't get Fang. I disliked Brigid and didn't like Fang interest in her. It could develop into something more and then I would get knocked down a notch. Then I would be jealous. Not because I wanted to be Fang's girlfriend but because he was my best friend and I didn't want to be second best to anyone. Yeah, petty I know, but still.

I stood up and Nudge and Ella looked at me.

"Where are you going?" Ella asked.

"I'll be back in a second," I replied.

I walked over to where Brigid was sitting, a science book open in front of her. Studying for our exams I think. We had chemistry and general science in the same week and they were my last exams. Brigid looked up at me, her green eyes kind.

"Hi Max," Brigid said.

"Hey Brigid," I replied and pulled a chair out and sat down. "You don't mind do you?"

"Not at all." Brigid moved her other book and smiled at me. "What are you doing in town?"

"Shopping for the stupid Spring Fling," I replied.

"I'm doing that next weekend," Brigid said.

"Who are you going with?"

"Jacob," Brigid shrugged. "We've been friends for a while and he asked me so I said yes." She refused to meet my eyes.

"You wanted to go with Fang." Brigid looked up at me, startled.

"So does every other girl in the year." She sounded defensive. "But you got there first, I guess."

"Why does everything seem to think that Fang and I are together?" I asked with a sighed. "We're just friends which is why I came to talk to you."

"Oh?" Brigid's eyes weren't so kind anymore but it was more that she was on guard, not angry or annoyed or anything.

"Yeah," I replied. "Fang is my best friend and I don't want to see anything bad happening to him. You hardly know him so I don't see how you could actually like him for him and not just because he's hot and a total rock legend. So don't go making him like you unless you know what you're in for."

"Making him like me?" Brigid was confused. "Oh, you mean that Fang and I have been becoming friends. Look, Max, I understand where you're coming from, I give the same warnings to any girls who are prospective girlfriends for Jacob but Fang was fine before you came along. He'll still be fine." I could hear the clear warning in her words 'butt out'.

"That may be so but now I am a part of his life and you are not a prospective girlfriend for Fang," I said coolly, standing up to make myself clearer. "You are just a girl who likes Fang for the guy you think he is. None of you girls know anything about him and I am not going to stand back and watch him get hurt because he ends up liking someone who doesn't know what they're in for."

I walked away, Brigid staring after me in shock. I felt like a bitch. I really did but still, I didn't like Brigid. I didn't want her to be an integral part of Fang's life. She was just this too-smart girl who liked Fang because he was hot, he was a rock legend and he was smart. None of them got how Fang had a rock-solid exterior but a kind heart. None of them had seen him hold Angel as she fell asleep and none of them had felt the gentle way in which he could hold you.

Embarrassed, I shook those thoughts away. Fang would be mad if Brigid told him what I said but I could deal with him. It was okay.

I sat back down with Nudge and Ella just as Mum brought our lunch over. Ella and Nudge were frowning at me but I waved off their concern and laughed along with the others as we spoke about a whole heap of random things. But I felt Brigid staring at me until I saw her leave from the corner of my eye. I sighed and wondered if this would come back to bite me.


End of the week. Fang had been distant from me. I'd aced both science exams and thought I was ready to hand the Spring Fling in two weeks but first I really needed to talk to Fang. Iggy had mentioned to me that he had been talking to Brigid at lunch on Monday while I'd been studying and then he'd went to Iggy and had seemed out of it but wouldn't say why.

This afternoon Fang and I were supposed to be walking to the mall together. Fang had to work and I wanted to check with Matt whether Dad's payments had made it through so far. So I thought that would be the right time to talk to him.

"Fang," I said as we walked of homeroom but he only looked at me.

"Max, I know I said we'd walk to the mall together," Fang said. Oh no. "But I kind of have something I need to do before work."

"What?" I asked, slightly hurt even though I wouldn't admit it.

"I kind of promised Brigid I'd help her with something we were told in calc today that she didn't get," Fang mumbled. I saw Brigid waiting off up the path and I scowled.

"Oh." I could hear the steel in my voice. This was what I'd been worried about. Being put second to somebody else. Right now, I really wished I was in LA. "Okay, see you on Monday then." I walked away from Fang, feeling really hurt.

I was just out of the school gates, waving goodbye to Iggy went Fang jogged up to me, waved to Iggy as well and looked at me.

"What are you doing?" I asked, a little colder than I'd meant to.

"I cancelled Brigid," Fang replied. "She can get help from her brother who is a senior. She doesn't need me."

I blinked and felt bad for my dark tone before. "Oh… why?"

"I realised that I'd blown you off three times this week not including then," Fang explained. "We were supposed to study together on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and I forgot about all of those and then wondered why you were annoyed with me. So I figured I shouldn't do it again."

"Thanks," I murmured.

"By the way I have something I need to talk to you about," Fang added as we started walking.

"And what's that?"

"What you said to Brigid on the weekend." He left that hanging for a moment and when I didn't reply he continued. "I wanted to say thanks for being so worried about me even though I can take care of myself and also to tell you not be so worried that I'm going to replace you."

"Since when did you get so talkative?" I was smiling despite my comment, Fang was cool with everything and that was alright. I really couldn't lose him. It felt like I'd known him forever.

Fang laughed slightly. "No matter what, you're my best friend. You understand who I am and I get you. Nobody else has that with me so don't be so jealous."

"Jealous? You think I was jealous."

"You were on the verge of it."

"You're unbelievable."

Fang rolled his eyes and I looked away, unable to keep from smiling. We celebrated the end of exams as we walked down and we each grabbed a chocolate thick shake before Fang had to work and he tried to find out what I was wearing to the dance.

"Look, you're just going to have to wait and see," I said. "Be patient."

"I don't even get to know what colour tie I'm wearing except that you want me to wear my all black suit," Fang sighed, unhappy. "This is so not fair."

"Whatever, Trevor," I replied. Fang rolled his eyes at me as went into Music World. Fang went out back to change his shirt and I found Matt by the audio booths, dusting a CD stand.

"Matt," I said and he looked around and grinned.

"Hey, Max," he replied. "Come to check on the guit-box?"

"Only the payments," I replied. "Have they come through?"

"Perfectly," Matt replied. "Only two more months… or just over."

"Just over." Then I smiled. "I can't wait until Fang's birthday."

"He'll be over the moon." Matt replaced the CDs on the stand and smiled. "How are your guitar lessons going?"

"Okay," I replied. "I'm starting to get the hang of it but I don't think I'll ever be as good as Fang."

"Hang in there, you'll do fine." I smiled in thanks for his encouragement and then Fang joined us.

"Hi Matt," he said. "Okay Max, thanks for walking me, you're supposed to be meeting your Mum and Ella now."

"Oh yeah, thanks," I replied. I smiled at Matt. "Thanks Matt, bye boys." Fang was frowning at me now slightly but then he shrugged and waved to me as I left before turning to Matt to talk to him.

I felt so happy, Fang and I were okay and Fang's present was going to come through thanks to Dad. I owed him now, damn. Oh well the only black dot left on my mood was that challenge with Lissa. I hoped and prayed that Fang wouldn't find out because I was so sure he would hate it so much. He kept telling me not to let Lissa get to me, that she wasn't worth my time but she had really gotten to me and now I had a challenge hanging over me that I felt compelled to win.

Fang had better think I looked bloody gorgeous on the Spring Fling or I was going to kill him.

11. Freshman 11

Here it is! THE SPRING FLING!!! Hehe sorry I've kept you waiting but my brother won't let me on the computer and I was at a friend's place for his birthday last night, heaps of fun, anywho because I haven't updating for like three or four days, not sure which it is, I'm giving you TWO chapters, yes, that's right two chapters! Just because you guys are so awesome and I love you ^.^ Ok so we have this chapter, which you've all been waiting for.

And people who are curious about Matt, you shall just have to wait and see for... um... I think it's like five chapters ^.^ Then you'll know whether Fang is jealous or not :)

Okay here's first update for tonight.

The next two weeks passed without incident. Though Fang and Iggy were both caught up in spending time with Tess and Brigid respectively, they never did it at the same time or I'd be alone and Fang was spending less time with Brigid now, highly conscious of the fact that I didn't like her. In fact I think he was hanging out with her this much just to annoy me, I wouldn't put it past him. Maybe I should have picked out that bright purple tie with the hearts on it for him…

But regardless of how much I didn't want it to be that time, that day of the Spring Fling arrived and I was forced to sit still while Nudge, Mum and Ella did my make up for me. Luckily they listened to me when I told them that I didn't want the whole deal and to only to do it thinly. Slowly I was transformed from scruffy tomboy to gorgeous teenage girl and I couldn't believe that they'd done that to me.

They threw glitter in my hair before piling it into a stylish bun on top of my head and threading tiny purple flowers around it. Mum gave me a new pair of earrings to wear and Ella leant me her amethyst necklace and then I got into my dress and put my shoes on.

I looked at myself in Mum's full length mirror.

"Wow," I whispered.

"Told you so," Ella said. I touched my hair and my face and turned to each side, staring at myself.

"I look… really great," I murmured. I felt like a girl and sure as hell looked like one. I felt really, really pretty. "Thankyou guys." I hugged all three of them and they patted me and Nudge had Fang's tie.

"Are we ready to meet with the others?" Mum asked.

Iggy, Tess and I were going to Fang's house to have our photos taken on the gazebo that Peter had built when they had bought the house. It had vines and roses carved into the wood and it was so beautiful. There were climbing vines growing on it too and because of the time of year they were in full bloom and it was so beautiful, the perfect place for photos, especially in the twilight.

We got into the car and Ella handed me a purple shawl. I felt vulnerable and scared now. My stomach was knotting up uncomfortably and I just knew I was going to break into a cold sweat if this became too much.

Lissa, Lily and Jess had been giving me dark looks all week and I was ready to show them up but I was nervous as hell about it. What if I only looked pretty to me? What if Fang didn't think so and didn't pay me that kind of attention? I hated this. It was awful.

When we pulled up in front of Fang's house Alice and Peter came out to greeted us.

"The kids are out back, Iggy and Tess just got here," Alice told us. They led the four of us around to the back where Fang and Iggy were chatting, leaning on the gazebo and Tess was standing with her Mum, talking.

Tess was sweet and very pretty with blonde hair and pale green eyes. She looked beautiful in a leaf-green mid length dress with a ribbon around the waist that had small flowers on it.

"Hi Max!" Tess said, waving. Iggy looked up and nudged Fang who turned around. I was very glad to see his eyes widen slightly. I blushed automatically as he swallowed and smiled, taking a few steps over to me.

I felt embarrassed and vulnerable as Fang looked at me, a gentle smile on his face. I felt all fluttery in my stomach. Fang reached me and blinked, his dark eyes amazed.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi," Fang replied. "You look… wow, you look amazing. I take back everything I said about you not looking good in a dress." I laughed at the teasing tone of his voice because underneath I could hear the sincerity.

"Thanks," I replied. Mum, Alice and Peter joined Alicia and Damien over with Tess's parents. Angel and Gazzy were over there and Angel was staring at me. Ella and Nudge joined the group and they all gushed over the four of us.

"You'd think this was something big and important," Iggy said, coming over with Tess. She had a white and gold corsage pinned over her heart. I smiled.

"That's pretty," I complimented. "Good choice, Ig." Fang leant over to me.

"Hi Mum helped him," he whispered in my ear. I giggled and Iggy glared at Fang but put his arms around Tess and smiled at her. She smiled at him and relaxed in his arms.

"Come on kids!" Peter called. He held up his big, professional camera. We all laughed and Fang held up a hand.

"Ig, Tess, you two go first," he said. "I forgot something. I'll be right back." He gave me a fleeting smile and went inside. Tess and Iggy went up onto the gazebo steps and he put his arms around her and four cameras started taking photos in turn.

Fang returned with a small plastic box. Inside was a purple rose with a purple and black ribbon. A corsage that was really pretty, I must say.

"I told you not to," I scolded.

"I would feel bad if I didn't," Fang replied. He pinned it over my heart and I smiled. I went over to Nudge and got Fang's tie and tied it loosely around Fang's neck as Tess and Iggy finished their photos. I undid Fang's top button and smiled.

"That's better," I teased. "You look more like Fang now instead of Nicholas." Fang smiled and took my hand, leading me onto the gazebo for our photos. We spent the whole time trying to keep straight faces. Fang put his arms around my waist for one photo and then he muttered something and both burst out laughing and Fang leant on the wooden pole and I leant on him, still laughing.

"Aw, that was a beautiful photo," Mum crooned. We stopped laughing and I moved around behind Fang and leant on his head because he was still on the steps and I was above him. Peter laughed a snapped a few shots and then Fang grabbed me and tipped me back as though we were dancing and everyone laughed.

"Okay, all four of you now," Alice instructed. Iggy and Tess joined us and we had photos for a little while longer and then it was time to head to school. Peter was driving us in the expensive company Mercedes that he owned. We pulled up at the school and went into the hall, not the gym, but the actual hall-slash-ballroom that was adjoining to the gym. It was decorated lavishly with balloons and flowers and streamers.

"Wow," Tess breathed. "I'd heard how amazing Spring Fling was but I never imagined it to look this good."

The four of us got our tickets, and then Tess wanted to go for photos- despite the many we'd already had- so we went over to the flower arch. It wasn't as nice as the gazebo that Peter had made but it was still cool. After photos Tess and Iggy went off and Fang and I looked at each other.

"What do you want to do?" Fang asked.

"Dunno," I replied. I spotted Lissa with her two friends and she was eyeing me darkly. She was wearing the dress I'd seen her in that time in the shop. I grabbed Fang's hand and led him over to a table. He looked at me, startled and frowned. We sat down and I could feel all my vulnerability coming back but this time it wasn't because Fang was staring at me in amazement it was because Lissa was glaring at me and a lot of other people were looking at me.

I refused to look at Fang and just stared at my hands. Fang was watching me.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

"Fine," I replied, my voice unusually high. Fang frowned again.

"I'm thirsty," Fang stated. "I'm going to get us some punch."

"Wait, Fang, stay here!" I said, grabbing his hand. Fang frowned and sank back into his seat. "Thank-"

He held up his hand, still frowning.

"Max, what is with you tonight?" Fang asked. "You're been acting… odd."

I sighed, playing with my hands on the table in front of me.

"You can talk to me, Max," Fang said softly. I glanced up at his concerned eyes and felt like crying. "Whatever it is, you can tell me."

"It's Lissa," I explained. "I've been trying to get you to pay attention to me because I told Lissa that you would. I don't want you to look at her or else-"

"Whoa!" Fang raised his hand again. "What do you mean? You want me to pretend that…" Fang frowned. "Max, do you… I mean… do you… you know? I mean it's cool if you do… I think. But-"

"No Fang!" I gasped. "I don't like you, not like that. But I do want you to pay attention to me. I swear it's nothing like that but it's just something that Lissa said to me. It really got to me and I said something stupid and got a bit carried away."

I looked at Fang warily but he was only frowning.

"I'm confused," he finally sighed. "Start from the beginning."

I explained what had happened in the dress shop the Friday before my birthday. "What she said to me wouldn't have bothered me if it hadn't been almost word-for-word what Lauren said to me back in eighth grade," I sighed.

"Who's Lauren?" Fang asked. He seemed to be mulling things over. "It help me understand what was going through your mind when you challenged Lissa like that."

"When I was dating my first boyfriend, Lauren said to me pretty much what Lissa had but I just brushed her off, telling her she was wrong." I sighed, still feeling hurt. "Then two days later I saw Kyle making out with her in the middle of the mall, when he was supposed to be meeting me to see a movie."

Fang reached over and placed his hand over mine and I looked at him. He was half smiling. I raised my eyebrows at him.

"I understand now," Fang said. "Lissa got to you because of what that Kyle guy did to you. I get it. I'm cool with it. I just wish you'd told me sooner."

"Why?" I asked, confused. Fang smiled.

"So I could do this." He took both my hands and gazed at me as though I was the most amazing thing on the planet. I recognised the look from drama classes.

"Fang," I sighed.

"What?" he replied.

"You don't have to do that. It's okay." I tried to take my hands away from him but Fang held them, rolling his eyes.

"I've spent the whole semester pretending to be in love with you for drama classes, I'm okay with this," Fang said lightly. I rolled my eyes but smiled. "Besides, I wanna piss off Lissa too. I can't let you have all the fun."

"Fair enough." Fang smiled at me and I looked over at Iggy and Tess who were dancing. The song stopped and a new, slower song came on and I looked at Fang. "We're at a dance, do you want to dance?"

"Of course," Fang replied. He led me onto the dance floor and then spun me around before putting his hands on my waist. I put my arms around his neck and Fang gazed into my eyes.

"I always forget how good of an actor you are," I laughed, looking back at him. Fang rolled his eyes.

"Never thinking too good of me, are you?" he teased.

"Nope," I replied. Fang pulled me closer and my heart sped up and I leant into him, resting my head on his shoulder, my arms wrapping around him tighter. This felt really odd… But good in a way.

I closed my eyes, enjoying the slow dancing and I suddenly felt a whole bunch of things in my heart. Guilt. Happiness. Peacefulness. Anger. Sad. Loneliness.

Fang's thumb was rubbing pleasant circles into my bare midriff and I shivered automatically and pulled back to look at him. His eyes were filled with a whole heap of emotions and I couldn't seem to separate any of them. He stared back at me, warmth flaring in his dark eyes. This close I could see the little gold flecks that made his eyes look warm and beautiful. I could even count his eyelashes we were that close.

Fang's eyes flared and he leant towards me but then Fang pulled away from me and I blinked and frowned. Iggy had dragged Fang a few metres away. Iggy was talking urgently and Fang was frowning slightly. The annoyance left his face and then he glanced over at me and then back at Iggy.

I was now slightly annoyed, I folded my arms and stared at them with irritation. Fang said something to Iggy who nodded at him and then walked back to Tess who was waiting for him. They started slow dancing again and Fang came over to me, frowning.

"What?" I asked, trying to forget the look in his eyes from a few moments before. I was trying to stop my knees from trembling but it wasn't working.

"Nothing," Fang replied. My eyes narrowed.


He sighed. "Ig heard Lissa planning to sabotage you," Fang explained. "So I'm not letting you out of my sight."

"I'm not worried," I assured him. "Really."

"I know but I don't want your night being ruined because then mine will be ruined too and besides you seem so comfortable for a change so I don't wanna Lissa to make you feel horrible."

Fang gave me a hopeful smile and I laughed.

"Okay, fair enough." Fang put his arms back around me but he was all tense and the mood from before was gone. Fang noticed too and we stopped dancing walked over to the wall and walked around it until we reached one of the exits. Fang glanced around and then pushed the door open and we slipped outside.

"Ah, fresh air," Fang sighed.

"It was so stuffy in there," I murmured. The air was warm and I was more comfortable outside. I knew I wouldn't have to put up with Lissa out here. Fang and I walked over to one of the benches and sat there.

We looked up at the stars and Fang sighed. I glanced at him and he looked down at me.

"I'm enjoying this more than I thought I would," Fang explained. I smiled.

"Me too," I replied. "And thanks for helping me out."

"What are friends for?"

I heard voices then and Fang looked around. There were some figures dressed in black sneaking around the side of the hall. They looked to be big guys. Fang frowned.

"Who are they?" I whispered.

"It looks like it's the local gang," Fang whispered. "G51. Stay here." Fang took his jacket off and handed it to me and I jumped up and grabbed his hand.

"They're all bigger than you!" I hissed.

"And they're going to spoil the dance for everyone who is enjoying themselves," Fang whispered. He looked at me earnestly. Fang was always thinking of other people. It was one reason why I really liked having him as a friend.

I frowned deeply.

"But they'll kill you," I whispered.

"No they won't," Fang replied. "I'm a good street fighter. I'll be okay."



We both jumped and turned to look. The gang members- there were seven here at the moment- were advancing towards us, dangerous looks on their faces. Some of them had bags that seemed to be filled with spray cans, texta, paint and other graffiti objects. Maybe even stink bombs the throw through the windows. Jerks.

"Why are you sneaking around?" the lead guy asked. He had about four inches and a hundred pounds on Fang but Fang pushed me behind him and glared at the gang members. I held his jacket, fearful that something bad would happen to Fang.

"This is our school dance, we aren't sneaking around," Fang snarled. "You're the ones sneaking. I suggest you leave or I'll call the cops."

The guys all laughed and I glared at them.

"Maybe you should just back off," one of the guys said.

The lead guy spotted me behind Fang and he smirked. "Look, we'll forgive you for challenging us if you leave and leave your pretty girlfriend with us," the leader smirked.

"I don't think so," Fang growled, taking a step back and nudging me along behind hm. "You stay away from her."

"Fang, let's just go," I whispered urgently. I could fight too but this guys were so big and I really didn't want to see Fang get himself beat up just for me.

"Fang? What kind of a name is Fang?" one guy asked and the others laughed.

"A cooler name than yours," Fang replied.

"Fang," I whispered.

"I think you should listen to her boy. But it doesn't matter because you aren't going anywhere." The leader advanced on us and Fang took another step back, pushing me along, trying to keep me away from the guys.

Fang froze as the leader and two other guys came even closer. He waited for a few seconds and then shoved me right back so that I stumbled into the bench and he launched a round house kick at one of the guys and hit him in the head. He fell back with a grunt and Fang ducked under a punch.

I moved behind the bench and stared at Fang in amazement. Wow he could fight but these guys were all bigger, older and stronger than Fang. He got hit by a foot in his gut and his breath rushed out and he grunted as he stumbled back and ducked a kick.

"Leave him!" the leader shouted. "He's mine!" The other six all moved back and Fang straightened up, sucking in breath. He looked murderous. Nobody looks scarier than Fang when he's mad. I shivered and swallowed hard. I hoped someone would come out. No matter how good Fang was I could see this ending badly.

"Please, please," I whispered, looking towards the hall.

Fang dodged to the side as the guy threw a punch at him. Fang jumped up and landed an elbow straight down onto the guy's collar bone. I swore it would have broken it if Fang hadn't been grabbed by the guy and thrown slightly off. The guy threw him down and Fang rolled a few feet and then scrambled to his feet only to be kicked in the head. He head snapped around and he spat out blood before rolling away from another kick.

"Fang!" I screamed as the guy landed a kick in his chest. Fang slammed into the tree that the bench was under and I moved away slightly because he glared at me. Fang waited, leaning against the tree until the guy tried to punch him and then he ducked, giving the guy a broken knuckle as his fist made contact with the tree.

Fang danced around behind him and landed a kick on his side. The guy grabbed Fang by the arm and punched him three times in the face. Blood ran down from Fang's nose and the guy threw him onto the ground. Fang raised himself onto all fours and the leader motioned the one of his cronies and I gasped.

"Bastard!" I shouted. "Coward! Somebody help!" I couldn't believe I'd just said that but Fang was getting his butt whooped and they were ganging up on him. The other guy grabbed him and held his arms back while the leader used Fang as a human punching bag.

"No, no, no!" I screamed. "Fang! Help!" I went to run to the hall door but one of the guys grabbed me and, despite the fact that I am not a damsel in distress, I screamed. I heard the music stop in the hall and started shouting. I looked at Fang, tears running down my face desperately.

The hall doors burst open and all the gang members looked over in shock and I kicked up and managed to kick the guy holding me where the sun don't shine. Allow me to make it clear that I hate heels but right then I thanked God I was wearing them. The guy let me go and I ran over to where Fang had been dropped as the members of the gang stared at the hall like the dumb idiots they are.

"Hey!" That was Mr Barkly, the Government teacher and one of the coolest guys ever. "Somebody call the cops it's G51!" The guys all ran and I knelt down as people rushed out of the hall.

"Fang!" Iggy was there in an instant as I rolled Fang over gently, making sure his neck wasn't broken and then lifted his head and rested it in my lap. "Oh god! Man, wake up!"

"Oh my god!" There were screams and shouts of helplessness and someone shouted 'call an ambulance too!'

"Fang," I whispered. I pulled my shawl from around my shoulders and wadded it up and dabbed Fang's split eyebrow, split lip and Iggy knelt down beside him. "Fang, please wake up. Please, be okay."

"Oh man," Iggy murmured. He ran his fingers over Fang's ribs. "Broken here and here." He touched Fang's sternum and his jaw and nose. "Jaw and sternum are okay. Nose is broken though." Iggy moved it back into place and Fang coughed and woke up, probably from the pain of Iggy setting his nose.

"Fang!" I gasped.

"Oh god," he coughed. He turned his head, rose slightly from my legs and spat blood on the ground.

The teachers were herding the students back into the hall and Miss Elissa and Mr Barkly came over to keep an eye on us until the cops and ambulance came.

"Fang, how bad is it?" I asked, wiping tears from my face.

"Pre'y bad," Fang mumbled, lying his head back on my legs. He looked up at me blearily. "You're cryin'."

"Because you scared me," I whispered. "Why the hell did you do that, you idiot?"

"They were goin' to hur' you," Fang groaned. I gave a choked half-laugh.

"Always chivalrous," I whispered.

"That's right," Fang muttered, his eyes drifting shut.

"No Fang, don't go to sleep!" Mr Barkly said. "He might have a concussion, keep him awake." Iggy slapped Fang's face and he blinked and groaned.

"Thanks," he mumbled.

"Be okay Fang," I whispered. "Please be okay. Don't give up on me now." Then, without realising what I was doing, I leant down and kissed him on the mouth.

"Ow," Fang gasped and I pulled back and then heat flooded my face.

I heard Miss Elissa and Mr Barkly cough awkwardly and turn away. Iggy blinked and stared at me and I looked at Fang and he was staring at me in shock. He swallowed and tried to sit up but I wouldn't let him.

"Just… um, stay down, 'kay?" I said.

"O… kay," Fang muttered. "Oh man, my head is killing me." He eyed me carefully and then looked at Iggy.

"I wish I'd been out here to have your back," Iggy sighed.

"It's okay man," Fang replied. The sirens of the ambulance and police cars sounded and Iggy stood up to go and tell Tess what had happened, and Miss Elissa and Mr Barkly went to wave the ambulance around to us, leaving Fang and I alone.

"Sorry," I murmured. "I didn't mean to do that."

"That's okay," Fang replied softly. He touched his split lip and winced when his head throbbed. He gave me a look and I blushed deeply again. I don't know what had come over me. "It didn't mean anything right? Just that you were worried."

"That's right." I looked at him worriedly and he did the best shrug he could while lying down and in pain.

"Then it's okay." Fang struggled to sit but I forced him back down. He grumbled but didn't complain because then the ambulance reached us and loaded him onto a gurney and I got into the ambulance with him, for one really long ride to the hospital.

That night had started out so wonderfully and then… Urgh. I held Fang's hand as the paramedics looked at his ribs and checked his pupils. He squeezed back and I wished that we hadn't gone outside.


Mum, Ella, Nudge, Alice, Peter, Angel, Alicia, Damien and Gazzy came to the hospital ten minutes after I'd been sitting alone in the hall, freaking out while they made sure Fang didn't have internal bleeding or a fractured skull or whatever they were doing to him in there.

"Max!" Mum said. I rushed to her and she hugged me tightly.

"What happened?" Alice asked, tears streaming down her face. I picked Angel up and hugged her as I looked at Alice.

"Fang and I were outside and G51 showed up and started saying things about me that Fang didn't like and then he said something they didn't like," I explained. "They started coming at us, bad intentions and all, and Fang pushed me out of the way and kicked one of them and then they ganged up on him and beat him up."

"What are the doctors doing?" Peter asked. "Was he okay?"

"He's alright," I assured him. "Banged up and bloody but alright. The doctors are just x-raying him and checking for internal bleeding. He should be out soon."

"Okay," Peter sighed. Alice leant into her husband and they held each other with relief.

"Iggy might want to come here," I murmured and Damien nodded.

"I'll drop Tess home and bring him here," he stated. He kissed Alicia's cheek and ruffled Gazzy's hair as he left. Alicia and Alice sank down onto seats and Peter leant on the wall, his arms folded wearing a dark look that reminded me of Fang and I teared up.

Angel touched my cheek and nuzzled her face into my neck. I cuddled her and Mum, Ella and Nudge took seats. Ella and Nudge were crying. Gazzy climbed onto Ella's lap and she held him and wiped her tears away.

"Thank god he's okay," Nudge sighed taking a shuddering breath. "Was it bad Max?"

I nodded, unable to talk. I was so scared that I was going to lose Fang. Those thugs would have gone so far as to nearly kill him, I knew they would have.

After a few tense minutes the doctor came out and we all jumped up and crowded him.

"There was no internal injury, just a whole bunch of bruising," he explained. "A couple of his ribs were broken so we set them and strapped his chest up. Nothing else was broken but he had to give him stiches above his eye. Other than that and his ribs and nose, he is fine."

We all sighed and hugged each other and Peter shook the doctor's hand, relief in his eyes.

"Can we see him?" Angel asked from my arms.

"Of course you can," the doctor laughed. "We can release him in the morning but he has to stay overnight for observation." He looked at all of us and shrugged then motioned us into Fang's room. He was the only one in the double room

"Hey guys," Fang croaked.

"You are such an idiot!" Nudge cried rushing over. "Taking seven gangsters at once! You stupid idiot! You're… such a… stupid…" Nudge broke down into tears and Ella comforted her, stroking her wild hair and Fang chuckled.

"I'm okay Nudge," he assured her. "Don't worry."

Damien and Iggy came in then and Iggy walked over shaking his head. He clapped Fang's shoulder gently and Alice hugged her son, then Alicia and then Mum. Fang let them all hug him and then he smiled at Ella and Nudge, ruffled Gazzy's hair and I brought Angel over to him.

"You're hurt," she whimpered. Fang reached out and hugged his little sister to him. She nestled her head against his shoulder, crying.

"You gave a real scare," Peter told him.

"Sorry guys but I'm okay," Fang assured everyone. He looked at me and gave me a small, special smile. "But I couldn't just do nothing. It's not me to lie down and take something or let someone else get hurt."

We all rolled our eyes and laughed. Fang was okay and that was what mattered.

12. Freshman 12

Second update for tonight ^.^ BTW has everyone seen those pics of what the characters look like in their makeovers???? I have one word for Fang: HOTTIE!!! Like majorly!!! lol ^.^ I seriously started fangirl screaming when I saw him!! ^.^

The next week at school, all that anybody could talk about was Fang getting his arse beaten by the G51 gang leader. The girls didn't seem to find it unappealing that Fang had gotten beaten, in fact they thought it was amazing that he had taken on the gang.

Fang tried to ignore all the attention, his pride was hurt and he felt bad about ruining the dance for everyone. In fact he kept apologising to me for ruining my night but I told him that it was alright, I'd been so upset about him getting hurt to be worried.

Iggy broke up with Tess because she was getting bored with him but he was pretty okay about it actually. I suspected that he'd been making sure he could have a relationship with someone before he started trying to win my sister over. Hmm… I wonder if my theory is right.

We sat in Drama on the last day of school and I touched Fang's eyebrow where it was stitched up. He looked at me in surprise and I gave him a half smile.

"You look very dashing," I assured him. "Like you kicked massive butt."

"Instead of the other way around," Fang laughed. He shook his head and smiled gently at me. His lip was almost better and the bruises were fading slightly. I hoped he'd be back to normal soon. He hated looking like a punching bag, it made me feel weak.

"Don't worry man, nobody thinks that of you," Iggy said. "Everyone thinks you were awesome. After all there were seven of them and they were all bigger than you."

"You should of heard them talking about Max," Fang growled. "I wish I could have shown them a thing or two."

"Max got that one guy really well," Iggy laughed. I giggled.

"Only because I was so scared they were going to kill Fang," I replied. Fang grinned and then the bell sounded.

"Five minutes 'till freedom," Iggy cheered. "See you two after homeroom. Mall still on?"

"Definitely," Fang and I replied in unison and went to homeroom.

The next five minutes were the longest of my life. We sat there, waiting for the bell to go for summer. Oh please, please hurry up. I wanna go to the mall and hang out with Fang and Iggy.

The bell sounded and I jumped up.

"Yes!" I shouted.

"Have a good holiday," Mr Varner stated and we all left in a hurry. Fang and I met with Iggy and started walking.

"Summer vacation!" Iggy shouted, punching the air. Fang and I laughed.

As Fang, Iggy and I walked towards the gate, Fang froze. He frowned deeply and Iggy and I looked at him.

"Fang?" Iggy asked.

"Max, were you expecting a visitor?" he asked. I frowned. Fang looked intently at something. "Seriously."

I raised my eyebrows. What was wrong with him? I followed his gaze to where he was staring and my heart froze and then started beating at a million miles an hour.

Leaning against my mum's car with his floppy brown hair and tortoiseshell eyes was Sam. He looked as cute as ever as he noticed me looking and smiled. My stomach flipped slightly and then I looked anxiously at Fang. I felt a pain clench my heart and slow it down.

"Who is he?" he asked me, turning his midnight eyes onto mine.

"That's Sam," I said softly. "He's… my ex-boyfriend." Fang nodded and his eyes became expressionless. I couldn't read them but I could see the stiff set of his jaw. I wondered what was going on in his head.

"We should go, come on," Fang said, taking Iggy's arm. Something about his tone of voice made my heart ache. "We'll see you later Max, have a good summer."

"You too but I'll see you soon right?"

"Of course," Iggy replied when Fang didn't say anything. They left the school and set off walking down the path. I stared after them a moment and then walked slowly towards Sam.

He was beaming, ecstatic to see me while I was full of mixed feelings. How could he show up like this? What was going on in his head? I remembered that my old school finished the last day of term at midday instead of going into the afternoon, it was their special treat. That's how he was here but why was he here?

"Max!" he called and ran over to me. He pulled me into a hug and I hugged him back automatically, my mind still reeling. I was still seeing Fang's expressionless eyes, his stiff jaw. I could hear his tone as he said that he should go.

"Hi Sam," I greeted, trying for enthusiasm as he let me go.

"I'm so glad to see you," he told me excitedly. I smiled back, I knew it was real but it felt forced. Until my mind settled I wasn't sure what was real or not.

"Me too," I assured him. He frowned.

"Is something the matter Max?"

"No, nothing," I assured him. His hazel eyes were searching my brown ones. He wouldn't find anything. Nobody could read my expressions… except for Fang and I don't know how he did it. He frowned, not finding anything to argue against and then he smiled again.

"Well alright, I was going to call you when my folks said I could come and see you but then I decided it might be better to surprise you so I called your mum and told her but not to tell you," Sam explained, taking my hand as we walked to my mum's car.

When we reached it I noticed that Nudge was sitting with Ella.

"Hey," I greeted. Sam allowed me to sit with Ella and Nudge and he took the front seat beside Mum. "Nudge, it's good to see you again," I said with a smile.

"You as well Max," Nudge agreed. Ella smiled weakly at me. She knew the turmoil in my mind I think. I had to call Fang as soon as I got home. Mum chatted happily and I forced my tone as we drove home.

When we finally got there I told Sam I had to change and he had to wait for me. He obligingly sat in the kitchen and I walked up the hallway. I ducked into the office beside my room before anyone could notice. The door shut and I locked it and dashed down to the desk. I knew Fang would be home even though his parents were still working.

"Pick up," I pleaded as I dialled his number. One the third ring someone answered.

"Angel, don't!" I heard Fang say in the background.

"Max!" Angel said happily. Of course Fang had my number programmed into his caller ID. He obviously didn't want to talk with me.

"Hi sweetie," I greeted. "Hey, is your big brother there?"

"Yeah and he told me not to answer because he didn't feel like talking but I answered because it was you and he always likes to talk to you!" Angel replied. I felt my cheeks heat up and I was glad this wasn't video call.

"Well can you tell him I want to talk to him?"

"Sure. Fang, Max says she wants to talk to you."

"Tell her I'm… um…" Fang trailed off.

"Angel, honey, tell Fang that I'm sorry, I should have told him," I said.

"Okay… she says that she's sorry and she should have told you. What's she talking about?" Angel said. Fang groaned.

"Give me the phone," he said.

"Okay!" I heard the phone being passed over and Fang sighed on the other end.

"Max, I'm not mad at you, you don't have to apologise for anything," Fang told me. I sighed this time. I twirled the phone cord around my finger nervously.

"Well I still feel bad. I never expected Sam to show up," I told him. "I didn't even think that he would still want to see me since I broke it off. I know it was only-"

"Max, stop it." Fang seemed amused. "Are you implying that I am jealous of that guy?" He laughed but it sounded slightly off for him. It wasn't his real laugh, it was his fake one. The one he put on for Lissa and his other fans.

"That's what it seemed like," I mumbled. "I know that you're only pretending you're amused. Please Fang, listen to me. Don't be like that. There isn't anything going on with Sam. You're still my best friend, my number one guy, my wing-man. Don't forget it."

"You know how to make a guy feel happy," Fang teased. "Well Shorty I have to go, Angel's hungry." I could tell from his tone that it was a lie but he didn't sound as unhappy as before. He believed me which was good since I was telling the truth. He would always be my number one guy. I trusted him absolutely. So much for not putting down any connections.

"Okay, sure," I replied. "Why don't we meet up this week or something? I don't know how long Sam's here for but I don't want to go too long without seeing you or Ig."

"Yeah, I couldn't let Angel go too long without seeing her favourite sister," Fang agreed. "How about you come to my place on Tuesday, Iggy's bringing Gazzy and I'll get Nudge to come and bring Ella, okay?"

"Sure thing," I agreed. "Mum should let me… um, what if Sam is still here?"

"Bring him," Fang said but the way he said it sounded like 'kill him'. I sighed, ignoring the tone.

"Hopefully he won't be here. See you later Fang."

"Bye Max." His voice was soft as he said goodbye then he hung up. I put the phone down and sighed again. Fang was really hurt but he wasn't going to say anything. I frowned… wait Iggy! Iggy would tell me.

I picked the phone back up and dialled his number. He answered quickly.

"Yo Max," he greeted. "Wait before you ask, yes Fang is unhappy."

"I just called him," I said dully. "Look Iggy did he say anything to you?"

"Fang isn't one for the whole wordy sharing of feelings," Iggy reminded me. "I could tell from the way he looked that he was jealous. Capital letters, italics, bold, underlined, exclamation points, whatever. He was j-e-a-l-o-u-s. All because your ex showed up." Iggy snickered. I had to admit the way he said it sounded amusing but this was my best friend we were talking about.

"Is he mad at me?"

"No, he's never mad at you… well okay sometimes he is but not right now. I think he's mad at your Sam for showing up."

"He's not my anything. I didn't know he was coming and I don't want him here. He's making things tense with me and Fang and I don't like it." I sighed and Iggy made a few reassuring remarks and then his tone brightened.

"Maybe you should tell Fang that," he suggested.

"Already did," I replied. "He was happier after I said it but he was still sour. I hope I can make him see things better on Tuesday."

"Yeah. Hey I have to go, the 'rents need my help. I'll see you Tuesday."

"Yeah sure Ig. Bye." I hung up and sighed with relief. Well Fang wasn't mad at me so that was a good thing. I sighed and rubbed my temples feeling a headache coming on. Hopefully Sam would be gone and he wouldn't come to the gathering of my friends.

"Max!" Speak of the devil. "Max where are you?" I crept to the door of the office and waited for Sam to leave before going and out and dashing to my closed bedroom door.

"Yeah Sam?" I asked. I acted as though I was just opening my door. Damn I was still in the clothes I wore to school. Sam noticed.

"What were you doing?" he asked.

"Um… staring at the calendar wondering how summer break got here so fast," I replied convincingly.

"It went too slow for me," Sam sighed. "I wondered why the world was torturing me so much so that I couldn't see you sooner." I smiled pretending to think that I liked that he said that. Honestly, I hadn't thought about seeing him since my first two weeks here. After that Fang and Iggy made being here too much fun to think of anything really.

"So, how long are you staying?" I asked.

"Well my folks are in Phoenix for a week and they said they'd pick me up on their way back to LA." I tried to act as though that was great but I don't think I did a good job. I think my face fell and then I plastered a fake smile.

"Well that's excellent, you can come with me and Ella to my best friend's house to watch movies on Tuesday," I told him.

"Wow, it'll be great to meet your best friend. What's she like?" Sam seemed excited and I felt a flare of annoyance. He was stereotyping that girls had to have girl best friends. That really irritates me when he does that.

"He is wonderful," I told him. His eyes darkened.

"He?" he questioned.

"Yes he," I replied. "And his name is Fang."

"Fang?" Sam seemed sceptical at his name.

"It's a nickname nimrod. His name is Nick but everyone calls him Fang. My other friend is his friend Ian who we call Iggy. Their little siblings are going to be there and Ella and Ella's best friend Monique, who we call Nudge."

"Sounds like fun," Sam said but I could see his anger at my best friend being a guy. Well let's see him deal with Fang.

Now I love Sam and all- I'm not sure in which way I love him anymore but I do- but there was a part of me waiting to see him try and deal with an angry Fang. Fang would tear him apart whether it was a battle of male egos, battle of fists (which I would so not allow), battle of wits or battle of insults (which again, I was not going to allow, not with six year old Angel and eight year old Gazzy there).

"It will be," I agreed, my voice was colder than I'd meant to make it but… meh, whatever. I turned into my room and changed, trying not to hyperventilate.

13. Freshman 13 Summer

Yay another update!!! I loved, loved, loved writing this chapter so I hope that all of you love it because I know I do!!!! I loved writing Jealous Fang, it's so much fun ^.^ Enjoy!

Sam and I spent the weekend catching up. He told me all about what I'd missed with school and in the group. He explained about Brett and I got mad all over again but he did what Chris hadn't and described in detail what James had done to the jerk. I felt proud of James even though he'd been suspended for a week from school.

I also heard about JJ and James' developing relationship. Sam, Anna, Chris and Jessica were working on that. Not Jessica so much because she was still down about Brett. I hoped she'd get over him soon.

Sam tried to kiss me only once but I wouldn't let him. When he did I thought about when Fang nearly kissed me and then when I had kissed him after he'd gotten beat up. Kissing Sam was probably not a good idea and he seemed to get the hint and didn't try again.

I had to do some major photo swapping on the first night. I left up one frame photo of me, Fang and Iggy but I put some photos of Sam up so that he didn't think I'd forgotten him. I hid the picture of just and me and Fang under my pillow so that I'd still feel close to it even though I couldn't see it. Sam seemed annoyed to see photos of Fang up though.

Tuesday arrived with my thanking whatever Gods there were and being excited beyond all reason to see Fang and the others again.

As we were getting ready to leave Ella pulled me aside and lowered her voice so that neither Mum nor Sam could hear. I frowned at her as she looked urgently at my eyes.

"I phoned ahead and told Iggy to warn Fang that Sam was coming," Ella told me.

"Thankyou," I said hugging her. "You are the best. What did you say?"

"I told him to tell Fang that Max was so, sooo, sorry but Sam was coming," Ella explained. "Iggy swore and then called Fang we had a three way. Fang seemed upset but when I told him how unhappy you'd been this weekend he cheered up."


"I know you, don't pretend I don't." I rolled my eyes and hugged her again.

"Thankyou so much. I have the best sister in the world," I told her. She laughed as we broke apart.

"Are you two ready to go?" Mum asked in amusement. We turned and grinned.

"Sure," we replied in unison.

We got into the car and mum drove us into town and to the Rides' house. Sam was appraising everything as we got out. Mum smiled at us out of the window.

"You guys have fun," she told us. She gave me a look that said 'don't let anything come between you and the people you care for' and drove off. My mother, the hallmark card reader. But her advice was good. I was not going to let Sam come between me and Fang or vice-versa. I still wasn't sure if I loved Sam still but I did know that I cared about him.

"Max!" I could recognise Angel's voice as the front door was ripped open. I bent down as she rushed out and I picked her up and hugged her close.

"Hi Angel," I whispered.

"I'm glad you came," Angel said back. Her eyes fell on Sam and she didn't say anything but she watched him closely.

"Max, Ella!" Nudge called. She waved as we walked up to the house.

"Max!" This time it was Gazzy. I put down Angel and bent down to hug Gazzy and ruffle his hair. I kissed the top of his head and hugged him tightly for a moment more and then let him go. Fang and Iggy were standing in the lounge room doorway. Iggy winked at me and Fang's eyes were on Sam.

"Okay Sam these are my friends," I told him. "That's Angel, Gazzy, Nudge, Iggy and Fang. Guys this is Sam. My-"

"Boyfriend," he finished, glaring hard at Fang. Fang raised an eyebrow. Sam seemed to be cataloguing the bruises and healing cuts on Fang's face.

"Ex," I said but it was as though no-one heard me. Everyone's attention was focused on Sam and Fang. I heard Gazzy move closer to Angel behind me.

"Is that the wiener?" I heard Gazzy asked.

"I think so," Angel replied. Almost against my will, one corner of my mouth quirked in a smile. Wow those kids were quick learners. I wonder how many times Fang and Iggy had said that in the last three days?

"Okay, who wants chips?" Nudge suddenly asked to break the tension.

"I'll help you!" Angel said.

"Me too!" Gazzy agreed. Nudge, Ella and the little guys went down the hall and into the kitchen. Iggy and I exchanged glances. It wasn't the same as exchanging a glance with Fang but this one was easy to tell. It said 'let's cool these two down'.

"So, what movies are we watching Fang?" I asked brightly. His eyes turned to me and they were hard, like onyx and expressionless. I could see his tense jaw and I could almost feel the 'I hate him' vibes rolling off him in waves.

"We're going to watch some movies that Angel and Nudge picked," he told me stiffly. "We're watching chick flicks."

"The Notebook, Notting Hill, Pretty in Pink, Twenty-Seven Dresses," Iggy ticked off on his fingers.

"One horror movie though," Fang said remembering. "For tonight after Angel and Gazzy have gone to bed."

"Tonight?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, we do whole flock sleepovers all the time," Iggy said. Fang kicked him.

"Sleepover?" Sam asked. His eyes were on me, burning a hole in the side of my head but my eyes were on Fang's.

"You don't have to stay," Fang said darkly, not looking away from me. Expression came into his eyes as his guard went down and I knew that he wanted Sam to go.

"No, no I'll stay," Sam agreed. Fang's eyes turned murderous before they went back to hard onyx. I sighed.

"How come you're not complaining loudly about the chick flicks?" Ella asked as they returned with bowls of snacks. We all went into the lounge room. Iggy and I shut the blinds and Fang set up the TV.

"Because it was Nudge's turn and she always shares with Angel," Iggy explained. He sniggered.

"They used their Bambi eyes on Fang," I mouthed at Ella. Fang was a sap when it came to the kids. If they looked at him with their big innocent eyes, he caved immediately.

Fang put Twenty-Seven Dresses into the DVD player and hit the play button. Nudge and Ella sat on the three-seater lounge and Iggy joined them. Gazzy took the recliner and I knew Angel wanted to sit in my lap so she came and took my hand. There was the last recliner and the love-seat left. I didn't want Fang and Sam near each other so I sat on the love-seat and Angel curled up on my lap.

I waited with held breath. I know that the others were doing the same. Fang and Sam were staring at each other but Fang took the seat beside me. As he did it he sent a clear look at Sam that read 'my house, my seat'. I shuddered. Fang could be very scary sometimes.

By the time the movie was half-way through I relaxed somewhat and so did everyone else. The atmosphere melded into contentment as we laughed at the funny bits and the girls went 'aw' at the romantic parts.

I caught Fang's eye several times and we had a few silent conversations. He was happy that I was sitting with him and not Sam and he was angry that Sam was here. I reassured him with gentle looks that he was still number one on my list and I even gave his hand a squeeze when Sam was out of the room for a moment.

"Okay next one!" Ella called as the credits started. "Notting Hill! Notting Hill!"

"No, The Notebook!" Nudge said.

"Yeah, the Notebook," Angel chimed.

"That makes you cry, Nudge," Iggy said.

"Me as well," Ella said to reassure Nudge. Iggy was beside her and he smiled.

"Okay the Notebook," he decided. Fang and I raised our eyebrows at him but he just winked and picked up the DVD and changed it. We sat through the opening credits and Sam shot a sour look at Fang and I who were laughing with Angel.

"Okay settle now," Fang told her, its starting. Angel climbed off my lap and went to curl up on the soft bean pillow at Nudge's feet. Fang smiled at me and edged slightly closer to me.

It occurred to me that all the movies we were going to watch were romantic ones… except the horror movie of course.

Ella and Nudge both burst into tears and I was surprised but slightly pleased when Ella cried into Iggy's chest and he held her. I realised that they looked adorable together. I smiled at Fang who smiled back, a real smile not a fake one. His smile made the world brighten up.

We went through the rest of the afternoon and finished off all the movies except for Pretty in Pink and our horror film. Fang and Angel's parents got home and they made us dinner. We ate it and then watched Pretty in Pink and it was time for Angel and Gazzy to go to bed and for us to watch a horror film. We were going watch 'Wolf Creek'.

We had our sleeping bags out and we were all in our pyjamas, I had thought to pack some for Sam so that Fang didn't have to have a heart attack about lending some to him. And we curled up wherever we wanted to. Fang I sat on the loveseat and Iggy was planning on sleeping on the three-seater so he sat up there but Ella sat with him. Nudge reclined on the recliner and Sam sat back in his seat.

Now I don't get scared easily- okay maybe by movies I do but still- but even I was jumping. Ella screamed a heap and hid her face in Iggy's chest. Nudge hid her face under her pillow. As the movie came to a really frightening part I gasped and automatically clutched Fang's arm. Now that is coming from a girl who does not get scared easily… except by horror movies.

"Hey, it's alright," Fang murmured. He chuckled slightly. Ella and Nudge screamed and I turned my face away. Fang laughed again but I felt him jump. I glanced at the TV and curled right up to his side without even thinking. He winced slightly when I bumped his ribs but didn't move me.

As the movie came to an end I realised that Fang's arms were tight around me as I gasped again. I was pleased that I didn't scream once. Then Fang's mum opened the door to the room. Nudge and Ella shrieked with Nudge diving behind the lounge and Ella hiding in Iggy's arms. Sam, Fang and Iggy jumped and I gasped and cowered into Fang's side.

"Guys, it's only me," Alice teased. "I take it that your father made a good choice in the movie?"

"Yeah," Fang laughed shakily. "You surprised us mum."

"I take it," Alice laughed. "Well it's late, bed time now that the movie is over." We all nodded and I looked at Fang in embarrassment.

"I guess I'm not as tough as you thought," I said. Fang shrugged and quickly took his arms away from me. I looked at Sam behind us.

"What did you think?" I asked as we all settled into our sleeping bags.

"Scary," Sam agreed.

"I know, I was scared," I admitted with embarrassment. Sam glared.

"I could tell," he replied icily. I flushed and put my head down and rolled over. Fang grinned at me, clearly amused.

"Very affectionate," he mouthed teasingly.

"You shut up," I mouthed back. He grinned at me again, lighting up the dark room. I smiled slightly and rolled back over.

"Goodnight Sam," I told him. Then I rolled over. "Goodnight Fang. Night, Iggy, Ella, Nudge," I called.

"Goodnight!" was called all over the room. Then we all closed our eyes, ready to sleep. I fell asleep wondering why I hadn't paid Sam much attention. I sighed in my mind and tried to forget my troubles. The quicker Sam's visit ended, the quicker things could go back to normal and the sooner I would be completely happy again.


"Max, Max wake up," someone whispered in my ear. I felt someone shake my shoulder. "Max! Pancakes!" My eyes opened at the magic word and Fang looked down at me with amusement. I rolled my eyes.

"Good morning sunshine," I said. He glared at me playfully.

"Mum's making pancakes, get up," he told me, tugging my arm. I yawned and hid my arm under the sleeping bag and turned away.

"Two more hours," I yawned. Fang rolled his eyes.

"Maybe I should wake her up," Sam suggested. Fang snorted.

"How many times have you had to wake her up?" he asked. Sam didn't answer. I went through it in my head. He'd never had the unlucky job of waking me up. I smirked smugly. He wouldn't know how. Please Fang, let him try.

"Uh…" Sam said.

"Exactly, you have to know the right tricks." Fang stepped away from me and I frowned. Oh no. He wouldn't. I heard the zipper on the bottom of my sleeping bag and I tried to pull my feet away but he snagged one and started tickling me mercilessly.

"Fang!" I screamed. "I'm getting up! Let me go!" I tried to kick him off. He released my foot and I scrambled out of the sleeping bag and onto the lounge. I tried to hide my feet but Fang pounced on me and continued tickling me.

"Go away!" I said between my hysterical laughs. Fang grinned at me and refused to.

"Come on pup girl, make me," he teased. "Aren't you a vicious little pup? Rrrff!" I glared at him and Sam coughed. We looked at him.

"Fang! Stop torturing Max and let her and Sam come for breakfast!" Alice called. Fang chuckled and allowed me up and the three of us joined the others in the dining room where Alice was serving everyone pancakes.

Surprisingly, during breakfast after Iggy's wonderful joke telling, Sam seemed to relax. He even laughed with Iggy. He and Fang weren't on friendly terms but they weren't glaring at each other. I wonder what brought on the change.

"Who wants to play Twister?" Nudge asked as she raced into the lounge room behind us after breakfast.

"Me!" Angel, Iggy, Ella and Gazzy shouted.

"Me too," I agreed. "I love Twister." Fang laughed.

"Sam?" he actually questioned. Sam shrugged.

"Twister's fun," he agreed. Fang nodded.

"Twister it is," he decided. "Ig, Sam, Max, let's move the furniture out of the way. We'll go in fours because there are eight of us. Alright I think Angel, Gazzy, Ella and Iggy in one group and me, Max, Sam and Nudge in the other. Who wants to go first?"

"Me!" Nudge shouted. "Oh let's go first!" I laughed as Sam and I pushed the loveseat back. Fang cleared an area big enough for the mat and Iggy sat the spinner on the coffee table and knelt beside it.

"Ready?" he called.

"Ready," we answered. Iggy flicked the spinner and we started. We had so much fun. Fang and I collapsed on each other several times and not even when Fang and Sam fell on each other did they glare (though Fang winced and rubbed his ribs but didn't complain). They just kept laughing. Maybe they could even be friends… maybe. I think they may have been trying to get along for me. Aw how sweet!

"Alright, right foot blue," Iggy called. I twisted around and pushed my foot onto the blue circle that was under Fang's ankle. Too bad, it was the closest one. He laughed and Sam had to twist in under himself to get the square and he was already half under Fang's shoulders. Lucky Nudge was in a corner by herself. She was going to win… Again.

"Left hand yellow," Iggy said. I wondered if he was actually spinning or just shouting random things. I reached under Fang and he reached around me. When my hand was on the yellow circle I looked up and he did too. We were so twistered up (ha-ha, get it? ...never mind) that our faces were only inches apart. I felt my cheeks warm and I looked away. He chuckled evilly.

"Left foot red," Iggy said. Sam went to move his foot and ended up knocking Fang's leg out of balance and we all fell on each other again. Fang caught me before I could hit the floor and get the wind knocked out of me. I smiled at him in thanks.

"I win!" Nudge cheered. She was doing a dance. "I win again! Three games out of three!"

"Our turn now!" Angel shouted. Her shout was lost on me because I was lost in Fang's eyes. We were in a rather awkward position. He was lying on the ground and I was hovering over him. He had his arms around me.

"Um, guys, we'd like a go!" Ella said. "Please!" Fang and I shook out of it and got up.

"Sorry," I mumbled. Iggy rolled his eyes.

"Fang, you're on spinner," he said.


"Okay, thanks for coming," Fang said, shaking Sam's hand. "I'm glad I met you. It was great."

"Same here," Sam replied. I was having trouble deciding whether they were sincere or not. I had the strange impression that they were trying to break each others hand into little pieces. It wasn't working I don't think but I saw Sam wince. Wow Fang is stronger than him, not that I was surprised after Fang's fight with the gang members.

"Come on Sam, we'll go and wave down mum," Ella said. "Bye Iggy." She smiled at him and he winked at her, making her blush. "You are a brilliant cook, you'll have to come and cook for us one day." Iggy laughed and waved her off.

Nudge had already gone home so now it was our turn.

"Max," Fang said quietly.

"Hey kids," Iggy said. "Let's go and get ice-cream." He ushered them off and I turned my eyes onto Fang.

"I tried, for you," he murmured. "But I don't like him."

"I noticed," I replied quietly. "But remember, number one Fang. That's your spot and it will always be your spot." He smiled at me and then surprised me by giving me a hug.

"And you're my number one girl," he whispered in my ear. We broke apart and Angel and Gazzy rushed back to say goodbye. I hugged them and then gave Iggy a hug.

"One week," I told Fang. "Then we have to do something, just me and you."

"Sure," Fang agreed. "See you later."

"Yeah," I replied. "Bye Fang, bye Iggy. See you later sweethearts." I waved to Gazzy and Angel. Fang walked with me down to the front gate of his yard. Ella and Sam were already in the car. I turned to him one last time and held up my finger.

"Number one," I mouthed. He smiled at me, his black eyes sparkling and he leant on the gate as I got in the car. I waved to him until I couldn't see him anymore and then turned in my seat. Ella was in the front and I was with Sam.

"Did you guys have fun?" Mum asked.

"Heaps, as usual," I replied. I looked at Sam and tried to ignore the dark look in his eyes and I smiled at him. He smiled back.

Mum was watching us worriedly but I ignored the look and tried to remember that Sam would be gone soon and I would get to spend one whole day with just Fang very soon. The thought made my heart jump and I felt excited already even though it wasn't that close.

What the hell was going on with me?

14. Freshman 14 Summer

God I've updated so much that I've almost caught the story up to where I've written to! Well I hope you like this chapter! I'm so glad that you've all been loving the story. This is the last chapter of Sam's visit, he'll be gone in the next chapter and it'll be Max and Fang with some.... surprises. Mwa hahaha. I'm evil, I know, but still! I want the new volume of the Manga but I dunno if its in Aussie stores yet. I want it :(

Anywho, enjoy the chapter!

I rolled over in bed and groaned, listening to the phone ringing, and ringing, and ringing. What the hell? Why wouldn't someone answer the damn thing? I then realised that the ringing was coming from my cell phone and I was the only one who could answer it.

I looked at the screen 'Fang Calling'.

"Hello?" I asked, sleepily holding the phone to my ear and glancing tiredly at my alarm clock. Six am? What the hell? "Fang, it's six in the morning."

"No it isn't," Fang replied. "It's nine." I frowned and blinked. I yeah. Wrong way round. Whoops. See that's what happened to Maximum Martinez when she is half asleep! "Why are you still asleep?"

"No idea," I replied. I yawned and rolled onto my back, staring at the roof. "I guess I was tired."

"Right, sorry for waking you," Fang apologised. "But, we have a gig today, apparently."

"A show? When? Where? Since when?" I sat up, blinking and trying to wake up.

"Yes a show. At noon, in the park. We're the opening act for some hypnotist. And I didn't find out until this morning and I'm the band's leader! Sorry Max, but can you make it? If you can't we'll make do."

"No, I think I can," I mumbled. "Mum's working today so I'll get her to take me in."

"Bring Ella, we'll go and get ice-cream afterwards and hang out."

"Uh… Fang, you're forgetting something." I was out of bed and looking for some pants to put on until I could find something suitable for wearing for the show.

"And what's that?" Fang asked. I could hear him tuning his guitar.

"Sam is still here," I stated. I bit my lip, halfway through pulling on a pair of track pants. I heard Fang muttering away from the phone and then he came back.

"Bring him along, he can see how awesome we are," Fang stated, he chuckled and then sighed. "I have to pick up Angel's present today but… I can't do it if she's here."

"I'll get Mum to pick it up for you on her way home from work."

"When's that?"

"She finishes early today, at like two, so she can drop it off while we're still out," I explained.

"That's great; if she does it, tell your mum thanks a bunch. I'll ring the shop and tell them that someone else is picking it up." Fang seemed happy. "So, I'll see you at?"

"Mum has to start work at eleven," I stated.

"See you at my place just before then. We'll review the playlist."

"Ok then. Bye." I hung up and stuck my phone in my pocket and started pulling through my wardrobe, looking for something to wear. I yanked out some black skinny-jeans, tight black boots and a creamy-gold coloured satin camisole attached to a translucent, lacy top that had satin ribbons to tie up on the side. I put them all on and my stomach started growling.

"Max?" Sam was knocking on my door. "What are you doing?"

"I'm sorry Sam," I replied. "Did I wake you?"

"No, you're the last one up," Sam replied. "I heard you talking."

"Yeah…" I pulled on my boots and went to the door and opened it. Sam raised his eyebrows.

"Going somewhere?" he questioned.

"Fang just called, our band is supposed to be playing in the park at noon," I explained. "This is for the show. Mum!" I went back into my room, grabbed my bag and my phone and went into the kitchen, Sam following.

"What is it?" Mum asked, looking up from her newspaper. She raised her eyebrows at my outfit.

"I'm sorry to do this to you but can you take us in and drop us at Fang's place before you go to work?" I asked. "Our band is playing before the hypnotist show in the park today."

"Okay then," Mum said agreeably. "You have some breakfast and Sam and Ella can get ready to go."

"Thankyou." I kissed her cheek and went to get some coco-pops. Sam went down the hall to tell Ella while I brought my bowl back to Mum. She smiled at me.

"I take it things were okay at the sleep over," she commented.

"Oh yeah," I replied. "Fang and Sam didn't get on at all first off but then they started trying to get along… just for me." I shrugged slightly as Mum tilted her head.

"But they don't like each other?"

"Not a single bit." My voice was oddly cheery. I shook my head and glared at my cereal, as though it had been the one to stuff my relationship with my ex. "I feel like it's my fault."

"It isn't," Mum assured me. "Sam will be gone in two days. On Sunday I'll be taking Ella, Nudge and Iggy to Phoenix because they wanted to go to see this magic show and at the same time there's a carnival coming to town: rides, cotton candy, junk food, games, prizes. I suggest you and Fang take advantage of the others being away to spend a day together."

"We were planning to," I replied. "But…" I stopped and smiled.

"What?" Mum asked.

"Iggy, Ella and Nudge did that on purpose." I laughed. "Sure, I'll tell Fang. He'll laugh but we'll both enjoy that. Thanks Mum." She smiled and I finished breakfast and went to clean my teeth as Ella and Sam came out, dressed for a day of hanging out.

"Oh Mum, can you do Fang a favour?" I asked, remembering. Mum looked up with a smile. "On your way back from work can you pick up Angel's birthday present from the toyshop in the mall? Fang can't while he has Angel with him all day."

"Of course I can, now finish getting ready."

"Thankyou heaps!" I smiled at her and then hurried back to the bathroom.

An hour later Mum drove us to Fang's place and we waved goodbye as Angel burst out of the house and ran to us. She hugged me and Ella tightly and then looked at Sam before smiling and hugging him too. Aw, I loved her so much, she was so cute.

"Hey Max!" Fang greeted. He had his guitar cased up and was bringing it out to put it in the car. "Give me a second I just need to finish…" He rearranged some things in the boot and closed it and then came over to us.

"Hi Fang," Ella said. Fang smiled and picked up Angel.

"Did you…?" Fang looked at me.

"It's cool," I assured him. Fang nodded, happy and then turned to Sam.

"Sorry for cutting into your time with Max again but I didn't know about this until this morning," Fang stated. Sam nodded.

"It's cool," he replied. "I want to hear Max sing." I rolled my eyes.

"I'm only on for a couple of songs, right?" I had to check. Fang nodded and pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and held it out to me. I looked the playlist over.

"A lot of Bon Jovi," Sam commented.

"Fang's obsessed," Ella explained.

"Am not," Fang replied. "It isn't my fault that they play the best music ever."

"Are you kidding? The Animals are so much better," Sam scoffed.

"You like the Animals?" Fang looked incredulous.

"Love old music."

"What about the Angels? I know they aren't that popular but their music is great."

"I love the Angels. Australia turns out some good musicians."

Fang grinned. "Do all of your friends like old music?" Fang asked me. I shrugged, smiling. Wow, they agreed upon something. I was so not expecting this. But I was pleased none-the-less. "Anna, Chris and now Sam."

"We all do," Sam replied, "except JJ and Jessie. They're both pop crazy."

"But they're still really great despite their horrible music taste," I chastised and went back to the list. "I'm singing two Pat Benetar songs and… a Taylor Swift? I thought we were only doing those so I could learn guitar."

"Hey you sounded so good singing it that I had to add it to the list today," Fang shrugged.

"And for the grand finale we have Blaze of Glory," I commented. "Nice. It's good only I think you should take out Always and change it to Dead or Alive."

"Okay then," Fang agreed, taking the paper and stuffing it into his pocket. He shifted Angel to his other arm and nodded at Max. "Are you all set for your first official show?"

"Kind of nervous," I replied. "But excited, yeah."

"Good. Those are a good combination." Fang looked at his watch and then back at us. "We should probably head to the park so we can set up properly." He carried Angel back to the house and called out to Peter (it was his day off).

"Hey guys!" Peter greeted cheerily. I had no idea where Fang's personality came from. Alice was sweet and bubbly and Peter was charming and happy. "Hi Max, Ella! Who's this?"

"Oh yeah, you didn't meet Sam," Fang chuckled. "Sorry Dad. This is one of Max's friends from LA. Sam." Peter looked at Fang with raised eyebrows and Fang blinked. Peter smiled and came over and shook Sam's hand. I wonder what Fang had said about Sam.

"It's nice to meet you," Peter greeted. "I know Max has good taste in friends- so why she's friends with Fang, I do not know- so I know you and I will get along." Fang rolled his eyes and I giggled.

"Thankyou, sir," Sam replied.

"Call me Peter." Peter hugged me and Ella and clapped his hands. "In the car everyone." Fang sat in the front, Angel on his lap and the rest of us piled in the back as Peter drove us to the park. We climbed out of the car and Peter took the two guitar cases while Fang and I both took one of Angel's hands as we walked along.

"This place is so open," Sam mused. "I like it here." I smiled at him.

"So do I," I replied. "The air is so clean and fresh."

Peter led us over to the stage that was set up. Men were putting chairs out in rows in front and decorations were being hung in the trees.

Damen, Steve and Iggy were up on the stage, setting up. Iggy had the keyboard and I realised that Fang had his guitar in the second case. Steve and Damen were putting the drum kit together and Nudge was plucking Steve's bass joyously.

"Max!" I looked around and saw Gazzy perched on the stage steps. He ran over to us and I bent down and hugged him tightly, kissing his forehead gently.

"Hey," I greeted. "Give me a sec, I'm gonna help these guys."

"Angel, go and sit with Gazzy," Fang instructed. Ella and Sam went with the kids and Fang and I jumped onto the stage. Peter passed us the guitar cases and we got the amps from Damen and hooked them up, tuning them until they were perfect.

"People should start arriving soon," Steve said, standing and mussing up his red hair. He turned his blue eyes onto me and smiled. "Hiya Max! Fang, sorry about the short notice. I got called last night. Apparently the guy tried to get you but your phone was off."

"It was dead," Fang replied. "Ah well, we all made it and that's what matters." Fang set his guitar on a stand and checked Damen's drum kit. Damen had his long brown hair in a pony tail and his gorgeous, hazel eyes had dark lines underneath them.

"You look tired," Nudge commented, noticing also.

"I am," Damen replied. He straightened up and stretched. "Thanks, Fang." Damen winked at Nudge who blushed and looked down. I raised my eyebrows and Iggy winked at me. I edged over to him.

"She's been crushing on him for ages," Iggy whispered, pressing a few keys on the keyboard to test it.

"How come I never noticed?"

"You've never seen them together." Iggy chuckled and waved to Ella who waved back, her cheeks flushing lightly.

"Tell me the real reason you dumped Tess," I whispered.

"I told you it," Iggy replied.

"No you didn't. You like my sister don't you?"

"Do not."

"Do too."

"Do not."

"Guys!" Fang shook his head at us and smirked. "Let's have a practise before people get here."

Nudge gave Steve his bass and scrambled down to sit with the others. She pulled Angel into her lap and smiled up at us.

"What song?" Damen asked.

"Uh…" Fang frowned. "Just test your instruments and then we'll play the first verse of Heartbreaker so Max can check the mic."

We practised for a while and the rest of the Flock and Sam applauded happily. Peter and Alicia were sitting together in the front row with them when people started arriving. We stopped our tests and Fang smiled at me encouragingly. I edged back to him and he touched my shoulder.

"You'll be fine," he whispered.

"I know," I replied. I held out my left fist and Fang stacked his on top. We tapped twice with our right fists and I felt a little better. I nodded at him and he winked so I went back to microphone.

The stage hand nodded and Fang came up beside me.

"Hi everyone!" I greeted brightly, smiling. I had picked up the art of showmanship from Fang. It was easier than I thought it was. Fang smiled at me and leant over the microphone.

"We're your warm-up act today and we're doing a little tribute to our god of rock, Bon Jovi and a little bit of Pat Benetar for our lovely female lead vocalist. We're going to start you off with something a little different today. Everyone ready?"

The band nodded and Fang stepped back and they started playing 'I'm only me when I'm with you' by Taylor Swift. An okay song but I'm not much of a country fan.

"Friday night beneath the stars
In a field behind your yard
You and I are painting pictures in the sky
Sometimes we don't say a thing
Just listen to the crickets sing
Everything I need is right here by my side,
" I sang, nerves weren't a problem when I glanced to my right and saw Fang smile at me encouragingly. Sometimes I thought that Fang was the person who I was closest to in my life. This song felt kind of… kind of like our friendship.

"And I know everything about you
I don't wanna live without you.
" That was true, I knew almost everything there were to know about Fang. You know, I don't think this was a love song, I think it was a friendship song for a special friendship like mine and Fang's.

"I'm only up when you're not down
Don't wanna fly if you're still on the ground
It's like no matter what I do
Well you drive me crazy half the time
The other half I'm only tryin' to let you know
That what I feel is true
And I'm only me when I'm with you…

I looked at Fang and he winked and I felt my cheeks blush and I turned back to the microphone. Fang, my best friend, he made me who I was.

"Just a small-town boy and girl
Living in a crazy world
Tryin' to figure out what is and isn't true
And I don't try to hide my tears
My secrets or my deepest fears
Through it all nobody gets me like you do.
" Fang was the only one who understood me, the only one who knew what I was scared of and the only one I was cool to talk to about all of my problems. I loved this song.

"You know everything about me
You say that you can't live without me.
" I felt guilty about those lines when I remembered that I hadn't told Fang about Sam but now he knew so he did know me inside out. Everything was okay now. I looked at him and smiled. He smiled back, knowing what I was thinking.

"I'm only up when you're not down
Don't wanna fly if you're still on the ground
It's like no matter what I do
Well you drive me crazy half the time
The other half I'm only tryin' to let you know
That what I feel is true
And I'm only me when I'm with you…

"When I'm with anybody else
It's so hard to be myself
And only you can tell…

I took a deep breath, okay this performing thing wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact I kind of enjoyed it. This song was almost over then I had two more songs and then I got to sit down and watch Fang make all the teenage girls in the audience swoon at his sexy voice and god-like guitar skills.

"That I'm only up when you're not down
Don't wanna fly if you're still on the ground
It's like no matter what I do
Well you drive me crazy half the time
The other half I'm only tryin' to let you know
That what I feel is true
And I'm only me
Who I wanna be
Well I'm only me when I'm with you…
With you…
Oh yeah.
" I winked and everyone applauded. I heard Nudge and Ella whistling and Fang grinned brightly at me and I smiled at him, making him wink and strum his guitar.

I finished my songs and sighed, smiling.

"Thankyou everyone," I said and walked away. Fang took the microphone.

"Maximum Martinez, everyone! Our new female lead!" Fang said causing cheers. I rolled my eyes and waved to the boys as I took my seat beside Sam.

"He's good," he admitted, not too begrudgingly.

"I know he is," I laughed. "Wait until you see the effect that boy has on this audience. Fang strummed his guitar and Iggy hooked a synthesizer to his amp and started playing 'Dead or Alive'.

Fang started singing and I looked at Sam who raised his eyebrows.

"Okay so he makes Bon Jovi sound the way every girl in the world wished he sounded," Sam stated. "So?"

"His voice is sexy," Ella stated. "He laughed when I told him that though."

"He doesn't think that kind of thing about himself," I explained. "Sam, come on, he's brilliant."

"Okay, yeah he is. I wish I could play and sing like him and he has great taste in music." Sam smiled at me. "But I still don't like him."

"I know," I laughed. "But don't worry. I'm glad you two are pretending to get along." Sam rolled his eyes at me and Ella and Nudge giggled. Nudge waved to Damen. He winked at her and made her blush scarlet.

"Aw," Ella and I crooned. Angel came over so that she could sit on my lap. I glanced back at Peter who smiled at me. He loved listening to Fang play because he knew his son was talented. Peter was such a great guy; I loved him and wished my Dad was like him. Peter was practically a second dad for me. I spent as much time with Fang's parents as I did with my Mum and way more than I did with my Dad.

We sat through the whole concert and when Iggy strummed the last few chords of 'Blaze of Glory' we all stood up- even Sam- and cheered loudly, applauding louder than anyone else, except maybe Peter.

Fang, Iggy, Steve and Damen packed up with our help and then Steve and Damen went off to work and Peter decided to take us all out for ice-cream (yay!) and Sam and Fang chatted about music. I could see their tight expressions and their fake enthusiasm but I was glad they'd at least found some common ground and were talking, even if it was only to make me happy.

I hugged Angel close to me and smiled. Two days and Fang and I could go back to normal. Well… as normal as our friendship ever was at least.

15. Freshman 15 Summer

This chapter frustrated me but I had time to tweak it today because I had food poisoning and didn't have to go to school. I suppose that almost makes up for having horrible stomach pains.... almost. Anywho I'm feeling kind of better now and here's an update for you ^.^

Enjoy and I warn that some of you will probably be mad at me. (don't kill me) but I'll make it up to you in the next chapter, I swear.

Fang and I wandered into the carnival. I loved carnivals they were so much fun. Of course in LA there weren't that many of them close to where I had lived so it was nice being in a small town where they came all the time. It was so much fun.

"This is nice," Fang commented. He was gazing up at the Ferris Wheel and I smiled. "We should go on." He turned his eyes on me and the sun caught them and I could see the golden flecks that were scattered through the very dark brown.

"We should," I agreed.

I was so glad when Sam left. Now it was me and Fang. The way it should be. We went over and bought tickets and sat down on one of the seats. I loved heights and being up high. It was great.

I looked out as we started going up. Fang put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.

"Your guy isn't going to show up unannounced again is he?" Fang asked.

"He's not my guy," I snapped. Fang chuckled and looked at me.

"I know." He smiled at me and I smiled back, blushing slightly at the warmth and happiness in his smile. It was like the sun coming out. "I'm glad he's gone though."

"Believe me, so am I," I replied. "I thought I'd be happy to see him, like I was so happy to see Anna and Chris at the beach but because I knew you were unhappy and that neither of you liked each other, I didn't like him being here."

Fang nodded and looked around. I looked over. We could see so much from this high up. You know… I think if I could have one supernatural power it would be to fly. I think it would be so great up in the sky, free from everything earthbound.

"Max? What are you thinking about?" Fang asked as the Ferris Wheel stopped while we were right up the top.

"I was thinking that I would love to be able to fly," I replied.

"I would too," Fang replied. "Freedom. Wide open sky. Nothing but you and the air. It would be cool."

"Super cool."

We laughed. We were on the same wavelength so often that it wasn't surprising anymore. It just made us laugh. Fang was looking down now, his eyes scanning every person in sight.

"Oh no," Fang sighed leaning back in annoyance.

"What?" I asked. Fang pointed.

Ah, only one person caused Fang to make that face.


Our ride on the Ferris Wheel ended a minute later and we slunk into the shadows of some of the game booths and looked over at Lissa. She was with Dylan and he seemed to be trying to impress her with his strength on one of those things where you use the mallet to move the thing up and you get a prize depending on how hard you hit it.

"Loser," Fang laughed.

"You say that every time you see him," I said.



"Because it's true."

"You're so judgemental."

"Hey, I grew up with these people! I'm allowed to judge them!" I rolled my eyes and Fang groaned as Lissa turned and spotted us. Fang grabbed my hand and pulled me over to another ride. Ooh, bumper cars.

"Hi Fang!" Lissa trilled, pulling Dylan over by the hand. "Hi Max." Her voice was chilly when she said my name. I smiled brightly.

"Hi Lissa! What a nice surprise!" I said, fake enthusiasm all over my voice. I heard Fang trying not to laugh. He just ended up choking and I patted his back as he pulled his face straight.

"Hey Dylan," I greeted as Fang eyed him in annoyance. I had no idea why Fang didn't like Dylan, I thought he was nice.

"Hi Max," Dylan replied, smiling at me. Lissa glowered at him and Fang did too. Hmm… what the hell?

"We were just heading to the Tunnel of Love," Lissa stated and I tried not to gag. I could tell Fang was having trouble controlling himself from cracking up and making some witty, smart-aleck comment. "Would you two like to come?"

I was so tempted to reply with a 'why so you can ditch your date and try to make out with Fang?' but amazingly I controlled myself. Are you proud of me? I am. Fang was now looking like he wanted to fake-vomit but both of us were trying to break out of immature reactions. We were such idiots sometimes that it amazes me how both of us manage to get good marks at school.

"I don't know," Fang stated. "I was thinking the haunted mansion."

"That ride is lame," Dylan said.

"You mean like-?" I elbowed Fang before he could finish his statement. That boy had some issues that he needed to sort out: mostly revolving around guys who acted friendly towards me. Over-protective best friend… I rolled my eyes.

"Sure, sure, we'll go," Fang replied, eyeing me smugly. I stared at him. Lissa smirked triumphantly at me but I ignored her, focusing on Fang, sending him a look saying that I was going to kill him in the dark of the ride.

The four of us walked over to the Tunnel of Love, Fang and I controlling our laughter at the corny, lovey-dovey-ness of the whole ride. We were so immature sometimes, I must say. We reached the ticket booth and Lissa jumped from Dylan's side to Fang's.

"Is it okay if I ride with you?" Lissa asked. "I mean, since I know you and Max aren't a couple it should be okay for you to ride with someone else right."

I wanted to tell her what it was okay for her to do but Fang shot me a silencing look. After the Spring Fling I knew he wanted me to stop causing trouble with Lissa and she wanted to get me back bad for being right about Fang.

"What about Dylan?" Fang asked.

"I don't mind," Dylan spoke up. "I'll ride with Max." It was too late for Fang or me to argue because the ride guy waved Lissa and Fang through. He shot me a pained look and I wanted to help him so bad but they were shepherded into the swan-shaped boat.

"Have fun!" I called and Fang shot me a dark look as Lissa took his arm and snuggled up to him. I scowled and Dylan smiled at me.

"So, us now?" he asked as we walked up.

"Uh… yeah," I replied. We sat down in the swan and I felt really uncomfortable sitting so close to Dylan. Sitting close to Fang was okay because I trusted him and he was my best friend and we'd slept right next to each other, danced really close to each other and, embarrassingly, I'd kissed him, by total accident and only because of worry of course. But Dylan… I hardly knew him. I knew he kind of liked me but I didn't like him. So this was… well, it was a step up from awkward.

The swan drifted into the tunnel and I felt a mild case of claustrophobia take over.


"Oh, that's so sweet," Lissa crooned. Fang had no idea what she was even pointing at. He had one elbow resting on the edge of the boat and he was holding the side of his head in his hand. Man, he wished he'd been able to move back with Max… hell, he wished they were in the Haunted Mansion, no matter how lame. He wished he wasn't with Lissa right now.

"Fang!" Lissa complained, tugging his sleeve. "Are you paying attention?"

"No," Fang replied honestly.

"I think you should!" Lissa folded her arms and Fang looked at her sideways.

"Pouting doesn't work on me," he sighed, looking away again. "In fact, I think pouting is awful. Girls really shouldn't do it." Fang really thought that maybe if Max pouted he'd do something for her but that was just because he'd be so amused by the look on her face that he'd pay a hundred bucks to get her to let him take a photo of her for blackmail.

Fang laughed at that thought and Lissa frowned.

"What is so funny?" she asked.

"Nothing," Fang replied, trying to make his face expressionless but it was so hard. Even just imagining Max pouting was hilarious. Fang burst out laughing and sank down in the seat, holding his stomach.

Lissa was staring at him as though she thought he was insane.

"Oh lighten up," Fang gasped between laughs. He took several deep breaths and thought of something completely un-funny to keep himself from laughing again. "Some of us have imaginations that provide hours of entertainment."

Lissa raised her eyebrows. "What is that supposed to mean?" she demanded.

"Nothing." Fang rolled his eyes. "What is wrong?"

"This is the Tunnel of Love," Lissa replied angrily. "You're not even paying attention to me."

"Uh maybe because I don't love you," Fang replied then he felt bad. He hated being mean to people by using their emotions… okay, so he only hated using girls' emotions against them… except Max, just because she was his best friend and he was allowed to do it but he wouldn't do it to anyone else, not even Lissa.

"Really?" Lissa asked, a flirtatious smile on her face.

"Uh…" Fang wished the boat were bigger as Lissa inched closer to him. Fang wanted to push her away but there was no room in the tiny boat. "Lissa, look I-"

Lissa placed a hand on his chest and smiled. "Shh, Fang, it's okay." Then she leant right up to him and kissed him.


Dylan was trying to get me to talk but I honestly was not going to reply. I was bored out of my wits and couldn't wait for this damn ride to be over. The corny song playing in the background was annoying and there was nothing romantic about this ride what-so-ever. I was beginning to see the appeal of the Haunted Mansion.

"Are you alright? You're quiet," Dylan said.

"I'm fine," I replied. I looked at him sideways to find him watching me with bemusement. "How long does this ride go for?"

"Long enough," Dylan replied, smiling. I tried not groan and I succeeded. Yay! But it took a lot of effort.

"Why did you want to ride with me? Lissa and you were here together. Shouldn't you have wanted to ride this stupid thing with her?" I asked, only slight annoyance in my voice. Dylan raised his eyebrows.

"Ah but you see I don't like Lissa," Dylan said. "I like you Max."

"Ah well there's a problem with that because I don't like you." Yeah, unlike Fang I had no problems with hurting someone's feelings… obviously. But the sucky thing was Dylan's feelings weren't hurt.

"Only because you've spent all of your time with Fang and none with me," Dylan replied.

"No, I'm pretty sure it's just because I don't like you," I insisted.

"Sure." Dylan put his arm around my waist and I instantly felt the need to punch him but there wasn't enough room. Curse the size of this damn thing.

"Let me go," I snarled forcefully. Dylan just held me tighter and I counted to three in my head. "Let me go before I throw you overboard, I mean it, I will." I glared at him and Dylan slowly removed his arm, looking annoyed.

"Come on Max, give me a chance," he insisted.

"No." I folded my arms, feeling childish.

"You don't even know me; I think you should give me a chance. Please." I glanced at Dylan. He was looking very determined.

"You don't know me so how can you know that you want to date me?" I asked.

"You're beautiful and smart. Please Max, one date and if you still don't like me then I'll leave you alone." Dylan's pretty eyes were pleading.

I sighed and played with my fingers, staring at my lap for a moment. "Okay, fine. One date." I looked at Dylan to see him smiling and I almost groaned. Fang was so going to hate this. Heck, I was going to hate this.


Fang froze for a moment, tempted to see how big of a splash Lissa would make if he threw her off the boat, but then he forgot all of that. Oh no, was he kissing her back. Fang put one hand on her waist and straightened up slightly, closing his eyes and tilting his head.

He was kissing her back but suddenly the image of a pretty girl with brown and blonde hair popped in his head and he snapped out of it. He was kissing Lissa but why was there an image of Max in his mind?

Fang gently pushed Lissa away and she snapped her eyes open and stared at him, hurt. But luckily before she could say anything they reached daylight again and had to get off. Fang folded his arms uncomfortably as Lissa stared at him.

Neither of them said anything for a few moments.

"Fine!" Lissa shrieked and stalked off. Fang raised his eyebrows. Was that it? Was she going to leave him alone from now on? He could have jumped for joy but he wasn't so sure. He had rejected her properly for a change but still…

Fang shook his head and turned to wait for Max.

He could feel a tingling on his lips. His mind had made him think of Max when somebody kissed him. Weird. What did it mean? Yeah, she'd kissed him at the Spring Fling but that had been nothing. She'd been worried about him and in shock from the attack of the gang. It hadn't meant anything and yet…

Fang shook his head again.

Stop thinking about it, Fang, he snapped at himself just as Max and Dylan's boat came to the dock. They got out and they were talking quietly as they walked over to Fang.

"So, six o'clock Wednesday?" Dylan was asking. What?

"Yeah," Max replied. "See you then."

Huh? What the hell was going on?

Dylan smiled and walked off, not even bothering to ask where Lissa had gone and Fang folded his arms and looked at Max with a questioning look. She scuffed one of her shoes on the boards, slightly embarrassed.

"Max?" Fang questioned. "What's going on?"

"I agreed to a date with Dylan," Max muttered almost inaudibly. Fang was shocked. He blinked several times.

"What? Dylan? Why?" he asked.

"I agreed to a date with, yes, Dylan because he was pestering me and promised to stop if I agreed to go on one date with him," Max explained, blushing. Fang stared at her, dumbfounded, and she looked up at him.

"I know you don't like him but I really wanted him to leave me alone."

"So you agreed to go on a date with him? That's nuts! What if-?"

"Fang, I knew you'd been unhappy but can we talk about it later. We're supposed to be enjoying this day." Max looked at Fang earnestly and he sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.

"You're right," he sighed. "Let's go and play some games and eat junk food." He smiled and Max smiled back and they walked off together, both only slightly happy.

16. Freshman 16 Summer

Ergh. I couldn't believe it when I wrote this chapter. It is just so.... so..... cliche. I don't like using a lot of cliches in this certain thing has been done in SO many fanfics that it isn't funny. I was going to delete the whole chapter and start again but then I realised how much this could further Max and Fang's relationship but still..... ah well, if you don't like it tell me so but still.... I dunno I'm not too sure about it but I'm going to use it anyway. Tell me what you think ^.^


I adjusted my shirt and then fixed my belt so that the buckle was in the right place. I looked at myself one more time in the mirror, frowning in annoyance. I had picked a casual outfit so that Dylan would know I wasn't trying to look good for him but this shirt was too tight for that kind of look to work.

"This is so frustrating!" I snarled.

"It looks fine," Ella commented from where she was reading a magazine on my bed. She looked up at me. "Why are you going on a date with this guy anyway?"

"So he'll leave me alone," I replied. Ella raised her eyebrows, seemed to have a 'don't ask' moment, and went back to her magazine.

"That Matt guy called for you today, you know the cute one from Music World?" Ella told me. I turned around to her.

"Did he say why?" I questioned.

"Um… no," Ella replied. "He just said he'd call tomorrow."

"Ok." I went to my wardrobe and changed me t-shirt again. Okay this one was heaps better. "Ella, does this say 'I don't have any interest in you'?"

Ella assessed my casual, blue flare-jeans and comfy, aqua tee. She gave me thumbs up and turned the page in her magazine.

"How does Fang feel about your date tonight?" she asked me. I frowned.

"He's not happy about it," I replied, sitting and pulling my boots on and pulled my jeans over them. "But it doesn't matter because it doesn't mean anything. Besides, he kissed Lissa."

"She started it from what I heard," Ella replied.

"How does everyone in the Flock hear all of these things?" I asked, folding my arms. When Fang had told me, he'd said not to tell anyone but he must have told-

"Iggy told us," Ella explained.

"I thought so. Fang was really annoyed. Besides, why would I care? He can kiss anyone he wants. It's not my business."

"Yeah, but you weren't happy about it."

"Which means what exactly?"

Ella was interrupted from replying when the phone started ringing. Mum answered it and we waited.

"Max! Jessica and Anna are on the phone for you!" Mum called. I raised my eyebrows but went into the study next door and pressed the speaker phone. I heard Mum hang up the other line.

"Jessie? Anna?" I asked.

"Max!" they chimed, happiness in their voices.

"Hey guys!" I replied, feeling elated to have them call me. "How's it going?"

"Great," Anna replied. "Jessie's over Brett, one hundred percent."

"That's brilliant!" I replied.

"I know!" Jessica replied, her light voice sounded bright and cheery. "So, we heard from Sam how his visit with you went. We're calling to clarify some facts."

"Like what?" I asked.

"For starters Anna told me that your bestie is the most gorgeous guy on the planet!" Jessie trilled. "True or false?"

"Well, in your eyes true, in mine, he's okay," I replied. "Anything else?"

"And he and Sam hate each other?" Anna asked. "Sam said that he's kind of scary looking when he's mad."

"That's true on both counts," I replied. "Look Sam and Fang got along okay after a while. It was just at the start and I had no idea Sam was coming. It was a shock for me and I don't know why he thought we could still be… together, together."

"I know," Jessica replied understandingly. "Anna told us all about how close you and this Fang guy were and Sam got so jealous and decided to pay you a surprise visit. We wanted to tell you so badly. We're sorry we didn't."

"Yeah, Sam was so mad when Chris told Jessica and James about when Fang was holding you to stop you from being knocked over by some of the waves. He hadn't meant for Sam to hear it but he wanted to tell James how much he thought you and Fang should be together. Sorry," Anna continued.

"It's okay," I replied, blushing. "But Fang and I are just friends. Sam had no reason to be jealous."

"Yeah we know," Anna replied. She sighed. "I told him off when he told me about he and Fang attempting to break each other's hands. Sam really needs to realise that you don't like him anymore. I have. Sorry about what I said at the beach."

"It's alright," I replied.

"Fang told Chris what happened at Spring Fling. Is he okay?"

"He's fine."

"That sounded really bad," Jessica sympathised. "It would have been scary."

"It was. I was so scared that they were going to kill Fang," I replied. "He looked so bad afterwards. He still has a few bruises and his stiches got taken out about three days ago so he's got a scar on his eyebrow. Angel was so upset when she saw him."

"She would have been," Anna sighed.

I heard the doorbell ring and groaned.

"What?" my two friends asked in worried unison.

"That's my date for tonight," I groaned. "I'll talk to you two later, okay?"

"Sure," Jessica replied. "I have to meet your friends. Come to LA one day this summer and we can all meet up."

"I'll see," I replied. "I'm not sure how okay everyone will be with that. But I promise you will all get to meet them one day. I want you all to be friends."

"Sure," Anna replied. "We'll let you go." She giggled. "Have fun on your date."

"Urgh, go away." They hung up and I pressed the speaker button again and left the office, grabbing my bag from Ella who was in my doorway. I went out to the kitchen where Dylan was greeting Mum.

"Max!" he said happily. "You look great." I tried not to scowl.

"Whatever, let's go," I said and grabbed his arm and dragged him out.

"Have fun!" Mum and Ella called as I left. Dylan's second oldest brother (he had two older brothers) was driving us to the movie theatre. We sat in the backseat of the car, talking about school and me trying not to look too interested in Dylan, something that wasn't too hard, Dylan was kind of really annoying.

Dylan's brother stopped in front of the theatre and told us to have fun with a wink to his brother. I rolled my eyes in annoyance as we went inside. We were going to see a romantic-comedy and I had to admit I was looking forward to that part.

Dylan bought my ticket despite my protest and only let my buy my own drink. I was kind of annoyed. When Fang and I came to the movies we bought our own tickets and I bought the drinks and Fang bought chocolate and lollies for us to share then we split the price on a large popcorn. It usually worked out in fairly close prices so neither of us felt bad. Dylan was irritating me already.

We went into the theatre and we sat somewhere in the middle and Dylan smiled at me.

"You look unhappy," he commented.

"I wonder why," I replied sarcastically. Dylan sighed.


"I didn't agree that I had to have a good time. I'm giving you a chance and already it's turning out that I was right and you are not my type and I am not going to enjoy this."

"Jeez, you really know how to make a guy feel good."

"Get used to it." We stared hard at each other and then Dylan sank back in his seat as the lights went out and the previews started. Now I didn't have to talk to him for two hours. I watched the movie and kept my hand where Dylan couldn't get it.

By the time the movie had ended I was pretty sure he'd given up. That was until we were walking through the alley into the main street- to go and get something to eat- and he grabbed me by the waist and pressed me against the wall.

I tried to push him off but he caught my hands and pressed them to the wall. Damn it, he was too strong. Not as strong as Fang but still stronger than me. I hated it when guys were stronger than me. It was stupid and frustrating.

"I'll make you change your mind," Dylan said. I glared at him.

"As if," I snapped. I couldn't say anything else after that because he pressed his mouth to mine and kissed me forcefully. I struggled but like I said before, he was stronger than me which just pissed me off totally. I tried to move one of my legs but he trapped it between his and pressed me harder to the wall.

His tongue forced entry to my mouth and then he stopped kissing my mouth and kissed down my neck instead and I tried to struggle against him again.

"Come on Max," he murmured against my neck and then, get this, he bit me gently. "You know you want me."

"Yuck!" I protested. "As-"

Dylan kissed me again, shutting me up and then he stopped and looked at me, his eyes smouldering in a way that most other girls would find very sexy, but me? I find it infuriating. I wanted him off me right now!

"You and I are both legal," Dylan explained kissing down my neck again and I made a retching sound, catching his drift. "My parents are out for dinner, my brother is out with his mates… house is free."

"You are sick!" I shouted. "Get off me!"

"Max, stop fighting it," Dylan replied as he kissed my mouth gently. I contemplated biting him but he might take that the wrong way. "You and I are made to be." He kissed me again and I struggled and then he was gone and I heard a loud crash as something, probably a person, rolled or was thrown into the trash cans.

I opened my eyes in time to see Fang punch Dylan, breaking his nose, as he struggled to his feet from where Fang had thrown him into the silver trash cans outside a shop's side door. I squeaked in protest as Dylan regained himself and leg swept Fang. But Fang managed to jump out of reach and then he grabbed Dylan's collar and punched him again before slamming him into the wall.

Dylan stumbled away from the wall and shook his head.

God Fang was scary when he was mad. He was coldly furious right now, his eyes like onyx but with a sharp glint of icy steel in them. He was so, so angry and so, so scary. I hoped I never made him angry.

"You- never- force- yourself- on- a- girl!" Fang snarled, punching Dylan with each word. He finished with a punch to his gut that had Dylan double over and then Fang kicked him and he fell on the ground. Fang crouched over him as I stared at them worriedly. I hoped Fang didn't seriously hurt him or he'd be charged with assault, I was sure.

"Never go near Max again or I swear this will seem like a walk in the park compared to what I will do to you," Fang said, his voice calm but deadly. "Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Dylan groaned, his face bloodied.

"Good," Fang snarled and straightened up to look at me. I swallowed and let out a breath that I hadn't even realised I'd been holding. Fang came over to me, checked me over for injury while I rolled my eyes.

"I'm fine," I replied.

"Good," Fang replied, his voice still cold and his eyes still scary. He looked at my neck and then reached out and touched where Dylan had bit me. Maybe it hadn't been as gentle as I'd thought. "That is sick."

"I'm fine," I stated, grabbing Fang's arm as he turned to Dylan. I pushed him away but as Dylan started to get up I walked over to him and punched him right on the nose, making it bleed more than it already was- man that felt good. Without saying anything I grabbed a fuming Fang and dragged him into the street.

"Fang, snap out of it!" I shouted, shaking his arm.

"That guy is a sick bastard!" Fang shouted. "I- should- rip- his- head- off!"

"No!" I replied. "You'll get in so much trouble, stop it! Please, for me!"

Fang looked at me and took a deep breath, closing his eyes. He counted to thirty in his mind and opened his eyes and they were back to their warm, dark brown. I made sure I gripped his hand as we walked down the street.

When I was sure he was perfectly calm I went to speak but he beat me to it.

"Are you sure you're okay?" he asked me. He was still staring at the bite mark on my neck, his eyes disgusted.

"I am," I replied. "Please, calm down."

"I am," Fang replied. "But I'm allowed to be pissed that my best friend got attacked, aren't I?"

"… Yes, I suppose so." Fang took a deep breath and I frowned. "What were you doing in town?"

"I live here, Max," Fang replied. "I'm allowed to walk the streets."

"On the night of my date?" I raised my eyebrows sceptically and Fang rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Fang-"

"Okay I came by to check on you and when I didn't see you walking the safe way into the main street I got worried and went to check the alley and I'm glad I did. I know he was offering you the chance to refuse but you know-"

"Eww Fang, don't even go there okay?" I interrupted, shuddering.

"Sorry," Fang replied, squeezing my hand. I hadn't realised I was still holding his hand but as long as I still thought he would go back and kill Dylan then I wouldn't let go. We went into a café without even speaking and sat down in a booth. I had to let go of Fang's hand but he was able to control himself, for now.

"Did you hurt him seriously?" I asked, looking at a menu.

"Not enough to send him to hospital but enough to let him know that he should be afraid of me and never touch you again," Fang replied casually, glancing at his menu. He looked up at me. "Are you-?"

"I'm fine!" I sighed with exasperation and Fang laughed, a sound so cheery compared to his earlier mood that I was startled into grinning and laughing with him.

"Okay, I believe you," Fang said when we finished laughing. A waitress came over and we ordered some chips and milkshakes. Neither of us was very hungry. When she left Fang looked back at me. "I told you that this would happen."

"I was ignoring that," I replied and Fang chuckled in that special way of his. "Sorry, I should have listened." Fang shrugged.

"It's all okay now," he replied. "I'll get Mum or Dad to drive you home."

"Thanks," I replied. I smiled and then the waitress brought our order over and we ate the chips in silence, neither of us speaking.

I mean, I was relieved that Fang came and rescued me… but I wasn't sure how I felt about him always playing superman and defending me. I mean I was glad that he cared about me but I didn't like feeling weak and helpless.

Fang seemed to know what I was thinking.

"Max a woman gains grace and beauty when she allows a man to protect her," Fang stated. "Or so my Dad told me when he told me that I should look out for girls and not let them get hurt or violated by other guys. I always knew what he meant about needing to look out for girls and treat them with respect but I didn't understand the grace and beauty thing until I met you."

"Huh?" I asked, confused slightly.

Fang dipped his chip in his chocolate milkshake and ate it. We both had that strange habit and realising that then made me smile slightly until Fang frowned.

"Well, don't take this the wrong way, but because you're so strong it takes away the special air that a girl has," Fang explained carefully. "You don't like feeling weak and you like to be as strong as those around you, including the guys so it takes away the grace that comes with being a girl who needs to be protected by a guy. Do you get me?"

I paused before I answered. "I'm deciding whether or not to be insulted by you," I replied. Fang sighed.

"I'm trying not to be insulting," he groaned. "Max, you are really pretty-" He froze as I stared at him, trying hard not to blush bright red. "I mean, according to every other guy in our year, you are really pretty, but you keep trying to be as strong as everyone that you aren't as strong as and you're going to end up being hurt. I don't think you should be frustrated by my protectiveness of you. I need to look after you because you're my best friend but you're also a girl. Do you understand now?"

"Sort of," I replied. I sighed. "So you want me to stop trying to take care of situations that I can't handle- because guys are stronger than me- and let you look after me?"

"Yes." Fang smiled slightly. "I know you hate feeling weak but you don't have to. Admitting that you can't handle some things isn't a weakness, it's strength: the strength of knowing your limitations and admitting to them. It's very strong."

I blushed. "Okay, I'll take that into consideration." I looked at him and I could tell he was still embarrassed about saying I was pretty. I wonder if he did think that or if he did mean that he only said it because all the other guys thought so.

Fang called his dad and Peter drove us home, pointedly not asking why he was playing chauffer. I thanked him and went inside. I waved to Peter and Fang. Fang was giving me a concerned look that I tried to ignore. He was still worried about me.

I went inside to find Mum standing, her arms folded, awaiting an explanation. It suddenly hit me what Fang had saved me from and I started shaking. Mum took me into the lounge room and sat me down, giving me a hot chocolate and let me explain in a frightened voice what had happened. I was suddenly so glad for Fang and realised that I hadn't thanked him for rescuing me. I'd have to call him tomorrow.

Mum held me for a while, crooning comfort to me and then she left as the phone rang. I heard her answer and I realised that she must have been talking to Alice. Fang must have explained what had happened to Peter.

"… Tell Fang thankyou," Mum was saying. I could almost hear tears in her voice. "If he hadn't shown up…" Mum sighed and was quiet. "No, that's alright. I'm sure Max just wants to ignore it. I'm forever grateful to your son."

Mum was quiet again. "Yes, I know," she sighed. I stood up, putting my mug down and coming out. Mum looked at me, her eyes filled with tears.

"Mum can you tell Alice to tell Fang 'thankyou' from me," I whispered. "I never thanked him." Mum nodded and relayed my message. She waited and smiled.

"Fang said 'it doesn't matter'," Mum told me and I smiled.

"I'm going to bed. I love you." Mum nodded.

"I love you too," she replied and kissed my cheek before returning to her phone call with Alice. I went to my room, completely exhausted and only had enough energy to pull my shoes off. I crawled into bed and pulled my jeans off and threw them on the floor. I turned my face into my pillow and tried not to cry.

I was so, so lucky to have Fang.

17. Freshman 17 Summer

Okay guys thanks so much for your reviews on the last chapter and I'm glad you didn't find it cliche and annoying (wipe forehead) I'm very relieved! Guess what, this chappie is Fang's birthday!!! Yay!!!! Oh and I'm completely free of my food poisoning (yay again) ^.^ Oh and I shall write in maybe two chapters a section with band practise in it because some people have asked about it and I've been dying to write it. I love Steve and Damen ^.^

Okay so here's this chapter. I love Matt in this chapter, it shows a new side of him.

My first summer here in Avondale went so well after those first two weeks. Fang and I had agreed not to tell the rest of the Flock about what had happened with Dylan so none of them knew how much I owed Fang and the new appreciation I had for him.

I was mid July now; Fang's birthday was in exactly two weeks. Now I had to pick up his damned guitar when he was working at the same bloody store! How wonderful for me, eh?

I walked into the store. I had to pick it up today because Jeb's last payment had come through. Hopefully Matt had an idea for me.

"Max!" Fang said, looking up from where he'd been helping a customer look at guitar picks. I smiled at him and he smiled back. "I'll be with you a second okay. I'm almost done here." I nodded and walked around to where I could see Matt chatting up some pretty girl who looked like she might be in uni.

"Too old for you, don't you think?" I asked as she walked away. Matt laughed as he spotted me.

"Maybe," he replied. "Hiya Max, how's it going? I have something to ask you."

"Yeah?" I replied. Matt dropped his voice.

"Your sister told me last month that you were going on a date with Dylan Skye and the day after your date I saw him and he looked like he got hit by a car. What happened?" Matt seemed concerned, not about Dylan but about me.

"What do you think happened?" I asked, actually curious.

"Well I can pretty much say with one hundred percent certainty that Fang is the one who beat the hell out of him," Matt replied. "But what did he do that made Fang do it?"

"Um…" I shuddered slightly at the memory. Matt seemed to gather enough from my reaction. He nodded and put a gentle hand on my shoulder. He looked at me with such concern in his blue eyes at my stomach tightened slightly. What was that about?

"It's okay, you don't have to say it out loud," Matt assured me. Just then Fang came over and frowned at Matt's hand on my shoulder. Matt removed it quickly and smiled at Fang.

"I'll leave you two to it then," Matt said. I gave him a look and he winked at me and walked off. What was he planning?

"Hmm," Fang said. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing," Fang replied. I folded my arms and gave him my look that meant 'why do I not believe you?'

"Don't lie to me," I stated. I browsed through the nearby CDs and Fang came and leant on the wall beside me.

"I'm serious-"


"Matt's too old for you." He looked away, irritated. I groaned and grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to look at me.

"What is it with you and trying to control my love life?" I demanded, slightly irritated. Yeah I wasn't forgetting how his paranoia about me had saved me but I could pick guys that weren't going to try and force me to sleep with them. Besides, who said I wanted to date Matt? I certainly didn't!

"Sorry," Fang replied. "But since last month I've had this sudden urge to make sure you don't make another mistake! Sorry for caring."

I sighed. "Fang, sorry, I guess I'm just trying to prove to everyone around me that I can make good decisions. It was one mistake. Does that condemn me forever?"

"No, sorry for overreacting," Fang sighed.

And just like that our argument was fixed. What the hell? What happened to arguing for twenty minutes until we forget what we were originally arguing about? I guess our friendship was growing as both of us got older.

"Hey, Fang can you go help that man over there?" Matt requested. Fang smiled.

"I'll meet you for lunch," I said. "I have to go to Mum but then we'll go and eat, okay?"

"Sure," Fang agreed and walked off into the other room. Matt was a genius. He brought the already wrapped guitar box out and I grinned at him.

"Thanks so much," I whispered. "I should go and get this into the car before Fang notices."

"No problem," Matt replied. He hesitated. "I wish I'd been able to introduce Dylan to my fist too." He leant down and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek that made me blush. "He won't be allowed in here anymore. He can go and get his music second hand."

"You're sweet," I mumbled, my face hot. "Bye Matt."

I hurried out of the shop; feeling very confused and met Mum in the parking lot, giving her Fang's guitar to take home.

"I'll see you tomorrow," I said, kissing Mum on the cheek. I was going to Fang's place tonight for dinner and then we were going to watch a Monty Python marathon. It was just the two of us. Something we'd been a lot more often than usual nowadays. It felt kind of weird because I never even slept over at Sam's place as much as I had at Fang's. Chris came pretty close but I'd only known Fang about three quarters of a year so it was kind of weird but I had no problem with it. I trusted him with my life.

I watched Mum drive off and then went back into the mall to hang out in a book store until Fang got off work for the day. It was Sunday so he got off at one and we were going to have lunch, hang out and then go to his place in time for dinner.

After spending almost an hour in the bookshop I realised I was late and turned around to go and look for Fang and found myself face-to-face with Dylan. Shit.

"Hi," I said nervously. I was standing right in the doorway of Barnes and Noble, surely he wouldn't try anything here would he? There were tonnes of people around.

Dylan seemed to look so much better now. You could hardly tell Fang had beaten him into a bloody mess except for the new bend to his nose where Fang had broken it and nobody had set it right away to stop it from bending like I had when that guy broke Fang's nose.

"You tell your boyfriend that he's going to pay," Dylan snarled at me. "He's going to regret laying a finger on me." I was about to reply when I was prevented from doing so by someone else speaking.

"Oh, is he?" Dylan whipped around to find Matt standing about half a foot away from Dylan.

Matt, my saviour. Oh boy, I was late if Matt was already out and about. I frowned at Matt. I hoped he wouldn't do anything stupid considering that Dylan hadn't touched me.

"I think you should back off and stay right away from Max and Fang," Matt said in a deadly cold voice. Who knew that dear, sweet, ever-so-cool Matt could be kind of scary. "Are you hearing me Skye? You tell your brother as well. You, him, and his buddies are to stay away from Max and Fang or they'll answer to me and my buddies and you don't want that, do you?"

"N-n-no," Dylan stuttered. I frowned. Dylan looked dead scared. Who were Matt's buddies?

"Scat," Matt snarled and Dylan hurried off. Matt looked at me, replacing his glare with a smile. "You alright?"

"Fine," I replied. I looked after Dylan. "You scared him."

"Dylan and Joshua, his brother, know not to mess with me," Matt explained and he beckoned to me and started walking me to the food court.


"Uh…" Matt glanced around. "My twin brother is a really high up member of the Bloods."

"An LA Gang?" I whispered.

"Yup, last time I saw him and his boss they seemed really tight. Apparently Jake is gonna be the next leader of the LA Bloods."

"Whoa," I whispered. "You've got connections."

"Yup." Matt chuckled. "I'm an honorary member because of my brother. Check this out." He pulled up his right sleeve and showed me the Bloods' symbol tattooed onto his bicep. "They told me to get it put there so that if I ever ran into any trouble I could help from any Bloods member anywhere I was."


"It's pretty handy. Joshua got caught up with a gang and got some members of the Bloods sent to prison- he framed them- so he knows that he shouldn't mess with me or he'll be in so much trouble."

I nodded, amazed. I knew that Fang and I were completely safe. We could even be safe from G51 if we asked Matt to do that for us. I considered it for a moment then thought that maybe Fang wouldn't like it.

I spotted my best friend as Matt and I stopped at the edge of the food court.

"Thanks again," I replied. "That was so cool."

"No problem," Matt replied. He waved to Fang as he joined us and walked off. Fang frowned at me questioningly and I explained to him what happened as we bought lunch.

"Whew, Matt never seemed like that kind to me," Fang shrugged. "Well at least we won't be bothered anymore."

"I know," I replied. "It's really cool, don't you think? That Matt would use his gang connections for us?"

"Yeah…" Fang frowned at me and I realised that I sounded excited. I swallowed, blushing. "Ready for our laugh-fest tonight?"

"You betcha," I replied, glad that Fang had changed the subject for me. Once again I was glad that Fang knew when to not mention something. I'd already snapped at him for trying to interfere and he wasn't going to do it again so I was happy.

Then I was excited. I couldn't wait until Fang opened his guitar from me. I smiled slightly as Fang said something and hid it from him by taking a bite of my hamburger. He was going to love his birthday.


I had my hands pressed over Fang's eyes as I led him into his large living room. We'd stacked his presents on the three seater lounge and Peter had brought a table in and placed junk food and drinks on it and we had a whole bunch of movies waiting to watch as well as some party games. We were having a slightly childish party because of the younger lot but tonight, Fang, Iggy and I were going to head out and see a horror movie together.

"Max, can I look yet?" Fang asked.

"Nope," I replied.


"Nope." I stopped walking and smiled. "Now you can." I removed my hands from his eyes and the others all grinned at him.

"Happy birthday!" they all cheered. Angel and Gazzy rushed up and hugged Fang and then Ella and Nudge, though Fang didn't really hug them back. As I have said before, he isn't much of a huggy person but one arm around you is pretty much a bear hug from Fang so we all lived with it. He hugged Angel and Gazzy because they were only little, though.

Iggy clapped Fang's shoulder and I hugged him from behind as we led him over to his presents.

"I hate you all," Fang stated, looking at them. "You know I hate it when you buy me things."

"Too bad," Iggy replied. "Start opening."

Fang got a whole bunch of vouchers from everyone; Iggy and Gazzy got him a leather necklace that had a shark tooth hanging from it. ("Ha-ha, Iggy" was Fang's response) and his serious present was a new set of black skate shoes. Fang's parents had gotten him a gift card for iTunes so he could buy more old music to blast through his room. Nudge and Ella had bought Fang an awesome black shirt with 'Fang' imprinted on the back in silver writing with a feather under it.

Angel- ever-so-adorable and gorgeous Angel- had made Fang a bright card and he picked her up and kissed her cheek and hugged her tightly. Nobody laughed and I knew that the card was going to be in his bedside cabinet with all of the other ones from his baby sister. He loved her so much.

"Last but not least, mine," I stated as Fang set Angel down. Fang frowned.

"There's none left," he stated, raising his eyebrow.

"I hid it, so that you wouldn't see it at first," I explained. "It's behind the lounge."

Iggy and Nudge pulled out the gold-wrapped box and set it on the lounge. Fang stared at it unblinking for a moment. He looked at me and wordlessly gestured to the box. I smiled at him and he looked back at it and started unwrapping it.

"Max!" Fang gasped staring at the box. "What the hell?"

"You don't have to thank me," I laughed. Fang turned around and stared at me.

"Why did you buy me the twelve-string?" he asked softly.

"Because you really, really wanted it," I replied shrugging, slightly embarrassed by the look in Fang's eyes. "I couldn't stand you looking so sad."

Fang looked back at the box and then came right over and wrapped his arms around me. I hugged him back, blushing from surprise. Fang never started hugs, he just returned them sometimes… mostly only half-returned them.

"You're the greatest, most amazing friend on the planet," Fang told me.

"Okay that is the last time I buy you something that you really want, it just turns you into a sap," I teased. Fang let me go and smiled properly at me.

"Thankyou so much, Max," he said. I waved my hand and smiled back.

"It was nothing," I assured him.

"You know what this means though," Fang said as he opened the box and pulled out the case. He looked up at me evilly.

"What?" I asked warily.

"You get my old guitar, I'm teaching you how to play rock music."

My face fell and everyone else laughed, especially Iggy. I hardly had the hang of an acoustic guitar yet. How did Fang expect me to play an electric one?

"I hate you," I said, folding my arms and looking away. Fang chuckled and examined his guitar while the rest of us pigged out on food but when I looked over at me I caught him staring at me with an unknown emotion on his face. Whatever it was his eyes were very intense and it made me blush so I had to look away before he saw me but I peeked back and he was looking down, a gentle smile on his face and I felt a surge of pleasure.

I'd put a look on Fang's face that I'd never seen before. He was happy.

But as I realised that I'd made Fang's birthday truly wonderful I realised something about me that I should have realised when Sam was here: I'd become attached to Avondale and its inhabitants. I truly saw this place as home now because I believed 'home is where the heart is' and my heart was here, with these people, my family. I found the place I truly belonged.

I smiled. I was home.

18. Sophomore 1

Guess what, for me today is October 31st!!! It is Halloween and though Australians don't celebrate it I still enjoy wishing people a happy halloween so HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! ^.^ Anywho I love this chapter because of the little bit with Angel and Fang at the start. He's such a loving big brother. I wish my big brother was as nice to me as Fang is to Angel. ^.^ And there's a section in the middle with a teensy little bit of fluff and then at the end with Fang. Yay ^.^ I love this chapter basically.

Thanks guys for reading this story, here is the start of the Sophomore year!! ^.^

Fang stretched his arms over his head and turned his head to look at the photos on his bedside table. The whole Flock. Their band. Angel. Nudge and Ella. Iggy and Gazzy. He and Max. That one was his favourite. He smiled slightly and reached his hand over and gently brushed a finger over Max's smiling face. He couldn't identify what caused the little jump in his heart but he didn't mind it… it felt kind of good actually.

"Fang!" Angel's little voice was calling his name as she skipped down the hall. She opened his door and Fang shifted into a sitting position as Angel jumped onto his bed and crawled to his side, curling up against him.

"Why haven't you got a shirt on?" Angel demanded.

"Because it was hot last night," Fang replied chuckling. He kissed the top of her head and hugged her. "How did you sleep?"

"Good! I had a dream that we could all fly!" Angel trilled.


"Yeah. You, Max, me, Iggy, Gazzy and Nudge. We all had wings and we could fly and we had a talking dog!"

"Did you have a lot of sugar yesterday?" Fang was trying not to laugh. It was such a ludicrous dream but this was his seven year old sister he was listening to. A talking dog? Jeez.

"No." Angel smiled up at him, her big blue eyes innocent. Fang smiled and held her closer. "It's the first day of your soap- soph- sop-"

"Sophomore?" Fang supplied.

"Yeah, that one," Angel agreed. "It's the first day of you sophomore year of senior high." Fang chuckled and smoothed Angel's hair back and then looked at his photos again.

"It is too," he replied softly. "More fun, eh?"

"Yes!" Angel giggled as Fang tickled her.

"So, does that mean I have to get up now?"

"Yes! Stop it!"

"Only if you tell me the pass word," Fang replied in his Twilight-Zone voice.

"I don't know it!" Angel protested between her laughs. "Um… Flock? Max?"

"Nope," Fang replied. "It's I love you!"

"I love you!" Angel shouted. Fang let her go and hugged her.

"Love you too," he replied, kissing her cheek before she scrambled away from him and skipped out of his room, blowing him a kiss over her shoulder. Fang chuckled and leant back in bed. He put his hands behind his head and looked at his photos again.

His life had been… well almost boring before Max had come but now…

Where to begin with what life was like now that Max was in it? Well for starters he'd never had to beat the hell out of a guy for trying to make one of his friends sleep with him. He'd never been beaten within an inch of his life by gangsters. He'd never wanted to go to a Spring Fling. He'd never been so glad to have a friend. He'd never been as close to someone. He'd never felt the… anticipation he did now to see a girl. In fact he'd never really been close to a girl except Nudge before. Now Max was his best friend and he was always eager to see her. She could make him smile easier than anyone but Angel and she was the only one who made him angry, sad, confused, worried, protective, annoyed, frustrated, happy and a thousand other things all at once.

Yeah, life was so much better with Max in it.

Fang and Angel left the house together, Angel holding Fang's hand and skipping alongside him as he walked her towards school.

"And I'm going to paint a picture for you," Angel said brightly.

"Really? What of?" Fang asked, love for his baby sister warming his heart. He would always love her so much and in nine years when she was in Senior High he was keeping both eyes on her and not letting any guy mess with her or they'd be introduced to his fists without hesitation.

"You and Max."

Fang smiled. "Oh yeah? What are we going to be doing?"

"You'll be hugging me!" Angel beamed up at Fang who smiled down at her, giving her small hand a gentle squeeze. "And-"

"Look who it is," a rough, male voice said. Fang froze and whipped around, holding Angel slightly behind him. He recognised the male immediately. It was the guy who had bashed him at the Spring Fling.

"What do you want?" Fang demanded.

The guy cracked his knuckles and Fang winced at the sound. He remembered those knuckles smashing into his face and ribs. It had made him feel like bricks had been dropped onto his chest.

"You bashed my brother," the guy snarled.

Fang froze. "Joshua Skye?" he asked. He pushed Angel right behind him and when she made a little whimpering sound he looked around. His heart gave a start and adrenaline began coursing through his blood. They were surrounded by the members of G51.

Joshua nodded, tilting his head, his neck cracking.

"I'm going to finish what I started at your dance," Joshua growled. "Retribution for my brother."

"Fang," Angel said in a soft voice.

Fang's whole body was tensed. He had to protect Angel, it didn't matter what they did to him but his little sister had to be safe.

"Josh!" one guy shouted and they all looked around as a car came screaming up the side street.

"Bail!" Joshua shouted and they all raced off. The car skidded to a halt by Angel and Fang and a guy with long blonde hair leant out of the window.

"Nick Ride?" he asked. Fang frowned. He looked just like Matt.

"Yeah?" Fang replied.

"Get in!"

"Are you joking?" Fang asked, picking up Angel and preparing to run.

"I'm Jake Lyons!" the guy insisted. "Matt told me to keep an eye on you and your girl." Fang frowned. That was Matt's brother?

Fang held Angel tight for a moment and then made a split second decision and went and climbed into the car. He held Angel on his lap and realised that he hadn't been a second too soon, there was a band and a bullet exploded a nearby fence post.

Angel screamed as Jake pulled away from the curb.

"Angel's school is on the next block," Fang instructed. Jake nodded, his wolf-fang earring moving, his blonde pony tail swinging. He looked so much like Matt just rougher and tougher. Jake pulled up and Fang hugged Angel and kissed her forehead.

"Stay safe," he whispered as she climbed out of the car, crying. He felt so bad about leaving her but she'd be safe at school. He motioned to her and Angel ran into the school grounds and Fang watched her go worriedly, then climbed into the passenger seat in the front.

Jake looked at him with his bright blue eyes. He had a black tattoo on his left cheek in the shape of a jagged scar.

"I thought Matt scared them off," Fang said as Jake pulled away from Angel's school.

"He did too but he called me anyway and asked if me and the boys could keep and eye on you and Max," Jake explained. He glanced at Fang. He knew where the school was, he'd been a student there years ago.

Fang nodded.

"Thanks," he sighed. As they reached the school Fang spotted Max and Iggy standing together at the gates. Max's eyes went wide as Fang got out of the car. He turned back and looked at Jake. "Thanks a tonne man, for my sister's safety. If you hadn't shown…"

"It's cool," Jake replied. He winked. "Are you getting picked up this afternoon?"

"Max, Ig and I are going to walk down to the mall," Fang replied.

"I'll pick you up." Fang was about to protest but the look on Jake's face made him stop. "I'll see you this afternoon."

Fang shut the door and watched Jake drive away, feeling kind of disgruntled. Max and Iggy stared at him as he joined them.

"Who was that?" Iggy asked.

"Jake Lyons," Fang replied.

"Matt's brother?" Max asked. "But… what…"

"I ran into G51 while walking Angel to school." Max's eyes widened and Fang raised a hand. "Jake showed up in time, Ange is fine and Jake's taking us to the mall this afternoon. He's our own personal body guard."

"Oh my god!" Max checked Fang over despite his assurance that he was fine. "Oh thank god you're okay and Angel is too."

"I thought Matt scared them off," Iggy frowned- they had decided to tell Iggy what had happened with his solemn vow not to tell the others- as they walked into the school, Max watching Fang with worried eyes.

"So did I but I guess they're really mad," Fang shrugged. "Max, I am fine!" She looked at him, blushed and sighed.

"Ok," she agreed. "I'm just worried."

"Well I'm fine," Fang laughed. "Now leave me alone." He smiled at her and Max smiled back gently. The three of them walked off to homeroom, Max still watching Fang worriedly. He ignored her, slightly pleased at her concern.


Fang and I sat down at a desk at the back of the science lab. Would you believe that it had come in overcast and rainy? It doesn't happen very often here but right now it was starting to rain and heavily. I guess I was kind of okay with Jake driving us to the mall- at least we wouldn't get wet.

"Boring," Fang yawned as the teacher went on some in depth lecture about the rocks of the planet. I grinned and continued drawing on my book. Fang pushed a piece of paper over to me and I looked at it.

Are you still having bad dreams? Fang had written. I smiled at his concern and replied.

No, why?

Just wondering. I'm really worried about you. You realise that you've changed my life dramatically. I've never worried about someone so much before. I hate you for it.

I looked at Fang and saw he was smiling at me so I knew he was kidding.

Yeah, well I hate you too. So there, koala bear.

Is a koala even a bear?

How am I supposed to know? Do I look like an Australian Bogan to you? (A/N- Yes I did just insult my own country but I'm a True Blue, Proud Aussie so I'm allowed to :P)

Not really but I've only known you for a short while.

You're so obnoxious.

Yeah but you love it.

Do not.

Do too.

Do not.

Do too.

Do not.

Do too.

Shut up Fang, the teacher's staring at us.

We both looked up trying to smother our smiles as Ms Carline glared furiously at us. The rest of the class turned to look at us and we tried not to laugh.

"Is there something amusing you'd like to share with the rest of the class?" Ms Carline asked.

"Um yes," Fang replied and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing loudly. "We were just wondering if koalas were actually bears?"

The whole class blinked and a few people chuckled in amusement but Ms Carline just groaned and massaged her temples. Well it's her fault for accepting Fang and I back into her science class this year.

"No they are not bears but we're discussing the Earth's structure right now, stay on task or I'll have to separate you," Ms Carline snarled. Fang and I crossed our hearts and looked at her innocently. We smiled at each other as she went back to teaching the class and then I zoned out.

We had Drama next. Yay. Only ten minutes left of this hell and then we could go back to our favourite class with our favourite teacher.

If only I knew what she had in store for Fang and I…


"I have put your names down for Marius and Cosette for this year's Christmas Play," Miss Alike said smiling at Fang and I who were standing, staring at her, dumbstruck.

"What play is that?" I managed to ask.

"It's a musical, Les Misérables," Miss Alike explained. Fang and I stared at each other.

"No," we answered in unison.

"You have to audition." Miss Alike had set everyone else into pairs to do some warm up exercises like usual and she had given us some songs to practise for the play. What the hell was wrong with her?

"You two are amazing actors and singers, you have to play these parts," Miss Alike insisted. "Just audition. There's a chance you may not get the parts, just audition. For me?"

Fang and I looked at each other. Miss Alike was hard to refuse and she would pester us until we gave in so we both sighed and nodded.

"When are auditions?" Fang questioned.

"Next Monday after school," Miss Alike said. "The auditorium. Don't be late."

"We won't," I replied, my voice much less enthusiastic than Miss Alike would have liked. She ignored it though and stood up.

"I want you to practise the scene for me," she said.

"Urgh, really?" Fang asked. Miss Alike glared at him and we both sighed and looked down at the play book.

"Max, you first," Miss Alike told me. I rolled my eyes and Fang gave me an encouraging nod and I flipped open to the page Miss Alike was open to and looked at my line. Yuck, I had to pretend to love Fang… again. Why must Miss Alike torment me so?

"Every day you walk with a stronger step, you walk with a longer step. The worst is over," I said. Cosette was supposed to be helping Marius recover. Hmm.

"Every day, I wonder every day, who was it brought me here from the barricade?" Fang replied, fake tragedy in his voice. Miss Alike rolled her eyes but didn't interrupt. I had to hand it to her, she put up with Fang and I more than anybody else did.

"Don't think about it, Marius. With all the years ahead of us! I will never go away and we will be together. Every day. Every day, we'll remember that night and the vow that we made: 'A heart full of love, a night full of you'. The words are old but always true. Oh, God, for shame you did not even know my name."

"Dear Mademoiselle, I was lost in your spell." Fang gave me a glowing look and I snickered. Miss Alike sighed.

"I'll do Val Jean," she informed us. "A heart full of love She was never mine to keep. No fear no regret, she is youthful. 'My name is Marius Pontmercy'. She is free."

Fang chuckled. "Cosette, Cosette!" he said dramatically. Would we ever take anything seriously? The way this was going, I didn't think so.

"I saw you waiting and I knew," I stated softly. "Love is the garden of the young." I smiled shyly at Fang. I was starting to get into character now but this was still so funny.

"Waiting for you," Fang replied, he took my hand, slipping into the comfort he got from performing. Most of the class was watching us now. "At your feet, let it be."

"At your call, let it be," I replied, squeezing Fang's hand.

We smiled and started speaking in perfect unison, Fang looking right into my eyes. "And it wasn't a dream, a heart full of love,
not a dream. This I give you after all, on this day."

"That was wonderful," Miss Alike said, not allowing Fang to read Marius's next lines. "But you need to be like that from the start."

"Never going to happen," Fang said, still looking into my eyes, his hand warm around mine. "We don't take things seriously."

"You do when you get into it," Miss Alike sighed. She looked between us and I could feel my cheeks warming up from the intensity of Fang's eyes.

"Guys! You can stop acting now!" Iggy stated striding up to us, his hand in his pockets. He was looking at us strangely but I barely noticed. "Or are you guys acting?"

"Yes we are!" Fang snapped, dropping my hand and glaring at Iggy. "We just incredibly in character." His voice sounded kind of weird and I raised my eyebrows at him.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

Miss Alike had her eyebrows raised, watching us with interest.

"I'm fine," Fang replied. "I just… need a drink." Fang looked at Miss Alike and she rearranged her expression and nodded at him. Fang walked off and Iggy went with him and I frowned after them and then decided to sit down with my script and read it over.


"What was that man?" Iggy asked as Fang leant on the building outside, running his hands through his hair, letting it flop back in his face without noticing what he was doing.

"Nothing," Fang replied. He looked at Iggy and smiled. "I just had a… mental lapse."

"Uh-huh." Iggy raised his eyebrows sceptically and Fang chuckled, looking away.

Oh yeah, mental lapse alright. Fang had felt… something when he'd looked into Max's eyes. At first he thought it might only have been the acting but it was stronger that that. Sort of like the sun. Really warm and bright.

Fang didn't know what it was but it felt really damned good.

"Man, tell me what's going through your head," Iggy said. "You're worrying me."

"I'm fine," Fang assured him. He shook his head. He'd figure it out later. "Let's go back to class." Fang had a slightly new step as he walked back up with Iggy. The sunny feeling was really nice. He never wanted it to go away.


"Is that Jake's car?" I asked.

"No," Fang replied.

"Is that Jake's car?"


"Is that one Jake's car?"




"What about-"

"Max, that is not-" Fang froze in mid response. "Oh wait, that is his car, my bad." Iggy cracked up laughing and I smacked Fang upside of his head. Idiot.

Jake pulled up and the three of us slipped into the back seat and Jake turned and looked at us. It had finished raining but everything was completely soaked, including Jake's pony tail.

"You've been in the rain," Iggy commented. "Why?"

"I'm a member of the Bloods, man," Jake replied, pulling away from the curb. "I have work here. Hey, do you have a lift from the mall?"

"Yes we all do," I replied.

"Good 'cause I'm staying with Matt and then I have to drive him home when he gets off work," Jake explained. "I want you all to stay out of trouble but I'll watch your backs as much as I can."

We all looked at each other. After Fang running into G51 again maybe it was good that we had the Bloods looking out for us. I was all for it especially since Angel, my baby, and Fang, my very best friend, had been caught up in the whole episode. I didn't want any of the Flock to be hurt.

"Okay," we all agreed in unison. Jake smiled in relief.

Fang and I looked at each other and I saw something in his eyes- relief? Then he looked away from me and I felt a little jolt in my heart. Hmm, curious. Well no time to worry about that now, I had that stupid audition to worry about. But right now I just wanted to chill out with my two best friends.

19. Sophomore 2

This chapter was so much fun so write! And would you believe that I realised I haven't mentioned Fang's artistic skills (not including Music or acting) yet. So I decided to mention them in this chapter. Just because I love Fang!!! Anywho I'll let you know why I chose Les Mis for their play. When I was in Year 7 that was the school's production and I fell in love with the play. I don't know why. There was just something about it. ^.^

Anywho here's this chapter ^.^

Thursday afternoons equal band practises this semester. Angel, Gazzy, Nudge and Ella were lounging on Fang's bed while we all prepared to practise.

"Fang, check this, I found the music for Hero, finally," Steve said rummaging in the case that he kept his bass guitar in. Fang was helping me tune his old electric guitar which was now mine. I had been very bad when he'd first started teaching me but now I was okay and we were using practise for him to teach me some more.

"Oh yeah?" Fang asked. He took the music and looked through it. Hero by Nickelback was one of my favourite songs and I knew it was one of Fang's too so he looked pleased to have a whole band version of the music for it.

"This is great," Iggy commented. "Good job man."

"No problem." Steve sat down on his amp and started tuning his guitar (A/N- if you're wondering why they're all tuning right now it's because guitars get out of tune REALLY quickly. 65% of my friends are guitar players and they ALWAYS tune before they play even if they tuned the day before. It's so annoying). Damen was lounging on the window seat tapping his knees while we all got ready. Lucky drummer. He didn't have to tune his instrument.

I often wondered why Steve and Damen didn't hang out with us at school. They were as much as part of this group as anyone else. Fang gave Iggy the music and came and knelt in front of me and I looked at him.

Fang had been quiet lately. I wasn't sure why.

"This one is too high," Fang said plucking one string. I still couldn't believe that it only took him several minutes to tune a twelve-string and it took me almost three times as long to tune mine and I need help doing it.

"Don't worry," Fang laughed, reading my expression in that easy way that he had. "It just takes practise. You'll get better at it."

"Okay, I'll believe you," I replied.

"Max!" Angel called and I looked over at her.

"Yeah, sweetie?" I replied.

"Fang has a drawing of you in his drawer!"

Fang stiffened and I raised my eyebrows. Steve looked up from his guitar, Damen sat up straight on the window seat. Iggy was the only one who kept going with what he was doing.

"Wow, it's the best one you've ever done," Nudge was saying, taking the book from Angel. Fang had a sketch book? Gazzy nodded in agreement and Ella raised her eyebrows. I looked at Fang and he was staring at the ground, his muscles tense.

"You drew a picture of Max?" Damen asked standing up and walking over to Nudge to look at it. Steve placed his bass down and went over to look too.

"It's not very good," Fang mumbled. Iggy leant against the wall, plucking a melody on his guitar, the only one at ease. "Seriously, it was just a scribble."

Everyone looked at me now, except Fang and Iggy. Iggy kept playing his guitar, the strings only making a quiet twang because it wasn't hooked up to an amp yet. I looked at Nudge, Ella, Angel, Gazzy, Steve and Damen, then at Iggy and finally down at Fang whose face seemed to have taken on a pale pink colour. Fang was blushing?

"You draw?" I managed to ask. How could I not know this? Why didn't he tell me?

"Yeah," Fang replied, looking up at me, the colour fading from his face but his eyes were slightly embarrassed. "I never told you because I didn't know whether you'd laugh or not. But I've been drawing since I was little."

"He's brilliant too," Iggy added. Fang ignored him and looked at me earnestly.

"Sorry I didn't tell you."

"Why'd you draw me?" I asked. Then I paused. "When did you draw me?"

"When you stayed over at my place after my birthday and you fell asleep while we were watching Knowing." Fang pulled at his fingers slightly. "You looked so peaceful that I couldn't help it. I had to draw you."

I sighed and stood up. Damen was holding the sketch book and he held it out to me with a smile and I looked down at it. Whoa, Iggy had been right, Fang was brilliant. The picture was me fast asleep on his bed, his pillow and my hands under my head. I was smiling.

"Fang," I said. Then I noticed something. I looked far prettier in the picture than I actually was. Fang was refusing to look at me, like he was embarrassed.

"Aw, Fangie's all 'barrassed," Steve teased.

"Aw, how adorable," Damen added. Fang shot them a dark look and the two boys laughed and Iggy joined in.

"Fang this is really good," I said. He'd dated it and signed 'Fang' in the bottom, right-hand corner. I also noticed something else. "Um… but I don't think I was wearing that."

Fang frowned and stood up and came over. "Oh yeah," he laughed. "I was going to draw you in what you were wearing but then I changed my mind and drew you wearing one of my shirts. No idea why."

"Hmm." I looked at him and noticed that despite the casual tone Fang wasn't meeting my eyes and he looked embarrassed again.

"Why would you do that?" Ella asked. Fang shrugged one shoulder and Steve, Damen and Iggy were all snickering again. Fang ignored them.

"Let's just start practising," Fang replied. I gave Nudge the sketch book to put back in Fang's draw. I was interested to see what else he'd drawn but I guessed it could wait. We played a whole bunch of songs, helping each other out when we had trouble and the boys took it in turns to teach me how to play something on the electric guitar.

"Okay, break?" Fang suggested. "Nudge and Ella made cordial and cakes for us earlier."

"Yay! Cake!" Damen cheered. "Not made by the Igster but Nudge is a good cook too." He flashed her a dazzling smile.

"I love cake!" Steve laughed and punched the air.

"Okay idiots, go and get some then," Ella laughed. She, Nudge, Angel and Gazzy went out with Steve and Damen. Iggy flashed Fang a smug look and strolled out after them, his hands in his pockets.

Fang was busily placing his guitar in its case.

"Fang?" I said. He glanced at me warily. "I really like the picture." He sat back on his heels and looked at me.

"You do?" His eyes seemed to glitter slightly.

"You're really good." I smiled at him. "Can I see the other ones?"

"Sure." Fang and I went to his bed and he took out the book and we sat down and I flicked through it. He'd drawn sketches of birds, flowers, his garden, his parents holding each other while leaning on the gazebo railing. Iggy playing video games with Gazzy. He drawn Nudge and Angel curled up together. Angel sleeping. He drawn Ella and Nudge and Angel. He'd drawn me and Angel. He'd drawn Matt playing guitar. The whole flock asleep in the lounge room, except the artist himself of course. Steve and Damen sitting in front of the drums. And finally the sketch of me.

"Is this all?" I asked.

"I have heaps of sketch books," Fang replied, shrugging modestly. "I like sketching."

"You're fantastic. I love that one of the bird that you did with coloured pencils."

"Thanks." Fang picked at a spot on his jeans for a moment while I went through the pictures. "Here." Fang took the book from me and pulled out the picture he'd drawn of the whole flock.

"Oh, you don't have to give me that," I said.

"I want to," Fang replied. He reached under the bed and pulled out a plastic sleeve and put the drawing in there. "Keep it."

I took it, feeling warm from the importance of the gesture. It was silly but Fang giving me something he'd drawn, especially since it was of my family- except Fang which seemed wrong but he can't draw himself in there but his name was in the corner so…- just felt so special. I wonder if he'd meant it like that. I hoped so.

"Thankyou, Fang," I whispered and then leant over and kissed his cheek gently. Fang's face took on that pinkish tinge again and I felt like teasing him. Fang never blushed but he'd done it twice in one afternoon now.

Fang smiled at me. "No problem," he murmured softly.

"Hey! Are you two coming or not?" Steve shouted.

"If you don't come we're eating all of the cakes!" Damen added.

"Yeah, you'd better hurry!" Nudge called.

I laughed and left the sketch on Fang's bed as we went out to join the rest of the group in afternoon tea. The easiness of which it took to be around these people still amazed me. I was still curious as to why Steve and Damen didn't hang out with us. I wish they did. I considered them a part of the Flock and I know Fang did too. But still, it was their choice and we still hung out with them for practises and gigs so… Oh well.


Fang watched as the last of the cars drove away and then he and Iggy went back inside. Angel and Gazzy were in the lounge room watching Harry Potter so Fang and Iggy went down to Fang's room and finished packing up from the practise.

"I wish Max and Ella had been able to stay," Iggy said.

"I know why you wished Ella had stayed," Fang teased, locking the case for his electric guitar with a reverence that he had never paid anything before. Yeah this had been his dream guitar but it was even more important to him because Max had bought it for him with no qualms about the price. It meant so much to him that she had bought him something just because she wanted him to have something he really wanted.

"Shut up," Iggy said, throwing a nearby shoe at Fang's head. Fang caught it and tossed it over to the other shoes and rolled his eyes at Iggy.

"So you and Max are trying out for Les Misérables on Monday?" Iggy asked. Fang groaned.

"Don't remind me," he replied sitting back against the wall. Iggy came and joined him.

"That picture was slightly different to how you draw other people," Iggy stated. "And I have never seen you blush before, man."

Fang frowned. Yeah, he'd never blushed before. So what? Fang shrugged.

"Whatever you think is probably wrong," Fang stated. Iggy rolled his eyes.

"Whatever you say."

"I'm serious."

"Uh-huh, so is Monty Python."

"You're so annoying."

"You're stupid."

"I hate you."

"Of course you do."

They looked at each other and then laughed and Fang ran a hand through his hair and looked at Iggy who was twiddling his thumbs and humming.

"Aren't you supposed to be cooking dinner for us?" Fang questioned, prodding his friend's side. "I'm hungry. To the kitchen with you, cook."

"Shut up or you won't get anything," Iggy said, standing up and stretching. Fang chuckled and followed Iggy out to the kitchen to bug him about Ella while he cooked dinner- Alice, Peter, Alicia and Damien were out for dinner together- until he gave in and admitted that he liked her.



I know what you're thinking? Am I about to vomit from nerves or am I going to punch something because I really don't want to do this?

Probably both.

Fang and I were almost up for the audition. Miss Alike had finally gotten us to sing our lines instead of just saying them and I had admit, we were pretty damned good.

Right now we were listening to a senior girl singing out the lines of Fantine, Cosette's mother. She was really good.

She finished and the auditions for Valjean started.

After a few people a Senior guy passed us and introduced himself and started to sing Jean Valjean's lines from the trial where he admits who he is. He wasn't that good. There was a guy who was on a few people before him who was way better.

"It's almost my turn, Marius is next after that guy tries for Valjean," Fang whispered. He looked fine but I knew he felt nervous about singing something that wasn't rock music in front of other people who weren't part of our drama class and what was worse for him he had to take this seriously.

"You'll do fine," I whispered. I squeezed his hand and he smiled at me. The senior finished and the last Valjean actor went onto the stage to sing.

Fang held his breath as the guy finished and then Marius's character was announced and Fang was called up. I squeezed his hand again as he went out and then I peeked out onto the stage as he stood there.

"Hi Fang," Miss Alike said from the judges' table.

"Hi," Fang replied.

"Well, let's hear it," Mr Turner spat. Why that man was part of the judging panel I don't know. Thank god Miss Alike and Miss Elissa were part of it as well and Mr Callahan the head of the Performing Arts department.

Fang took a deep breath and I smiled.

"In my life
She has burst like the music of angels
The light of the sun
And my life seems to stop
As if something is over
And something has scarcely begun.
You're the friend who has brought me here
Thanks to you I am one with the Gods
And Heaven is near!
And I soar through a world that is new that is free..."

There was silence. I had been busy listening to the beautiful sound of Fang's voice. He sounded so different when he wasn't singing a rock song. I liked it.

"Actually, Max, could you come out and we'll get you to sing together," Miss Alike called. "You perform better when you're together."

I swallowed and walked out. Mr Turner glared up at us sourly and I resisted the urge to shoot him the bird.

"Okay, continue on from that scene when Marius and Cosette meet," Miss Elissa said, smiling kindly at us. I remembered why she was my favourite ever English teacher.

I looked at Fang and nodded. He smiled at me. We'd done this scene in Drama when Miss Alike first taught us how to sing the lines.

"A heart full of love
A heart full of song
I'm doing everything all wrong
Oh God, for shame

I do not even know your name
Dead Mademoiselle
Won't you say?
Will you tell?" Fang sang.

Musicals were so weird. Singing the lines was so much different than saying them in Romeo and Juliet.

"A heart full of love
No fear, no regret," I sang back. I felt nervous because there were people in the audience but then I looked at Fang and I felt okay.

"My name is Marius Pontmercy."

"And mine's Cosette."

"Cosette, I don't know what to day."

"Then make no sound."

"I am lost."

"I am found."

Fang and I stepped towards each other the way Miss Alike had taught us to.

"A heart full of light."

"A night bright as day."

"And you must never go away,
Cosette, Cosette."

"This is a chain we'll never break."

"Do I dream?" Fang asked as he took my hand.

"I'm awake," I replied.

"A heart full of love." Technically someone should have been singing Eponine's lines right now but we didn't have one so we'd just skip out on the lines that were supposed to be sung in unison with ours.

"A heart full of you," I sang.

"A single look and then I knew."

"I knew it too."

"From today…"

"Every day."

We smiled at each other and Fang wound his fingers through mine, looking into my eyes with a feeling that made my blood run with heat in a way that felt so intensely good.

Then we sang together.

"For it isn't a dream,
Not a dream,
After all…" Our voices floated to a halt in perfect unison. Two different sounds winding together to create something beautiful.

What the hell was wrong with me? All of these corny songs and I'm turning into a real poet. Yuck.

Fang released my hand and we both looked down to the four judges. Miss Elissa and Miss Alike beamed at each other, Mr Turner didn't say anything for a change- basically if he can't tell us off then it means he can't find anything to complain about like he had with a majority of the other actors- and Mr Callahan stood and applauded.

"That was fantastic!" he boomed. "Stunning. I understand what you meant Janice, they are talented." Miss Alike nodded.

"I know they are," she beamed. "I'm very proud of the pair of you."

"You can go," Miss Elissa informed us. "We'll put the cast and any call-backs up on the notice boards on Friday."

Fang and I nodded and left. When we got backstage we both let out breaths and smiled at each other.

"We did it," Fang said.

"Without me hurling," I replied. Fang laughed and put his hand on my shoulder.

"You did great."

"So did you." I frowned. "Friday is the eleventh."

"Yeah…" Fang shifted. "Come on, let's head off. Jake said he'd pick up around now." I nodded and we went out together.

I was still wondering about the wonderful feeling that Fang's gaze had given me. Probably just the brilliance of our acting but still… Maybe it was just a ghost caused by nerves and adrenaline.

Fang looked at me and smiled and I smiled back.

Who cares what it was? Does it really matter in the long run?

As Jake drove as home I had another thought hit me:

What if Fang and I got the parts?

20. Sophomore 3

I'm preparing for many reviews screaming at me to update quickly and saying how unhappy they are. I'm being intentionally cruel, I'm sorry (prepares to be crucified). I am about to introduce a complication that is going to run for a lot of the Sophomore Year just to keep things interesting or else it'll take me longer to update because I won't want to write. Trust me, when I start leaving cliff hangers and making mean story lines I want to know how it's going to turn out as much as you do so I have to keep writing, you know? So be happy that I'm being mean, it helps me write ^.^ Oh and there's a little Aussie in-joke in there so I don't expect a lot of people to get it but you'll know (if you get it) when you get to it.


On Friday morning, before they put the notices up on the boards, the whole school had to stand in silence in the quad as we raised the flag for the 9/11 victims. Even now I still remembered the fear that had flown around LA when the planes had hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Even though we were across the other side of the continent, it was still scary. The whole country had been in something similar to lock down. No planes taking off.

Right now I stood beside Fang. For once neither of us was cracking up or stopping ourselves from talking. See, we can be grown up and mature when we want to be.

When the flag was up, nobody moved. We weren't going to say anything until we were dismissed. It was respectful.

Then a voice started singing, a beautiful female voice.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me -
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught -
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear -
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares -
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far -
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me -
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be -
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years -
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise -
then when we've first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me -
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see

"Oh my God," Fang murmured, breaking the stunned silence.

"Wow," I agreed.

"Voice of an angel," Fang added and I blinked and stared at him. He ignored me and stood on his toes and looked at the girl standing next to the Flag Pole. She had long, dark brown hair in a pony tail and even from here I could see that she had really bright brown eyes, like chestnut coloured or something.

"Fang," I said but he didn't pay attention. Now that irked me. I didn't like it when Fang stopped paying attention to me because of another girl. It was so annoying. I hated it. "Fang!" He glanced at me and then we were dismissed.

"I want to go and talk to her," Fang told me. "I've never seen her before."

"Neither have I," I snapped. "But we kind of have class, Sherlock."

"I won't be long, I swear," Fang promised me picking up his bag. "I'll meet you in Drama."

"Fang!" But he ignored me and walked off meeting with the girl by the flag pole. I tried so hard not to screech in anger as Iggy walked up to me.

"Where's the Fangster going?" Iggy asked.

"To flirt with the new girl," I replied stiffly.

"Adrian?" Iggy questioned. I blinked at him as we started walking towards the Performing Arts building.

"Adrian?" I asked.

"Yeah she's in my homeroom. Started this semester." Iggy looked at me curiously. "You sound angry."

"I'm fine," I snapped and we went up to the Drama room. Iggy raised his eyebrows but didn't comment. As we entered the room Miss Alike looked up from where she was talking to several girls.

"Hi Max," she said. "Have you seen the results from auditions yet?"

"Nope," I replied. "How did Fang and I do?"

"Fang's Marius, they all loved him," Miss Alike told me. I frowned.

"What about Max?" Iggy asked.

"She has a call-back in two weeks time," Miss Alike said. I frowned.

"A call-back?" I questioned. "Why?"

"Because we couldn't decide between you or another girl for Cosette." Miss Alike seemed apologetic. "I didn't want to give the part to another girl because you and Fang are so brilliant together but Adrian's voice-"

"Adrian?" I asked. "That girl who was singing this morning?"


Then the doors of the room opened and Fang walked in with said girl, they were deeply immersed in conversation and, get this, he was carrying her bag. Fang only did that for me. What the hell?

"Hello Miss Alike," Adrian said. She was in our Drama class? Why hadn't she been here for the last two weeks?

"Hello Adrian," Miss Alike replied. "Class, Adrian has decided to join us in Drama. Adrian, welcome to our Drama family."

"Thanks," Adrian replied, smiling brightly. Fang put her bag down with everyone else's and smiled at her. A real smile. You have no idea how much it annoyed me. Adrian's neat white and black summer dress annoyed me too. Her perfect white strappy sandals annoyed me. Her smiled annoyed me. Her chestnut eyes annoyed me. Her shiny brown hair annoyed me.

I really didn't like her.

And it had nothing to do with Fang's cow eyes either!

"I saw the notice sheets," Fang said to Miss Alike. "I got Marius."

"Congratulations," she trilled. "I know you'll do wonderfully." Fang rolled his eyes but there wasn't any annoyance in there. Since when did he want to be in the musical? When he turned to Adrian and asked her about playing Cosette I saw red. Oh since Miss Angel Voice was up against me for Cosette.

"Max?" Iggy sounded wary.

"Leave me alone," I snarled as Miss Alike called the class to order. Fang stayed with Adrian and didn't come over to us but he did send us a look telling us that he wasn't coming. No freaking, duh Fang.

"Okay class, since we have one official part for the play in this class and two people on call-back I want to get them to practise but I want to set the rest of you up with your term assessment," Miss Alike said. "Max, Fang, Adrian, you three don't have to worry about it because of the play. Now for the rest of you…"

I zoned out, kneading my own leg as we sat on the floor. When Iggy had to go off to the computers he tapped his knuckles on my knee and I looked at him.

"Chill," he told me.

"I am," I replied. Iggy rolled his eyes, patted my knee comfortingly and went off to work on one of the computers on his own. I felt eyes on me and saw Dylan looking at me, he looked away when he caught my eyes and I suddenly wondered how hard I could punch someone right now when I was so PO'd.

"Max," Miss Alike said snapping her fingers. I stood up and walked over, hating being summoned like a dog. "Nice of you to join us."

"My pleasure," I replied, folding my arms.

"So what do you want us to do?" Fang asked, his eyes on me questioningly.

"I want Adrian and Max to take it in turns playing Cosette with you," Miss Alike said. "I want to see how well you act in pairs."

"Adrian can go first," I said, fake politeness radiating from my tone. Fang stared at me, amazed at the harshness of my tone but Adrian didn't recognise the steel under my voice.

"Thanks," she said with that stupid voice. She turned to Fang and they started singing the scene that Fang and I had auditioned with. If there was ever anything to made me see red-

I perched on a desk, my arms folded, making sure my body language shouted 'NOT HAPPY FANG'. After a while Miss Alike called me over and Adrian smiled at me as we passed each other. I fake smiled back and I saw Fang's eyes narrowed a tiny fraction, something only I would notice.

"Alright, same scene," Miss Alike said. Fang and I faced each other and he started singing but I stared at him coldly.

"A heart full of love
A heart full of song
I'm doing everything all wrong
Oh God
, what the hell is your problem?" Fang stopped singing on the last line and glared at me.

"Nothing," I snapped.

"Don't lie to me Max!"

"I'm not!" I glared at Fang and Miss Alike stared at us, her hazel eyes worried.

"Um, could you leave this until after class?" Miss Alike asked softly. We ignored her.

"Max, you can't lie to me so stop trying!" Fang snapped. "Why are you giving me that look?"

I widened my eyes to look all innocent. "What look? I don't know what you mean."

"Stop with the sarcasm."

"It's a conditioned reflex." We glared at each other and Iggy stood up from his computer and walked over, everyone in the class staring at us.

"Okay you two, cool it," Iggy said and we both whipped out hands around to stare at Iggy. "Seriously guys, you really should stop doing this all of the time it's starting to get on my nerves. You two can't go a week without getting into a stupid argument over one of you making goo-goo eyes at somebody other than the other."

"What the hell do you mean?" Fang asked.

"I don't make goo-goo eyes at anyone!" I snapped.

Everyone was silent down. Most people were used to Fang and I fighting but it still provided entertainment from school work I guess. Adrian looked shocked and worried though. Well good, she can stay like that because she was staying away from Fang.

"Um, do you two want to step outside and talk?" Miss Alike asked in a tiny voice. I guess we'd never shouted at each other, just argued heatedly in class.

"Fine," we snapped together and I glowered at Fang and stalked down into the costume room. Fang slammed the door as he joined me. When the door was closed this room was almost sound proof. Nearly every wall in the Performing Arts centre was sound proof.

"What is wrong with you?" Fang asked, his voice furious but pitched so it only reached me in case of any eavesdroppers.

"Nice to know you remembered your best friend," I hissed, following Fang's lead in keeping my voice down even though I wanted to scream at him.


"You totally ditched me this morning," I snapped finally, anger and a tiny trace of hurt in my voice. "You don't even know her but you already wanted to be with her rather than me. In fact I bet you'd rather act with her in Les Mis because she 'has the voice of an angel'." I glared at Fang and he stared at me.

"You have to stop doing this," he told me.

"Doing what?" I demanded.

"Getting mad at me every time I talk to another girl. I'm really getting tired of. Brigid, I understand, you two don't like each other but you've never spoken to Adrian."

"You only just met her."

"I was being friendly." Fang gave me an exasperated look that had a slightly softness to it. "Max, you're being silly."

"So my feelings are silly?"

Fang fired up again. Good, I preferred being angry, it came more natural to me. I knew that one of the reasons my Dad didn't want me to live with him was because I was temperamental and violent.

"When you're being ridiculous they are," Fang snapped, forgetting the low voice rule. "You know, maybe I do want to act with her in Les Mis instead of you."

I gaped at him, stung as he turned on his heel and stormed out of the Drama room. I stepped back and sank down onto a chest that was full of hats and swallowed. Ow. That had hurt a lot. I was Fang's best friend wasn't I? We were supposed to endure this whole play thing together, not apart.

I looked down at the ground, wondering whether the itchy feeling in my eyes was a need to cry or a lack of sleep. Then Iggy came in, his hands in his pockets, his eyes concerned.

"Hi Ig," I said.

"Hi," Iggy replied. "So, that went well?" I looked up at him and he came and looked at me. I shifted over slightly and Iggy sat down next to me.

"I hate this," I said.

"I know you do," Iggy replied. He nudged me with his shoulder. "Fang's a big boy Max, he can look after himself."

"I know he can!" I stared at Iggy, astounded.

"And you need to stop being so jealous."


"You know, disliking him paying attention to other girls because you're usually the only one he pays any attention to." I stared at Iggy and he laughed. "Max, you can't deny it. You're jealous when Fang pays you a little less attention. I'm not saying you're jealous because you like him or anything but because you're already used to him paying you one-hundred percent of his attention and not even looking twice at another girl."

I sighed. It sounded so petty and the worst part was it was true. I didn't like Fang paying attention to other girls because I was afraid of losing my spot as his best friend.

"You know when you first came I was so jealous of you," Iggy commented casually and I blinked.

"Really? Why?" I questioned.

"Because Fang clicked with you right away," Iggy explained. "You and he were close within a week and then got even closer to more time you two spent together. I was kind of mad because I'd been Fang's best mate but then I realised it was stupid. You understood him on a level that I didn't and we'd been friends for our whole lives. I realised that it was good for him so I forgot about it… your sister kind of helped with that too."

Iggy was blushing and I smiled.

"Ella? How did she help?" I questioned.

"I'm good friends with your sister Max," Iggy laughed, slightly embarrassed. "We stay up so late talking on MSN and texting."

"You like her?" I asked. I giggled. "So you liking my sister and becoming close with her helped you stop disliking me for being close with your best friend."

"Right." Iggy laughed.

"How is that supposed to help me though?" I whispered. Iggy put his hand on my knee and I looked at him. With any other girl he would have meant the act as a flirtatious move but I was different and Iggy had changed since he started liking Ella- as I guess before- so it was just a comforting gesture.

"I was just letting you know that your jealousy is stupid," Iggy explained. "Fang and I are still as tight as we used to be. I'm trying to tell you that your friendship with him won't change."

The bell sounded and Iggy gave my knee a gentle squeeze before we stood.

"So I should chill?" I asked.

"Yes, you should," Iggy replied. "If you want to keep Fang and act with him in Les Mis, then I suggest you pick up your game." I smiled.

"Thankyou Iggy," I told him.

"It doesn't matter," he replied. "What are friends for?" I smiled at Iggy and we went back into the room. Adrian was there and- surprise, surprise- neither was Fang.

"He is so mad at me," I murmured to Iggy as we went down. We started walking towards maths together. At least Fang wasn't in that class, just me and Ig.

"He'll get over it, he has an inability to stay mad at you," Iggy assured me.

"Sure," I replied. "Iggy, I don't want Adrian to sing with Fang."

"I figured."

"So I'm gonna need your help."

"My… help?"

"Yes, don't make me say it again. So, will you help me or not?"


"Your friend is like… she has multiple personalities or something," Adrian said warily as Fang and she sat down in Calculus.

"Uh, not really," Fang replied. He tried not to let the comment about Max's personality get to him. She made his life interesting and he hated it when someone dissed her. "She just has really bad PMS."

Adrian laughed and Fang was tempted to punch himself in the gut. He wished Iggy were here to do it for him. Where had that comment come from?

"I'm glad you came to talk to me this morning," Adrian commented. "Nobody here is as funny and smart as you. It's really quite charming."

"You think so?" Fang asked, pleased with the compliment.

"Definitely." Adrian played with some of her dark brown pony tail as the teacher wrote an explanation for a new rule on the board. "Can I sit with you at lunch?"

"Um…" Fang wondered how Max would react and then he remembered her unfair accusations and the stupid arguments they kept getting into because she overreacted and suddenly, it didn't bother him. "Sure, you can."

"Thanks." Adrian smiled at him, her eyes twinkling and then they got to work.

Fang rested his head on his fist and let out a breath. He had some serious issues and he deserved to be punched for it but right now he was still angry from his fight with Max and he didn't really care.

That girl had to stop getting mad at him for having a life.

21. Sophomore 4

I know you were all hoping for a quick fix to this situation but I'm afraid that just isn't going to happen. I wrote this whole chapter and half of the next one today when I was supposed to be studying for my Geography exam in CSK but I decided to write for you guys instead because I knew you would be unhappy about Adrian and want to know what happens so here you go. There is a Fax moment in here for your fax-starved brains but the problem has no been fixed, sorry.

But enjoy anyway (starts putting on armour in preparation for unhappy readers)

It was the next Monday before Fang and I spoke again (I'd left the table in a huff when he'd brought Adrian to come and sit with us last Friday, stupid jerk). Ella had been worried over the weekend when Iggy had told her that Fang and I weren't talking but I told her to relax, that everything would be okay. Granted we hadn't been angry at each other for this long before though.


I turned around, shifting my bag on my shoulder. We were standing at the entrance of the gym. Fang hadn't spoken to me in homeroom, hadn't look at me, so I figured he was still pissed.

"Yeah?" I replied, my voice cool.

"So… are we just going to keep ignoring each other or are we going to talk like friends are meant to?" Fang asked. I frowned at him.

"You're the one who was ignoring me."

"Max, please, don't start another argument."

I sighed. He was right. As usual. "Fine, sorry," I replied. "But I kind of need to get changed. So do you."

"Are we just going to leave it like this?" Fang demanded. His eyes flashed slightly.

"You bet we are!" I snapped and turned on me heel and stalked into the gym. Fang was fuming as he walked in behind me and then we split to the different change rooms. I knew now that Adrian was in our PE class. I glowered at her as I walked into the change rooms and her chestnut eyes turned steely and she put a hand on her hip and eyed me off.

I changed in silence. Brigid was frowning at me worriedly.

"Max, you seem really angry," she murmured. Brigid and I can't stand each other so it was proof to how much I didn't like Adrian that I preferred Brigid's company right now.

"Do I?" I replied. I turned and shot a dark look at Adrian and exited the change rooms. We were going to be playing basket ball. Everyone came up and we were divided into teams. Fang and I got put on the same team and we stared darkly at each other as we moved into our half.

"Hey Fang, on jump," Marcus said. Fang nodded stiffly and went to the circle. He was up against Adrian and they smiled at each other. A hot, acidy feeling entered my gut. That smile was reserved for Flock members. She wasn't a part of the Flock and I didn't ever want her to be.

Coach threw the ball up and Fang jumped up and tapped it backwards, right at me. I caught it and dribbled down the court when I got stuck my eyes automatically found Fang and I tossed him to ball and he caught it smoothly. Marcus was up the court and Fang threw to him and then Marcus threw to me. I spun, threw to Fang and he slam dunked perfectly.

How's that for team work?

"Oh yeah, man!" Marcus said and he and Fang slapped high fives and Marcus smiled at me. Fang and I stared at each other however. I was daring him to try and high five me. I'd high five his face really hard if he came near me.

"Great job!" Jason called.

"You're good," Adrian said, skipping over to Fang and standing by him. Fang stepped in front of her and she stepped in front of him. They did it for a while as Adrian's team mate threw the ball to someone. They were both laughing.

I clenched my teeth and walked over and grabbed the ball as Brigid threw it at Adrian. I stepped back and- I swear it was an accident… maybe- slammed into Adrian. Totally accident. I swear it. I actually mean that, it was an accident. I may be petty but I try not to be violent… most of the time.

"Max!" Fang shouted, catching her and righting her.

"What?" I shouted back. "It was a bloody accident!"

"It wasn't and you know it!"

I threw the ball at the ground and it bounced back up and away from us as I glared at Fang. I stepped over to him and we weren't very far apart. Adrian was stared at us in shock. So was everyone else actually.

"So, because I was upset once, everything I do is on purpose now?" I demanded.

"Well this is Maximum Martinez that we're talking about!" Fang snarled. "You do a lot of things when you're angry."

"You are such a jerk!" I was so hurt. Not only because I was telling the truth but because Fang didn't believe me. Me, his best friend. Instead he was taking the side of some girl he'd met three days ago. I hated this.

I turned on my heel and stalked towards the exit of the gym.

"Max!" the teacher called. "Come back!"

I ignored him and went to the door, ripped it open and went out, slamming the door behind me. I winced at the sound, feeling angry, hurt and confused. I hated it when Fang and I fought, especially over something as stupid as this.

I went over and sat down on one of the benches away from all the doors and windows of the hall. I dropped my head into my hands and my eyes felt all itchy and tears stung them but I refused to cry. I wasn't going to cry. How come Fang could make me want to cry so easily? It wasn't fair!

"Hey Max…"

I flinched at the gentleness of his voice. Oh crap, tears were running down from my eyes.

"Max…" Fang's hand was on my shoulder as he sat down beside me. "Max, please don't cry." I ignored him and sniffed sadly. Fang put his arms around me and pulled me into him, pressing my face into his shoulder. I cuddled up to his side and closed my eyes, crying silently on Fang. I hated him seeing me like this but right now his arms were such a comfort. I took a deep breath, filling my senses with Fang's scent. Woodsy and like fresh air for some reason. It was really nice.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "But it really was an accident."

"I know," Fang replied, stroking my hair. "I was just angry. I'm so sorry for what I said. I know you're not that petty and don't do stupid things like that."

"Nice to know," I replied, slightly sarcastic. Fang stiffened, awaiting a torrent of smart-aleck and hostile remarks but I didn't make any. I just wanted him to comfort me and reassure me that I was being stupid and I was still his best friend.

"Max, I am so sorry for upsetting you," Fang murmured. "But you were being so stupid about this, you know that right?"

I nodded into his shirt, fresh tears running from my eyes and Fang held me tighter.

"Max, you're my very best friend and nobody will ever take your place, you should know that you silly goose." I giggled. "That's better. Just relax. I made a new friend, it isn't a crime. I'm a teensy bit interested in her but it doesn't mean that she's going to take your place. Nobody ever could. There isn't another person in the world who drives me crazy like you do. You're giving me grey hairs and I'm sixteen years old. Nobody else can do that so rest assured that your place in my heart is secured."

I smiled against Fang and wiped my eyes on my hand before looking up at him.

"Thanks," I whispered. "I'm sorry for being so petty and stupid." I had a little bit of a tight feeling in my gut from Fang saying that he was interested in Adrian but he was holding me right now so I was still number one… for now. I had the get the part in Les Mis. "But… did you really mean you'd rather sing with her in the play?"

Fang hesitated. "I don't know Max."

Ouch. The sting must have shown in my eyes because Fang gave me a gentle squeeze and leant his forehead down on mine.

"But that doesn't matter right? I mean, you don't even like musicals," Fang told me softly. "So, you'll be okay if I act with Adrian instead."

Fang looked really hopeful and I hated to be the one to make that little light in his eyes go away so I sighed and smiled.

"Yeah, I don't mind," I replied as truthfully as I could- which was not much but it sounded like a good lie to me. Fang's expression faltered but he put it together and ignored my lie and hugged me tightly. I felt warm inside. Fang's hugs were special.

"Thanks Max."

We sat there for a few more moments and then I stood up and Fang and I walked back into the Gym wordlessly just in time to see the Coach sending everyone off to get changed. Fang and I smiled gently at each other and went our separate ways but he was waiting outside the change room for me when I came out.

"I figured we should eat lunch together today," Fang said.

"Why?" I asked teasingly.

"Iggy missed me."

We laughed briefly and I hesitated. Fang frowned.

"Don't you want to wait for Adrian?" I offered, my voice reluctant. Fang gave a soft smile.

"If you're okay with it…" He looked at me searchingly and I nodded but stepped a little closer to him. Adrian came out a few moments later, tucking her shoes into her bag and she stopped and glared at me.

"Come on," Fang said. "We have to go and find Iggy." Adrian gave him a questioning look which Fang- to my absolute pleasure- ignored and walked off, me right by his side and Adrian trailing after us gloomily.

Well hah to her, it'll teach her not to try and steal my best friend away from me. Fang glanced at me as though knowing what was going through my head and he rolled his eyes and gave me a completely pointed look. I rolled my eyes back but stopped thinking mean thoughts about his new friend.

We reached the cafeteria and Iggy was waiting for me where he said he would be. He raised his eyes but said nothing as Fang, Adrian and I reached him.

"Hiya, man," Iggy said casually. "Nice to have you back."

Fang smiled slightly and we went in, got lunch and found a table. Fang looked at me apologetically and sat down opposite me, beside Adrian. I tried not to let it bother me but I couldn't get rid of the churning in my gut. Iggy's leg brushed against mine in a small gesture of understanding. I never imagined I'd have to count on Iggy to comfort me because I was jealous that Fang had found a new friend. I mean I know I'm his best friend but still…

"So, Adrian, where did you move from?" Iggy asked conversationally when the awkward silence stretched on.

"New York," she replied.

"Wow, big move."

"Yeah but I prefer it out here. The air is cleaner."

"Definitely," Fang agreed poking his pasta, a slight uncomfortable look in his eyes. I didn't smirk and didn't look smug. I gave him an apologetic nudge with the toe of my shoe and left it at that.

"Max came from LA," Iggy continued on.

"Oh really?" Adrian asked, giving me a dark look.

"Yeah, right near the Hollywood Hills," I replied, fake cheery tone the only thing they could hear in my voice. Fang could read through it though but he didn't give me any dark looks. He just left it. Good because I wasn't going to be nicer than this. "My Dad is a scientist, he's really rich so he bought my Mum, Ella and me a huge house over near his so he could still see me sometimes."

"Wow, a rich LA snob, how lovely. Excuse me." Adrian stood, taking her tray with her and dumping it before leaving the cafeteria.

"Max!" Fang sighed in exasperation.

"I didn't do anything!" I protested, slightly angry that he was blaming me again. Fang took a deep breath.

"You're right, sorry." He looked after Adrian slightly and I groaned and sank down in my seat.

"Go on, follow her," I muttered sadly. Fang looked at me and didn't move. "Fang, seriously, you can go."


"Just go." That time my voice was filled with steel and Fang knew I was slightly irritated at him. Not wanting to escalate the disagreement he stood up leaving me and Iggy and our trays of food at the table. I didn't want to eat though.

"Sorry," Iggy said.

"Not your fault," I assured him. "So are you still going to help me get the part?"

"Sure. Nudge is looking for a Les Mis costume on her account for the costume shop and she's going to get you one so that you can audition in it."

"Audition in costume?"

"If you show your dedication for the play then they'll consider you more. And Max they're looking for the girl who sings better with Fang, who had more chemistry with him."

"Chemistry?" I sat up and looked at Iggy. "Fang and I don't have chemistry."

"Shows how much you know," Iggy replied. "But even if you don't think so, up on the stage you two are on fire together. You made Romeo and Juliet's love look wimpy compared to what you two did with it last year. And now, you're going to make Marius and Cosette's love so much stronger than it usually is. Trust me, you're going to set fire to that stage."

"How though?" I asked. "Adrian is always so… flirty with Fang. They-"

"They have nothing on what you and Fang do. Trust me, I've seen the two of you together." Iggy smiled. "Adrian cannot make Fang as happy as you do. Adrian cannot sing as well as you can. Adrian does not have the stage presence that you do. And when Adrian and Fang were singing in drama on Friday it was just like any pair of actors who have to force chemistry but when you and Fang are singing… wow, you two make the lines like magic. You make them mean something to everyone who doesn't get them."

I felt like crying again. Hearing Iggy say that made me feel so good after having that stupid fight with Fang and ordering him away from the table just then.

"You three all have fifth and sixth off today to rehearse," Iggy reminded me. "Show Miss Alike that you and Fang are better together than Fang and Adrian." I laughed slightly.

"Um… okay." I gave a tentative half smile and bolted down some lunch before I headed off to the auditorium to meet Miss Alike and Mr Callahan.


"Adrian, wait!" Fang called. She stopped and turned, letting him catch up with her and they started walking together. It was quiet and Fang frowned. It wasn't a silence like with Max, it was an awkward silence as though Adrian wanted to say something. Fang decided to wait.

"I don't like your friend," she murmured darkly.

"Yeah, I picked up on that," Fang replied. He realised his tone sounded protective and Adrian threw him a glare.

"She's a bitch, simple as that," Adrian snapped. Fang stopped and Adrian walked a few more steps before she realised Fang wasn't with her and looked back at him.

"Max, is not…" Fang trailed off.

"See you can't even say she isn't without stopping. You know I'm right." Adrian walked over to Fang. "I only met you last Friday, I know, but while it's only been a few days I feel like I've known you for a lot longer." Adrian smiled and Fang's heart jumped uncomfortably.

"How do you mean?" he asked.

Adrian blushed slightly. "I want to get this part Fang because I want to spend a lot more time with you. I want to get to know you because well… I think I'm starting to like you. As in, like, like you."

Fang shifted uncomfortably. Yeah he kind of liked Adrian that way too but not a lot.

"Look, like I said, I want to get to know you," Adrian added quickly, slightly embarrassed. "That way I can be sure whether I like you really or just because you're so nice and funny and smart. Don't you think the same?" She seemed shy and hopeful and the slight smile on her face was kind of cute, Fang had to admit.

"Um… yeah I do," Fang replied slowly. Adrian blushed crimson and reached out and took Fang's hand, winding her fingers through his. "But-"

"It's okay," Adrian said. "I won't make you do anything you don't want to." She giggled. "You're supposed to be saying that not me. But still, I want this to go somewhere. I've never fallen for someone so quickly before."

Fang smiled slightly and they walked off together, her face still slightly pink and Fang wondering why her hand didn't feel right in his like he thought it should.


I walked into the auditorium slightly late but Miss Alike and Mr Callahan smiled and waved me over to the stage. Fang and Adrian were sitting on the edge and my eyes zeroed in on their hands.

They were holding hands!

He was holding her freaking hand! Jerk! Cretin! Wait, why did I care? Oh yeah because Fang told me he didn't ever like girls, that's why! And to tell you the truth I was still worried that him getting a girlfriend was displace me. If I were a guy it wouldn't but I'm not so it does.

"Hi Max," Miss Alike said. "Are you ready for rehearsal?"

"Yup," I replied. "Bring on the sing-song lines."

"You and Fang can go first," Mr Callahan said. I dropped my bag on a seat and hoisted myself onto the stage. I was shaky, I felt like I was going to be sick and I was so, so mad at Fang… again.

"Are you alright?" Fang asked as we took our places on stage.

"Just peachy," I responded. Fang raised his eyebrows but Miss Alike wanted us to sing so we went through the same song we sang at our audition, with Adrian singing Eponine's parts from her place on the edge of the stage and shooting me dirties to boot.

When we were done Fang stayed where he was and I went and sat down on the edge of the stage, swinging my leg down and watching as Adrian and Fang sang, both of them staring at each other with 'goo-goo eyes'. I felt like punching through a brick, that's how mad I was.

They finished and Miss Alike and Mr Callahan talked us through some things and had us sing different scenes and then gave Adrian and I solos. My voice sounded like a rusty gate compared to her beautiful soprano voice. I wanted to rip her voice box out of her throat.

At the end of the sixth the bell went and I was first to the door but Fang was right behind me. He caught my arm and I looked at him.

"Hey, are you still staying at my place on Friday and Saturday?" he asked.

"I don't really have a choice, Mum's going to be out of town all weekend, isn't she?" I replied snappily. Fang's eyes flashed hurt.

"So, you're only doing it because you have no choice?" He was hurt and I felt so guilty.

"No, Fang," I murmured. "I-"

"Fang, come on!" Adrian called. "Please!" Fang looked back and then at me hopefully. What did he want me to do? Tell him not to go with Adrian? I wasn't going to do that. He'd shout at me again.

"I have to go because Angel will be upset if I don't," I hissed and then left the auditorium, Fang staring after me with a bewildered and slightly hurt expression on his face. You know, generally I would have felt really bad but right now I didn't give a damn.

22. Sophomore 5

I love this chapter because it's only Max and Fang for the entire thing!!! And, when you get to the end, yes I did have to add that line. Why? Because it's the best line in the whole series so I NEEDED to use it!!

Do you guys know what I love about you? How enthusiastic you are about this story! Even when you're abusing my character (who yes, I hate as much as you but I am not a cruel writer so I'm sorry to the many who suggested it but I will not have Adrian hit by a bus, does Max's fist sound good enough to you? But that won't be until later on) you're still very passionate about it. I love having you guys reading this. To those who have told me this is one of their favourites and they're addicted to it, you made my day, completely.

Anywho, here's your Faxish chapter ^.^

The whole week was awkward and quiet. Thursday's band practise was awkward as all get out- thank god the others were there to fill the angry silence between Fang and I- but Friday afternoon was worse. Fang's parents had taken Angel to the dentist so it was just me and him. Iggy had offered to come but he had to look after Gazzy so he couldn't.

Fang and I walked home in absolute silence. Awkward silence. Angry silence. True silence. And that wasn't the worst part. When we got to his place and dumped our things in his room we just looked at each other, not saying anything.

"So," I said. Fang didn't answer, he just stared at me angrily.

Every time I'd seen him and Adrian during the week they'd been holding hands, or Fang had had his arms around her, or she'd been feeding him at lunch times. They were just a regular perfect pair weren't they now?

"Is she your girlfriend now?" I had to ask didn't I? Why couldn't I keep my mouth shut?

"I don't know," Fang answered. He sat down on his bed and purposely looked anywhere but at me, his arms folded and his back taut. I turned around and looked at his desk. His big project book was open there and there were some sketches on it.

Weird. It was us, the Flock and we… well we finally suited our name. Fang had drawn us with wings. What on earth? Hell we all looked awesome but where did he get this idea?


But he was already behind me, looking over my shoulder. I shivered at how close he was but didn't say anything.

"Angel had a dream that we were recombinant-DNA experiments," Fang explained. "So I decided to draw us to make her happy. We all have different bird DNA in us. I chose it depending on personality and appearance."

"Like what?" I questioned. Fang stepped to the side a little and flipped the pages.

"Angel has dove DNA," Fang explained.


"Gazzy has Magpie because he likes to mimic people to annoy them and he's very mischievous; Nudge has Ferruginous Hawk because of her skin colour." Fang flipped another page. "Iggy has albatross." I laughed and Fang half smiled.

"Do you have raven DNA?" I questioned teasingly.

"Why raven?" Fang asked.

"Because they're mean and loners."

"That's awful. I have Black Hawk DNA."

"Sure." I frowned. "What do I have?"

Fang flipped the page again and came to my picture. He'd drawn it as though the wind was blowing my hair back and my wings were half unfolded behind me, the feathers filling with the air.

"You have bald eagle," he explained.

"Why?" I asked softly. Fang looked at me, an amused expression.

"Because they're proud, fierce and arrogant," he explained and I stared at him and his expression softened. "But also loyal, trustworthy, beautiful and graceful with a certain power and strength. They're my favourite."

I blinked, touched. To think I'd been such a bitch to Fang lately and he'd been drawing me as his favourite bird. Fang was still standing really close to me and his expression was gentle and affectionate.

I wanted to diffuse the situation.

"I still think you should have raven DNA," I teased and Fang rolled his eyes and smiled. I sighed and looked at him earnestly. "I'm so sorry."

"So am I."

We looked away from each other.

"We've said that so much lately," Fang murmured. "Best friends shouldn't be angry at each other over stupid things."

"I know," I replied. I sighed. "I was so horrible to you for no reason. You should forgive me."

"But I do." Fang tapped my picture in the next page- a drawing of Fang and I flying together- and smiled at me. "We're best friends until the end. No matter what."

I smiled.

"Right," I agreed. Fang put his arms around me from behind and I frowned.

"No apology and mushy hallmark moment is complete without a hug," he explained. I laughed and turned around in his arms to hug him back. I leant my head into his shoulder and breathed in. Fang always smells like rain. You know that woodsy smell when it rains in summer in a forest. Yeah well he always smells like that.

For about an hour Fang and I sat on his window seat, drinking lemonade and talking about the week. We hadn't spent any proper time together so this was good.

"But I what I really want to know is, is Adrian your girlfriend?" I asked. Fang frowned and looked down at the glass in his hands and swished it, frowning at the bubbles.

"I'm not sure," he replied. "I mean I like her, and she likes me. We act all couple-like but… I haven't really asked her yet and she hasn't brought it up."

"Maybe she thinks you're together." I was successfully ignoring the churning in my gut. "Ask her about it. You want her to be your girlfriend, right?"

"I don't know." Fang looked at me. "I haven't had a girlfriend before."

I stared at him. "Serious?"

"I'm serious." Fang shifted. "Obviously Iggy knows because we grew up together but you and he are the only ones who do."

I really couldn't believe this. Fang always seemed so… confident around girls but he'd never had a girlfriend? I really couldn't believe him.

"You're pulling my leg," I accused. Fang actually blushed. O-kay. Maybe he is telling the truth. "Why haven't you?"

Fang refused to meet my eyes and he mumbled something.

"Come again," I pressed.

"I just haven't okay," he mumbled. "I don't like most of the girls I know, you know that. But also… I've always been too nervous around the ones that I do like. But something's different with Adrian."

"Like what?"

"She doesn't make my hands shake when I talk to her but I do like her." Fang looked up at me nervously. "If I tell you something, will you promise not to laugh?"

"Fang, why would I laugh at you?" I asked, amazed. I couldn't find this funny at all. I'd never seen Fang looking vulnerable like this before so I wouldn't laugh at all.

"Promise," Fang insisted.

"I swear I won't laugh at you," I stated, holding up my right hand. Fang nodded and took a breath.

"When you kissed me at the Spring Fling it was the first time a girl had kissed me properly. Like, on the mouth," he mumbled. I blinked.


"You gave me my first kiss." Fang said slowly, emphasizing each word as his cheeks went red. Then he frowned. "Technically."

I blushed scarlet. I couldn't laugh. I was pretty embarrassed about that but… some part of me felt kind of… special that I had given Fang that. Again I was incredibly shocked that he hadn't kissed a girl before but then again if he'd been to nervous to even talk to the girls that he'd been interested in then I wasn't surprised that he hadn't kissed any of them.

"Then Lissa kissed me in the Tunnel of Love and-"

"Wait! What?" I demanded. "Lissa kissed you?"

"Yeah…" Fang frowned. "I pushed her away don't worry." He wouldn't meet my eyes.

"What?" I asked warily.

"I kissed her back at first but then I pushed her away." Fang took a gulp of lemonade to busy himself.

Okay, I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I shook my head but then again I'd kissed other people. I'd kissed Sam, obviously, I'd also kissed Chris it might interest some of you to know. But it was a dare so it doesn't count.

"Um, okay," I said. Fang still wasn't meeting my eyes and I frowned. "You kissed Adrian didn't you?"

"This afternoon," Fang muttered. I blinked and drank lemonade so that he wouldn't see that I couldn't breathe properly. He'd kissed her! Why had he kissed her? Yes he liked her but still! Why?!

Wait. Why was I jealous? I still felt a little bit special and heart-warmed from Fang telling me that I'd given him his first kiss (still unable to believe that) so it wasn't bothering me as much. But I'd done it out of worry. I didn't want to kiss him… did I?

"Okay, we should stop talking about Adrian now. It's making you angry." Fang stood up and sat his empty glass on his bedside table. He stretched and we heard the front door open. We glanced at each other.

"Angel," we murmured.

"Fang! Max!" Angel shouted. We heard her running up the hall and Fang opened the door just in time for Angel to throw herself into his arms and hug him tightly. Fang cuddled her and then put her down so she could run to me.

"Hi Ange," I said warmly. She kissed me on the cheek.

"Hey Angel, look what I drew for you," Fang said. He pulled his project book down and I sat with Angel on my lap on the window seat. Fang sat beside up and put one of his arms around me so that he could hold the large project book in front of all three of us.

"You drew my dream!" Angel gasped. "Thankyou Fang!"

"No problem," Fang replied kissing her on the cheek. Angel looked at all the pictures and then she frowned.

"Fang, you smell like perfume," she stated. Fang froze and I stared at him wide-eyed. "And it's not what Max smells like, or Nudge, or Ella."

"Um…" Fang frowned, slightly embarrassed.

"I dared Fang to go into a store on the way back from school and test a perfume on himself," I explained quickly. Angel giggled.

"It's not a very pretty smell," Angel told Fang. "Max smells better."

"Max doesn't wear perfume," Fang replied.

"Yeah but she still smells nicer." Angel smiled at me and I kissed the top of her head.

"Thankyou, sweetie," I said. "Now back to Fang's drawings."

Fang flipped over to the one of me and him and then another page to one I hadn't seen. It was Fang and I, we were flying in this one too but we were twirling around each other. Sort of dancing in the air.

"Do you know how to dance?" Fang asked me as I stared at the picture.

"No," I replied. "Not properly anyway. The way we danced at the Spring Fling doesn't count because we were pretty much just swaying on the spot."

"Alright, come on!" Fang replied, setting the project book aside and standing up. Angel slipped off my lap to keep looking at Fang's pictures and I stared at Fang.

"What?" I asked.

"Get up, I'm teaching you how to waltz."

"How do you know how to dance?"

"I had to learn for my cousin's wedding," Fang explained. "Come on." When I didn't move he rolled his eyes and grabbed my hand, pulling me up. Then he turned me to face him, placing a hand on my waist and taking my other hand. I nervously put my free hand on his shoulder and swallowed.

"Um, Fang I'm not to sure about this," I muttered worriedly.

"Relax," Fang laughed. "I'm the guy, I lead." Fang looked down at our feet. "Move your feet with mine, okay?"

"Um, okay," I replied. Fang stepped forwards and I stepped back.

"One, two, three, four. One, two, three four." Fang counted as he stepped, me watching me feet worriedly. I eventually got the rhythm but I stepped on Fang's feet twice. He just laughed at me and eventually I got the hang of the feet movements.

"This is easy," I commented.

"I know," Fang replied and smiled at me. We spun around his floor, him holding me gently. Why was Fang so good at everything?

He could play guitar and sing like a dream. He could draw and write songs and poetry. He could play sport. He could dance. He could act. He was incredibly good looking and smart. He was funny.

Fang was… well pretty much perfect.

Did I just say that?


After Max had fallen asleep on her side of the bed, Fang slipped out of bed and went to draw. For some reason, it wasn't awkward at all for them to sleep in the same bed. Besides Max usually slept really close to the edge anyway. Fang thought it was funny.

He turned and looked at Max and decided to draw her. He loved drawing Max because he saw things in her that nobody else did. He felt that familiar sunny warmth fill his heart as he started sketching her.

After a few minutes, as Fang was shading in the shadows on Max's face, she stirred and looked up at him.

"Are you drawing me again?" she asked in amusement.

"Yes," Fang replied, smiling. Max sat up and rubbed her eyes.

"Can I see?"

Fang went over and sat down next to her and showed her the sketch book. The moonlight filtering in through the French Doors was enough for both of them to look at the picture.

"I look kind of like a puppy dog," Max yawned.

"You say weird things when you're still half-asleep," he commented. Max blinked. "If you look like a dog when you're asleep-"

"Ella thinks I was a dog in my past life," Max explained.

Hmm, Fang frowned. Thinking. Max as a dog. She was strong and fierce so maybe… a husky? Or a Rottweiler? Nope, that's not Max. Maybe something medium sized. A cattle dog? Still not Max.

Fang laughed as an image popped into his head.

"I bet you would have looked Pekingesey," Fang commented. Max stared at him.


"Bet you were kinda cute, pup girl," Fang teased. He made a slight growling sound and bared his teeth. "Rrrff!"

"Hey! Cut that out!" Max complained and Fang started laughing. He sank down beside Max.

"Now I'm going to have to draw you as a canine-human hybrid as well as avian-human."

"Don't you dare."

"Still going to."

Max glared at Fang and he chuckled and leant his head on her shoulder casually. It was such an easy action, no implications and Fang thought nothing of it. Max sank down, her eyes drooping shut.

"What did Adrian say when she found out I was going to be staying with you for two nights?" Max asked.

"She didn't say anything because she doesn't know," Fang replied. Max opened one eye and looked at him. Fang shrugged. "I didn't tell her. She knows we were walking to my place this afternoon but she figured you'd be going in a few hours. She has no idea you're staying for tonight and tomorrow night."

"Mmm. I bet she'd be angry." Max's voice was sleepy.

"That's why I didn't tell her." Fang kissed Max gently on her temple. "Go to sleep, you're tired."



"Does it bother you that I gave you your first kiss?"

Max's question caught Fang off guard and he frowned, thinking.

"Fang?" Max sounded worried.

"No, it doesn't bother me," Fang replied. He ran a hand down Max's hair affectionately. "It doesn't bother me in the least. It feels like its kind of right that a best friend should do that. It happens when boy and girl best friend pairs are little kids. They kiss each other because they don't understand what it means. It's just that our kiss was about ten years later than normal." Fang paused. "Does it bother you that you gave me my first kiss?"

Max paused a moment. "No," she breathed, almost asleep. "It makes me feel special."

"Really? Why?" Fang wanted her to answer. He realised that she answered all questions truthfully and asked things that she wouldn't normally ask when she was half asleep. But Fang didn't get the answer that he wanted. In fact he didn't get an answer full stop.

Max was fast asleep, cuddling up to him unconsciously. Fang moved his covers and slipped underneath, letting Max snuggle into his side and hide her face in his chest. Fang wrapped his arm around her and frowned.

He wondered what Max would have said if she'd answered his question and how he would have felt about the answer.

Fang frowned. He didn't think about Adrian that much when he was with Max- only when Max brought her up. But when he was with Adrian he thought about Max a lot- even though he did really like Adrian. What did it all mean? Why did he have so many conflicting emotions running through his head and heart? Why was being a teenager so hard?

Fang groaned and rubbed his eyes.

He wondered if it would ever get any easier.

23. Sophomore 6

This chapter was heaps of fun to write!! You know, I've decided that I really like writing Iggy, I didn't know that before but writing Max and Fang jealous is even more fun! Thanks again for all of your reviews! I adore getting them, they make me laugh and you're all so wonderful! This chapter is a bit longer than usual because I felt like giving you a treat and I couldn't see how I couldn't make it this long! Anywho two more songs in this chapter. Beautiful Disaster by Kelly Clarkson and It Takes Two by Rod Stewart, you'll see why.

Anywho enjoy and that guy that heaps of you want to come along... well that might happen soon, promise ^.^

The rest of the weekend was heaps of fun- despite embarrassingly finding myself cuddled up to Fang on Saturday morning while he was still fast sleep with a smile on his face, I teased him non stop about it. It was just me and Fang and Angel. It was great. Fang gave me more dancing lessons on Saturday night but it was out in the living room with Alice and Peter and they joined in. It was so great. I even forgot that I was incredibly unhappy with Fang's choice of girlfriend.

Then on Monday morning the reality crashed down when it was only Iggy waiting for me at the gates.

"Hi," I said.

"Nudge couldn't find a costume," Iggy explained. "But don't worry, I'm working on other ways that we can get you noticed by the judges."

"Nice to see you too." We started walking and I sighed. "It's not worth it Ig. Fang's totally into her. He would much rather act with her, I know it." Iggy put his hand on my shoulder comfortingly.

"That doesn't mean that Miss Alike would prefer it." I half smiled at Iggy and when we neared my homeroom I saw Fang and Adrian standing together talking. Adrian was leaning against the building wall and Fang was talking to her, looking… happy.

"Oh," Iggy said. "Maybe we should go and hang out somewhere-" But I grabbed his arm and pulled him behind the corner before either of them could notice us. I wished I could hear what they were saying but I'd have to live with reading their body language.


"Shh." I looked around at Iggy. "I think Fang is going to make it official that they're boyfriend and girlfriend."

"What?" Iggy's eyes were wide. "Why?"

"I uh, kind of told him to. I know he likes her a lot and I thought he might be happier if he got the chance to be with her officially."


"Shh, look."

We watched as Fang reached out and took Adrian's hand. She blushed but nodded shyly and Fang smiled. He leant down, kissed her gently and then the bell sounded so she smiled at him and rushed off, a huge smile on her face and her cheeks flushed brightly.

"Okay, I'm off," Iggy told me. He took my hand and squeezed it gently. "You're amazing, you know that?"

"Thanks Iggy," I whispered. He walked off and I walked over to Fang who was smiling. "That was very sweet." He turned and looked at me, still smiling, but his eyes had changed slightly.

"Well you insisted that I should do it, so I did," Fang explained. I rolled my eyes. I had learnt to ignore that furious part of my soul that hated seeing Fang with another girl, and now I listened only to the part of me that wanted only happiness for my best friend.

"You did very well. First girlfriend, huh?"

"Uh… yeah." Fang's smiled faded slightly.

"What?" Fang didn't answer. I reached out, then thought better of it and dropped my hand. I ducked down however and looked into Fang's eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Um… nothing." Fang looked at me earnestly. "It's just that I'm not really sure what to do."

"What you've been doing the past week? I don't know. Just do what your instincts tell you too. Now come on, let's go inside before Mr Varner catches us outside of the building." Fang and I went inside and then walked down the corridor to our homeroom.

Brigid was already in there and so were a couple of other people. She looked over at us, her eyes thoughtful but she said nothing and Fang ignored her curious look. I, however, nodded in confirmation of what she was wondering. Then I sat down on my chair and turned to look at Fang.

He was smiling again.


"Yeah?" I replied.

Fang suddenly grinned and it was like sunlight filtering out through storm clouds. I felt my stomach give a little flip.

"Max, Adrian is my girlfriend!" He smiled at me with a look I hadn't seen in his eyes for a while and I felt my heart soften and melt. I ignored the evil part of me that wanted to punch him and smiled back.

I'd have to get used to a happy Fang now.


Have any of you ever experienced the amazing sense of loss, hurt, loneliness and anger that comes when your best friend suddenly has a significant other and no longer spends as much time with you? Well this week I experienced just that.

Last week was different, Fang and I had been fighting but this week he just didn't spend as much time with Iggy and I. On Tuesday we were supposed to go and meet Ella and Nudge for ice-cream at the mall but Fang cancelled on us and then we saw him in a little café, all cuddled up with Adrian. Then on Thursday he was late to his own house for his own band practise.

What the hell had happened to our Fang?

"Adrian is having an adverse effect on Fang," Ella commented on Thursday night as she helped me go through my audition song. Iggy hadn't come up with some fantastic plan to have me noticed so I was just going to have to wing it. Something I am famously good at.

"I know she is but I'm not going to say a word to him, none of us are," I replied. I tried not to scream as I thought of how strongly Adrian was stealing Fang away from us. "Fang's happy so we're happy. We're hoping that his lapse in caring for his family is only a first-fortnight-in-a-relationship thing. He should be okay soon."

"What if it's not that?" Ella questioned, pulling her dark hair into a pony tail. "What if Fang is falling for Adrian?"

I winced and gritted my teeth. I counted to ten before answering. "If he doesn't remember that he has other people who need him soon then I'll talk to him."

"You mean shout at him."

"Whatever. Let's go through this again." Just then my mobile rang and I picked it up, Iggy's name flashing on the Caller ID. "Yeah?"

"Max, Fang just messaged me and told me that Miss Alike emailed him saying that you do not have to use the Les Mis songs for your audition because they've already seen you guys singing them enough," Iggy explained breathlessly.

My heart skipped a beat. "But how am I supposed to come up with a song before tomorrow afternoon?" I asked.

"You don't," Iggy replied. "Miss Alike is giving you and Adrian a song each to sing on your own and then a song each to sing with Fang once you're there."

I smiled. "Oh goody. I bet Miss Alike will pick songs that don't suit how we sing. Little Miss Angel's Voice won't like that."

"No she won't. You're brilliant at singing pretty much anything but Adrian can't sing anything that isn't traditional music."

"So no rock or pop or country?"

"None. She sucks."

"Awesome. But does she suck worse than me?"

"Max, you're a good singer. Just chill and stop rehearsing right now. Fang says 'good luck' and he'll meet you at the gates tomorrow morning."

"Huh? Don't ask me, I'm just the messenger boy. See you tomorrow."

"Later, Ig."

I hung up and looked at Ella. She shrugged and sat the music books aside and smiled at me, her big brown eyes warm and excited.

"I know you'll do just fine," she assured me. I nodded, feeling sick to my stomach. I was really nervous about this call-back. I wanted this part more than anything but I wasn't too sure I would get it.


When Mum dropped me off in the morning I was delighted to see Fang waiting for me by the gates, just where he said he'd meet me. He smiled as I waved at him and then I stepped up my pace slightly and got to his side.

"Good morning," I stated.

"Good morning to you too," Fang replied, tapping my nose. "Ready for this afternoon?"

"You betcha." Lie. My stomach was churning so badly.

"Sure you are." Fang smiled. "You'll do fine." I tried not to think that he was only saying that and he wanted me to do badly so that he could do the play with Adrian instead. "Anyway there was something I wanted to talk to you about."

Yeah? What's that? That you've finally come to your senses that Adrian is not good for you and you want me to forgive you for abandoning the Flock and to tell that you're still my best friend and I love you dearly no matter how annoying your girlfriend is?

"And that is?" I asked instead of my horrible and not-so-best-friendly rant.

"That's you're okay," Fang whispered. I was surprised. I looked at his eyes for a moment and they were soft and gentle. A look I'd come to associate with Fang stepping out of his comfort zone and being my very best friend in the whole world.

"I'm fine," I whispered back, not sure why we were being so quiet.

"You see, I'm not so sure that you are." Fang took my hand and led me over to the nearest bench under a tree and we sat down. He still had my hand and he looked at me, concern in his eyes. "I know you don't like Adrian, you've never made it a secret. I know you and the others are kind of upset with me for ditching you on Tuesday and being late for practise on Thursday and I suppose you're allowed to be."

Too right we are.

"And?" I questioned. "What does this have to do with me not being okay? Which I am by the way, I'm perfectly okay."

Fang chuckled. "You know I care about you, right?"

"Of course."

"And I feel really bad about not spending a lot of time with you last week."


I was frowning now. Fang had been so… uppity all week. This wasn't like him. I didn't like that Adrian was changing him. I wanted my best friend back. I didn't want Adrian's boyfriend.

"So I want to spend a little more time with you," Fang finished. "So this afternoon, after the audition. It's me, you and Ig at the mall. Okay?"

"Okay," I replied, surprised into smiling. I loved spending time with Fang.

"Jake called me and said that he was hanging with some other gang members around the mall so we should be alright there this afternoon," Fang added.

"Good." I smiled at him.

"Now, I'm sorry but I have to go. I haven't seen Adrian this morning and-"

"Go," I sighed, waving my hand, slightly bemused. "Go on before she crucifies you." Fang smiled at me before standing up and walking away. I sat alone, feeling very, very lonely and wishing Fang would go back to the way he used to be.


"Adrian!" Fang called. She looked up from her locker and beamed at him when she saw him. She ran up and threw her arms around Fang, kissing him three times and then she pulled back, a frown on her face.

"Where were you?" she asked.

"Talking to Max," Fang replied. Adrian's eyes flashed but Fang ignored it. Adrian folded her arms but then she noticed the spiral-bound book in Fang's bag.

"What's that?" she asked.

"Uh…" Fang looked down. "My sketch-book."

"You draw? Are you good?" Adrian smiled at him, brown eyes glittering.

"Um… not really." Fang tried to close the half-closed zip on his bag but Adrian touched his hand and smiled.

"Can I see?" she asked gently. Fang looked at her. He really wanted to say no. He didn't like showing people his drawings but Adrian was giving him that pleading look so he sighed and nodded, taking out the book and giving it to Adrian.

She flipped through and smiled at the drawings.

"You're really good," Adrian commented. "Why did you say you weren't?"

"Because I'm not." Fang realised where Adrian was up to and tried to take the book away from her but she flipped the page and looked at the picture of Max. "Um…"

"Isn't that your shirt?" Adrian asked softly, her voice expressionless.

"Yes," Fang replied uneasily.

"Why is she wearing it?"

"She wasn't when I did the drawing. I just drew her in it. It seemed to fit the picture somehow." Fang tried to take the book but Adrian flipped another page. Max sitting in his garden. Adrian looked through the last few drawings: all of Max.

"Why did you draw her so much?" Adrian demanded.

"Because she's interesting to draw," Fang replied defensively. "And she's my best friend."

"I'm your girlfriend and I haven't got one picture."

Fang groaned.

"Can we not start this?" he requested and Adrian put her hands on her hips. "If you're going to start arguing with me then I'm gone until you can be civil."

"You argue with Max all of the time," Adrian sniffed.

Fang stared at her. "Now you're jealous because I fight with Max?" Fang ran a hand through his hair. What the hell was wrong with girls? Max didn't like him but she was jealous of his girlfriend. Adrian was his girlfriend and she was jealous of his best friend because he fought with her and not Adrian.

Girls were so confusing.

"You don't get it," Adrian hissed and turned around.

"Whoa trouble in paradise!" a junior guy sang as he walked by. Fang remembered his name was Joe. "Hey Fang, man, can I ask you something?"

Fang rolled his eyes, glanced at Adrian and then looked at Joe. "Fire away," Fang replied.

"If you're with Adrian now, does that mean Max is free for the taking?" Joe asked, hands in the pockets of his jeans. Fang blinked.

"Free for the taking? What do you think she is? A piece of fruit?" Fang demanded. "And to answer your question, no it doesn't. You stay away from Max." Fang glared at Joe. He knew the junior boy had a reputation for being a player. He didn't think Max would go out with him but she probably would do anything to get back at Fang so he didn't want to take the chance.

Joe held up his hands.

"Chill man, I'll keep my hands off." Joe gave Fang a look that clearly read 'crazy dude' and then walked away. Adrian was facing Fang again, a dark look on her face.

"What now?" Fang asked.

"Nothing," Adrian snapped and stalked into her homeroom, throwing Fang's sketch book on the ground. Fang picked it up and walked away, angry and annoyed.

Were the girls trying to send him insane? If they were then they were doing a damn good job of it.


"Breathe Max," Iggy said. I took a deep breath and let it out and smiled at Iggy. "Let me see your hands." I held them up, they were trembling. Iggy smiled.

"I'm okay, it's just nerves," I assured him. "Nerves are good, remember?"

"Yeah I know," Iggy replied. "Right, I'll be in the audience cheering for you."

"Thanks," I replied. Iggy hugged me tightly for a moment and then went in the proper entrance for the auditorium- Iggy had my bag to save me carrying it- and I went in the back way.

Mistake number one.

Fang and Adrian were standing back here for privacy probably. I ducked behind a piece of scenery and took a deep breath. Hey I could hear what they were saying. Yeah, yeah, I know eavesdropping is wrong but still.

"…You care more about her then you do about me!" Adrian was saying, sounding close to tears.

"Max is my best friend Adrian," Fang replied. "But she's only my friend. You're the one I care about."

"I want you to choose!" Adrian practically shouted. "Me or her! Now!"

"Adrian that isn't fair," Fang snapped, sounding irritated. "You can't make me choose between you and someone that I care about deeply. Nothing is going to change the fact that Max is the best friend I've ever had, not even you!"

Wow they've only been going out for a week and they're already arguing. And over me. I felt kind of bad but there was that evil part of me that was purring in a pleased way and that just made me mad at myself.

Boy did Fang sound angry though and that was so sweet what he'd said about me. My heart fluttered slightly and I tuned back in.

"It's me or her Fang! You can't have me if you're going to go behind my back and spend time with her!"

"Iggy's going to be there so it isn't like I'm alone with her!" Fang snapped. "Jeez, what's gotten into you?"

"I'm not talking about this afternoon!" Adrian whimpered. "I'm talking about last weekend when she slept over at your house. Lissa told me that she'd seen you walking home together and then Max didn't leave until Sunday."

That's right, Lissa lived one street up from Fang and her cousin lived across the road from him. But why would Lissa tell Adrian? Lissa despised Adrian more than she despised me, which is saying something.

"Max has slept over at my place plenty of times."

"But not while you've been with me. I saw those drawings Fang!"

"And? Max is my friend, Adrian! My friend!" Fang's voice softened slightly. "And I care about you in an entirely different way, isn't that enough?"

There was silence and Adrian moved slightly and I peeked around the board to see what was going on.

"I guess so," Adrian whispered, wiping her eyes. Fang's lips twitched in a shadow of a small smile and he touched Adrian's cheek.

"Promise not to go off like that again?" Fang asked gently.

"I promise," Adrian responded and then Fang leant down and kissed her deeply. Yuck. I felt sick again so I slipped away and walked into the stage. Miss Alike was sitting in front with Miss Elissa, Mr Callahan and Mr Turner. I hated that man so much. When would they fire him? I saw Iggy sitting up the back and he waved to me. I waved back and smiled.

"Hi Max," Miss Elissa said.

"Where are Fang and Adrian?" Miss Alike questioned.

"Kind of busy," I replied. Miss Alike pursed her lips and I wondered if I wasn't the only one who disapproved of Fang's choice in girls. Hell I would have preferred it if he'd chosen Brigid… okay maybe I wouldn't but you get what I mean.

"We'll wait for them then," Mr Callahan said. "Max, were you informed of the way we are conduction your audition?"

"Yes I was," I replied. "Adrian and I get given a song each to sing solo and then we're given a duet each to sing with Fang. Right?"

"Correct," Mr Callahan replied, winking one blue eye. He was young, handsome and very smart and funny. I liked Mr Callahan. He was Iggy and Fang's music teacher and he came to a lot of our band's gigs. So he knew my strengths in singing and whatnot and I knew Mr Callahan loved me and didn't like Adrian very much, he just thought she could sing well. Maybe this could work to my advantage with both Miss Alike and Mr Callahan on my side. And I knew Miss Elissa loved me. Maybe I could win this by default.

Default. The sweetest victory of all.

"Here they are," Miss Elissa said. "Welcome Fang, Adrian."

"Took you long enough," Mr Turner snarled. The other teachers ignored him.

"Okay so you all know how this is going to work," Mr Callahan said, jumping up and vaulting himself onto the stage to join the three of us. I tried not to glower at Adrian but I did smile at Fang and he winked at me. I felt my stomach twist which annoyed me greatly.

"Here are your songs girls," Mr Callahan said handing us each a folded piece of paper. "Before you look at them, I have a coin. Heads or tails, Max?"

"Heads," I replied.

"Tails," Mr Callahan said. "Adrian, first or second." I tried not take the loss at the coin flip as a bad sign.

"First," Adrian replied. Then she unfolded her piece of paper while Fang and I jumped off the stage and went and sat down.

Miss Alike had the controls for the sound system with her so she pressed some buttons and Mr Callahan gave Adrian a cordless microphone before jumping down. Fang and I sat slightly away from the judges and waited.

The music started playing. I knew this song. Dammit. It wasn't Adrian's weakness. It wasn't her strength either but it wasn't like rock or hard pop or anything. It was Leona Lewis, 'Footprints in the Sand'.

Fang listened to her, seemingly mesmerized while I fidgeted, nerves setting in on me. I couldn't compete with Adrian. She was so good. Fang glanced at me.

"Max, you like you're going to hurl," he whispered.

"Thanks," I replied, sarcasm not showing up because of how nervous I was. Fang reached a hand over and took mine, giving it a gentle squeeze when Adrian wasn't looking and then letting me go quickly.

"Nerves are just a feeling, they give you strength," Fang whispered.

"I know. But I can't compete with her."

I expected Fang to stay silent but he surprised me by looking at me sideways. "You can actually," he responded. "Adrian does have a pretty voice and all but you're a much better singer. You have this ability to turn music into magic and fire when you sing. Just keep that in mind."

I blinked. Had Fang just complimented me to be better than his girlfriend? I believed he had so I tucked that away to give me strength. Then Adrian finished and Fang gave me a small smile before going to Mr Callahan, getting his microphone and going up to stand by Adrian. She smiled at him and showed him the sheet, he nodded, pulled a face at me but winked.

What song would it be?

Then the music started. I giggled. 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin. Fang was good at this song, he sang it with Angel when we were playing Disney Sing-Star. Fang and I had had to sing 'Beauty and the Beast' which was fun but watching Fang and Angel singing 'A Whole New World' had been so adorable. So I ignored Adrian and remembered Fang cuddling Angel as he sang to her.

Fang twirled Adrian and I remembered him teaching me how to waltz and suddenly felt like crying. Even though Fang defended me strongly against Adrian he had still said that he cared about her and then kissed her. I was losing him no matter what he said.

Adrian singing the song was no where near as wonderful as Angel but I am completely and totally biased. You know what though? I don't care. Angel was my baby and I loved her. I wanted to claw Adrian's eyes out for stealing my Fang.

Fang was holding Adrian in the last few lines of the song and she was staring into his eyes dreamily. I resisted the urge to fake vomit loudly and instead slumped down in my seat angrily.

The music trailed off and Adrian and Fang bowed. Fang turned off his mic and sat it down and left the stage with Adrian. I unfolded my piece of paper and looked at the songs. I smiled, resisting the urge to cackle maniacally. Somehow, I had a surge of optimism and knew this was in the bag.

I took my microphone from Mr Callahan.

"Ready?" he asked me. I nodded and smiled. I mouthed 'thankyou'. He nodded and left the stage. Miss Alike started the music.

"He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme, I know
He's as damned as he seems
And more heaven than a heart could hold

"And if I try to save him
My whole world would cave in
It just ain't right,
Lord it just ain't right…

I looked down at Fang to see him smiling at me. Adrian had her arms folded, glaring up at me. She kept glancing at Fang furiously. Get used to it, honey. Fang will never care about you more than me. It was obvious to me then in that moment. Fang would always care about me in an irreplaceable way. I don't know why I was so jealous of Adrian, then.

"But when I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
He's such a beautiful disaster

"And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Lord, would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster?

I've always felt comfortable with this song but something was tugging at the back of my mind and I really wasn't sure what it was.

"He's magic and myth
He's as strong as what I believe
More tragedy with
More damage than a soul should see

"But do I try to change him
It's so hard not to blame him
Hold me tight…
Baby, hold me tight…

You know, something occurred to me just then. I haven't had a proper boyfriend in a while. I kind of felt lonely in that moment.

"But when I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
He's such a beautiful disaster

"And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster?

"I'm looking for love and a logical
But he's only happy hysterical
I'm searching for some kind of miracle
Waited so long
I've waited so long…

I looked at Iggy to see him giving me thumbs up and I grinned. I would never get tired of my friends, they were priceless. Especially Iggy's huge cheesy grin.

"He's soft to the touch
But frayed at the end he breaks
He's never enough
And still he's more than I can take

Those last few lines seemed to describe Fang and I looked at him and was surprised to see a look in his eyes. The same look when he was drawing me and the same look he'd had when I'd given him his guitar. I still had no idea what it was but it made me feel good all the same.

"But when I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
He's such a beautiful disaster

"And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster?

"He's beautiful
Lord, he's so beautiful
He's beautiful…

I stopped and Iggy stood up at the back of the auditorium and clapped and made a lot of noise. I rolled my eyes but I was pleased. I loved that song and I think I did a pretty damn good job of it.

Fang stood up and came onto the stage, taking his mic and joining me.

"Brilliant," he whispered. "What's our song?"

"You'll see," I whispered and nodded to Miss Alike. "You'll know it."He

The music started and smile spread across Fang's face. I grinned at him and started singing.

"One can have a dream baby," I sang, stepping away from Fang.

"Two can make a dream so real," Fang sang back, moving over to me as though trying to convince me I was wrong. It was how we sang this song. As though I was attempting to say that I don't need a relationship but he was trying to convince me that love was what I needed.

"One can talk about being in love."

"Two can see how it really feels."

"One can wish upon a star."

"Two can make a wish come true."

One can stand alone in the dark."

"Two can make a light shine seen."

Fang took my hand and pulled me around to him so we could sing together.

"It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two
," we sang in perfect unison.

I walked away from Fang, my back to him, a hand on my heart for the next part.

"One can have a broken heart
Living in misery
," I sang. Fang walked over to me and put an arm around my waist.

"Two can really ease the pain
Like a perfect remedy,
" he crooned over my shoulder.

"One can be alone in the bar
Like an island he's all alone
," I sang, shaking Fang off and walking away but he jumped after me and I swung around, taking his hand and smiling.

"Two can make just any place seem just like being at home," we sang together.

"It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two.

It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two

I walked away from Fang and he came over and took my hand and twirled me around like he had when he'd taught me how to dance. He spun me away from his body and then back in.

"It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two

I stepped away from Fang and looked out at the audience as I sang the next line.

"One can go out to a movie
Looking for a special treat,
" I sang, winking.

"Two can make that single movie
Something really kind of neat,
" Fang sang coming over and putting his hand on my shoulder. I rolled my eyes at him and walked past him, brushing my shoulder against his.

This was what I loved. Performing with Fang.

"And one can take a walk in the moonlight
Thinking that its really nice,
" I sang walking along the stage.

"But two lovers walking hand in hand," Fang sang catching up to me and taking my hand, winding our fingers together as we walked.

"Is like adding just a pinch of spice!" we sang together.

"It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two

It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two
." Fang and I mucked around through the two choruses, dancing and teasing each other like a pair of young sweethearts. It was fun, I have to say.

"Ooh-ooh, oh, oh, oh-oh
Ooh-ooh, oh, oh, oh-oh

Ooh-ooh, oh, oh, oh-oh
" Fang and I sang while he twirled me around by my hand, spun me away from him body and then pulled me back in. He had both his arms wrapped tightly around me, one of my arms wrapped around myself because I was still holding his hand. My other hand was holding my mic.

Fang leant his head on mine.

"It takes two baby
It takes two baby
Just me and you
You know it takes two
." We sang for the last time.

"It takes two baby," I said, only half singing now. "Just me and you."

"Yeah, I know it's me and you," Fang added, in the half-singing way that was at the end of the song. The music was still going and we both hummed and then finished with a perfect unison of "its takes two!"

We finished and I heard Iggy whistling and applauding from the back of the auditorium but Miss Alike, Miss Elissa and Mr Callahan were clapping and Mr Turner was simply nodding. Weird, he must have thought we were good.

"That was brilliant!" Miss Elissa told us, her eyes bright. "I haven't seen showmanship like that in a while."

"It was phenomenal," Mr Callahan agreed. "Give us a moment to deliberate. Adrian, you can join the other two on the stage now."

I realised Fang was still holding me so I looked back at him and he smiled at me and let me go as a furious Adrian joined us on stage. We all sat on the edge and Iggy came down with our bags and waiting in the aisle for the result.

My stomach was filled with butterflies now that I was done performing.

"Okay, we're done," Mr Turner snarled.

"Miss Alike, if you'd like the honours," Mr Callahan said, bowing slightly.

"I would thankyou," Miss Alike replied. "Max, Adrian, both of you girls did spectacularly but we wanted to find the girl that had the best stage chemistry and performance with Fang here."

Adrian was looking smug now as though just because she was Fang's girlfriend it meant they had better chemistry. What the hell?

"So we have decided," Miss Alike continued. "That Max is going to play Cosette."

"What?" Adrian gasped and I felt a smile split across my face. Fang put an arm around me and hugged me slightly.

"I knew you'd get it," he whispered to me and pulled away.

"Max performs better with Fang than you do," Miss Elissa explained. "They work well together and we've seen that they can improvise well together and follow each other's leads. They're a far better pair to play the leads. But we've given you Eponine so you can still be in the play."

Adrian folded her arms and jumped off the stage, leaving the auditorium without even saying goodbye to Fang. Selfish jerk.

"Well done Max!" Iggy said and Mr Turner shot him a dark look before leaving too.

"You two were fantastic," Miss Alike said.

"I knew we'd end up giving Max the part," Mr Callahan chuckled. "She's a far better performer than Adrian. She's a wonderful singer and all but I don't think stage is for her."

"Hmm," Miss Elissa replied. "Well you three should go and celebrate. See you on Monday afternoon for the first cast meeting."

"Bye," Fang and I said, jumping off the stage and meeting with Iggy who slapped us both high fives and beamed at us.

"Good to have you back man," Iggy told him. "Come on, I think ice cream is calling our names. That was great!" Iggy kept on going on as we walked out but I just looked at Fang shyly and was rewarded by a gentle smile.

I think I might get to keep my best friend after all. Don't ask me why. Just a feeling.

24. Sophomore 7

Okay here's the next chapter!!! ^.^ That guy you wanted? He's in this chapter. He's really nice and all but I know that a lot of you won't like him simply because he likes Max. Sigh. Anywho I've been busy and I found some dresses on the internet that resembled the ones I picked for Max, Tess and Lissa for the Spring Fling in case any of you were wondering what they looked like so here are the links (just copy and paste and take the brackets away from the dots ^.^):

Max's Dress:


Tess's Dress:


Lissa's Dress:


"You wouldn't believe the week I've had!" I groaned to Mum as I joined her at the table. It was almost midnight the night after the call-back and neither Mum nor I could sleep so we were drinking hot chocolate and eating chocolate chip cookies together.

"Tell me about it," Mum told me.

Fang, Iggy and I had spent this afternoon hanging out the way we used to and Adrian's name wasn't mentioned once. Iggy and I were thrilled that Fang seemed a little more like himself.

I sighed and told Mum all about this week and the last one too just for the benefit of the story. Mum listened without interrupting and then she frowned and dipped her cookie in her chocolate and bit it, thinking carefully.

"It seems like you're rather jealous of Adrian," Mum noted.

"Well… yes I am but not in that way," I replied. "I'm just jealous because Fang spends more time with her than me and he's my best friend."

"You were such a good friend to tell him to go out with her even though you didn't want him too." Mum smiled at me. "You've grown up so much since we came here but you're still the same in a way. I'm proud of you."

I smiled, pleased with the compliment. "But she's changing Fang," I sighed sadly. "Should I tell him that I don't want him to date her anymore? It's only been a week."

"No, I don't think you should," Mum replied. "Just… let it wither away. The way you explained it, it seems like it won't last too long anyway."

"Yeah…" I swirled my hot chocolate. "I miss Fang, that's all."

Mum was thinking. "Max, do you want to go to LA on Sunday?" she asked me abruptly.

"Huh?" I asked, genuinely surprised.

"I think you should go and see your old group. It might take your mind off Fang," Mum explained, shrugging. "What do you say?"

I thought and then smiled brightly. "I think I'd like that. It's been a while."

"Alright, me and you are driving to LA on Sunday. I'll go and see my old friends and you can hang out with yours."

"Thanks Mum."

"Go clean your teeth and go to bed." I laughed, jumped up, kissed Mum goodnight and went off, still smiling. I loved my old friends so much. I would love to see them all together again.


I got out of the car and waved Mum off and then looked around the familiar street. Ah this was the place I'd grown up, spent so many afternoons and weekends.

"Max!" three female voices shrieked, echoed by two deeper male voices. I turned around and saw five of my friends running towards me. Anna, Jessica and JJ all threw their arms around me hugged me tightly at the same time.

"I missed you too," I laughed. "Let me see you all."

They stood back. Anna and Chris looked the same as when I'd seen them at the beach but JJ had changed a little, she looked a little more grown up, like I did. Her brown hair and brown eyes were still the same and her tanned skin was a lovely and glowing as ever.

Jessica and James, the twins, still looked the same, just boy and girl you know. They both had dark brown hair and hazel eyes and pale skin despite living at the beach, literally- they own a beach house.

"You all look great," I commented.

"So do you," James said, waggling his eyebrows. I swatted his shoulder playfully.

"Yo, Fang emailed me about what happened with that Dylan guy," Chris said, cracking his knuckles, his eyes dark. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, thanks to Fang," I assured him.

"Man I wish I'd been there to show that guy a thing or two," James snarled. "I'm glad Fang was there to beat his wimpy arse though."

I smiled slightly. What can I say? My boys are over-protective. Jessica, JJ and Anna looked upset.

"Are you sure you're okay?" JJ asked, she put her arm around me comfortingly. I just nodded and smiled.

"When Chris told us we were so worried," Jessica added.

"Yeah, I think I woke Fang up by accident calling his mobile in the morning," Anna added. I laughed. Since meeting Anna and Chris at the beach, Fang and Iggy had become quite good friends with them over email, msn, myspace and texting. It was kind of amusing.

I hoped the rest of the group would jump on the Flock bandwagon and love my new friends as much as Anna and Chris did.

"So, what are we doing today?" I asked as we started walking. "And where's Sam?"

"His family went to San Diego for the weekend," Chris explained, one hand in his pocket, the other holding Anna's hand. "And we're just going to hang, wreak havoc, the usual."

I laughed. "Sounds good."

"You bet it is," James added, beaming at me with his gorgeous smile.

"So, spill the beans about this Adrian chick," Jessica added, looping her arm through mine. "All we know is how much you hate her from when you abused her over and over in your email to JJ. Congrats on the musical by the way."

"I still can't believe that," Chris laughed. "Max, in a musical!"

"It is kind of strange," JJ agreed. "But we want to hear about Adrian."

"Okay," I agreed and filled them in about Adrian. Jessie really didn't like her, Anna thought I should punch her and JJ told me to relax, Fang would get sick of her soon enough. Chris and James however wanted Fang to jump her right away and forget about her immediately.

Eventually we reached our favourite gaming arcade while the others were still abusing Adrian, much to my satisfaction.

"Is your band going to come and do a gig here?" James asked as we paid to go in. "We want to hear you guys."

"Maybe," I replied. "I'll talk to Fang about it."

"Cool," Jessica replied. I looked at JJ but she was only smiling at me. I felt so bad that I'd gotten a new best friend but I hoped she knew that I still loved her dearly and she wasn't resentful towards the Flock.

As if knowing what I was thinking, JJ laughed and hugged me.

"I'm just glad that you're happy," she told me.

"Thanks," I replied.

We went into the arcade and went straight to our favourite game, the dance-off platform. Me and Anna got up there to dance against each other, just like old times. And she kicked my butt, just like old times.

This day seemed like it was going to be fantastic. And you know what? It was.


On Monday afternoon, I sat with Fang in the auditorium telling him about my trip into LA when Adrian showed up and stole his attention from me. I folded my arms and tried not to feel too resentful- which I failed at miserably.

"Okay, I hope everyone is here," Miss Alike said, counting heads as she stood on the stage in front of the Les Mis cast. "Wait, where's Zachariah?"

The doors to the auditorium burst open and a senior guy ran in, his hair tussled from running here. He had messy dark brown hair and bright green eyes. He was wearing a leather jacket similar to Fang's and a white, sleeveless t-shirt and jeans with chains hanging over his right hip. If he had dog tags then he would have a style very similar to Fang's.

He had a nice smile and olive skin tone.

"Sorry I'm late," he panted, walking down the aisle. He spotted the empty seat next to me and also right on the aisle and sank into it. "I was with Mr Turner."

"That's okay," Mr Callahan said. "You have a lot on your plate, captain." Zachariah grinned and I recognised him. He was captain of the football team. Yeah, our highschool has a football team but I've never mentioned it before because Fang, Iggy and I have nothing to do with it, not our thing.

"Hi," Zachariah said to me. "Max, right?"

"Yeah, and you're Zachariah?" I replied. He was really good looking. I mean really good looking.

"Just Zac," he replied.

"Hi Zac." I smiled at him and he smiled back and then we fell silent and looked up at Miss Alike and Mr Callahan. Fang was eying me slightly but stopped when I looked at him questioningly.

Miss Alike proceeded to hand out rehearsal schedules and told us the performance was going to be done three times after Christmas as it was our winter one and she expected us to work hard to have it down by New Years- the date of the first performance.

"Wow, she's really into this," Zac chuckled. "Almost as bad as Mr Turner with his football." He smiled at me and I was surprised into smiling back. I decided I liked Zac, he was really friendly.

"Mr Turner is an arse," I commented as we stood up, ready to go to homeroom when the last bell sounded.

"I know." Zac moved aside as Fang, Adrian and I stepped into the aisle. "I'll be playing Valjean so you and me get to act together a lot Max."

"Sounds good," I replied. "So, see you on Friday afternoon?"

"See you then," Zac replied. He smiled kindly at me and walked down to talk to Mr Callahan, leaving me feeling oddly… pleased.

"Max, homeroom," Fang said, shaking my shoulder slightly. I looked at him and realised Adrian was already heading out of the auditorium.

"What's wrong with her?" I questioned, looking back at Zac. I'd never ever felt instant attraction to a guy before but there's a first for everything. Zac was so, so good looking and really nice. If Fang can like somebody then I can too.

"No idea," Fang replied. "Max, are you okay?"

"Yeah." I looked at Fang. "Do you think I should have gotten his number?"

"You just met him!"

"So?" I looked back again. Fang rolled his eyes, muttered something and dragged me along as we left the auditorium. I smiled brightly at him.

"Max, he could be a jerk," Fang pointed out.

"I am a brilliant judge of character, thank you very much," I snapped. "Besides if you're allowed to be instantly attracted to someone then so am I."

"So this is about getting back at me?" Fang's tone wasn't snappy or angry it was calm and patient, like he was trying to avoid a fight. For some reason that irked me.

"No it isn't!" I replied. "Besides-"

"Besides nothing, he's too old for you anyway." I blinked and stared at Fang as we walked to homeroom. Then I regained myself but he stopped me from speaking. "You know what? Do what you like. I'll just stand in the background ready to pick up the pieces when you get your heart broken."

Now he sounded annoyed. What was with him?


On Tuesday morning I was on my way to Government when Zac jogged up to me, smiling. I stopped walking and smiled back, remembering what Fang had said to me yesterday afternoon about Zac being too old for me. What did it matter? I didn't know whether I was totally interested him in yet.

"Hey Max," Zac said.

"Hi," I replied. "Shouldn't you be in class?"

"Maybe," Zac smiled again. "I actually wanted to talk to you though."

"Me? Why?" I frowned.

"Well I was kicking myself yesterday afternoon for not getting your number," Zac explained. "Every time I've seen you since you came here I've been dying to talk to you but could never pluck up the courage or convince myself it was the right thing to do. Then I thought you were with Fang but since he's got a girl that means you're free, right?"

I giggled, flattered that he'd wanted to talk to me since last year. "Yes it does."

"Good, can I have your number?"

"Sure." Zac held out his hand I wrote it on there.

"I'll call you tonight after training," Zac promised me. "See you around."

I blushed and waved to him as he went off. I felt kind of bemused. That was very forward but still. Zac seemed so nice and suddenly, I was excited for tonight to get his phone call. Fang wouldn't like it but I didn't care, I could have a life if I wanted to.

Which, I realised as I went inside, was what I'd been trying to stop Fang from doing with Adrian. Damn it. Now I felt bad. Stupid conscience. Ah well, I'd make it up to Fang later. Maybe I'd get some of his drawings framed like I'd done the one he gave me.

I sat down in class trying to think of things I could do that would make Fang forgive me for trying to run his life.


"Max! Phone for you!" Mum called as I was drying my hair. I frowned and then remembered that Zac was going to call me. I came out of the bathroom took the phone from Mum and went into her study, closing the door behind me.

"Hey," I said.

"Hi Max," Zac greeted. "Did I interrupt anything?"

"Only the useless primping that each day requires of me," I replied in a bored voice, sitting down on the chair. "How was training?"

"It was… pretty boring actually." Zac sighed. "Anyway I was wondering…"

"Are about to ask me out?" I questioned when he trailed off.

"Uh… yeah," Zac replied shyly. "Do you want to?"

"A movie?" I asked.


"Sure, when?"

"Really? Cool." Zac paused. "After rehearsal on Friday?"

"Sounds good to me," I replied. Then we changed topic and we talked for about an hour until Zac had to go and do some homework but he promised he'd come and talk to me the next day and I blushed and felt secretly excited.

Okay, Zac had a hold on me. Totally not my fault. But still I couldn't help but notice that when I thought of Fang my excitement of seeing Zac the next day faded.

What was up with that?

25. Sophomore 8

This chapter is going to have a cliff hanger ending because I haven't done a real cliff hanger in a while so this is one. Sorry it's cruel and mean but I couldn't resist. I didn't have to cut it off where I did but I chose to! ^.^ Sorry. But enjoy! ^.^

The next few weeks were so… surreal. My date with Zac had gone so well. Much better than my last date but that's really not an achievement, the achievement is that Zac made me enjoy that night as much as I enjoyed spending time with Fang. The play rehearsals were major, major fun and we all mucked around at the same time as working hard to get everything right.

I enjoyed the weeks especially because Fang and I got to spend a heap of time together on stage. I loved spending time with Zac and, unlike Fang, Iggy completely approved of my choice. Zac ate lunch with Iggy, me and- on the rare occasion he was there- Fang. Adrian came nowhere near me (Yay!) and Zac treated me with respect but still teased me playfully.

Was it safe to say I might be falling in love? Yeah I think so.

Hah had you going. I'm not falling in love with Zac just yet, too early for that, I'm falling in love with Les Mis. I love this musical. I never thought I would ever say that in my life but I have officially fallen for stage art.

Anyway things with Fang and I are kind of distant. He's majorly annoyed with me about my boyfriend (yes, Zac is my boyfriend and I am loving it) and he's having problems with Adrian.

"Talk to her," I urged.

"She'll yell at me," Fang hissed back. We were standing together in the rain- yes, the rain, it is raining very heavily right now, not something that happens very often and we were enjoying it- both of us were soaked through to the skin and I must say there is something incredibly sexy about a guy whose black hair is plastered in front of his eyes from the rain.

Did I seriously say that? Why yes, Max, you did, having a boyfriend is getting to your head.

Fang looked over at Adrian who was standing under an umbrella talking to the senior guy who was playing her character's father- and my character's foster father- in the musical. His name was Chase and he was one of Zac's friends. I didn't really like him that much but I wasn't going to tell Fang, it would tick him off even more.

"You look like a lost puppy, it won't get fixed if you don't talk to her," I hissed.

"Like you can talk pup-girl," Fang replied, flashing me a teasing grin. I rolled my eyes, cheeks flushing at my half-asleep conversation with Fang when I'd been staying at his house, sleeping in his bed- surprisingly, sleeping in the same bed as your male best friend is not awkward in the least.

Fang's face fell as Adrian laughed at something Chase was saying and smiled at him.

"Talk to her," I hissed again.

Fang shrugged. "Look, let's just go. Iggy, Steve and Damen already went," Fang said to me. I rolled my eyes and pushed some soaked hair out of my face and looked around through the rain. Fang groaned. "That's right, you haven't said goodbye to lover boy yet, have you?"

"Shut up," I replied, blushing again.

"Hello gorgeous," a voice behind me said. I turned around, my heart lifting and a smile spreading across my face as I saw Zac looking amazingly hot whilst rain soaked.

"Hi Zac!" I replied. I hugged me tightly and he kissed me gently on my forehead, then the tip of my nose and finally my lips, his arms wrapping around my waist. I kissed him back, tilting my head so I could kiss him better.

I heard Fang cough and we broke apart.

"Sorry to interrupt this lovely scene," Fang stated sarcastically. "But Max, we seriously have to go. Band practise, remember?"

Zac chuckled.

"Sorry, mate," Zac said. He kissed me gently one last time and released me. I felt kind of light-headed and my face was flushed but I couldn't help it. Hello? Rain! Kissing! Possibly the most romantic thing ever! Stupid Fang had to interrupt.

"I'm not your mate," Fang snapped, grabbing my arm and pulling me after him. I waved goodbye to Zac who waved back to me, slightly bewildered at Fang's dark mood. Fang usually tried to be nice to Zac so I let him off for being a jerk this time… sort of.

"You know, you don't have to take your relationship problems out on me and Zac," I stated, yanking my arm from Fang's grip. I tried not to be too harsh, Fang was upset. He shrugged but didn't reply. I squashed my sudden urge to slap Fang and tell him to snap out of it and put my arm around his waist instead and leant my head on his shoulder.

"Max, what are you doing?" Fang sounded amused.

"Being comforting," I replied, wrapping my other arm around the front of his waist so he couldn't escape from my hug. "Cheer up, please. I want my best friend back."

"Your old best friend or the one who's been around since he started dating Adrian?" Fang asked.

"Either one, though I would prefer the old one," I replied, closing my eyes, hoping Fang would stop me from tripping over anything. "As long as he isn't angry and upset all of the time."

Fang chuckled and put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. "He's always here for you no matter what."

"Good," I replied.

"And-" Fang stopped walking suddenly and I felt his body stiffen. I raised my head, my eyes open and looked around. We'd taken the back way from school, something we hadn't done since Jake had started being our bodyguard to protect us from G51 and we both realised just then that it was a mistake.

"Oh crap," Fang groaned. "Sorry Max."

"My fault too," I whispered. "Neither of us was thinking straight."

We were surrounded, again, by G51 and this time we weren't close enough to the road for Jake to help us. Damn it. We were such idiots.

"Stay behind me," Fang whispered as Joshua stepped forward. I didn't do as he said, I just let him go and felt adrenaline course through my body, ready for a fight. This time they weren't holding me back like a weak girl, I was going to fight with Fang.

"Ride, if you step away from the girl now we'll let you walk without touching you," Joshua told him. Fang snarled.

"Do you seriously think I'm that shallow?" he asked angrily.

"I'm serious Ride, leave now so we can deal with Max, and we won't touch you or your little sister."

"Stay away from Angel!" Fang and I shouted in unison.

Joshua laughed and so did a bunch of the other big, scary looking guys. They were all taller than me and probably three times as heavy. That meant a lot stronger but I wasn't going down without a fight. I remembered what G51 had done to Fang at the Spring Fling and fury ran through my blood.

"Alright, last chance Ride, leave or die?" Joshua asked, his voice laced with malice.

"I'm going to stay but I won't die," Fang snarled. He tensed up and I swung around to face the other direction. Gang members were behind us too. Where were the Bloods? Surely they realised we weren't on the main road and were searching for us desperately.

We were such idiots. Jake and his boss Carl had told us to stop from going in the back ways that they couldn't follow us inconspicuously on. Fang's back was against mine and we dropped our bags and were ready as some members advanced towards us.

"Stop," Joshua said. I eyed the guys in front of my and looked behind me, over Fang's shoulder. Joshua had a gun out, pointed right at Fang who was frozen with shock. "I told you to leave or die, Ride. Prepare for the latter."

"No!" I screamed and swung around pushing Fang away as Joshua fired the gun. Pain exploded on my side and my vision flickered. The last thing I remember is Fang staring at me in horror before I blacked out.


Fang caught Max before she could hit the ground and held her, fear pounding through his whole body. He was shaking, he felt cold and afraid. Max's blood was blossoming on her shirt and Fang quickly pulled it up and examined the wound on her side. He had no idea what kind of gunshot wounds were fatal and which ones weren't so he still felt deadly scared.

"You shot her," Fang stated, the steadiness of his voice surprising him. The only sound around them was the loud pattering of rain hitting everything and everyone.

"What's going on down there?" a voice shouted.

"Scram!" Joshua shouted. He stayed as he gang scattered and he looked up.

"Fang? Max?"

Fang looked up. Mr Callahan.

"Mr Callahan! Nine-one-one! Hurry! Max has been shot!" Fang cried, sinking down onto the ground so that he could check Max's wound properly. The bullet was still in her, embedded into her side right by her waist.

Mr Callahan ran down to them, already dialling.

"Yes," Mr Callahan said. "And Ambulance quickly. The alley behind George Street. A girl had been shot." Mr Callahan hung up and looked down at Fang. "You need to find something to stop the bleeding, put pressure on the wound… I think. Or not if there's a bullet! Oh I don't know!"

Mr Callahan dropped to his knees.

"I need to call Max's Mum," Fang said. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, not worried about the blood on his hands and he found Max's Mum's number and pressed the call button. Mr Callahan was ripping a strip of material from his shirt, wadding it up and pressing it down on Max's stomach while Fang held her head in his lap.

"Fang?" Dr Martinez asked.

"Doc, you gotta get to the hospital," Fang said. "Max has been shot and-" He could hear the sirens a few streets up. "The ambulance is nearly here but-"

"Shot? How? Has G51 come back to you?" Dr Martinez sounded hysterical.

"Calm down," Fang said, fear still pounding in his heart. He ran a hand over Max's hair, forgetting he had blood on his hand. "Just get to the hospital. Can you get Ella to call the rest of the Flock?"

"Sure. See you there." Dr Martinez sounded like she was crying. Fang's throat felt thick as he closed his phone. Max would be okay, he knew she would… or rather he hoped she would be.

No, Fang, don't think like that, he told himself. Max will be fine. She's Max, after all, she invincible Max. She will be fine. Say it now. She. Will. Be. Fine.

Fang looked down at Max's face. He couldn't lose her. If he lost Max he didn't know what he'd do. She was everything to him. The only person he trusted without reservation. His other half. His very best friend in the whole wide world.

So many emotions were gripping Fang's heart but he didn't have time to read them because people were running down. Fang recognised Jake and Matt with the paramedics as they carefully drove the ambulance down to them.

The paramedics strapped Max to a gurney and loaded her into the ambulance. Jake and Mat were staring at Fang as he climbed into the ambulance with Max. He watched the paramedics hook her up to machines as they started driving again.

Fang took Max's hand and held it as though it was his lifeline. He couldn't live without Max, he just couldn't. In almost a year of knowing her he'd come to care about her so deeply that if he lost her now he would lose himself and he would never be the same again.

"Please be okay," Fang whispered. He squeezed Max's hand, feeling the warmth fading out of it. Fang realised that he was dripping water on the floor but he really couldn't care less.

They reached the hospital and it was the hardest thing Fang had ever done to watch Max go through into the OR without him. He watched the doors until he heard Dr Martinez, Ella, Iggy, Nudge, Steve, Damen, Angel, Gazzy, his parents, Iggy's parents and Nudge's parents coming up behind him.

"Fang!" Ella shouted. Angel ran up and jumped into his arms, crying onto his chest.

"What happened?" Peter asked. But Fang looked at Dr Martinez, feeling really guilty. Jake and Matt were standing together just down the corridor, looking completely alike and Fang shuddered.

"We were stupid, we went down the back way instead of staying on the main road," Fang whispered, feeling angry, guilty, afraid, sad, hurt and alone. "G51 showed up and we didn't have Jake to rescue us. Joshua Skye pulled a gun on me and Max pushed me out of the way and Joshua's shot got her instead."

Fang was shocked when a tear rolled down his face.

If Max died it would be all his fault.

Right now he just wanted to sit down alone and actually cry. He hadn't cried for a long time but right now he really wanted to. Max was his whole world and-

Fang froze, a sense of realisation trickling down his spine as more tears rolling down his face. He stroked Angel's hair as everyone talked loudly, everybody was crying and Dr Martinez sank into a chair and Alice, Alicia and Mary (Nudge's mother) all sat with her, comforting her.

Jake and Matt went away and came back with coffee for all the adults and soda for the kids and teens and Matt looked at Fang.

"Has anyone called Zac?" he asked.

"I will," Iggy commented going to find the hospital phone. Damen was holding Nudge as she sobbed onto his chest.

"This isn't fair!" Fang shouted, feeling even more anger from his realisation. He felt even more alone now because he had just realised something very, very important.

He loved Max.

Not like a friend, or a sister or even his best friend in the whole world. He loved her, very dearly and he might have cost her, her life. Everyone was looking at Fang from his outburst. Steve came over and took Angel from him with a gentle look.

"Dude, go and find somewhere to get a hold on yourself," he murmured. "It's not your fault and you need to get a grip."

Fang took a deep breath, trying not to break down into a little ball. He didn't even know that he could feel so much at once and he hated it so much, especially the strong sense of love he now realised he felt. It made everything worse.

Fang walked away from the group and went to a bathroom where he splashed water onto his already soaked face to wash away the tears but he couldn't wash away the guilt. He had caused Max to be hurt and that guilt attacked his heart tenfold since his epiphany.

Everything made sense now though. All of his feelings, everything.

But that was the problem. He loved Max but she didn't love him. Urgh. And her boyfriend would be here soon and Fang would have to look at him knowing that Zac had everything he wanted and needed.

"This sucks," Fang whispered, looking down into the sink.

"Yeah, it does," Matt murmured from the doorway. Fang looked over at him and sighed.

"This is my fault. I should have realised that we were going the wrong way but I was too caught up thinking about Adrian and-"

"Chill, man," Matt sighed. "It isn't your fault, I swear."

"But…" Fang didn't continue, he just turned and leant on the sink and glared at the tiled floor.

"Come on back out, you need to be with everyone else," Matt told him. He took Fang by the shoulder and walked him out to the others. "She'll be fine, it wasn't that bad. You're lucky Mr Callahan showed up."

"I know." Fang sank into a seat beside Iggy who looked at him.

"I called Zac," he explained. "He's on his way. Are you okay, man?"

"No I'm not," Fang replied. Iggy put a hand on Fang's shoulder. The huge group was quiet. Zac showed up and a tearful Ella explained the whole thing to him because Fang didn't have it in him. Then the cops showed up with Mr Callahan and Fang had to relive the whole story again.

The cops took notes and then went to get coffee while they waited for the doctors like everybody else. It was tense and quiet except for a few whispered comforting words between several people and other people's shuddering sobs and sniffs.

Fang sat in tense silence wondering how he could possibly have fallen so deeply in love with his best friend and not have noticed. Somewhere along the line Max had shown him what it was like to have someone so incredibly wonderful that they become your whole life and he hadn't even realised it.

Now he might lose her and he just couldn't take it.

26. Sophomore 9

I haven't had much of a chance to write in the last few days so I did a quick finish on this chapter this afternoon, sorry if it seems rushed but I wanted to update for you guys since I'd left you with an awful cliffhanger last time. Stupid exams and studying and martial arts and everything else that is part of my busy life but I managed to get this up so yay! I would also like to give you guys a HUGE thankyou hug because the last chapter was the biggest reviewing chapter with 50 reviews and the story has now exceeded 500 reviews! Aiieee!! It's so great!! I'm really happy about that! Here's the next chapter. Oh yeah, warning for one bad cuss in this chapter from Fang himself in the flashback sequence, just a heads up. I don't usually use words worse than shit so yeah, just thought I'd give you a heads up.

Bon Apetite! ^.^

It had felt like a million years before the doctor finally came out of the OR and everyone jumped up and practically mobbed him. The doctor had been the same one who had checked Fang when he'd been beaten up by G51 so the large group didn't shock him too much.

"We nearly lost Max several times," he explained. "We have to patch up some internal bleeding because the bullet had nicked the edge of her large intestine and had caused her appendix to swell so we had to remove that as well. We got the bullet out and patched up all of her internal injuries, gave her a blood transfusion and patched her up.

"Her blood pressure and heart rate are relatively normal now and she's in recovery," the doctor finished.

"She'll be okay?" Zac asked.

"She will be fine. She'll have to stay in hospital for a few days but other than that she is great."

"How long until we can see her?" Angel asked from Dr Martinez's arms. Dr Martinez was crying, unable to speak, and Alice was holding her hand comfortingly.

"She'll be in recovery for about forty minutes before we move her to a room," the doctor explained.

Everybody sighed in relief and went back to their seats. There was silence.

"Who wants more caffeine?" Jake finally asked, clapping his hands together and smiling.

"We'll help," Iggy and Steve said standing up and going with Matt and Jake to get coffee. The cops hadn't come back but the doctor had gone to find them.

Fang, Ella, Dr Martinez and Zac all looked at each other in relief. Angel was teary again and Alice took her from Dr Martinez and looked at Peter. Everyone started talking and crying again, relief showing in all of their voices.

"She's okay Nudge," Damen laughed, rubbing her back as she cried but he had tears running down his face too. Fang felt warm inside. He hadn't caused Max to die, it was a relief but he still felt immense guilt at causing her to be harmed.

"She's okay," Fang sighed.

"Yes, she is, thanks to you Mr Callahan," Ella said. Mr Callahan sighed in relief.

"Yes, thankyou so much for my daughter," Dr Martinez said. Fang smiled. "And for Fang's life too. If you hadn't shown up-"

"It's okay," Mr Callahan sighed, waving his hand. "No problem, honestly. I'm just glad they're both okay."

When the time came they were only allowed in, in groups of four so Dr Martinez, Ella, Fang and Zac went in first. Fang's heart constricted when he saw how tired and in pain Max looked. Fang thought she should be asleep but she was… well awake was an over statement, conscious was a better word.

"Hi… Mum," Max groaned. Dr Martinez started crying again and walked over to Max and ran a hand over her hair. Fang noticed that they'd washed the blood stains out of her hair. How thoughtful.

"You're okay," Dr Martinez whispered. "You're okay."

"I'm… fine," Max replied. Ella went up and hugged Max gently and Zac went over, kissed her gently and stroked her face. Fang crushed his urge to punch Zac's lights out reminding himself that Max was Zac's and not his.

"Fang…" Max whispered. He started and looked at her. Fang walked over and brushed his fingertips gently over Max's face and gave a half smile. A tear ran down his face. She was really okay. Max smiled. "You're crying."

"Yep," Fang replied. "Don't ever do something that stupid again. You scared the hell out of me."

"Aw, worried… we were?"

"Definitely." I leant down and kissed her forehead. "You have a whole bunch of other visitors."

"Yes, we'll go so that everyone can come through," Dr Martinez said. "Then you should rest, young lady." Max smiled and we said goodbye- I gritted my teeth when Zac kissed her again- and then we left.

Everyone went to see Max and then the cops went in and questioned her. Iggy and his family went home and so did Nudge. Steve's dad came and picked he and Damen up and then Mr Callahan had to go.

Alice and Peter took Angel home, letting Fang stay at the hospital. Matt and Jake stayed to keep an eye on both Fang and Max. So Dr Martinez, Ella, Zac, Matt, Jake and Fang went to the hospital cafeteria to have dinner.

"Fang," Zac said, taking him aside before they went in.

"What?" Fang asked, his voice not angry and resentful like he thought it would be.

"Thankyou," Zac murmured. "For taking care of Max."

"That's okay," Fang whispered. His heart panged and he smiled at Zac. "She's fine."

"I know." Zac smiled back and they went into the cafeteria to eat with the others.

Hospital food was the only thing that was close to being as bad as aeroplane food but Fang didn't even taste it, he was still consumed with thoughts about his epiphany and worry about Max. Nothing else mattered right now.


Do you know how boring hospitals are? I do. I hate them. I was so, so glad when I could finally go home. It was Saturday, one week until Halloween and I was tired and grouchy but still excited as all get out when Zac told me that Chase was having a Halloween party and Zac wanted me to come. He also invited Iggy and Fang and Adrian. About the last one I wasn't so happy but I wanted to go to a Halloween party, it sounded like fun.

"What are you going to go as?" Ella asked me as I looked at my stitched up side in the mirror.

"I don't know," I replied. "What do you think I should go as?"

"No idea," Ella replied. "Nudge, Damen, Iggy and I are taking Gazzy and Angel trick-or-treating so when Nudge and I got to get our costumes, you could come." Yep, Iggy was giving up the coolest party of the year to go trick-or-treating with my little sister. I wanted to know when he'd ask her out. They were driving the rest of the flock nuts.

"Sure, sounds good," I replied. I smeared the disinfectant stuff on my side and let my shirt drop. "I hate this. It's going to be ages until it's healed and it still really hurts. Where are those pills?"

Ella handed them to me and I dry swallowed my dose. I hated this. The cops had arrested Joshua Skye but Jake told us that Carl still has the Bloods watching out for us because G51 wouldn't be done with us yet.

I went into my room just as my phone rang. I looked at Fang's name on the caller ID and smiled.

"Hiya," I said.

"Hey Pup-girl," Fang replied. He'd been so much lighter in the last few days. I had no idea why but I was so happy to have the old Fang back. Not even Adrian being a complete bitch about me getting shot had brought him down.

"What's up?" I asked, sitting down and putting my pillow in my lap.

"Me and you and greasy, artery-clogging junk food," Fang replied. "Sound good?"

"It sounds fantastic," I replied, smiling. Then my smile fell. "But Zac is coming over tomorrow."

"Oh…" Fang sounded dejected.

"You and I can get fatty, greasy food any time," I laughed. "How about on Thursday after band practise we go out and get some?"

"Good." Fang laughed. "It seems like there's barely any me and you time anymore."

"Yeah, I know," I replied. "We'll have to fix that then."

"We shall. Right, I have to put Angel to bed. Hang on a second." Fang put the phone down and about ten minutes later he came back and we started talking. We just talked, teased each other and laughed until almost midnight when I grew sleepy and decided to go to bed.

"Good night Max," Fang murmured.

"Good night, see you on Monday," I replied. I hung up and fell into bed, my side throbbing slightly.


"Yeah," Fang sighed hanging his phone up. He looked at the background on it, him and Max. "I love you…"


I ripped the front door open when Zac rang the doorbell and I smiled brightly at him and he leant down and kissed me. I closed my eyes, losing myself in the magic of kissing someone that I cared about a lot and wanted to be with.

We broke apart and Zac came in as I closed the door.

"How are you feeling?" he asked me as we went into the living room. Ella and Mum had vacated the house for today to give me and Zac some privacy.

"A little sore but I am so glad to be home," I replied. I went to the DVD player and put on a movie and then joined Zac on the lounge, lying in his arms. He played with some of my hair as the movie (She's the Man) started.

"Are you coming to school tomorrow?" he asked me.

"Yup," I replied. "I have to face everybody sooner or later plus I've already missed a tonne of rehearsals."

"Good point. If you get tired during the day though I want you to go straight to sick bay."

"Sure, sure." I glanced around at Zac. "You worry too much."

"No I don't," Zac disagreed, smiling at me. I rolled my eyes and returned my attention to the movie. I loved this movie. It was hilarious.

Zac and I went through several movies, some of which we paid no attention to for, ahem, various reasons but it was just so nice to be there with him, nothing to worry about, just relaxed and enjoying myself. I liked this. I could get used to it.


Fang had been pondering whether to break up with Adrian. Even just sitting next her felt so wrong now that he knew who his heart really belonged to. It seemed like it might stay that way forever but he knew he could never, ever be with Max so he pushed his love away as unrequited and decided to stick it out with Adrian to keep from arousing suspicion from Iggy and Max.

"Yo, Fangster!" Iggy called. Fang rolled his eyes at the name and looked over as Iggy came up. "We ready to welcome Max?"

"You bet," Fang replied. He was still mulling through a conversation… or… no argument didn't really fit either… well, a whatever, that he'd had with Adrian on the day after Max had been shot.


"Fang!" Adrian shouted. Fang turned around from his locker. His heart was still heavy with guilt about getting Max hurt and he was still heartbroken that he was in love with her but could never have her, even if she wasn't with Zac. Max just didn't see him that way.

"Yeah?" Fang replied.

"I just heard about Max from Mr C!" Adrian gasped. "Is she okay?"

For some reason that simple question sent Fang into overdrive. He'd been so stressed lately about Adrian and Zac and Max and the musical and the band and his sister and G51 and everything else that was spinning in a huge whirlpool and consuming his life that he just couldn't take any more. Max getting shot had been the planting of the bomb, his epiphany had lit the fuse and Adrian's question had been the explosion.

Fang slammed his locker shut and turned to Adrian so fast that she jumped, shocked.

"Do not pretend you give a shit about what happens to Max!" Fang snarled. "I know for a fact that you hate her and probably wish she was dead! Don't you try and fool me into thinking you give a damn about the health and safety of my best friend!"

"Fang!" Adrian gasped.

"No, don't try and talk yourself out of it! I'm not stupid Adrian and I seriously am considering dumping you because I am sick to death of you talking shit about my friends, the people who've been there for me no matter what!"


"I don't give a flying fuck whether you care about me! If you can't care about my friends then I don't want anything to do with you!"

Fang turned on his heel and walked off, his head pounding with a shocking headache and his heart hurting badly. Maybe he shouldn't have gone off but he really didn't care. This was it, he wasn't going to sit down and let people do things he didn't like. He'd done it too much in the past. This was a new start.


Fang shook his head. They'd made up on the weekend of course but Fang knew Adrian wasn't sincere but she was too scared of setting him off again to say anything. Good, she should have learnt by now that Max and Iggy meant a lot to him and so did Steve and Damen and she couldn't bag them out no matter what.

When Dr Martinez's car pulled up, Fang's heart did a triple leap and he smiled automatically. Max walked over to them, her skin with a little more colour than it had had while she was in hospital. Her walk was a little pained but she was smiling nonetheless and her eyes sparkled with happiness to see her two friends.

"Fang! Iggy!" she said. They went up and each hugged her gently.

"You look heaps better," Fang said, his heart swelling at how healthier she looked. He felt a teeny bit less guilty now.

"I feel heaps better," Max replied. "You all set for the Halloween party?"

"Yup," Fang replied. "Adrian's dragging me costume shopping? You wanna come with?"

"Nope, promised Ella I'd go with her and Nudge," Max replied. Her smile was a little smug when she heard the slight irritation in Fang's tone about being with Adrian. "Maybe Iggy'll go? And I'm sure Steve and Damo wouldn't mind."

"Asked," Fang shrugged.

"I'm coming," Iggy said. "But Steve and Damen have already got theirs." Max shrugged and the three of them started walking down. "So how was your movie day with Zac-boy?"

"It was good," Max replied, blushing slightly. Fang tried to ignore the pang in his heart.

She's not yours. She's not yours. She's not yours.

"What did you do?" Iggy asked. "Apart from make out I mean. I don't think you paid attention to any of the movies, am I right?"

"We paid attention to some of them!" Max protested. Fang noticed the way her face flushed really adorably but she hadn't denied kissing Zac.

She's not yours. She's not yours. She's not yours.

"Let's talk about the weather," Max interrupted before Iggy could interrogate her about something really uncomfortable- like Zac's kissing technique.

"The clouds are extra fluffy today," Fang joked.

"Totally," Max agreed and then all three of them started laughing and Fang felt a little better. He kept sneaking glances at Max noticing things about her that he hadn't noticed before.

Like the cute spattering of gold freckles across her nose. The way the sun caught her hair and made it glint a pretty copper colour. The way her eyes crinkled in the corners when she laughed and the colour looked like melted chocolate when she was happy. She was so beautiful.

Fang almost blushed and looked away. A sick feeling entered his stomach. He repeated his mantra inside his head to keep him sane. It was an awful mantra but it made the realisation keep him from doing something stupid.

Fang peeked at Max again and she looked at him and smiled, lighting up his world.

She's not yours. She's not yours. She's not yours.

27. Sophomore 10

Sorry that its been a while, I had a teensy bit of 'where do I got with this chapter?' while I wrote this but now it's gone and I have a couple more chapters done but I can't update tomorrow because I'll be in Sydney shopping with my group and then watching movie's at the one-whose-birthday-it-is's house. Thank you guys for reviewing. I love your reviews, they're always so great. Some of you offer advice and tips and others of you compliment the story and my writing. Several times I've been asked how I do it and what makes me good.

I don't know about how great you guys think I am and as for how I do it well... I'm not really sure. When I write it isn't me writing the story. My fingers hit the keys and my actions guide the writing but the story is told to me and I just write it out. The characters tell me what's going to happen. I don't know what's going to happen until they tell me. I know that sounds kind of weird but it's the only way to describe it. I just love to write and when I do I zone out of this world and go into another one where anything can happen.

But I can give you a tip: when you're writing, don't think. Stop thinking. Don't do it. When you read do you think or do you just let the writing create a picture in your mind? When you listen to music do you constantly analyse it (if you do then you're probably a musician or just really love music) or do you let it build a picture in your mind? It's the same with writing. Stop thinking and let your mind create the story for you and then write out everything as it comes into your head. Don't look at it until you're done and don't be critical, if it came out of your head then its what you wanted. That's all I can say pretty much.

Anywho on with the chapter, sorry for the long note.

"Fang, I'm done!" Adrian called. "Wanna see?"

Not really, Fang thought. "Okay," he replied. Adrian burst out of the dressing cubicle dramatically and Fang say Iggy's jaw drop from over where he was looking at a cowboy costume and cackling maniacally. His cackling had stopped now. He looked at Fang and shook his head dramatically, his eyes wide.

Adrian was dressed in a devil costume that- Fang had to say it, he couldn't help it- was so-

"You like a whore!" Angel said and Fang stared down at his little sister who was holding something white in her arms.

"How did you learn that word?" Fang demanded while Adrian glared at Angel.

"I was watching MTV," Angel explained. "Fang, can I get this?"

"Um, hold on," Fang replied. Angel gave him her bambi eyes but he'd looked away in time and he looked at Adrian. "Um… maybe you should try on something else."

Adrian huffed and stormed back into the cubicle. Fang bent down to Angel who was giving him a wide-eyed innocent look.

"I found MTV and one of the guys called a girl a 'whore' when she was dressed like that," Angel explained. "What is a whore?"

"Um… nothing," Fang replied. "But just, don't say that word again."

"Okay," Angel said. "Can I say mother-"

"No!" Fang took her hands. "Don't repeat anything you heard on MTV okay or Mum will block the channel and kill me for not keeping a better eye on you." Angel nodded and smiled brightly at Fang and his heart melted. Yeah his baby sister had him wrapped around her finger but he didn't care.

"Now, what did you want?" Fang asked.

"This costume!" Angel said. She held up a white costume that was supposed to be a princess dress, it came with a tiara and a pair of white and silver-fairy wings. "I want to be a fairy princess!"

"Sure, you can have that costume," Fang said agreeably.

"Thanks Fang!" Angel kissed his cheek and he chuckled. "You should dress up as a warrior-king! Like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings."

"I don't want to dress up as Aragorn."

"Not as Aragorn but like Aragorn." Angel sighed. "Please?" Fang took one look at her big, round bambi eyes and caved immediately.

"Where is it?" he asked. Angel beamed and led Fang over to some awesome black costumes. It was kind of like the black night only without the armour and he didn't have a sword. He wondered why there was a lack of swords but then he noticed the label.

'Medieval Assassin'.

"Cool," Fang said. "Alright, I'll take this one. Thanks Ange." Fang pulled it off and sighed. He hated Halloween but at least this costume was black.

"Done!" Adrian sang. She was carrying her chosen costume over to Fang and Iggy had picked the cowboy after all. Fang wondered- judging by the maniacal laughter- if he had anything evil planned for the costume. Fang tried not to think about it too much.

"What did you get?" Fang asked Adrian.

"Cat," Adrian replied simply. Fang prayed to whatever Gods were in existence that Angel would not somehow learn the word slut and tell Adrian that she was one. Adrian bent down and looked at Angel who stepped back, hiding behind Fang's leg slightly.

"What?" Angel asked darkly and Fang nudged her, giving her a warning look. Angel didn't like Adrian but she was only seven so she didn't know how to be subtle.

"What costume did you choose?" Adrian asked, smiling sweetly at Angel who glared at her.

"Fairy princess," she replied.

"Cute." Adrian stood up. "Your little sister is such a sweetie."

"She is," Fang agreed. He took Angel's costume so he could pay for it and Angel glared at Adrian.

"Do you want to come with me while Fang buys the costumes?" Adrian asked, passing Fang hers and her money for it. Fang looked down at Angel. She was shaking her head back and forth quickly. "Come on Angel."

"Fang, where's Max?" Angel asked, staring at Adrian's hand like it was poison. "I don't like Adrian, I want Max."

Adrian was stung.

"Angel, just go with Adrian," Fang murmured. "I'll be there soon." Angel looked unhappy but did as Fang asked and Iggy came with Fang to the counter.

"Yo Fang, my grandparents sent a whole bunch of money down for my birthday," Iggy said. "I put most of it towards my car fund but I saved a little. Christmas present for Ella. What do you think I should get her?"

"Jewellery?" Fang suggested, shrugging.

"What kind though?" Iggy was frowning at Fang.

"I have no idea."

"What do you get a girl you like?"

Fang shrugged as they paid for their costumes and then joined Adrian and Angel, the latter of whom went straight to Fang, holding his hand and standing close to him for comfort. She really didn't like Adrian.

The four of them walked up the street from the costume warehouse to an ice-cream parlour, Fang wishing Max were with them while Angel chattered away about how much she was looking forward to trick-or-treating with Ella, Nudge, Iggy, Damen and Gazzy.


"Max, this is so you!" Ella stated and I walked over to where she was looking. It was an angel costume with really pretty white wings that were made out of faux feathers. I frowned at it, not very sure about wearing it.

"It's nice and all," I commented.

"It's the only costume you'll wear and it's the only one you've said is nice," Nudge stated, sucking on her lolly pop. "I think you should get it."

I sighed. It would involve wearing a mid-thigh white dress with a slit up the right thigh. There was a pair of knee-length white leggings to wear underneath and tight white boots. There was gold highlighting on everything except the wings.

"Yeah, alright then," I agreed, taking my size from the hook. Ella had a witch costume and Nudge was going as a zombie-model. They both looked completely awesome in the costumes and had make-up plans ahead.

So when we'd paid for our costumes we traipsed over to the mall and I stood around while Nudge and Ella found make-up to work with each of our costumes and then we escaped the shop full of bitches from my school and I wanted to go and see Matt in Music World.

Nudge and Ella went straight to the music stands and I walked around until I found Matt cleaning the drum kit that they had on display in the front window of the instrument section of the store.

"Yo Max!" Matt said as I walked over. I smiled brightly at him. "Feeling better?"

"Heaps," I replied. "My side still kills but I'm on painkillers and anti-infection medication so that helps."

"Good." Matt tipped a drop of bronze-cleaner onto a cloth and rubbed the high-hat until it was shiny and clean. "Fang told me about that Halloween Party."


"Carl's staking the house out for yous. Jake and I are going to go with the others while they're trick-or-treating. I called your Mum and she feels better with all that." Matt sat back on his heels and chuckled to himself. "She doesn't seem to like gangs but she has a lot of faith in Carl and Jake."

"Well they have been protecting us," I replied, sitting down on a box next to Matt. "What else did Fang say?"

"That he's sick of his girlfriend," Matt stated, tapping the bass drum to make sure it was okay. I froze. Fang was sick of Adrian? I knew they'd been fighting but him being sick of her was news. Matt looked at me with a frown. "I guess I shouldn't have told you that."

"Fang didn't tell me that," I muttered, slightly hurt. Why wouldn't he have told me? We told each other everything.

"Okay well don't tell him I told you then." Matt came over and sat on a box next to me. "I know you really hated Adrian, to tell you the truth I didn't really like Fang's choice either. The girl can sing, that's for sure but she's not his type and she doesn't get him. I think the reason he didn't tell you that he was tired of her because he didn't want to admit that you were right. It's a male pride thing. Fang still cares about you a whole lot. You should have seen his face after you got shot. He looked as though he might die if you did. I haven't seen someone so upset in a while."

I frowned, clasping my hands between my knees and then I looked at Matt. "Do you like Zac?" I was kind of worried. I really liked Matt and didn't want him to disapprove of m choice.

"Yeah, he's cool." Matt smiled. "Really nice. I don't think he is ever mad."

I smiled. "So… what did Fang say exactly about Adrian?"

"That she was really clingy and kept insulting his friends and he was just sick of her being a bitch." Matt shrugged. "Nothing more, really. Oh and something about her being a flirt."

"Okay." I frowned. So Fang was sick of her… would he dump her? Then he could spend more time than me. I smiled automatically. I'd felt like I was losing Fang when he really liked Adrian but now… now I felt hope that I'd get him back. That made me feel… happy.

"So, when's your next gig?" Matt asked.

"Um… you know the New Year's Concert where we're opening our musical?" I replied.


"Well they have musical acts on before the musical. The music class are doing some performances and then we're on before the musical starts because Fang and I aren't even on at the start."

"Cool, I am so there." I rolled my eyes at Matt. "I'll drag Jake along too."

"Sure," I laughed. "Do you think the two of you will sit through Les Mis as well?"

"It's the opening show, of course we'll sit through it." Matt winked at me, smiling. "You and Fang have to kiss in the play right?"

I flushed and didn't say anything.

"I'll take that as a yes," Matt chuckled. "It'd be worth it to sit through the Phantom of the Opera if I had to just to see that."

I pushed Matt playfully. "You're horrible."

"But you love me."

I rolled my eyes and heard Nudge and Ella calling out to me. Matt and I stood up and went out. He smiled at me and gave me a gentle one-armed hug and I leant my head on his shoulder.

"See you later, okay?" Matt said.

"Yeah, later," I replied.

"See you girls for trick-or-treating on Saturday," Matt said, waving us out of Music World where Nudge and Ella had bought a gazillion CDs… again. I looked back and waved to Matt, remembering what he'd said about Adrian and feeling so much lighter for it.


I climbed out of the car just as the front door of Fang's house burst open and Angel rushed out. She looked so, so, so adorable in her fairy princess outfit so when I hugged her I was careful not to disrupt it.

"Have fun," I told her as she climbed into the car with Ella and Nudge. Mum waved to me and I shifted my bag on my shoulder as she drove away to meet with Iggy, Damen and Gazzy to go trick-or-treating. Matt and Jake were waiting with the boys.

"Yo, where's the costume?"

I turned around and smiled at Fang as he leant in the doorway, smirking at me.

"You're not in costume yet, either," I replied. Fang shrugged and waved me inside. Alice and Peter were busy getting ready for the party that Peter's boss threw every Halloween. Alice was dressed as a Cleopatra and Peter as Antony.

"Hi Max!" Alice said as she was putting on her hoop earrings.

"Hi Al," I replied. "You look great."

"Thanks, hon." Alice smiled at me and then darted into her bedroom to help Peter with his cloak and I followed Fang into his room and dropped my bag on the floor. He was watching his parents, laughing slightly.

"This gets funnier every year," he chuckled.

"You're awful," I replied. "Just plain evil."

"Yeah, I know." Fang chuckled. "Go and get changed. When is Zac picking us up?"

"At seven," I replied. Fang glanced at his clock. Six-thirty. Fang's parents shouted goodbye to us as they left the house and then Fang shooed me into the bathroom to change. I did my make-up with all the gold glitter on my face and through my hair and then did thick eye-liner and glittery mascara. It looked kind of cool but seriously, why did Nudge have to buy me so much make-up?

I pulled my wings on and checked myself in the mirror. I looked pretty damn cool. I went out to see Fang shrugging into a black cloak. His costume was all black and he'd gotten a fake earring with a silver fang on it. His hair was gelled into disarray on his head and his fringe was more emo than normal.

"You look wicked," I told him. Actually, he looked hot. And I feel no shame in admitting that. It was true. Fang rolled his eyes at me.

"You look… angelic," he teased. His eyes- well the eyes that I could actually see- were soft and warm. I tried not to blush as what he was expressing in his eyes. I rolled my eyes at him and then I heard a car pull up outside and beep the horn.

"Must be Zac," Fang said.

"He's early," I replied. We shrugged and went outside. Zac was sitting in his shiny Toyota and Fang and I went over to him. He was dressed as a vampire and when he smiled my heart did a triple flip and my legs did the whole jell-o thing. Annoying as all get out, I must say.

"You look gorgeous," he told me as I sat in the front seat. "Whoa dude, cool." Fang chuckled slightly.

"You look evil," he told Zac. I was glad to see that Fang was being kind and polite for a change. It must be Halloween. Holidays have an adverse effect on Fang, it's kind of funny.

We drove to Chase's house and Zac parked on the curb and we all got out of the car. Music was already thumping loudly inside and I could hear a tonne of voices. Uh-oh. My demophobia was starting to creep on me.

Fang gave me a comforting look and Zac took my hand.

"I hate parties," I commented. "I forgot until now."

"That's okay," Zac whispered. "You'll be fine." Fang nodded at me, smiling encouragingly and we walked up to the house and Zac rang the door bell. Chase opened the door and grinned at us, holding a drink in his hand.

"Welcome, friends!" he boomed.

"Hi Chase," Zac said. Chase was wearing his football gear. I don't think that really classifies as a costume but oh well. He let us in and Fang touched my shoulder gently.

"I'm going to find Adrian," he murmured. Zac was hailed by some football guys so I slipped away from him.

"I'll come with you," I whispered and Fang and I traipsed off to try and navigate the sea of bodies as best we could. You know what? I had a bad feeling about this.

28. Sophomore 11

Okay this time I'm gonna keep it short! I'm glad you guys liked the last chapter and were patient with my Sydney trip meaning I couldn't update so here's your next chapter, I hope you like it because I do. And, just to let you know, I used ANOTHER line section from the series in here. I keep doing it because it makes it seem more... Maximum Ridey, if you get what I mean.

Okay, enjoy.

A mass of bodies surrounded us and Fang grabbed my hand and tugged me through, keeping a tight hold on me so that we wouldn't get separated. We couldn't see Adrian around here so Fang pulled me towards the stairs.

"Why would she be up here?" I asked as we went up, moving around couples making out on the stairs. That was kind of disturbing. Couldn't they keep their tongues out of each other's mouths for a night?

"Dunno but there are less people up here," Fang replied. We reached the landing and looked around. I couldn't see Adrian so I leant on the railing and then we heard laughter and I recognised Adrian's laugh.

"What?" I asked as Fang went rigid. I knew he was still uptight about their relationship- I was trying not to get my hopes up about the whole Fang getting sick of Adrian thing- but I still didn't understand the freeze motion.

Then I heard another laugh and Adrian laughed again. Fang and I looked at each other and walked towards the room we could hear the laughter from. It was the bathroom and Adrian and Chase were in here. Adrian was sitting on the cabinet and Chase was standing between her legs, holding her close with his tongue stuck down her throat. So not a pleasant sight.

Wide-eyed and shocked I glanced at Fang, afraid of his reaction. He was scary when he was mad. But he looked relatively calm. I could see his tight jaw and flashing eyes though. I hoped he wouldn't start a fist fight. I had a feeling Zac would back him but none of the other seniors would.

Fang just stood there, his eyes dark so I decided to break up the disgusting scene in front of us.

"Hey!" I shouted. Adrian and Chase broke apart and she made a strangled squeaking noise before untangling her limbs from around Chase and jumping down from the basin.


"Don't start!" I hissed. "You-"

"Max," Fang said softly and I glanced at him sideways. He shook his head at me and I stopped. I should let him deal with this. It was his girlfriend.

"Adrian," Fang sighed. "Why?" He didn't sound too upset, more like he was going through the motions.

"Because you don't pay me enough attention!" Adrian snapped. "Maybe if-"

"Maybe I would have if you were nicer to my friends and made an attempt to get along with them!" Fang snapped before she could say anything else.

"Fine, we're through!" Adrian snarled.

Fang shrugged. "Good, I was going to do it tonight anyway."

"Do what?" Chase and I asked together and I threw him a dark look.

"Break up with her," Fang told me. "This just saves me the trouble. Come on Max, I'm thirsty."

"Hey!" Adrian shouted, stopping us from walking out. Fang looked at her expectantly. "That's it?" she asked.

"Uh yeah," Fang replied. I frowned. This was so not like him.

"You're not even going to fight me?"

"Like I said, I was planning on breaking up with you." Fang looked her over. "I don't date skanks."

My jaw dropped and so did Chase's but Adrian just took a stumbling step backwards and her eyes filled with tears. Okay I was thinking it. Everybody who was thinking it raise your hands? A lot of you? Yeah I thought so but Fang should not have said that.

"You don't mean that," she whispered.

"I kind of do," Fang replied coolly. What was with him?

"Fang," I murmured but he ignored me.

"This is it," he said. "See you." He turned and left and I took one last look at Adrian- yeah I hated her but I couldn't help but feel bad that he boyfriend had called her a skank- and then I followed Fang, grabbing his arm.

"I know she is one and she deserved it but that was uncalled for from you," I said. "I should have said it." Fang glanced at me and shrugged and I gaped at him as he kept walking.

"Fang!" I complained. "That was so, so horrible. Up until a minute ago she was your girlfriend! You can't say that to her even if it is true!"

"Max, I'm sick of the way she acts," Fang replied.

"That doesn't give you-" I shook my head. "What has happened to you? I feel like I hardly know you."

Fang turned and looked at me, frowning. He seemed to be assessing my upset expression and then he sighed and shrugged.

"I dunno Max," he muttered. I growled and stamped my foot, then realised how childish it was.

"Fine! Don't talk to me until your sort your attitude out, and I mean it Fang!" I snarled and he blinked.

"But, you're staying at my house!"

"So? Sort yourself out before we go home then." I stormed down the stairs and felt Fang staring after me. It was his fault. If he wanted to be an arse than he could be, I wasn't stopping him.

I went into the kitchen and filled a large cup with some of the punch on the counter and drank it all quickly and then I filled another one and left the kitchen drinking as I went. I found somebody from my year to talk to and we chatted and I drank all the punch. It tasted kind of funny.

"Excuse me," I muttered and went to get another cupful, nearly tripping and doing a face plant but I wanted more of the funny tasting drink. Anything to stop me thinking about how messed up the last few weeks have made my life. I sipped the drink and started down the hall towards the living room where I thought Zac might be. I stumbled slightly and leant on the wall. Whoa my head was thumping so badly and my legs felt like they'd been made of jell-o and- Whoa those lights were so pretty.


I looked around at Fang who was frowning at me. I waved to him, accidentally slopping my punch everywhere.

"Hi Fang!" I said, my words came out slightly slurred… hmm, weird.

"Max? Have you been drinking?" Fang demanded coming over to me. He put one arm around me to support me and took my drink and sniffed it.

"I haven't been drinking!" I exclaimed. "Give me that!" I made a swipe for it but Fang kept it out of my reach. "Fang!"


Uh-oh. Zac. I giggled slightly as he came up to us. I waved to him and stumbled slightly and he caught me in his arms.

"Is she drunk?" he asked Fang. Fang frowned.

"I think so," he replied. He took a sip of my punch and I felt really annoyed. I was not drinking! Why would he think I was? I stumbled again so I decided to lean on Zac, it was taking away some of my dizziness but my head was still throbbing.

"Urgh, Max I think this has vodka in it," Fang stated. "Vodka doesn't have a strong taste but this definitely does not take like punch."

"Someone spiked the punch?" Zac asked. Then he frowned. "No, Chase was have done it on purpose. That loser."

"I'll go teach him a lesson," Fang stated thrusting the cup at Zac but Zac didn't take it, he instead grabbed Fang's arm and held him in place. I wanted to go to sleep, I felt so tired.

"Not a good idea, let's just get Max out of here," Zac said. Fang looked torn between wanting to go and smash Chase's face- he now had two reasons- and wanting to help me. I hoped he didn't pick the first one, I felt like I was about to collapse and I wanted to see Fang deck Chase, not just hear about it later.

"Alright," Fang sighed. "Come on." He dropped the drink making sure that the red spread into the nice cream carpet and came over to my other side and supported me around the waist, pulling my arm over his shoulder. Zac did the same on my other side and they helped me out of the house.

"Where to?" Fang asked.

"My car," Zac replied. I don't remember reaching the car. I think I fell unconscious.


Fang rested Max's head in his lap as Zac started the car. He pulled away from Chase's party and Fang was glad Iggy hadn't ended up coming. Maybe Fang should have gone trick-or-treating with the others, it would have been better.

"To your place?" Zac asked.

"Sure," Fang replied. "My parents are probably still at Dad's company party so I'll get Max asleep before they come home. What time is it?"

"About ten," Zac said.

"Angel will be over at Iggy's place with the others, that's cool." Fang looked down at Max's face and his heart swelled as he once again noticed how unbelievably beautiful she was.

Zac pulled up outside of Fang's house and carried Max to the front door as Fang unlocked it. Zac took Max down to Fang room, his forehead creasing as he did so. Fang ignored it, Zac would just have to put up with it because Fang wasn't putting Max on a lounge when she was drunk.

"Just put her here," Fang said. "I'll go and find her pyjamas and put them on the bed for her when she wakes up."

"Okay," Zac agreed, taking off Max's wings. Fang found Max's bag and tossed her pyjamas onto the bed near her and then pulled his quilt over her. He and Zac left her and went into the kitchen. Zac was still frowning so Fang sighed.

"If it makes you feel better I'll sleep on the lounge," Fang sighed, gesturing to the living room. Zac was surprised.

"What? No, it's okay," Zac laughed. "I know you and Max have slept in the same bed before it's just that… well, I'm allowed to be a tiny bit jealous aren't I?"

Fang actually laughed. As much as he disliked Zac for going out with Max, he still really liked him as a person. He was funny, smart, honest and he was always nice to people no matter who they were. Zac was a shoe in for Valedictorian this year. It was between him and Fang's friend Sasha Newton, this year's student body president.

"Okay, fair enough," Fang said. "I probably won't sleep anyway. I'll just sit on the window seat, drawing the garden."

"Max mentioned that you were a fantastic drawer along with your musical and acting skills," Zac chuckled. "A very artistic guy, aren't you?"

Fang shrugged modestly.

"You know, she always talks about you." Fang looked up. Zac didn't sound bitter or resentful, more like thoughtful, really. "It makes me kind of jealous- not in the I-wanna-rip-your-head-off way but in the I-wish-I-had-that-part-of-her-heart way."

"You have her heart," Fang replied.

"Not all of it." Zac smiled. "You have a connection with her that I can never hope to have. I just have to be happy with what I get but I'll never be the first person she goes to, I'll never be the one who she rushes to first if both of us were hurt. You have the first place in her heart whether it's plutonic or not, that's your place and nobody else will ever have it."

Fang sighed. "Sorry, man." He felt kind of bad that he was keeping Max from being completely totally committed to Zac. It wasn't liked she loved Fang it was just that well, like Zac said, she trusted Fang in a way that she couldn't trust anyone else. That was just how Max was. She only put her complete and total faith in one individual and Fang was lucky enough to be that one person. He didn't think he deserved it but he was grateful to have it.

"Nah, it's okay." Zac laughed. "I'm happy to be with her… I guess, I guess I'm kind of falling in love with her and I wanted to ask you if that was okay. Normally it would be her father or brother I should be asking but I don't know her father and her brother is younger than her so I thought I should ask you, her best friend, practically her brother."

Fang smiled and then laughed slightly. "You're asking for my blessing?" he asked. Zac nodded. "Well, just because you've amused me greatly I'll give it you; just don't hurt her, alright? It would kill me if she got her heart broken."

"I know. Thanks man." Zac clapped Fang on the shoulder. "I should probably head home. See you at school."

"Later." Fang watched Zac leave and listen to his car pulling away. Okay, Max had made a good choice in a guy. Fang was going to have to accept him no matter what now. If Max loved Zac then Fang would live with it, as long as she was happy.

Fang went down to his room and looked at Max. She was stirring slightly as he came into the room.

"Fang?" she asked, slurring his name.

"I'm here," Fang replied. He knelt down beside her and she rolled onto her side and look at him.

"I'm glad you're here," she murmured. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

Fang chuckled. "You'd be fine." Secretly his heart was thumping loudly and he felt warmed by her statement even if it was a drunken one. Drunk Max was just like half-asleep Max, she was completely and totally honest.

"No I wouldn't," Max replied. "I would be unfine, totally unfine." Fang blushed slightly as Max reached out and took his hand.



"Fang, I love you," Max whispered. "I love you, so much. This much actually." She dropped his hand and rolled onto her back to hold out her arms. "See? I love you a lot."

Fang's heart stuttered slightly and he tried to remind himself that she was drunk.

But she's completely honest!

She's drunk she has no control over herself, she's probably only meaning as a best friend and brother.

But she said she loves me.

Only as a best friend.

The argument inside Fang's head was rather annoying so he ignored it and patted Max's hair.

"You just go to sleep, alright?" he said, his voice shaking slightly. Max's eyes shut and she smiled slightly. Fang touched her cheek and then went and sat on the window seat. Yeah, like he'd be able to sleep now.

29. Sophomore 12

Okay sorry but this chapter is shorter than usual but I wanted to update for you guys since I left it a few days due to study for exams. Urgh only two more to go and then I should be free for a bit to write as much as I want, I promise. This chapter has some Fax in it and also something that you've all been waiting patiently for, so enjoy.

I woke up, my head hurting and my mind slightly hazy. I sat up slowly and spotted a bundle of blankets on the window seat. Fang must have crashed there. I felt bad for taking up the bed. He could have slept up here with me. He usually did.

Then, with a painful throb of my head, I remembered that I had gotten drunk from vodka-punch and Fang and Zac had had to drag me home. Urgh. Everything was really hazy and then I felt my face flushed as a few scraps of conversation came back to me.

"I love you so much?" I whispered to myself, appalled. I dropped my face into my hands, trying to ignore the headache- not as a bad as one of those awful hang overs where you can't remember anything from the night before I would imagine but still bad enough to make me never drink again.

The door opened and Fang came in with a tray laden with pancakes, a cup of coffee and a glass of juice. He's also included a little plastic container with two Tylenol capsules in it. I sighed and smiled at Fang as he laid the tray across my lap.

"You're an angel," I murmured.

"I don't know about that," Fang replied. I took the Tylenol with a mouthful of juice and drank the whole glass quickly, enjoying the cold and then I drank some of the coffee. I waited to see if my stomach would object to liquid before taking a test bite of the pancakes. I was not about to throw up so I dug in.

I felt Fang's eyes on me and blushed automatically. I was going to have to set him straight as soon as I was good to stand up on my own. Fang sat down with his acoustic guitar and started playing, humming.

"What is our playlist for the New Year's concert?" I asked.

"Steve's choosing most of the songs," Fang replied without looking at me. "But I picked one song."

"Which one?" I asked, taking another sip of the strong coffee. Oh man it was sooo good.

"Comatose by Skillet, not usually my kind of music but Damen loves it and introduced me to the band and I like Comatose," Fang explained. He looked at me and smiled. I finished off my breakfast while Fang played an Irish jig softly.

"By the way, I've given myself an attitude adjustment," Fang muttered. I didn't say anything. "You were right, I shouldn't have said that Adrian no matter how angry I was. It was stupid and wrong and not like me. So I've decided to revert to being exactly who I am, no less."

"That's good," I said, smiling at him. Fang shrugged. "I'll be glad to have my best friend back. Everyone will be glad to have you back."

"Angel will be glad Adrian is gone." I laughed and rank the rest of my coffee.

Fang finished his song and then he took my tray out while I got changed from my angel costume into some jeans and a t-shirt as Fang came back, still not meeting my eyes. I groaned and he looked at me.

"What?" he asked.

"Look, about what I said last night," I muttered.

"About you professing your undying love for me?" Fang asked, an evil smile on his face. I flushed angrily.

"That's a bit of an exaggeration. Besides I was drunk, I didn't mean it. I do love you but only as my best friend, you knew that."

"Sure," Fang drawled. I glowered at him.

"I don't love you," I snarled.

"You keep telling yourself that. You looove me," Fang teased. I tried to punch him but he ducked and laughed at my angry face. "Go pick a tree. I'll carve our initials into it."

"I'll carve something into you if you're not careful," I growled.

Fang chuckled and I pounced at him, he caught me around the waist and tossed me with ease onto his bed and I knelt up and glowered at him. Fang leant over to me, smirking and I was so, so tempted to punch him but knew it wouldn't work.

"Aw, is Max cranky?" Fang asked. My headache was only just starting to fade and Fang tossing me had made me really dizzy so I held my head as I glared at him. "Max?"

"Just feeling kind of dizzy," I murmured, swaying slightly. Fang slipped up behind me and took my shoulders and pulled me back. "No, Fang, I'm fine." I had my eyes closed to get rid of the dizziness but Fang ignored me and pulled me back until my shoulders and head were lying in his lap and my head resting against his stomach.

"Just relax," Fang murmured in a voice that sent my whole body into tiny little electric buzzes with butterflies assaulting my stomach. I ignored them, it was only an effect of the headache. Fang's strong fingers gently rubbed soothing circles into my temples. I felt myself relax immediately and he ran a hand through my hair.

"Mmm," I mumbled.

"Feel better?" Fang asked, still massaging my temples soothingly. His legs were so comfortably and his stomach was the perfect combination of muscle yet soft. I smiled slightly and relaxed completely feeling my headache ebb away as Fang gave me a soothing massage.

"That feels so good," I murmured. Fang chuckled and I rolled onto my side, Fang shifting slightly so I could lay my head on his stomach properly. He ran a hand through my hair gently several times as I got comfortable.

"Are you about to fall asleep?" Fang whispered, his voice like a gentle mist on a spring morning, so soft and peaceful. I nodded slightly- as best I could while lying down- and felt myself nodding off, soothed by Fang's hand on my hair and comfortable lying with him as my pillow.


On Monday Fang was so much more like himself than he had been in a while. Iggy told us all about the trick-or-treating and how the highlight had been Damen giving Nudge a goodnight kiss on the cheek before leaving and the look of dreamy-embarrassment on Nudge's face had been priceless; especially when Angel and Gazzy started going 'ooooo' and giggling ecstatically.

The three of us sat together, Zac coming over to say good morning to me and joining in our conversation. Fang seemed so much more accepting of Zac- I wonder what they'd talked about while I'd been unconscious. We couldn't stop laughing when Iggy told us about the ten year old coming up and spraying Matt and Jake with black silly string and then disappearing into the night.

"See you all at lunch," Zac said when the bell went. He leant down and kissed my cheek. "I love you, Max." I froze and then a blush coloured my cheeks and my heart swelled.

"I love you too," I whispered as quietly as I could but Fang and Iggy still heard me and I could hear them breathing as they laughed silently. Zac and I hugged tightly for another moment and then he went away and, my face still bright red, I turned and looked at Fang and Iggy who were failing at keeping straight faces.

"Let's go," I mumbled.

"Later," Iggy snickered and loped off casually. Fang stared at me in amusement but there was something else in his expression that I couldn't identify. It was slightly awkward as we walked to homeroom together. I played with some of my hair absently.

"So… do you love him?" Fang finally asked.

"Um…" I thought for a moment then shook my head. "I really don't know. It feels really strong but… I just don't know, but I couldn't say nothing to that, could I?"

"I guess not." Fang smiled slightly at me and I blushed again and looked away. I had some issues that needed resolving, seriously.


In the PE change rooms I was on my own with only a couple other girls for a few minutes when Adrian came in, a group of girls behind her. She spotted me at the same time that my eyes locked onto her and then it was an all out staring contest and let me tell you, nobody is better at the death stares than I am. I can look cold and mean when I want to. Adrian has nothing on me.

"So, have fun with Chase?" I asked casually. There was silence all around the change rooms. Nobody moved a muscle and all eyes were locked onto us. It had spread around the school pretty quickly what had happened at the party.

"At least I didn't get drunk and have to be carried out of the party," Adrian sneered. I straightened up slightly and looked at her calmly.

"At least I was being taken care of by Fang. Even if you'd broken your back he wouldn't have been there. He was taking care of me." I folded my arms. I gotta say- I strike a very imposing image when I want to.

Adrian's eyes flashed with anger and hurt and it seemed like all of the girls in the change rooms were holding their breath. I kicked my PE bag under a bench and stepped closer to Adrian as he hands clenched into fists.

"I don't care that we're finished!" Adrian almost shouted. "I'm glad he's out of my life!"

"So is he," I replied, brushing past her.

"He shouldn't be glad. He should be on his knees begging my forgiveness but I wouldn't give it to him. I'm far too good for that loser."

I froze.

Nothing pisses me off more than someone insulting the people I love- and if anybody relates that statement to what I said when I was drunk I will cheerfully rip your arms off and beat you to death with them- so Adrian's statement sent heated anger through my body and I took a deep breath, trying to control myself.

"Say that again," I said, turning around and looking at Adrian, my hands clenched into fists.

Adrian stepped closer to me, her face set into a hard, arrogant mask.

"I'm too good for a loser like Nick Ride," she said, slowly and surely. And within the next second my hand had snapped back and then connected hard with her nose causing it to break and blood to start streaming down her face as she stumbled backwards. Several other girls caught her and steadied her and she blinked several times, tears running down her face from pain.

"Don't you ever, ever say that about Fang again or you'll think that a broken nose is fun," I growled darkly and turned on my heel, walking up the gym for the class, leaving a shocked silence in my wake.

I walked up to the gym and joined Fang who was stretching over at the wall. I started stretching with him but notice that his eyes were trained onto a spot over my shoulder. I glanced over there and blinked. Adrian with a nose bleed, storming out of the change rooms. She rushed over to the teacher and I groaned.

"Max," Fang sighed in that too-patient tone he got when he knew I'd done something bad. "Did you do that?"

"She was trash-talking you," I protested. "I couldn't let her do that."


"Maximum Martinez! Go to the principal's office!" Coach shouted. I rolled my eyes and Fang shrugged at me. I went down to the change rooms and grabbed my bag as I headed out. Then I walked towards Mr Turner's office. I wasn't looking forward to this. I hated Mr Turner so much- which you probably all have picked up on by now.

I told the secretary that I had to see him and she buzzed me through.

"Miss Martinez," Mr Turner said looking up at me with his piggy little eyes. I resisted the urge to cringe. "Take a seat."

"Hi," I said lamely.

"Why have you been sent here?" Mr Turner asked.

"I, apparently, punched one of the girls in my PE class."

"Apparently?" His face started to get redder than normal.

"I had a seizure, it happens all of the time." I waited and he just glared at me and then, he smiled. It was an awful effect but I swear he smiled. Actually smiled. Like a real human being. And it was an amused smile.

"I haven't heard that excuse before," he chuckled. Yuck, awful sound but seriously? He found it funny. "I've heard 'I tripped' and 'I missed a high-five' and the classic, 'their face hit my fist' but I've never heard 'I had a seizure' before."

I started laughing too when I realised how weird it sounded but it had been the first thing that popped into my head and sarcasm and the art of smart-arsery are both conditioned reflexes and mine are perfect.

Then we both stopped laughing and Mr Turner eyed me.

"I can't suspend you because of the musical and you made my day with that remark, Miss Martinez but I have to punish you," Mr Turner said. I just waited. It was worth it. Adrian had deserved to be introduced to Max I or was it Max II I'm not sure which but one of them. "An afternoon detention next Monday, be there."

"Sure," I replied. I stood and left but Mr Turner cleared his throat and I looked back at him.

"Don't think you can get off so easy again Miss Martinez, nobody can come up with such amusing statements every time that they fall out of line," Mr Turner said and I just smirked. I could. I could do anything. I was Max after all.

30. Sophomore 13

I liked this chapter, it has some Fax in it and an awesome song. By the way, Comatose - Skillet was a song suggested to me by wingz-of-darkness for its lyrics because it fits with how Fang feels about Max, so thanks for the suggestion because now I love the song and Skillet is now on my 'Bands I must Listen To' list. Okay sorry about the long wait guys, I'll try and update fast from here on out!

"Brilliant, brilliant!" Miss Alike was cheering. Fang and I were hiding in the downstairs change rooms, relaxing. We'd been practising so much lately that I fear my vocal cords were going to snap in two if I sang one more note.

"Woo, that was a lot of work," Fang muttered, sinking down on the comfortable lounge, looking casually hot. Did I just say that? I really have to stop commenting on Fang's looks. Okay everybody, Fang is hot! I admit it. Now I can stop mentioning that he looks hot all of the time.

"I know," I replied. I jumped up from my seat and mimed singing opera. "It's like we're going to be performing for the President or something."

"I know what you mean." Fang chuckled and stood up. "Thankyou Mr President! It was a pleasure performing for you! Sorry for the awful quality of my partner's voice."

I slapped Fang's arm and he chuckled, ducking as I picked up a cushion and started beating him with it. He was laughing and I was laughing too.

It had been so much fun lately. Fang was so much lighter and happier now that Adrian was out of his life. Every time they were on stage together it was all Zac and I could do not to burst into fits of laughter due to the dark looks Adrian threw at Fang and the sarcastic comments he kept making about her.

"Max! Leave me alone!" Fang laughed. "Please!"

"Not likely!" I replied and dropped the pillow, tackling him onto the lounge and beginning to tickle him. Fang is very, very tickling under his arms and on his stomach. He's also tickling under his knees but I refrained from tickling him there because he usually kicked me.

"Max! Stop… it!" Fang gasped, laughing. His laugh when he's being tickled is so much different to his usual laugh. I like it. I think it's cute- like puppy dog cute, not Orlando Bloom cute. Fang managed to push me off and we fell off the lounge together and burst out laughing again. God my sides were starting to hurt. I climbed off Fang and sat next to him.

Fang looked at me, still smiling but his laughter dying down. He shook his hair and my stomach gave a little flip but I ignored it. I don't know what is going on with me these days. I was trying to ignore my stupid hormonal reactions that my body had to my drop-dead-gorgeous best friend.

"So, there's something we haven't practised," Fang said.

I frowned. I was pretty sure we'd run through every scene. "No there isn't." I looked at him, eyebrows raised.

"Yes there is," Fang replied. He smirked at me. "We haven't practised the kiss yet." I felt my face flush as Fang snickered. "Or do you count Spring Fling as the practise for that?"

I ignored him, folding my arms and trying not to let him see how annoyed and embarrassed I was that he was bringing this up. "I have had enough practise kissing with Zac thank you," I snapped. "I don't need practising. You on the other hand."

"What about me?" Fang demanded. "I'm a perfectly good kisser."

"Are not."

"Are too."

"Are not."

"How do you know? You've never kissed me properly." Fang gave me a challenging look and I flushed again and I noticed that his cheeks were fading from a pinkish colour. He'd been blushing? Why?

We were locked in a stare out now.

"Is that a challenge Mr Ride?" I asked.

"It might be, Miss Martinez," Fang replied. Then he gave me a smug look. "Do you want to see how brilliant I am at the art of kissing?"

"No!" I nearly shrieked my answer at him.

"But you love me, Max!" Fang teased. "You love me, this much!"

"I hate you!" I shrieked, shoving him but Fang caught my hands and stopped me from moving. We were kind of close. I could count his eye lashes and see the pretty gold glints in his eyes.

"No you don't," he whispered. We stared at each other for a moment and I studied his eyes. I don't know what I was looking for but I wanted to know what was on his mind. He'd been kind of closed off lately but sometimes I caught him looking at me with some weird expression on his face and right now his eyes were so affectionate that I shivered. It was such an intense expression that I couldn't look away.

I swallowed and leant forward, not understanding what was happening but I was caught with an overwhelming urge and so I was acting upon it. Yeah, I'm impulsive, get over it. I leant really close to Fang so that our noses were touching slightly and then I kissed him, right on the mouth.

Fang froze slightly but before I really understood what was happening, his arms were pulling me closer to him and we were kissing, his lips moving in perfect synchronization with mine. Then a few electrons in my brain started whizzing around again and I realised what I was doing and remembered that I had a boyfriend… who I loved!

I pulled away from Fang and scrambled backwards, breathing raggedly. Fang blinked several times and looked at me, a hurt expression in his eyes so I dropped my gaze. Oh no. Why was that there? Why had I kissed him? Why had he kissed me back? What was going on?

"I… um…" I stood up and turned my back to Fang, hugging myself around the stomach. I couldn't deal with this right now. So many thoughts and feelings were running through my head and I just couldn't deal with the intensity of them all pressing down on me at once.

"Max-" Fang said standing up but I cut him off.

"I've got to go, Mum will be picking me up in ten minutes," I mumbled and grabbed my bag on the way out, not bothering to look back at Fang once. I'd get excused by Miss Alike and then find somewhere quiet to sit down and hyperventilate.


Fang watched Max leave and then dropped down onto the couch and groaned loudly, dropping his head into his hands. He'd messed up. He'd messed up so badly. Sure she had started it but he should have stopped her and then this wouldn't have happened.

He wanted to keep Max as a friend more than he wanted to be with her. Any connection with her was better than distancing her from his because of his stupid feelings that he couldn't ignored.

"You are such an idiot," he sighed at himself.

Fang sat on his own until it was time to leave and he heard everyone moving around upstairs. He grabbed his bag and managed to slip out of the auditorium unnoticed by anyone. He took the long way home. Dusk was falling and he could see the twinkle of the evening star in the lilac sky.

He breathed in the cool air and counted back in his head. Not long until Christmas now. He focused on that to clear his mind and think straight. It wasn't long before he realised that he was being an idiot walking the streets on his own. He stopped outside of a corner store and leant on the wall, pulling out his phone.

He quickly found Jake's number. The gangster answered on the second ring.

"Everything okay, Fang?" he asked.

"Sorry, Jake, I'm on Bourke Street, corner store," Fang said. "I was walking on my own and then realised I was being an idiot. Where are you?"

"Two streets up," Jake said. "I'll be there in a second."


Fang hung up and shoved his cell phone into his pocket. He glanced into the window of the corner store and noticed a very bored looking girl working on the counter. She was looking at him, saw him looking back and smiled. She waved to him, beckoning him in.

Fang pushed the door open and the girl smiled at him.

"Hi," Fang said.

"Hi, you looked kind of upset and lonely," the girl replied. "I'm Alison."

"I'm Nick, call me Fang," Fang replied. "And yeah, you're right."

"Did you want someone to talk to?" Alison seemed nice enough but Fang didn't want to unload his tragic life to her so he just shook his head.

"I would like a coke though," Fang replied. Alison smiled and obliged, throwing in a free mars bar, telling Fang to cheer up at the same time. He smiled, paid and left. Jake showed up on a motorbike a few seconds later as Fang drank half of the coke.

"Whoa," Fang breathed as Jake turned the bike off and pulled his helmet off. The bike was a black Harley with red flames painted over the body. Fang glanced it over. He'd always wanted a bike but his parents told him he had to buy his own. "Sweet ride."

"Thanks, man," Jake replied. "Ready to go?" Fang shoved his drink and chocolate into his bag and Jake tossed him a spare helmet and Fang put it on. "Do you want to go straight home?"

"Why not? Mum will be worried," Fang replied. Jake nodded as Fang climbed onto bike behind him. He was slightly annoyed about having to hold onto Jake to avoid falling off but decided to ignore his stupid male pride. He'd rather not die, thank you very much.

Jake pulled up outside of Fang's house five minutes later and Fang climbed off, giving Jake the helmet back.

"Thanks for that," he said.

"No problem. I'm glad you remembered because I'd spotted a G51 guy walking around about three minutes before I got your call," Jake replied. "Check you later, man."

"See you." Jake sped off and Fang turned and went inside, barely saying hello to his family before locking himself in his room and settling down his guitar on the window seat. He hummed slightly as he played. The lyrics to Comatose were floating around his head so he changed the tune and started playing properly.

He'd picked Comatose because the lyrics fitted his feelings for Max pretty well. It hurt a lot but he could deal because she was still his best friend… hopefully after what had just happened.

"I hate feeling like this
I'm so tired of trying to fight this
I'm asleep and all I dream of
Is waking to you

Tell me that you will listen
Your touch is what I'm missing
And the more I hide I realize
I'm slowly losing you

I'll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don't wanna live, I don't wanna breathe
'Less I feel you next to me
You take the pain I feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

I don't wanna sleep, I don't wanna dream
'Cause my dreams don't comfort me
The way you make me feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

I hate living without you
Dead wrong to ever doubt you
But my demons lay in waiting
Tempting me away

Oh, how I adore you
Oh, how I thirst for you
Oh, how I need you

I'll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don't wanna live, I don't wanna breathe
'Less I feel you next to me
You take the pain I feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

I don't wanna sleep, I don't wanna dream
'Cause my dreams don't comfort me
The way you make me feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

Breathing life, waking up
My eyes open up

I'll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don't wanna live, I don't wanna breathe
'Less I feel you next to me
You take the pain I feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

I don't wanna sleep, I don't wanna dream
'Cause my dreams don't comfort me
The way you make me feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

Oh, how I adore you
(Waking up to you never felt so real)
Oh, how I thirst for you
(Waking up to you never felt so real)
Oh, how I adore you
The way you make me feel
(Waking up to you never felt so real)

Fang sighed, and thought about Max as he went back and played the song again, singing each lyric with the pain in his heart and wishing he could tell her how he felt.

There was a timid knock on his door and Fang went over and let Angel in.

"You're upset," she whispered as they sat on his window seat together.

"No I'm not," Fang replied.

"Yes you are," Angel replied. "The other day when I made you play singstar and I made you sing 'Why are we still friends' you got all moody."

"I did not," Fang replied, tapping her nose. Angel rolled her eyes and Fang laughed. She was so intuitive for a six year old and she picked up on Max's attitude all of the time. Each day she was acting more and more like Max, her idol.

"Can you play something for me?" Angel asked. Fang nodded and spent the rest of the night playing music for Angel and trying to forget the pain in his heart but it wouldn't go away. It could never go away unless Max loved him back.


I rolled over and tried to fall asleep. When that didn't work I rolled onto my other side but I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep. I rolled onto my stomach and tried not to screech into my pillow.

Why did I kiss him? Why did he have to kiss me back? He should have pushed me away and snapped me to my senses and then I wouldn't be having all of these thousands of emotions assaulting my mind and preventing me from being able to sleep.

I tossed onto my back and then slipped out of bed, picking up my guitar and then sitting back on my bed. I looked at my photos of Fang and the rest of the Flock and then I sighed and picked a random song out of my head and played, singing softly to myself, trying to calm my mind.

Why did my life always do this? Seem okay and then something would happen to turn everything wrong. Fang had just dumped Adrian, everything should have been fine, back to normal, but it wasn't. Something was there. Something was different. Something was up with Fang but I had no idea what the hell it was.

Ever since I'd gotten myself shot protecting him, he'd been different. Could he had been feeling guilty for getting me shot? Still? No, that wasn't Fang. He'd be protective, yes, but not guilty anymore… I think. I just didn't get it. He looked at me different. He acted different.

I groaned and squeezed my eyes shut, but I kept playing, it was soothing to give my hands something to do.

That was it. I don't care what was wrong with Fang but I was going to find out, whether he liked it or not.

31. Sophomore 14

Sorry short chapter again guys. I had some writer's block and completely lost where I was headed. I was listening to Enrique Iglesias - Hero and I came up with something good so I stuck it on the end of this chapter. I love this one. I love the contrast between Max's part and Fang's part. It's the two different emotions and it was a tonne of fun to write so I hope you like it ^.^ Oh and I posted the first chapter of my version of Fang if any of you are interested in reading it. I will not neglect Highschool Ride it's just that I want to get Fang done before the actual book comes out.

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't like the idea of Christmas this year. Maybe it was just me being pessimistic. Maybe it was just everything that had happened so far this term. Or maybe it was the fact that I had to spend this Christmas in LA with Dad and Ari instead of in Avondale with Mum, Ella, the Flock and Zac. You know how annoyed I am? If you just guessed 'annoyed enough to punch somebody in the face' then you have guessed correctly, congratulations.

"I don't want to go!" I nearly shouted at Mum and she blinked, taken aback.

"Max, you haven't seen your father in ages," she replied, keeping a calm voice, unlike myself. I felt bad for getting angry but I did not, I repeat, did not want to go to LA this Christmas. It was going to be my first Christmas with the Flock.

"Besides, we have a gig on Christmas Eve," I complained. "Mr Callahan is organising the Carols by Candlelight this year and he wants us performing. Plus he has us doing a Child Abuse Awareness fundraiser. Fang says that every year the Carols by Candlelight picks a different charity and raises money for it. I can't miss this." It was true, Mr Callahan had approached Fang and I on Friday after rehearsal and asked us to play.

"Max, I can't change your father's mind, you'll have to talk to him." Mum sighed and rubbed her forehead. "Why don't you tell Jeb that he and Ari can come up here instead of you going there?"

"Really?" I asked, genuinely surprised. It's not like my parents don't get along or anything but Mum disapproves of Jeb hardly ever seeing me.

"Yes, sure," Mum laughed. "I know how much this means to you. Call your father." I beamed at Mum and then hugged her.

"Thankyou, so much," I laughed. I rushed into the study and picked up the phone, dialling Dad's number. For once he was home.

"Hello?" Jeb greeted.

"Hi Dad," I responded.

"Oh Max." Jeb must have shifted his position because I heard movement. "What is it sweetheart?"

"Dad, I'm doing something on Christmas Eve and I really want to be here for Christmas so… uh, did you and Ari want to come to Avondale for Christmas instead of me coming to LA?" I asked. Jeb was quiet for a moment, mulling things over.

"I don't see why not," he replied. "What is it you're doing exactly?"

"My band is playing at the Carols," I explained shrugging. "It's important to me."

"Oh that's great. Would it be alright if we came and listened?"

"Of course." I was feeling excited now. I couldn't wait for Dad and Ari to see us play and hear me sing. This would be my favourite ever Christmas. "Thanks Dad, I love you."

"I love you too Max," Jeb replied.


"Bye." I hung up and jumped up and did a little victory dance.

"Yes!" I cheered. I was getting everything I wanted this Christmas! This would be so, so great. Now all I had left to do was to get Fang to stop acting weird and my life would have no flaws… except that C in my biology test but that was minor flaw in the huge spectrum of my life.

I heard a car pull up outside and I rushed to the window and peered out, a smile splitting across my face and my heart warming.


I ran out to the front door and ripped it open. I had figured it out. I truly, really loved Zac. I had told Fang and he'd gotten all quiet. I knew he didn't really approve of me dating someone two years older than me but the least he could do is be happy when I realised I was falling in love. It was kind of a scary experience and I wanted Fang's support.

"Hey you," Zac said and I ran up to him, throwing my arms around him and kissing him deeply. Zac held me gently, my feet only just touching the ground. When we broke apart we were both breathing heavy and he winked at me. "Ready to go?"

"Yes sir," I replied, saluting him. "Just… let me grab my bag." I darted back inside and grabbed my shoulder bag before rejoining Zac. He rolled his eyes at me and smiled good naturedly as he started the car.

"So, where are we going?" I questioned.

"It's a surprise," Zac replied. I gave him a smile.

"Tell me? Please?"

"No way Max," Zac replied. "Let me have this one."

"Fine," I huffed. I was secretly pleased that he was going to this trouble to surprise me. He knew how stubborn I could be. We drove into town and Zac turned off and left the town limits, heading off towards the Mountain Park.

"Okay…" I frowned. "What are we doing?"

Zac just laughed at me and rolled his eyes but didn't respond. He eventually pulled up in the parking lot and looked at me.

"Did you wear sturdy shoes like I asked?" he questioned.

"Yeah," I replied. Zac smiled.


We got out of the car and he pulled out a backpack and slung it on. He took my hand and we headed out from the car park and onto the one of the trails that led into the trees. I looked around at all the pretty flowers and trees but was completely conscious of Zac's hand in mine.

"So, what are we doing?" I asked again hopefully, looking at Zac. He didn't respond but he smiled and just then we passed under a beam of sunlight and it lit up Zac's hair and eyes and my breath caught in my throat. I swallowed and edged a little closed to him. Zac looked down at me but wrapped his arm around my shoulders and drew me into his side as we walked.

"We're just going to spend some time alone," he explained softly.

"I like the sound of that," I replied. Zac chuckled and leant down, brushing his lips across my forehead, making my heart flip and my skin tingle. I blushed and smiled as we continued walking. It felt like we were walking for ages. Luckily it wasn't that hot so I wasn't getting all sweaty and uncomfortable. In fact, this was nice, pleasant. A good change from being surrounded by tonnes of people.

"We're almost there," Zac finally said as we walked down a slope. I frowned. Where were we going exactly?

When we finally stepped out of the trees I raised my eyebrows. We were standing in a small valley flooded with golden sunlight that fell onto the few trees that spotted the valley. There was a small river that was running from the recent rains and it pooled into a spring in the middle of a grove of trees.

Zac led me over to the grove and I realised that there was hardly anybody else here and there was no-one near our grove. We actually were alone.

Zac let go of me and pulled his backpack off while I looked around. He was laying out a picnic blanket and some food and drinks in containers and bottles. Then he turned to me and took my bag placing it down with his on the blanket.

I smiled at him affectionately.

"Zac this is wonderful," I murmured.

"Not as wonderful as you," he teased, putting his arms around my waist. I smiled and traced a finger down his face as he gazed at me tenderly. I tried not to let my guilt about kissing Fang intrude on this because it was so perfect.

"I love you," I whispered.

Zac blinked.

"Really?" he questioned, happiness in his eyes.

"Truly," I replied gently.

"Well then, I love you too," Zac replied and leant down and pressed his lips to mine in a gentle, romantic way. I melted into the kiss and felt pure bliss at being in a beautiful, peaceful place with someone that I loved dearly. This was perfect. I didn't want it to end.


Fang lay on his back and stared up at the sun. He was in his yard staring at the sky. Dusk was falling and his guitar was lying across him so that he could pluck the strings. He had a song stuck in his head and it was bugging him.

It was a nice song and he loved it so he started playing.

"Would you dance, if I asked you to dance?
Would you run, and never look back?
Would you cry, if you saw me crying?
And would you save my soul, tonight?

Fang pondered the words of the song as he sang them. He loved Max so deeply and he knew he would do anything for her but since she didn't love him in the same way he wondered what she would do for him. Zac had been right in saying that Max had a whole different place in her heart for Fang but was it enough to make her do anything, give anything for him.

"Would you tremble, if I touched your lips?
Would you laugh? Oh please tell me this
Now would you die, for the one you love?
Hold me in your arms, tonight

He wondered if Max shivered when Zac touched her. Did she feel pleasure as his touch? Did she enjoy him holding her? It made him insanely jealous to think of her longing for Zac to kiss her when she'd run away the last time she'd kissed Fang.

"I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away

Fang would be with Max no matter what. He would follow her to the ends of the earth, he would take a bullet for her. He would die for her. He would have done all of that before he realised that he'd fallen in love with her but now it was so much more important to him.

And yeah, she took his breath away every time she looked his way.

"Would you swear, that you'll always be mine?
Or would you lie? Would you run and hide?
Am I in too deep? Have I lost my mind?
I don't care you're here, tonight."

Max didn't love him but he knew that she would be there for him. But if it was between he and Zac… would she? Would she choose him? Or would she go for the guy she loved?

"I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away

Max had saved his life and because of that Fang loved her. More than she could ever realise. If only she knew the extent he would go to, to prove to her that he loved her more than Zac, to prove that he would always be there for her no matter what.

"Oh, I just wanna hold you
I just wanna hold you, oh yeah
Am I in too deep? Have I lost my mind?
Well I don't care you're here, tonight

He had lost his mind and he was in way too deep. His feelings for Max were so strong that they haunted Fang's mind day and night. He wanted to hold her. He wanted to be with her. He just wanted her to be his.

"I can be your hero, baby
I can kiss away the pain, oh yeah
I will stand by you forever
You can take my breath away

"Max," Fang whispered. He closed his eyes against the fading light in the sky and felt the pain in his heart. "I'll always be there."

"I can be your hero, I can kiss away the pain
And I will stand by you, forever
You can take my breath away
You can take my breath away
An' I can be your hero

"I love you…"

32. Sophomore 15

Hurray for brain waves! This Chapter is heaps longer than the last one, it's more than twice as long... I think. Anyways I spent a few hours on this in the morning tweaking it and making sure it was okay. I don't know why but I really like this chapter even though it's a bit jumpy. Anyways only two weeks left of school and then I'll have seven weeks to be on the computer all day and write many, many chapters for you. I may even finish the fanfic and then I can focus completely on Fang.

Here we go!

Fang ran his fingertips across the piano keys while trying to pay attention to Mr Callahan speaking to them. It was kind of hard.

"This is our last music lesson for the term," Mr Callahan said. "And I wanted to do a final check on your pieces for the New Year's Winter Show. Adrian, you first."

Mr Callahan went over to Adrian and her pianist and they began their piece while Iggy came over to Fang, his guitar in hand and sat down next to the piano.

"What's eating you?" Iggy asked. Fang glanced at him and shrugged. "Oh and these are the playlists for Carols and then for New Years." Iggy slipped over two pieces of paper and Fang looked at the songs.

They were playing Christmas songs for the Carols by Candlelight- obviously- and then one song for Child Abuse awareness that Max had chosen. Concrete Angel by Martina McBride. It was a sad song and Fang wasn't much of a Martina fan but the song did its job so he wasn't complaining.

For New Years they had Comatose, some Three Doors Down and Foo Fighters stuff, Max had tacked on a Pat Benetar song to go along with the songs that Steve had picked for her. Fang nodded and handed them back to Iggy.

"Sounds good," he murmured. "You still doing your guitar piece before the band goes on?"

"I thought I'd cut and run from that," Iggy replied shrugging. "I'm not that good at Behind Those Eyes so I thought I'd spend my time practising the guitar tabs for that."

"Fair enough," Fang said. "I'm really not happy with the song Mr Callahan wants me to do."

"What is it?" Iggy asked. Fang motioned his head at the song book and Iggy rolled his eyes. "But you're good at the boy band stuff."

"Are you saying I'm gay?"

"No, and not every guy in a boy band is gay Fang. Besides this song has some meaning for you."

Fang's head whipped around and he stared at Iggy who just winked and went off to practise the guitar piece for 'Behind Those Eyes'. Fang frowned. Iggy didn't know how he felt for Max did he? No he couldn't.

Fang shook his head and took a deep breath and started playing. He only hummed, not wanting to sing the words at that moment. Mr Callahan was standing nearby with a guitar player and he looked over at Fang.

Fang was staring at the music sheets, feeling that Iggy was right about this song. It did hold meaning for him but that was why he didn't want to do it. He was afraid of Max guessing how he felt. Or worse, Zac guessing how he felt and dumping Max. Fang could never forgive himself if that happened.

"That sounds wonderful," Mr Callahan said. Fang was shaken from his thoughts and he looked up at Mr Callahan and shrugged.

"Thanks," he replied and went back to the start. At least he wasn't singing so nobody should be able to guess. Fang felt eyes on him and he looked up to see Adrian looking at him, hurt in her eyes but also recognition. He narrowed his eyes at her and her face went red as she looked away. Fang rolled his eyes. Why did it have to be his ex that got it first?

Damn these stupid emotions, Fang thought harshly. He hated this. He wanted it to go away but knew it was out of the question.


I heard Dad's car before I saw it. Jeb's black sedan pulled up outside of the house and I jumped to my feet from where I'd been sitting on the porch playing my guitar, learning Concrete Angel properly. Fang was going to play piano for me and I was going to play guitar. Mr Callahan had a slide show organised to really pull people's heartstrings.

"Dad!" I shouted. "Ari!" I placed my guitar on the porch table and ran down to my father and brother. Jeb pulled me into a hug and I hugged him back warmly. His light brown hair was greying but his blue eyes were still as warm as ever.

My little brother Ari threw his arms around my waist and hugged me tightly. He was only a year older than Angel. He had blonde hair, bright blue eyes and the sweetest face. I hugged him back and dropped a kiss onto his head.

"Thanks so much for this," I said. "I'll help with the bags."

"No problem and thanks," Jeb replied. I helped him grab their bags from the back of the sedan and carry them into the house.

"Ari, could your pretty please bring my guitar inside? And be careful," I said. Ari nodded eagerly and picked up my black acoustic guitar from the table and brought inside, holding it reverently. He was reading the names on the back.

"Who's Fang? And Iggy? And Nudge? And Gazzy? And Angel?" he asked me.

"They're my friends," I replied. Ari nodded and Jeb and I put the bags in the spare room and then Mum came over, greeted Jeb and took him into the kitchen for coffee.

"Where's Ella?" Ari asked me as I took my guitar and pic from him.

"She's at a friend's place," I replied. "Do you want to see pictures of my friends?"

"Yes, please!" Ari said, smiling brightly at me. I led him into my room and showed him photos of the Flock and I showed him a picture of our band and told him that Steve and Damen were our drummer and bassist. Ari spied a photo of me and Zac on my bedside table next to the photo of me and Fang and he frowned.

"Who's that?" he questioned.

"That is Zac," I replied. "My… boyfriend."

"Oh!" Ari's eyes went wide. "Have you kissed him?"

The innocent look on his face and the innocence of the question itself made me laugh. I hugged Ari close and kissed his cheek.

"Yes I have," I replied. "Because I love him."

"But you still love me right?" Ari asked worriedly.

"Of course I do. You're my little brother. How could I not love you?" I ruffled Ari's hair. He was so, so sweet. I couldn't wait to introduce him to Angel. I knew they'd get on really well, what with them both being so young and cute.

"We get to hear you play on Christmas Eve, that's in two days!" Ari chimed.

"Yes, you do," I replied.

"Can you play me a song now?" Ari looked at my guitar and I laughed but obliged playing him a few songs that I knew almost flawlessly. Fang was a very good teacher and now I was a pretty good guitarist. Electric guitar came a little slower to me but I was almost there.

Ari enjoyed it a lot. He clapped everytime I finished and told me I was a good singer and then Ella got home and he had to go and give her a huge hug. Then Mum and Ella cooked dinner while I sat and told Dad all about my friends and about Zac and classes and about the musical and our band.

This was the first time I'd been able to talk to my Dad in a long time. He had heard all about Dylan from Mum but he still asked me to tell him what had happened and when I told him about Fang beating the crap out of Dylan he laughed and asked if anyone had given Fang a prize.

"When I meet that boy he will have my undying thanks," Jeb sighed. "You picked a good friend by the sounds of it."

"They're all wonderful kids," Mum assured Dad. "They care about each other the way a family should. Fang takes care of his sister so well, which is a good thing because both of their parents work hard."

"He sounds like a great guy," Dad agreed. "What about Max's boyfriend? What's he like?"

"He's very sweet and kind," Mum explained. "He's respectful of Max and he's not overly protective and not jealous at all thank God. Most guys would be very angry at Max having two very close male friends but Zac doesn't even get upset about Max and Fang spending so much time together."

"That's good," Jeb said. He smiled at me kindly. "You made a good choice. Guys like him are hard to find. Hold on to that one."

"I'm planning to," I replied. I smiled slightly as I remembered last weekend when Zac and I had spent the day in the mountains. It had been so wonderful. "Fang even approves of him."

"Which is good also. The wonderful thing about having a male best friend, they know what kinds of boys are good enough for you. Since I'm not here, it's good that you have Fang."

"And Matt and Jake," Ella added and Dad nodded.

"I'm looking forward to meeting those two also," he added. "Didn't you say that one of them was a member of a gang, Val?"

"Yes but he's a good guy. He's been helping protect the kids." Jeb nodded and I smiled in relief. He wasn't going to blow his top about a gang looking out for us. Jake had assured us that we didn't need to repay them at all. We'd given them a good shot at G51 and that their protection was their thanks to us.

"I just hope you all don't get caught in the middle of a gang war," Jeb said.

"We're being careful," I promised. Jeb nodded and we turned to a lighter subject and Dad questioned me on the songs we'd be playing at the Carols and then at the New Year's concert. He had gotten the next week off work so that he could stay here and then not have to leave and come back for the musical.

After a while Ari went to bed and then Ella and I went into my room to talk while Mum and Jeb chatted in the kitchen, probably about me. I rolled my eyes and Ella laughed and we lapsed into conversation that eventually turned to me teasing her about Iggy and asking her when they were going to start going out.

Then we went to bed and I fell asleep smiling. My life felt okay right now except for that situation with Fang. I hoped it was going to get better.


"Max!" Damen was waving to me from the huge gazebo where all the performers would be performing from. There were a few people singing carols but we were doing all the music and I got to sing quite a few of them.

I had Ari's hand and he was staring around in amazement. Mum and Jeb had gone to get candles and find the other adults so that Mum could introduce Jeb to them.

Steve, Damen, Iggy and Nudge were on the stage. Ella, Ari and I went and joined them and I hugged Iggy and Nudge and then was sandwiched into a hug by Steve and Damen at the same time.

"Are you pumped?" Steve asked. "I am!" I could tell. He was practically bouncing up and down, his eyes glittering in the fading light.

"He drank some red bull," Damen explained, rolling his eyes. Most of us disapproved of energy drinks but Steve and Iggy loved them.

"Okay guys, this is my little brother Ari," I said. "Are these people are Steve, Damen, Iggy and Nudge."

"Hi," Ari mumbled, his eyes wide.

"Aw, he's so adorable," Nudge crooned.

"Hey fella," Damen said crouching down and holding out his hand. "It's great to meet you." Ari shook his hand shyly and I smiled.

"Ig, where's Gaz? And Fang? And Ange?" I asked.

"Fang took them to buy glow sticks," Iggy explained. "There they are." He pointed and I saw Fang, Gazzy and Angel holding his hands, talking to Mum and… my Dad. I swallowed.

"Come on Ari," I said. "I'll be back in a second, guys." I led Ari down from the gazebo and over to the group of adults and Fang and the kids.

"Max!" Alice waved. "And this must be Ari," she added when I got closer.

"This is my brother," I smiled. "Hey Fang."

"Hi," he replied. "I just met your Dad." He smiled at me, his dark eyes almost as much a part of the darkness as the night was.

"Max!" Angel and Gazzy said and they both gave me hugs so I had to let go of Ari to hug them back and then I crouched down.

"Angel, Gazzy this is my brother Ari," I said. "Ari this is Fang's sister Angel and Iggy's brother Gazzy. Do you two think you can look after my brother for me?"

"Yes!" Gazzy said.

"Hi!" Angel greeted and gave him a warm hug. "I'm Angel!" I laughed slightly as Ari hugged her back and then straightened up.

"He looks like you," Fang noted. I laughed and took his arm.

"Come on, we have to go and help set up and tune," I reminded him. "See you all later."

The adults chorused a goodbye and Fang and I hugged the kids before going to join the rest of the band. Fang looked at me on the way, smiling brightly in a way he hadn't for a while.

"What?" I questioned.

"I'm feeling… happy," Fang replied. "It has something to do with the gig I think."

"Or the fact that its Christmas," I replied. "Holidays do weird things to you Nicholas Ride."

"Like you can talk Maximum Martinez."

I rolled my eyes and suddenly hugged Fang. He was surprised but hugged me back slightly. We broke apart and he fixed me with a questioning look though his eyes were gentle and affectionate.

"What was that for?" he questioned me.

"You've been so distant from me lately," I explained. "You're smiling again and you're happy around me. I just want my best friend back."

Fang looked at me for a moment and then smiled slightly.

"You can have him," he promised. "I won't be so emo anymore. I swear." I rolled my eyes and then we raced each other over to the gazebo and indulged in band and Flock joking around before Nudge and Ella had to go and the singers came up to do some tests with us.

Adrian was one of them and Steve asked me if I wanted him to turn up his amp to blow her eardrums out- his amplifier was right next to where the microphones were, actually so was Iggy's and Fang's we could turn them all up- but I politely said no. I was planning on tripping her off the stage anyway.

"Why have they got you singing?" Iggy asked. Adrian shot him a dark look. She didn't have noticeable bruises from her broken nose anymore but I hoped that that was only because make up was hiding them. I was pleased to say that her nose had a teensy bend to it though. That gave me a grim satisfaction.

"Because I'm the best singer in our year," Adrian growled.

"Obviously not since Max kicked your arse for Cosette in the musical," Damen replied.

"Adrian shut up," Fang said before she could respond. "And guys, chill for a moment. Let's just get this check done so we can get her off until she has to sing."

"I'm singing with her on Silent Night," Adrian explained, pointing at me.

"She has a name," Fang said darkly. Adrian growled at him and I had to help with this check. Once it was done Adrian walked off, a superior air about her. Fang and I both pulled faces and Damen shot the bird at her retreating back.

"Next?" I called.

"Nobody else," Steve said looking at his list. "We need to do the keyboard check for Concrete Angel though."

Fang moved over to the keyboard, set it to piano and played a few notes while I moved a chair around to the front of the stage and Damen put the microphone down so I could sing. I played a few notes and sang a couple of lines.

"Done," Damen said.

"It's fine," Steve added. "Almost go time anyway."

"Right, everybody ready?" Fang asked switching fiddling with the keyboard for a moment and then looking up at us with his eager eyes.

"You betcha!" Iggy replied.

"Completely," Damen and Steve chimed, taking up positions. We'd practised this so much so that we didn't crowd the carols with music. There were only a few that required more than an acoustic guitar and piano. Steve was on keyboard and Fang and Iggy were playing guitar. Damen was keeping the beat on the drums.

But for Jingle Bell Rock we were all going to our usual positions. This was going to be fun.

Mr Callahan found us, his eyes bright.

"Are you all ready?" he asked.

"We are," Fang and I replied.

"Good." Mr Callahan looked at his watch. "Two minutes. Max there's a young man here who wants to see you."

"Zac," I whispered. I smiled at Mr Callahan and then went down to Zac and he pulled me in his arms right away, hugging me tightly.

"Good luck," he whispered.

"Thanks," I replied and gave him a quick kiss. "Go and find my Mum. Dad's with her and he wants to meet you."

"I am very frightened," Zac laughed. "Is your brother there too?"

"Yeah. Good luck." I hugged him one more time and then went back up to the band. Fang looked at me and winked teasingly. I rolled my eyes at him and took my place in front of the microphone.

"We're good to go," Someone near to the gazebo whispered. Everyone was sitting and we only had fairy lights, glow sticks and candles for light but it was okay. We all knew our instruments through touch, we didn't need light. I could see Steve's glow in the dark shirt and Fang was wearing a glow stick necklace that Angel had forced upon him.

"Welcome everybody to the Carols by Candlelight for 2009," I greeted. "We're the Flock, as most of you know and we're your main entertainment for the evening. This year's fundraiser is for Child Abuse Awareness, please be generous. Our first song is 'We Three Kings'."

And so we went through every traditional and children's carol, enjoying ourselves greatly and everybody else enjoying it too. I saw heaps of kids dancing when we did Jingle Bell Rock. Fang and I sang a duet to Away in a Manger and it was so hard not to laugh hearing Fang sing soft and gentle Christmas songs.

Finally we finished all but 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas' and we shifted the stage around and I sat down with my guitar.

"Okay guys this is our second last song for the night," I said. "It's not a Christmas song, it's called Concrete Angel and it's about Child Abuse. Next to the Gazebo is a projection screen, John Callahan has put together a slide show for your benefit."

I looked at Fang and saw him nod faintly in the dark and he started playing. So I started singing.

"She walks to school with the lunch she packed
Nobody knows what she's holding back
Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday
She hides the bruises with the linen and lace, oh

The teacher wonders but she doesn't ask
It's hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

Somebody cries in the middle of the night
The neighbours hear but they turn out the light
A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate
When morning comes it will be too late

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

A statue stands in a shaded place
An angel girl with an upturned face
A name is written on a polished rock
A broken heart that the world forgot

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can't rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she's loved concrete angel

I could hear people crying. I'd been watching the projection of the slideshow from where I saw sitting and there were tears running down my face but luckily they hadn't interrupted my singing. There were a lot of people crying. I wiped my eyes and stood up and the boys moved everything around again.

"There are donation tins being passed around and more of them at stalls around the gardens. Please give generously to prevent things like this happening," Fang said, gesturing to the screen. "And now our last song for the night, the classic song that people all over the world know, We wish you a Merry Christmas…"

"And a happy new year!" the rest of the band echoed. I grinned at Fang as he picked up his guitar. He smiled at me and we started playing our last song. When we finished I could hear even more chinking as people dropped money into the donation tins.

"You did brilliant," Fang said, touching my lower back. I turned and looked at him. Steve and Damen were packing up and I wanted to help but Fang stopped me and just looked at me, something in his eyes. "And I wanted to apologise."

"For what?" I asked softly.

"Being a jack arse," he replied. "Being distant. Being stupid."

"It's alright," I murmured to him.

"I promise not to be an idiot anymore. It'll just be Fang and Max, best friends. Nothing else in the way. Just me and you."

"That's good."

Fang smiled slipped his arm around my waist and hugged me gently and then we helped the band pack up and the others and the adults came over to us. Ella and Nudge gave us hugs and so did Angel, Gazzy and Ari.

Zac came up, gave me a tight hug and said that he was sorry but he had to go. We waved him off and then Jeb helped the boys carry their instruments to the parking lot. He and Fang chatted happily together and my heart warmed.

"Time to go," Mum said. I nodded.

"See you guys tomorrow," I said.

"Your place, right?" Nudge asked.

"That's right," Ella replied and we gave our hugs.

"It'll be good to see you all tomorrow," Jeb said. "It was great meeting you all."

"And you," Fang replied. "Matt! Jake!"

We all turned and looked at the twin brothers. They waved to us and got into their car.

"They're coming tomorrow," Iggy said. I smiled and hugged the others one more time before we all got into Jeb's sedan. Ari leant on Ella tiredly but he smiled at me.

"I like your friends," he said.

"Oh good," I replied, reaching over and fluffing his hair. "I rather like them too."

Ari laughed slightly and fell asleep against Ella and Jeb turned and looked back at me. He was letting Mum drive so that he could talk to me.

"Nick is a charming young man," he whispered.

"I know he is," I replied.

"I like Zac too," Jeb added.

"So do I," I giggled.


"Yeah?" I frowned, wondering what Dad could possibly disapprove of in Zac. My mind was getting kind of fuzzy. It was already Christmas anyone due to the fact that it was past midnight now. Man I was tired. Ella was already asleep.

I was so tired that I wasn't sure I fully understood what Jeb said.

"But I don't think he cares about you quite as much as Fang does."

Yeah, I definitely didn't understand what he actually said.

33. Sophomore 16

Sorry, sorry, sorry a thousand times over for how long its taken to update!!!! But guess what, tomorrow is my last day of school for the year and I have seven weeks of summer holidays so I promise that I'll update heaps, I might even finish the story! Now I'm giving you two chapters because one: I took forever to update. Two: this chapter is short. Three: I'm really super nice and I love you all!

Oh guess what, I went and saw Wicked with the actual Broadway actors!! For me, here in Australia in the middle of nowhere, it was pretty sweet especially since it was my first proper stage performance ^.^ It was so good and has given me ideas for Junior year ^.^ Anywho I have to finish Sophomore first and I have some plans to finish sophomore off and then I have EVIL plans for Junior year. Okay here's chapter one for tonight!

"Max! Max! It's Christmas! Wake up!"

I felt Ari bouncing on my bed so I rolled over and pulled the pillow over my head tiredly. I heard Ella come in and then there were two people bouncing on my bed shouting for me to wake up and get ready because the others would be here in half an hour.

"Five more minutes," I muttered.

"No, get up!" Ella said, jumping down and shaking my shoulder. "Come on Max, Zac is going to be here soon and so is Fang. Fang, Max. Do you want me to call him to come early and get him to wake you up?"

"No!" I shouted and sat up. "I'm up! I swear I'm up! Don't let him near my feet!"

"She's still half asleep," Ari giggled.

"Am not," I groaned, rubbing sleep out of my eyes and looking at Ari and Ella. "Give me a second to get up." Ari and Ella left and I climbed out of bed and found a hair brush, pulling it through my tangled hair.

I found jeans and a t-shirt and then remembered that Zac was coming and found a white spaghetti strap top with silver glitter spattered over it in the shape of flowers. Then I did some other refreshing things before walking out to the kitchen, stretching.

I admit, I was still partially asleep so I slumped at the kitchen table and didn't even realise that a car was coming up until I heard Ella run out of the house and shouted out Nudge, Fang and Angel's names loudly.

"They're here!" Ari cheered. "They're here!"

He was sitting with Mum and Jeb in the lounge room where all of the presents were piled up together. I stood and tried to wake myself up and went out to greet my friends, grabbing a small black case with a golden bow on top from the counter as I went. As I smiled and went to say hello Angel barrelled into me.

"Max!" she squealed. "Merry Christmas!" I picked her up and kissed her cheek, brushing a hand over her golden curls.

"Hi Ange, Merry Christmas," I said. "My Mum and Dad are inside with Ari and there's a few presents waiting for you."

"Yay!" Angel squealed. I looked over to the two cars and saw Ella and Nudge helping Alice, Peter and Nudge's Parents Marian and James carry the presents inside. Fang saw me and smiled, raising his hand in greeted.

I stepped aside allowing the other six carry the gifts inside and smiled as Fang came up onto the porch, smiling at me.

"Merry Christmas," I said, smiling at Fang. He smiled back, his hands behind his back.

"Merry Christmas," he replied, pulling one hand from behind his back to produce a simple, white rose. "For you, my Cosette."

"Why thankyou Marius," I replied taking the rose. Fang put his hand on my waist and leant forward, gently kissing my cheek. I blushed deeply and he chuckled as he pulled back.

"I have something for you," Fang explained, bringing his other hand out from behind his back. He was holding a small pine-green case the same size as the one I had. His had a gold bow on top as well. "Now my present is kind of special. You see, I know I haven't been a good friend lately. I've been a real jack-arse and haven't treated you like a best friend. So this is just a little something to say sorry for being a lousy friend and guy all around and to say thankyou to you for being a good friend even though I didn't deserve it."

Fang held out the box and I sat the one I was holding down on the table near me and took Fang's gift.

"You could have done it without the speech," I told him, slipping the rose he'd given me behind one ear so I could open the case.

"Ah but I needed to say it," Fang replied. "Open it." I laughed and opened the case. Inside, nestled in velvet, was a beautiful silver necklace with three charms on it. One was an 'M', the second was a feather and the third was an 'F'. I looked up at Fang and he shrugged shyly.

"This is so beautiful," I murmured.

"It's kind of an unofficial best friend necklace," he explained. "To remind you how much you mean to me." I smiled, touched by the thought that went behind the present.

"This is kind of weird," I murmured and Fang looked hurt. "No, no, not the gift itself but the idea behind it." I indicated the case I'd put on the table.

"Oh no," Fang groaned. "You didn't get me a necklace did you?"

"Open it, you idiot," I said, looking back at my necklace. It was so delicate and each of the charms was moulded beautifully from silver.

Fang opened the jewellery case and raised his eyebrows and then looked at me.

"Thanks so much Max," he said, taking the new, fancy dog tags from the case. "I lost my other ones."

"I know," I replied, rolling my eyes. "You complained for a week. These are more expensive than your old ones and they're proper. I had them engraved too. They're a masculine best friend necklace for you."

Fang flipped them over and looked at the engravings. One had 'Max' engraved onto it and the other had 'Fang'. They both had a feather after the name. Fang looked up at me and smiled.

"Feathers," he laughed. "Sort of symbol now I guess."

"Well you know, Flock, and then Angel's dream and your drawings," I shrugged. "It seemed appropriate."

"Definitely," Fang laughed and put the case down so that he could put the tags on. Then he put my necklace on for me and fixed up my hair so that my rose was set into a messy bun at the back of my head.

"Thanks," I said and just then another car pulled up and Gazzy and Iggy jumped out. Alicia and Damien came over and said Merry Christmas before taking the presents inside. Iggy stood with us while Gazzy went in and gave me and Fang our presents.

He'd given Fang a new watch and a bracelet for me with little roses carved from silver dangling from it.

"Thanks Ig," I said. "Your present is inside."

"Sure," Iggy laughed. I hugged him and looked at my two friends.

"Let's head in," I said.

"What about Zac?" Fang questioned.

"He's not coming until after lunch, family morning," I explained. "Come on." I grabbed the arms of my two boys and dragged them into the house where we all sat down, our parents and us, one huge happy family.

Dad was keeping an eye on me and Fang and I tried to ignore him. Matt, Jake, Zac, Steve and Damen showed up in time for lunch. Zac gave me a beautiful necklace with a star on it with several sapphires encrusted onto it.

"Oh this is beautiful Zac," I murmured, putting my necklace on with Fang's one and Zac looked at it.

"That's sweet," he chuckled. I smiled.

"It is," I agreed. "Come on, lunch."

Steve, Damen, Iggy, Fang and I jammed together with Matt and Jake for a while. Everyone else watched and talked. Fang and I decided to go for a walk while Zac talked with Dad and Matt.

Fang and I stepped into the trees together, we didn't go too far and Fang stopped, leaning against a thick trunk of a tree.

"We should make a swing here," Fang murmured.

"Why?" I asked. "You got a love of swinging?"

"No but you do, I drew you, remember?"

I laughed and Fang looked around. I stepped over to him and rested my head on his shoulder, feeling contented that he seemed to be himself again. We had a dress rehearsal tomorrow for Les Mis and I was really looking forward to it. We'd get to see the finished scene art.

"You know what?" I asked and Fang glanced at me. I saw in his eyes a flare of warmth and affection and I put my arms around him automatically, holding him to me and resting my head on his shoulder.

I felt happy. I felt very, very happy. This was where I wanted to be. I loved my life. My family was huge and happy and I had the most wonderful friends-slash-siblings ever. My boyfriend was amazing, loving, smart and fantastic and I couldn't believe I had him.

And Fang.

Fang was everything I'd ever dreamed of having in a friend. All my LA friends combined were like Fang. Fang was supportive, caring, funny, teasing, smart, talented and he had this ability to make me laugh and smile no matter what. He was always there and he supported me. I knew he had my back no matter what and they'd he'd jump in front of a bullet for me. He knew me better than anybody else did and I knew him as well as I knew myself.

Fang was the best friend I'd ever had and I didn't plan on letting him go any time soon.

"What?" Fang questioned, prodding me gently with a finger and his tone gentle and amused.

"This is the best Christmas I've ever had," I whispered.

34. Sophomore 17

Second Chapter for tonight! And the musical! I love Les Mis

"Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god!" I shook my hands and then wrung them. I shifted from foot to foot. Fang laughed loudly but I could see his hands shaking as he leant back against the counter.

The hall was slowly filling with people. The actors were back stage getting their make up done and their costumes on but Fang had to wait for his turn to go and play piano and sing and then our band was going. AND THEN we could go and get our costume and make up done.

"We'll be okay," Fang said. He took a deep breath. He wasn't wearing his leather jacket, he was wearing a pair of black jeans and his black shirt but he had on a proper dinner jacket over the top, his tie was white.

I was already dressed for the band's performance in my black jeans, black and gold tank top and gold, translucent long-sleeved shirt.

"You look great, by the way," Fang commented, trying to distract himself. We could hear the babble of voices in the hall and both of us looked at our hands, panicked.

"Why are we nervous?" I whispered. "We've played in front of this many people before."

"We've never acted in front of this many people though," Fang reminded me. "But we'll be fine." I nodded and Fang straightened up and took a deep breath.

"Max, Fang…" The whisper belonged to Zac as he joined us, dressed at Val Jean.

"You look wonderful," I whispered.

"And you," Zac replied. "Hey, good luck man, I've never heard you do a solo before. Your band performance should be great though. You're always great."

"Thanks," Fang said, smiling. I nodded, shaking terribly.

"Calm down," Zac whispered to me. I nodded but didn't stop shaking. Fang chuckled and we all fell silent as Mr Callahan introduced the concert and the first acts of the music. Iggy, Steve and Damen joined us as we waited for Fang's turn.

We listened to a tonne of musical performances, none as good as Fang but then again I was biased. Fang took a deep breath when it came to his turn and I gave him a hug.

"Good luck," I whispered and he nodded. Iggy and the boys clapped him on the shoulder and he went out.

"Will he be okay? He looked like he was going to hurl," Zac said, putting his arm around my waist.

"He'll be fine," I assured Zac. Zac nodded and I peeked onto the stage as Fang sat at the piano and looked at the microphone before beginning.


"Hello everyone," Fang said, smiling slightly. The stage lights were brilliant- he could barely see anyone out in the dark hall. "I'm Fang, as most of you know. Welcome to the New Year's Concert."

Fang took a deep breath and began playing.

"We do almost everything
That lovers do
And that why's it's hard
Just to be friends with you
And every time your heart is broken
By the fool I want you to know
That it hurts me too
It's hard to wipe your tears away
Knowing you should be with me, tell me

Max was Fang's best friend and he loved her as more than that but she never knew. If Zac ever hurt her it would kill Fang but he'd be there for her no matter what. This was what Iggy had meant by the song meaning something for Fang. It described how he felt very well.

"Why, why are we still friends
When everything says
We should be more than what we are
And tell me why
Every time I find someone that I like
We always end up being just friends

Why couldn't they be something more? Why?

"I would hate for you to find somebody new
Who you really love
Cause it could mean losing you
But am I a fool girl not to say
If I'm always scared I'll lose you anyway
Somehow someway I've got to choose
Got to choose no matter if it's win or lose

Fang knew that he would love Max no matter what. But luckily for him he knew that he would always own a place in heart that nobody else ever would but he was still scared of losing her to somebody else.

"Why, why are we still friends
When everything says
We should be more than what we are
And tell me why
Every time I find someone that I like
We always end up being just friends

Fang closed his eyes as he got to the bridge, this was the part that ripped his heart up the most so he sang it with as much emotion as he could pour into the song, thinking of Max the whole time.

"I don't want to be like your brother
I don't want to be your best friend
I only want to be your lover
When will this end?
If I told you that I want to be in your life?
If you could be the woman in mine

Fang's heart ached as he thought of those words. He was Max's best friend and he was practically her brother and that's what killed him the most- that she couldn't see how much he loved her and wanted to be more than her very best friend. But he was happy with his position, happy that he meant as much to her as he did.

He just wished that she loved him too.

"Why, why are we still friends
When everything says
We should be more than what we are
And tell me why
Every time I find someone that I like
We always end up being just friends

Fang finished and opened his eyes and stood. The applause that rang up around the hall was astounding and Fang smiled despite the ache in his heart and he bowed.

"Alright, give me a moment and I'll be right back," Fang said into his microphone, feeling the thrill of performing returning to him. Fang darted off stage as the hands moved his piano.

Max already had Fang's leather jacket and he swapped his dinner suit, Zac took it with a smile.

"That was great," he said.

"Thanks," Fang replied, a grin on his face. Max frowned at him, eyebrow raised. "Let's go! It's time to rock!"

Max grinned and clasped his hand for a moment. Fang smiled and then the boys all cheered and they ran on stage together. Fang felt adrenaline run through him and he looked at Max and she gave him her most beautiful smile and his heart performed a triple-back flip, making it easier for him to perform.

"Please welcome 'The Flock'," Mr Callahan shouted as the curtains were drawn again.


While my make up was being done I listened to Zac singing the opening song of the play. It was a while before either Fang or I had to go on but I was still nervous again. Our band had done brilliantly and that had been exhilarating but now I was nervous as all get out again.

"Ready?" Fang asked me as I left the girls' dressing room. We both looked pretty cool in our costumes.

"Almost," I replied. "How long?"

"A while," Fang replied, shrugging.

We waited, listening until it was Fang's turn- Zac joined us when his parts were done for the time being. Fang took a deep breath and I gave his hand a squeeze as he walked onto stage with the other actors. Zac was silent with me as we waited for our entrance.

The scene ended and I saw Adrian waltz past me with a dark look in my direction. I heard she and Fang singing and I tried not to giggled as I imagined how Fang would be feeling about singing with his ex.

"Our turn," Zac whispered and we went on together. I waited with a deep breath for Fang to bump into me.

"I didn't see you there, forgive me," he sang and spoke at the same time. I smiled tentatively as the seen went on around us. Soon Zac rushed by and grabbed me so we could disappear.

After that first part it became so natural, coming on and off stage. Singing and dancing with Fang. It was so wonderful. And being with Zac but treating him as my father was so hard, I had to try so hard not to laugh.

In the gap between act two we all had a little laugh about me and Zac but then we had to take deep breaths and dive back in for the part of the play with action, tears and the kiss between Fang and I.

Listening to Adrian's solo was so annoying but I lived through it, making faces with Fang and Zac back stage. We were all trying so hard not to laugh. When Fang had to kiss her, he came back to us and pulled a disgusted face as Zac went back onto the stage.

This was turning out to be brilliant fun.

"I like this," Fang said. "Dunno why I didn't join up for the one last year."

"It is fun," I whispered. "I'm glad Miss Alike made us audition."

"As am I."

We smiled at each other and then listened to the singing with the other actors. Then it was Fang's turn again and I watched from the sides as Zac sang over Fang and then picked him up. The effort it took not to laugh my head off at that was more than the effort it took me not to hit Adrian more times before I actually had.

So in other words it took a lot of effort.

So many characters die in this musical, I never realised before. Though it had been fun to watch Adrian die. If only she could die in real life. Sigh. A girl can dream.

When I finally got to go on and sing with Fang I felt happy. It felt natural and easy and I heard the crooning from the audience as we proclaimed our love for one another. Fang held me gently and then Zac came on stage.

I left and listened to Fang and Zac singing together.

Then came the wedding. We danced hand-in-hand to the front of the stage and Fang pulled me in and kissed me gently, sending my world spinning in a way that made no sense to me and I had to take a deep breath so that I wouldn't fall over.

He pulled me to his side through most of the scene and then had to leave for his argument with Thenardier and then held me gently as we left the stage together.

It wasn't long before Zac's death scene and my tears were real. Imagining Zac dying was so hard and the scene itself was very touching. Fang held me as Zac and the other girls sang as ghosts.

Then the stage lights dimmed for a moment for us all to get into place for the finale. We all sang together and from what I could hear it sounded fantastic and then the curtain fell and the cheering and applause was deafening. We went back stage to wait for our curtain calls.

The extras went first and from there until Adrian went out with the people who played her parents and then Marius's student buddies and then Fang and I went out and we got huge applause as we bowed and then turned to each other and hugged, him kissing more forehead, the way Miss Alike said would fit.

Then Zac and Sam (the guy who played Javert) came out with Amanda (Fantine) and bowed to us. We all applauded and then had a whole cast bow and waved to the audience before disappeared to get changed.

"I think I can handle two more performances," I giggled and Fang hugged me.

I got changed and came out and met with Fang and Zac. Miss Alike and Mr Callahan were with them.

"That was brilliant!" Miss Alike trilled. "Here Max, these are from some lovely kids who are waiting at the entrance to back stage." Miss Alike handed me a huge bouquet of flowers.

"What?" I asked with a frown. Fang shrugged but he looked a little two innocent.

"Come on," he said dragging me and Zac with him.

"You were great!" Mr Callahan called after us. Fang led me to the entrance of backstage and I was greeted by a brilliant sight that made me shriek with happiness.

"James! Chris! Jessie! Anna!" I shouted. I didn't miss that JJ and Sam weren't there but I was so happy to see the other four. Zac took my flowers so I could hug them.

"You were so wonderful," Anna squealed.

"Is this Zac?" Chris asked, eyeing him thoughtfully.

"Yes this is Zac," I explained. "Zac these are my friends Anna, Jessica, James and Chris." They all greeted each other and the girls hugged Fang while James and Chris shook his hand.

"Oh gosh, you guys were wonderful," Jessie explained. "That was so worth it."

"We have to go back in," Zac murmured, listening back. "We've got the countdown."

"Right," I replied. We said goodbye to the others, Fang and I promising to talk to them after the countdown and then we went back inside. I put my flowers with my bags and then we all joined Miss Alike on stage to countdown to New Years.

Fang took one of my hands and Zac had my other one and suddenly I felt like I was being torn in two but I wasn't sure why.

"10…" We all chanted and I frowned.

Fang's hand felt right and so did Zac's .


What was with all these confusing feelings?


How come Fang acted so oddly sometimes?


Why did I have such a bad feeling about next year… or rather the year that was coming in a few seconds?


I hated feeling like this!


What did Dad mean about Fang caring about me more than Zac? I looked at him and he looked at me and his eyes swirled with affection.


Fang didn't love me that way. I glanced at Zac and he grinned, sending my heart into an acrobatics routine. Zac loved me that way and I loved him.


Maybe Fang did care about me a lot more but not in the way Dad thought.


I needed to figure something out with my two guys. I needed both of them but I hated feeling torn like this. Like I had to spent more time with one of them than the other.


I knew it, I had it!

"Happy New Year!" We all shouted.

My New Year's Resolution: stop over thinking things and try and figure out what was wrong with Fang but mostly…

Figure out what the hell was going on in my heart!

35. Sophomore 18

Okay guys, a warning, this chapter is sad. It's not as sad as some future chapters but it's still sad. This is the normal length of my chapters.... I think. I hope anyway and I hope you like it. It's not as emotional as I would have liked but some of the chapters I have coming up are more emotional than this one. I like this one despite that I got all teary-eyed when I wrote because I was getting so into the story. I actually cried when I wrote the next few. So good luck. In Hold Me Close I made people cry.... I wonder if I can do it again.

Enjoy... or... well.... yeah enjoy.

I was in a good mood at the start of the New Year. Our other performances went on flawlessly and Miss Alike told Fang and I that she wanted us next year and we agreed having enjoyed the musical more than we thought we would, surprisingly.

School went back for the term and we started studying Catcher in the Rye in English, Mr Callahan moved me from Government to music class and in Drama we got to watch the video for the musical.

So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up on a Thursday morning with the strangest feeling of unease in the pit of my stomach. I sat up frowning. What on Earth could be wrong? I got up, trying to figure out if there was anything that I wasn't looking forward to while I dressed and went out for breakfast.

"Good morning, honey," Mum said. I smiled at her and sat down as she put a plate of bacon and eggs in front of me.

"Thanks," I mumbled.

"What's wrong?"

I looked up and Mum was frowning at me anxiously.

"Nothing," I replied. "That's what's wrong. I feel real gross and worried and I don't know why."

Mum shrugged. "Did you have a test today?"

"No." I shook my head and started eating, slightly confused.

Ella got up and questioned my mood, also confused about how I was feeling. I just ignored her speculation and waited for the sound of Zac's car. When he arrived I grabbed my bag and left to escape from Mum and Ella's worried questions.

"Morning," I said as I sat in the front seat of Zac's car. I leant across and he gave me a kiss which I returned only half-heartedly. Zac pulled away, frowning at me.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," I replied. "I'm just being silly."

"About what, sweetie?" Zac asked as he pulled away from my house. I took a breath and paused. I told Zac everything, I assure you, but for some reason this was one thing that I really wanted to discuss with Fang first.

"Nothing," I replied. "Just a bad dream." Zac glanced at me sideways but shrugged, frowning out the windscreen. I felt bad for keeping him in the dark and lying to him but I just wanted to talk to Fang first, that was all.

Zac pulled up in the student parking lot and that reminded me that I hadn't gotten my permit yet. Fang had his but he said he didn't like to drive and Iggy couldn't be bothered getting his. I shook my head as I climbed out of the car.

I looked for Fang by the passage between the car park and the hall but he wasn't there like he usually was. I frowned and Zac stepped beside me.

"Is Fang away today?" he asked, also confused by his absence.

"No, not that I know of," I replied. "Let's go." I took Zac's hand and we walked up to where Fang, Iggy, Zac, Steve, Damen and I usually sat of a morning. Iggy and Damen were the only ones there yet.

"Hi!" Iggy and Damen shouted. I waved and Zac and I joined the two boys.

"Where's Steve?" I asked, sitting down.

"He caught a stomach bug," Damen replied. "He won't be at school until next week."

"Okay," I said agreeably. Maybe Fang had caught it to… no, he would have texted me about that. Zac put his arms around me and frowned.

"And where's Fang?" he asked.

"I was hoping you guys would be able to tell me," Iggy replied.

"I have no idea," I replied softly. Now I was even more worried than before. I looked around hoping Fang would just appear out of nowhere with a good excuse as to his lateness. He was never late so this was so, so weird.

Fang didn't show up all morning and I wasn't the only one who was worried. Iggy and I shared a wide-eyed anxious look before he went off with Damen- who kept looking around hopefully- to homeroom.

"I hope he's alright," Zac murmured as we walked to homeroom. I felt a little flutter in my heart at those words despite my worry. Zac couldn't be more wonderful. I was so glad that he and Fang were on such good terms. They were actually pretty good friends.

"Same here," I murmured. Zac kissed me on the cheek.

"He'll show up," he assured me. "Angel's probably sick and he's taking care of her or something."

"Maybe. See you at lunch."

"See you." Zac left me and I went into homeroom and sat down, folding my arms on the desk and resting my chin on them. My day would be so boring if Fang wasn't here and not to mention how worried I was. I waited for my phone to go off but it didn't which just made me worry even more.

Mr Varner was busy writing on the white board and everything was talking quietly. Nobody seemed to notice that Fang wasn't here yet. Just as Mr Varner turned to take attendance the door of the room opened and my heart leapt as I looked around.

"Sorry," Fang muttered tonelessly as he shut the door.

I was taken-aback. I'd expected Fang to flash our teacher his brilliant smile, apologise charmingly and then look at me and wink before sitting with me and telling me why he was late and apologise. But instead he just mumbled something that nobody understood and came to his sit and sat down, slumped with a kind of dejected atmosphere around him. He didn't even look at me.

I frowned. What was wrong? I was suddenly even more worried than I had been when he hadn't showed up. What had happened to put him in such a mood?

When the bell went I grabbed Fang's arm before he could slope off without me.

"What's wrong?" I whispered. Fang didn't answer, he just pulled his arm away from me and walked away. I felt three things simultaneously: hurt at his rejection, worry at his mood and anger at his refusal to talk.

I followed him to science and we sat together but Fang acted more or less like I didn't even exist. And that's how it went until lunch when he asked me what I where I wanted to sit. Iggy, Damen and Zac were already at a table so I pointed there and he came with me without a word.

"Fang!" Zac said happily but his face fell when Fang ignored him. Both Damen and Iggy already knew about Fang's mood both having had a class with him this morning. I sat next to Zac and snuggled into his side, upset.

"Max?" Zac whispered.

"I don't know what's wrong with him," I whispered quietly as Fang moodily stabbed at his pasta. "He won't talk to any of us. Not even me."

"Want me to try?" Zac asked softly.


Zac nodded and we all ate in tense silence but when we were done Zac stood and stretched.

"I'm going for a walk," he stated and I frowned up at him. He looked at Fang. "You wanna come, man?"

"No," Fang replied darkly.

Zac frowned and walked over to Fang. "Seriously, come with me."

"I said no," Fang snapped. Zac straightened up and ran a hand over his face. "Leave me alone." We all looked at Fang who stood up and left.

I think something in me snapped at his attitude- which was so not like him- because I stood up, grabbed my bag and marched after him. I grabbed his arm and spun him around to look at me. He glared at me and I glared back despite that he was so much taller than me.

"Tell me what is going on right this instant or so help me I'll kick your arse from here to next year," I snarled. Fang glared at me for a moment and then I saw something flicker in his eyes right before his whole façade fell and his face turned lost, confused and upset.

I froze as Fang looked at me and I floundered for a moment and then I dropped my voice and looked at him worriedly.

"Fang?" I whispered. "What is it?"

Fang closed his eyes for a moment and I thought he might be holding back tears, the thought of which really frightened me because Fang never cried.

"It's my Mum, Max," he choked out. I blinked. Was Alice okay? "She has ovarian cancer. She's going to die."


I walked home with Fang that day, after calling Mum to tell her where I was going. I kept one arm around him the whole way. He was silent and down. He didn't look at me, didn't say a word. When we got to his house he didn't want to go in the front way so we jumped the fence and he unlocked the French doors of his room and we dumped our things in there and then Fang went back outside and leant against the tree next to his swing.

I sat on the swing and Fang looked at me and he was the frightened, lost boy again from the cafeteria.

"Fang…" I didn't know what to say. What could I say?

"She doesn't have all that long," Fang mumbled. "A month, a month and a half? The doctors aren't really sure. Her specialist says that it's one of the worst cases he's ever seen. It's really advanced."

Fang took a deep breath and once again got frightened by the knowledge that he was holding back tears. I didn't want Fang to cry. It would set me off if he cried and it would hurt too much to see him cry.

Fang sank down onto the ground and I slipped off the swing and knelt beside him, touching his shoulder gently.

"I know you're wondering how to comfort me but there really isn't anything you can say," Fang murmured, glancing at me sideways. I nodded slowly. "I just want you to sit with me for a little while."

"Where's Angel? And your parents?" I whispered.

"Angel's at Nudge's place and Mum and Dad are… are discussing options," Fang whispered. He closed his eyes tightly and leant his head back against the tree trunk. I sat down properly and Fang took my hand and I squeezed his and leant into him. Fang turned his face down onto my shoulder and I touched his head comfortingly.

That was how we sat for god knows how long until we heard Peter's car pull into the drive.

"Mum…" Fang's whispered word was strangled. He stood up, pulling me with him and kept a tight hold on my hand as we went into the house through his room and out to the front door. Peter was carrying Angel into the house and Alice was looking distant and distressed.

"Fang?" she whispered when she saw him. I looked at Fang's face and saw the pain and terror there. I released Fang's hand and he went to his Mum and folded her into his arms, hiding his face on her shoulder- he was at least half a foot taller than her- and for that moment, he didn't seem like my Fang. He seemed like a little boy who didn't understand what was happening.

"Hi Max," Peter said while Alice cooed to her son and stroked his longish hair. I tried to smile at Peter but it came out as more of a grimace.

"I think I'll call Mum so I can go home," I mumbled, not wanting to intrude on their family sorrow.

"No," Alice said looking up at me. "You can stay, if you want."

I frowned. Fang raised his head and looked back at me.

"Could you stay?" he asked me in a quiet, broken voice. "Just until after dinner at least." I took one look at the hopelessness in Fang's eyes and my heart broke slightly at that look and I knew in that moment that I would do anything to take that look away from Fang's eyes and replace it with his usual happiness.

"Of course I can," I whispered and Fang's eyes flared with gratitude before he turned back to his Mum. Alice took Fang into the lounge room and I looked at Peter who was taking Angel to her room. I helped him calm her down and promised to read to her later.

Angel curled up with one of her stuffed animals on her bed and I went into the kitchen with Peter. I could hear Alice speaking softly to Fang and I felt my throat thicken, I wanted to cry so badly. I knew Peter did too.

"A month," he whispered. I wasn't sure if it was to me or himself.

"Are you sure I can stay?" I asked. I didn't want to leave Fang but Peter needed to be alone it seemed.

"Of course," Peter sighed, sitting at the kitchen table. I sat down too and he gave me a sad smile. "Fang needs you. You're the only one who'll be able to keep him sane. Me on the other hand… well, I'll try for Angel and Fang but…" Peter shook his head.

"You'll be okay," I whispered, unsure. If my soul mate died, I think I would die inside. Peter seemed to know what I was thinking and he nodded.

"That's what'll happen to me," he sighed. "But Fang won't… he's stronger than me but he'll need you. You don't see the change in him that Alice and I do, Max. He smiles more, he sings without music now and he laughs for no reason other than to laugh. We see a change in Fang that came around because of you. You'll be the only one who can keep him from losing his sanity when…" Peter shook his head and I found a tear running down my cheek.

I shook my head.

"I'll be here, so will Mum," I told him.

"I know," Peter said. "Alice called Valencia before we came home and she told us that you were with Fang and that made Alice relax. She wants you to look after Fang for us."

I nodded.

"I can do that." I sighed.

"We should start dinner," Peter murmured. I helped him throw together fried rice and then I went and got Angel to come out and eat. I didn't want to interrupt Alice and Fang and neither did Peter.

We looked at each other, waiting by the lounge room door, wondering. We eventually sighed and went back into the kitchen. Alice and Fang came in to eat with us and then Fang and I went to read to Angel and settle her down before bed.

"Are you okay?" I asked Fang stupidly.

"I'm better when I'm with you," he replied as we shut Angel's door. It wouldn't be her bed time for at least another hour normally but right now she was tired and upset so we'd gotten her to sleep already.

"Do you want me to stay the night?" I asked.

"No," Fang murmured. "You should go home." But I could see that he wanted me here.

"I'll stay," I said and Fang rolled his eyes half-heartedly. I called Mum and told her that I was going to stay with Fang and she agreed that that was probably best and wished me goodnight. Alice leant me a pair of pyjamas and I changed into them and went to Fang's room. He was sitting on the window seat, staring up at the darkening sky. He seemed to be mouthing something to himself and I noticed the evening star. Fang didn't believe in wishing on the evening star but he was doing it now.

I felt another little tear in my heart and went and knelt by him. Fang looked at me. Neither of us said anything as I rested a hand on his knee and gave him a comforting look. Fang rested his hand on top of mine and looked back out at the sky.

I don't know how long we sat like that. Until my knees were aching and my feet were numb. But I didn't say anything. Fang seemed to guess how I was feeling though and he motioned his head towards to bed but I shook my head, refusing to leave his side.

Fang groaned.

"Sleep Max, we have school tomorrow," he told me. He stood up and went to the bed and I followed him. We sat next to each other and Fang glared at me. "Go to sleep." His voice was firm but I shook my head.

"No," I told him.

Fang rolled his eyes, grabbed my shoulder and forced me to lie down, resting my head on his leg. I blushed as he rested his hand on my hair.

"You shouldn't worry about me," he whispered.

"Too late," I replied and he just laughed humourlessly. It was a sad, broken sound and my heart gave a painful throb. I sighed but closed my eyes. "It's going to be okay, Fang."

"Sure, sure," Fang murmured. "Just go to sleep." I yawned despite myself and found myself drifting off to sleep, worrying about Fang.


Fang stroked Max's hair as she slept and he leant back on his headboard and looked at the window again. The stars glittered in the night sky. It wasn't late but he wanted Max to have plenty of sleep and plus he wanted her unconscious for another reason.

Fang closed his eyes and felt the inevitable pain fill his heart and then tears seeped out from under his closed eye lids. He hadn't really cried since he thought Max was going to die. Now his Mum was going to die. The tears wouldn't stop. Fang made sure none of them fell onto Max because he was positive she would wake up if that happened.

He couldn't lose his mum. She was… well, she was his mum. He loved her and she was always there. She gave brilliant advice. She loved him. She understood him. She took care of him. His mum was the kindest person he knew and the most loving. Angel took after her a lot.

Fang wondered what it would be like for his Dad if his Mum died. Peter was a strong person but his whole world revolved around Alice. He loved her so deeply and strongly that Fang didn't think he could stand the pain in his Dad eyes if Alice died.

Fang took a deep breath and was hit with another thought.

What would it be like for him if Max died?

Fang looked down at her and knew that he wouldn't be able to live through something like that. He silent vowed to protect Max forever.

36. Sophomore 19

Wah, this one made me tear up, particularly the end. But it isn't as bad as the next chapter, or come to think of it what I have planned for the one after. Actually, considering this story line, a whole heap of the future chapters will be pretty heavy in the sad department. I hope you guys like this one. I do. I think I captured some important emotions pretty well.... I hope so anyway.

If any of you have ever had to watch someone you love in deep, deep pain then you will know how I've been feeling lately but if you haven't then I can't even begin to describe it for you. The next weeks Fang was quieter than normal, he didn't smile, he didn't laugh. He hardly answered questions in class and only spoke when someone spoke to him. Everyone in the Flock- band and family- knew by Monday and we all just let him ponder in peace.

I went home with Fang almost every day. I stayed a lot of nights just to sit by him, especially when Alice was at the clinic. He and I spoke then. He told me how he was feeling and how Peter was feeling. Our conversations were incredibly deep and meaningful.

I hardly spent any time with Zac but he understood. He never tried to slip between Fang and I. He never protested when I couldn't spend an afternoon with him. He never looked dejected or jealous. He was there for Fang too. He would sit on Fang's other side at lunch and talk to him softly occasionally.

On the Friday two weeks after Fang had told me, he was going to have the day off, something about being emotionally exhausted but Alice told me that he'd been complaining about me not spending time with Zac and was trying to give me that chance.

"He's being ridiculous," I complained to Zac as we slid into his car that afternoon. "This is stupid. Fang needs me so this is so silly."

Zac chuckled. "No guy likes to admit that they're dependent on someone else," Zac explained. "I think it's good of him to let me have you to myself."

I smiled despite myself. "It is," I laughed. "He used to be so difficult about guys but he's fine with you."

"I'm glad." Zac shook his head as he joined the line for the gates. "How is he doing, really?"

"Not good," I responded softly, giving a wave to Iggy as I saw him getting into his mother's car. Alicia looked upset and I knew why, she and Alice were close. "He gets worse everytime he looks at Alice and knows that she's getting sicker."

"It's gotta be rough on him."

"He hasn't cried yet… well not in front of me anyway." I sighed and fiddled with the 'F' on my necklace that I wore everyday. "I wish he'd just get it out of him. It's worse if he keeps bottling it up just so he doesn't seem weak in front of me."

Zac shrugged. "Where do you want to go this afternoon?"

"Anywhere," I mumbled. "Actually, could we go to the mall? I want to go and see Matt."

"Sure." Zac drove down there and we walked into the mall, arms around each other. Matt was practically waiting for me. He sent some customers to another employee and came over to me, pulling me away from Zac and into a huge hug.

"How is Fang?" he whispered.

"Not good," I replied.

"This is awful," Matt sighed, releasing me but taking both my hands in his. "Alice has always been so good to me and Jake. When Jake was in a bit of trouble when we were younger, she vouched for him." Matt sighed.

"Where is Jake? I haven't seen him or the others around."

"Oh, they're around," Matt shrugged. "Just not openly. Since we haven't had any trouble we figured that G51 has been waiting for you guys to be unprotected. Or they want to leave a confrontation away knowing we'll win. Either way we're toning down your protection slightly but you could say that the Bloods have taken up a permanent residency here."

"Cool." I shook my head, it seemed weird. "Anyway, have you spoken to Fang?"

"He hasn't been into work," Matt replied sadly. "I've been dying for one of you to come in here."

"Sorry, I've been with him almost every day."

"Why not today?"

"He made up a dumb excuse so that I could spend time with Zac." I shook my head. "As much as I appreciate that… I really can't stand leaving his side."

Matt gave my hands a squeeze and nodded understandingly.

"I'll give them a call tonight," he decided. He glanced over his shoulder and sighed sadly. "I need to get back to work. I'll talk to you later?"

"Of course. I'll keep you updated."

"Thankyou Max." Matt pulled me into another hug and kissed my forehead gently. "Bye."

"Bye," I replied, tearing up again. Zac took me into his arms as we left and gave me a gentle squeeze and rested his cheek against my temple as we walked. I sighed and leant into his side sadly. Tears ran unchecked down my face but I let them. I didn't cry in front of Fang because I knew it would make him feel worse so I needed a few chances to cry and this was one of the only ones I'd had in the last seven days.

"It'll be alright," Zac murmured.

"It will not," I replied. "Alice is dying, Zac, and they can't help her."

"Sorry," Zac said. "I didn't mean to be crude."

"That's alright." I sighed. "You didn't mean it."

"Are you hungry?"

"No, I want to go home." I turned my face into Zac's shirt and wrapped my arms around his waist. We stopped walking and he held me against him, letting me cry into his shirt. I didn't care what people around me would be thinking. In that moment all that I could think about what that if this was how much I was hurting then I couldn't imagine how Fang must be feeling. Or Peter.


"Are you sure you're okay?" Zac asked worriedly. He'd dropped me off in front of my house and now he was leaning across the seats and watching me with that anxious look in his eyes that just made me love him all the more.

"I'm fine," I replied. I leant across and gave him a soft kiss. "I just need to call Fang."

"Sure." Zac seemed resigned which worried me. "I'll see you on Monday."

"I love you," I whispered.

"I love you too," Zac replied after a quiet moment and I frowned, confused. I closed the door and watched Zac drive off, feeling like I was missing something major. I went inside and found Mum and Ella sitting at the kitchen table, looking very sad and distressed.

"Max!" Ella gasped. I noticed the puffiness around her eyes, Mum's too. What had happened? My heart seized up painfully.

"What happened?" I demanded, hurrying to them. "Tell me!"

"It's nothing too bad," Mum replied. "Peter just called. They had to take Alice to the hospital because she was having pains and started throwing up blood."

"No!" My knees almost gave out and I gripped the chair in front of me. "Is she alright?"

"She's holding steady," Mum assured me. "They gave her a tonne of morphine and some drugs to dull the pain. Peter was upset that they hadn't picked this up earlier, she's been sick for a while, in pain, having menstrual issues but she just associated it with menopause."

It was easy to forget that Alice was in her early forties as she was so beautiful and youthful. She'd had Fang late having not met Peter until she was older than most. She probably thought she'd gone into menopause earlier than other women because she hadn't had kids until she was older.

Silly Alice. She'd been too… unworried to go and get a check up.

I clenched my fists and Mum stood up and made me sit down, rubbing my back soothingly.

"Why wouldn't she go to a doctor?" Ella whispered, sorrow in her voice.

"Alice is where Fang gets his stubbornness from, it's an acquired trait," I explained quietly, more tears running down my face. I looked up at Mum fearfully at the mention of my best friend. "Where's Fang right now?"

"He was in the hospital with Peter but I think Pete was trying to make him go to Iggy's with Angel," Mum replied. "Do you-?"

She didn't even have to finish her sentence, I'd jumped up and grabbed the kitchen phone off the hook and dialled Iggy's number without thinking.

"Hey," Iggy answered dully.

"Ig!" I nearly shouted, my voice all choked up. "Is-?"

"Hold on," Iggy replied. Then his voice continued, away from the phone. "Yo, Fang. Max is on the phone." Then he came back. "He's real torn up, maybe you can get through to him. Are you okay?"

"Not really. Are you?" I replied.

"No," Iggy said. "Here he is. Good luck." I heard the phone being passed over.

"Max?" Fang whispered. I could hear the pain in his voice and I nearly broke down but I held myself together, barely.

"Fang, are you feeling okay?" I whispered, not knowing what else to say. How stupid could that question be? I felt like such an idiot. I felt like all those stupid people at funerals who go up to the widow or widower of the deceased and say 'are you alright?'

It was the most ridiculous question in the history of the world!


"Sorry, that was dumb." I paused. "Do you want me to come and see you?"

"Max… I didn't get to see Mum…" Fang paused. "Could you come with me tomorrow? Please? The doctors are revaluating. She might not have so much longer. They said two weeks at the most. I want to go in and see her before she gets worse and I want… no, I need you there with me."

"You shouldn't have to ask you silly goose," I responded softly. "What time do you want me there?"


"I'll be there no later than that."

"Thank you so much." Fang sighed and I heard his breath catch. "I… I'm gonna go."

"Okay then." I paused. "Call me whenever you need to talk. Doesn't matter if it's three in the morning."

Fang chuckled but the sound was wrong. It was empty of any warmth or humour. It had no gratitude or affection in it. It was a robotic sound. Dead. Soulless. And I hated it.

"That means a lot," Fang murmured. "See you tomorrow."


The phone clicked and started beeping. I sighed and hung up. Tears raced down my face as I released my hold on the grief and then Mum's arms were around me, comforting me, whispering soothing words in my ear.

Poor Fang. He sounded so broken. So alone.

I had the strongest desire to wrap my arms around him and protect him. I couldn't stand not being able to do that now. It was irrational considering that Fang wouldn't even let me care for him but I needed to look after him.

I was going to protect him.


Fang shifted from foot-to-foot and checked his watch again. Max wasn't due for another five minutes but he couldn't help but be anxious. He didn't think he could stand seeing his mother lying in a hospital bed- tubes plugged into a her body, a machine writing her heart rate down- without Max's support. Fang hated hospitals and it was worse that it was his mother in there.

Max's Mum pulled up in the parking lot and Max practically launched herself from the car and into his arms. It felt good to be able to hold her- to have her hold him- while he was feeling so wretched.

"Hi Max," Fang murmured into her hair.

"Am I late?" she asked.

"You're early."

Max released Fang and he could see the fire burning behind her eyes. It wasn't a fierce I-ain't-gonna-back-down fire it was a painful fire, a broken hearted fire. It was a shadow of the look in Peter's eyes.

Fang grimaced and took Max's hand.

"Are you ready?" she whispered quietly.

"Yes," Fang replied. It was a lie though. He was not ready. He would never be ready to see his mother dying like she was. To think she had been dying right before his eyes for nearly a year and he hadn't known it. No wonder she had been so tired all of the time. No wonder she had always looked so sallow when she had slept right or eaten properly.

Fang shuddered delicately and Max shifted closer to him unconsciously. It made him feel a little stronger to have her at his side.

Fang knew Dr Martinez was behind them, following them in. She'd talk to Peter though, comfort him. Max had to be beside him when he looked in and went to see his mother. To see her in the most healthy state she would be in for the next few weeks… before… before the unspeakable would happen.

Fang knew which room it was. Peter was in the hospital cafeteria and that was where Dr Martinez walked of to. Fang and Max continued to the elevator and took it up to the right level and then stepped out. They walked along to room B-203 and stopped.

Fang hesitated, his hand slightly outstretched to the handle of the door. Could he handle this? Would he break down in front of Max? In front of Alice? Would he lose what little strength he had left and therefore not be able to function in a way that would mean he could look after Angel and his dad?

Fang sighed and Max squeezed his hand.

"We don't have to do this if you're not ready," she murmured. She understood him so well. She got him on a level that nobody else did. She knew what he was thinking, how he was feeling no matter how hard he tried to hide it.

There was only one thing Max didn't see and it was the one thing he wished she could see.

"I need to do this," Fang whispered, looking into Max's chocolate eyes and feeling strong again. He knew that if he could feel her hand in his then he shouldn't break down. He would still be able to function as long as Max was there giving him strength.

Max nodded and opened the door for him and they walked in.

Fang's heart tore into little pieces again as he looked at Alice. She was lying in a bed like he'd feared with tubes and needles in her at every possible place. Her heart monitor was beeping unsteadily. Alice's skin was sallow and her cheeks were sunken in. Her face was covered in a thin sheen of sweat and her hair was lank.

How could her condition have deteriorated this much in only two weeks since diagnosis? Even considering how advanced the cancer had been when they had discovered it.

Fang remembered why she had gone to the doctor's in the first place…


"Yo, Mum!" Fang shouted. Zac's car was driving down the street to take Max home. Fang felt an unpleasant surge of jealousy and reminded himself that he had to get a car so he could drive Max around.

Fang shook his head and realised that his mum had not answered him. Weird.

"Mum? Are you home?" Fang called. He wandered through the house and noticed that his parents' bedroom door was shut. That was really odd. He knocked lightly.

"Come in," Alice said and Fang's heart thudded with fear. Her voice sounded weak and uneven. Was she sick? Alice had been complaining about feeling off colour since New Year's. Fang frowned and opened the door quietly.

His mother was lying in bed, her face sweaty and pale. She was shaking something bad and looked really, really sick.

"What's wrong?" Fang asked, horrified.

"I'm not feeling too well," Alice shrugged. She started coughing and took a few deep breaths to calm herself. Fang stared at her.

"Have you been to a doctor?" he asked.

"It'll pass, I don't see any need," Alice replied with a tiny smile that looked too forced to Fang. He frowned.

"I think you should see a doctor."

"I'll be fine, sweetheart. Would you mind making me a cup of coffee?"

Fang agreed and left her with a dubious look over his shoulder.

Three days later after school had gone back, Fang came home to find an ambulance loading his mother onto a gurney and into the back of the vehicle. Fang frowned and found his father. Peter was watching with haunted eyes.

"What happened?" Fang demanded.

"She collapsed when I got home," Peter explained quietly. "I called the ambulance."


Fang and Angel had waited but Peter just called them from the hospital that night telling them the terrible news and saying that he and Alice would be back the next day, possibly late after Alice had a tonne of tests. They asked Fang to send Angel to Nudge's place and so he called them and they took Angel.

Fang had been late to school the next day because he'd spent the morning debating whether or not to go. He'd eventually decided that he'd go mad if he stayed home and then things just went downhill from there.

It turns out that the more advanced the cancer is, the stronger it works. It looked like Alice's condition was bad because the cancer was so advanced. In her ovaries, her uterus, her kidneys. It was moving to her lungs, her heart, her brain. It could already be there. Alice and Peter were keeping that from Fang.

"Fang, my baby boy," Alice crooned in a weak voice. She raised a hand and Fang automatically walked forward, pulling Max with him, to take his mother's hand. "I love you so much. I'm sorry you have to see me like this."

"Shh," Fang whispered. Max pulled a chair over for Fang and had to let go of his hand to get one for herself. Fang took her hand again, he need it for strength. Max's hand was trembling in his but that was nothing compared to the shaking in his mother's hand.

How long did she have left? His mother was strong but she was nothing compared the unstoppable force that was slowing destroying her body.

"Mum," Fang choked out, his voice broken. "How bad is it? Tell me the truth."

"They had to rescan me," Alice whispered. She coughed slightly. "They didn't realise before how fast it was moving."

"How bad?" Fang repeated, his voice barely a whisper. Max shifted closer to him, slipping an arm around his waist and retaking his hand. He took strength from her hold.

Alice looked at Fang sadly.

"It made its way into my lungs," she whispered. "It's also in my liver."

Fang made a distressed sound somewhere between a sob and a cry of pain but he pulled himself together. He refused to cry in front of people. He would do it later when he was alone.

"How long do you have?" Fang asked. Alice tried to squeeze his hand but she was too weak.

"Maybe a week," she whispered. "Could be less. It just depends. I don't want any treatment. It's much too late for that."

"I know." Fang bowed his head, his eyes clenched shut. He didn't know if he could deal with this so soon. He'd been counting on that month and half to two months to prepare himself but now he knew he couldn't do it.

It wasn't even a month into the New Year. This sucked worse than anything else in his life sucked. He couldn't believed that the word he used to describe this situation was the word 'sucked' but it was a universal term and it fitted perfectly even though it was the understatement of the century.

Right now, his life sucked.

37. Sophomore 20

I cried while writing this. It's okay though, my family knows how much I get into what I'm writing. This was so hard to write. I sat there for ages deleting, rewriting, going over, biting my nails in though, trying not to cry at the amount of times I had to rewrite this chapter. I hate sad stuff. I always want to redo it because it never seems right to me so I stopped myself from changing it again and added a song and then decided to publish it for yous. I like the song with this one. I listened to it over and over while I wrote this chapter. It was good for inspiration. It's call This is Your Song and it's by Ronan Keating if anyone is interested in it.

Alright, sorry if I make anyone cry with this chapter. I'm a sook so it wasn't hard for me.

It was late. Fang was still in his mother's hospital room. Tuesday nights there was nothing on TV, nothing on in Fang's life, he had nothing to distract himself so he'd come to see his mother. She was coughing up blood now. She was have convulsions.

Peter was hardly ever in the room anymore. It was killing him to see Alice the way she was. Dr Martinez and Alicia were with him but Alicia had had to go back home. Dr Martinez was still there though.

Fang had his guitar and Alice was smiling at his music. She loved to hear Fang play. It made her day. Now that she was so close to the end Fang couldn't deny her something that she loved so he'd made sure his voice was steady and had picked a song to sing to her.

"Live your life to the full
With a lifetime of smiles
Made us know right from wrong
Always knowing a lie
You made us to be tough
But never too rough
Rise above is what you said
Never easily lead.

Fang's voice was filled with adoration for his mother. All his life she'd been there, as a mother should be. He couldn't imagine what he would have turned out like if it weren't for his mother. Alice was loving, compassionate and understanding. She taught him right from wrong, she taught him to love and to give but to look after himself and not let himself be hurt.

"And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song
I wrote it for you
It won't take all day
Just a minute or two

Alice's eyes shone as Fang looked at her, singing to her a song that spoke his feeling perfectly. He refused to acknowledge that she would be gone from his life. He needed her, he needed her dearly. She was his mother. How was he supposed to get on without her? Suddenly he felt like a child again.

"You were a friend
Walk with you to the end
And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song.

"Oh Fang," Alice whispered. He tried not to cry when he heard her feeble voice, instead he concentrated on the chords and the words and the meaning behind those words. He concentrated on the beauty of his mother even when she lying, sick in hospital bed.

"So I'll try and go on
Loving all that we know
Through the hardest of times
you put on a show.

Fang didn't know if he could be strong like his mother wanted him to be but he knew he would have to be, to take care of Angel, to help his father. He would do it. For her.

"You made us stand tall
When all around us would fall
Even when you were alone
You believed you could fly

That was where Fang got his dream of being able to fly, his mother. Alice said that if she could have done one thing, it would have been to fly and Fang wished he could give her that chance now, before it was all over.

"And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song
I wrote it for you
It won't take all day
Just a minute or two

Yes. Just a minute or two. That was all he had to remind his mother that he loved her and that he would never stop loving her for as long as he lived. Fang had to fight the tears hard now. They wanted to come. To break him in two. But he wouldn't let them.

"You were a friend
Walk with you to the end
And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song

His mother. His friend. Truly the greatest friend anyone could ever have was their mother but they never realised it until it was too late, like him. He hadn't realised how much he depended on his mother, how much he needed her until now. And now it was too late.

"And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song
We wrote it for you
It'll take all our lives
Just to help us get through

It wouldn't take until one day. Fang was singing now because now was all he had. He had only now to let his mother know that she was everything to him. He wouldn't be who he was without her. He wouldn't be strong. He wouldn't be talented. He wouldn't be smart. He knew he would be nothing if Alice hadn't supported him and hadn't loved him. If she hadn't raised him the way she had then he would be Fang. He would be a stranger.

She needed to know that.

So Fang made sure he put all those emotions into his eyes and voice as he sang the last lines.

"You were a friend
Walk with you to the end
And one day we'll all sing along
'Cause this is your song

Alice wiped away the tears from her eyes. Fang couldn't tell them apart from the cold sweat on her face and he tried so hard not to break down right there. She didn't have long left. Perhaps a day at the most.

"That was so beautiful," she sighed in a barely audible voice.

"I love you," Fang whispered, sitting his guitar aside and shifting his chair closer to his mother's bedside. "I always will, Mum." He felt pain stinging his heart. "Please, please, fight. I need you."

"I am so proud of you," Alice said. Sometimes it was a struggle for her to speak but she was using all her strength right now to speak to Fang. They'd let Angel see her earlier in the day but it had upset the young girl too much and she was not allowed to see her mother again so Angel had had her goodbye. Now it was Fang's turn. Alice knew she didn't have long left.

"Please, shh," Fang whispered, leaning his forehead against his mother's cheek. "Save your strength."

Alice ignored his plea.

"I love you so much," Alice whispered. Fang was silent, feeling tears dripping from his eyes onto the bed sheets. He didn't want to miss a word of his mother's goodbye. "No matter what happens to me I will be watching over you. I can't wait until you graduate because I will be watching, bursting with pride because my son, my baby boy, my miracle child is finished highschool and is moving on with his life.

"On the days when you're sad you'll feel the strength that I will send to you. On the days when you are mad I'll give you peace of mind. One the days when you're happy I will be happy for you. Whatever you are feeling I will help or I will support you. Because I love you, I will never leave you.

"On the day when you and Max get married-"

Fang's head snapped up.

"What are you talking about?" Fang whispered, tears running down his face.

"It's like I know what's coming for you," Alice murmured. "I know what future I want for my only son. I know what you feel for Max, I see it in your eyes. I know that you two are perfect for each other and one day you will be married… or so I hope. It's the future I want for you. So here…"

Alice reached under her sheets and pulled out a tiny box covered in black satin, she sat it in Fang's hands.

"I don't know if I'm wrong but I don't think so," she murmured. "But whether it is Max or another girl, I want you to give them this ring. It was my mother's, her mother-in-law's before her and so on and so forth. Mother's give it to their son's and they propose with it. I want you to do the same."

Fang stared at the box in his hand and then leaned back to rest his head against his mother's again.

"I love you," he whispered.

"I love you too and that's why I'll be standing with you on the day that you get married. That will be the happiest day of your life and… well I won't be living anymore but it will be the happiest day of my life anyway, my eternal life.

"I'm so sorry to put you through this. If I wasn't so stubborn maybe this wouldn't have happened." Alice shuddered and Fang moaned as more tears ran from his eyes. He was breaking up inside. Slowly, he was shattering. Alice stroked Fang's face, tears falling from her own eyes. Her voice was shuddering from sorrow when she spoke again.

"I don't regret anything in my life more than I regret what I'm putting you and the rest of my family through," Alice whispered in a soft, broken voice. "I have no regrets bar this one and you, my son, are my most treasured memory. When I held you for the first time I knew nothing in my life could be a mistake when I'd brought such a beautiful baby into the world. And that is why it hurts me so much to see you hurting now."

"Mum, please, save your energy," Fang whispered brokenly. "You don't have to do this."

"Yes I do," Alice disagreed. "You have to understand that I wish this didn't happen. That I regret this and I really, really don't want you to ever be mad at me even though I would deserve it. You have my strength, Nick. I love you and I wish I hadn't done this to you."

Fang kissed his mother's cheek and closed his eyes as he rested his cheek on her clammy forehead.

"I'll never be angry at you," he assured her. "I love you. Thankyou, for everything in my life that you've ever done for me. I'll be lost without you."

"No, you won't." Alice gave a weak half-smile. "You're strong, handsome, talented, wonderful and smart. You'll be alright. Just don't lose sight of who you are. Stay strong. Let people in, let Max in. She'll help you. She understands you. Never stop telling her how much you care about her either, or anyone you love for that matter because you never know when you won't get to tell them anymore. I know you'll live your life perfectly Fang.

"Live free, have no regrets and make sure you enjoy every minute of it."

"Thankyou." Fang held his mother in his arms loosely for a moment and then straightened up, taking the ring box and his guitar. He slipped the box into his pocket- he couldn't bare to look at it right then- and put his guitar into its case.

Alice's eyes were shut and she was breathing raggedly but Fang guessed she was sleeping, exhausted from her long speech. Fang wiped his eyes and went into the hall. Dr Martinez and Peter were down the hall.

"I'll take you home Fang," Dr Martinez whispered, beckoning to him. Peter looked at her hopelessly. "I'll be back." He nodded and passed Fang into Alice's room, touching his son's shoulder in an act of comfort and angst.

Fang went to Dr Martinez and she put an arm around him. Fang didn't tell her what Alice had said about him and Max. He'd never tell anyone. The words that his mother spoke would stay in his heart… he knew he would tell Max but it wouldn't be for a long time. It wouldn't until… well, if she ever loved him the way he loved her then maybe, maybe he would decide to tell her. When it didn't hurt as much.

Fang took a deep breath and Dr Martinez's arm tightened around him slightly and he felt glad that she didn't speak. He didn't want to talk. He just wanted to think about what his Mum had said and grieve because he knew that she only had a few days left.


The morning was so hard. Fang hadn't shown up for school so I'd texted Mum at the hospital to ask if she'd seen him. She probably wouldn't get the text for a while due to the 'no phones on' law that was in place in hospitals because they interfered with the equipment or something.

Zac had told me not to worry, that Fang was probably with his Mum or something but I was worrying. What else was I supposed to do? I felt like a mother-hen here. Fang needed my strength, I was sure of it.

I was sitting in homeroom, contemplating skipping school ASAP when I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket and I jumped out of my seat. Mr Varner frowned at me but I ran out of the room and answered my phone. My hands were shaking when I raised it to my ear.

"Mum?" I asked.

"Max, I think you should cut school," Mum whispered. She sounded choked. Like she was crying or something. "Go to Fang."

"Why?" I asked, my heart clenching with fear. Oh no. Please no.

"Alice… she lost her battle this morning…" Mum sniffled and my heart stopped for a moment and pain shot through me. "Peter and I were with her. I can't get him to move. He called Fang before school and when you told me he wasn't there… I think he needs you right now."

"Where's Ange?"

"At school." Mum took a shuddering breath. "I'll deal with the school later."

I felt a tear slip from my eyes. I took a deep breath, trying not to break down. I would cry later. I had to get to Fang. Now.

"Bye," I whispered. "I love you."

"Love you too." I hung up and went back into the class room, hugging myself and crying. I tried to stop as I grabbed my bag. Everyone was staring at me in shock.

"Max?" Mr Varner asked.

"I have to go," I whispered. And I left. I heard protests behind me but I was gone. I ran from the school grounds and down the back way to Fang's. I didn't even think of anything bad that could happen if a mugger or someone found me vulnerable and on my own. I had to get to Fang. When I spotted his house I stopped and took deep breaths, gaining control of my emotions.

"Be calm, be strong, for Fang," I told myself.

I walked to the fence and jumped it, walking to Fang's French doors knowing that he wouldn't open the front door for anybody. I tapped on the panes and hoped he would open the doors. He didn't disappoint me.

Fang's face had tears running down it but he had put on a brave expression for opening the door. But when he saw it was me his expression wavered.

"Fang?" I whispered. He stared at me, unblinking, for a moment and then his resolve crumbled and more tears ran down his face. I quickly stepped forward, pulling him into my arms. I'd never seen Fang cry, never, never, never. This hurt so much. Seeing my strong, brave, best friend upset and grieving, his anguish so obvious.

I closed the doors behind me and held Fang tightly.

What could I say? It's okay? That was stupid. It wasn't. Fang's mum was dead, gone, never coming back. It wasn't okay.

I wrapped my arms tighter around him, Fang's head bent into my shoulder, soaking my shirt with tears. I rested my cheek on his head and squeezed my eyes shut.

"I'm here," I whispered. "I'll always be here."

Fang nodded, his arms tight around my waist, holding me with his strong grip. It almost hurt. Almost.

I gently led Fang over to his bed and pulled him onto it, sitting down. He raised his head and looked at me, pain clear in his dark eyes. I reached out and touched his face, wiping off some tears with my thumb. He leant his face into my hand.

"She's gone," he whispered in a pained voice. "She's gone, Max, my mum."

"I know," I replied. "I'm so sorry, Fang." He nodded, closing his eyes. I reached my other hand out and brushed some of his hair out of his eyes and he looked at me, a vulnerable look on his face. "But I'm here."

"I know." Fang looked at me earnestly. "I love you, Max." Then he leant back into me, his body shaking. I moved back and Fang laid his head on my leg and I stroked his hair. I frowned. Fang never used the 'l' word unless it was being teasing to me or he was talking to Angel. He was really messed up.

"I love you, too, that's why I'm here," I whispered to him. "You know that. I'll always be here, Fang. No matter what."

38. Sophomore 21

Thanks so much for all the reviews. I'm only 87 off one thousand!! Come on guys!! Let's hit that review button!!!! ^.^ Sorry for all the people that really empathized with this story line because of family members or friends, I'm among you because I lost my Pop to a tumor that was supposed to be benign but what can you do? This is the funeral chapter and we have some more slightly sad bits coming up and then I'm gonna cut some corners because I don't have too many idea left for the sophomore year and the last half of the year will be kind of vague so that I can get to Junior because that where my huge plans begin. ^.^

Okay, tissues ready? Let's begin.

It was hard. So, so hard. It was hard to try on the neat, black dress that Mum wanted me to wear to Alice's funeral. I didn't even notice it as I put it on the morning of. I didn't even think to be annoyed about wearing a dress.

Mum drove Ella and I to the church where the service was taking place. It was closed-casket because neither Peter, nor Fang wanted Angel to see the body and neither of them could stand the sight. I spotted Fang, Peter and Angel right away, being greeted by people coming. The people were saying how sorry they were.

Mum, Ella and I walked over. Iggy, Gazzy, Alicia, Damien, Nudge, Marian, James, Steve, Damen, Matt and Jake were standing in a group. Angel saw me and walked over sadly. I picked her up, she looked cute in her black dress but she was crying and she buried her face in my loose hair. I patted her back.

Mum hugged Peter and Ella went over to the others. Fang looked at me with his sad, vulnerable eyes and I went to his side and looked into his eyes. Neither of us spoke. It was a good thing that we didn't need to. He understood everything I was telling him without me having to speak and I understood everything he was feeling with one look in his eyes.

I glanced around and was shocked but pleased when I saw Jeb and Ari coming into the church foyer. Mum and Peter went to them and Fang looked at me, his eyes glimmering.

"Thankyou," he said.

"I didn't ask them to come," I replied. Fang's lips twitched as though he might smile but he didn't.

"Are you still singing?"

"Peter asked me to, of course I am."

The others came back and Alicia, Damien, Marian and James took everyone inside. Mum, Peter, Fang and I stayed. Iggy held Angel now, but she stared over his shoulder to Fang and I and I felt my heart break at the expression in little Angel's eyes.

Fang made a choking sound. He'd noticed it too.

"Zac's already in there," Fang told me.

"He did come then." I smiled slightly. I was glad Zac had chosen to come. He wasn't sure if Fang would want him there but I knew that Fang would like it. I was so glad that they were friends. It meant a lot to me.

Fang took my hand when Peter and Mum looked at us.

"We should go in," Peter murmured. His face frightened me. His eyes were haunted and dark. They were filled with pain that I knew I would have to live an entire life to understand. Mum took Peter's hand in support and the four of us walked into the church.

It was silent in there. The only sounds were tiny sniffs and quiet crying. Fang's hand tightened around mine as he cringed at the silence. I squeezed back and Fang looked at me, thanks shining through his eyes. We sat in the front row with Alice's family. Her father was already dead but he mother was there with Alice's sister and brother- twins- who all turned to Peter as he sat down.

Angel was sitting with Iggy in the row behind us which was a good thing. She needed to be held and people in our row were going to be up and down, up and down for the whole service. Fang had his head bowed and his eyes clenched shut. He was absolutely still. The only sign that he was still aware of everything around him were the occasional squeezes from his hand when he heard something- or heard nothing- that made him feel worse.

The minister stepped forward in front of the coffin.

There were boxes of flowers and candles surrounding the mahogany coffin. A large picture of the Ride family was sitting behind the coffin was a few of Alice's possessions on a table next to the display.

"Brothers and sisters," the minister said, his voice sad. He'd known Alice and so any angst that would come through in the service was not forced due to his position, it was because he truly mourned for Alice. "We are gathered today to mourn the passing of one of our own…"

I listened carefully to the words, tears springing into my eyes and running down my face as Rev. Noah spoke about how Alice was gone but her spirit would live on. I wiped my eyes at one stage and looked at Fang who's head was up. His dark eyes were still filled with ageless sorrow but he seemed to like the minister's words.

"I call on Alice's husband, Peter Ride," Rev. Noah said and Peter stood. I think Noah said something else but I missed it because I was focused on Peter's face. He was standing up straight and tall as he walked out to the podium to speak.

"Um… hi," Peter said and cleared his throat of tears so he could talk. "Thankyou all so much for coming today. I know Alice would have loved to see so many people here to say… to say goodbye.

"Her passing was… it was more sudden than it should have been. We should have picked up that she sick sooner than we did but, you know Ali, she was tough and stubborn. She was sorry how things turned out but I know she would have been sadder if she'd spent the last six months of her life being watched like a hawk and unable to be herself."

Peter took a deep breath and his eyes went to Fang and then behind him to Angel to draw strength from his children's faces.

"Alice was… a light, happy and loving person. There was nobody who was better than her. I loved her with all my heart and I will for the rest of my life. My every thought and action will be in memory her, my beloved. I couldn't help but love her when I met her- not many could- she was just so open and kind. A very loving and lovable person.

"My life was changed forever when I met her. I didn't care that we were older than most parents, I didn't know if I wanted kids, I just wanted her. She said it didn't matter if we were never parents, she wanted to love me and be with me. But we did have kids and nobody was a better mother than Ali.

"I suppose that that is the reason people will remember her. Because she loved so many people. Because she was put on this earth to be a mother. She was a mother not only to our kids but to anyone that needed help. She loved all of our children's friends as though they were hers as well. She loved all the kids that she helped down at the homeless shelter. I think that's why people will remember Alice."

Peter paused again, to wipe his eyes this time. I was crying silently. I could remember Alice so clearly. She was so wonderful to me the first time I'd gone to Fang's house. I remember thinking that I would enjoy going to stay with Fang because Alice was great.

"Alice was also very quirky," Peter continued with a half smile. "She didn't do things the way people wanted her to. She made sure she stood out from the crowd. She made sure that people remembered her for not being like every other person they knew or dealt with. Oh boy did she make sure of that."

Her family chuckled and Fang even let out a strangled laugh. I looked at him and was pleased to see a faint sparkle of humour in her eyes. I leant into Fang's side and he put his arm around me as Peter started speaking again.

"Alice told me that when she went, she wanted to do it with a bang. I wasn't quite sure what she had in mind but she did say to me 'just, whatever you do Pete, don't let them all just sit there crying. Make them laugh. Make them happy'. So… when she was in her last hours, I asked her what she wanted me to do.

"'Peter, you know me,' she said. 'I want to be remembered. I don't care about the bang anymore, there isn't that much time for planning but I do want to be remembered.' And so with those words in mind I realised what Alice would have wanted and so I took out a large sum of the money from our account and did what she would have wanted me to do, I put the funds in to have the Alice Ride Shelter for the Homeless built because sadly or homeless shelter leaves much to be desired and I know that this is how Alice would have wanted to be remembered.

"Alice, baby, I'll love you forever and this town will never forget you."

Peter folded his notes and left the podium.

"He left some out," Fang whispered. I nodded. Peter had been about to break down so he'd cut it short. He came and sat back down with us and the minister continued. Prayers were said. Hymns were sung. No more speeches were made- those were to be left until the wake. And then the service was coming to a close and Peter, Fang, Damien, James, Alice's brother Jason and some other male family members stood to carry the coffin and I stood and walked to the front of the church.

I was given a microphone and Peter and Fang looked at me from where they were picking up the front of the coffin. They both nodded gratefully to me.

"Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way.
You always walked a step behind

"So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain

Peter had picked the song for his feelings, explaining how Alice had always encouraged him to go out and be all he could be. He'd always felt such joy for her support but guilt that she was the one left at home looking after the children.

"Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings

I felt that the chorus went for almost all of us. Alice had been that one person in all our lives who had encouraged, loved, supported and understood. She'd always made us go for what we wanted and never tried to stop us.

"It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you

Peter again, his feelings, his thoughts. His love for her and her love for him. Her love being the one thing that kept him strong and kept him going on.

"Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings

"Did I ever tell you you're my hero?
You're everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings

Fang looked at me as they started walking and I felt my heart pang at the look in his eyes but then his dark eyes flared with a kind of warmth that I couldn't identify and he nodded to me. I nodded back and kept singing.

"Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings

"Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings

I finished singing as the males carried the casket from the church and out to hearse parked in front. I put the microphone back on the stand by the podium and wiped the tears from my eyes and went down to where Mum was waiting, her hand outstretched for me.

Zac was waiting at the door of the church and he kissed me cheek as he joined us. It was quiet as we walked with the men to the beautiful graveyard behind the church. Alice's grave was buried deeper than normal because Peter planned on being buried with her when his time came.

There was a marble angel at the top end of the grave, her podium had the engraved marble on it.

Alice Teresa Ride

Beloved Daughter, Sister, Mother, Wife and Friend.

Always Loved

When everyone had gathered, they began lowering the casket into the grave and we all took turns throwing a handful of dirt on the grave. Fang threw down a rose and blew a kiss into the grave and that wrenched at my heart.

Finally, they began filling in the grave and from Peter's request wildflower seeds were scattered in the soil and were watered lightly.

"So that her grave will resemble her beauty," Fang explained in a soft voice to me. He seemed to have cried himself out and now he was just looking at Alice's grave with a broken hearted look but a soft light in his eyes.

"Come on," I urged. "Wake, remember."

"Will you ride with me?" Fang asked. "Please?"

"You don't have to ask." He took my hand again. I was starting to get used to the feeling of holding hands with Fang. It was easy and simple and my hand seemed to fit there very easily.

I looked at Fang then and realised, from the look of gratitude and affection in his eyes that my support and comfort meant more to him then he'd ever say. That realisation once again invoked the feelings in me that there was something I was missing about Fang. But right now I couldn't ask him about it. He was distressed and upset and would be very illogical for a long while at the least.


Fang sat with Max as people took it in turns remembering his mother and toasting her memory. He was so glad to have Max's hand in his for the whole wake. She barely left his side and for that he was glad.

Max's comfort was the only thing keeping him sane. She was his strength and he realised with the force of a hurricane that he really, truly did love her more than he could comprehend. She was his entire life and he would never love anybody else. He just knew it.

Their friendship was solid proof. Max understood him in a way that nobody else did and she was always there for him. He needed her and she needed him. The strength of that connection was undeniable and he knew that she felt it too. She just didn't love him.

It made Fang wonder if she ever would. Would their connection prove to be that strong for her as well that she would be in love with him? Fang knew that Max was the person that he wanted to spend forever with but if she didn't feel like that for him then there was no hope there. Even if she was just his best friend forever Fang didn't care. He just wanted to be with her for the rest of his life, in friendship or more, as long as he was with her.


His grandmother's voice was gentle.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Do you want to say anything?"

Fang frowned. There was a lot he wanted to say. To a lot of people. He pondered her question for a moment and then sighed. Max squeezed his hand and he felt a little jolt of electricity in his hand.

"There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said," he replied. "I love Mum and I'm going to miss her."

"Why don't you play a song?" Max whispered. "Please?"

Fang frowned and then nodded. He let go of Max's hand for the first time that afternoon and retrieved his guitar from his room and then went back into the garden with everybody else. He returned to his seat but Max and made sure that all the strings were right before strumming slightly.

He played the same song he'd played for Alice on her last night and then he played Mama's Arms also by Ronan Keating. Both songs had people crying softly, including Max. When he was done she rubbed his arm and then Fang started taking requests and playing the songs that he knew. Max sung along with him sometimes and people enjoyed the entertainment.

Fang was just glad to be beside Max. He knew that once she was gone his strength would fade and he'd no longer be able to stand it so he took as much warmth from her presence as his could. His sun would be gone soon and he needed as much help as he could.

Before the pain interceded that was.

39. Sophomore 22

This chapter is hopefully the last of the really sad ones. Oh yeah and only 68 review until one thousand!! I've got my fingers crossed because I want to see that 1 000 on my stats page!!! ^.^ Anywho I really like this chapter it's got a lot of depth to it and it's also got some pretty heavy emotions in it. But I swear that this is the last of the really heavy ones. Any other ones after this will only have a few heart panging moments when Fang remembers sad things but that's okay.


The weeks after Alice's funeral were tense, to say the least. But we all just tried to be the same. To live our lives the way Alice would have wanted us to. Fang and I were a lot closer, he depended on me a little more. Not in the he-needs-me-to-do-things-for-him way but in the he-needed-me-around way. It made things distant with Zac and I though.

Fang told me that I should talk to Zac but I was loathe to leave Fang alone. He got all mopey and locked up in depression when I wasn't with him so I hated to leave him alone, even at the end of the days. He eventually got so sick of me not talking to Zac that he told me he was not coming to the Valentine's Day festival and told me to spend the whole day with Zac or he'd never come to school again.

I didn't take his threat seriously- he would come to school- but I'd do anything for Fang right now so I promised to enjoy my day with Zac but I organised to send flowers to Fang for Valentine's Day. It would make him laugh and that was what he needed.

I was also incredibly pleased when Nudge told me that Damen had invited her to come with him to the festival and then I was almost jumping with joy when Iggy asked me if he could invite Ella. I told him yes, nodding my head like an idiot, so much like an idiot that Fang had actually laughed, the first time in ages. The sound had almost made me cry because it wasn't forced and it was actually a pleasant laugh filled with amusement.

So, it is on Valentine's Day that I so anxiously waited for Zac by the park. Ella was already walking off with Iggy. He had given me a tentative smile and whispered that he'd bought her a present and he was going to get her flowers. He was so adorable when he was nervous.

I spotted Nudge and Damen walking, hand-in-hand, past the park. Nudge was smiling shyly but talking softly with Damen. It made my heart warm to see them both happy. I sighed happily.

"What's wrong?"

Zac made me jump. I hadn't heard him come up behind me. His arms wrapped warmly around my waist and he kissed the back of my neck.

"Nothing's wrong," I told him. "Things are right, very right." I frowned. "Some things are very right."

"Only some," Zac agreed. I turned around in his arms and looked up into his kind eyes. He smiled at me and I got the feeling there was something I was missing. "Damen and Nudge? I'm guessing. And Ella and Iggy."

"Yes," I replied. "Is everything okay?"

"Of course, why wouldn't it be?" Zac replied. He rolled his eyes at me. "Let's go and have some fun."

I was still deep in thought about the last two weeks since the funeral. I knew Peter had been let off work for psychological reasons and Fang said he'd been drinking and getting really aggressive. I worried but Fang assured me that he and Angel stayed out of his father's way. I believed him until I saw the bruise on his ribs when he was at my place.


Fang was changing into a different shirt so that we could go for a walk in the forest and I turned around. Fang was rummaging in his bag and when he moved I saw the purple and blue bruise on his side.

"Fang!" I gasped. "Where did you get that?"

"Huh?" Fang straightened up and looked at my horrified face. He looked down and his eyes flashed with some dark emotion and he shrugged. "I fell."

"Oldest excuse in the book," I snarled and stepped towards him as he tried to pull on a shirt to hide it. "Fang!" He stopped and refused to meet my eyes as I studied the bruise. Fang couldn't lie to me even if it was the most stupid lie ever.

"It's nothing," he insisted but I raised a finger and he was silent. I made him look at me and Fang was looking guilty. "Dad was drunk okay, he wouldn't hit me normally."

"Fang…" I didn't know whether to be angry at or to feel sorry for Peter. Fang shrugged and I let him put a shirt on to cover the bruise.

"I just said the wrong thing," Fang muttered. "It was my fault."

"You shouldn't say that."

"Just the truth."

"Is that the first time?"

Fang hesitated and I covered my mouth and tears stung my eyes. Fang stared at me for a moment and then pulled me into his arms. He ran a hand through my hair and rubbed my back comfortingly.

"It's okay, Max," he murmured. "I'm okay. Really. I'm just trying to look after Dad."

"Stop comforting me, you idiot," I mumbled. "You're the-"

"I'm fine."


Fang's statement had closed the conversation but I was so, so worried about him. He brushed everything off nowadays. I sighed in worry and Zac looked at me.

"Okay Max," Zac sighed and stopped. He turned me to face him and put his hands on my shoulders. "What is it?"

"Worrying about Fang," I shrugged. "Look I'll stop. Or… keep it in my head. I don't want to ruin our day together."

"You sure? I can take you to see him," Zac replied.

"Are you kidding? He'd kill me." I chuckled weakly and Zac grimaced. "Look, for today, let's just be me and you and enjoy the day."

"Okay. If that's what you want."

"It is." I smiled at Zac and tried hard to move my worry for Fang into the back corner of my head but I couldn't seem to stop thinking about it all day. I did enjoy my time with Zac but when I wasn't laughing with him or occupying my mind with games and whatnot then I was thinking about how Fang might be in that moment…


Fang stared at the roof. Laziness. That was what filled most of his weekends. He was beginning to wish he hadn't sent Max to spend the day with Zac…

No, that's selfish, Fang, he scolded himself. He'd sent Max to enjoy a day where she shouldn't worry about him. Yet, why did he feel some kind of grim satisfaction knowing that Max would worry about him anyway, she just wouldn't do it openly. Fang wanted her to have fun with Zac but part of him knew that it was a lost cause.

Every time Fang thought back to the morning that his mother had died and remembered telling Max he loved her, he felt embarrassment at the words, annoyance that she interpreted them wrong but thanks for the same reason.

He wasn't ready to have her know yet. He wouldn't be ready for a while.

Fang heard rummaging in the kitchen.

"Dad?" he asked. He thought he'd thrown out all the alcohol… or hidden it at the least. Fang stood up when Peter didn't reply and walked into the kitchen. Peter was stumbling from cupboard to cupboard.

"Where's my whiskey?" he asked.

"Gone," Fang replied. "What have you been drinking?"

"Cooking wine," Peter slurred. Fang rolled his eyes. He'd forgotten about that. "Where's my whiskey?"

"I threw it out," Fang said. Peter turned and eyed him, anger on his face. Fang took an automatic sliding step away from his angry father. He didn't want to get hit again- he wasn't in the mood to just walk away. If Peter hit him now then he'd hit back and then Max would be so, so mad. In fact she'd be mad if Fang got hit again.

Thinking about her made him take another step back.

"Why?" Peter asked, rage bubbling under his tone. Fang stared at his father. Why? He was looking at the answer. Peter seemed to read that irritation and resentment in Fang's face because he moved towards him.

"You got a problem, boy?" Peter snarled, his words still slurred. Fang felt anger at that question and he stopped retreated.

"Yeah, I do!" Fang replied angrily. He heard Angel's door open and wished she'd just stay in her room. He resisted the urge to motion to her, or look at her and tell her to go into her room. "I'm sick of you getting drunk! You need help! Why don't you go out and talk to someone instead of drinking your problems away?"

Peter glared at Fang.

"You really sick of it? Why don't you do something about it?"

"I'm not the one with the problem. You're the loser who is too much of a coward to admit that he needs-"

Fang felt a hot pain shoot through his face as Peter's hand smacked into his cheek. Fang froze, anger boiling through his blood. He gritted his teeth, his hands clenched. It was only Angel's frightened squeak that stopped him from responding.

Fang looked at his little sister at the same time that Peter stared at her. Angel's blue eyes were wide and she had her hands over her mouth. She was tearing up, her expression frightened.

"Go into your room Angel," Fang said calmly, not alerting her to what he was planning to do.

"Shut up," Peter snarled at Fang and backhanded him again. Fang closed his eyes, trying to calm his rage.

"Leave him alone!" Angel squeaked and Peter turned his glare on her. Fang spotted the danger and he straightened up, his muscles tensed.

"Angel, go," he growled. "Now."

Angel heard the anger in his tone and didn't hesitate to rush into her room and close the door. Peter glared at Fang who drew back his fist and smashed it into his father's face with as much force as he could muster.


I looked at the time. It was about five now. Mum was coming to get us at eight, after the fireworks. I turned to Zac to suggest that we start looking for somewhere to eat dinner when my phone buzzed.

I took it out of my pocket and frowned at Fang's Caller ID.

"Yeah, Fang?" I asked, worried.

"It's me," a tiny voice whispered. I froze.

"Angel?" I asked and Zac looked at me with confused eyes.

"Max, can you come to our house?" Angel asked. She sounded like she was crying. She sounded small and frightened and my protective maternal instincts kicked in.

"I'll be there right away," I promised, not bothering to ask what was wrong. Oh god I hoped Fang was okay. I hung up and looked at Zac.

"I parked behind the supermarket," he told me. "Come on." I felt gratitude colour my smile. I would never find another guy like Zac. I was so, so lucky. Zac drove me without complaint to the Rides' house.

"I'll call your Mum and tell her where you are," Zac said.

"Thankyou," I whispered. I leaned over and kissed him. Zac brushed my cheek and we broke apart. "I'll see you tomorrow. Sorry about today. I think Fang needs me, that's the only reason Angel would have called."

"I know. Go to him." Zac gave me a smile. I smiled back and got out of the car. I shut the door and immediately picked up on something very weird that I hadn't noticed before: Angel calling my phone was not normal.

I waved Zac off and went the front door, knocked on it and waited. Angel opened the door looking small, young and frightened. I gasped and scooped her into my arms, walking in and shutting the door.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" I whispered.

"Fang and Dad were fighting," she whispered.


"Yeah, fighting," a grim voice replied. I looked up at the kitchen doorway and gasped again. Fang had a split lit and one hell of a black eye forming.

"Oh my god!" I almost screamed. "Ange, go into the lounge room and watch a movie. You come to the bathroom with me." I put Angel down and nearly pushed Fang towards the bathroom where I knew the first aid kit was. He also had a scrape on his cheek bone and his left eyebrow was swelling above his shiner with a split in the skin.

"Fighting, as in brawling," Fang clarified needlessly. His face was grim and his eyes haunted. What kind of sixteen year old needed this? Certainly not Fang. Not after he'd lost his mother. I tried not to cry as I forced Fang to sit on the edge of the bathtub.

I got a washer and soaked it in lukewarm water in the sink, squeezed the water out before kneeling down and dabbing at Fang's cuts. He winced as I pressed too hard on his eyebrow. I scowled and he dropped his gaze guiltily and I felt bad.

"I'm sorry Fang," I murmured, lifting his face up from under his chin. "You just scared me. Angel sounded so frightened on the phone and then the look on her face when I got here and then you…" I growled slightly and Fang grimaced, his eyes still haunted.

"Sorry Max," he murmured. I felt like I barely knew this boy in front of me and yet I still cared about him as much as I had before he became like this. I finished cleaning his face and then I fixed up the cut on his cheek and eyebrow and looked at his black eye.

"You should be fine," I sighed.

"My Dad looked worse," Fang scowled. "I can throw a punch when I want to." I hugged Fang gently and touched his black eye.

"You need to stop this. Stop reacting to people aggressively I mean."

"Dad needs to stop drinking."

"That too." I sighed and looked Fang in his dark, distant eyes. "But think of Angel, Fang, be diplomatic."

"I can't let him hit me."

"Don't provoke him." Fang looked upset for a moment. "For Angel… for me."

Fang's head drooped with defeat and his body trembled slightly. I hesitated and then rose up on my knees and pulled Fang down from the edge of the bathtub, holding his head against my shoulder. Fang slumped against me and turned his face into my shirt. I could feel tears seeping through the material and I stroked Fang's hair. His hands gripped my shirt at my waist.

I'd fixed Iggy up when he'd gotten into a fight with some guy who was making inappropriate comments about me. I'd scolded Iggy like a mother or a sister would while I'd fixed him up but he'd just laughed it off as being chivalrous and I felt warm and happy that he cared about me.

I'd hugged Nudge when she'd needed to cry about boys and whatnot, the same with Ella. I'd held them, murmured condolences and made them smile again. They made me feel sisterly and given me an urge to protect them, so I had.

Gazzy and Angel were still little. I'd patched up scraped knees, calmed them down after nightmares and sung to them or read them stories when they couldn't sleep. I'd taken care of them when I'd had to and they invoked maternal feelings in me much like my own little brother did. I felt warm and happy taking care of them.

Fang was my best friend, but more than that he was my partner. Though he'd been here longer than me and it was more his group than mine, I was the girl and he wasn't that good at doing all the parent-type things. I'd taught him how to do them a little better and we'd helped each other out.

When the others were down I'd comforted them. When I was down Fang was always there. He was the only one who comforted me but… well Fang never let anybody comfort him so this was a whole new experience for me. This was so different. I was patching up my protector, my safe harbour. I was comforting him and it was raising emotions in me that I didn't know I could feel.

As I held Fang gently, I felt pity for how terrible this year had begun for Fang, I felt pride at how strong he'd been, I felt angst at the pain my best friend was in, I felt anger at both he and his father for acting this way but mostly I had a strong loving urge to protect Fang. He seemed so vulnerable now in my arms, not at all like the tough, bad-boy rock star that I'd grown to care for.

"I'm sorry about all of this Max," Fang whispered, his voice choked with tears. "I feel so horrible."

"It's okay," I whispered, tears stinging my eyes at the sincere apology and caring tone in his voice. We were quiet for a moment and Fang's hands loosened from my shirt and he wrapped his arms around me and gave me a gentle squeeze.

"Thankyou," Fang whispered. "For everything."

"What are friends for?" I replied. I glanced at my watch and Fang raised his head and looked at my face.

"Do you have to go home?" he asked.

"No but I have to start dinner. Come on. I can't let you help me in your condition but you owe your sister an apology."

Fang nodded and I helped him up, one arm firmly around his waist, and led him out to the lounge room. Angel was sitting, curled into a little ball, her beautiful face stained with tears. Fang made a choked sound of pain and walked away from me. He sat down beside Angel and scooped her onto his lap, bending his head over hers and beginning to murmur to her in the angelic voice he usually reserved for singing.

My breath caught and I had to turn around before I started crying. I covered my mouth and took a shuddering breath before going into the kitchen and starting to prepare a pasta bake. I finished cooking the noddles and mixed the tomato sauce with a cheesy one and just as I was grating cheese and breadcrumbs over the top Fang came in.

I didn't realise at first but I could tell someone had come in. I just kept working until Fang's arms wrapped around my waist from behind and he leant his chin on my shoulder.

"Hi Fang," I murmured.

"Thankyou for doing this," Fang whispered, untold affection in his tone. "You're my angel, seriously."

My stomach fluttered and I blushed.

"Um… thankyou," I replied. Fang's arms tightened for a moment and then he chuckled.

"What did you tell Zac? I know you were on a date with him."

"That you needed me. He understood."

"He's a great guy. I'm glad you picked him."

"I'm glad you approve."

The phone started ringing and Fang pressed his lips to my neck for a moment- sending my heart into overdrive, how odd- before going to answer it. I placed the pasta bake in the oven and took some potatoes from the box, wrapped them in foil and put them in the microwave to cook.

"She's right here," Fang murmured. He held out the phone to me and I quickly pressed the start button on the microwave and reached out for the phone. "It's your mum."

I smiled. "Hi Mum," I said.

"Max, are you alright?" she asked.

"I'm fine." Fang drifted out of the kitchen with a smile to me and I winced again at his face.

"Is Fang?"

"Now he is. He's gotta be in pain though."

"Ah… What happened?"

In a whisper I explained to Mum what had happened and what I planned to do now. Just as she asked where Peter was I heard a car outside and I took a deep breath.

"Alright, good luck Max, call me when you want to come home," Mum whispered, worry in her voice, but there wasn't much she could do. I hung up and Fang brought Angel into the kitchen and sat her at the table as I checked on dinner. It was done so I waited for the microwave to ding and got out four plates and prepared salad on each and then served potato and pasta.

Halfway through the door opened and Fang stiffened at my side. I reached out and touched his hand in a way of comfort and then laid the table. Fang got the cutlery.


Peter sounded sober. He stumbled his way into the kitchen and I tried not to gasp. Fang took my hand and gave it a squeeze by way of warning.

"Max…" Peter seemed surprised by my presence and then he shook his head and muttered something that sounded like 'of course… such a wonderful girl'. I smiled slightly.

Peter's face was bruised on his cheeks and he had a black eye worse than Fang's. He still had dried blood on his face and it looked like he couldn't see out of his black eye. I see what Fang meant about his Dad looking worse.

"Peter, I made dinner but do you want me to clean you up before you eat?" I asked gently.

"I'll do it myself, thanks Max," Peter mumbled. "You can start without me, I won't be long." I nodded and noticed that Peter and Fang were avoiding each other's eyes. Peter left and Angel sniffled so I gave her a gentle hug.

"It's okay, sweetie," I whispered and she nodded. We sat down to start dinner and Fang just prodded at his food moodily.

"Fang?" I asked but he ignored me. I sighed and made sure Angel was eating. Peter joined us not long after and there was a huge bubble of awkward tension surrounding the table. When we were all done I cleared the table and Fang helped me.

"Nick… Fang?" Peter said softly. I looked at Fang but he had his eyes closed and his hands clenched against the counter. I turned took Angel's hand.

"Let's go and play a game, Ange," I murmured, leading her out.

"Yeah Dad?" I heard Fang say as we went into the lounge room. Angel and I played Cluedo and finally after a while, Fang and Peter came out of the kitchen. Neither looked happy but when Fang met my eyes, he nodded and motioned to me.

Angel seemed a little frightened of talking to Peter but when he hugged her and murmured 'I love you, I'm sorry' into her ear she burst into tears. I went with Fang to his room and he turned around to me as I shut the door.

"He sobered himself up and booked sessions with a psychologist, grief counsellor specifically," Fang explained. "He and I agreed that neither of us was in much shape to criticize the other but I had more right and he knew I was telling the truth. He feels so bad for everything."

I nodded. Fang seemed a little reluctant to just forgive Peter but it looked like it was going to happen so that was something at least.

"I'm glad," I replied. Fang nodded and his dark eyes glittered and he stared at me with a gentle smile. "What?"

"You left in the middle of your date to come and see me," Fang muttered. "Thankyou, so much."

"That's alright." I shrugged and when I looked back at Fang and I felt something slide into place. Somehow I knew that Fang would be okay now and that our friendship would go back to the way it should be.

As we looked at each other now, I felt something else but I wasn't quite sure what it was. Whatever it was, it kind of frightened me.

40. Sophomore 23

End of the angsy heavy chapters. This one is much lighter and has a few faxy moments in it. Thanks so much for all of the reviews. Now I only have 26 until 1 000, that means that I could read it in this chapter!! I have a heap of chapters already written because I have nothing better to do than sit at a computer all day and write for you. Nah just kidding but it was really hot so I wasn't setting foot outside. Granted I prefer the heat to the cold but I don't like going outside during the heat. Sorry I'm rambling.

Here's your new chappie ^.^

After what happened with Peter, Fang recovered quickly. He told everyone at school who asked that he'd had another run-in with G51. Some people were sceptical, thinking that the gang was sick of Fang and I- which was totally the truth but as if Fang was going to tell on his Dad- but most believed that and told Fang that he should be more careful.

Fang returned slowly to himself. He was able to talk about his Mum without looking sad or dejected. Yeah he missed her but now he was happy to acknowledge that she was wonderful because he knew that she would prefer him to be happy rather than to mourn her.

Our band started practicing together again. We didn't have another gig for a while but that didn't matter to us, we just so jazzed to have our leader back to himself that it didn't bother us.

Ella was ecstatic because Iggy asked her on a date the week after the Valentine's Festival. Damen and Nudge were a little slower but with the shy way they looked at each other, we knew it wouldn't be too long.

Fang had teased me about the flowers once he was totally over getting into a fist-fight with his Dad and I just rolled my eyes, glad that he was himself enough to make fun of me. Our group grew closer together and Peter tried hard to be the same happy, wholesome host that he used to be for us. He almost succeeded but he was still distant and it would take him a while to get over Alice's death. I knew he'd be okay though.

The only downside was my relationship with Zac. It was getting so distant which was breaking my heart. He was still the same guy, we were just growing apart.

"It's probably because of me," Fang sighed, apologetic. I rolled my eyes at him.

"And why would it be about you?" I asked. Fang was now allowed to drive Alice's old car around, he was always ultra-careful with it though, you know BMW and all. Fang said he liked driving a lot better now, but only when he had company. So that's what we were doing today. Fang was driving me to LA for two reasons.

The first one I was happy about. We were going to see Anna, Chris, Jessie and James. JJ was at a family reunion and we didn't even think about inviting Sam. He hated Fang. The others were excited though and JJ seemed extremely sad that she was missing out but she promised to get together with Fang and I another time.

The second one had me cringing. Fang promised to help me look for a dress. None of us were going to Spring Fling this year- we were throwing a 'Spring Fling sucks' party with the Flock instead- but I had promised Zac to go to his Prom with him. I was already upset and anxious about it. Fang thought it was a bad idea, he thought it would make our prom seem less important but I'd said the dark words 'I promise' before I'd known what Zac wanted. I was never falling for that again.

"You've been spending so much time with me," Fang shrugged, continuing our conversation and breaking me out of my thoughts. "You and he haven't been alone that much."

"Well, you've needed me," I shrugged. "Zac isn't the kind of guy who gets upset over those kinds of things though."

Fang shook his head. "I didn't say he was upset. I just said it was causing you two to drift. That's why I've been telling you to spend more time with him."

"Then it's my fault for not listening to my relationship advisor."

Fang rolled his eyes and chuckled. I smiled. I was so glad when he was all happy like this. It didn't happen very often before his mum died so it was even rarer now. I admired the sunlight glinted off Fang's hair for a moment, taking any distraction I could get.

He looked at me then for a moment before looking back at the road.

"It's kind of good that you two have prom," he noted. "But I still think you should just go to Spring Fling together and he could take Sasha to prom. She's going alone."

Sasha was the valedictorian, as we'd found out the day before at assembly. Zac took it in his stride, not surprised at all. I thought he was going to get it but he just laughed at me and said how much more wonderful Sasha was than him. I rolled my eyes.

"Zac's idea, not mine," I shrugged. "I promised and-"

"You never break a promise. I know, Max." Fang rolled his eyes good-naturedly and took the turn off from the highway. It was still early because we'd left before dawn so that we'd have most of the day.

We weren't meeting the others for a couple of hours so Fang took me to one of the huge malls that I knew pretty well and I led him to the formal shops where most girls got their dresses for prom. I had no idea what I was looking for and Fang was looking a little wide-eyed at all of the dresses in the huge store.


I looked up and my eyes trained onto the girl at the counter. I knew her. Lauren. The girl I'd hated almost as much as I hated Adrian but for another reason. Lauren and Lissa ran neck-and-neck on my hate scale.

"Lauren," I said, my tone cold. Lauren raised her eyebrows. It seemed she'd forgotten how she'd stolen my boyfriend and been a total bitch to me and my friends. She also hated me because she'd liked James but he wouldn't go out with her because of how she treated me, Jessica, JJ and Anna.

Fang recognised her name- there wasn't much he forgot about me- and he put a hand on my arm to prevent me from turning this into a cat fight. I reached up and took his hand, twining my fingers through his- that would stop me from attacking Lauren.

Lauren noticed and her eyebrows rose even higher.

"Gosh, I haven't seen you in ages," she commented. "How's Arizona?"

"It's better than LA, because you aren't there to turn the atmosphere stingy," I responded. Lauren rolled her eyes.

"Aren't we too old for this?"

"You stole my boyfriend. You made my best friend's life a living hell. That's not something I'm about to turn around and forget just because I moved states." Fang's fingers squeezed mine.

"Well the whole boyfriend thing shouldn't really bother you anymore," Lauren said, her tone cold. "You had Sam and it seems he wasn't lying when he said you'd moved on." She appraised Fang, clearly admiring.

"I'm not her boyfriend," Fang said in a deliberate voice. Lauren smirked, clearly reading more into Fang answering rather than me than was actually there. I rolled my eyes as she shifted her position and leant on the counter.

"Really then?" she asked in a flirtatious voice.

"That doesn't mean he's up for grabs," I snarled, angry that Lauren was making advances on my best friend. Fang was trying not to laughed when he tugged on my hand.

"Max, do you want to look somewhere else for a dress?" he asked me. I could hear the humour in his voice.

"No, don't go," Lauren said. "While she looks for a dress, me and you can chat."

"No thanks," Fang replied with a charming smile. "I may not have a girlfriend but I do have standards."

Lauren's jaw dropped as Fang pulled me from the store. I giggled and then frowned. Fang was chuckling to himself.

"You're not usually so openly discourteous to girls," I said.

"She was mean to you and your friends, she deserved it," Fang shrugged. "Come on, that looks like a better store."

I looked inside.

"Hell yes, its better. That's Maria at the counter. Come on."

As the morning went on, Fang dragged me from store to store but I didn't find a dress. I tried on numerous ones and Fang commented on the pros and cons of each dress almost as well as most girls did. How he knew how to do those things was beyond me. I'm pretty sure a couple of girls thought he gay when they heard his advice but then he was hug me, or kiss my cheek and they would revaluate. I told him off each time he kissed me but I said he was 'defending his manliness' so I just rolled my eyes and endured.

He got asked for his number several times. It was confusing. I was used to girls liking Fang but he didn't get approached so much at home. Then I mentally slapped myself. Most people in our medium sized town knew Fang and so they knew he didn't date and so he didn't get approached so often but here in LA people didn't know him, but they wanted to.

Eventually we gave up because it was time to go and meet the others at the cinema. When Fang parked behind the cinema we spotted the others right away. They raced over to us and we were given hugs. Fang returned them warmly and I was so proud of him.

"How is he, really?" Anna asked me as we lined up to buy the tickets. Chris and Fang were buying drinks and Jessica and James were buying the popcorn and we'd given them extra money each for chocolate.

"He's getting better," I whispered. "What happened with his Dad really changed him though. He's always going to be a little different. All of this has aged him."

"Understandable," Anna nodded. We each handed over half of the money and got the tickets. Anna looked over at Chris with that warm loving look in her eyes and I smiled. It was so great to see that that hadn't changed at least.

"We're almost there with James and JJ," Anna smiled. "You'll see eventually." I smiled, happy. Fang was talking to Jessica but his eyes met mine as I reached him and his attention was turned to me for a moment as Jessica turned to talk to Anna.

The six of us moved into the cinema and we sat in the middle. Chris's arms went around Anna as soon the lights went down. Fang looked at me and smiled, his hair glinting weirdly in the light from the screen.

We settled in for the movie but I barely noticed what was happening on the screen. I don't think Fang did either because we just kept looking at each other, having silent conversations. While Zac's relationship with me was disintegrating, my one with Fang was getting stronger. When I'd first met him there was a connection right away. It was like a weak piece of elastic. But the more we went through together the thicker the bond was becoming and the stronger. Right now it was becoming a steel cable, not broken easily.

When the lights came on at the end and we stood up to stretch Fang made a funny noise and I looked at him, starting to walked out of the cinema

"That was interesting," he commented.

"I couldn't tell you what that movie was about," Anna murmured as we moved out into the foyer.

"Of course not," I teased. Anna blushed and I put an arm around her. Fang was looking at his watch.

"Oh man," he groaned.

"We have to go, don't we?" I asked sadly.

"Unfortunately…" Fang sighed.

"That's alright, we'll get together again," Chris said, punching Fang's shoulder playfully. We said our goodbyes in the parking lot and waved to the others as Fang pulled out. I leant back in my seat and sighed.

It was about three so we'd get back around seven thirty, maybe eight, depending on the traffic. I glanced at Fang who had his window down, his elbow resting on the door and was driving with one hand. He looked relaxed and calm. He was even smiling slightly.

"What is so funny?" I asked when he chuckled to himself.

"Inside joke," he replied.

"With who?"


I frowned. "Are you going to explain it to me?"

"Hmm…" Fang pondered. "Nah, I'll let you suffer. I'll tell you in a few years."

"Gee thanks."

Fang laughed again. It was a nice sound. It was so good to have him happy. After a few hours on the highway, the sun was beginning to set and my stomach was grumbling. Fang glanced at me sideways. It was quarter to six and I was hungry.

"Next roadhouse is in three miles, can you last that long?" Fang asked, that amused tone in his voice again. I rolled my eyes at him and he grinned so unexpectedly that my breath caught. I was sure that had I been the one driving my foot would have slammed down on the brake or if I'd been walking I would have stopped in my tracks.

Fang didn't smile like that very often and whenever he did it made the world spin faster and the sun seem dim in comparison. I was so lost in my wanderings of trying to count how many times Fang had ever smiled at me like that when he put on the indicator and then pulled off to the roadhouse's parking lot.

"Sally's?" I asked. I hadn't eaten here before. I'd seen if every time I'd driven by though.

"Yeah, do you mind? I like this place," Fang replied.

"Nope," I replied, getting out of the car. Fang locked it and dropped the keys into his pocket before tucking his hands in there. He looked so laid-back today. I knew it wasn't put on but I had no idea why he was acting this way. It was so confusing.

We went inside and I looked around in interest. This place was decorated with so many plants that you'd think you were actually eating outdoors. I raised my eyebrows at the pretty rock-waterfall over by the drinks fridge. It was so nice.

Fang put his hand on my lower back and led me over to a free two-seater table. I sat down and Fang lazed in his chair, perfectly at ease.

"Can I ask you something?" I said as I picked up a menu.

"Go ahead," Fang replied, his eyes scanning his menu.

"What's put you in such a good mood?"

Fang's forehead creased and he looked up at me. I could see he was thinking about how to phrase his answer to my question. He fiddled with his menu for a few moments, looking down and then he raised his eyes back to mine.

"I think it's because I got to spend the day with you," Fang replied. "We haven't had a day, just me and you, for a while so I was enjoying it, I guess."

I smiled. "That's good."

A waitress came to our table and we ordered our dinner and then she brought out cutlery and drinks for us. Fang swirled the ice in his glass, humming 'Have a nice day' to himself while he did so. I watched him, amazed at how easily he'd bounced back to himself. Then I noticed the still not completely healed cut over his eye and I wondered if when he was alone he was still as lost and confused as he had been when he'd found out that his mother was dying.

"So…" Fang frowned at me and he was about to speak when the waitress brought our food out. Fang gave her a charming smile and she smiled back then he returned his attention to me.

"Yes?" I replied, stabbing a piece of lettuce with my fork.

"Um…" I looked up at Fang and he looked rather uncomfortable. "Never mind, actually. It can wait."

"Um… sure." I frowned and studied Fang curiously but he returned his happy self after a few minutes and he drove me home, chatting to me about which modern singer's songs I would like to sing at our next few gigs (I picked Jordin Sparks).

We pulled up outside of my house and I was strangely reluctant to get out of the car. Not because I didn't want to leave Fang alone- because that was part of it too- but because when he was happy it was so easy to be happy yourself and to enjoy yourself. Plus I could be myself around Fang like I couldn't around anybody else.

"Bye," I said.

"See you on Monday," Fang replied.

"Meet you in the usual spot?"

"Sure. Max, what do you want for your birthday? It's almost upon us again."

"Nothing. Just you being happy." I smiled. "If you keep this mood up for the rest of your life, I'll be content."

"But that's no fun." Fang rolled his eyes. "What do you want?"


"I'll think of something." Fang chuckled evilly. "You know, if you don't tell me what to get you then I'll get you something you'll hate."

"No you won't," I replied. "I know you, you wouldn't do that." I opened the door. "Bye."

Fang leant over to me and I froze in place but he just kissed my cheek gently.

"Thanks for today," he murmured to me in his soft, angelic voice. "It does me good to be happy."

"Uh… no problem." I replied, blushing like crazy. Good thing it was dark. I slipped out of the car and shut the door. I waved Fang off and tried to compose my face before I went inside.

I think I was starting to get an idea of what that look in Fang's eyes was for. And I don't think I liked it. Not one little bit.

41. Sophomore 24

*Jumps up and down excitedly clapping hands* Guess what!!! Wooo I reached one thousand!!!!! Thankyou all so much!!! And it was HalesXxGriffiths who posted review number one thousand and so, I thank you!! Thankyou all soooooo much! Sophomore year is almost over and that means that this story is almost half over ^.^ That makes me excited because of my plans but the second half but also sad because this has been so much fun and I don't want it to end... but all good things must come to an end eventually so I'll just enjoy this while I still can.

Oh and about Max not liking the idea of Fang's feelings. It's because she doesn't want anything to change their friendship and she thinks that those feelings might ruin something very important to her and she doesn't want to lose what they have. Plus she doesn't want to hurt Fang.

Okay, here's your new one. Enjoy it with my many thanks and hugs to all of you!!! ^.^

I was planning to ask Fang about my suspicions but one: I was too chicken to confront him in case I was wrong. Two: I didn't want to make things awkward. And three: I never got the chance because Mr Callahan suddenly had me and the rest of the music class very busy helping to prepare for a joint schools concert that was being hosted in our auditorium. He was very panicky and so we all took on extra jobs that kept us busy well into the night.

"I think I snagged three hours sleep last night, at the most," Damen groaned, his eyes drooping. Steve kicked his chair and he started and then went right back to dozing.

"He almost fell asleep in gym," Iggy shrugged. "Let him sleep. Better now than in class."

"Where's Fang?" Steve asked.

"In the auditorium, doing measurements," I replied. Zac's arm loosened around my waist for a moment and I looked at him. He was leaning back in his seat, eyes closed contentedly. I poked Zac's arm and he looked at me.

"Do you mind if I go and help him? He needs to eat," I said.

"'Course not," Zac replied. "I'll come too."

"Sure." I smiled but I was secretly displeased. I was going to try and talk to Fang, if I could pluck up the courage but if my fears were right then I really didn't want Zac to know about them. It would make him not like Fang, I was sure of it, and I really didn't want that.

We walked into the auditorium and found Fang, not only helping out with the measurements of the stage but directing the stage hands who were setting up the sound and light systems and the ones who was taping up the floor for where certain people had to stand and where instruments and risers had to go to save time on the night.

"No, the spot light has to be able to move across that side as well!" Fang was shouting.

"Sorry but the pivot is broken on the left!" someone called from up in the rafters. I glanced up at the person dressed in black, sitting on the platform that ran along the length of the stage lights.

"Then find someone to fix it!" Fang called back. He spotted me and Zac when he looked around and a relieved smile split across his face.

"Zac! Thank god you're here!" Fang called. "The seniors won't listen to me! Can you go and deal with them?"

"What do you need?" Zac asked, looking a little wary with all of the people rushing around like mad hatters.

"They're cranking the music system for the dancers," Fang sighed. "Steve and Damen haven't finished remixing the music yet but they insist on getting the system ready. Go and tell them to stop."

"Will do," Zac said. He walked off back stage and to the path that led up to the sound and lighting booth. I went to Fang's side with my eyebrows raised.

"Oi! Less pink!" Fang shouted. Then he looked at me.

"How did you get stuck doing this?" I asked.

"Mr Callahan got called away," Fang shrugged. He rubbed his forehead. "I was already in here so he asked me to take over." Fang glanced up at the lights. "Where has the boy gone?"

"Um… Fang, I need to talk to you about something," I murmured. He was looking around in exasperation as the light continued to change. Then he looked at me.


"I need to talk to you."

Fang looked apologetic. "Can it wait? I'm up to my neck in things to do and my sound guy had disappeared." I must have looked upset because he faltered. "Unless it's really important…" He looked at me worriedly.

"No it can wait," I muttered, losing my nerve. "Do you want me to get you some lunch while you locate your sound guy? You must be starving."

"That would be brilliant," Fang sighed. He smiled at me and I hurried off to the cafeteria and bought Fang a sandwich and then went back to the auditorium. Zac was back and chatting to the prop guys while Fang argued with a guy carrying an area pick-up microphone.

"Fang!" I called as he turned to walk away. He looked at me.

"Thanks Max!" he said as he took the sandwich from me. "Do me a favour?"

"Sure," I replied.

"Find the girl in charge of the roster," Fang told me. "I need to get a copy to the people in the booth so that they know the light orders and the music ordering."

"I can do that." Fang shot me a grateful smile and I hurried off. I found who he wanted and picked up one of her extra copies and took it up to the sound and lighting booth above the balcony seating.


I looked around at the call of my name. Jamie, a senior and one of Zac's football buddies, was always in charge of things up here. I was glad to see him.

"Hi Jame," I said. "Fang sent me with the roster."

"You're an angel," Jamie sighed taking the papers from me. He started typing into his computer and shouting orders. It wasn't that much quieter up here than downstairs.

"Oh god, this is hell," I moaned, reluctant to go back down. I could see Fang arguing with the lighting crew again.

"I know," Jamie sighed. "We've never hosted the concert before. Now I know why. Are you guys playing?"

"Yeah, we're towards the end," I replied. "Fang and I will be doing a duet somewhere in there though."

"Yes I see," Jamie said. "Next Time You Fall In Love?"

"Correct." I looked down and saw Zac and Fang looking up here, trying to spot me I guess. "I should go."

"Have fun," Jamie said with a wink. I rolled my eyes and went back down to my two boys who were both as twitchy as each other now. Fang was arguing with another sound person. As I reached Zac, Mr Callahan burst into the auditorium and barely spared thirty seconds to thank Fang before finding someone to chastise.

"Let's go before you get a stomach ulcer," I said to Fang, taking his arm and pulling him along with Zac and I.

"I already have one from dealing with you," Fang told me. "This is nothing compared to that."

"Oh ha, ha."

"I thought it was funny."

I rolled my eyes and looked at Zac. He was wearing that resigned look again that I still didn't understand. I frowned. He'd get that look when he thought I wasn't looking. It was starting to do two things. One: worry me. Two: annoy me greatly.

Why couldn't guys just talk about their feelings?

That thought made me look at Fang and wonder about my theory. Suddenly I didn't want to know if I was wrong or right. Because if Zac's look was worrying me than I'd rather not mess things up with both of them and, though it was so horrible to think let alone know for sure, I knew that I could survive if things turned out bad with Zac and me but if I messed up my friendship with Fang then I wouldn't be the same ever again. I needed Fang more than I needed Zac, as horrible as it was to think something like that about my boyfriend.

I would never ask Fang about that stupid thought I'd had last weekend.

"When is this concert again?" Zac asked.

"One week, Friday," Fang replied. "But we have rehearsals all through next week. Max, is your old school in it this year?"

"We were last year but I don't know…"

It had been so weird to find out that Fang and I had been in the same place several times before but never known it. When Mr Callahan announced that we were hosting this concert this year I was shocked. My school had hosted it two years ago but my primary school had been part of it, so had Fang's. And two years before that I'd been forced into the choir for the concert and so had Fang. It was so strange to know that we'd been in the same place twice before but never having realised it.

"Ask," Fang insisted. "I want to know if I have to hide from your ex and drag Zac with me."

"Fair enough," I chuckled. Zac laughed and the bell sounded so Fang and I went off to Drama together while Zac headed to History. Iggy was waiting for us in Drama and Fang and I told him about the hectic organisation down below us and he laughed, glad that he hadn't come with Zac and I to find Fang.

I looked at my two best friends as they laughed together and I put together the differences between how they acted towards me and I became even more fearful that my suspicions about Fang were right.

I really didn't like the idea of that.


It turns out that only some of my LA friends would be at the concert but that didn't matter, Sam wasn't one of them. JJ, James, Anna and Chris were the only ones coming. Plus a whole heap of other people I knew. Lauren was unfortunately one of them.

Rehearsals didn't leave us much time to chat though. I did see JJ and James talking close together, their fingers linked and that made me smile despite that I was running around trying to keep everyone organised.

When Friday night came we were all so relieved. Our nerves were stretched incredibly tight and I couldn't wait until all of this was behind us. Our massed choir with one solo student from each school had been the hardest to organise so Mr Callahan was biting his nails over that one.

"Chill sir," Damen said after our band was done on stage. A pair of people dancing the tango went onto the stage and Mr Callahan stared at Damen.

"Our choir is perfect," Steve added.

"Yeah, Fang's solo kicks butt," Iggy added. Fang rolled his eyes and pushed Iggy playfully. We began hurrying people into place for the final performance as Mr Callahan went out to make his speech.

"Get into place," I hissed at Fang. He was still supervising people onto the risers.

"We'll help out here," Chris said as he joined us. "You should go out with the others."

"Sure?" Fang asked. He was almost as stressed at Mr C.

"Fang. Go," I ordered. Fang looked at me and cracked a smile before hugging me tightly with one arm, grabbing his mic and heading out with the other soloists.

I finished getting people onto the risers and took my place. We were going to be singing 'You're the Voice' but John Farnham which had Fang very cheerful. He said it was tonnes better than the usual songs. I almost rolled my eyes but I couldn't, it would be hypocritical. I loved old music too.

The curtains opened and we got through the song without a single mistake and Fang's voice put the other soloists to shame. Then we all scattered and Fang and I darted out back away from the crowd. Anna, Chris, JJ and James found us outside and we all burst out laughing.

"Thank the lord that is over," JJ sighed. "It is such a relief."

"You bet it is," Fang agreed.

"You are going to get grey hairs," I scolded. He just smiled at me. I turned to the others. "It was so great having you guys here."

"It was great to be here," Chris said.

"Your band is awesome," James added.

Iggy, Steve and Damen found us then and we all started complimenting each other, recounting the funny happenings and then laughing at the teachers' stress. Then my friend had to get back on their bus to LA and I felt a pang of sadness. I missed them so much, still. No matter how much I adored the Flock, I would always miss my LA gang.

"Well, who wants ice-cream?" Damen finally asked and we all laughed.


Max's birthday was in one week and Fang still had no right idea what he was getting her. He counted backwards in his head as he wandered through the mall. Where had the year gone? He supposed that it was quicker for him because he'd been out of it for most of the year. He cringed at how zombie-like he'd become. In hind sight his attitude had been awful.

"Can't help it now," he sighed. Fang looked up at the jewellery stores but continued past. He really didn't know what to get her for her birthday. It was difficult. Zac was buying Max a pair of earrings with feathers on them- he'd picked up on the whole feather thing but wasn't quite sure what it meant. Fang bit his lip. Max sure was hard to buy for.


Fang turned around at the sound of Matt's voice. Matt joined him, grinning happily. Fang held up his hand and Matt clasped it.

"It's been a while," Fang chuckled.

"Are you coming back to work?" Matt asked.

"Tomorrow afternoon," Fang promised. "But right now I need to find Max a present."

"Difficult huh?" Matt questioned.

"It is," Fang replied. He sighed. "I really have no idea what to get her."

"She is a difficult girl." Matt nodded and frowned. "I don't suppose you want to get her jewellery… something with a heart on it?" Matt's sly smile made Fang throw a punch at him but Matt ducked, laughing.

"Shut up," Fang muttered and walked on. Matt walked beside him, trying to keep a straight face.

"Did I touch a nerve?" he couldn't resist teasing.

"I said shut up," Fang mumbled.

Matt laughed. "Oh so, are my suspicions right, Nicky-boy?"

"Don't call me that." Fang turned, pretending to be interested in a display in the shop he was next to. Matt shrugged nonchalantly and then they continued on.

"So, gonna make a move once she's done with Zac?" Matt asked casually.

"No," Fang replied.

"And why not?" Matt sounded genuinely confused.

"Because I don't want to lose Max. I know she couldn't possibly feel the same way about me." Fang sighed sadly. "Look, I'm going to go home. There isn't anything coming to mind."

"Sorry for bringing it up," Matt said gently. "See you tomorrow."

"Bye." Fang walked off, his heart panging sadly. He remembered what Alice had told him when he'd said goodbye but he didn't agree with her. Max would just stand beside him when he got married but he wouldn't be getting married to her. Fang knew that it would never happen. He loved Max but it was only one-way. It was a stupid unrequited love.

Fang drove home slowly, taking the longest route that he could. He would have preferred to walk but he'd driven to the mall so he had to drive home. When he got home he found Peter sitting at the table with a box in front of him. A pretty wooden box.

"What's that?" Fang asked.

"It was your mother's," Peter said. "Take a look."

Fang took the box gently and opened it. It was a music box lined with velvet. It had a lock and the key was in the lock.

"Why are you showing me this?" Fang asked.

"You said you didn't know what to get Max and I thought that you might like to give her this. I know Alice would have wanted that." Peter shrugged. "Do you want to?"

Fang held the box delicately and he knew that Max would probably be speechless if he gave her this. He smiled slightly. It was the perfect gift.

"Sure," Fang agreed. "Thanks a heap Dad."

"Not a problem." Peter smiled. "The weekend after Max's birthday they're having a barbeque in the gardens. I got your band a gig."

"Whoa! Cool." Fang smiled. "I'll get the word around. Thanks heaps."

Peter grinned, happy to be filling his requirements as a father again. Fang went to his room, found some wrapping paper as he texted the band. He sat on his bed admiring the wooden box. It was engraved with patterns- underneath the lacquer- that were painted black and gold. Fang knew, looking at it, that Max would really like it.

His phone buzzed and he picked it up to read the message. It was from Max.

Too cool. By the way, if you spent any money on me I am going to kill you.

Fang grinned. He didn't spend a cent, Max couldn't kill him now. Fang felt a little bubble of happiness in his heart as he thought of her. Despite his sadness about unrequited love, Max always made him happy; it was just something she did. Stupid love, changing who he was. It was actually kind of annoying.

42. Sophomore 25

I'm kinda mad at Fanfiction and Hotmail right now. Because I would have had this up last night if the little menu things had been appearing on FF and then my hotmail isn't recieving my review alerts or anything like that so I thought I hadn't gotten any reviews on the last chapter and I couldn't even check if I actually had and hotmail was playing up until this morning because fanfiction was playing up too!! Urgh....!!! Grr!!!

Ahem. Anywho I'm glad you guys liked the last chapter! I like this one, it's the last sophomore year one and then the summer is coming up and there's only like two chapters of that and then Junior year because I wanted to get straight onto it!!!

Enjoy! ^.^

I was going to kill those people I call my friends. They bought me presents. Losers. But I have to get over it. And I did because we had to prepare for a gig with only one week's time. We picked songs that we knew well so that it wouldn't be too much trouble.

The weekend barbeque in the park was something I was really looking forward to. It was fundraiser for cancer research which explained why Peter wanted us to play there. Once we knew what we were raising money for, we went collecting donations so that we could add them to the total on the weekend. Fang was very cheery about it, especially when I had no time to chastise him about the gift he'd given me- not that I would, I knew Alice had loved that box.

So when the weekend finally arrived, I was jumpy and bubbly and couldn't wait to perform. I was very relieved when Zac told me that they'd moved his prom from May 21st to June 4th. That gave me an extra two weeks to get a dress. Urgh, I hate dresses. Have I ever mentioned that before?

"Ready to perform?" Fang asked me when I joined them on the gazebo.

"Sure am," I replied.

"Yo! Guys!"

We looked down at Matt and Jake who were beckoning to Fang. I nodded to him and jumped down from the gazebo to check the sound cords. I heard footsteps and looked up at Zac. I started to smile but then I noticed the look on his face and my heart sank.

"Hi," I said.

"Hey Max," Zac replied. He leant down and kissed my cheek. "Can we talk?"

I looked at Fang but he was busy talking to Matt so I nodded at Zac and we walked away from the others. We walked over to the trees and I felt people glancing at us curiously but I ignored them and focused on Zac.

"What is it?" I asked gently. Zac had been quiet lately and I guessed I was about to find out why. His eyes were slightly determined so I was worried that he was upset about something. He looked at me seriously.

"Max, I can't be with you anymore," he said softly. My heart seized up for a moment and I frowned, hurt.

"Why?" My voice betrayed how hurt I was and Zac closed his eyes, thinking. When he opened them, his brow furrowed and he looked confused.

"Look, Max, I love you," Zac said. I waited, knowing that a heavy blow to my heart was on the way. "But, despite that, I need to break up with you. This isn't about me, it's about you-"

"Aren't you supposed to say that the other way around?" I asked in a tiny voice. I was hurting so much. Why was he doing this? What had I done?

"No." Zac's lips twitched as though he was going to smile but then he sighed. "I can't be with someone who doesn't love me and, let's face it, you don't love me and you never will, because you can't."

I looked at Zac, confused. What was he talking about? This was love. It felt like it had with Sam, just easier. I loved Zac, he knew that.

Zac read my confusion with ease and he gave me a sad little smile.

"You can never love me, Max, I've realised that. I realised it a while ago but I couldn't do this when you had so much on your mind so I waited until now," Zac murmured and when I looked down sadly he reached out and lifted my chin with his fingertips. "You can never love me, because you love somebody else."


"Zac, I don't know what you're talking about," I said, moving a step back from him. Now, on top of my hurt and confusion I was annoyed. Was he accusing me of cheating on him?

"Max, I don't mean that you've been going behind my back," Zac explained. "I don't think you even realise what I know as a fact."


"You're not meant to be with me. There's someone you love and someone that you're meant to be with. Even if you may not realise it, you love him to bits and that's why you can't love me. No matter how I feel about you, I can't be with you when I know that." Zac shrugged. Even now, when he was telling me that I loved someone else- I still don't get it- he was still the nice guy who'd asked me out all those months ago.

"We'll still be friends, right?" I asked.

"Yeah." Zac smiled. "But, you don't have to come to Prom with me anymore." I gave a sigh of relief and Zac laughed.

"That's good, just one Prom in my life is good enough for me," I told him and then I tugged my pony tail sadly. "I'll miss you."

"And I'll miss you but we'll get over it, you quicker than me." Zac shrugged again and we hugged. "You'll figure it out Max, don't worry."

We broke apart and Zac stuffed his hands into his pockets and left the park, walking towards his car. I felt sad and lonely now and everyone was looking between Zac's car driving off and me standing beneath the trees.

I wrapped my arms around my stomach and walked over to a bench and sank down. I felt tears burn my eyes. Damn it. I didn't want to cry. I didn't want to think about this. Right now I wanted to go home, get into my pyjamas and curl up in bed and never come out again. I hated feeling like this so I was angry too.


Fang's voice was soft and worried. I didn't look at him, I just wiped my eyes but it was pointless because I more tears just replaced the ones I brushed away. Fang sat down and put an arm over my shoulders and pulled me into his side. I curled into him and nestled my face in his shoulder.

When I was upset nothing was better than hiding my face in Fang's shoulder and feeling like the whole world was gone because he made everything feel better.

"He broke up with me," I whispered.

"I figured," Fang replied. He stroked my hair and hugged me close. "Why?"

I hesitated and then I told Fang everything Zac had said to me. Fang was just as confused as I was and came to the conclusion that Zac was either trying to make me feel bad- though that was unlikely because it wasn't him- or he just didn't want to give me his real reason so he'd made everything up- which was more likely.

"Either way," Fang whispered. "He made a huge mistake. No guy should ever give you up for any reason. It's okay though Max, you'll be fine."

I gave a half-laugh that sounded choked. "I know I will be," I whispered and raised my tear-stained face. "You want to know why?"

"Why?" Fang looked slightly amused, glad I had at least a half smile on my face. I wiped my eyes and tilted my head.

"I'll be fine because you're here for me," I explained. "I know everything's fine if you're with me."

Fang's eyes softened and he smiled and pulled me tighter to him, hugging me warmly. He turned his head into my hair and I buried my face in his shoulder again, feeling bad for the wet stains I'd made on his shirt.

We didn't say anything, just held each other for a few moments and then Fang released me and pulled me to my feet, giving my hands a squeeze as we stood up. He smiled at me and led me back over to the others.

"We're going to go for a walk," Fang told Iggy. "Keep an eye on Angel."

"Sure," Iggy replied, "Enjoy yourselves." Iggy touched my shoulder gently and gave me a smile as Fang and I walked off. Fang was still holding my hand comfortingly and I tried not to notice too much, otherwise I'd end up blushing.

I didn't know what was with Fang these days. His mood changed so much and sometimes he said things but meant the opposite and he acted in ways that contradicted both what he said and meant. Regardless of how confusing he was though, I was so glad he was my best friend and was here to comfort me. Nobody could comfort me the way he could.

"We should go back," I mumbled. Fang looked at me. "The gig."

"Oh right," Fang replied. He frowned at me, dark eyes sincere. "Are you sure you want to?"

"We have to." I touched Fang's face and gave him a slight smile. "For Alice."

Fang's eyes warmed and he pulled me into him and hugged me gently. He touched my hair for a moment and then released me.

"I'll race you," he said.

I laughed and turned around. We both tensed.

"On your marks," Fang said.

"Get set," I added.


We both started running, laughing our heads off as though we'd heard the funniest joke in the world. Fang and I are so strange sometimes that it amazes me that we haven't been chucked into the loony-bin together. I suppose that it wouldn't be so bad if we were there together. As long as I had Fang I'd be okay. I could survive a thousand hard experiences as long as he was with me and able to comfort me.


You'll all be relieved to know that Zac and I stayed friends. He hung out with our group occasionally and suddenly things were easier. It was a simple thing to hang out with Zac like a normal girl. Fang convinced him to go to the Prom with Sasha and Zac agreed that it would be a good idea. I was pleased to see them together after lunch, hands joined between them, talking earnestly.

Fang was a little bit smug now that I wasn't with Zac anymore. I think it came from him not feeling guilty anymore about taking me away from my boyfriend- and a little bit that he got to drive me to school now.

We still had more than two months left of school but that didn't matter. We all hung out. Our band got a heap more shows and we even had one planned for the Fourth of July before the fireworks which was- apparently- a real honour.

Finals slid by, easier than last time and Fang had the usual invitations for Spring Fling. He ignored each one of them.

It was on the last day of school, Fang, Iggy, Steve, Damen and I were out for a celebration and we saw it. It was a poster for the most prestigious teen band competition ever. We were pretty much drooling as we stared at it.

"Oh my god," Damen sighed. "It's set for next September."

"We have to enter!" Iggy exclaimed.

"We do," Fang said. Steve darted into Music World and grabbed an application and gave it to Fang to fill out. We went down to the food court to get something to eat and for Fang to fill it out.

"This is going to rock," Steve said, barely able to keep from bouncing up and down in his seat. "You think we'll make it to the finals?"

"Hell yeah," Fang laughed.

"Totally," I agreed. "We're going to win."

"Of course we are," Damen replied. He slurped his shake and grinned at us. "We'll be celebrities. It'll be so cool."

"Definitely," Fang agreed and paused. "Oh… we need a manager."

"We do?" I asked, leaning over the application form. "You know, we could put Mr C down. Or your dad?"

"What do you say guys?" Fang asked.

"Put your Dad down," Iggy said.

"Sounds good to me," Steve agreed while Damen nodded because his mouth was full of fries. I dipped a fry in my soft-serve and Steve pulled a face. "How can you stand that Max?"

"It's good," I retorted.

"It is," Fang agreed without looking up. He didn't need to. Steve and I got into the debate over chips and ice-cream or milkshakes almost everytime the band went out together to eat.

"Alright, almost done. I'll finish it off at home once I've spoken to Dad." Fang looked up at us and smiled. "I have a good feeling about this."

"So do I," Iggy replied.

We all chatted for the rest of the afternoon and then split up. Steve and Damen were going to walk home and Fang was driving me and Iggy home. When Fang dropped Iggy off he paused.

"Can I ride shot gun next time?" he asked.

"Front seat is my seat," I replied. "Get your own front seat." Iggy rolled his eyes and muttered something that I didn't hear but Fang threw a pen at Iggy's head as he got out of the car. We waved to Iggy who was snickering.

"Annoying weirdo," Fang muttered and I giggled. I giggled? What the hell is happening to me? Fang looked at me. "You're cheerful."

"School's finally over," I shrugged.

"Yeah, the last two months have been so boring that it just isn't funny," Fang sighed. "But we're halfway through now."

"I know. Kind of scary, huh?"

"A little." Fang glanced at me sideways. "July fourth is our only gig all through the summer? We need something else to occupy ourselves with."

"We do," I agreed. "We could always go on a summer camp."

The look on Fang's face sent me into hysterical laughter that I really couldn't control. It was hilarious. His expression was a mixture of shock, disgust and a desire to drive me to the mental asylum instead of home.

"I was kidding," I laughed, rolling my eyes.

"Oh… I did know that."

"Sure you did."

Fang rolled his eyes and focused on the road, trying not to pay attention to me. I found that hilarious. He always did that whenever I outsmarted him because he was actually heaps smarter than me so he got very indignant and disgruntled when he did something stupid.

"You're home, get out of my car," Fang said pulling up outside my house.

"Remember, sleepover at my house next weekend," I reminded him. "See you then."

"Sure," Fang sighed. Then he smiled at me evilly and I frowned.

"Whatever you're planning, forget about it." I glared at Fang but he just gave me his innocent smile and winked. "You'll regret it, whatever it is."

"Of course I will. Bye Max."

I got out of the car, slamming the door behind me and Fang chuckled before driving off. I went inside and found Ella on the phone- most likely to Iggy- and Mum wasn't anywhere.

"Ells, where is Mum?" I asked.

"She went to town, someone's pet was in trouble so she'd doing a house call," Ella replied before returning her attention to the phone. I rolled my eyes and went to my room. I decided to write an email to Dad and invite him to come and watch us play at the Independence Day barbeque.

As soon as I sent the message I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach and wanted to drag the message back from cyber space. I didn't know why but I suddenly regretted writing to Jeb.

43. Sophomore 26 Summer

You're all gonna kill me. You're all gonna kill me!!! You're all gonna kill me!! (hides) Enjoy this chapter though I know a lot of you will probably be sending me death threats in your reviews! But never fear I shall rectify this....... well it'll actually be a while, so you'll all be sitting in suspense and begging me to update like four times a day so that you can know what happens next....... hmm I suppose on Christmas I can give you all a gift of two chapters if you but until then only one a day I'm afraid.

Enjoy. Please don't kill me.

It was quite a pleasant summer day when Dad showed up. He'd never replied to my email so I didn't think he'd be coming to our gig in three days, but I guess he'd thought to surprise me. Maybe.

I was walking through the forest when I heard a car pull up. It didn't sound like Fang's car- plus it was early, he wasn't picking me up yet- so I frowned and turned around and looked out through the trees to the house. Dad was getting out of his sedan and I smiled and raced back to the house.

"Dad!" I called and he turned around as I threw my arms around him in a huge hug. He hugged me back warmly.

"Hey kiddo," he said.

"You came! I didn't think you were coming!"

"Of course I came, you asked me to." I laughed and let go of Dad just as Mum opened the door and smiled.

"Jeb, it's good to see you," she smiled. "Do you want to come in?"

"Thanks a lot Val," Jeb replied. "Max? Could you grab my bag?"

"Sure," I replied. I looked at Mum and she smiled at me. I was so happy to have Dad here to see the concert and she knew it. I grabbed Dad's bag from the sedan and took it into the house and put it in the guest room before joining Mum and Dad at the table.

"Dad, I hope you'll be okay this afternoon, Fang's picking me up in about half an hour and I'm going to go and hang out with the Flock at his house," I said. Dad nodded, smiling.

"That's fine, sweetheart," he told me. "I just have something I want to discuss with you first."

I didn't like the look on Dad's face so I sat down, a sick feeling in my gut. I looked at Jeb worriedly. His blue eyes were clear of any darkness but I still didn't trust that I was going to like what he was going to discuss with me.

"Max," Jeb said. "I know this is a little late but I want you to come live with me now."

I blinked and stared at my father.

"What?" I asked, unable to comprehend what he was saying.

"I want you to come live with me now," he said again. I blinked. Okay. Confused. "I thought this was what you wanted sweetheart."

"It was but then I settled in here, I enjoyed it," I replied. "You know I love it here. Why do you want me to come and live with you now?"

"Well… Ari's mother took him away and I'm all alone now. I need company Max. I can't live alone. Please, sweetheart, for me?"

I looked into Dad's blue eyes and bit my lip, not knowing how to respond. As he pleaded silently with me my heart panged and I was confused.

One the one hand there was my Dad and LA that I still missed greatly no matter what.

One the other hand there was Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Ella, Angel, Gazzy, Steve and Damen, my friends and family. I loved them and they were so important to me. I didn't know if I could be separated from them no matter how much I missed LA.

I knew there was only one thing I could say to Jeb…


"Max, are you okay? You're really quiet," Fang murmured. I jumped and looked at him. His dark eyes were concerned, the way he usually looked at me when I wasn't myself. I didn't deserve Fang and soon enough he'd think that too.

Oh Fang, I'm so, so sorry.

"I'm okay," I mumbled. "I need to talk to everyone though."

"Uh… sure." Fang frowned and looked back at the road, worry creasing his forehead as he pondered what could be bothering me.

Oh he was going to hate me. He would be furious. So would everyone else. They'd all be so upset with me. Good thing Ella had been with Nudge all day so she had no idea what awful news I was about to deliver to my family. I knew the little guys would cry and that would probably set me off. How much I didn't want to do this to them but… well… Dad needs me.

"Max, we're here," Fang said. I looked at him. He was already standing out of the car. I muttered and apology and followed his lead. Fang was watching me with a worried expression that was breaking my heart because he cared about me so much but I was just going to abandon him.

"We're here!" Fang called as we got inside and he hung his keys up on the key rack. Angel and Gazzy rushed out and gave me huge hugs. I only returned them half-heartedly. "Come on guys, into the lounge room." Fang shooed the little ones away and put his hand on my lower back in comfort.

"Whatever it is, it can't be that bad," he whispered to me.

"It is," I replied and his eyes were alarmed. I tried to avoid his gaze though. I looked at the others assembled in the living room and Fang motioned for quiet and then sat on the love seat. He glanced at the seat beside him but I went and sat on the recliner instead.

"Guys," I said. "I've got some bad news. And you're all going to hate me."

"No we won't," Gazzy replied. "We couldn't hate you Max." His big blue eyes were so innocent and trusting that I almost burst into tears but I stopped myself.

"Go on," Fang urged, his expression one of great concern.

"Okay…" I took a deep breath. "I'm going back to LA."

There was a stunned silence and I refused to look at Fang. I did peek at my sister though. Ella seemed frozen in place. Iggy was sitting beside her, looking at Fang from the corners of his eyes. I wondered what Fang looked like but refused to see for myself.

"You're leaving?" Nudge exclaimed. She and Ella looked at each other and then back at me in horror.

"Why? I thought you were happy here!" Ella stated.

"I am happy here but my Dad is all alone and I can't leave him miserable," I stated.

"Max, don't you like here anymore?" Iggy asked softly, his voice hurt.

"Of course I do. It's just that Dad needs me." I sighed. "And, I won't lie to you, I do miss my LA friends a lot."

"But you can't leave!" Angel wailed. "I'll miss you." I opened my arms and she climbed into my lap. I stroked her golden curls and cooed to her gently.

"I'll miss you too, I'll come back and visit, I promise," I told her. Gazzy came up and I hugged him tightly too and reassured both of them that I could never forget them and that I would come and see them.

"Max," Nudge started.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I really am."

"No you aren't." We all looked around at Fang who had stood up and was staring at me, his face impassive. I could see his tight jaw and the fact that he was trembling slightly was a dead give away to his feelings.


"Don't." He stared at me and for the briefest moment, his eyes betrayed how hurt he was and then he turned and walked to the back of the house. We waited in a moment of silence and all flinched in unison when we heard his door slam.

I went to stand but Iggy shook his head at me.

"Just give him time," Iggy told me. "He's angry. You're his best friend, Max; he needs to come to terms with you going in his own way." I stopped and felt a little angry that someone was lecturing me about my own best friend but then I realised Iggy was right. He had known Fang for most of his life so…

I sighed and nodded.

"He'll come around," Angel assured me. I smiled at her and hugged her again. Ella had turned to hide her face against Iggy who held her tenderly and then looked at me. He didn't look betrayed or angry, just sad. Well, at least he didn't hate me too.

Fang didn't come out for the rest of the afternoon but he was supposed to be driving Ella and I home so I had to go to his door. I was a little frightened of how he'd react to me. Fang was very scary when he was mad and I felt bad enough as it was, I didn't need him making me cry because that would be the pinnacle of embarrassment.

I knocked lightly on his door.

"What?" Fang asked, opening the door. The look on his face was one of anger but when I made the mistake of looking in his eyes I saw the hurt there.

"You're supposed to be driving me and Ella home," I murmured shyly. Fang stepped out of his room and slammed the door and stalked past me to the door, pulled on his shoes, grabbed his keys and left.

"Ella," I said softly, walking by the lounge room. Angel and Gazzy came and gave me hugs and then Nudge and Iggy did too. Iggy gave Ella a kiss on the cheek as we left and her face turned bright red. Usually I would have been teasing her non-stop but I was too sad to do that.

I climbed into the back with Ella, not brave enough to sit in my usual seat. Fang refused to look at any of us and the trip home was silent and tense. The atmosphere radiating off Fang was the perfect mix of chilly anger and painful hurt that made me want to curl into a ball and never wake up.

I was hurting my best friend. In hurting Fang I was hurting myself and that made me feel ten times worse than I was before. I looked at the side of his face and the look on it made me cringe. I didn't want Fang to hate me but it looked like he was going to. I had to remind him how much he meant to me…

When Fang pulled up outside of our house, I got out of the car without a word.

"Um… bye Fang," Ella said. "Thanks for the ride."

He didn't answer and she bit her lip.

"See you on Sunday?" she tried again. He grunted and Ella closed the door with an upset expression. Fang drove off and Ella looked at me sadly.

"I can't believe you're leaving," Ella whispered. "He's never going to talk to any of us."

"I'm sorry, for leaving and making Fang pissed off," I replied. Ella hugged me and then we went inside where Dad and Mum were discussing my leaving. Mum was upset, I could tell but she wasn't going to challenge my decision. I was going to be leaving on the fifth because Dad had to get back to work.

"Sorry to make it so soon," Jeb said.

"Sooner is probably better," I muttered, tears finally starting in my eyes.

"Why, sweetie?" Jeb asked, shocked at my expression.

"Never mind." I rushed off and I heard them ask Ella what was wrong with me. I went into my room, shut the door and stared at my photos of Fang. Time to start packing. As I started putting things in bags and a few boxes, I picked up my phone and texted Damen- he was in charge of the playlist this time. I asked him to change one of the songs so that I could remind Fang how much he meant to me. I only hoped it would work. Somehow I doubted it though.


Fang played his guitar slower than the song was supposed to be played making sure each chord was perfect.

"You know when the sun forgets to shine,
I'll be there to hold you through the night…

The sun was definitely not going to shine anymore, not with Max leaving him to go back to that loser. But that meant that Fang couldn't hold Max again… never again…

"We'll be running so fast,
We can fly, tonight…

Fang had always wanted to fly, he wondered if it would be as exhilarating as a roller coaster or perhaps even better. He sighed.

"And even when we're miles and miles apart,
You're still holding all of my heart…

She was going to be miles and miles away from him and he felt like half of his very soul was missing. She was holding more than just his heart. She was holding some of his very being.

"I promise it will never be dark,
I know… we're inseparable…

Fang sighed and stared up at his roof and plucked random chords out on his guitar. Max was leaving. They weren't inseparable… not physically anyway. Maybe spiritually… after all she was taking most of him with her to LA.

Fang sighed and turned his head to look at the picture of him and Max playing the leads in Les Misérables. That had been such a good night. He sat up and ran a hand through his hair and sighed again.

Why was Max leaving him? It hurt him so much.

Fang slumped back down on his bed and grumbled. Unfortunately he still had to perform with Max at the Fourth of July celebrations. He was so angry with her for leaving. This celebration would be the last time he would ever perform with her.

Fang hurriedly jumped up to the competition application which- luckily- he hadn't sent in yet and he removed Max's name. He would get his Dad to drop it in at Music World the next day so that he couldn't become guilty and change his mind.


When I joined the boys at the makeshift stage in the park- this time people were prepared and we weren't playing on the gazebo- they all looked at me sadly. I glanced around. No Fang.

"He wouldn't bail on us would he?" I asked. I knew Fang best but right now I wasn't sure what he would or wouldn't do to get back at me.

"We'll be okay if he does," Damen said. "Ig can handle lead guitar and if we need rhythm you can play it."

"Singing?" I asked.

"You and Steve can take it." Damen smiled at me gently. "Chill, Max. We've got this."

"But there's no point having Tattoo on the play list if he isn't here," I whispered.

"Stop fretting, the king has arrived," Iggy said, looking out over the park. Fang was walking towards us, guitar case in hand, his face expressionless and dark. It hurt to look at him now and know that I was hurting him.

"You made it!" Steve cheered.

"Sorry I'm late," Fang said, not looking at me. "I had to drop off our application in as Music World. Luckily I ran into Matt straight away. He's coming to the show."

"Cool," Damen replied.

I looked at Fang but he refused to meet my eyes as he set up his guitar and connected it to the amp that Damen had brought for him. Iggy touched my shoulder gently and I looked at him. He gave me a sad little smile and then looked at Fang.

"Yo, you ready?" he asked. Fang turned and looked pointedly at Iggy.

"Yeah, I am," Fang replied.

"Good." Iggy turned around and left me and Fang standing awkwardly, not meeting each other's eyes.

"So, when are you going?" Fang asked and I was surprised. I looked up at him. His expression was cold and hurt.

"Tomorrow," I whispered. Fang's face fell before he could stop it and I saw right then how much this hurt him and I knew that I had been right when I suspected that Fang's feelings for me were stronger than that of friendship. "I'm so sorry."

Fang rearranged his face and turned away from me.

"Good," he said coldly. I tried not to let his response hurt me but it was like trying to stop a flood with a fence made of chicken wire. My heart ached and tore for the pain I was inflicting on my family and also because Fang was treating me like he hated me. I deserved it but still… It hurt.

"Okay, are you all ready?" the stage manager asked.

"Yes, sir," Fang replied, his voice taking on a light and casual tone. How could he do that? He had always been so good at hiding his emotions.

"Alright, five minutes." The man walked away and Fang looked at Damen.

"What was that change again?" he asked.

"First song isn't Heartbreaker anymore, it's Tattoo," Damen explained. "You remember it?"

"Acoustic?" Fang asked.

"You can borrow my guitar," I murmured. Fang nodded without meeting my gaze and went and picked up the guitar he'd given me for my birthday last year. I almost started crying as he handled it gently. I didn't want to leave him on this note. I wanted to fix things.

"Okay, when you're ready," a stage hand murmured. Fang counted us in and we started. I held the microphone gently and started singing. The verses didn't matter it was only the bridge and the chorus because they said what I needed Fang to know. Especially the last lines. So I turned to Fang and looked at him as I sang them.

"You're still a part of everything I do,
You're on my heart just like a tattoo.
Just like a tattoo, I'll always have you…

I gave Fang and earnest look before continuing. His eyes looked saddened but he didn't seem to thaw the way I wanted him to. I finished the song to great applause but Fang just swapped my guitar for his and didn't look at me.

I didn't have to sing for this song so I left the stage, hand over my mouth, tears running down my face.

I'm sorry Fang. I really am.

44. Sophomore 27 Summer

(Nervously approaches computer) Okay, thankyou for all of your reviews and this will not be fixed as quickly as you would hope, the next well I have it all planned out so it might be something like ten or eleven chapters will be very torturous for you. They're incredibly emotional but because a lot of you didn't give me death threats- though the rest of you, you all have very good imaginations, some of those death threats were very creative- I'm gonna give you two chappies so we'll finish the summer and go straight to the Junior Year. And I promise you this will not be permanent torture, it will just be very long. I'm trying to do it as best I can but I have a plan you see so I want to stick to it because it fits Fang's character.

Anywho I love this chapter, it's very emotional and I especially like the last part with Fang. It shows how hurt he really is so, enjoy and I'll give you another chapter in a second.

When I woke up, I didn't want to open my eyes. This was the day I would be leaving. This was the last time I would wake up calling this house my home. I pulled the quilt over my head so that I would have to look at my bare walls or empty wardrobe. Mum, Ella and Dad had helped me pack in the last few days.

Today I was finishing up the packing and then Dad and I were leaving after lunch. I suddenly really wanted to go back to sleep. Maybe if I didn't wake up I could stay here and not hurt everyone so much. Or maybe this is all a very bad dream and I'll wake up and there'll be a thousand text messages from Fang telling me to wake up and call him.

There was a light tap on my door and I groaned loudly.

"Max," Dad said.

"Go away!" I groaned.

"Get up and get dressed, there's a surprise for you," Mum said. I sighed and did as she asked, trying to prolong. I didn't think anything good could come of a surprise right now. I pulled my hair into a loose pony-tail and, slipping on my sneakers and walked out to the kitchen and froze in shock.

"Hi Max," Nudge said.

I looked at all of the faces in front of me that would not ordinarily have been in my house. Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, Angel, Steve, Damen, Matt, Jake and all of their families. I took a deep breath and looked at them. They were all dressed casually and were giving me sad smiles.

"What are you all doing here?" I asked quietly.

"We came to say goodbye," Iggy explained, shrugging.

"We made this," Gazzy said and he and Angel came over holding a pretty black, blue and gold scrapbook in their hands. I took it from them and opened it. The title page had The Flock on it and a photo of all of us on Christmas day.

I went through the book. Each of us had our own page with a few photos and some words that described us. The band had a page. There were pages for different activities. Spring Fling had a spread dedicated to it and I touched the photo of Fang and I laughing with my finger tip. I kept flicking through and I got to the back and extra plastic sleeves had been added and photocopies of Fang's drawings of us and one original of me and Angel in the garden.

"Oh guys," I said, feelings tears in my eyes. I flicked back to the spread that had been dedicated to pictures of me, Fang and Angel. Over the page was a spread of me and Fang. I looked at the happiness in his face and felt a tear slip down my face. Down in the bottom one of Fang's drawings had been shrunk and put onto one of the rub-sticker things and put in the corner. It was us with wings, flying together.

"Do you like it?" Ella asked worriedly.

"It took us forever to make," Alicia told me with a laugh. "Peter had to steal Fang's sketch books without him noticing and then we had to gather as many photos as possible."

"We used some of Alice's old scrapbooking things," Peter shrugged.

"Like it?" I asked and looked up at them. I wiped my eyes. If I didn't stop this crying was going to become a habit. "I don't like it, I love it. It's beautiful. Thankyou."

"We wanted you to remember us," Damen explained.

"How could I forget you? I have a gazillion photos," I laughed. "But this… this is wonderful. I love it."

"You said that," Steve chuckled. "We're glad you like it though. We all helped out. Damen and I did the band spread."

"It's very cool," I assured him. "Oh god, I think I'm going to cry again."

"No, don't cry!" Angel called, hugging my legs.

"Yeah! We want you to be happy!" Gazzy added. I bent down and kissed both of them on the top of the head.

"I am happy, because now I know you still love me," I said. I tried not to think of the one person who didn't still love me. The one person who was furious with me. The one person I really wanted to hold me and tell me that he would always care. But he wasn't here so there was no point wishing.

"I tried talking to him," Peter told me as I straightened up, holding the scrapbook to me.

"It's okay," I assured him. "I could have told you it was pointless."

"He's being ridiculous," Jake sighed, running a hand through his hair. "We tried talking to him too."

"We all did," Iggy added.

"It was a wasted effort," Nudge concluded.

"It's alright," I sighed. "I knew he'd be like this. I hope he comes around eventually though. I'll come and visit you guys but you have to visit me too when you can."

"Of course we will," Iggy sighed. "Come here." I put the scrap book on the table and went over to them and we had a huge group hug. The adults went over to Mum and Jeb and started asking what they could do to help out.

"Will you guys help me finish packing up?" I asked.

"We'll cook lunch," Damien decided. The adults all went out to the barbeque, Mum and Alicia carrying the meat out. Mum, Alicia, Marian and Steve and Damen's mothers all set about making salads and whatnot while the guys went and cooked. Jake went out to help the men but Matt came with us kids.

They helped me carry my bags and the few boxes that I'd needed for my junk out. I'd left a few things here for when I came to visit but most of my things were coming with me. Matt helped pack a few more small boxes with Steve, Damen, Gazzy and Angel. Nudge and Ella cleaned up what was left of my room while Iggy and I carried my things out to Jeb's sedan.

"This sucks," Iggy sighed.

"I know, I'm sorry," I replied. "I'm going to miss you all so much."

"We'll miss you too," Iggy sighed. "Fang will too."

"I hope so." I turned my face from Iggy and controlled the tears that wanted to spill out and give away how much I was hurting inside. I think Iggy knew though because when I dumped my bag in the back I turned and Iggy pulled me into his arms.

I relaxed into his hug and rested my face on his shoulder, trying to control myself but I couldn't so I cried softly onto Iggy's shirt, feeling bad about the tear stains. But he didn't seem to mind. It was a comforting as Fang's hugs and being in Iggy's arms didn't make me feel safe and sheltered the way Fang's did but it was good enough.

When I was all cried out, I straightened up and wiped my eyes. Iggy grimaced at me and I shrugged.

"Sorry about that," I sighed. "But thanks, I needed it."

"I know you did," Iggy said. "You're as bad as Fang when it comes to bottling up your emotions."

"I know." I sighed and took a deep breath; I was still kind of shuddery. "I really wanted to see him one last time."

"I know." Iggy put his hands in his pockets and looked at me sadly. "What you said when you were singing Tattoo, telling him that he would always be a part of his life, really got to him you know? I don't think, even if he wasn't incredibly pissed off, that he could have faced you. You'll always be a part of who he is Max and he knows that and if he said the word 'goodbye' to you it would probably kill him inside."

"I sort of figured that." I folded my arms across my chest and looked up. Matt and Damen were bringing out the last of my things so Iggy and I moved aside and he put an arm around me and hugged me gently.

"Lunch!" Jeb called. He was looking at me with concern but I just put on a brave smile and went to eat one last time with my huge extended family that I'd gained coming to Avondale. Jeb and Peter had set up the garden tables with enough chairs for all us.

Before we began, Peter raised a glass and smiled at me.

"To Max, we're going to miss you honey," he said.

"To Max," everyone chorused and drank. I smiled at them all, truly heart warmed. We ate and then I felt the need to say something so I cleared my throat and stood up from my seat.

"Thankyou all for everything you did today," I said. "I do actually want to go to LA but it is with a lot of reluctance because I'm going to miss you all so much. I never expected, when I first moved here, that I would love it so much. I didn't think I'd make such great friends, I didn't think I would gain such a wonderful and loving family. Because that's what you all are to me, a family. A big, extended and weird family.

"In LA I was happy with my small group of friends, we were close but we never had as much fun and did as many things as what I did here with you guys. I became friends with Fang and Iggy and found myself part of something truly special and wonderful. I didn't know that so many people who are so different could be so close. It was a surprise to me but I actually fitted in better than I had in my small group in LA.

"You are all truly my family and I will always love you and this… this kind of thing where we just get together and be our selves, this is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. You've taught me a lot and I will miss you so much," I finished.

Everyone started clapping and I got hugs from everyone.

"We'll miss you Max," Marian told me. "You took up a special place with all us."

"Yeah, once someone is a part of the Flock, they always are," Nudge added. "Even if they leave, we never replace them. You spot is secured. After all, it is a life contract. It can't be broken."

"Thanks," I said, laughing.

More hugs, more tears and more heart break. Then Jeb said that we should go if we wanted to get home before midnight. I hugged everyone tightly once more. I kissed Angel and Gazzy on the cheeks. Matt gave me a bear hug and I think he broke some of my ribs. I gave Peter and extra hard hug.

"Be good," I told him and he laughed and hugged me back tighter.

"Thankyou for everything, you will always be like a daughter to me," Peter whispered. "A beloved daughter."

I almost cried again at that.

Iggy gave me another hug and I frowned but he just moved his mouth to my ear.

"From Fang," he explained. I hugged him back tightly.

"Bye Ig, tell him he's my best friend and I'll never stop loving him, won't you?" I requested.

"Not a problem."

"Take care of Ella."

"Of course."

Iggy released me and I got to Mum and Ella. They hugged me at the same time and our hug lasted the longest. I didn't want to let my mother and sister go but I had to. Mum wiped her eyes and Ella just let her tears flow.

"Visit often," Mum ordered me in a choked voice.

"I will," I promised. "Don't worry."

"Stay safe," Ella told me and I hugged her again.

"Don't get your heart broken," I whispered. I looked over at Iggy and knew he would never do that to Ella and then I released her and stepped over to Dad. I got in the car and looked over at the group. They were all standing together and I quickly pulled out my digital camera and snapped a photo of the group. They all laughed and I waved.

So much love was flowing through that group and I knew I would never be able to fit into another family because there wasn't a single group of people on Earth who were like them. I smiled when Iggy went to Ella and pulled her into his arms to comfort her. Nudge and Damen were holding hands. Matt had Angel up so that she could wave and Gazzy was holding his mother's hand. A lot of them had tears in their eyes and I tore my eyes away from them, feeling part of my heart being left behind with them.

I stayed quiet as Dad drove into town. I watched the street passing me by. I remembered the first time I'd driven through this street, wishing I didn't have to be here and wanting to leave right away but now that I was leaving, it felt so… wrong.

I sighed and sat up slightly in my seat.

"Dad, could you turn right here?" I requested. Jeb raised his eyebrows at me but turned. He looked at me.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Just a short detour," I explained. "Left here." About a minute later we pulled up outside of the familiar house where I'd spent so many weekends and afternoons after school. So many happy and sad memories were here. So much of myself was in this house. I knew that I would never forget any moment I'd spent here.

I opened the door and walked to the white mailbox. I knew he wouldn't come out to see me even if he could be bothered moving the curtains to look out his living room window. I knew he was home though because I could hear him playing his guitar in the living room.

I pulled a white envelope out of my pocket and looked at Fang's name on the front. I kissed the envelope lightly and placed it in the mailbox, flipping the red flag up so that he'd know it was in there.

I gave one last look to the living room window before walking away. I felt my heart leave me. Some of it was with everyone else but most of my heart was left with Fang. My very soul, the essence of who I was, was a part of Fang and so he kept it. I couldn't get it back until I was with him again and he forgave me.

I went back to the car and put my seatbelt on, trying not to cry.

"What was that?" Jeb asked me.

"A goodbye," I replied.

I glanced back and saw the curtains on the front window flutter slightly as though someone had peeked out. It could only be him, the rest of his family had been there to say goodbye to me at my house.

Bye Fang.


"Hey, Fang, mate," Peter said, opening his son's door. Fang looked up from where he'd been staring into the rain. It didn't rain much here but now it was… Fang thought it might be symbolic of Max leaving him.

"Hi Dad," Fang greeted. He sat up to make room for his dad on the window seat. Peter came over and sat at the other end. "What's up?"

"This was in the mailbox," Peter said, holding a white envelope. Fang recognised her handwriting and hesitantly took it. It was light but he could tell that there was something solid in there. He didn't open it, just held it in his hand and looked at his dad.

"Thanks," Fang said and glanced out at the rain.

"Are you okay?" Peter asked. Fang didn't answer. No he wasn't okay. He was hurt, and angry, and confused. He missed Max already and he wished she hadn't left. "Fang, I know that you're mad at Max-"

"I'm fine," Fang replied. Peter looked at him for a moment before standing and leaving. Fang looked at the envelope in his hands and ripped it open. He tipped it into his hand and raised it to eyelevel, shocked.

It was just a plain silver ring but it was what was engraved onto the ring that had Fang's heart aching painfully. On opposite sides of the ring were 'Fang' and 'Max' and in between the two names, evenly spaced on each side was a tiny heart.

Fang swallowed, his throat thick. Why did she have to do this to him? He was dealing with her leaving by being angry at her, it was the only way he could deal with it but now she had made it so much harder. Fang closed his hand over the ring, his eyes shut.


45. Junior 1

Okay here's the junior year and I have a new character introduced at the end of this chapter and before you all get worried and concerned, she will not feel ANY romantic feelings towards Fang and vice-versa just because as soon as you meet her you'll all be worried. I like this character very much because she's... eccentric, like me. I don't know if you guys will like her but I hope you will. ^.^

Enjoy chapter two for today ^.^

A bright blue sky stretched overhead as I walked through the gates of my old, now new, highschool. The only thing I hated about this place was the uniforms. When Jeb was paying for school, I had private education instead of public. I stared up at the sky.

The rest of my summer holidays had been hard but it had gotten easier. The day after I'd gotten to Jeb's huge house the others had come to greet me. They were concerned that I was upset about leaving the others but still ecstatic to have me back. I didn't blame them, I was so happy to be with them again and that made me feel guilty. Sam was pleased to have me back and I tried not to be annoyed at his smug look.

Slowly I'd fallen back into my old routine with the others. I often caught Anna and Jessica watching me with worried expressions. I assured them that I was alright.

I'd sent Fang a birthday present and card. I didn't get a reply and Iggy told me that Fang hadn't even opened it but at least he hadn't thrown it away. His feelings for me went far enough that he wouldn't be a complete jerk.

Jeb was pleased that I settled into life with him easily and he enrolled me at my old highschool and they welcomed me back with open arms. On the eve of going back to school I sent Ella and Nudge emails wishing them luck for their first day at highschool. They replied back and we started a three-way IM chat and I answered all their fears and soothed them until they both went offline.

I noticed Fang was online and I spent a good half hour staring at his screen name and wondering if I should talk to him. I wondered if he was doing the same thing. And then I decided that he wouldn't reply and I should really go to sleep.

Now I was standing in the quad of my school looking around at all the people I remembered and the ones I didn't know. I spotted a few people that I'd been friends with and they looked at me in surprise so I just waved to them. I was feeling nostalgic, remembering my first day at Avondale Highschool. Fang ran into me almost straight away- he literally ran into me, remember?

I laughed.

"Something funny?"

I looked around at Sam and smiled.

"Yeah," I replied. "Inside joke."

Sam frowned but didn't press it. We walked over to the benches where the others were waiting and I dropped down next to JJ and smiled at her. She was holding hands with James and he grinned lazily at me.

"Good morning," Anna said brightly, her eyes warm.

"Morning," Sam replied.

"Did you see that new chick? Boy was she pretty," Chris informed Sam and Anna swatted his arm. He turned and kissed her cheek, making her blush. "But she's has nothing on you, sweetie."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Anna sighed and rolled her eyes. She smiled at me. "I got a message from Fang last night."

Sam scowled and looked over towards the gardens while I perked up but I wasn't hoping for anything. Fang still spoke to Anna, Chris, James and Jessica. Sometimes he spoke to JJ but not as often.

"What did he say?" I asked.

"Have a good first day," Anna shrugged. "He sent me some more J-Pop. That boy must have connections in the music world."

"He works at a music store," I said. "Did… did he ask about me?"

"Um…" Anna shifted. "He didn't ask me anything." I didn't miss the emphasis.

"Chris?" I questioned. Chris shrugged. Stupid males, not wanting to betray each other. "I swear if you're withholding information that I am dying for I will kick your arse and not think twice about it. Not even Anna will be able to stop me."

Chris rolled his eyes.

"He asked me if you were doing alright. He wanted to know if you were settling in and…" Chris trailed off and looked at me worriedly.

"And what?" I demanded. "So help me Chris-"

"For god's sake just tell her!" JJ sighed. "She's been dying all summer because she thinks he hates her."

"Yes, just tell her, we won't rat you out," Jessie scolded and James nodded in agreement.

"Alright he wanted to know if you were happy," Chris said.

If that question came from anyone else it would be a true concern for my wellbeing but coming from Fang it was two things. It was a concern to make sure that I was okay but it was also a timid question wondering if I was feeling better away from him. Fang was worried that I was happier without him.

I took a deep breath. Anna and Jessie would have known the double question. I'm pretty sure Anna would have told Chris if he didn't know. I hoped he'd said the right thing. Time to check.

"And… what did you say?" I asked. Everyone was silent, waiting for the answer. Sam was waiting hopefully, I knew he wanted Chris to have said the words that would have made Fang's heart break and hate me even more than he already did.

"I told him you were holding up okay, that the city wasn't too scary for you," Chris teased. I was glad he was building up to the happy thing. "I told him you'd settled back into our life okay. And I told him that you were happy in the sense that you smiled and you weren't contemplating suicide."

"Anything else?" I asked. I knew that that answer was half the right one but there was more. I could see it in Chris's eyes.

"I'm not sure you'll be happy with me," Chris mumbled.

"James, will you tell me?" I asked. James eyed Chris who sighed.

"I told him that I didn't know much else, you were closed off about your feelings," Chris mumbled and I sighed. That wouldn't have been what Fang would have wanted to hear but it would let him know that I hadn't skipped off into the sunset and forgotten him. He would have thought that. But I looked at photos of all of them all of the time and I had a framed photo of me and him right at the front of the group of them on my bedside table. I had his framed drawing up on my wall where I could see it when I woke up. I could never forget any of them. They'd changed my life.

"It won't change anything," I sighed. "He still won't talk to me."

"Don't give up hope," James urged. "He can't ignore you forever."

"I hope," I sighed.

Then the bell sounded and we had to head off to class. I would probably get in trouble in class on my first day because I couldn't stop thinking about Fang. He would be on my mind all day now and tonight I would once again, without any reply once again, email Fang and beg him to stop ignoring my existence. He would just delete it without reading it. I could tell.


Fang drifted through the first day without a single word to anyone. He'd been like that a lot lately, never talking, always silent. He knew he was a sad person to be around and he knew that he often spoiled the Flock's fun and he felt bad for that but he couldn't help his mood. When he tried to fake happiness, it worried the others more than everything else that he did.

"Yo, Fang! Move it!" a voice said and he looked behind him at Justin. He was standing still in the cafeteria line, staring at the salads.

"Sorry," Fang muttered and just grabbed the first thing his hand touched. He went to the table and sat down with Iggy, Steve, Damen, Nudge and Ella. Nobody took the seat to Fang's left where Max used to sit. It was sort of an unspoken consent that that seat would stay empty. Fang didn't care. He barely noticed anything.

"Mm, tuna and tacos, nice mix," Ella said and Fang looked down at his tray and scowled.

"I'm not hungry anyway," he muttered and pushed the food away. He didn't care that he'd paid for it, he didn't want anything to eat but he grabbed the apple off the tray anyway, afraid of the others staring at him worriedly.

"So… Miss Alike thinks that we should do Wicked for the school production this year," Iggy said.

"I told you, I'm not doing to production this year," Fang muttered.

"You promised you'd be in it, last year," Damen reminded him. Fang hated this. He didn't want to talk to any of them but they were forcing conversation out of him.

"Fine but I'm not being the lead, they can find somebody else," Fang muttered and bit into his apple.

"Whatever," Iggy muttered. Fang scowled at him and looked away. His eyes landed on Justin who was sitting with his best friend Claire. They were laughing together. They were sophomores and had been in Les Mis the previous year. Fang and Max had gotten along with them because they were another pair of best friends but the difference was that they had been next door neighbours their whole lives and had grown up together.

Fang ignored the ache of loneliness in his chest that came from the empty spot in his life that Max had filled and instead watch the way that Justin looked at Claire. Another classic tale of the girl or boy next-door for those two. Fang knew that they would be perfect for each other and one day they would finally be together. He hoped it would work out because he knew that his own best-friend-love-story would never work out but he would never wish that on anyone else.

"Fang? Fang!" Nudge was calling his name and Fang glanced over and realised that he'd been playing with the ring that he'd put on the chain with his dog tags. It was the ring Max had given him and he wore it with her dog tags every day. People questioned it because he was so angry but no matter how upset he was with her she was still the best friend he'd ever had and he was still deeply in love with her. And he missed her and her gifts made him feel close to her.

He wondered if she missed him too. Chris had said so but he didn't know if he believed it.

"Yeah?" Fang asked.

"Have you gotten a reply yet?" Damen asked. "About the competition?"

"Oh yeah, the first round is in two weeks," Fang replied, remembering the email from last night. "Then we have round two in the next fortnight. Then the judges decide who the five finalists are and we get to play on MTV a month after the finalists are announced."

"Awesome," Steve grinned. "We're going to own."

"Sure we are," Damen agreed but something in his tone made Fang looked at him in confusion. Damen looked worried and Fang knew he was thinking about how much better the band had been when Max had been a part of it.

Fang had quit playing guitar for a lot of the songs because playing the guitar Max had gotten him made him sad but he still sang. Fang was good at acting so his stage persona never slipped but Damen missed having a female singer and they all wished Fang would still play guitar for them.

Fang felt bad for letting them down that way but they never said anything which made him feel worse. He tried to ignore that feeling.

Fang glanced back at Claire and Justin and then looked away because it hurt too much. He looked at Nudge and Ella.

"How's your first day going?" he asked and everyone blinked, shocked. Fang never started a conversation but they took it in their stride and relaxed, trying not to scare off the hope that he might be coming out of his shell. Fang didn't want to disappoint them but he knew it wasn't going to happen. He just wanted to distract himself.

"It's great," Ella replied.

"It's more fun than you guys ever made it sound," Nudge agreed.

"That's good," Fang said.

"I only wish…" Ella sighed but then she froze and stared at Fang, afraid that her slip up would anger him. Fang had gone rigid and his eyes turned hard and his face cleared of all emotion.

"Wish what?" he asked through his teeth.

Iggy glared at Fang.

"This is ridiculous!" he almost shouted and Fang turned his eyes to Iggy, a dark expression on his face.

"Yes, Ig?" he asked.

"Stop taking it out on all of us that you miss Max," Iggy snapped. "Just because you refuse to mention her and act like she never existed doesn't mean that we have to! We miss her too Fang but none of us have become arseholes over it!"

"Yeah? Well she was the one who decided to leave!" Fang snarled and stood up. "I think I'm allowed to be angry!"

"Yes but not for this long!" Iggy replied and Fang turned on his heel, grabbed his bag and left the cafeteria, a few people staring after him. In reality the confrontation hadn't been that big or loud but to Fang it was like a slap in the face, like a tonne of people were shouting at him. He knew that they all thought that about him but they'd never said it and now it really hurt that Iggy had said it to him.

"Idiot," Fang hissed under his breath. He went to stand outside the science labs. He'd had this class with Max last year, he wondered if he would have had it with her this year too. Fang folded his arms. There was still ten minutes until class began but he was furious and wanted to be alone.

He heard footsteps and looked up, hoping it was Iggy and they could have an all out where nobody could stop them but his eagerness was diminished when he saw that it was just a girl. A girl that he didn't recognise.

She had light brown hair pulled up in a pony tail and her dark brown eyes were focused on the timetable and map that she held in her hands. Her skin was pale and she had a light scattering of freckles across her nose. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. She also had glasses but they didn't look dorky, they were the right shape for her face so they made her look kind of pretty.

She stopped and frowned when she saw Fang.

"Hi," she said.

"Yo," Fang replied. "Are you lost? Class doesn't start for a while."

"Ah that's why I'm up here," she explained. "So that I can get lost before class starts." She looked up and smiled. "And it looks like I didn't have to worry, I'm in the right place." She folded both pieces of paper up and slipped them into her bag and smiled at Fang.

"Hi again, I'm Ellie," she explained, holding out her hand. Fang left his arms folded and nodded.

"I'm Nick, call me Fang though," he replied.

"Fang? That's weird. I think I'll just call you Nick, if you don't mind." Ellie withdrew her hand, not offended at all by his lack of etiquette. Fang was usually very courteous to girls but he couldn't be bothered lately, it took too much effort, too much acting.

Fang was taken back by her abruptness with his name. He was so surprise that he just nodded his head and frowned. "Sure, I guess you can if you want." He'd never met anyone who didn't want to call him by his nickname because it was weird.

"Good," Ellie replied. "So, I guess we're in the same science class."

"I guess we are," Fang replied, still too shocked to keep up his bored monotone.

"Are you alright? You seemed devoid of emotion before and now you look like you're having trouble remembering how to use your voice." Ellie was eyeing Fang as though he was insane or mentally handicapped.

Fang was shocked again. How did she know all that just from looking at him?

"I am having trouble, I haven't used expression in my voice for a while," Fang admitted and then glared. Not at Ellie but because he was annoyed for just blurting that out. Ellie giggled and he looked at her, surprised.

"Don't worry, I have that effect on people," she assured him and Fang raised one eyebrow, another gesture that he hadn't used since before Max had left. Ellie rolled her eyes. "I mean people just tell me things. It's like they can't help themselves. Even people who hate me just blurt out their life story to me. Their every problem and concern is mine too."

"Wow." Fang whistled and the sound was off so Ellie burst out laughing and Fang felt his face muscles twitch as though he wanted to smile. How long had it been since he had really smiled? His birthday. He'd smiled then because Peter had bought him a sleek black motorcycle.

"Go on, you'll feel good," Ellie said, as though knowing his thoughts.

"I can't," Fang replied. "I don't like smiling."

"Right…" Ellie frowned at him and then the bell sounded and Fang opened the door to the lab and walked in. Ellie followed him and stopped by his desk. "Can I sit with you?"

Fang turned and stared at her. Who was this girl? Her mannerisms were so strange. She was so abrupt, straightforward and to the point. It reminded Fang of those people who described themselves as 'what you see if what you get'. Fang was suddenly intrigued. Why would this girl, who seemed so nice want to sit with him, the jack arse of the year?

"Sure," Fang replied. "But why? Surely you must have people to sit with."

"Ah, people find me hard to get along with," Ellie replied, pulling up a stool and sitting on it. "Dad says it's because I had a strong personality and people find it intimidating or something like that."

"Oh, okay," Fang replied. Like Max, except she made it hard for people to get along with her, it seemed to be a natural thing for Ellie. The way she spoke the truth, so matter-of-factly, made Fang interested in talking to her. Something that he'd been lacking lately.

"So, can I ask why you don't like to smile?" Ellie asked him suddenly as more people trickled into the lab. The shock on some faces was evident. Fang barely spoke to his own friends and now he was talking to the new girl? Yeah, they found it weird.

"Um…" Fang frowned. He didn't want to talk.

"Okay," Ellie said, smiling good naturedly. "You'll tell me eventually."

"We'll see." Fang turned his attention away from Ellie and focused on the front of the room. The teacher was beginning their class and outlining the topics for the year. Fang tried to ignore the growing intrigue that Ellie was creating in him. The last thing he wanted was to talk to someone and the last thing he needed was another friend giving him anxious looks all of the time.

It would be better if he stayed away from Ellie.

46. Junior 2

Wow, you guys are so mad at me. Look, again, I promise you, Writer's Honour, that Fang is NOT going to fall for Ellie and she is NOT going to take Max's place. Anywho this chapter is one of my favourite's and because you're all being so good and patient about no Fax for a long while I'll give you another two chapter's each day until Boxing Day sort of like Christmas presents for all of you ^.^ So one chapter for today.

Oh and I've written up to the part where Max and Fang are reunited and it is very sweet. I promise, that if you are all patient with me there will be a lot of Faxness on the horizon of this terrible plot line. I swear it.


"For the last time, no," Fang told Miss Alike as they walked to the auditorium. "I said I'd be in the play and I will. I'll be an extra and I'll sing along with some of the songs and I'll dance and what not but I won't be the lead. I refuse to do that…"

"Without Max?" Miss Alike finished for him. "I understand. Thanks for helping judge to auditions though."

"That's fine," Fang replied. He and Miss Alike went into the auditorium and to the desks set up at the front where Mr Callahan and Miss Elissa were sitting already. Miss Elissa was smiling and speaking happily with Mr Callahan and Fang remembered the announcement on the morning of the first day of school. Miss Elissa had replaced Mr Turner as their principal. The students were all ecstatic because they all loved Miss Elissa so much and hated Mr Turner with a vengeance.

In fact all the teachers hated Mr Turner too and they were happy to have him replaced with Miss Elissa.

"Hi guys," Mr Callahan said. "Thanks for helping out Fang."

"No problem," Fang replied, sitting down.

"Are you sure we can't-?"

"No, you can't."

Mr Callahan fell silent at Fang's dark look and nodded solemnly. All three of Fang's favourite teachers missed his bright, intelligent personality. They hated this new, sullen, dark and brooding Fang. They wished Max would come back and bring Fang's personality with her because it was clear that his real self was in LA with Max.

Fang knew this was the truth because Max was a part of who he was and when she was gone he took that part away. It happened to be the best parts so it made Fang feel like crap to have her gone.

"Alright, we're ready to start the auditions," Miss Alike said.

"Say, why are we performing in February instead of New Year's?" Fang questioned.

"We have a lot of work to do," Mr Callahan explained. "You saw Wicked didn't you?"

"Yeah on TV with…" Fang trailed off. "You mean all of the things like the bubbles, the smoke, the lights, the strings for flying monkeys and witch, the bubble thing to lift Glinda and all of the scenery?"

"Yeah, all of that," Miss Alike agreed with a frowned. "We're compromising in places but we're going to try and get it as close to Broadway as we can."

"Good idea," Miss Elissa smiled. She gave Fang one worried look at how he avoided Max's name and then looked at the stage.

"First!" Mr Callahan called.

Fang sat through the terrible singers, the okay singers who could pass as extras, the good singers who weren't spectacular, the great singers who went on the probably list for the two female leads and then the male lead. So far nobody had made them go 'wow, she's brilliant' or 'whoa he's amazing'.

"Who's next?" Fang asked, rubbing his temples. The last guy had the most awful voice and Fang was starting to get sick of tone deaf people who thought they could sing. Why hadn't their friends told them the truth rather than let them embarrass themselves?

"Eleanor Calhoun," Mr Callahan said. She walked out and Fang blinked. Ellie? She could sing? She'd never said anything. Fang frowned.

Every science lesson they'd sat together and she'd been quiet unless she had a random question for Fang. Sometimes he felt like she was doing a psych analysis on him. He felt bad whenever he saw her sitting on her own at lunch because she was nice and harmless and he thought everyone else were jerks for being horrible to her but Steve didn't like her so he didn't want her to sit with them and Fang couldn't be bothered arguing about it.

"Ellie?" Fang asked. She looked down at him and smiled. The smile was different from the one a lot of girls gave him. Her smile was the same one Ella and Nudge gave him: a smile of friendship and camaraderie.

"Alright, which part and what are you singing?" Miss Alike asked.

"I'm not that girl," Ellie replied. "I'm auditioning for Elphaba."

"Go ahead," Mr Callahan said.

Ellie took a breath and started to sing and Fang sat up straighter. She sounded so beautiful. Not the same kind of voice that had mesmerised him when he'd heart Adrian sing, not the same kind of beauty that came from Max's voice. But Ellie's voice was powerful and flowing. It had its own kind of beauty.

"Wow," Miss Elissa whispered.

"I think we found our Elphie," Miss Alike laughed, clapping her hands together, her eyes shining.

"Yes we have… but…" Mr Callahan was frowning. Then he looked at Fang with kind eyes. Fang's eyes narrowed in response.

"No," he snarled.

"Please Fang, just sing with her," Mr Callahan said. "I'm not asking you to take the part but I want you to sing with her."


"Because you're the best male singer in the school," Miss Alike said. "Now get on that stage." Fang sighed but he wasn't one to disobey his favourite teacher. He went onto the stage as Miss Alike stood and Ellie stopped singing. Fang took one of the microphones from the set by the side and went to stand near Ellie.

"You sing?" she mouthed. Fang nodded once and Ellie smiled.

"Ellie, do you know As long as you're mine?" Miss Alike asked.

"Yes," Ellie replied, smiling. "I know all the songs from Wicked. It's my favourite musical."

"Oh, very good," Mr Callahan laughed. "We want you to sing with Fang here." Fang grimaced and Ellie nodded.

"Okay, go ahead," Miss Elissa nodded.

Ellie took a deep breath and sang. Fang wondered if they should be acting the scene properly but Ellie was just singing, she wasn't trying to act the scene out with him which Fang was glad of, he didn't want to give the traitorous teachers anymore reason to want him in the musical.

Then Fang started listening to Ellie and the way her voice wove around the words. It was very wonderful and he knew that she deserved the part but suddenly he had an urge that he hadn't had in a while. Yes he still sang but only with the band. He didn't sing as well as he knew he could either. But right now he wanted to sing as he used to. To give all of himself to the music and sing with all of his heart.

When it got his turn he opened his mouth and started singing. He remembered how it was sung on Broadway and tried to combine that with his own style, the way he did every time he sang… or how he used to sing.

Ellie jumped in and sang with him at her part and when they finished Fang found himself breathless and one corner of his mouth twitched up into a half-smile that felt so weird. It felt even weirder when he realised that smiling felt weird which made him laugh once. The sound was off but it was a laugh and when he peeked at the teachers they were all smiling.

"Okay, so I've changed my mind…" Fang started in a very formal voice.

"Yay!" Miss Alike cheered and Ellie laughed. Fang looked at her and she smiled at him and he nodded his head back, still not smiling properly but he did give her his tentative half-smile.

"Alright, results will be up on Monday," Mr Callahan informed Ellie. "Fang, get back down here." Fang nodded and put his microphone down and went back to the judging table feeling… well not happy but on the way, maybe slightly cheery, yeah that worked.


I frowned and stared up at the roof, my hands behind my head. I glanced across at the bedside table and looked at the photos of the Flock. I felt lonely. I missed them so much and I wished I could see them. I'd seen Mum and Ella once since I'd left but that was it, nobody else.

I heard the doorbell and jumped up to get it. It was probably Sam. He could never get it through his head that just because I was back did not mean I wanted to get back together with him. As if I would just suddenly fall in love with him when I moved back here. I had changed and that was not going away just because I moved back to La. The Flock had changed me for life.

"What is it?" I asked, wrenching the door open.

"Oh, fine then I'll just go home then!" Iggy stated, folding his arms, pretending to be offended. I froze for half a second and then I laughed and threw my arms around him in a tight hug.

"Iggy!" I shouted and then I noticed the others behind him. "Ella! Nudge! Angel! Gazzy!" I let go of Iggy and pulled Ella and Nudge into bear hugs each and then I bent down, hugged Angel and kiss her cheeks three times each and then the same for Gazzy.

"Oh my god! Come in!" I practically shouted. I ushered them all into Jeb's mansion (why we needed a mansion when it was just us two I did not know but whatever). "Why didn't you call? Not that it matters or anything but I would have done something to prepare! Are you going to stay the night? Where are your bags?"

"Whoa, calm down," Iggy said, taking my hands in his and stopping me from bouncing while everyone else laughed. "We didn't call because it was a surprise. We're here for the night if you want us to stay- I got my permit a couple of weeks ago so I drove us- and our bags are in the car."

"Of course I want you to stay! Damn it, now I'll have to get my permit! I can't have you ahead of me!" I laughed and it felt so good. I hadn't laughed properly and with true happiness in a while. I didn't look around for Fang and I didn't ask about him. Nobody mentioned him either as we went out and brought in their bags. I led them up to my room which was about three times the size of my old room and then Iggy and I brought in a couple of mattresses while I directed Nudge and Ella to the linen closet and they brought in blankets and pillows.

"This place is huge," Nudge breathed. "You weren't exaggerating."

"Nope, want me to show you around?" I asked.

"Sure," everyone trilled and I gladly showed them through the many bedrooms and bathrooms. I showed them the kitchen and dining room and the huge lounge room.

"Where's the TV?" Gazzy asked, holding my hands and looking around in wonder.

"Not in here," I laughed. "Come on." I led them into our theatre room and they looked around in wonder. It wasn't exactly a theatre because the screen wasn't that big but it was huge and there were a few comfy seats (better than the cinema) with bean bags and cushions and the carpet was so thick that it was comfortable enough to lie on. There was a candy and drink bar up the back.

"Can we watch movies in here?" Angel asked.

Ella had already seen this whole place but she hadn't seen this room. It was a new addition, it was finished after we left for Avondale and she was staring with wide eyes.

"Sure we can," I laughed. "We could move everything from my room to here and sleep in here. Do you want to?"

"Yes!" Iggy said and everyone else nodded.

"After we're done with the tour," I promised. I pointed out the door to the bathroom from the home cinema and then showed them our indoor pool with the spa. They loved the glass roof and walls and then I led them down the glass tunnel to the sunroom that opened out to the gazebo in the middle of the gardens. The gardens were made up of a huge canalled pond with islands and bridges. I loved it, it was very exotic and the gazebo floated on the water and you could see the fish beneath.

"I know why you wanted to come and live here," Nudge laughed.

"I prefer my house in Avondale," I replied. "This place is big and beautiful but I'm a girl of simple tastes… though I do love the garden and the pool."

"So do I," Ella agreed. "We sometimes went swimming in here instead of the pool."

"Really?" Angel asked, looking around. She looked at me. "Could we?"

"Tomorrow," I promised. Angel beamed and my heart swelled. But as I took them back inside and finished off the rest of the mansion and helped cart the things from my room to the home cinema I felt empty.

Fang should have been here, teasing me about being a rich daddy's girl. He should have been around to push me in the pool when we went swimming as soon as our sleeping quarters were set up. He should have been laughing, smiling and having fun with everyone else.

Suddenly my smile felt really forced and my happiness half fake. But I kept both up because I was truly happy to have most of my family here to have fun with me… but it wasn't the same without my best friend.


Fang stared at the phone where it sat next to the fridge. Angel had written down Jeb's house number and it wouldn't be too hard to call but what if Max picked up? He could call Iggy's mobile. That would work then he'd be able to talk to Angel. She'd told him that she didn't need him to check on her but he couldn't help it. He had to talk to her. She was his baby sister. And secretly, though he'd never admit it, the hope that maybe he'd hear Max's voice in the background was just too strong.

"Okay, you're just calling to check up on Angel," Fang told himself. "Max has nothing to do with it." He winced at her name. "She's not a part of the reason. Only Angel."

Fang dialled Iggy's mobile and waited.

"Yeah, Fang?" Iggy asked. He didn't have to say his name. Fang knew that Iggy was warning Max who was on the phone and he felt grateful. He didn't really want to have to deal with something that would occur if Max didn't know who was calling.

"Can I talk to Ange?" Fang asked.

"Sure you can," Iggy replied. "Angel, your brother wants to talk to you."

"I told you not to check on me!" Angel growled. Fang usually would have laughed at his baby sister trying to sound serious. Angel was eight now and she was starting to act like a mini-Max. Originally it would have been hilarious but now it was downright painful.

"I couldn't resist," Fang teased. "How are you sweetie?"

"I'm good! Max's house is huge!" Angel said and Fang winced but Angel didn't notice. "The garden is like all water. It floats! We're sleeping in like this home movie thing! It's just like the movies only smaller!"

"That's great," Fang replied as Angel went on.

"I'm going to go for a walk…" a voice said in the background and Fang's whole body reacted to the sound of her voice.

His heart ached and beat double-time and did a triple somersault all at once. His body froze and then his blood ran faster and hotter through his veins. His emotions went through everything he felt for Max from anger to longing. His arms ached like they wanted told her but his legs reacted like he wanted to walk away from her voice. It was a very confusing reaction.

"Okay, see you," voice responded in the background.

"Fang? Fang are you listening?" Angel asked.

"Yeah, sorry sweetie," Fang replied. "Go on." Angel kept talking and then she asked how Fang's day was.

"Boring, actually," he replied.

"I bet you wish you came with us."

"Nah, I prefer being bored to seeing floating gardens." Fang hoped that his new found use of expression in his voice was enough to fool Angel but she knew better. She'd seen how cut up he'd been about Max leaving and how he avoided her name. One thing his sister was not was stupid.

"No, you just didn't come because you don't want to see Max," Angel replied. Fang didn't reply. She'd hit the nail on the head. He instead picked at a loose thread in his jeans. He needed new ones. "I'm going to go."

"Alright, have a good night," Fang replied. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bye," Angel replied, her voice sad. She hung up and Fang put the phone down, his heart aching. He really needed to get some air. Fang jumped up and went to his room. He grabbed his keys from his bedside table and went to the wardrobe. He grabbed his bike jacket and pulled it on, zipping it up and grabbing his helmet.

He left the house and Peter looked around and followed him to the door where Fang pulled his boots on and laced them tightly.

"Where are you going?" Peter asked.

"I don't know," Fang replied. He looked at his Dad and realised what Peter was seeing. He was seeing his son- who had always been good, strong and reliable- turning into the complete opposite of himself. "I'll be back soon, I know it's late."

"Thankyou," Peter said. Fang nodded to his father and went into the garage and hit the button that opened the garage door, put his helmet on, started the bike and sped off into the night, trying to lose his emotions in his speed and the sound of his bike.

47. Junior 3

Okay second chapter for today. I hope you all like this one. I do. Because unlike a lot of you, I like Ellie and writing her is a lot of fun so I liked this chapter because there is a lot of interaction between her and Fang. Plus I get to make Fang be himself for a little while ^.^

Oh and I just found out that there is actually a town in Arizona called Avondale. When I asked my Dad for a town name I didn't tell him that I didn't want a real one so he gave me an actual town in Arizona. Kinda weird for me to find out :P


It was still early on the Sunday morning when Fang decided that he really couldn't stand sitting around waiting for the others to get back so he went out for another bike ride while Peter was at his Sunday golf game with Damien.

He didn't ride as fast as he had the night before because now he just wanted something to do instead of something to distract himself. He rode out of town and past the walking track but as he glanced across, he frowned and pulled to the side of the road. He pulled his helmet off and looked down at the track. There was a tree shading part of the walk and Fang looked at the figure beneath it.

He frowned and shrugged then whistled. There was nobody else around so Ellie looked up from her book and frowned at him. Fang waved. She waved back and Fang beckoned to her. Ellie frowned but stood up, put her book in her bag and walked up to the road. She smiled at Fang.

"Hi there," she said.

"Hi yourself," Fang replied, surprised to find himself in a slightly better mood. He was… almost pleased to see Ellie. Not in the same way he was always thrilled to see Max but in the way that he was glad because he enjoyed talking to Ellie. He hated to admit it but he thought of her as a friend now.

"What are you doing out here alone?" Fang asked.

"Reading," Ellie replied as though it was obvious.

"I actually wanted the answer to the alone part," Fang replied. Ellie giggled.

"I like to be alone. Much like yourself actually. But for a different reason." She looked at him. "Nice bike. Is that the new model?"

"Yeah it is," Fang replied. He liked his bike but he wasn't much of a machine lover. That was Nudge's domain. Fang liked drawing. Iggy liked cooking. Ella liked beading. Max liked writing poetry and songs. Angel and Gazzy hadn't discovered anything they really loved yet but they would later. But one thing they all loved was music.

"It's beautiful," Ellie commended. "I personally prefer cars. Bikes are very dangerous."

"You'd get along with Nudge, she loves vehicles, especially cars," Fang noted. He frowned. "Do you want me to leave you to your alone time?"

"No," Ellie said. "Do you want to leave me so that you can be alone?"

"Huh… nope, not anymore because you just made me curious." Ellie raised her eyebrows as a signal for Fang to continue. "I have questions but this isn't the most comfortable position to talk them over in. Do you want to come with me?"

"Without a helmet?" Ellie seemed sceptical.

"You can wear mine and I'll drive slow," Fang promised. Ellie looked at him with a frown. "Come on, please." She laughed and pulled herself up behind Fang. He handed her the helmet and she put it on, flipping the visor down. Fang shifted forward slightly and looked back at her.

"Hold on, okay?" he checked. Ellie nodded and wrapped her arms around his waist. Fang revved the bike and then took off and turned around. He drove back into town and found the café that he and Max had been fond of. He usually hated going there but right now he had the urge to be somewhere that her memory was strong.

He kicked down the stand and Ellie pulled off the helmet, her eyes exhilarated.

"That was fabulous!" she told him and Fang chuckled. He was getting this laughing thing down. Ellie had the kind of bubbly personality that made him want to be happy. She made everyone around her feel easygoing and happy.

"Let's go inside, this place is great," Fang explained. Ellie nodded and Fang went in with her. He led her over to one of the tables that looked out over the botanical gardens. Ellie sat down and looked out the window with interest. Fang sat his helmet on the window sill and unzipped his jacket, taking it off. Ellie looked over at him and frowned. Fang looked down.

He wondered what was bothering her. He was dressed how he usually dressed. Black jeans, black boots, chains on his right hip. A black shirt that once had sleeves but Fang had cut them off. His dog tags and their accompanying ring were standing out against his shirt too.

"You don't dress in anything but black," Ellie commented absently.

"Sometimes I wear blue or red," Fang shrugged. "But mostly black, yes."

"Why?" Ellie looked at him, trying to understand.

"It doesn't stand out." Fang frowned. "I thought I was the one who had questions."

"I've got a tonne of questions too. Like what's the feather for on the dog tags? And who's Max?" Ellie replied.

"Uh, hang on." Fang waved a waitress over and ordered cake, Ellie ordered some too and they both ordered milkshakes. Fang looked back at Ellie and frowned. "The feather is symbolic of our family and band name, the Flock and Max is… was my very best friend."

Ellie frowned at Fang. "Did you sing in musicals with her?" she questioned.


"And that's why you didn't want to sing in Wicked?"

"Yes." Fang frowned at Ellie. He didn't know why but he liked spilling this to her. She was just so… easy to talk to.

"Like I said, I have that effect on people," Ellie laughed, once again guessing at his frustration. "I'm going to be a psychologist when I grow up, you know."

"Really? Cool," Fang said. "I guess that ability to make people spill their guts to you will come in handy."

"Yeah and my empathy."


"I can read how people are feeling. It's quite easy to learn to do. I'm good at reading faces and body language and people often give off their emotions. I'm good at reading people." Ellie smiled.

"Have you read me?" Fang asked, already knowing the answer.

"What do you think all my questions in science were for?" Ellie smiled and tilted her head.

The waitress brought out their food and Fang stabbed at his mud cake and took a bite before pointing the fork at Ellie.

"You answered my questions," Fang said. "I was going to ask how you seemed to understand me."

"You're actually very easy," Ellie replied. "What you're thinking is hard but your feelings are simple. When you know what to look for."

"Like what?" Fang asked.

"You're angry at Max," Ellie said. "I'm not sure why, like I said, your thoughts are hard. They're all jumbled. Your emotions are very tangled because there are a lot of them. You're also very sad. You wish Max was here, I can tell because of the longing in your eyes when I say her name."


"You think about her a lot."

"I thought you couldn't tell my thoughts."

"You hold the tag with her name on it and play with the ring when your eyes are vacant," Ellie shrugged. She took a sip of shake. "And sometimes when you're anxious you touch them to give you comfort, like when you were listening to me singing."

"Oh…" Fang gave Ellie his half-smile. "You're good." He wasn't sure that he liked having someone know all of that about him but he was relieved that someone understood how he was feeling.

"I think I've worked out why you're so angry at her for leaving at the same time as being so sad," Ellie said. She ate some cake and Fang looked at her, one eyebrow raised. Ellie swallowed and her eyes softened. "You're in love with her."

Fang dropped his fork. Sure Iggy had figured it out. Yeah Matt and Jake knew. His Mum had known before she'd died. His Dad probably knew. Zac knew for Christ sake. But all of them knew Fang and understood him and had seen him around Max so they'd seen how he looked at her and how he interacted with her. But this girl had never met Max and she only just learnt who she was. Sure she'd seen Max's name on the ring and the dog tags but… Fang had never talked about Max around her…

"Sorry… was that too far?" Ellie asked worriedly. She seemed anxious that she'd upset Fang. He picked up his fork and ate some more cake until he could speak.

"No, it's alright," Fang sighed. "It just… surprised me that you picked up on that. I didn't think it was that obvious. Especially since I'm mad at her for leaving."

"That's what makes it so obvious… well to me anyway." Ellie looked at Fang with a gentle expression. "She's still your best friend, right?"

"I don't know…" Fang sighed.

"I think she is. You still love her deeply, I can tell."

"She understands me better than anyone…" Fang half-smiled. "Except maybe you."

"No," Ellie shook her head. "I don't understand you. I just know you because I read you. I often feel bad for doing that, and I do for you as well, because it's sort of an invasion of privacy. Your soul is where your feelings and thoughts come from and that's what I'm reading. But, while I am sorry, you just interested me. I've never met anyone so obviously complicated. The first moment I saw you I could see that all of your thoughts and feelings were so tangled up. I thought maybe I could help… if you wanted me to."

Fang looked at Ellie in surprise.

"You know… that might be good for me. I haven't smiled in god knows how long," Fang shrugged. "Plus we'll be spending time together through practise for Wicked. It'll be good for me."

"Wait… how do you know?" Ellie asked.

"I was on the judging panel remember?" Fang winked. "You've got the part and they're all ecstatic that I was singing properly again so I've got the part too." Then his face fell.

"What's the bad news?" Ellie asked.

"Adrian got Glinda," Fang scowled.


"Bingo. Give the girl a prize."

"That bad huh?"

"Max broke her nose. That's how much she hated her."

Ellie laughed and then smiled. "Well, I'll look forward to singing with you at any rate," she said with a smile. "Know any other parts?"

"Max's half-sister Ella got Nessa-Rose," Fang said, smiling. "That's all I can remember anyway. I know that we have no call-backs this year because Miss Alike hates them and she had all the perfect singers picked out for the parts."

"Cool." Ellie smiled. "Would you mind giving me a ride home?"

"Course not," Fang replied. He threw money down on the table and refused to let Ellie pay and took her back out to his bike. "Where do you live?"

"Out on the resort," Ellie replied. "My parents bought it."

"Wow, how long have you been here?"

Fang swung his leg over the bike and moved it upright. Ellie climbed on behind him and put the helmet on.

"About a month," she replied. "Not that long." She flipped the visor down and Fang started the bike and drove out of town. He knew the way to the resort. He pulled up outside of the pretty front office and Ellie got off the bike.

"You ride really well," she complimented him as she handed the helmet over. "Do you want to come in?"

Fang frowned.

"I won't pester you anymore about your tangled emotions." Ellie put her hand on her heart. "Scout's honour."

Fang laughed and kicked down the stand. Ellie took his helmet from him and led him around to a pretty two-storey house on the other side of the front office to the lodgings. Ellie smiled at Fang as she led him into her house and he smiled back without forcing the gesture.

Maybe he could feel better enough to talk to Max… one day.


I dangled my legs in the canal from the edge of the gazebo, keeping an eye on Angel and Gazzy. Nudge and Ella were swimming with them to be sure but I was still worried. Iggy sat with me, also keeping an eye out. Usually he would have been in the water and Fang would have been sitting with me but we all know why that isn't possible.

"You feeling alright?" Iggy asked me.

"Yeah, lonely, but I'm okay," I replied. I smiled at him. "How's Fang?"

"Moody," Iggy shrugged. "He's going in Wicked. He wasn't originally but when he heard the girl singing who's playing the female lead he couldn't resist." He smiled.

"You say it like it's surprising."

"Fang wasn't singing properly for a while and he only sang for the band." Iggy looked at me with a frown. "You know how he used to sing in that amazing voice that sent girls to their knees and made all of the singing teachers we knew go 'wow'?"


"Well he stopped using it but Miss Alike told me that he sang like that with Ellie."

"Ellie… is that the girl?"

"Yeah. She's new. She's kinda weird but I think Fang likes her."

"Likes her?" I stared at Iggy, eyebrows raised.

"Not in the way you're thinking," Iggy laughed. "But I think he likes talking to her. He wanted her to sit with us at lunch times but Steve doesn't like her and Fang doesn't like arguing so he didn't press the matter."

"Right…" He used to love arguing. With me especially. That's probably why he didn't like it anymore. I didn't like doing anything that reminded me of him.

"Max!" Angel called. I looked over at her. "I almost caught a fish!"

"Well done sweetie!" I called back. She grinned at me and I looked at Iggy. He was rolling his eyes good naturedly. "How along are you staying?" I knew I'd be so lonely as soon as they were gone.

"We'll stay for a few more hours but I wanna get the kids home before it's too late," Iggy replied.

"Understandable…" I hesitated.

"You want me to try and talk to Fang?"

"Could you? I miss him so much."

"I know."


"He misses you too; he'd just never admit it."

"Thanks Ig."

We spent the last few hours chatting happily, Iggy and I made lunch- Ig didn't let me do too much, he still didn't trust me in the kitchen even though I was perfectly capable- and then I helped the others pack up. When it was time for them to go there were mucho tears and hugs- no tears from me but I was really sad.

"I'll miss you guys a lot," I promised, hugging each of them tightly.

"See you soon, hopefully," Nudge said.

"I love you all," I added. They all climbed into the car and Ella leant out of the passenger window and smiled at me. "Give Mum a hug from me."

"Will do," Ella replied. "Tell Jeb I said hi, would you?"

"Sure. He was at a conference this weekend so I'm so glad you all came. I would have been bored otherwise."

"Our pleasure," Iggy said. "Ell, roll up the window."

"Bye Max!" Chorused from the car as Ella rolled up the window. I waved until the car was out of sight and then I felt despair settle down on my heart. I walked back through the mansion to the garden and sat down.

I really missed Fang.


"Nick, what would you like for lunch?" Mrs Calhoun asked, smiling kindly at Fang.

"Um… it really doesn't bother me," Fang replied.

"Alright… well, would you like hamburgers?"

"Sounds good, El?" Fang replied. Ellie's nose was wrinkled.

"Veggie for you, sweetheart," her mother assured her and Fang's eyes widened and he looked at Ellie in confusion. "Ellie's been a vegetarian for a couple of years now."

"Oh, cool, you didn't tell me that," Fang chuckled. Ellie smiled at him.

"I didn't feel the need," she explained as Mrs Calhoun went about making lunch for them. Fang looked around the kitchen. It was like the rest of the house- warm, inviting and comfortable. Fang liked the Calhouns' home. He liked the Calhouns themselves, very much. Ellie's mother was kind and caring and her father was eccentric and intelligent.

"Ellie says that you're a wonderful singer, Fang," Mr Calhoun said, closing his book and smiling at Fang. He found Fang's nickname very intriguing and was the only one of the family who called him by it.

"Oh I'm really not that good," Fang muttered, actually embarrassed. Ellie rolled her eyes at his modesty. "Honestly."

"Ignore him," Ellie sighed. "He's like a god of music. I asked around and all of the girls started swooning about you playing guitar in a half-unbuttoned shirt and singing with your 'archangel's voice'."

Fang felt like he would have uncharacteristically have turned red if Mr Calhoun hadn't started laughing in a booming voice. Ellie and her mother joined in and Fang was drawn into the delightful sound and, amazingly, found himself laughing too. Properly laughing, not just a half-hearted chuckle. He realised he enjoyed laughing and when they stopped he was smiling because he felt… light and almost buoyant.

"Oh god, reminds me of when I was at school and girls would fawn over rock stars like Bon Jovi and Rob Thomas," Mr Calhoun sighed, wiping tears from his eyes. "So… do you play piano?"

"Yes," Fang said. "And drums and bass. Also flute and panpipes. Oh and I play a mean harmonica."

Mr Calhoun laughed again and Fang grinned. It felt good to just be himself and let his natural charm win out over his need to be detached from life.

"You should play something for my parents," Ellie insisted, smiling at Fang, pleased with herself for helping him be happy for a change.

"Sure, but what?" Fang asked.

"Anything," Ellie replied.

"What would you like to hear?" Fang asked the adults.

"He has a love of old music," Ellie hinted.

"Do you know 'Imagine', by John Lennon?" Mrs Calhoun asked.

Fang laughed and smirked. "Do I know Imagine?" Fang stood up, smiling slyly. "Ma'am, I wrote Imagine."

The Calhouns laughed and Ellie took Fang into their sunroom where a beautiful, black grand piano was sitting with its lid propped up. Fang sat down and ran his fingers across the keys in reverence. He'd never played a grand piano before.

"This is so beautiful," he murmured.

"It was my grandmother's," Mrs Calhoun explained. Ellie sat beside Fang and her parents stood behind them. Ellie nodded at Fang and he started playing and then began to sing, remembering his love of music. He made sure to pour his emotions into the song and wave his voice with the melody to create the perfect harmony. Music was life to Fang. It had a beauty and magic that were unexplainable.

"That was wonderful," Mrs Calhoun sighed. She sniffed the air. "I'll go and rescue lunch. Play something else; I'll listen from the kitchen."

Fang played several more songs and then played Chopsticks for fun making Mr Calhoun laugh. He and Ellie sang a couple of nursery rhymes together while Fang played them and then Mrs Calhoun called the three of them in for lunch.

When Fang looked at the time and realised that he should go home before Peter got worried about where he was, he was disappointed. He'd felt happy with the Calhouns. He'd had fun. Mr and Mrs Calhoun bid him goodbye and invited him to come around whenever he felt like it and then headed off to feed the resort's horses.

Ellie walked Fang out to his motorbike.

"Next time you want to take me for a ride, call me first and I'll find the jacket and helmet that my brother bought for me before he went off to College," Ellie told him, smiling, her eyes bright with amusement.

Fang smiled back. "Sure," he agreed. "You know… this place… it's…"

"Great," Ellie finished for him. "I know. People come here all of the time with stories of alcoholism and drug abuse and divorce. This place makes them feel better."

"Magic," Fang said in his Twilight Zone voice. Ellie laughed. "Your parents are great."

"They're really happy to meet you," Ellie admitted, her cheeks flushing with colour. Fang frowned as Ellie dropped her gaze in embarrassment.

"What's wrong?"

"Well, the reason they're so glad to meet you is kind of embarrassing." Ellie looked up at Fang shyly.

"Tell me."

Ellie frowned, seemed to realise that she knew most of Fang's current embarrassing feelings and smiled. "You remember on my first day, how I told you that people didn't get on with me well? Or rather I don't get on with other people well."

"I remember." Fang frowned.

"I was being serious," Ellie shrugged. "I've never had that many friends and my parents were so pleased that I had at least one friend here in Avondale because I told them that the people here didn't like me that much."

"Oh." Fang frowned, wondering how he should feel about that. He decided he felt angry at people disliking Ellie for no reason and pleased that he got to be her friend. "Well, I'm here any time you need to talk."

"Hey I'm the therapist here, remember." Her joking tone made Fang smile and then she smiled gently, serious again. "But thankyou, that means a lot."

"Come and sit with me at lunch tomorrow."

"Steve doesn't like me remember? And neither does Nudge."

"I'll sit with you then. Meet me outside the cafeteria." Fang zipped up his jacket and put his helmet on, flipping the visor up. "I'm serious, Ellie."

"Whatever Trevor," she said rolling her eyes. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Later." Fang flipped his visor down, started the bike, kicked it into gear and sped off out of the resort and down the road. He could feel Max's ring and his dog tags hanging around his neck but suddenly they didn't seem to be weighing him down, they seemed to be filling him with warmth, a reminded of the girl he loved deeply.

Suddenly, the world didn't seem so dark.

48. Junior 4

I wrote this chapter while listening to You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson and it proved to be great inspiration. I love listening to music when I write. Oh and I must say, you guys are really upset about Ellie but just sit tight because I think that by Boxing Day I should have caught you up to where I've written to and therefore being with Max and Fang reunited, I promise. ^.^ Okay enjoy chapter one for Christmas Eve.

"So, he didn't come?" Jessie asked me. We were sitting at the back of the science lab, taking advantage of Professor Chadd scolding Simon because he'd split nitric acid everywhere. We had a good twenty minutes before Professor tried to show everyone how to do it properly by fixing up what Simon had done wrong.

"Nope, according to Nudge he feigns deafness every time my name is mentioned," I shrugged, trying not to show how much it was truly hurting me that Fang was doing this. I would get down on my knees and beg for forgiveness if only he gave me the chance.

"Maybe he's waiting for you to talk to him," Jessie suggested, her eyes worried. She didn't like that I was so upset and that Fang was all distant to everyone. "You know… last night he actually started an MSN conversation with me."

"Really?" I raised my eyebrows, surprised.

"Yeah, he seemed really… cheerful."

"Huh? Fang hasn't been cheerful for ages."

"I know but that's what he seemed like." Jessie shrugged. "I didn't want to make him stop being happy so I didn't ask why he was. I did ask what he did that day and he said he spent the day with his new friend Ellie."

My eyes narrowed. I felt anger, loneliness, guilt, regret, sadness and rejection. I was jealous but I didn't have any right to be. I'd left Fang. He was perfectly entitled to make new friends but I couldn't help but feel a tiny bit bitter. I still considered Fang my best friend. I still cared. I still wanted him in my life.

"Iggy mentioned her," I muttered. "They're singing in Wicked together."

Jessie heard my bitter tone and her eyes softened.

"He told me not to worry or dislike him, he wasn't about to replace you that quickly," Jessie told me in a teasing voice. "He then proceeded to explain that while he was still upset with you and didn't think he could talk to you just yet, he could never replace you because you hold a place in his heart that nobody else ever can."

I smiled automatically and my stomach filled with butterflies. My heart swelled with warmth and happiness in one of those oh-my-god-I-totally-love-my-friends ways but just for Fang and I laughed.

"So do you think-?"

I was cut off by a bang and tinkling of class and then foul-smelling smoke rose to the ceiling. The whole class was frozen, staring at Professor Chadd and Simon- both covered in smoke- before the fire alarms started ringing and the sprinklers started spraying water on us.

The girls screamed and immediately pulled up books and bags to cover their hair and Jessie and I looked at each other and started laughing our heads off.

"Please class!" Professor Chadd shouted. "File outside and into the quad in an orderly fashion! Do not use the elevators!"

"Iggy and Gazzy would have loved that!" I laughed as Jessie and I ran out of the lab. We got to the staircase and slid down the banister rail together, still laughing.

"I loved that!" Jessie replied. I laughed. I felt a lot lighter after what Jessie had told me and I also felt… I don't know, free. I was free of the fear that Fang would move on from me. Find another girl who probably wouldn't abandon him. So now, I felt free enough to enjoy this little bit of excitement for the day while Jessie and I walked out to the others, all seven of us soaked and laughing.

"That was fun!" JJ trilled and Jessie and I cackled.

"What set it off?" Sam asked, grinning casually.

"Professor Chadd, trying to do something to Simon's chemical mix," Jessie giggled.

"He obviously didn't know what Simon had already mixed in there," I added. I squeezed water out of my white blouse and was thankful that I'd worn my dark blue tank-top today.

All of the girls around us looked upset about their precious hair and a lot of them had mascara tracks down their faces which I found hilarious. Their white socks were see-through. Their white shirts were see-through so most of them had bras showing out of their shirts or were pulling on the navy jumper so that only their soaked red skirts were showing out the bottom.

I took the chance to take off my tab-tie while the guys were loosening their red ties and showing off their muscles through their see-through shirts. Anna, JJ, Jessie and I rolled our eyes at that, glad that our boys had more sense. Everyone's hair was dishevelled and they all looked hilarious.

We stood around, talking for about half and hour while the lab was cleaned up and the fire-system was turned off. They also had to send the fire trucks away because the alarm was programmed to alert the fire station.

"Alright students!" Mrs Ambridge, our principal said through a megaphone. We all fell silent and looked at her. "We can't send you back to class just yet because the classroom have to be cleaned so we'll begin lunch early and then whichever class you have this afternoon, you can assist in the cleaning of that classroom.

"Woo, I have gym! That's not even connected to the main building! No clean up for me," I said under my breath and James laughed once before he covered his mouth. Mrs Ambridge either didn't hear him or chose to ignore his outburst. I think it must have been number too, that woman has really good hearing, she never misses a sound.

"Damn it, home economics," Anna groaned and we all laughed. The cooking and sewing rooms always got flooded from the sprinklers for some reason. We did feel sorry for Anna but it was still funny. The boys all had science together and the labs had drains on the floor so they weren't going to have to mop, they'd just have to dry off the desks and chairs.

Mrs Ambridge dismissed us and we went to the cafeteria which was also not connected to the main building and the fire alarm system in its building was a different one to the main system so it was dry inside.

"Continuing from science," Jessie said, slipped closer to me. We slowed down a bit from the others who let us. We all had this thing where if two or three of the group wanted to talk privately, we would let them without a complaint. It was a good system. And it was also a good sign of trust.

"Yeah, do you think Ellie is the reason Fang was so happy?" I asked.

"I would imagine," Jessie agreed. "He wasn't entirely himself if you know what I mean but he was much happier than usual. I think it's great. Whoever this Ellie girl is, I'd be thankful that she's making Fang act like himself."

"Yeah, he does need a good kick up the butt." I frowned, I was still jealous though. I was the reason Fang was upset so I suppose I was glad he was cheering up but I wish I'd been the one to do it.

"Oh Max, cheer up some," Jessie pleaded. "We know Fang still cares about you and still counts you as a best friend."

"He still feels betrayed and hurt though," I muttered. "I just want to talk to him again." I felt like crying. I looked at Jessie and she wrapped an arm around my waist and hugged me gently. "I miss him so much, Jess." I leant my head on her shoulder- which was kind of weird considering that she was shorter than me by about three inches- and sighed sadly.

"I know," she murmured. "I know."


Fang's face was an expressionless mask as he walked down to the cafeteria at lunch time. When he spotted Ellie, waiting for him with a peaceful smile on her face, his eyes lit with a bit of cheer and he smiled his trademark half-smile.

Ellie spotted him and waved happily.

"How are you today?" she asked.

"You tell me," Fang replied teasingly. It felt so easy to be friends with Ellie. She was so likeable and loving. Fang found her interesting and insightful and couldn't imagine how people couldn't like her. Then he corrected himself. These days a lot of people were superficial and they didn't like Ellie because she was different. But different was good. Fang liked different.

Ellie frowned and looked into Fang's eyes. She was a lot shorter than he was. About the same height that Adrian had been.

"You're happy," she decided. "With reservations though. How do you think you are?"

"Better than I was two weeks ago," Fang smiled. "Come on, let's eat. I'm starving."

"You're always hungry." Ellie rolled her eyes and they went to the cafeteria line together and Fang couldn't help but glance over at his table. Damen and Nudge had only just come into the cafeteria but Steve, Iggy and Ella were already at their table.

Fang and Ellie left the line with their trays of lunch and Ellie looked at Fang as he glanced at his table.

"You should sit with them," Ellie said.

"No dice," Fang replied. "Where do you usually sit?"

"Over there." Ellie frowned at Fang when he followed her but she didn't try and argue with him again. Fang sat down and looked over at his lunch table. Steve and Iggy were staring at him in disbelief but Ella waved to him and smiled. Fang felt relieved that she, at least, was fine with him not sitting with them.

When Fang had gotten home on Sunday afternoon he'd greeted his father enthusiastically with a smile and Peter had been shocked but hadn't mentioned it. When Angel had gotten back Fang had picked her up and spun her around and demanded every detail of her trip and told her not to hold back on anything and she was surprised but did as he asked, watching his expression suspiciously when she mentioned Max. But Fang hadn't been fazed.

His friends were glad with his new found cheerfulness but he couldn't say what they thought of where it was coming from. Iggy was kind of annoyed that Fang seemed to be spending a lot of time with a girl who wasn't Max. Steve didn't like Ellie one little bit and he wouldn't say why. Damen thought she was kind of weird but didn't mind. Ella thought it was great that he was spending time with her. Nudge hated Ellie and was pissed off at Fang from the current look on her face because she thought that Fang was replacing Max.

"Your friends are unhappy," Ellie commented.

"Not all of them," Fang replied. "Damen and Ella are cool. Iggy won't be bad about it because Ella likes it and Damen will be quiet about it because Nudge hates it so much."

"Sorry," Ellie said.

"I don't care. They can get over it." Fang smiled. "Did you see the cast results?"

"Of course I did. Tell me about each of the actors chosen."

Fang launched into a description of each person picked to play a part in the play and he couldn't remember the last time he'd talked so much with somebody who wasn't Max. He didn't think he ever had. It was just Ellie's aura. It made people want to talk to her. Even if they didn't like her and it had a really weird effect on Fang. But he didn't mind, not that much.


"So… have you heard from Fang?" Dad asked and I looked up at him and grimaced. Jeb nodded and frowned at me. "Why don't you call him?"

"He doesn't answer if I call his mobile and "he's not there" when I call the land line," I said, making air quotes. Jeb sighed sadly. "Dad, please, I miss Fang but I'm not going to push him. I hurt him and now he can choose when he's ready to forgive me."

"If you want to go back-"

"And leave you alone? I don't think so." I sighed. "Plus I don't think that would help. Fang won't talk to me until he's ready to forgive even if I did go back." My fork clacked again my plate as I placed it down. "I'm suddenly not hungry… do you mind if I go upstairs?"

"Of course not," Jeb said. I smiled at Dad and stood up and left. I went to my room, feeling saddened. I hated it when people tried to make me fix things when I wasn't talking to someone. Usually their advice worked but this was Fang we were talking about. He didn't work like normal people and therefore the normal rules of not talking didn't apply to him. I was in the wrong and so he wouldn't say a word to me until he was ready. I just had to be patient.

And we all know how great I am at that.

I went to my laptop and played iTunes on shuffle and then switched onto MSN. I scanned the contacts. Fang was on. I contemplated following Dad's advice and then remembered that it wouldn't work. Instead I stared at Fang's MSN name and then his PM.

He used to have my name in his but it was gone. It was replaced with some of the lyrics out of Have a Nice Day. I looked at my MSN name and then clicked on and changed my personal message to I'm sorry Fang… please forgive me. I miss you. I completed it with a broken heart.

Then I went and lay on my bed and picked up a book to read. I didn't expect him to talk but it was worth a shot.


Fang went back to his main msn page, still amused by his conversation with Ellie. He noticed Max's personal message change and he frowned and read it. His heart ached slightly as he stared at it. Then he remembered his own pain. Fang's fingers rested on the keys of his laptop and his heart beat quickly.

It wouldn't take a lot of effort to talk to Max but what could he say. The minute he spoke to her he'd be filled with anger and hurt again and he couldn't be able to say anything. Fang tore his eyes from the screen and looked to the side.

A new song started and he frowned. You Are Not Alone? Was iTunes trying to tell him something? That was more than creepy.


I frowned as another song played on my laptop. It was Michael Jackson, You Are Not Alone. I sat up and stared at the computer. Fang hadn't sent her a message yet but that song was just more than weird. It was like her laptop was trying to send her a message.

"You are not alone, I am here with you," Max whispered, as though hoping Fang could hear her from where she was. She slid over to the side of her bed closest to the desk and stared at the computer screen.

Come on Fang, I thought desperately. Talk to me.


Fang listened to the song.

"Every day I sit and ask myself 'how did I slip away?'" Fang whispered and then stared at Max's user name again. Could he talk to her? Could he? Right now?

He frowned, listening to the song, imagining that Max was speaking the chorus to him. Did she really mean her message? She seemed pretty content back with her old friends? Did she miss him as much as he missed her? He didn't think so.

But still…


As the song came to a close, Max whispering the chorus under her breath, she began to lose hope.

"You are always in my heart," she whispered as she signed off MSN. She guessed Fang really didn't want to talk to her. Heart aching, she went to bed, wishing that she was back in Arizona.


The last words of the song trailed off and Fang hit Max's MSN name and started writing but halfway through she signed off and he froze, staring blankly at the screen. He blinked, hurt and then realised that she hadn't known he was about to send her a message.

Fang frowned, perhaps it was better he was starting to feel betrayed and hurt again.

He'd talk to Max again one day but not right now. Right now he just couldn't deal with it.

"I love you," he whispered, blew a kiss to the screen and then shut off MSN sadly and slipped underneath his blankets, feeling dejected and wishing things were back to the way they used to be.

49. Junior 5

I both love this chapter and think it's very sad. The first part I loved writing because Ellie gets to meet Adrian which is something I've been waiting for for ages. I hate Adrian with a vengeance and I love Ellie so having the OC I hate meet the OC I love was heaps of fun. I do especially think that the song What is this feeling? fits amazingly well for them.

And then the last part is kind of sad, for Max anyway. And just so you don't get confused, between the verses of the song that Fang is singing, I'm switching between Fang and Max for the character because I didn't know how to do it so that you'd get to hear both their thoughts while Fang is singing. It's one of my favourite parts because of how perfectly the song fits but it's also sad because Max realises how much she's hurt Fang.

So enjoy chapter 2 for Christmas Eve (it's chrissy eve here anyway)

Fang's happiness from spending the day with Ellie's family wasn't long lasting, the rest of the week he was back to being sad and lonely and no matter how hard Ellie tried to cheer him up it didn't work and she got worried when he wouldn't tell her what had happened. The others were worried enough to ask Ellie what was wrong with him. She was sorry that she couldn't tell them.

"Nick, will you please talk to me?" Ellie asked. It was Friday afternoon and they were walking to practise for Wicked. Fang didn't answer and Ellie frowned worriedly but didn't push him. Fang glanced sideways at her and saw the worry in her eyes and sighed. She looked at him.

"I just… I don't want to talk about it yet," Fang murmured. "I might tell you next week after the competition."

"Okay then," Ellie replied. "You need to get your head in the game to do well. Don't hold back okay. Sing like you did when we sang together. You can't lose."

Fang nodded, his eyes soft. "Thanks, I'll try my best."

They walked into the auditorium and saw all of the actors waiting. Ella was standing down one end of the stage eyeing someone with great dislike. Fang didn't need to ask to know. His eyes flipped and he spotted Adrian immediately, putting a blonde wig on to make herself look more like Glinda.

Fang scowled and led Ellie over to Ella.

"Hi Fang, Ellie," Ella said, her eyes dark as she looked over at Adrian.

"Did she say anything to you?" Fang asked, concerned. "Next time you wait for us and we'll come together."

"No she didn't… yet. I don't think she realises that I'm Max's sister. We don't look a thing alike you know." Ella smiled at Fang. "Sure, next time we can walk together."

"Good, Max would kill me with a mail bomb or something if I let Adrian do anything to you," Fang replied, trying not to wince at Max's name. Ella still noticed his pause beforehand and frowned at him.

"So… does this mood change have anything to do with her?"

"No. It's about the song You Are Not Alone." Fang folded his arms and Ella didn't say another thing about his mood, instead she turned to Ellie.

"I'm so happy to be singing with you," Ella smiled. "We'll be sisters!"

"I know, it's so cool!" Ellie replied. "Nick's told me a heap about all of you guys."

"Really?" Ella raised her eyebrows. "What has he said?"

"That you're really cool and way too good for Iggy." Both girls started laughing and Fang rolled his eyes and pushed Ellie playfully.

"I was kidding," he said.

"I know you were," Ellie giggled. Fang rolled his eyes again as Miss Alike and Mr Callahan stepped in front of the stage. All of the students scrambled to seat themselves on the edge of the stage.

"Okay, since this is our first audition we're going to pick several songs to practise," Miss Alike explained. "We thought we should give our two leads a chance to sing together to get to know how the other sings and work together better."

"Oh joy," Adrian hissed from where she was standing.

"Alright, can we have our extras come with us and we'll get you acknowledged to each other," Mr Callahan said. "Can the other actors talk amongst themselves? Ellie, Adrian you two introduce yourselves, we need you to know each other well so that you can work together properly."

"Don't worry," Fang whispered. "I won't let her do anything to you."

Ellie just smiled sweetly at him and stood up. Fang frowned worriedly and stood up, shadowing her movements to Adrian. Ella came with him and he stopped a few feet away from Ellie and Adrian and he and Ella looked at each other worriedly.

"Hi, I'm Ellie," Ellie said kindly, holding out her hand. Adrian just stared at her scornfully.

"I know, you're the freak everyone's been talking about," Adrian replied. Ellie didn't seem fazed by the comment but Ella's eyes narrowed and Fang felt a tickle of annoyance. He didn't like people insulting Ellie, it always struck a nerve and made him feel protective, like when Angel was upset or Ella or Nudge. It surprised Fang to realise that he thought of Ellie as one of his sisters.

"And you are?" Ellie asked politely as though she hadn't heard Adrian's comment. The sweetness in Ellie's voice sounded so sincere but somehow Fang could tell it was completely fake.

"Adrian," she replied. She eyed Ellie. "You stole my part."


"Yes, I'm the best singer in our year. I should have gotten Elphaba."

"Well if you're so great how come I got the lead then?" Ellie asked and Adrian's eyes flashed dangerously. "If you're so great how come Max got the lead last and not you even on a call back?"


"And if you're so great, then why am I the one Fang prefers to sing with? Oh yeah that's right because you're not so great. He dropped you like a dog because he's too good for you!"

Adrian swung a punch at Ellie and Fang took a step forward but then realised Ellie had ducked out of the way, she was smirking.

"Wow that was a terrible punch, the only good thing about it was your speed," Ellie laughed. "I wonder-" Adrian threw another punch and Ellie dodged out of the way again, laughing. "And that one had nothing good about it at all. Want me to show you how to throw a proper punch?"

Adrian glared at Ellie and then turned her head. Ellie looked and then Fang followed both their gazes. Miss Alike was watching them through narrowed eyes. Ellie backed over to Fang smiling sweetly with an innocent expression whereas Adrian just folded her arms indignantly.

"Right everyone except Ellie and Adrian off the stage," Miss Alike said. The extras got to the stage exits that you're supposed to be one. "We're doing What is this feeling? Adrian do you need the song book?"

"No," Adrian replied in a bored voice. Miss Alike didn't need to ask Ellie.

"Alright, get into your places."

Ellie moved down to the front edge of stage left and Adrian took stage right. She immediately switched off her bitchy face. Fang and Ella sat in the front row and watched Ellie worriedly. She seemed perfectly at ease though.

"Dearest darling Mumsy and Popsicle," Adrian said, falling into character with ease.

"Dear Father," Ellie responded.

"There's been some confusion over rooming here at Shiz," they sang together.

"But of course I'll care for Nessa," Ellie sang softly, hands on her heart.

"But of course I'll rise above it," Adrian sang and Fang made a retching noise for which Miss Alike threw him a dark glare and he sat up straight, pretending to be innocent.

"Because I know that's how you'd want me to respond.
There's been some confusion for you see my room mate is…
" Ellie turned to glare at Adrian who glared back.

"Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe…" Adrian said.

Ellie paused, counted to three in her head and smirked at the audience.


Miss Alike nodded and the music started so the girls stepped into the stage. Fang was trying not to laugh because he knew that the looks on their faces were not actors' faces, they were actually how the two girls felt about each other. The suitability of this song made it suddenly hilarious and Fang smiled. He looked at Ella and she was smiling too.

"What is this feeling so sudden and new?" Adrian asked.

"I felt the moment I laid eyes on you," Ellie sang back, glaring at Adrian on 'you'.

"My heart is racing."

"My head is reeling."

"My face is flushing."

"What is this feeling? Fervid as a flame. Does it have a name?" they sang together in perfect melody and then stopped facing each other. They were exactly the same height so their faces were only a few inches apart as they glared at each other.

"Yes its loathing," they sang together. "Unadulterated loathing!"

"For your face," Adrian sang.

"Your voice."

"Your clothing!"

They glared at each other as they sang the next lines together and walked apart.

"Let's just say: I loathe it all!
Every little trait however small
Makes my very flesh begin to crawl!

Fang and Ella were trying not to laugh their heads off through the whole song. When Ellie looked at the audience and saw them she winked and then returned to singing. She and Adrian finished the song in each other's faces like how they started it and Fang and Ella stood up to clap, both holding back their laughter.

"That was hilarious," Ella whispered.

"Agreed," Fang replied. They sat back down and Ellie skipped to the edge of the stage.

"What song next Miss alike?" she asked sweetly. Miss Alike looked down at her clip board.

"Dancing through life," she replied. "Fang, get up there."

"Done and done," Fang replied and then he paused. "Do I have to kiss her?"

"Not yet, get on the stage. Ella, Ellie, you two wait backstage for your turns." Ella went onto the stage with Fang and she and Ellie went back stage, giggling together and Fang gave Adrian a long-suffering look before changing into character for the song. He was good at putting up with Adrian, especially when he just pictured in his mind what she had looked like after Max had broken her nose.

Grinning evilly, Fang slipped into character and started.


"Competition! Competition! Competition!" Iggy sang, trying to cheer up the band. Damen just shook his head and Iggy fell silent.

Peter was driving the boys to LA where MTV was hosting the competition. Fang was in the front seat, Iggy, Damen and Steve where in the back. Steve was still angry at Fang and was seated as far away from him as possible in the small space of the car.

"Maybe we should have ridden with the girls," Damen murmured to Iggy.

"You can't have actually," Peter reminded them. "We have to be there an hour before the audience is allowed in."

"Oh, right," Iggy replied and he and Damen exchanged an exasperated look as neither Fang nor Steve said anything. Iggy leant forward to Fang's seat and Damen turned to Steve. "Yo, maybe you should talk to him. We can't have the band in an uproar."

"I'll give it a go when we get to LA," Fang murmured back. He didn't want to be fighting with any of his friends, particularly those in his band. Iggy nodded satisfied and sat back. Fang glanced over his other shoulder at Steve who was arguing quietly with Damen.

"Did any of you tell Max that the first round was on this weekend?" Peter asked Fang flinched and looked away but he heard Iggy answer.

"No, Fang didn't want us to," Iggy said gently.

Fang looked sideways to see his father watching him worriedly and then Fang looked in the side view mirror at Dr Martinez's car where Ella, Nudge and Ellie were enjoying themselves. Nudge had taken a liking to Ellie after Fang has swept her aside and assured her that he could never replace Max, it was impossible and then Ella had introduced her best friend to Ellie and now they were good friends.

Steve was a different story however. Fang was determined to find out what his problem was.

"We'll probably go past Max's place to get to the beach," Iggy said. The first round of the competition was being held on a beach where people could come and see them play if they wanted to.

"Ooh, really?" Damen asked.

"Well… we'll only go past the entrance to the grounds really but you might see the mansion," Iggy replied.

"Is it as big as you said?"

"I wasn't lying."

Silence fell in the car again and Peter put in a couple of CDs and then pressed shuffle. Fang looked at his dad thankfully and then he raised his head as they drove into LA. He wasn't looking for anything in particular. Just looking.

"Okay Ig, where is it?" Damen asked when they were getting close to the area that Max lived in. Iggy craned his neck and then looked out his window, remembering which side they were on.

"Here!" Iggy said. "The big estate up ahead!" He pointed out the front windscreen. Damen and Steve both looked over and Fang tilted his head and looked out of his window. His eyes widened slightly as he took in the size of the estate. With years of practise from never showing emotions he was able to stop himself from shouting 'oh my god'.

The white brick fence and golden gates were covered in climbing vines that were flowering. The drive was shrouded by trees and the massive gardens that Fang could see on top of the hill were beautiful and then the mansion itself… wow the others hadn't been exaggerating on its size. No wonder Max had wanted to go and live with her Dad. Then Fang shook his head. Max wasn't superficial. It had nothing to do with the size of the mansion.

"That's one beautiful place," Peter said. "We should call in on the way back."

"Call in uninvited? Nice Dad," Fang said. "I just wanna go straight home after this."

"Spoil sport!" Damen accused. "I want to go and see Max… and her huge home."

"Me too," Steve said. "But I guess Fang doesn't want to take his new best friend in to meet his ex."

"Shut up, Steve," Fang snarled, turning in his seat to give Steve one of his deadly glares. "Keep your mouth shut if you want to keep it."

"Ooh, tough words," Steve mocked.

"Boys, please," Peter said. "Can you leave this until you're both ready to sort it out without throwing punches."

"Fine," they both growled and sat back in their seats, arms folded, glaring out their windows.


I was swimming when Dad got a phone call from Ella. I didn't hear the phone ringing and I had no idea what was going on until Dad came into the glass pool room and waved to me. I swam over to the end of the pool where he was standing and rung the water out of my hair.

"Yeah?" I asked.

"Do you want to go to the beach?" Dad asked.

"Um… I wasn't planning on it… why?" I was suspicious. Jeb usually let me do my own thing- guilt for asking me to come down here I think- so I wondered what his motive was.

"MTV is hosting a music competition there," Jeb admitted. I frowned. Oh. That music competition would probably be a bad idea for me to attend. "Max? Please, do this for me."

"He doesn't want to talk to me Dad," I replied. "It will be a bad idea."

"Max, just come with me. Please."

I looked at Jeb's pleading gaze and I sighed and climbed out of the pool. Jeb smiled at me and we went inside. He waited patiently while I dried off and pulled on a tank-top over my bikini and a pair of track pants. I went down to meet him, hopping while I pulled on my other sneaker.

"Let's go," Jeb said and took me out to the car.

We drove down to the beach where people were paying to go in an watch the first round of the competition. I raised my eyebrows.

"That's a big crowd," I said. Suddenly I was a tiny bit glad that Fang didn't want me performing with them. I would have hurled beforehand for sure.

"It is," Jeb said, he grinned as he guessed my thoughts and we parked and then went down to the beach. Jeb paid for our entry and we went. The stage was covered in people in black running around like idiots.

"Do you want to find the others?" Jeb asked me.

"No," I replied. "I don't want them to know I'm here."

Jeb rolled his eyed but didn't say anything. I could see the stage perfectly well from where I was. I got bored quickly because it took ages for them to get started. When they finally did I perked up.

My band… or what used to be a band I was in was the sixth one up. When Fang got onto stage with his guitar in his hands, my heart flip-flopped and I stepped behind me and up onto a bench so that I could see him better.

"Hi everyone!" Fang said and at the sound of his voice I nearly fell down, curled into the foetal position and started crying. "It's great to see you all here! I'm Fang and we're The Flock. Okay guys, hit it."

They started playing and I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sound. I'd missed the familiar music of the band.

"A hundred days have made me older
Since the last time that I saw your pretty face
A thousand lies have made me colder
And I don't think I can look at this the same
But all these miles that separate
Disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face

I froze and opened my eyes and looked up at Fang. His face looked like it always did when he was performing: perfectly at ease and happy because he was in his element. But as I looked closer I noticed that a lot of it was forced and some of it was just plain fake. Huh… Iggy was right.

"I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight it's only you and me

Fang closed his eyes as he sang the chorus because this song was making him feel worse. He should have taken it off the playlist but something had stopped him. He wanted to sing this song because it was exactly how he felt with Max gone. It was exactly how badly he was hurting and wanted her back. He loved her and he missed her.

"The miles just keep rollin'
As the people leave their way to say hello
I've heard this life was overrated
But I hope that it gets better as we go

"I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And i dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight girl its only you and me

I frowned as Fang sang. Something in his expression was tugging at my heart and making me want to go up, wrap him in my arms and protect him. It was the same loving, protective feeling that I'd felt when I'd seen him covered in bruises and cuts from his own father.

Something about Fang right now was in the same kind of pain. Pain inflicted by someone he loves.

I had the sudden desire to leave before he spotted me.

"Everything I know, and anywhere I go
It gets hard but it wont take away my love
And when the last one falls
When it's all said and done
It gets hard but it wont take away my love

Fang sang those lines with all of his heart and soul. Nothing, nothing would ever change the way he felt about Max. He opened his eyes and through his saw a flash of brown, blonde-streaked hair jumped down from a bench towards the back of the crowd but he couldn't be sure.

"I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And i dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight girl its only you and me

As the song ended, Jeb and I walked away from the beach and I turned around and took one last look at Fang as he raised his hand to the applause. It looked like he was looking for someone.

A single tear ran down my cheek. I'd broken his heart and now I had to make sure I never did it again.

Don't worry Fang, I won't bother you again.

50. Junior 6

Merry Christmas!!! I hope you guys are having a great holiday!!!

Here's the first update for today but before I get on with it, I have to say, I'm kinda ticked off. I lost a reader because they hated Ellie. Honest to God, I am so seriously annoyed about that. She is just a character and it's okay if people don't like her but I'm not taking her out of the story just because people don't like her, some of you do and to those who do, I thank you. Anywho enough with the annoyed author stuff, I really wanna say that I'm totally heartwarmed by the people who've told me that they're either my biggest fan or they'll buy books when I write them (I've actually just sent some of my first manuscript off to an agent to see if they wanna represent me, so fingers crossed).

Anywho merry christmas, chappie 1. I like Sam in this chapter. Oh and you won't get to find out why Steve hates Ellie until after Max is back.

"Hey, Max, is anything the matter?"

I looked up in surprise. Sam sat beside me in the cinema room and frowned worriedly. I picked up my remote and lowered the volume of the Bon Jovi DVD I was watching and smiled at Sam.

"I'm fine," I replied.

"No you aren't," Sam replied. He didn't look bitter or resentful for a change. "You weren't at school today and your Dad called Anna and told her you needed someone to talk to. The group sent me on account of the fact that I've been a total cretin for the last couple of months."

I laughed. "Its fine," I assured him.

"Can I know what's wrong?" Sam asked.

"You really want to know?" I asked.

"Of course I do." Sam smiled at me. "But before can I tell you why I want to know?"


"I've been a total jerk when it was clear that you needed support from your friends. I've also been pushing you to get back together with me when you didn't like me."

"You haven't done that for a while."

"I haven't liked you for a while. Anyway I'm really sorry about being a jerk so I want to know what's bothering you. Tell me."

I frowned. Sam hadn't been my proper friend for a long time and I was missing him. I smiled and shuffled closer to him and he put his arm around me, the way our group did when we needed comforting.

"I went to the MTV Teen Band comp on Saturday," I explained. "The Flock had entered it and Dad wanted me to go and talk to the others. I knew that it wasn't going to happen but I went anyway. I saw Fang and he was singing 'Here Without You' by 3 Doors Down…"

"And?" Sam asked, no anger in his voice at the mention of Fang.

"I saw something in his face that reminded me how much I was hurting him," I whispered, tearing up again. "I broke his heart, Sam and now I can't stand it if I hurt him again so I'm just going to stay away from him- not hard since I like in a different state- and not bug him again."

Sam was quiet for a moment and I tried to wipe my eyes without him noticing- I failed- and he gave me a hug to comfort me. I looked up at him and he was frowning.

"Max, I think that if Fang is upset like you say he is then he'll want to fix things with you," Sam murmured. "And how exactly have you broken his heart?"

"I don't know but however it was it was broken and he was so angry at me because of how much I hurt him." I sighed. "I don't think he'll ever forgive me."

"I'm sure he will, Fang… when I met him, he seemed to completely trust you and care about you deeply, I don't think he'll be able to go for too long without talking to you."

"Well, whatever his reason is, I'm not going to bug him again. He can make the move whenever he wants."

Sam frowned but didn't push me.

"So, any movie preferences?" I asked.

"Actually…" I followed Sam's gaze to my two guitars and he grinned at me. "Wanna teach me how to play?"

"Uh… sure. I will remind you that I'm not that good."

"I don't care, come on."


"Ellie!" Fang shouted. He craned his head. A couple of residents from the resort were eyeing him disdainfully. They eyed his riding jacket, bike and emo-fringe with conceited expressions. Fang got off the bike, ignoring them and walking over to the house. He raised his fist to knock but Ellie ripped the door open and beamed at him.

"Hi!" she said.

"Ready to go?" Fang asked.

"One second," Ellie replied. She ducked back inside and came out, zipping up her jacket. She had a black and red helmet under one arm. She saluted Fang with her free hand. "Ready, Sergent!"

Fang saluted back and they raced over to the bike. Fang jumped on, put his helmet on as Ellie settled behind him and made sure her helmet was secure. Fang glanced back at her and she gave him her thumbs up and then he started the bike and pulled out of the resort, smirking at the now stunned expressions on some of the snooty people's faces.

He sped towards town.

It had been a week since the competition and Fang was still pondering the hair that he'd seen in the crowd. It looked like Max's hair but she wouldn't have shown up at the competition right?

It was Saturday again and he had picked up Ellie for their all day practise for Wicked at the school. Fang enjoyed watching Ellie taunt Adrian with intelligent comments. She had been moved up to his English class and his calculus class because how smart she was.

Fang pulled up in the school parking lot and he and Ellie walked to the auditorium together and put their helmets on a seat. Fang looked around, confused. None of the actors were here yet. Ellie looked at her watch.

"We're not early," Ellie murmured. Fang felt his phone buzzing and he pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open.

"Yeah, Ella?" he asked.

"I've been trying to reach you for ages," Ella scolded.

"I didn't notice. What's up?"

"Practise was cancelled. Miss Alike fell down the stairs on Friday afternoon, she broke her leg and Mr Callahan said he had to wait for her to get better before we could do an all day practise," Ella explained.

"Oh, that explains it." Ellie frowned at Fang. "Thanks Ella."

"I'm going to hang out with the Flock. You wanna come? Bring Ellie."

"Sure, hold on." Fang lowered the phone. "Do you want to hang out with me and my friends? Practise has been cancelled."

"Um… ok," Ellie agreed.

"Drag them all to my place," Fang said, his mood lifting slightly. "We'll watch movies."

"Sure, we'll be there in like half an hour," Ella said. "See you."


Fang hung up and slipped his phone back in his pocket. Ellie smiled at him and grabbed their helmets, handing his to him as they walked out.

"Are Steve and Damen going to be there?" Ellie asked tentatively.

"Nope," Fang replied with a smile. "Ella would have warned me."

"You know, I'm still annoyed with you about arguing with him last weekend."

"I know you are but he needs to get a grip."

Ellie rolled her eyes as Fang pulled his helmet on and then swung a leg over his bike. She was irritated all the way to Fang's place and then her eyes were wide as she took her helmet off. Fang realised she'd never been to his house before.

"Uh, this is my place," Fang explained needlessly.

"It's so… charmant," Ellie said with a French accent.

"I'm glad you like it. Come on."

Fang led Ellie inside and showed her around. Peter seemed glad to see her but went straight back to his newspaper. Fang led Ellie into his room and she looked around with a raised eyebrow.

"Wow Nick, it's so tidy," she said.

"I have to keep it that way," Fang explained.

"I like the band setup," Ellie giggled. "Ooh the garden." She went to his French doors and opened them, stepping out into the garden. Fang leant on the doorframe and watched her walk around his backyard.

"This place is beautiful," she said, turning around. "I love the gazebo."

"Thanks," Fang said. "Dad made it."

Ellie's eyes went wide. "He made it?"

"Yup. And the swing."

Ellie looked over at the swing and then touched the gazebo gently. Fang smiled and then looked back over his shoulder. His sketch pads were sitting on his desk and he looked back at Ellie.

"Hey, Ells, do you want to see my drawings? You have been bugging me about them," Fang said. Ellie turned around, smiling.

"I'd love to," she said and skipped back inside. Fang handed her some of his older ones and Ellie looked through them. She got to his one from his Freshman year and got to the first picture that Fang had drawn of Max.

Ellie knew who it was. She'd seen the photos that Fang now kept in a drawer except for one of he, Max and Angel, that one stayed on his bedside table because Angel asked him to keep it there. But Ellie marvelled over the picture anyway.

"Fang… she looks different," Ellie commented.

"Hmm?" Fang asked, not really paying attention. He was looking at his wardrobe. It was open and he could see the brown-paper package that was Max's birthday gift to him.

"This is Max, I can tell but she looks… different somehow," Ellie explained, looking up at him. Fang looked back at her. "I can't explain it really."

"Oh… Mum used to say that when I draw I don't draw the object or person, I draw the way I perceive them," Fang explained. "I apparently put my feelings for them and my opinion of them into the picture."

"So that one of your parents…?"

"I see the love that radiates from them and so I drew them in the light of love that I always saw them in."

"Ok…" Ellie flipped through a few more drawings and paused. "I think I see the difference now."

"And what is it?" Fang questioned, amused.

"You draw Max in a light of reverence," Ellie explained. "Because you love her."

"I must have loved Max for a long time then."

"Since you first met her I'd imagine."

Fang frowned. "Max used to say that I drew her more beautiful than she actually was." Ellie looked up at Fang and examined his thoughtful expression curiously. "I don't get that because Max is beautiful…"

"She sees herself differently to you," Ellie shrugged. "You draw her with a beauty that she doesn't believe she has. It's clear from photos that she is that beautiful, she just doesn't think so."

Fang chuckled and let Ellie go back to searching his drawings. He went to his wardrobe and dropped a couple of shirts from their hangers onto the package and then shut the door. Ellie was putting Fang's sketch books down on the desk and touching the cover of his big project book.

"Take a look, it's where I do my big drawings," Fang told her. Ellie smiled and looked through. Some of the drawings were done in coloured pencil. Some in charcoal. Some in pen. Then she got to the sketches of the Flock with wings.

"This is cool," Ellie said.

"Angel dreamt about it," Fang explained.

They heard the front door.

"Speak of the devil," Fang muttered and went to his door and opened it. Ellie heard a little girl squeal 'Fang!' and he rolled his eyes. "And the devil shall appear. Angel!" Fang bent down and his golden-haired sister flew into his arms. He straightened up and turned around. Ellie could hear the rest of the Flock down the hall.

"Angel, this is my new friend Ellie," Fang introduced. "Ellie this is my Angel."

"Hi Angel," Ellie said.

"Hi!" Angel said, grinning. "Fang talks about you a lot. He says that you're very nice and you're helping him want to be friends with Max again."

Ellie laughed while Fang grimaced.

"She always says too much," he explained and put Angel down. She went to Ellie who bent down and let Angel give her a hug and a peck on the cheek.

"Thankyou," Angel whispered. "I miss Max."

"I'll do my best," Ellie promised and let Angel go. Angel skipped back to Fang and then, after giving him an angelic look, skipped down to the others.

"Come on Fang!" Iggy shouted. "I rented some DVDs, let's watch them!"

Fang rolled his eyes and Ellie caught Fang's arm.

"You know the Scottie in your drawings," she murmured and Fang nodded. "Does Angel talk about him a lot?"

"She says that she wants one just like him," Fang explained.

"The dog shelter has gotten some Scotties in recently," Ellie told him. "You should get Angel one for Christmas… if your Dad will let you."

"I'll talk to him about it. Thanks."

Ellie smiled and she and Fang went out to the others to watch movies. Fang sat down with Angel on his lap and looked at Ellie who was enjoying herself with the Flock. The happiness in her eyes made him feel good about himself because he'd given Ellie friends and that was what she needed. She would have a permanent place in the Flock.

But despite having their numbers back up, the group felt empty…

They needed Max back.


I flipped through the scrapbook once again, studying every picture. The title page. My page and right next to it Fang's page. I ran my fingers across his photo- he was sitting down, laughing, his eyes light and happy.

"I miss you," I whispered. "Forgive me, soon. I can't be myself without you in my life."

I sighed.

Fang was a part of me and without him I was only half of who I should be. I was close enough to an empty shell. I wanted to be myself again but I had promised not to push Fang. It was up to him… if he ever wanted to speak to me again. If he didn't I wouldn't blame him. He had Ellie now and hopefully she was healing the hurt that I'd done.

I wondered if they would fall for each other. For some reason I didn't like the sound of that. I wanted Fang to be happy and as long as Ellie was sweet and kind I wouldn't mind him being with her but… I didn't want Fang to be with anyone.

I tried to imagine when the next time I would talk to him would be. I wanted it to be now. But it could be tomorrow. Next week. Next month. Truthfully I had no idea when it would be but the thought of going any longer than I already had without talking to my best friend was frightening. Being away from him hurt. Knowing I'd hurt him was worse. But trying to imagine my life without him was the hardest thing.

I needed Fang. He was a great part of my life and myself. I couldn't be without him. I thought it was the same for him but maybe I'd been wrong. Maybe I'd deluded myself into imagining the strength of what he felt for me.

I sighed again.

How long will it be Fang? I need you. Please, forgive me.

I pushed my scrapbook aside and flipped off my light, curling up into a tiny ball in my king-sized bed. I remembered all of the times that Fang and I had slept side-by-side. I often snuggled up to him if I was having a bad dream. Thinking about that made me feel lonely and cold.

I could really use Fang's arms right now. Just for comfort. To keep away the darkness.

51. Junior 7

Okay, I know a lot of you felt that Fax was being threatened by Ellie so here is your safeguard against it!! ^.^ I've been planning this since the moment I created Ellie. I felt that this character was just too lonesome without a girl so.... hehehehe!! ^.^

Enjoy! I'll put another one up because I'm in a festive mood ^.^

Ellie walked into Music World with a whistle. New York had had huge music stores and all but none of them were pretty and so… rock-star like as this one was. She hadn't been in here yet but Fang and Iggy talked about it as though it was their god so she had been meaning to check it out.

"Welcome to Music World!"

Ellie jumped and looked to her side. A really, really cute guy was smiling at her. He had messy sandy-blonde hair, a fang dangling from his left ear, the most beautiful blue eyes Ellie had ever seen and a slight whiskery beard that looked really good on him.

"Hi," Ellie said. She smiled sweetly. "This place is amazing."

"Is this the first time you've come here?" the guy asked. Ellie noticed his shirt said 'Matt' and he had a badge that labelled him as the manager.

"Yeah, I only moved here… um, I think it's almost two months ago now," Ellie explained with a smile.

"Well, allow me to show you around!" Matt put an arm around Ellie and she blushed but tried to act casual. "What's your name?"

"Ellie," she replied. Matt nodded.

"Right in here is where we sell our instruments," Matt explained, taking her into the large room. "We put some on display and let the customers play those ones or they can test out the different kinds of guitars or drums or whatever if they are interested in buying."

"Cool," Ellie replied.

"We also stock our posters, t-shirts and other promotional goods in here." Matt took Ellie out and showed her around the large room filled with CDs and DVDs. "We don't sell movies but we sell DVD music. We organise it all into genres and then DVDs or CDs within the genre and then by artists and then by year."

"Wow," Ellie said.

"Yeah, what kind of music are you into?" Matt asked, tightening his arm slightly around Ellie.

"Most kinds," Ellie shrugged. "I can't stand techno, hip-hop or rap. Pop music is okay as long as the song has a meaning or has beautiful lyrics and music. I like J-Pop. Country is my favourite though."

"At least you like real music," Matt said in relief. He gave Ellie a smile. "We only have a small Techno/Electronica display around here because everyone who works here has a love of rock, country, R&B, classical or some other kind of real music."

"Cool," Ellie said.

"Yeah and rappers don't sing therefore their music is talent-less and hip-hop is almost as bad. Come on, I'll show you our country display." Matt took her around a few stands and then to the wall where a poster of Brooks and Dunn was hanging in front of the stand where all of the DVDs and CDs were sorted.

"Amazing," Ellie murmured. She ducked out from Matt's arm rather reluctantly to look at the CD collection. "I haven't seen some of these CDs before."

"We try and make a diverse range," Matt shrugged casually. Ellie looked back at him and smiled. He smiled back making her blush so she turned back to the CDs.

Too old for you, she told herself angrily. He's like… five years older than you.


Ellie recognised Fang's voice immediately and she looked around as he came out. He was wearing an employee's shirt.

"Nick?" Ellie asked. Fang looked at her and smiled.

"Hey Ellie," he said.

"You two know each other?" Matt asked, looking between them.

"Yeah," Fang replied, winking at Ellie. "She's just some chick I know."

Matt rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Fang buddy. What is it?"

"Do we have any more copies of that vile Britney Spears album?" Fang asked, scowling.

"Not sure, check the back room," Matt told him. Fang nodded and looked back at Ellie.

"Anything you need, just ask Matt, he won't hesitate to help," Fang told her. "I've got to get back to work though. See you tomorrow if I don't get a chance to talk to you." He waved to her and walked back to the counter to talk to his customer.

"Any friend of Fang's is a friend of mine," Matt told Ellie. He was looking at her thoughtfully now. Ellie recognised the look. He was wondering about them.

"We're just friends," Ellie clarified.

"I wasn't going-"

"You were thinking it." Ellie smiled and went back to the CD collection. "Plus, Fang's only got eyes for one girl."

"Oh don't I know that." Matt was chuckling and Ellie looked back at him. He looked kind of sad despite the laugh. Ellie frowned, disliking the sad expression. She liked his smile. She wanted him to smile again.

"What's wrong?" Ellie asked.

"I miss Max," Matt shrugged. "She was a great girl. Funny, smart, charming." He shrugged again. "But what can you do?"

"Excuse me," a lady said, coming up to Matt.

"Do you need help?" he asked her, immediately putting his smile back on.

"I'm looking for a replacement strings for my son's bass guitar."

"I'll be right with you." Matt looked at Ellie. "Will you be okay?"

"Sure," Ellie replied, smiling. Matt winked at her sending her heart into an acrobatics routine and then he walked off with the lady, asking questions about the guitar he was finding strings for.

Ellie frowned, picked up the CD she'd been looking at and searched her school bad for her wallet. She tried to control her heart rate before she went to the counter where Fang would surely pick up on her unease.

She'd only had one crush in her life but that had been when she was little and he'd moved away and she'd never seen him again. She wasn't exactly sure how to handle feelings. Plus Matt was too old for her. Yeah her parents were seven years apart but they were adults. She was a teenager.

Ellie scowled at herself and then perked up before going to the counter where Fang was tiredly telling a customer that they didn't sell movies.

"You should!" the boy said unhappily.

"Kid, read the name of the store: 'Music World'. Not 'Music and Movie World'. We just sell things related to music. Now move aside I have other customers," Fang growled. The kid glared at him and rushed off shouting for his mother. Fang rolled his eyes and looked at Ellie.

"Tough job," she commented.

"Definitely," Fang replied. Ellie handed him the CD and Fang scanned it. "You like country?"

"Love it," Ellie clarified. Fang smiled.

"Twenty bucks," he said and Ellie handed him the money. "What do you think of our Matt?"

"He's cool," Ellie replied, hoping she sounded blasé. Fang put her CD into a bag. "He's got a nice smile."

Fang laughed. "Girls adore Matt," he explained. "More girls like him than like me."

"Is that possible?"

"Yes." Fang grinned. "See you later."

"Bye," Ellie replied as Fang handed her the bag. She put her wallet and the CD in her school bag and walked towards the exit. Matt was walking back out of the instrument room and sending the lady he'd helped up to the counter.

"Are you leaving already?" he asked when he saw Ellie.

"Yeah, Mum is waiting for me," Ellie shrugged. Matt nodded.

"Alright, come back though, okay?" Matt requested. "We can talk country if you like."

"I'd like that." Ellie inwardly cursed for sounding so eager. Matt didn't notice her tone however, instead choosing to smile at her again.

"See you around."

"Bye." Ellie walked off, trying not to trip and embarrass herself forever. She scolded herself in her head for being interested in a guy so much older than her. It was stupid and she would stop thinking Matt was so cute. It was pointless… yet she couldn't get his smile out of her head.


That weekend was Round Two of the MTV competition and like the first round, the Flock made it through without a hitch. Fang managed to get through the entire day without wanting to hit Steve and Steve got through the whole day without glaring at Ellie. He even spoke to her politely to ask what she was listening to. When she told him it was country Steve's eyes had sparked with interest but he reined it in. Fang knew it wouldn't be long before Steve finally decided to discuss different country artists with Ellie. He was glad.

Fang was putting his guitar away when he heard someone shout his name. He looked up and a smile spread across his face when he spotted Jessica and James waving to him.

"Hey guys!" he called. Iggy, Steve, Damen and Ellie looked over. Ella and Nudge were too busy talking to notice Fang's shout.

Jessica rushed over, dragging her twin with her, smiling brightly.

"Fang, it's so great to see you!" she shouted, giving Fang a hug that he returned as well as he could- Jessica was pinning his arms down- and laughed.

"It's good to see you too Jess," he chuckled. Jessica let him go and Fang and James bumped their fists together. "Hey, man."

"Good to see you," James added with a grin. Fang was once again struck with amazement at how much the twins looked alike, especially considering they were different genders.

"James, Jessie," Iggy said, coming over. He hugged Jessica and clapped James on the shoulder. James punched Iggy's arm playfully.

"You guys were great," Jessie trilled with a smile. "As always."

"Thanks," Fang replied. "Did you come just to see us?"

"Naturally," James replied with a wink.

"Are the others here? Anna and Chris?" Iggy asked.

"Nope," Jessica replied softly. Everyone listening to the conversation knew that Iggy wasn't asking about Anna and Chris. "Anna and Chris went to the movies, Sam is at home because he was too lazy to come and JJ is with… Max." Jessica's hesitation before she said Max's name made Fang look down and close off.

Everyone stood in an awkward silence for a moment until Ellie stepped over to them.

"Hi," she said. "You must be Jessica and James. Fang and Iggy told me about you."

"Um, hi," Jessica said. "Are you Ellie?"

"Yes," Ellie replied with a smile. She held out her hand and Jessica shook it. "It's nice to meet you."

"And you," Jessie added, glancing sideways at James who was looking at Fang. "Fang has nothing but good things to say about you."

"That's nice," Ellie replied. They all looked at Fang then but he was still standing silently, unable to think of anything to say.

"I'm sorry Fang," Jessie said. "I shouldn't have said anything."

"It's okay," Fang replied mechanically. "I'm just thirsty… I'll be back." He turned and left and Jessica looked at her twin.

"Did I do something wrong?" she asked.

"No, you only said her name," James assured her soothingly.

Fang went over to his case and picked up a bottle of water and drank it, trying not to let his mind wander to thoughts of Max. He concentrated on a poem and translated it to sign language to keep his mind busy.

Then the last band finished and the announcer climbed into the stage, an envelope in his hands.

"Guys!" Fang called. "They're announcing the finalists."

The others rushed over to him and they all looked at the stage. The other bands were gathered around the edges of the stage, watching apprehensively too. Fang looked at Ellie who smiled encouragingly.

"In the bag," she whispered and winked. Fang smiled appreciatively and suddenly wished that Max were beside him, waiting as nervously as he was.

"First a thankyou to each band that performed for us," the announcer was saying. "You were all brilliant but we can only have five finalists. So with much deliberation, the MTV judging panel has decided…"

He stopped the open the envelope. "The Three Firebugs," the announcer said. The band cheered and climbed into the stage. "Cummerbund; Last Song of the Dove; Flintskin."

The three bands went onto the stage and Fang closed his eyes.

"And The Flock."

"Yes!" Steve and Damen shouted and high fived. Fang and Iggy hugged with one arm each and then the four of them walked onto the stage, slapping high fives and punching each other happily.

"Well done to the five bands," the announcer said. "The Finals will take place on the Seventh of November and will be broadcast on MTV. We'll be playing at the Hollywood Bowl."

"Cool," Iggy whispered.

"Thankyou and we'll see you all then." The announcer smiled at them and then the MTV guy came up and gave the managers of each band the schedule and rules for the competition. Peter gathered the boys and took them back down to the others. Dr Martinez hugged them all.

"Well done," she smiled.

"Thanks," Fang replied.

"You guys were great!" Ella said.

"Fang, we're going to head off," James said. "Well done, guys. You deserve it."

"Thanks," Fang replied. "See you two around, okay? See if you can make it to the competition."

"We will," Jessica promised and the twins left.

"Let's head home," Peter said. "Unless…"

"Dad, no," Fang said.

Dr Martinez and Peter rolled their eyes at each other. Fang hated refusing to see Max in front of her Mum but Dr Martinez was understanding and didn't get upset with him for it. She just wanted them to work it out in the way that was best for hem and Fang was grateful for it.

One the way home, the boys couldn't stop singing 'We Are the Champions' but Fang opened their rules envelope and read through them.

"Guys, we have to sing one original," he called back.

"We don't sing our originals very often though," Damen frowned. "We'd have to practise it like hell."

"Which one do you want to sing?" Steve asked.

"Uh…" Fang frowned. "I'll come up with something."

"Yes sir," the other three replied and saluted him. Fang rolled his eyes and grinned at Peter who was shaking his head in amusement. They dropped off each person and Fang waved to Dr Martinez as she drove past them to drop off Nudge and he and Peter went inside, Fang carrying Angel- who'd been at Iggy's place- and telling her all about it.

"So we get to go to the Hollywood Bowl and play," Fang told her.

"That's awesome!" Angel said. "You get to be on TV."

"That's right."

"What song are you going to play?" Peter asked. "For your original, I mean."

"Um…" Fang frowned. "I suppose we can write a new one."

"No, pick one of the ones you've already done so that you'll all be at least slightly familiar with it."

"Good idea. Come on Ange, you can help me." Fang took Angel into his room and sat her on his bed and went to the box where he hid all of his songs. He and Angel spent a good hour discussing some of his songs and then Fang groaned.

"It's hopeless," he sighed.

"No it isn't," Angel assured him. "I like this one." He pressed a sheet of paper into Fang' hand and he looked at it. It was a song he and Max had written.

"It's a duet though," he mumbled. "For me and her."

"Oh…" Angel looked at the paper. "Maybe another time?"

"Yeah… another time." Fang slid the paper to the bottom of the pile and picked up the next one, feeling sad again.

"Maybe you should talk to her," Angel said softly.

"She doesn't want to talk to me Ange," Fang said. "If she did then she would have tried."

"Are you sure?"


52. Junior 8

This chapter frustrates me and if you guys don't understand what happened then I shall put an explanation at the bottom of the chapter, okay?

Last chapter for today but I'll update Fang. Happy holidays ^.^ Oh and guess what, on the third update after this guess which two characters are reunited!!!!

I couldn't believe it when Jessie and James told me that they'd gone to see Fang at the competition. I'd told them all that I didn't want to bug Fang again and for them to stop trying to fix things between us. It was up to Fang, not me. Not anybody else.

"Sorry Max," James said. "Really. But we're friends with him too and we haven't seen him for a while."

"Exactly," Jessica agreed. "Plus we were sick of you moping around all the time. This is getting stupid. It's been almost four months."

"Guys, it's up to him. Not me. Get it through your heads." I sighed. "On the lighter side, Ig's birthday is soon."

"What are you planning on getting him?" Anna asked, trying to diffuse the situation diplomatically.

"Not sure, a new guitar pic?" I shrugged. "I'll think of something."

Jessica was looking upset and I felt bad so I reached across the table and took her hand. She looked up at me sadly and I gave her a half-smile. She squeezed my hand.

"I know you were only trying to help me, sorry for snapping," I said.

"I'm sorry too," Jessie replied, smiling. "We should have listened to you. This is your decision. Not ours."

"It's okay."

The bell sounded and we stood up. I had drama with Anna and Chris now. I missed Miss Alike's drama class, this wasn't as fun and our teacher wasn't as easygoing and funny. I also missed her picking on me and Fang. I missed being a favourite.

Mr Harness hated me for some weird reason. I think it had something to do with the fact that on my first drama lesson here I corrected his pronunciation of Montague and 'star cross'd'. He can't stand me now which I find absolutely hilarious. Well it isn't my fault that I know how to pronounce Shakespearean language.

"Take your seats," Mr Harness said as Anna, Chris and I came in. We sat down and pulled out our books. We'd changed from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet. We'd be studying Hamlet until Christmas and then after that we'd go to a Midsummer Night's Dream and then the Twelfth Night.

"I don't get Hamlet," Chris muttered.

"He's insane for most of the play," I replied. "He contemplates suicide."

"When does he do that?" Chris seemed confused.

"You know the line 'to be, or not to be'?"


"That's it."

Chris sat back, confused and then flicked to the page in his No Fear Shakespeare book. He looked at the modern translation and his eyebrows shot up and he looked back at me.

"How do you understand this kind of thing?" he asked.


"Is there something you'd like to share Miss Martinez?" Mr Harness asked, eyeing me scornfully.

"No, sir," I replied politely, trying not to be tempted to throw Hamlet at him.

"Then I'd appreciate it if you would remain silent while I mark the roll."

Okay that was so not fair. I hadn't been the only one talking. A lot of other people were talking. Lauren was openly bitching about one of the girls in our year without a care in the world. See what I mean. He hates me. I really wish I had Miss Alike teaching me again.

"You know what, I do have something I wish to share," I said, standing up.

Chris and Anna exchanged exasperated looks and Anna grabbed my hand and tried to make me sit down but I stayed standing. Mr Harness looked at me challengingly.

"What is it Miss Martinez?"

"You are a biased old crackpot who doesn't know a single thing about drama even though you're teaching it and I'm sick of you," I stated.

"Well Miss-"

"And I'm done!"

I picked up my books and stuffed them in my bag.

"Miss Martinez you can't leave!" Mr Harness shouted.

"Watch me!" I snapped and slammed the door on my way out. I walked out of the building and I suddenly felt a rush of adrenaline and I smiled. I hadn't done anything impulsive in a while. It felt so good.

I laughed as I walked over to the gardens. I sat down amongst the flowers and shrubs and pulled out Hamlet and started reading. As I did I started humming a song and realised that I was humming out the tune to a song. I pulled out a book and opened to the back and wrote down the notes. I'd figure out the guitar tabs later. Good… now I needed lyrics.

I spent half of what would have been first period creating a new song.

I pulled out my phone and texted Iggy, telling him that I had a song for the boys but not to tell Fang I'd written it. I knew that they needed a song for the finals. I'd been talking to Damen and he'd told me that Fang had no idea what song they should do. Maybe they could do this one.

Iggy texted me back and I was surprised. He didn't usually use his phone during class.

Cool, email it to me when you get home. And why aren't you in class?

I rolled my eyes and Iggy and I started texting back and forth.

Me: Will do, never fear. I quit drama. I was sick of that sexist pig Mr Harness.

Iggy: Thanks. Omg, that is so like you Max. What did he do?

Me: Got mad at me for talking.

Iggy: *rolls eyes* I really miss having someone so impulsive around. That idiot's name is so weird. You should have knocked on it.

Me: There are a TONNE of things I could have said to him but I chose not to.

Iggy: That's not like you.

Me: I wanted to quit drama not get suspended.

Iggy: Aw why not? You could have come to Avondale for the two weeks.

Me: Do you really think that would have been such a good idea?

Iggy: I would have hid you in my locker. He would never have known you were around.

Me: As if I could fit in your locker with all of the rubbish heaped at the bottom. You're such a slob.

Iggy: I am not.

I started giggling and then the bell rang and I sighed so I sent him one more text: Yes you are, I've seen your bedroom. Anyway I have to go to second. Later.

I put my phone in my bag and stood up but I heard somebody clearing their throat. I turned around and my good mood from texting Iggy fell when I saw who it was. Mrs Ambridge eyed me darkly.

"Hand it over Miss Martinez," she ordered and I took my phone out and gave it to the principal- stupid private school rule about no mobile phones. "You can get it back next Monday. I'll be calling your father about you cutting class too."


"Not at home? I know. He wrote down all of his contact numbers and the hours with which to use them when he enrolled you."

"Oh yeah…"

"You'll serve an afternoon detention on Friday as well."


"Go to class Miss Martinez."

"Yes, ma'am." I didn't feel any resentment towards Mrs Ambridge. I respected her and this was the first time she'd ever gotten angry at me and she hadn't yelled. I wouldn't doubt it if she gave my father the phone when he came to see her. I also knew Mr Harness was tell on me for insulting him and I'd be in trouble for that too.

I sighed. This was turning out to be a great day.


Fang looked at Iggy who kept pulling his phone out of his pocket and looking at it with confusion.

"Mr Callahan is going to catch you if you don't stop doing that," Fang hissed. Both boys looked at their music teacher who was writing the melody to Beethoven's first symphony up on the board.

"He's busy," Iggy replied and looked down at his lap again and then put his phone in his pocket.

"What is so important anyway?" Fang questioned, genuinely curious.

"I was texting Max but she hasn't texted back," Iggy replied and then realised whom he was talking to and gave Fang an apologetic look that Fang ignored.

"Maybe she's in class or something," Fang replied.

"They had a different lunch to us, remember? Their lunch break just started. I thought she would have replied by now." Iggy looked like he was about to pull his phone out again but Mr Callahan was about to turn to Fang kicked his friend's chair and Iggy snapped to attention but his fingers were tapping the desk.

"I want you all to analyse the symphony and decide what time signature it's in and then break it into bars," Mr Callahan said. They all began copying down the melody into their music books and Fang looked at Iggy.

"I'm sure it's nothing to be worried about," Fang said. And then he frowned. What if it was? What if something had happened to Max?

Stop fretting, Fang scolded himself but when Mr Callahan disappeared into the back room Fang pulled out his phone and quickly typed a text message to Max. His finger rested on the send button for a moment and then he hit it, biting his lip and trying with all his strength not to hit cancel. When he saw the arrow disappear he put his phone back in his pocket and tried not to regret sending the message.

Why should you regret it? You still love her, right? Fang asked himself. He sighed as Mr Callahan came back in and then he quickly scribbled down his answer and divided the song as Mr Callahan came around.

"Good job, Fang," he said. "Oh and by the way, I'm trying to convince Ellie's government teacher to move her to music. Would that be alright with you?"

"Of course," Fang replied. "But why?"

"She needs to hone her talent," Mr Callahan explained. Fang nodded and then the teacher moved on and corrected somebody's work. When he was done with everyone Mr Callahan moved up to the front of the room.

"I think you'll find that Beethoven's symphonies, while seemingly complicated follow a fairly standard…" Fang zoned out and his attention shifted to his phone in his pocket. He was now tempted to check it but he managed to last until the end of the period.

As he and Iggy went out to lunch, they both pulled out their phones and checked.

"Nope," Iggy sighed.

"None," Fang replied.

"You think something's happened?" Iggy asked.

"No," Fang replied. "She doesn't want to talk to me and as for your message, she's probably busy."

"Um… ok." Iggy eyed Fang worriedly but neither of them said anything else as they met Ellie and went into the cafeteria. She looked at them with her perceptive eyes.

"Okay, what's going on?" she asked, hands on her hips.

"Fang's being all reverse-narcissistic," Iggy explained. "He thinks Max doesn't want to talk to him."

"She doesn't," Fang replied.

Iggy suddenly pulled his phone out his pocket and looked at the screen and then hit a button and put the phone in his pocket.

"That was from Max, wasn't it?" Fang asked.

"No," Iggy lied. Fang rolled his eyes.

"See? She hasn't replied to me!" Fang pulled out his phone and showed Iggy the screen. He put it back in his pocket and folded his arms. "Max really doesn't want to talk to me."

"Nick-" Ellie tried but he just shook his head and she fell silent, not pushing him the way she'd learnt was better when dealing with Fang. Iggy shrugged at Ellie and the three of them got their lunch and joined the others at the table.

"Ellie," Steve said and she looked up at him, surprised. "Have you heard Garth Brooks' new song?"

"No, I haven't," Ellie replied. "What's it like?" She was honestly shocked that Steve was talking to her but she was the only other person in the group who loved country music. The others didn't mind it but they didn't love it either.

"Come and have a listen, it's not his best, it's kind of different but I like it," Steve shrugged.

"Different is good," Ellie agreed. She shifted around the table and sat beside Steve. He took out his iPod and they started listening together, commenting occasionally. Fang looked at Ella and she smiled happily and then turned her attention to Iggy.

Fang looked down at his lunch and felt a mild smile pulling at his lips. At least the animosity from Steve to Ellie was seeping away. But there was still something missing…

Fang shook his head and ignored the growing weight of his phone in his pocket.


When Dad came home, he came up to see me in my room and dropped my phone on my bed and then folded his arms and eyed me darkly.

"The only reason I'm giving it back to you is because you need it so I can contact you or so you can contact other people," Jeb stated and I sat up and looked at him, waiting for him to tell me off. "Why on earth did you leave drama and speak to Mr Harness like that?"

"I was annoyed with him, he treats me unfairly," I explained and Jeb raised his eyebrow. "In my first drama lesson with him when I came back here, he pronounced Montague and 'star cross'd' wrong and I told him, very politely, how to pronounce them and now he hates me. I got in trouble because I was helping Chris understand Hamlet and he got mad at me for talking when I was only whispering and other people were almost shouting."

Jeb frowned, nodding.

"Alright, fair enough, I'll talk to Mrs Ambridge," he told me. "Oh and she said that she replied to someone's message that they sent you because they kept texting you, over and over."

"Oh, ok," I replied. "Did she know to just switch it off?"

"I don't think she knows how." Jeb and I laughed together for a moment and he touched my hair. "I knew you wouldn't have ditched class without a good reason. I know you, baby girl."

"Thanks, Dad," I replied. Jeb leant down and kissed my head and then smiled and ruffled my hair.

"Dinner in half an hour, finish up your homework," Jeb told me and left. I smiled and picked up my phone. I'd already sent Iggy the song and apologised for not replying so I didn't need to read any of the messages so I went to the delete option and cleared out my inbox and my sent messages and then went back to figuring out that stupid trig. I kind of wished I had Fang's help. Stupid mathematical genius.

I sighed and did my best and then went down my dinner, leaving my phone on my bed. I went down to dinner with Dad, ignoring that irritating little feeling in the back of my head that told me I was missing something. It was probably about that stupid trig work. I had never been that good at maths.

But it just wouldn't leave me alone. I wonder what it was about.


Alright, just so you know, Iggy kept texting Max asking her why she wasn't texting back and so her principal got annoyed and sent him a message letting him know that Max didn't have her phone at that moment. Max, thinking that only Iggy would have been texting her, cleared her inbox without checking so she didn't know Fang had texted her. Now he's pissed off. Okay, got it?

53. Junior 9

Yay! I know a lot of you will probably be so left behind because of the fact that it's Christmas so you're not on the computer but I can't leave you all hanging too much longer. The suspence is killing me too because Max and Fang's reunion was a lot of work on my part and I wanna know what you all think so tomorrow it will be up. Oh and today is the last day of double updates. Back to one a day or one every two days depending on how I manage.

I'm having so much fun writing this story ^.^ It's consuming my every day and considering I got the ENTIRE COLLECTION of McLeod's Daughters for Christmas I probably won't get to the computer to write. I'm watching the whole series from the first episode to the last. I think I'll skip Alex's death though, I blubbered like a baby when I watched it on TV. The pilot episode for that series is the strangest thing ever. Ahem, anywho here's update one for today, the second last chapter of Fang without Max. Enjoy it ^.^

On the weeks leading up to the Finals, Fang and the rest of the band launched into learning a new song that Iggy had written for them. He was incredibly modest about it and refused to acknowledge what the others thought about it which made Fang frown but he didn't press Iggy about it, his friend had always been a little strange when it came to things he did.

On Halloween, Iggy, Ella, Fang and Ellie went trick-or-treating with Gazzy and Angel. Steve, Damen and Nudge joined them halfway through the night because Damen was looking after his cousin Melissa so they went as a big group, the whole Flock-minus-one and enjoyed themselves greatly.

"This brings back memories of last Halloween," Iggy mused.

"Oh yeah, totally," Ella laughed. "Man it was fun. If only Matt and Jake were here."

"Matt?" Ellie asked.

"Last year a gang wanted to murder Fang so Matt and his twin brother Jake looked after them," Nudge explained. "Jake's a member of the Bloods."

"Really?" Ellie asked. "Cool."

"Definitely," Steve agreed, stopping Melissa from skipping ahead because Damen's hands were too busy wrapped around Nudge.

"It doesn't bring back memories of my Halloween," Fang replied unhappily.

"Oh right…" Iggy frowned. "Your girlfriend cheated on you and then you broke up. Wonderful night."

"Oh yeah, it was." Fang replied, rolling his eyes. He also remembered Max's hilarious outburst of 'I love you so much' and he chuckled to himself but the others didn't ask, they knew better then Fang was unhappy the way he was. He tried to stop himself reliving the day after Halloween when Max had fallen asleep on him from her headache but he couldn't. He knew it was going to hurt when he snapped back to reality but for now it was good.

When they finished trick-or-treating- in other words when Fang had to carry Angel because she was about to collapse from exhaustion- they all went their separate ways. Ella was staying at Nudge's so Nudge, Damen, Melissa, Iggy, Ella and Gazzy went one way. Steve slouched off towards his home and Fang, Ellie and Angel headed towards Fang's place.

"I'll give you a lift home when I've made sure Angel is asleep," Fang said. Ellie opened her mouth to protest and Fang rolled his eyes. "I have a car."

"You have a car and a bike?" Ellie asked.

"The BMW was my mum's," Fang shrugged. "I don't drive it often because I don't want to damage it and I love my bike more than words can say."

"I know." Ellie rolled her eyes good-naturedly.

It was quiet as they walked, not many people were still out, they were all heading home. The dark had always been comforting to Fang but Ellie had her arms folded over her witch costume and she kept glancing around.

"Are you alright?" Fang asked, shifting Angel slightly who mumbled sleepily.

"I'm paranoid and I don't like the dark," Ellie replied.

"It's okay. Plus you're a black belt, what do you have to fear?"

"Big strong men who are also black belts," Ellie replied. Fang frowned, knowing it wasn't entirely a joke; that her fear was real.

"We'll be back soon," Fang promised. Ellie nodded and smiled at him in thanks for his comforting tone.

A car rolled up next to them and Ellie's eyes went wide and she drew closer to Fang in fright. He looked at the car and then Matt rolled down the passenger window and leant across and smiled at them.

"Do you guys want a lift?" he asked.

Fang looked at Ellie and she nodded eagerly. Fang thought that she wanted to get into a vehicle and away from the night where anything could be hiding. Fang let Ellie sit in the front and he sat in the back with Angel on his lap.

"Thanks Matt," Fang said, looking over Angel's head at his friend.

"No problem, Angel looks dead beat and Ellie was all jumpy," Matt said, sending a teasing smile at Ellie as he pulled away from the curb. Ellie glared playfully at Matt and then looked away. Fang noticed her cheeks turning pink and he raised his eyebrows. Maybe her eagerness hadn't entirely been about getting away from the night.

Matt dropped Fang and Angel off and promised to get Ellie home safely.

Fang watched the car disappear and took Angel inside and made her put her candy in the kitchen before getting her ready for bed. Peter thanked him and Fang smiled but the whole time he was thinking about Ellie and Matt with a frown.

They'd spent a lot of time talking music together in the store. Ellie had asked about Matt and Matt often asked about Ellie. Fang quickly put them all together with Ellie's blush and then smirked.

Ellie had a crush on Matt and he was quite fond of her from what he'd told Fang.

"Hmmm," Fang murmured as he went into his room. Maybe he had some matchmaking to do and then he paused. They had to be about five years apart. Fang thought. Ellie was turning eighteen in February and Matt had turned twenty-two on September twenty third. That put just over four years age difference. That should be too bad especially since Ellie would be eighteen soon.

"Excellent," Fang grinned and then settled at his desk to draw before he got tired and went to bed.


"Thanks for the ride, Matt," Ellie said sincerely. Matt looked at her and nodded, smiling gently. He often got a gentle look on his face when he was talking to her and Ellie rather liked it. "My turn off is in about three kilometres."

"I think I've been out to the resort before," Matt nodded. "Like once though so you'll have to keep directing me."

"That's fine." Ellie fiddled with her dress nervously. She hadn't been alone with Matt before. Not properly and she found it very nerve-wracking. He looked at her and chuckled and she looked up at him just as he pulled onto the side of the road. They were parked close to the trees and Ellie couldn't see another vehicle in sight. Matt cut the headlights. It was dark in the car except for the dashboard.

"What's wrong?" Ellie asked. Matt turned and looked at her and she could see his eyes reflecting the light from the clock. Suddenly she felt very nervous and her breath caught in her chest uncomfortably.

"Ellie…" Matt paused, thinking. "I like you."

"I like you too," Ellie replied. "What's that got to do with you pulling off the road so suddenly like that?"

"No… I like you, quite a lot actually," Matt clarified. "Do you catch my drift?"

Ellie couldn't breathe for a moment and she just stared at Matt wordlessly. He shifted to the edge of his seat and leant across to her. Ellie was feeling very hot around her neck and she took a deep breath to try and calm herself.

"Um… I think I do," Ellie murmured, her voice shaky.

"Let me show you then."

Ellie's eyes widened when Matt caught her chin with his fingers gently and pressed his mouth to hers. Ellie's eyes went wide and her mind shorted out. She couldn't think and she shut her eyes and tried to remember how to breathe so that she wouldn't get light headed.

Matt's lips were soft yet firm as he kissed her and Ellie couldn't help but kiss him back. All of the arguments she'd made about their age just disappeared and she sat up a little straight and wrapped one arm around his neck and pulled herself closer to him. Matt held her face with one smooth hand and he had the other at her waist, holding her gently.

As his tongue brushed her lips, Ellie suddenly remembered that she wasn't even eighteen yet and Matt was in his twenties. She pulled away, panting and Matt stared at her, also breathing raggedly, but looking rather confused.

"What?" he asked when he'd regained his breath.

"You're too old for me," Ellie breathed, a hand resting on her heart.

Matt's eyes were surprised but he didn't look the tiniest bit guilty for taking advantage of an innocent teen. "Oh yeah?" he challenged. "How old are you?"

"Seventeen," Ellie explained, her mind slowly clearing enough for her to know how to argue properly.

"When are you eighteen?"


"See? I turned twenty-two in September."

"Five years."

"Four and a bit, technically."

Ellie rolled her eyes. "You want to go to technicalities? What day is your birthday?"

"The twenty third," Matt replied and Ellie quickly did the math.

"Four years, four months and twelve days age difference," Ellie told him. "Still too old. I'm not eighteen yet."

Matt rolled his eyes and reached back toward Ellie but she shifted away from him and he sighed.

"Alright, what about when you're eighteen?" he questioned.

"You'll have moved on by then," Ellie said, surprised by the sadness in her voice. "But before then my parents would totally murder you."

Matt nodded and sat back in his seat. He actually seemed kind of hurt.

"Rejection is not fun," he muttered.

"I'm not rejecting you," Ellie protested, upset about hurting his feelings. "I'm just… asking you to wait until I'm eighteen."

"Then I'll do that." Matt looked at her and gave her his dazzling smile. "I'm very patient."

"We'll see."

Matt chuckled and hit the lights back on and drove on to the resort, listening to Ellie's soft directions with an amused smile. When he pulled up outside her house he looked at her.

"Sorry, about before," he murmured. He really did look sorry. Ellie smiled gently.

"It's okay," she murmured. "I really, really like you too."

"Three months… I think I can handle that," Matt chuckled. Ellie rolled her eyes. "See you later."

"Bye." Ellie smiled at Matt and got out of the car and walked to her door. She looked back and waved once before Matt pulled away and then walked inside. She felt herself beginning to smile and touched her lips gently.

"Ellie?" her dad called.

"I'm home," Ellie replied. "I'm tired so I'm going to go upstairs."


Ellie walked upstairs and went into her room and she couldn't stop the smile from spreading across her face and she threw herself down on her bed and closed her eyes. As weird as it was that a twenty-two year old liked her and she liked him too, she couldn't stop feeling like the first great thing in her life had happened… apart from becoming friends with the Flock of course.

Now all she had to do was get Fang to forgive Max and everything would be okay.


I picked up my remote and switched on the TV. I was so bored. Jessica, James, Anna and Chris had gone out but they wouldn't tell me where they were going. I was completely alone because Dad was out at some corporate business meeting so all I had was the television for company.

And Reece, the guy who drove me to school everyday and was teaching me to drive. He was in charge of the household staff but I couldn't be bothered finding out where he was. He was probably relaxing so I didn't want to disturb him.

I flicked past MTV and then froze and went back.

"Welcome to the Finals of MTV's Teen Band Competition for 2010!" an announcer was saying and I froze and crawled to the end of my bed and stared at the television screen. What was the date again? November seventh? Oh god. I forgot all about this. So that's where my traitorous friends went.

"Oh my gosh," I whispered and turned up the volume.

"First up is Flintskin," the announcer said.

I watched the first three bands go up. They were pretty good but I was almost biting my nails the whole time. I wonder what I would have felt like if I had been there. If I had had to wait backstage with the boys for my chance to go on. God I think I'd be hurling my guts out. Almost literally.

The fourth band came on and they were like… wow, amazing. I hoped the boys were set. They could win if they put all of themselves into it. I chewed on my finger as the announcer called them up.

I stared at Fang's face as though I were a dying man and he was God. I hadn't seen him in so long and now, seeing him looking just like himself on TV was making my heart ache and sending my whole body into little shudders.


Do well, I know you can.

"I'm Fang, this is my band, Iggy, Steve and Damen," he said and my knees shook as I rose up on them and stared at the television screen hungrily. "We're the Flock. Ready guys?"

They started playing Story of a Girl by Nine Days and I listened to Fang sing with a heavy heart. His voice still made my heart do acrobatics routines and because I missed him so much it made me want to cry. It was more beautiful than I remembered.

They moved on and played Always and It's my Life by Bon Jovi. Their fourth song was Gotta be Somebody by Nickelback.

"Alright, now our original," Fang said, he nodded to Iggy.

"It's called Four Years of my Life and it was written by our ex band member Max," Iggy said. "I hope she's watching because this one's for her."

I froze and blinked. What was he thinking? I hoped Fang wouldn't react badly. I watched him intently. He seemed surprised but shook it away and put on his best actor's face. I could read the anger underneath and I hoped he wouldn't be too hard on Iggy.

They started playing my song and Fang sang it more beautiful than I could ever have imagined but he slipped up a couple of times and I silently cursed Iggy for revealing that I'd written it now. He should have known Fang would stuff up if he knew. Iggy you are such an idiot.

Fang knew he'd screwed up because the frustration was evident in his body language, his eyes and his voice when he said goodbye and left. Oh Fang, I'm so sorry. You have to win.

"Now the voting lines are still open," the announcer said. "And while we wait for the calls we have a special performance by Greenday. The lines close at nine pm, Pacific Standard time."

I looked at the clock and then grabbed my phone from the bedside table and called the number.

"Voting is only available in America," the announcer finished and I ignored him as Greenday came on. I muted the TV and paid attention to the phone.

"You have reach-"

"Yeah, yeah, get on with it," I muttered. The voice listed the bands and I hit the five without hesitation and then I had to wait. It was very painful half hour. I sat there biting my lip- it was going to be so swollen if I didn't stop this- and waited.

Greenday finally left the stage to huge applause and I waited, my fingers crossed.

"We have the results," the announcer said. I knew him from somewhere but I really couldn't think of his name. "And to announce them we have Billy Joel Armstrong from Greenday."

"Get on with it," I ordered just as he jogged out.

"Right, in third place," Billy said, reading the letter. "Winner of five-hundred dollar iTunes vouchers for each band member are Flintskin!"

The band members came out and accepted the white envelope with their vouchers in it and their medals and band trophy before leaving.

"Okay in second place, winner of a one thousand dollar gift card to be used in Los Angeles' Music Universe store and a two hundred dollar iTunes gift card each," Billy said and I held my breath as he paused for dramatic effect. "Are The Flock."

"Oh no," I murmured. The boys came out, happy to have placed but I could see the disappointment in Fang's eyes. They shook hands with Billy and he gave them their medals, trophy and envelopes with prizes. Fang held up the trophy and looked right at the camera and for a moment I thought he was looking at me and then dismissed it. He had no idea that I was even watching.

"And last but not least, our winners, who gain a recording contract with Sony Music and gift vouchers for Music Universe, are Last Song of the Dove!"

I smiled. They were the ones who'd been amazing just before my boys had gone on. They did deserve to win but I think the Flock were a lot better… if Iggy hadn't made Fang lose concentration. What? Had he wanted them to not win? I mean a recoding contract. That would have meant the world to Fang so why did Iggy do that? He should have known better than to mention me before their final song.

My phone buzzed in my hands and I jumped, having not realised that Last Song of the Dove was playing their final song for the show. I looked at my phone. Ella was calling.

I answered.

"They came second!" she shrieked into the phone. I could hear a lot of background noise. I realised that she was there with them.

"I know, I saw it!" I replied, excitement for them colouring my tone even though I was hugely concerned about Iggy's mental health and now his physical health since they were off-stage.

"Can I talk to Iggy?" I asked.

"Sure," Ella replied. She handed the phone and Iggy laughed.

"Did you like your dedication?" Iggy asked me cheerfully. I could hear Steve and Damen celebrating near him. They were upset about not winning, I could tell, but they were the kind of guys who were pleased with what they got so second was okay to them.

"Yes… I mean no," I growled. "Iggy why did you do that? You should have known it would put Fang off! You could have won."

"Maybe, maybe not," Iggy replied and then he lowered his voice. "But Max, I kind of didn't want us to win."

"You did it on purpose?!" I screamed and I could almost hear Iggy flinch away from the phone. "He is going to murder you and once you're dead he will resurrect you, clone you and then kill you and all of your clones in the most painful way imaginable!"

"If he finds out," Iggy replied. "But I didn't want a recording contract unless you were part of the band."

I paused in the act of insulting Iggy again and frowned. That was sweet enough but still, didn't Iggy value his life at all?

"Gotta go and celebrate, we'll talk to you later Max." Iggy hung up and I closed my phone sadly. I felt very left out right now. I know that I chose to come here but it was Fang who took me off the band for the competition. I would have really loved to be a part of it no matter how nervous I would have been beforehand and right now I would have given absolutely anything to be with them, celebrating right now.

I bet Ellie was with them and Fang was enjoying the celebrations with her.

Trying not to let my jealousy get the best of me I turned off the TV and got ready for bed. I missed my family. I wanted to be back with them but what was the point if Fang didn't want me there.

I sighed and climbed into bed.

Maybe I just had to have a little more patience… yeah and I'll see a pig flying tomorrow.

54. Junior 10

This chapter is sooooo sweet! Well.... part of it is. And then there's a part that had me chuckling while I wrote it. I love Nudge, she's awesome especially when talking to Adrian. Okay here's the second update for today so you know what that means that the next chapter is!!!! ^.^ Are you all looking forward to it??? I know I am ^.^ Enjoy.

After the competition was all done and Fang had decided to give Iggy the cold shoulder for making him stuff up in their final song, the year seemed to fly by. The Flock's Christmas celebrations were being planned and Fang, Ellie and Ella were constantly busy trying to help Mr Callahan and Miss Alike get ready for Wicked. Fang suddenly realised how brilliant the idea to open in February was.

Christmas was as fun as it usually is. Max had sent the Flock a huge box of expensive chocolates for Christmas and even Fang didn't ignore her present this time. They were really nice chocolates and his excuse was that he couldn't let Iggy eat all of them because it just wasn't fair. Peter and Fang got Angel a Scottie from the animal shelter which she named Total and promised to take care of him.

Fang tried to forget Max but mentions of her kept popping up everywhere. Like on New Year's Eve, Angel was telling Ellie about Max and Fang in Les Mis and asked if she wanted to see the DVD. Ellie agreed and Fang had to sit through it with everyone else. His hands clenched into fists and he turned his head away for the kiss, not wanting to see the look on his face afterwards. He looked back too quickly though and he caught the end of Max's blush and the sparkle in his eyes.

"I'm hungry," Fang said and stood up, leaving the room for a good half hour. When he came back, the musical was drawing to a close and he only had to endure the finale of them all singing 'Can you hear the people sing?'

"That was great," Ellie said. "Will we get a DVD of Wicked?"

"For sure," Fang replied and tried not to sound too disgruntled over having to watch Les Mis and endure Max's face for longer than a few seconds. Everyone was eyeing him worriedly but he forced a smile. "I do have a home movie of Iggy snoring, would you like to see that Ellie?"

It then turned into a movie war where they showed Ellie some embarrassing footage and told her stories about the group. Max was mentioned a lot and Fang kept silent through a lot of it, flinching at his own memories of their fun times.

Finally school went back and they were thrown back into preparations for Wicked again and nobody had anymore time to bring up good memories that to Fang were the most awful things he could think of.

Peter was getting really sad because it was coming up to the anniversary of Alice's funeral and Fang was doing everything he could to keep his father in high spirits. It wasn't easy. They went to Alice's grave together and laid down flowers. Peter sat there for a while, talking while Fang played soft music on his guitar. It was helpful for both of them.

Also Ellie and Matt seemed to be avoiding each other which was annoying Fang to no end because neither of them would tell him why, in fact they both denied it whenever he asked. He was frustrated with them but he had to focus on Wicked.

A week from opening night Mr Callahan gave Fang some bad news.

"The sound system is busted," he said during music class while everyone was picking out pieces for their Fall Music Show.

"Great," Fang groaned. "Can you get someone in to fix it?"

"We're trying but it's not just one or two parts, the whole thing has stopped working," Mr Callahan said. "I wish we have Jamie to fix it but he's at Arizona State University."

"Do you think it'll be fine by next Friday?" Fang asked worriedly.

"It should be." Mr Callahan sighed. "But we're cancelling the rehearsal for this afternoon. Instead we'll have an all-day rehearsal on Monday if the sound is back up and we'll practise with the headpieces."

"Sure thing Mr C," Fang replied, absently fiddling with the piano effects. Mr Callahan watched him with a frown.

"What are you planning to play for fall?" he asked.

"Last year I would have said, Call me home which is a song that Max and I wrote but this year… I've got no idea," Fang shrugged. "Do you know what I should do?"

"You did a classical piece for the Winter Concert so pick something modern," Mr Callahan said. "But it's really up to you Fang."

They heard a sharp twang!

Fang winced at the sound of a guitar string breaking while Mr Callahan groaned and walked off to tell of whichever student had broken the string. Fang chuckled and Ellie skipped over to him.

"Hey birthday girl," Fang greeted her. "Where were you this morning? I have a present for you."

"You're dead," Ellie hissed and then she brightened. "I got to sleep in so Mum drove me."

"Ok. Well I have your present in my bag. Want it?"


"Aw come on." Fang looked at Ellie pleadingly and she rolled her eyes.

"That doesn't work on me Fang."

"Fine, but take it anyway." Fang pulled the gift out of his bag and gave it to Ellie. She unwrapped it and opened the jewellery box. She held the box up to eye level.

"You got me the Spirit of the Wolf pendent! Fang this is expensive," Ellie breathed.

"I know but you like fell in love with it when you saw it in that magazine," Fang shrugged. "I had no idea what else to get you. It was either that or the Dragon fountain in the garden shop and that was even more expensive."

"Okay the wolf pendent was better." Ellie bent down and wrapped her arms around Fang's shoulders and gave him a hug. "Thankyou so much. Put it on for me."

"Lucky thing you wore a blue top today, they match," Fang teased as he put the necklace on for her. Ellie touched it and smiled.

"This is great. Thankyou Fang." Ellie smiled. "Iggy bought me this bracelet and Steve and Damen bought me the new Alan Jackson CD collection." Ellie held up her wrist to show Fang the Indian-style bracelet she was wearing.

"You boys spoil me," Ellie said with a grin.

"Nudge and Ella went shopping for you last night," Fang warned. "You'll have at least one more present at lunch."

"Oh no. I hate people buying things for me." Ellie was fiddling with her bracelet, looking at the door absentmindedly. Fang frowned.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"There is one thing I've been hoping to get this birthday," Ellie murmured shyly. Fang raised his eyebrows. "But I don't think I'll get it."

"What is it?"

"You can't get it for me." Ellie smiled at him. "Besides, you get an automatic present when you turn eighteen."

"And what is that?"

"You're an adult."

"Ah yes. Of course." Fang and Ellie laughed together for a moment and then faded into conversation about the music for the concert but Ellie kept staring into space but she wouldn't tell Fang what she was thinking about, only that she was a little disappointed. Fang frowned.

What could possibly be on her mind?


Fang's questioned was answered in the afternoon when Ellie walked to the parking lot with him. Fang, Iggy, Steve, Damen, Nudge, Ella and Iggy were going to take Ellie to the movies for her birthday but those plans were cut short when they saw who was waiting for her.

"Matt?" Fang questioned as they all stopped. Matt was leaning on his motorbike. It was big, sleek and beautiful. It was black and silver with red flames painted on the sides. He had his helmet under one arm and was wearing a black jacket that matched his bike and black leather pants.

"Hey man," Matt nodded. "No offence but I'm not here for you." Matt turned his bright blue eyes onto Ellie who was beginning to smile softly.

"Hi," she said.

"Happy birthday, eighteen, right?" Matt replied. He held up a wrapped gift and beckoned to Ellie. She looked at Fang helplessly and he walked forward with her, taking her helmet- which had been in her locker with her jacket all day so she could ride Fang's bike with him.

Matt was being eyed off by the older girls who were all batting their eyes and tossing their hair. They were shocked when Matt handed Ellie her present and leant down to kiss her cheek.

"Thanks," Ellie whispered and Fang stared at them in shock. He was so lost… and behind by the looks of it. So much for matchmaking plans.

Ellie opened the gift and smiled at the 'M'. She looked up at Matt and rolled her eyes.

"Cliché much?" she teased.

"For your charm bracelet," Matt explained. "The point of charm bracelets is to represent things about you, right?"


"Then you can represent me on it, can't you?"

Ellie blushed and nodded and Matt put two fingers under her chin and lift her face so he could look into her warm brown eyes. She smiled slightly at him.

"You're still okay, right?" he asked her. "I waited until you turned eighteen."

"I thought you'd forgotten," Ellie admitted and Fang raised his eyebrows. So this was what she meant by the one thing she was hoping to get. He shook his head, amused.

"So, I want to take you somewhere for your birthday, okay?" Matt asked. Ellie nodded and he leant down and kissed her gently once before putting his helmet on and flipping the visor up. "You don't mind if I kidnap her do you Fang?"

"Nope," Fang shook his head. "Here Ells. Have fun." He winked and she scowled at him and took her helmet and put it on. She zipped her jacket up and Fang helped her onto the bike behind Matt. She wrapped her arms around his waist and Matt flipped his visor down, waved to Fang and the others who were standing and gaping at Matt and Ellie and then he sped off from the school.

"Okay, what just happened?" Fang heard Adrian demand. "Did Matt Lyons, the Matt Lyons, just kiss Ellie? What is wrong with the world?"

Fang whipped around to glare at Adrian and so did the rest of the Flock when they saw Fang's dark expression. They hadn't heard Adrian but they knew what she would have said and they now counted Ellie as a part of their family and didn't take kindly to Adrian constantly bitching her out.

"Matt happens to have good taste," Ella said, coming to stand next to Fang. "Wake up Adrian, the world doesn't revolve around you. Decent guys like Matt are always going to pick nice girls like Ellie over stupid skanks like you."

Adrian glared at Ella and the rest of the Flock came and stood around Fang and Ella. She stared at them all and turned but Nudge cleared her throat.

"I was wondering, Adrian," she said and Adrian turned back around, her face furious. "Where's your collar?"

Adrian raised her eyebrows. "What are you talking about freak?"

"Your collar. I mean you're obviously a bitch so I was wondering where it was. Or are you a stray?"

Adrian glared at Nudge and then stalked off, followed by her friends. Fang chuckled and slapped Nudge a high five.

"Well, there goes our plans," Fang said.

"We can still go to the movies," Iggy protested.

"Ok." Fang smiled. "I'll meet you all there."

Fang put his own helmet on and jumped onto his bike, starting it and speeding off. He was very happy for Ellie. She deserved someone like Matt who would respect her and take care of her even if he was four years older than her.

But Fang also felt something other than his pleasure for Ellie. He also felt a spark of loneliness. All of his friends had someone now. Damen had Nudge, Iggy had Ella, Ellie had Matt and Steve had that girl that went to the K to twelve prep school he used to go to in Phoenix.

Fang had no-one. He was alone.

It sucked. Majorly.


My Christmas was a small affair. Jeb had asked if I wanted to go the Avondale for it but I'd declined. I wasn't going anywhere near that town until things were good with Fang and me again. I knew I sound so stupid and stubborn the more I say it but I am not budging on this, it's my choice to wait for him and so I'm doing it.

I was lying on my bed, listening to I'm only me when I'm with you and trying not to cry because of how much it used to be about Fang and I when my phone started ringing. I picked it up and answered it.

"Hello," I said.

"Hiya Maxie," a voice teased. I sat up straight.

"Matt?" I asked, confused. "You never call my phone."

"I changed my mind."

"You sound like you're in a good mood." It was true, he was uppity and happy. Matt was always happy but I mean he sounded… really happy. It was disconcerting, the difference in our moods. Here I am, attempting not to burst into tears but really actually wanting to- that's why I was listening to the song in the first place even though I hate crying- and he was all… bouncy.

"I am," Matt replied. "So… are you coming to see Wicked?"

"No. I'm not going to Avondale."



"There's someone I want you to meet." He sounded eager and it made me laugh despite my mood.

"A girl?" I teased.

"Yes," Matt replied, a little reluctantly. I was surprised. Matt didn't date. I'd asked him about it once and he simply said he was 'waiting for the right girl'. Had he found Miss Right? "I really want you to meet her. You'd really like her. I'm sure of it."

"Oh Matt… why don't you bring her to LA?" I asked.

"No, I want you to come here," Matt protested. "I can't be bothered driving to LA."

"No, you're using it as an excuse to try and get me to talk to Fang, aren't you?"

"Busted." Matt sighed. "But I really do want you to meet her. She's amazing."

"I'm sure she is Matt but… give me a couple of weeks and I'll think about it," I replied.

"You have one week," Matt said. "The weekend after next if you do not come to Avondale I will call your father, to drag your stupid, stubborn butt to Arizona to see us all. We miss you, me and Jake I mean. The others have seen you a couple of times at least but Jake and I haven't."

"Right, sorry Matt," I sighed. "Alright, give me that week to think about it then. And why the weekend after next?"

"Wicked is on next weekend," Matt explained. "You can come once nobody's stressed about that anymore."

"Sure." I smiled.

"But you have to give me your answer next weekend. That's the 'one week' part."

I laughed. "Bye Matt."

"Bye Max." Matt hung up and I frowned. I should have known that eventually Matt would step in. He works with Fang; he'd be able to know what was going on perfectly from just spending time with Fang. He was probably mad at me for upsetting Fang but he didn't sound it.

I shrugged and flopped back on my bed and switched back to I'm only me when I'm with you and started singing along under my breath. Could I stand to see Fang in a fortnight? Would it break me apart to see him having fun with Ellie? Would he still hate me and tell me he didn't want to see me and therefore kill me inside?

I guess I'd just have to wait and see. And we all know how great I am at that.

55. Junior 11

Okay, I know I saw tomorrow but guess what, I couldn't resist! I love you too much. I love this chapter. I love Max and Fang. And I love Fax so I had to put it up!! I hope you like it and please, ignore the stupid song, I wrote it and I SUCK at writing songs but I didn't want to use an actual song for this because it just didn't seem to work and I couldn't find a song that would fit. Okay you all have to love me again ok? No more hating on Erin because she's being nice again.... and she's talking about herself in the third person.

Psychologist: as you can see, she is suffering from Crazy Writer's Syndrome. There is no cure for this mental disorder and we shall just have to leave her alone with her stories and hope that she does not inflict her dangers on anyone else.... or that she doesn't kill anybody.

Ahem, sorry about that. Okay, tell me what you think!!!! You're all gonna be happy again, na-na na, na na-na! ^.^

I thought about what Matt told me all week and I realised that I couldn't do it. I was too much of a coward to face Fang and to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to know what Fang would say when he saw me.

I know I'm silly and I'm being stupid but it's how I felt and I don't think I could stand it if Fang didn't want to see me. I would die inside, I honestly would so on Saturday night I called Matt. I hoped it was before the performance started.

"Yeah Max?" he answered. "Make it snappy. I'm going to see the second performance and I have to be inside in five minutes."

"Matt, I can't come," I told him. "I'm sorry but I don't think I could stand to see Fang now. Can't you just bring your girlfriend to LA, please?"

"Max, you're leaving me no choice. I'm sorry but Jeb is going to be called during the week."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever Matt. Bye."

"Later." Matt was chortling evilly when I hung up and I scowled and threw my phone at my headboard. I hated this. I just wanted things to be normal but if Fang wouldn't forgive me then there was no way that that was going to happen, no matter how much I wanted it to.

I hate you Fang. Why are you doing this to me?


Fang enjoyed performing Wicked but it wasn't as fun as Les Mis had been when he'd got to stay backstage and joke around with Max and Zac. That had been one of the most fun nights of his life. Wicked came close but it didn't come the same.

On Sunday night, the last performance, Adrian's headpiece fell off and one of the sets nearly tumbled when Alicia accidentally kicked it during Dancing Through Life but it didn't matter, they'd done two perfect performances and the third one being mucked up made it all worthwhile.

When Fang came out for his curtain call, he was grinning in a way that he hadn't for months because he'd actually enjoyed himself greatly. Despite having to kiss his ex and the girlfriend of one of his best friends.

Adrian and Ellie had become good at pretending to like each other by now and so when they hugged for their curtain call their fake smiles looked convincing. But backstage Ellie was doing a little disgusted dance.

"Thank God that that was the last time I had to touch her," Ellie muttered as she wiped off her green face paint. Fang chuckled and helped her with a bit that she'd missed near her ear.

"I don't have to kiss her again," Fang added. "Thank the Lord. I might get herpes."

"That's horrible and you can't get herpes from kissing."


Ellie rolled her eyes because she knew Fang wasn't sorry, not one little bit and he just grinned and took the cloth from her.

"You're doing a terrible job," he chuckled. "You're missing heaps."

"I don't have a mirror," Ellie complained. "So it isn't my fault."

"Fang! Ellie!"

They both looked over and grinned at Matt who was walking over with Ella. Ella was still wearing her stripy socks because she said she liked them so much. Matt clapped Fang on the shoulder and Fang moved so that he could hug Ellie.

"That was great," Matt told her.

"Thanks," Ellie replied as he kissed her cheek. Matt made a face. "What?"

"Face paint," he spluttered, pretending to spit. Ellie rolled her eyes and hugged him tightly. He looked over her head at Fang. "Oh and by the way, come to the shop next Saturday, I have a surprise for you."

"Next Saturday?" Fang questioned.

"Yes. Ellie's coming too."

"Okay…" Fang frowned but shrugged. Matt was weird sometimes. "Anyway, I'm going to head on home, see you tomorrow."

"Oh, Fang, I'm picking up Ellie from school tomorrow so don't worry about that," Matt said and Fang raised his eyebrows.

"Valentine's Day," Ellie prompted.

"Oh yeah," Fang replied.

"Come on, Mum's waiting," Ella said. Dr Martinez was driving Fang home today because she and Peter were going to catch up over a cup of coffee so Fang and Ella were going to take Angel to the park to play.

"How could I forget Valentine's Day?" Fang groaned. "I think I'll just stay home tomorrow."

Ella frowned curiously. "Why?" she questioned.

"Because I'm going to be surrounded by lovey-dovey couples and it'll make me puke."

"No it won't and besides Ellie needs someone while the rest of us are off being lovey-dovey since her boyfriend is out of school and can't be bothered going to college."

Fang chuckled. "He's thinking about it," he teased and Ella laughed. They reached Dr Martinez's car.

"That was great guys," she said.

"Thanks," Fang and Ella chimed from the backseat. Fang turned to Ella.

"Okay I'll come, but I won't enjoy it," he told her.

"I wouldn't expect you to," Ella replied.

Fang turned and looked out the window, that lonely feeling consuming him from the inside out again. He hated feeling like this and he just wanted to feel happy again.


Valentine's Day was as bad as Fang thought it would be. He was surrounded by people in love or falling in love and it was making him feel really sad. Ellie tried to act normal but she kept looking at her watch, counting down the hours until she'd get to see Matt again.

When the day ended, Fang hurriedly greeted Matt and tried to leave the school as quickly as possible. He walked home today to clear his head. He'd walked to school to keep himself calm before he had to surround himself with his paired up friends.

Steve had gone to Phoenix for the day to spend it with… Celia, was that her name? He couldn't remember.

Fang shook his head as he walked inside.

"Hey mate," Peter called.

"Hi Dad," Fang replied. He had to distract himself so that he wouldn't feel the piercing loneliness again. He drew for a while and then went on his computer and fiddled around with some of his music, mixing the songs together to make them sound weird but it wasn't enough, he got bored.

He looked around and then went out of his room and wandered around.

"Fang, what's wrong?" Angel asked when he went to leave the lounge room for the fifth time. She was brushing Total's fur lovingly.

"I need something to do," Fang replied. "I'm… bored."

"You could do the washing for me," Peter called. Fang rolled his eyes but went into the laundry anyway and separated the darks from the lights. He shoved the dark stuff in the machine but there wasn't enough and he knew better than to fill it up with lights.

He went to his room and opened his wardrobe to find some washing to make up the load. There was a bundle of shirts on the floor so he picked them up and chucked them behind him and then paused. He looked at the brown-paper package in confusion.

"Oh," Fang said and sat down cross-legged in front of the wardrobe. He took out the present that Max had sent him for his birthday and held it in his hands for a moment. Then he shrugged and pulled off the paper and opened the box.

Inside were four things: a folded up letter with Fang's name on it, a small present wrapped in gold tissue-paper, a clear CD case with a white CD in there with Fang's name written on it and a beautiful gold and black sketch pad with a pencil clipped to the cover.

Fang frowned and picked up the letter and unfolded it and something small and gold on a string fell out. Fang picked it up and looked at it. It was a miniature key made out of gold. He frowned and turned to the letter, hoping for an explanation.


I know you're mad at me and you have every right to be. I know I hurt you with my decision to leave but I have to let you know, I made it because I love Jeb so much and I really couldn't stand the thought of him all alone in our huge house. I thought about you and the others before I made the decision and it broke my heart to think of leaving you, my family, but Jeb is my family too and he needed me.

I hope you can understand that and talk to me. I know that you need me and you miss me- don't get angry at the others for telling me, they worry about you- so I hope you can put aside your pride and call me or email me or write me, or even come and see me. I miss you Fang, and I need you too. You're a part of who I am just like I'm a part of you. We can't be without each other, I thought you understood that.

You're probably wondering about the key. It's the key to my heart Fang. I don't seem to take very good care of my heart so I want you to look after it instead. The locket has a picture of us in it and I have its twin with the same picture in it. So we're always connected in a way. Please, take care of my heart Fang, you're the only one who has a key so it's your duty to protect it.

The sketch pad seemed like your kind of thing, it's special so I hope you only use it for special drawings but it's up to you really. And the CD, I wrote you a song. It's not very good but I did it in about an hour because I wanted this to get to you by your birthday though… I do suppose that you won't open it for about six months, am I right?

Well, happy birthday.

Keep my heart safe,

Love, Max xx

Fang held the letter to his heart for a moment, his eyes closed and emotion flooding his body. She had cared. The whole time she'd been waiting for him to talk to her. She hadn't wanted to talk first because she knew that she'd hurt him. She'd been waiting for him.

"Oh Max, I'm sorry," Fang murmured. He looked at the tiny key in his hand and then unwrapped the gold tissue-paper that he was positive was the heart-shaped locket. It was an intricate thing with the lock on the edge. He unlocked it and looked at the picture of he and Max and then at the other side. The words 'My Life' were engraved there. Fang smiled and shut the locket and sat it, and its key, with the letter and then picked up the CD and the sketch pad.

He held the CD and then opened the book. The first page had a photo of the whole Flock attached to the cover. Fang picked up Max's letter and found a paper clip and attached it to the first page of the book and then sat it aside. He picked up the CD, key and locket and went to his bed. He put the locket and key in his drawer where he wouldn't lose them and then he placed the CD in his player and hit play.

"Hi Fang," Max said and Fang crossed his legs and looked at the CD player wishing that Max was actually sitting her with him. "This song… it's not too good and this is the first time I've used the recording software so bear with me, okay?"

"Sure," Fang chuckled and then fell silent.

"This song is called Home," Max said. "But it's not about what you think it's about."

She cleared her throat and Fang frowned as her guitar started playing. For the introduction he just listened to the familiar rhythm of Max's personal style and when she started to sing he lost himself in her voice and the words she'd written for him.

"I didn't know where I belonged
I just wanted to go home
To the place I was before
I came to this…
" Max paused for a moment and Fang raised his eyebrows.

"Small town world." Max laughed slightly on the words and Fang chuckled with her, feeling warmth in his chest as he listened to her.

"I didn't want to stay in this place
I didn't want to make a life of it
There wasn't anything for me… here
But then, I met you…

Fang frowned, so this song was about him? Weird. He returned his attention to the words that Max was singing, hoping for a reason for the song being called 'Home'.

"It's not a place that I call home
No matter where it is I feel alone
Then you crashed in to my life
And I felt safe, I felt warm
I looked into your eyes
And I knew I was not alone
Because, in your eyes
I was home.

Fang was surprised but he smiled at the words. Max was trying to tell him that she couldn't be happy without him. Whatever she was trying to do would probably work… if Fang could figure it out.

"You showed me who I was
You taught me how to live
I didn't know that it was possible
To ever feel like this.

"You changed my life forever
Then I had to let you go
So it's only now, I realise
I need you in my life.

Fang blinked and lowered his gaze, his heart warming at her words. He needed her too, he wanted her back in his life. A plan started formulating in his head.

"It's not a place that I call home
No matter where it is I feel alone
Then you crashed in to my life
And I felt safe, I felt warm
I looked into your eyes
And I knew I was not alone
Because, in your eyes
I was home.

"Yes only in your eyes
And with you by my side
I am home…

Max finished playing and Fang sat up straighter.

"Like I said, it's not very good," Max murmured. "But I wrote it for you. And if you ever want to talk to me again, every word in that song is true. I need you Fang. Please, speak to me again.

"Bye and happy birthday."

"I'll do you one better," Fang muttered as the CD stopped. He stood up and went to his wardrobe, pulled out his jacket and helmet and then grabbed his keys from his bedside table. He slipped his phone into his pocket and rushed from the house.

"Fang, where are you going?" Peter asked and Fang froze with his hand on the door to the garage.

"To LA," Fang replied, looking back. "I need to see Max. This has gone on too long."

"Finally," Peter muttered. "Be careful."

"I'm taking the bike, it's faster than the car," Fang said.

"Like I said, be careful."

"Thanks Dad." Fang smiled. "Bye Angel!" He put his helmet on.

Fang went into the garage and looked at his watch. It was just after five… he probably wouldn't get to Max's place until nine. Hopefully she wouldn't mind. He jumped onto his bike and kicked it into gear and opened the garage door before speeding into the night.


"I'm tired Dad," I murmured, standing up from the lounge where I'd been curled up, reading a book. Jeb nodded and smiled at me.

"It's only nine though," he replied.

"I hate Valentine's Day, I want it to end," I replied. Last Valentine's Day had bad memories in my head and made me miss Fang even more. "Night."

"Okay good night sweetheart." Jeb looked back at his book and I put mine on the coffee table and walked out of the room and then I heard a strange roaring sound. I paused in the entrance hall and looked at the front door.

The sound had stopped but I was sure I recognised it. It sounded like a motorbike. The doorbell rang and I walked over to it, confused.

I pulled open the door. I was completely sure that the sound had been a motorbike. I didn't know anyone who had a motorbike so what the hell was with that- unless it was Matt, the stupid little felon coming to kidnap me, which I wouldn't put past him. As soon as I looked up I froze and stared, my eyes wide, my heart starting to pick up its pace.

"Uh… hi," he muttered. He rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess I should have called. Sorry."

I blinked and took a deep breath. I wasn't really sure how to react to his presence. Fang's eyes were soft and I noticed that he did look different from how I remembered him. I hadn't been around him in so long and I felt a little awkward. But I felt a little spark of happiness in my heart.

"I'm glad to see you," I said softly.

"Yeah…" Fang shifted. He was always uncomfortable with feelings. So was I but now I couldn't believe I was seeing him and it hit me that he was actually here and I was standing with him. Without warning, tears sprang into my eyes and started running down my face. Fang's eyes widened.

"Sorry, I just missed you so much," I whispered. We looked at each other for a moment and then I jumped into Fang's arms and he held me which surprised me. Fang was not the hugging kind.

But as soon as his arms were around me it was as though the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Everything seemed right now that I was in Fang's arms and we were together again. I held him with all of the strength that my connection with him allowed and I never wanted to let him go. He was hugging me back much the same. His face turned into my hair, his arms tight around me.

"I missed you too," Fang whispered. "I'm so sorry. I have been a real jerk. I didn't return your calls or try and contact you at all. I'm so sorry."

"I'm sorry for leaving you."

"Then… come back… and never leave me again."

"I will," I promised. My words surprised me but I'd learnt that I couldn't live without Fang so now I had no choice. "And I won't, that's a promise." Fang's arms tightened around me.

Then I noticed that hanging from a chain around his neck were the dog tags that I'd given him for Christmas and hanging with them was my ring. I felt more tears sting my eyes and I hugged Fang tighter, happiness in my heart.

We held each other for several moments more and then I pulled away and stood back, wiping my eyes.

"Come on in," I said. I spotted his motorbike in the drive and Fang bent down and picked up his helmet and came into the mansion. Then I heard another vehicle and I groaned.

"Max, who is it?" Jeb asked, walking out. He frowned as he saw Fang and then the doorbell rang and I pulled open the door.

"Yes?" I asked. A young guy was standing there holding a bouquet of twelve yellow roses.

"These are for a Miss Maximum Martinez," the guy said.

"That's me," I replied and he handed me the flowers and left. I shut the door and shifted the roses so I could read the card.

Max, I'm sorry for everything.
Happy Valentine's Day, my very best friend.
Love, Fang

I looked up at Fang who shrugged.

"Yellow roses mean friendship," he explained. "Be my valentine?"

"There's less than three hours of Valentine's Day left," I protested.

"And?" Fang smiled at me and I felt like crying again because he was actually here. "I missed you."

Jeb was standing looking between us and he sighed.

"Max," he said and I looked at him. "I'll drop all of your things off on the weekend if you pack most of them this week. I'll call the school and your mother and sort everything out."

I frowned. Huh?

"Dad?" I questioned.

"Look, the only reason I didn't send you back is because you were waiting for Fang and now he's here. I want you to be happy."

I stared at Dad and I walked over to him, gave Fang the roses and hugged Jeb tightly. He hugged me pack and patted my hair before kissing the top of my head.

"I love you," I whispered.

"I love you, too," Jeb replied. "I'll be okay here on my own. Just come and visit me."

"Sure." I let Jeb go and he took my roses and Fang's helmet.

"You can get Fang some clothes to sleep in, he should fit in someone of mine," Jeb explained. "I'll call your father and let him know that you got safely and then you can help Max pack."

Jeb left and Fang looked after him and then back at me.

"You were waiting for me to forgive you, I'm sorry," Fang murmured. "I was waiting for you to call me."

"It's okay," I replied. "Come on." I led Fang upstairs. "I'll give you a tour tomorrow but for now, help me move one of these mattresses."

We set up a place for Fang on the floor because Dad didn't know that we shared a bed a lot and he would have a heart attack if he knew even though Fang and I aren't together. It's nothing like that with us.

Fang wore a pair of Jeb's pyjama pants but he said he'd prefer not to wear a shirt because he was feeling very hot right now. We stayed up late talking. He told me all about Ellie- who knew she'd be Matt's girl but I was relieved that she had no interest in Fang- and he told me he loved my song that they'd sang even though they'd lost the competition.

I told him all about my friends and how Sam and I were cool again and he didn't care about me and Fang anymore.

We talked well into the night, until about one and I was getting sleepy. I turned out the lights and lay down. I could hear Fang's breathing but I suddenly felt very edgy and unable to sleep. I sat up.

"Fang," I whispered. I saw him sit up, his bare chest standing out in the dark.

"What?" he asked me. I tried not to eye off his muscles, I'd seen them a thousand times but you try going for seven months without contact to your best friend and not eye off their torso that looks even hotter than the last time you saw it.

"Can you come up and here and sleep with me?" I asked.

"Sure… but why?"

Fang stood up and came up to the bed. He lifted the covers and lay down on the right hand side and looked at me.

"I missed you and when I was feeling sad at night I missed the times when you used to sleep next to me," I whispered. "They made me feel comfortable."

"Okay." Fang closed his eyes and put his hands behind his head, a tiny smile on his face, looking very pleased and happy.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but I still couldn't manage it. I opened my eyes and sighed in frustrated. I rolled over and looked at Fang and then moved over to him. I rested my head on his bare chest where I could hear his heart beat. He opened his eyes in surprise.

"Max?" he whispered and I closed my eyes.

"I spent too long not being close to you," I whispered. "I can't stand having you next to me but not being able to touch you."

Fang sighed and I rested one of my hands on his chest, feeling the warmth of his olive skin and the rise and falls of his chest as he breathed. I snuggled close to him feeling safe and comfortable. Fang wrapped his arm tightly around me and then I sighed and fell asleep with ease.

56. Junior 12

Okie-dokie!! Guys I love you so much, nobody hates me anymore and I finally know which chapters I'm supposed to be posting because there aren't a tonne of them waiting to be posted. Oh and someone left me an anonymous review that I wanted to reply to but of course it's anonymous so I can't so I'll just leave them a message here:

Fax Girl: I do understand both of those sayings and thanks very much, I've taken your words to heart. Oh and I've seen Wolf's Rain, I adore it. Tsume is my fav ^.^

Anywho thanks for all your reviews guys, here's your new chapter. I love the end of this one. I've got senior year planned out and the moment you have all been waiting for has been planned out too but you're just going to have to reach into whatever patience you have left with me (I don't suppose many of you have a lot left after what I just put you through) and wait until the timing is right. Like with their reunion (which I wanted to be special so I picked Valentine's Day) I want it to be right so bear with me, okay?

Oh and I apologise for my continual use of Aussie slang. In Australia we call a "trunk" a "boot" and "uni" means university. "Arvo" means afternoon. Um.... what else did I use??? "G'day" means "good day" just in case I use that in the future.... um..... this is getting long but if any of you are unsure tell me and I'll put a translation on the next author's note. Promise.

Okay enjoy.

I woke up the morning having had the first good night's sleep I'd had in seven months. Good night's sleep? I opened my eyes wide. I went to sleep at one am. I glanced over at the alarm clock, trying not to wake Fang up.

It was nine thirty! I should have been at school ages ago!

There was a gentle tap on the door and Reece opened it and I sat up and looked over at him. He looked at Fang sleeping, topless next to me in surprise and eyed Fang's arm around me but I just rolled my eyes.

"Not what it looks like," I whispered.

Reece nodded.

"Your father said you can have the week off school while you prepare to return to Arizona," he whispered to me. "He suggested you call your friends after school though and tell them what's happening."

"Thanks," I replied.

"Would you like breakfast?"

I looked at Fang; he was still fast asleep, smiling slightly. The way he used to. Fang denies it but he always smiles in his sleep after he's had a good day.

"No thanks, I'll wait for Fang to wake up," I replied. Reece nodded and left, shutting the door softly behind him. I lay back down and snuggled back up to Fang. His heart beat with soothing and the steady rise and fall of his chest was almost hypnotizing.

I stayed like that, unmoving until Fang stirred and moved his arms up and stretched. He yawned and I sat up as he opened his eyes and smiled at me.

"I haven't slept that well in a long time," he told me.

"Neither," I replied. "It was nice."

"That it was." Fang frowned. "Shouldn't you be at school?"

"Nope," I replied.

"Okay." Fang sat up and stretched again and I stared at his chest. I hadn't noticed before but he'd changed. It had only been seven months right? Not a year or two? I looked at his face, that was different to how I remembered yeah but it had nothing on his torso.

"Um… Max, what's wrong?" Fang asked, he shifted uncomfortably and coughed self-consciously.

"Have you been working out?" I asked. Fang didn't answer and I looked up at him. He looked embarrassed. "You have been working out!"

"It's nothing."

"You look great."


I winked and slipped out of bed and walked into my wardrobe, shutting the door and getting changed. I found the shirt that I'd found when I'd unpacked. One of Fang's shirts must have been at my house because it had wound up in my clothes box. It smelt like Fang so when I was lonely I sometimes slept in it but Fang needed a clean shirt so I took it out to him just as he was doing up his jeans.

"Here," I said, tossing his button up black shirt with blue flames down the bottom. Fang caught it and pulled it on, buttoning it up and then finding his chain with dog tags and the ring on it. I put on my necklace- the one he'd given me for Christmas that time- and touched the 'F'.

"You're part of my life again," I murmured.

"Finally," Fang added. He came over and rested his hand on my face. I turned my face into his hand and sighed.

"That feels good. I missed you so much."

"As I missed you." Fang frowned. "You know, I have a question. If you were waiting for me to talk to you then why didn't you answer my text?"

I frowned and looked up at Fang's face. "What text?"

"The day you and Iggy were texting and you stopped and he got worried and sent you a message about every minute asking what was wrong and I sent you one because stupidly I was worried too but you send Iggy a reply but not me."

I frowned. Oh I remember that day. It was so long ago. Fang had sent me a text? I didn't… I paused. I'd deleted all of my messages without looking at them. Dad just said that Mrs Ambridge had sent a message to my friend who kept texting me over and over I just presumed all of them would be from Iggy.

"Oh…" I breathed.

"What?" Fang asked.

I dropped my head into my hand. "I should have looked at all of them. We could have been talking so long ago if I hadn't cleared my inbox without looking."

"Max, what?" Fang seemed confused so I quickly explained what had happened that day and then he started laughing and I closed my eyes, enjoying the sound. When he stopped I looked at him again, he was grinning.

"This is so stupid," he laughed. "We're the biggest pair of idiots in the world."

"You're telling me," I sighed.

Fang was about to say something else when his phone went off and he pulled it out of his jeans and looked at the ID.

"It's Ig, can I tell him where I am?" Fang asked.

"No, let's make it a surprise," I replied. "Give me a second."

Fang answered the phone.

"Yeah, Ig?" he asked. Fang paused and I quickly wrote my Mum a text asking if she'd spoken to Jeb. "I'm at home. I'm sick."

Mum texted back saying yes and I asked her not to tell anyone that I was coming back and for her to call Peter and ask him to cover for Fang until we got to Avondale. She replied can do while Fang talked Iggy out of letting anyone go to see him.

"It's highly contagious and I'm not allowed near other people," Fang was saying. "I'll see you later, in a couple of days maybe."

I nodded and Fang gave me a thumbs up.

"See you man." Fang pulled a face. "You're an idiot. Bye." He hung up and I have him a questioning look.

"He said 'I love you, Fang, get well soon' in a stupid voice," Fang stated, rolling his eyes. "Max, I'm hungry. Any chance for some food?"

"Sure. Come on."

I took Fang downstairs and into the dining room, calling for some pancakes for us. We ate, laughing and catching up some more. Fang and I can talk for ages even when we haven't seen each other for seven months so right now we had a lot to talk about.

"Ellie sounds great," I said with mucho sincerity.

"She is," Fang replied. "Matt was telling the truth when he said that you'll like her. She's a lot like you just more eccentric."

"Cool." I took Fang on the tour after that and showed him all around the house, still talking each other through what we missed in our lives. Fang fell in love with the cinema room and I had to promise we'd watch movies in there if he helped me pack all my things back up.

We worked for ages, just chatting and packing things up. Fang loved the scrapbook and couldn't stop looking at it. He told me all about the Wicked performances and by the time that Jeb came home from work at five thirty we were both laughing our heads off, caught up to the moment when Fang appeared on my doorstop and imagining the reactions of the Flock when I returned to Avondale.

"Kids! I have pizza!" Jeb called and Fang and I raced each other downstairs. Fang beat me and then tripped me off the last stair, catching me around the wait and both of us bursting into laughter again.

"Thanks Dad," I said as Fang let me go. Jeb rolled his eyes good naturedly at us and took us into the dining room to eat.

"I have something for you Max," Jeb said.

"What is it?" I asked and Dad produced a black bag and handed it to me. Inside was a motorbike helmet and a jacket.

"If Fang is taking you back once you've got some things together and you've said goodbye to the others then you'll need these, it's a long ride," Jeb explained. I knew Dad used to disapprove of motorbikes so this proved how much he trusted Fang to take care of me.

"I'll call the others and then we can leave tomorrow," I said, taking a slice of pizza with me as I went out to the living room where the phone was. I dialled JJ's number.

"Hey girl," she said.

"Can you help me phone around?" I requested. "I'll get Anna and Chris and you get Sam, and Jess and James. I need you all to come over now."

"Sure thing," JJ said. I called Anna and Chris and told them to head over. In fifteen minutes they were all walking inside and Jeb left to go and watch television in his bedroom. I took the group into the dining room where Fang was relaxing, playing with dog tags absently.

"Fang?" Jessie said.

"Hey man!" Chris said darting over and punching Fang in the shoulder. "What are you doing here?"

"Um…" Fang stood up and allowed Jessica, Anna and JJ to come and give him hugs. James ran over and swiped to punch Fang in the gut but he caught James's arm and pulled him into a headlock. I rolled my eyes.

"Boys," I sighed and they released each other, smiling sheepishly. I rolled my eyes again and beckoned Sam to join us.

Fang stiffened and then remembered what I'd said about Sam not caring about him anymore. Fang held out his hand and Sam's tense, worry disappeared and he smiled and shook Fang's hand.

"It's good to see you again," Fang said. "But I'm afraid you may lose you newfound liking towards me."

"You're going back, aren't you?" Anna asked me and I nodded. She shrugged and the others looked at each other and smiled.

"What?" I asked, looking between them all.

"We knew this was coming soon," JJ shrugged.

"It was only a matter of time until one of you snapped from missing each other," Chris agreed.

"Our time with you was always limited," Sam shrugged. "We knew that."

"We just enjoyed having you back for a little while," Jessie added.

"You belong in Avondale with Fang and the others," James agreed.

"We'll miss you," they chorused. I laughed as they came and gave me a huge group hug. We broke apart and I went and found some tubs of ice-cream and some spoons and we all sat around in the cinema room and James chucked on a DVD.

"So are you going back tomorrow?" Chris asked.

"Fang's taking me back and we're going to surprise the others after school," I explained. "We packed up almost all of my things today and Jeb will finish up and bring take them to me on the weekend."

"Cool," Jessie said.

"We'll miss you," JJ added, reaching over and squeezing my hand. I smiled at her and Fang leaned over and stole the last of the chocolate fudge ripple while I was distracted. I slapped at his hand but he shoved the spoon in his mouth and gave me a smug smile.

"You pig," I snarled. Fang winked at me and the others laughed. Fang and I hung out with them until they decided that they should head home and then we stayed up late watching movies until Reece came in and told us how late it was.

Fang slept on my bed with me again, lying behind me, his arms wrapped around my waist and holding me back against his chest. I was very comfortable. Too comfortable to think about how awkward this would usually be. Too comfortable to think about how Fang really felt about me.

I was too comfortable to think really. I just fell right asleep.


"Max, Fang, wake up," Jeb said. I felt him shaking my shoulder and I woke up and looked up at him. Fang raised his head from where he'd had his face leaning against my shoulder. He jumped and let me go but Jeb just laughed and rolled his eyes. "Relax, Fang."

"Sorry," Fang mumbled and sent me a questioning look. I just shrugged one shoulder and sat up straight and looked at Jeb.

"I'll be at work when you two leave so I came to say goodbye," he told me. I gave Dad an apologetic smile. "I'll miss you kiddo."

"I love you Dad," I replied and hugged him.

"Love you," he said and kissed my forehead. "Take care of her Fang, I'm counting on you."

"Sure," Fang replied. "Thanks for letting me stay the last couple of nights."

"No problem."

"I hope to see the both of you soon, okay?" Jeb told us and we both nodded and he smiled at both of us, gave me one last hug and left, shutting the door behind me.

"I bet he decided not to blow his top about you sleeping with me because I'm leaving today," I said to Fang as I lay back down. Fang yawned and sank back onto the bed, closing his eyes sleepily.

"What time is it?" he mumbled. I looked at the clock.

"Six," I replied. Fang groaned and tugged the covers back up and then tugged me back to him. I rolled my eyes but settled back into my position with Fang. Neither of us fell back asleep but we stayed lying together for a while. A couple of hours.

I spent the whole time contemplating the things that I hadn't thought of last night when Fang had chosen this position to sleep in. I realised that this felt both awkward and comforting. I wasn't planning on moving despite the mixed feelings I had. I had been away from Fang too long to be picky about where the lines in our friendship are at the moment.

"I'm hungry," I finally said. My stomach growled to reinforce my words and Fang started laughing, hiding his face in my hair to try and muffle the sound. "Leave me alone."

I went to my clothes bags and Fang walked over to my bathroom and shut the door while I got changed. He came out dressed in his black jeans and the red and black button-up that he'd worn the day he came here. He chucked the pyjama pants that Dad had leant him into the wash basket and smiled at me.

"Which bag are you taking with you today?" he asked.

I indicated the medium-sized bag with my essentials in it. It was only Wednesday and I'd have to go two or three days without a lot of my possessions but I'd live. I looked at the time. It was eight thirty and Fang and I were heading off around nine so that we'd get there in time for the end of school.

Reece served us breakfast instead of the maids and he hugged me goodbye when the time came to go. I looked around the mansion, pleased that I had Fang's assurance that he'd drive me here as often as I wanted as long as he got control of the cinema room.

"Ready to go?" Fang asked, zipping on his leather jacket. I zipped my brand new one up and I felt very bulky and I sent Fang a disgruntled look.

"I don't like this," I scowled.

"Road rash is uncomfortable," Fang told me.

"I look awful, don't I? I look bulky and horrible."

Fang looked at me for a few moments longer than necessary and I folded my arms and glared at him, holding my helmet in one hand. Fang rolled his eyes and slung me bag across my torso for me.

"You want to know what you look like?" he asked me as I put my helmet one.

"Yes," I replied, getting onto the bike behind Fang and adjusting my bag so that it was behind me and resting on the back of the bike. Fang pulled his helmet on.

"How do I look?" I demanded of Fang. He couldn't dangle something like that in front of me and then not tell me what he thought.

"You look sexy," he told me and started the bike causing me to have to wrap my arms around his waist as he sped out of the mansion's grounds. My head was reeling from his comment though and it wasn't until we were almost out of the city that his words caught up with me and I blushed.

Fang thinks I look sexy… I thought and a small feeling twisted my gut and I smiled slightly, resting the side of my head-slash-helmet on Fang's back.

And why did his words make me feel happy? I've got no blooming idea.


Mum wasn't at the house when we got there but I didn't have time to chat. We were almost late for the end of school so I just dumped my things inside before locking up again and rushing back to Fang who'd left his bike running. He twisted the throttle and we shot back towards town.

Fang pulled up in the student parking lot by Damen's car and we both pulled out helmets off. I jumped off the bike and Fang kicked the stand down and climbed off. We stood there for a few moments and then Fang looked at his watch.

"I think-" The bell rang, cutting him off and he shook his watch. I looked at him questioningly. "My watch needs new batteries." I laughed and looked around the school with a fond smile. I couldn't wait to be back here.

As we were waiting for the final bell, another bike pulled up near us and Matt pulled his helmet off and stared at me in shock. He looked between Fang and I and then a smile spread across his face.

"Max!" he shouted and put his helmet on his bike handlebar and then crossed the space between us in two steps and pulled me into a bone-crushing bear hug. I gasped and then laughed and hugged him back as best I could.

"It's good to see you too," I gasped.

"She can't breathe, Matt," Fang chuckled evilly. Matt released me and I stumbled back to Fang who steadied me. Matt ruffled my hair and I rolled my eyes at him.

"I can't believe you're here!" he laughed.

"I'm back for good, unfortunately for you," I replied. "And you could have told me your girl was Ellie."

Matt stared blankly at Fang and then scowled.

"You told her?" he asked.

"I told her everything," Fang shrugged. "We caught each other up to every detail of our lives so it feels like she never left. For her anyway."

I laughed and tapped Fang's shoulder with my knuckles. The final bell went and we all looked around. The Flock gathered near the buildings and started walking down. Damen and Iggy were joking about something while their girlfriends gossiped between them and Steve and Ellie looked deep in discussion about something- country music probably.

"Baby!" Matt called and Ellie's head came up and she smiled at him and then her eyes moved to Fang and I. I studied Ellie closely. She was pretty with her red-frames classes, brown wavy hair and chestnut eyes. She had a lovely smile too.

"What?" I saw her mouth. The others all looked up and then the whole group froze and stared. It was silent and still for a few moments and then they all shouted and Nudge and Ella screamed.

Fang, Matt and I laughed. Then the group were running towards us and I moved away from Fang's bike as I was almost glomped by five people at one. I felt three pairs of strong guy arms and two pairs of skinny girls' arms around me.

"Max!" all of them were shouting together.

"Guys, I need to breathe!" I shouted and they let me go and I gave each one a hug and let them ask their questions.

"What are you doing here?"

"How long are you here for?"

"How did you get here?"

"What's going on?"

"Okay guys calm down," I laughed. "Fang came to see me on Monday night and we decided I had to come back. Dad's bringing all my things on the weekend and I'm starting school on Monday according a message I got from Mum last night."

"Yes!" they all cheered. I noticed Ellie standing over with Matt, watching our exchange with an amused expression. I looked at her eyes and noticed that Fang was right about how perceptive they were.

I moved away from the group and over to Ellie. The others were all tentative as I approached their new friend. I realised none of them knew how I was actually going to react to her. I ignored them and looked back at Fang who nodded at me.

"Hi, you must be Ellie," I said. "I'm Max."

"I thought so," Ellie replied. I held out my hand and she shook it and smiled at me. "It's great to finally meet you. These guys never stop talking about you."

"Oh really?" I asked, looking back at them suspiciously. "You'll have to tell me what they've said."

"Sure." Ellie smiled kindly.

"And I have to thank you, Ellie," I continued. She frowned curiously and waited. "For taking care of Fang, I mean. I hurt him terribly when I left and I wasn't here to make him smile again but you kept him sane and turned him into a normal human being again. Thankyou, you have no idea how much that means to me."

Ellie's face split into a smile. "It was my pleasure, honestly," she assured me. "Fang is a handful though."

"That's for sure." I sent him a teasing smile over my shoulder. "And you'll have to teach me that trick of yours that makes people tell you things, it'll be so handy when dealing with a best friend like mine."

"Sure, I can do that."

We laughed and Fang stated that we should go and get food down at the mall and celebrate. As I climbed back onto the bike and held my helmet in my hands I looked around at my friends, my family, and smiled. I understood those nagging feelings and the sleepless nights. I felt whole again because I was with the people who loved me deeply.

Fang looked back at me and I met his eyes and my whole world cleared up and every pain that I had been caused in the last seven months was healed as I looked into the dark depths of his eyes.

I was home.

57. Junior 13

Okay guys, I've been sitting on something since I first created Steve for the band and I've been waiting for the perfect time to unleash it upon you and then I made Ellie and for some reason I made Steve hate her and then I thought 'Oh my gosh, this works out perfectly. I can kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes' so in this chappie we have Max and her "reunion" with Adrian and the reason Steve hates Ellie. I'm so excited for you to find out. I've been waiting to put this secret in for a while. (bounces up and down) so I'm just going to let you all read it now.

Enjoy :)

On February the twenty-first, I got to go back to school in Avondale. I'd spent the week bored until Ella got home from school or until Fang arrived at my house, clad in his incredibly awesome motorbike riding stuff and took me into town or hung out with me at home. Sometimes, when it was just us two, we were really quiet and took the time to enjoy the fact that the one person we know we can't live without is sitting next to us.

On the Sunday night before I went back to school, Fang showed up just as the sun was setting the sky was taking on that beautiful purple-colour that it does at dusk.

"Mum, I'm going with Fang!" I called.

"Don't stay out late!" Mum called back. I smiled. Her happiness at having me home was so evident. Fang and I were going to go and visit Dad next weekend and now everyone in my life was happy and I was too.

I went out to Fang and he caught me in his arms in a hug. A greeting that he'd used every single day since I'd gotten back. I don't know what has happened to my Fang but I do like his new, happier personality. I think he's happier because I'm back in his life. Well, whatever the reason, I didn't mind getting hugs from him.

"Good evening," I said as he released me. "Where are we going tonight?"

"You know, while you were gone, I went walking in the woods and came across a very pretty place that I would like to show you," Fang explained. I nodded and he hooked his helmet over his handlebar and we walked into the trees together.

"How was your day?" Fang asked.

"Slow," I replied. "Amazing as it is, I can't wait to go back to school."

"I never thought I'd see the day where Maximum Martinez said that to me." Fang shook his head, clearly bemused and then fell silent. It was a comfortable silence, one filled with thousands of unsaid words. I liked silences with Fang, they were unlike any other kind of silence.

Fang took me off the path and I followed him, trusting him completely not to get me lost.

"How far do we have to walk?" I finally asked. It was getting completely dark, very fast and looking up I could see billions of stars through the tree tops. It was a beautiful night. The sky was clear and a pure indigo and the millions of tiny pinpricks of light stood out beautiful. The moon was shining in all its perfect silver glory.

For some reason, tonight felt like a good night.

"Not for too much longer," Fang promised. "You'll see soon."

A few minutes later we stepped out of the trees and into a clearing. I raised my eyebrows and looked around. I didn't remember this part of the forest. There was a rocky ledge almost as high as the trees around us in the middle of the clearing and Fang led me to the edge and showed me a path up.

"Come on, it's not that hard of a walk," he chastised me when he saw my doubtful expression. I scowled at him and he grinned and nudged me onto the path. I walked up to the top of the rocky ledge and realised that it extended back into the forest and the trees surrounded it perfectly. When I looked over my shoulder I could see over the tops of most of the forest.

It was like a huge blanket of emerald beneath the indigo night sky. I stared around in wonder and Fang came and stood beside me.

"What do you think?" he asked me.

"I think… you really need to get a life. How did you find this?" I replied.

Fang ignored my jab and shrugged. "I was just… walking." I looked at him and he was frowning thoughtfully. "When I didn't hang out with Ellie and when I had nothing to do I'd just come out here because you and I used to walk through the trees. I guess I hoped I could remember you more clearly out here because you love the woods. I missed you a lot, as you can tell."

I nodded and sat on the edge of the rocks and Fang sat beside me. It was quiet for a long time and then I laid back and stared up at the stars. Fang looked at me for a moment.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Tracing constellations," I replied. "Help me out."

Fang's mouth twitched into a gentle half-smile and he laid back and looked across at me. I turned my head and met his eyes. In his eyes a saw a lot of things and the intensity of some of them made me blush so I quickly looked up at the sky.

"There's Orion," Fang said looking up. "Can you see Sirius?"

"It's the really bright one, right?"


We spent hours lying together making pictures in the stars and finding real constellations. It was so… so wonderful, to just lie there with the one person that I trust with all my heart and soul and be myself.

Fang finally gouged the time from the position of the stars and sat up.

"I should get to home before you Mum thinks I've kidnapped you," he told me and I rolled my eyes. Fang stood up and jumped down from the rock ledge before I even knew what he was doing.

"Fang!" I screamed in fright and I dropped onto my hands and knees and peered down through the dark. I heard his low chuckled and I spotted him looking back up at me, his eyes melding into the darkness perfectly. "You're an idiot! You could have broken a leg or something!"

"Jump," Fang called, ignoring what I'd hissed at him. "I'll catch you!"

"I'm not insane!" I shouted.

"Neither am I. Trust me!"

I paused. I did trust Fang, with my life. Could I trust him to catch me? I frowned and stood up and took a deep breath before taking a step back. I jumped forward and launched myself from the ledge. I gasped because I had five seconds of hang time before I felt Fang's lean arms catch me under my shoulders and knees.

I grinned at him.

"That was fun!" I said. "I want to do it again!"

"Another time," Fang laughed. "We'll have lunch up here one day or something."

"Sounds good." I realised that he was still holding me because my face was on the same level as his- something that is quite impossible considering that my eyes are level with his shoulder normally.

I coughed. "You can put me down now," I mumbled.

Fang chuckled evilly and turned and started walking through the woods. I folded my arms as he shifted my weight and then- sudden enough to make me gasp- he tossed me over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.

"Fang!" I growled. I banged my fists on his back. "Put me down!"

"Never," Fang replied. I folded my arms and muttered under my breath the whole way home. When I could see light streaming from my house I swung my legs to try and make him put me down- this was so embarrassing and I didn't want my family to see- but he still carried me. He opened the door and took me to my room and swung me down onto my bed.

"I hate you," I said.

"No," Fang disagreed. "You love me, so much, remember?"

I gaped at him. That was more than a year ago. How could he still bring that up? Fang just ruffled my hair before escaping my room and saying goodbye to my mother and Ella. I jumped up and went to my window to watch him disappear into the night. I rolled my eyes but I was pleased. Everything seemed to be back to normal… or as normal as things could be with a new member of the group and… well… those new emotions that keep cropping up occasionally with me and Fang.

Oh the joys of being a teenager.


Fang picked me and Ella up for school in the morning in his car. Iggy was with him and he sat in the back with Ella, both of them whispering to each other. Fang and I tried to ignore them. The lovingness radiating from the back seat was making us both want to puke.

When we finally got to school we let Iggy and Ella walk ahead of us because I needed to compose myself. The Flock had kept it quiet about my return. They wanted to see everyone's reactions first hand. I nodded and we started out of the parking lot.

Fang smiled at me as we walked into the school grounds. People stopped and stared at me. I saw Brigid and Lissa both glaring darkly as I walked down to homeroom with Fang at my side.

"Welcome back," he told me.

"You have no idea how glad I am to be back here," I told him. He smiled again and reached out and touched my shoulder gently. "Especially with you." That made him look away from me, some unknown emotion on his face.

"I cannot wait to see Adrian's reaction," Fang chuckled. "Got your schedule?"

"Yes sir," I replied and looked at it. "Gym first?"

"Still with me. And Adrian." Fang looked positively gleeful as we went and met the rest of the Flock in our usual spot. Ellie was telling Nudge how unpractical heels actually are and Nudge was arguing the good points for her beloved style of shoes. I was personally on Ellie's side. But that's just my tomboyishness talking. Iggy and Ella were still making goo-goo eyes at each other and Steve and Damen were looking over the new drum solo they'd come up with.

"Hey everyone," I said, sitting down. I got greetings from everyone and Ellie looked at me from her conversation with Nudge.

"Max, can you please tell Nudge why heels are wrong," she requested.

"Nudge, heels are awful. They are a sexist, male invention designed to make a woman's butt look smaller and to make it harder for her to run away," I said and Nudge folded her arms. As much as she loved being girly, she was on my side with sexist stuff so she couldn't argue with me. Ellie looked satisfied but Nudge dragged her into another debate, this time over sequins.

"Ellie fits in well," I whispered to Fang and he nodded and sent me a look that read 'thankyou for accepting her'. I smiled a 'no problem' at Fang and looked over at my sister and Iggy.

"I think I'm going to be sick," Fang muttered and made a retching noise. I snapped my hand back and hit his chest but I was trying to stifle my sniggers. We were both trying to stop ourselves from laughing but we lost that battle when Fang pulled a face and I pretended to choke. We burst out laughing and I leant back on Fang.

Everyone looked at us and frowned. Iggy and Ella rolled their eyes and went back to being disgustingly in love. Steve and Damen exchanged a look and started a discussion on whether acoustic or electric guitars had a better sound. Nudge giggled slightly, looking at us and Ellie raised her eyebrows.

"They do that all of the time," Nudge explained. "They'll just be sitting there, not even speaking and randomly burst into laughter. You'll get used to it."

"It's not the weirdest thing they do," Steve said, looking over at the girls while Fang and I got our laughter under control.

"And what is the weirdest thing we do Stevey-boy?" I asked.

"Do tell," Fang added, resting his chin on his hand and leaning toward his bassist with interest.

"They have conversations where they don't actually say anything," Steve explained. "It gets annoying because they'll suddenly make a joint decision and none of us know what the hell is going on."

"It's really strange," Damen agreed. "They'll just look at each other, talk with their eyes for a moment and when they return to the normal conversing way they'd already finished a discussion that we were all having."

Ellie raised her eyebrows and looked over at us.

"You never told me that," she said to Fang, amused.

"Didn't think it was important," Fang shrugged. Ellie rolled her eyes, gave us a thoughtful look and went back to talking to Nudge. Any more conversation was cut short when the bell rang. Fang and I walked off to homeroom.

I paused before Fang opened the door and he waited until I nodded and then we walked in. Mr Varner was already inside, writing on the white board and he turned around and looked at us. He smiled when he saw me.

"Hello Max, welcome back," he said. I smiled back.

"It's good to be back, Mr Varner," I responded happily. I sat down at my old desk and Fang dropped into his seat with casual elegance and grinned lazily at me which sent my heart into flutters. I tried to ignore it. I wanted to get used to life here before I became too confused with the blurring lines in mine and Fang's relationship again.

Other people were coming into homeroom. I saw Dylan and he looked completely shocked. Fang gave him the darkest glare possible and I turned to him.

"Anything new?" I asked.

"I decked him a month ago when he was chatting up some poor, innocent freshman," Fang shrugged.

"Did you get in trouble?" I asked.

"No, it was outside of school and Matt was with me." Fang winked and I stared at him. "Don't worry, I didn't let Matt touch him even though he was tempted to strangle him."

I giggled, surprising both of us and then Mr Varner called us to order to welcome me back. I felt Brigid's eyes boring into the back of my head but I ignored it. Nothing could bring me down. I was back and this was so great.

I was positively giddy about seeing my good friend Adrian again so when Fang and I walked into gym and I saw her heading into the change rooms, I stepped up my pace, waving goodbye to Fang. He just looked bemused as he followed the guys into their change room.

"She's ba-ack," I heard someone sing under their breath as I burst into the change room very dramatically.

"Yes, yes I am," I replied. "I love you too Lily."

She rolled her eyes but smiled at me. I remembered that Lily wasn't as bad as any of the others. I smiled back and walked over to my usual spot next to Alicia and she beamed at me.

"I heard rumours," she told me.

"They are true," I replied.

"So it's true that Fang went to LA and kidnapped you on his motorbike?" she asked.

"That's a bit of a stretch but it's mostly true."

We laughed together and I felt somebody seething behind me so I straightened up and turned around. Adrian was glaring at me already dressed in her tank top and shorts. I raised my eyebrow at her narrowed eyes.

"Did you miss me Adrian?" I asked. "Did your nose twinge when you heard I was back?"

"You shouldn't have shown your face around here again," Adrian hissed.

"Hmm, really? Because as far as I remember it was you who got their nose broken." Adrian glared and I rolled my eyes. "Besides, I hear you've been picking on my girls. You leave my friends alone or you're going to have another broken nose."

"Don't pick another fight with me, Maximum," Adrian growled. "I've been taking Karate lessons."

"And I took self defence and tai chi and mixed martial arts lessons when I lived in LA," I replied. "You don't live in a place like LA without knowing how to fight."

"Yeah, plus you know Ellie's a black belt, you already tried you "skills" on her," Lily said from across the room. "Adrian, face it, you're not going to win any fights with them. Drop it, girl." Lily's eyes were dark and angry and she stalked out and up to the gym and I turned to Alicia who shrugged. Adrian made a screeching sound and left in a huff making the rest of us burst out laughing.


"Max, you've been back for half a day and you're already picking fights with Adrian?" Steve laughed. He shook his head and I rolled my eyes at him. "Man, I missed you. Things were so boring without you."

"Thanks." I watched as Steve played a few bars of the song he was working on and I pressed a piano key to distract him. He looked at me. "Hey, how come you hated Ellie when she first came?"

Steve hesitated for a moment, brushing his fingers across the keys.

"Steve?" I asked.

"She reminds me of my sister," he murmured. I frowned and looked at him but he was refusing to meet my eyes.

"You have a sister?" I asked. "I didn't know that."

"I had a sister. A twin sister," Steve corrected. He glanced at me, his eyes sad. "She died. A couple of months before you came. You know that I used to go to a prep school in Phoenix until eighth right?"

"Yes," I replied. "And you've been with Celia since seventh."

"Correct. Well Lucy and I came here because Mum remarried and all that and we met the boys and joined their band," Steve explained. "Luce used to be our female singer but in the September before you came to Avondale she was killed in a car accident with her older boyfriend."

I placed my hand over my mouth and stared at Steve in shock.

"Fang, Ig and Damo know that I hate her being mentioned so that's why you never knew about her," Steve shrugged. "When Fang wanted you to be our female singer he came to me first but I liked you because you weren't like Lucy at all so you wouldn't remind me of her."

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry Steve," I whispered. He shrugged.

"Anyway Ellie is… just like her," Steve murmured looking over at her. "I couldn't stand her because she just reminded me so much of Lucy- the way she could make anyone tell her something just by giving them a certain look- and it killed me inside."


"And the fact that she used to get Fang talking," Steve explained, giving me a slightly smile.

"Lucy used to get Fang talking?"

"Yeah. They were like this." Steve held up two fingers twisted together. "She liked him and he asked me what I'd think if they went out. They never did anything. When she died he turned all non-smiling and that's how you met him. Then he cheered up because you're… well you and him get along ten times better than him and Luce. That's why we all wanted you in the group. We missed our Fang."

I frowned and looked over at Fang. He was laughing with Iggy and I frowned. How come he'd never told me about Lucy that day when we talked about him and girls. I realised it was probably for Steve but I wondered what else he'd kept from me.

"Don't be mad at him," Steve whispered. I looked back at him. "He never talks about Lucy for me. I don't think he cried when she died. He couldn't. They weren't like you two but he used to tell her things. Ask him if you want but don't be surprised if he pretends that what I told you wasn't true.

"Anyway now you know why I didn't like Ellie. I like her now though. I realise Lucy would have been best friends with Ell so I'm making an effort and I really like her, she's cool."

Steve smiled and shrugged and touched his heart before going back to his song. I watched him for a moment, turmoil in my heart. Fang said he'd never had a girlfriend, that wasn't a lie, but he never mentioned really liking someone in the past. He said nobody appealed to him.

Ah, present tense. Lucy's dead.

The bell rang and I grabbed my bag and the group of us left together. I took Fang's arm and held him back from the group.

"What's wrong?" he asked me.

"I'm not hungry; can we find somewhere to talk?" I asked.

"Let's go and sit in the car. I think I have chocolate in the glove box." Fang and I snuck around to the parking lot and he opened my door for me. "My lady."

I rolled my eyes and waited for Fang to get into the car. He pressed play on the CD player and then turned the volume down and looked at me, his eyes concerned.

"Okay, what's bugging you?" he asked me softly.

"I just found out why Steve hated Ellie," I said and Fang raised his eyebrows. "And he told me some other stuff related to it as well."

Fang waited warily and I took a deep breath but suddenly he groaned and his head flopped back against the driver's head rest, his eyes closed. I frowned and then Fang tilted his head and looked at me sadly.

"He told you about Lucy, didn't he?" Fang asked, his voice a monotone and his face unreadable. I could see his wary eyes though. I just nodded. Fang sighed and leant forward, resting his chin on his hand and staring out the windscreen.

"You don't have to tell me," I assured him worriedly. I hoped I hadn't upset him. The last thing I needed was my best friend distressed because of me when I'd only been back with him for a week.

"No, I want to," Fang said. "I should have told you a while ago."

"Did you love her?"

"No. I might have though, eventually…" Fang looked at me and I wondered what half of that sentence he'd left unsaid. "Luce and I…" He paused, thinking. "Max, you're the best friend I've ever had, don't forget that, but Luce was the first girl outside of the Flock that I'd been good friends with. I liked her because she was very pretty, smart and funny. She was a fantastic singer- her voice was a lot like yours- and we sang together all of the time. We had a mutual love of music."

I waited as he paused.

"I wanted to ask her out but I kept thinking 'what if something goes wrong and the band splits?' but I decided to forget about that. Then she started going out with a guy in his sophomore year of highschool. We all hated it because he was too old for her. He was cheating on her too."

"Oh no… I can see where this is going," I whispered and Fang nodded but he kept going, like he had to say it all. It's like he'd kept it in his heart for too long and needed to tell someone. I was glad it was me. It seemed right.

"I was going to tell her," Fang whispered, his voice sad. "I did and we started fighting because she was blinded by him and then, in tears, she said that the only reason she was with him was because I didn't want her and then he pulled up outside my house and she ran to him while I was stuck in shock…"

Fang turned and looked out of the windscreen again. His eyes seemed distant. He was remembering.

"It was raining," he continued. "One of those rare days. I tried to call her but she wouldn't answer because it was me. I waited so worriedly because this guy had a million speeding tickets and it was wet meaning the roads were slippery and you know how bad some of the corners around here are… He was doing about fifty over the speed limit and it was a head on collision. Lucy died instantly but he lived, bastard, the people in the other car both died too. He went to jail on voluntary manslaughter but that didn't change how we felt."

Fang dropped his head into his hands. I reached over and put my hand on his shoulder and he raised his head and looked at me, his eyes tortured.

"Maybe if I'd told her I'd wanted to be with her then she wouldn't have gone with him," Fang whispered. "Then she'd still be here. You would have liked her Max. You two would have gotten on brilliantly."

"Sounds like it," I replied. I moved my hand to Fang's cheek and his turned his face into my hand, his eyes closed, his expression upset. "Fang, it wasn't your fault. It was that stupid bastard's fault." I frowned. "Have you been beating yourself up about this since it happened?"

"Yeah," Fang replied, opening his eyes again. "And… then I met you. You used to get so mad at me for looking like I was brooding. You told me to smile more. Max, you may not realise it but you changed my life- all of our lives. You reminded us how to be happy. I bet Luce loves you for that."

Fang sighed sadly but his lips twitched in a smile. I shifted closer to him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders and pulled him over to hug him the way I did to the others when they were upset. Fang tugged my pony-tail playfully and gave me a gentle squeeze. I let him go and frowned.

"This weekend we're going to the cemetery," I told him and gave his shoulders a squeeze with my hands. "We're going to see Lucy's grave, you're going to introduce me and you're going to apologise to her and let all of this go."

"Um… yeah, okay," Fang replied and smiled at me but his eyes were still sad.


I held out my hand to Fang and he took it, lacing his fingers through mine and taking a deep breath. He was holding a bouquet of wildflowers in his other hand. He nodded to me and we walked through the graves and he took me to Lucy's. The white marble headstone had roses engraved into it and they were painted gold.

Fang looked down at her name and crouched down, tugging me with him so he didn't have to let my hand go. He laid the flowers in front of her headstone and brushed his fingers across her name.

"Hey Luce," he said. "I know I don't visit you as much as I should but I'll change that if you like."

I smiled and he looked at me. "Hi Lucy, I'm Max," I said. "I'm friends with your brother Steve and Fang…"

"Max means the world to me," Fang shrugged. "She's my best friend Lucy. You'd really like her. She's great for me, the way you always imagined somebody for me. She wanted me to come here today because I hadn't told her about you. She wanted me to make peace with myself."

"He blames himself for what happened to you."

Fang looked up at me and then back at Lucy's headstone.

"I did like you Luce, why didn't you ask me sooner? I'm sorry I never told you. Maybe if I had you'd still be here. So… well, I miss you. You've been keeping an eye on the Flock right? Angel doesn't really remember you that much. Gazzy does but not well. Our band is doing well. Max sings for us, she sounds a bit like you. You'd seriously love Max, Lucy, I know you would."

I sat with Fang while he told her everything and then he sighed and blew a kiss to her headstone.

"I'll talk to you later, I won't try and pretend that I don't remember you anymore, I promise," Fang murmured and we stood up.

"Bye Lucy," I said. "I wish I'd met you." I looked at Fang and we stepped around some more headstone and he swung our hands between us and smiled at me. On the upswing he dropped my hand and wrapped his arm around my shoulders and I slipped mine around his waist.

"I'm proud of you," I whispered.

"Thanks, I needed to do that," Fang murmured. "I left it way too long."

We walked out of the graveyard and it seemed like a weight had been lifted off Fang's shoulders. He seemed lighter and open and I was so happy for him. He'd let go of some of his demons and he'd been able to reconcile with guilt that he shouldn't have been feeling.

Fang looked at me and smiled and then leant his head on mine and I felt that little flutter again and I wondered again about Fang's unfinished sentence and about our future… where would we end up?

But as I felt Fang's arm around me I decided that I didn't care as long as he was in my future.

58. Junior 14

Oh god, guys I am soooooo sorry about how long this update has taken. I had writer's block and then our computer blew up and then we kept getting blackouts from the storm and I've been busy regardless. sorry, sorry, sorry, one thousand times sorry. This chapter is kind of short but I am working on another one and you shall not be disappointed. I'll try and update more often but there's always someone on the computer when I want it.

I have a tonne of missed reviews to read and I am okay for all of you who were worried that I wasn't. Sorry for making you worry. Thankyou all for being so patient. Alright, let's get back on track eh?

Okay, enjoy

When I fell back into rhythm at Avondale, it felt like I'd never left. Miss Elissa, Miss Alike and Mr Callahan were ecstatic to have me back and I felt right at home, just like I should. I was excused from the Spring Concert and Fang was trying to find a way out of it because he didn't have anything to sing.

That is, until he had one of his brain waves and got the whole band out of doing solo or duo pieces and being able to do one together.

"It's just a song that I never realised I should sing before," Fang explained as we sat in a circle away from the rest of the class.

"And what song would that be?" Damen asked.

"Lucy, by Skillet," Fang mumbled and I looked at him, my heart aching at the look on his face. Steve sat up a little straighter and looked at Fang with a small frown.

"We've always steered clear of that song," he reminded Fang. Fang shrugged and looked at him with a gentle expression.

"And for good reason, mate," he explained. "But… well, I think I should… I've been a real jerk about her in the past. This is my chance to make up for that."

"I think it's a good idea," I said when nobody said anything. Fang looked at me and smiled in a way that made my heart hurt. Then he looked back at the others hopefully.

"Come on guys, please?" Fang asked.

"Um… yeah, I'm in," Iggy replied hesitantly.

"Sure, me too," Damen agreed.

We all looked at Steve, awaiting his response. His brow was furrowed and he was chewing on his bottom lip as he thought. I looked at Fang whose face was expressionless- he didn't expect Steve to agree. Stev