The Red Wire by tanyart

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Drama, Romance
Published:2008-10-08 23:08:48
Updated:2008-10-08 23:08:48
Packaged:2021-04-21 22:45:11
Summary:Sometimes dealing with Fang was like trying to diffuse a ticking bomb. The only difference was that Iggy had no idea when the proverbial bomb would explode because quite naturally, Fang didn’t come with a timer. SLASH.

The Red Wire

Disclaimer: It's all Patterson.

A/N: Whew, it's finally finished. I'm a bit skeptical on some parts, but I'm going to wash my hands of this because over all, I'm quite happy with it. If you're going to criticize me on anything, it better be about the writing content or plot, not the pairing. Or just review! That's fine too.

Special thanks goes to FF . net for screwing up my formatting. Joy.

The Red Wire

Sometimes dealing with Fang was like trying to diffuse a ticking bomb. The only difference was that Iggy had no idea when the proverbial bomb would explode because quite naturally, Fang didn't come with a timer. It frustrated the blind boy because dealing with explosives… that was his thing. If his obsession with demolitions was worth anything meaningful, he would pour it all in trying to figure out his sullen, moody boyfriend.

If boyfriend was the right word for it.

Now the term was more like a giant overstatement. Iggy didn't know what to call it exactly. What were they? Certainly more than just friends, if his stammering confession and Fang's hesitant consent amounted to anything at all in the past few weeks. Beyond what anyone else could see, including the rest of the flock, they were just as close as brothers.

Iggy really tried to puzzle it out. He did. After all, he had to go through the same thing, discovering that he wasn't falling for the default gender that he was supposed to be attracted to. It took him years to see it; all that denial blinding him on an emotional level as he flirted with girls or made whistling comments without any real genuine feeling. It was all done to keep up appearances and keep him distracted from wanting to lean his head on Fang's shoulder, wrap his arms around him, and--

Yet even when they were together, Iggy still couldn't do it. Being with Fang meant absolutely no public displays of affection. Hell, if Fang had his way, there wouldn't even be private displays of affection. Iggy wasn't sure what kept him believing that they were in some kind of relationship. Maybe it was the way they occasionally-on-accident bumped shoulders while walking, how he could feel rather than see Fang crack a small smile, or the feather-light kisses in the dark that could have been just his imagination before drifting off to sleep. Maybe it was something, or nothing, or everything.

Iggy hoped he would find out soon. While he loved Fang, he refused to set himself on false hopes. He didn't want waste his whole life chasing someone who didn't want to be caught or even chased to begin with. Iggy had seen what that can do to a person; it was what he had seen in Fang and Max.

Iggy could have blamed her for Fang's detachment. Max had been his number one, ever since they were kids, and Iggy knew for a fact that Fang had made some god-awful choices over her. So in the end, the only person at fault was Fang himself. He just couldn't let go and Iggy could not help but feel inadequate for being unable to measure up to Max and make Fang remember that there were other people who loved him.

And whether Fang knew it or not, he was good at manipulating people. He was too blunt to have a silver tongue, but there was something in his quiet demeanor that could charm anyone. And when words did not work, violence would. Iggy was all too aware of that, but maybe it was rubbing off on him too since he was going to stop at nothing short of violence to get what he wanted this instant.

"Date. Now," he said in a low voice and grabbed Fang's arm when the silent boy ignored him.

"No," Fang hissed, glancing around as if Iggy's voice hadn't been quiet enough, "We can't do that. You know we can't."

Iggy frowned and felt Fang's arm tense under his grip as he turned to Max, who was sitting on Jeb's couch, watching the news on Jeb's TV.

"Max, me and Fang are going to go to the store. I need stuff to blow up," Iggy said with a grin and Fang quickly shook his arm free.

Max glanced at Iggy, not appearing too concerned, "Nothing big enough to destroy the whole city, okay?"

"Killjoy," Iggy sighed and repeated the same thing again once he and Fang were out of Jeb's apartment where the whole flock was staying for the moment. Now that he and Fang were out of their sights, Iggy ventured a tentative grasp for Fang's hand. Their fingers brushed before Fang pulled back, sounding exasperated.

"Don't," he said with a sigh that suggested Iggy was lucky enough to have him coming along on their 'shopping trip'.

Iggy expected nothing else, but it usually didn't physically hurt to try, and therein was the problem. Being with Fang never, ever physically hurt; all the damage was done mentally. Bits and pieces of Iggy's optimistic resolved would fall and he'd wait for the bomb that would shatter what they had for good.

The fuse was lit, the timer had started.

They walked together and at Iggy's suggestion, stopped by an ice cream café. Iggy also suggested sharing one giant cone together, but Fang merely snorted and ordered two chocolate ice cream scoops in separate cups and told him to wait in some corner while he paid. Of course, Iggy wouldn't have any of that, especially when he noticed that the cashier's tone of voice was being intentionally flirtatious with Fang.

"Thanks," he said with overly cheery grin as he took the ice cream. Iggy was pleasantly surprised when the cashier's flirting turn towards him because, hey, better him than Fang.

They found a small table and started talking. As far as inconspicuous dates go, Iggy was relatively okay. He wasn't completely happy because all of this was really just hanging out in an "only-just-friends" way. Fang wouldn't even let him hold his arm under the excuse that he needed a visual guide.

"Is everything all right?"

Iggy turned his head, recognizing the flirty voice of the cashier. He smiled, knowing her intentions… because no ice cream service would have their workers going around tables asking for customer satisfaction. And because of some lonesome, impulsive inspiration, he decided to humor her since Fang wasn't doing the same for him.

"Everything's great," he said, nodding, "The ice cream's delicious." As if she'd made it herself.

"I'm glad you think so," the cashier laughed merrily.

"I'm Iggy," he said before he could stop himself. He held out his hand.

"Laura," she replied, taking it and leaving her own a fraction too long to make it professional, "Who's your friend?"

Boyfriend, Iggy wanted to correct her, but something in his face must have shown because Fang interjected hastily.

"I'm Nick," he said and Iggy could tell Fang was smiling his fake smile.

"Nice to meet you," Laura said, chuckling absently, "If you guys need anything else, give a call."

"I would if I had your number," Iggy prompted immediately, feeling particularly malicious against Fang.

Laura paused and laughed. "You want me to write it down or tell you?" she asked, sounding a little unsure.

"Tell me," Iggy said, knowing that he probably wouldn't call her anyway.

She gave it to him and left quickly on account of her boss coming out of the back room of the café, or that's what Iggy had gathered from the way she frantically excused herself with a giggle. Soon after, he and Fang finished their ice cream and walked out, but not before Fang tugged on Iggy's sweater.

"Why do you do that?" he asked, making a morbid part of Iggy grin inwardly at the attention. There was a spark and the fuse was getting shorter and the timer was approaching zero.

"Do what?" Iggy asked, but Fang wasn't buying it so he added caustically, "I'm entitled to have some fun of this date."

"This isn't a date," Fang said quickly, letting go.

"Really? Then I don't see why you have to get so jealous."

Before Iggy knew it, he had cut the wrong wire.

"Maybe that's because you can't see anything," Fang snapped, drawing away so quickly that Iggy momentarily lost his presence.

He stood there stupidly, wondering how in the world he ended up in this position. Iggy tried listening around, but Fang was silent, or gone. He turned around, knowing his way back to Jeb's apartment by memory. He could probably make it.

"God, you're an idiot," Fang growled, taking Iggy by surprise. He had only gone a few feet away. "I'm not going to leave you here by yourself, jackass."

Maybe Iggy had to give Fang some credit for caring, even if it wasn't exactly the kind of caring he wanted. It had been a false alarm. The explosion had been a dud and Iggy knew he had a tangle of wires to sort through again.

Now, if only he could figure out if he wanted Fang to explode or not.

They arrived at Jeb apartment empty-handed, each forgetting that they had been supposedly shopping. Standing in front of the door, Fang rocked back on his heels.

"Are we going in or what?" Iggy asked, crossing his arms and unable to wonder or hope what was going on in his head.

Fang didn't answer, but Iggy expected that. If Fang was still trying to think up an alibi for Max and the others, he was obviously stressing too much over them.

"Iggy, what exactly do you want from me?"

Iggy raised his brows, more surprised at hearing the question than the question itself. "A little more recognition maybe," he replied.

"Is that it?" Fang asked, sounding incredulous.

Of course not, Iggy thought sullenly, but that was one of the easier things to start out with.

"Sure, because this whole thing has been feeling kind of one-sided from the start," he said flippantly, and then realized that he was being prissy. He grudgingly softened his tone and added, "But if you're having any doubts about us, just let me know before I start assuming things."

Fang went still next to him and Iggy could tell that he was being stared at, measured, and mulled over. The kiss came quickly and lightly soon after. Fang leaned until he had the other boy's back touching the door. The kiss lengthened and Iggy drank it in ruefully. Fang knew how to avoid a reply when he couldn't make one.

"I love you," Iggy murmured when they paused for breath.

"…I love--"

The words didn't come fast enough, but it was obvious what Fang was going to say. The trouble was deciding if the older boy meant it or not. Iggy felt the lock click and the door he was leaning against swung back. He was lucky enough to have Fang holding him or he would have fallen, but it didn't matter in the end because Fang instantly released him from their embrace.

"Oh," Nudge said from inside. The usually chatty girl seemed to be at a loss for words. She glanced at the two of them, her expression caught between wonder and slight embarrassment. "I didn't see you guys there."

"Well, I guess now is a good time to tell you-" Iggy began; almost chuckling until he was pushed out of the way. Fang suddenly took off, fast footfalls fading away. He could hear the door creak uneasily as Nudge shut it closed.

"Should I go after him?" she asked.

Iggy felt himself flush with anger. He shook his head.

"No," he said icily, "He'll come back when he wants."

It was actually only an hour when Fang returned to Jeb's apartment. The girls were in the kitchen preparing or at least attempting to cook dinner while Jeb supervised and coached them through the ordeal. Meanwhile, Gazzy was in front of the TV, occasionally pointing out important visual happenings to Iggy as he listened with half an ear.

The other half was dedicated to the quiet creaks of the door opening and closing. Fang wasn't trying to sneak in, but he sure as hell was trying to avoid unwanted attention.

"There you are, Fang," Jeb said, running into the boy in the hallway, "Dinner will be ready soon."


He was terse as usual, but there was an unmistakable harshness in his voice that made the scientist's eyes narrow.

"Probably in five minutes," Jeb eventually continued with a shrug and let Fang escape to his room.

Iggy gave a mute sigh. Most of his anger had ebbed into calm melancholy puree of mixed emotions. If Fang wanted to be alone, then that was what he was going to get. Letting his attention drift back to Gazzy and the TV, Iggy suddenly jolted as the minutes passed by and Max was suddenly tapping him on the shoulder.

"Woah, Iggy," she said, "I didn't mean to scare you like that."

"Haha, there's plenty to be scared of when I'm the one going to be eating you're cooking," he replied lightly and was rewarded with a playful punch on the arm.

"Ooh, how witty of you," Max said in a tone that suggested she was rolling her eyes. "I tasted it myself and I'm not dead yet, so get your butt off the couch and let's eat."

Laughing, Iggy did as he was told. Making his way to the table, he heard a patter of footsteps he recognized as Angel.

"Has anyone seen Fang?" she asked, much to everyone's surprise, because out of the flock she probably had the most luck in finding people.

"I just saw him come in not too long ago," Jeb said, "He should be in the boys' room."

"I didn't see him there," Angel said, blinking, "Or anywhere in the apartment, but I heard him thinking."

Max frowned and shook her head, "He must've gone out. He shouldn't be far."

"He's probably invisible," Iggy muttered, but he was deliberately loud enough to be heard.

"Should we go look for him?" Nudge asked, striking an odd déjà vu vibe.

"Not all of us," he said with a crooked smile, "I'll go get him. It doesn't make sense to let the food get cold for everyone."

Before anyone could object or offer anymore help, Jeb waved the other members of the flock to the table. Turning to Iggy, he said, "Be back in ten minutes. I'd remind you that Fang's invisible, but you're blind, so I guess you have a good enough chance as anyone else."

"Ironic, huh?" Iggy snorted.

"Perfect, I'd say," Jeb said dismissively, leaving the blind boy bemused and slightly red in the face.

Walking down the hallway, Iggy cocked his head. Of course, he knew where Fang was; right where they left him. Fang was the sort to hide in plain sight, even more so ever since he obtained his new powers.

He went into their room without knocking and shut the door behind him.

"I know you're here. Your powers don't work on me, remember?" Iggy said humorously to the seemingly empty room. He went over to his bed and sat at the end of it. The room was pretty large for it to be in an apartment, but the three beds that occupied it took much of the space. Iggy shook his head and sighed. "And you're too old to be hiding in a corner, Fang. Just come out already."

He waited a beat and was rewarded with the sound of a sheets rustling.

"I'm not hiding in a corner," Fang said mulishly from Gazzy's bed. It was closest to the door so Iggy got up and sat next to Fang just in case he was going to run off again.

"Okay, so you weren't hiding," he agreed sarcastically and held out his hand, "Then let's head on over to dinner." When Fang did not take it, Iggy drew back and as patiently as he could, he asked, "What's bothering you?"

Fang shifted restlessly beside him and in a very quiet voice, he said, "Did Nudge tell them?"

"What are you talking about?" Iggy asked, uneasy. He knew where Fang was headed and it always made him angry.

"You know what I'm talking about," Fang snapped, "Did Nudge tell them about us?"

Iggy felt himself grow cold and by the way Fang stiffened, he could that his expression had twisted.

"And if I told you yes, what would you do?" Iggy whispered fiercely, "I don't understand why you're acting like this, Fang. In public, I get it a little, but with our own family? No!"

"So Nudge told them?" Fang persisted as if Iggy hadn't spoken at all. The blind boy let out a frustrated hiss and grabbed Fang's wrist.

"No, she didn't," Iggy said, and became even angrier when he felt Fang relax. He tightened his grip until he felt Fang wince. "Listen to me! What is your problem? This is stupid. Do you still like Max? Is that it? No? Then we can't hide like two closet cases- don't deny it, Fang," Iggy nearly shouted when the other boy would have interrupted, "because that is exactly what you're being and you know it."

Iggy heard the echo of his words pound in his head and heart. An unsettling silence fell over them and with numb realization; Iggy saw that the proverbial bomb he had always referred Fang to could have easily applied to him as well.

"I can't deal with you anymore," Iggy began roughly, "unless you tell me what's wrong."

"If you don't want to deal with me, then don't," Fang replied evenly, but Iggy felt him tense as if waiting for a blow.

Even now, at this crucial moment, Fang was still trying to manipulate him. Iggy knew that one week ago, he would have given in. He'd apologize and Fang would peck him on the cheek like the teasing crow that he was. They would go to dinner and never speak of this again until their next argument. Iggy wasn't sure if it was him or Fang that was the weaker one.

"Alright," he said simply and didn't have a clue it he meant it sincerely or as a risky bluff. Judging by Fang's mute reply, he had done something unexpected. Iggy tried to convince himself that he was doing the right thing. When he stood up to leave, Fang suddenly grabbed his hand, murmuring something quietly.

"What?" Iggy asked, not believing his ears.

"I'm scared," Fang repeated, passing off as matter-of-fact though his voice faintly cracked. "I'm scared."

Iggy knew. It had been obvious from the start, but he hadn't known how much it meant for Fang to admit it to him.

"Scared," he echoed, "Scared of what? Max and the others? Fang, they're family." He didn't mean to sound exasperated and he tried to make his words gentler, but Fang was already attacking back.

"I don't know! I'm not you, Iggy," he said with envy and mingled disgust, "I can't just accept it with a smile and pretend that I've been-" he gestured vaguely and the word gay hung in the air like fog, "-like this all my life. …You can't see it when they look at us. You don't worry about what other people think because you can't see their reactions. …You're blind!"

Iggy felt the words hit like a dull ache in his chest. He was past being sensitive for his lack of sight, but he knew that deep down, he was still bitter. To have Fang say that he was lucky made his fists clench painfully. But had he really been that selfish? There was truth in what Fang said. Otherwise, it wouldn't have hurt.

Iggy was at a lost. Fang wasn't trying to manipulate him this time, but Iggy knew that an apology would only push Fang back into the false sense of security. If Iggy apologized, they would get nowhere. But god, he wanted to say that he was sorry. After that raw outburst, Fang deserved more, but Iggy was too afraid to pull back once he had pushed so far.

"I'm sorry."

Iggy froze, those same words just on the tip of his tongue. "What?"

"I'm sorry I'm scared," said Fang and tried to clear his throat when he couldn't say any more.

Iggy sat back down on the bed and reached out for Fang's shoulders. Leaning in carefully, he rested his cheek against Fang's. His face wasn't wet and Iggy didn't expect anything else. Fang never cried, not with tears.

"It's the truth though," Fang continued dully into Iggy's ear. "You can't understand."

Leave it to Fang to claim defeat with words. Iggy knew him better than that. Otherwise, why would he still allow him to rest his head on his shoulder?

"But I can still help," Iggy said calmly, and then added, "If you want me to."

With his voice muffled in Iggy's shirt, Fang replied, "… Yeah. Please."

They all stared at him when he and Iggy came to the table; stared as if they knew. Everybody pause, throwing him looks of where were you or why are you two just standing there like that? This paranoia, as Iggy called it, was making his heart beat wildly. He tried to be calm and not let his nervousness show.

Or, most likely, not become invisible again.

Fang really wanted to, but he ran away twice already and he didn't believe that third time's the charm stuff anyway. Even Jeb stopped eating, focusing his attention on them. His whole family was watching with open curiosity and puzzlement. How would they look at him and Iggy after this?

Iggy put a hand on his back, just a small, gentle pressure between his wings. Fang didn't move away. He stepped forward-- because maybe not everything was going to be all right with his family, but he knew that Iggy would be there, and that that part, at least, was right.

It'll probably fall on them like a bombshell, Iggy had said sardonically before they went out, like an explosion of illogical waves of fifty-ton shock. Really.

Fang suddenly found himself grinning. He reached behind him, taking Iggy's hand with his own, "We have something we want to tell you guys…"