The Day Before -Edited
I slammed the door shut behind me and slumped against it. What were the odds of finding Lissa in a small town in Arizona whilst doing the weekly grocery shop? Astronomical, right? I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't been attacked by a flurry of red hair and pink lipstick I'd last seen in Virginia months back . But she was there, larger than life and twice as squeaky, stocking up on supplies for a fortnight's holiday in a nearby trailer park. And, of course, she recognised me instantly, running down the cereal aisle like a girl possessed and flinging her arms around me. I resisted my initial reaction to being tackled, which was to knee my assailant in the stomach and fly up and out of there, and instead stood and exchanged small talk. I guess you know how much I enjoyed that. Despite asking me about the Flock's sudden unexplained disappearance in Virginia and what we'd been doing since, all she got out of me was that we were staying with the local vet, an old family friend (like we had family friends) a little out of town; but I had a horrible feeling that wasn't going to stop her from asking around. As people go we're not the most inconspicuous, and if she found us now, well...all hell was going up break loose.
Iggy appeared from the kitchen with a plate of sandwiches in one hand in time to hear me cursing horribly.
"Hey! What's with the swearing? There are kids in here."
"You're not going to believe who I just saw."
"Um...Spider-man? Martha Stewart? Alfie the Alpha-Bits Cereal Wonder Dog? "
"I don't even know who that is."
"God, Fang, you really need to work on your 80s cereal mascots trivia," he responded, taking a bite of his sandwich. "So who was it?"
He frowned. "Who?"
"The red-head from Virginia. The one who...um...well, sort of...kissed me."
Iggy smirked. "Oh, that Lissa. So, what have you two been up to? Or is it not for my delicate ears?"
"Shut up, Iggy, this is serious. If she's not gone by the time Max gets back from Hawaii I think my life may be in danger."
Oh, yeah, did I mention? My girlfriend Max is in Hawaii, with her mom and sister; which is good in that she's not going to beat anyone to a pulp yet, but bad in that she will the moment she finds out about Lissa.
"Wow. A full sentence from Fang? This must be serious. Can't you just pretend she's an Eraser?"
"I'm not going to kill her! There are laws about that!"
Iggy shrugged, as if to say the laws didn't really apply to kids with wings.
"Did you tell her where we live?"
"No, but she knows we're staying with the local vet so I bet she'll find out soon enough."
Iggy face-palmed. "Why did you tell her that?"
"Fang, we've been on the run for what, a couple years now? When you panic, you either punch someone in the face or lie until you can get out of there. At no point in the Maximum Ride School of Survival was there a class called "Telling the Truth to Strangers 101."
"I know, I just...look, it's kind of nice to talk to somebody who isn't a screwed up lab rat once in a while."
"I resent that. And anyway, you've got Ella! Magnolia! The pizza delivery guy! What more do you want?"
"Iggy, one of those is a dog. And anyway, the pizza guy won't deliver here anymore since Gazzy pulled that stunt with the water balloons."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot about that." Iggy grinned. "That was a good day."
"You're missing the point. We need a way to get rid of Lissa - without actually causing any physical harm - before Max gets back."
"Way ahead of you, kid."
Iggy put the plate down on the hall table and whistled loudly.
"What-?" I asked.
"Wait for it."
Nudge clattered into the hall and stopped to catch her breath.
"Hey, Ig. What's up?"
"Wow," I said.
"I know, I've got her well-trained" replied Iggy smugly. "So, Nudge, Fang's got some news."
Nudge turned to me, practically bouncing up and down. "What?"
"That girl from Virginia is in town."
"Red-Haired Wonder? The one that kissed you?"
I guess Max must have spread that nickname around pretty fast.
"So?" said Nudge.
"So, Max is away. And Lissa wants to hook up."
"So he needs our help to get rid of her before Max gets back," chimed in Iggy.
"Why didn't he just say no?" asked Nudge, frowning.
"Because Fang is a sucker for...actually, no, I'm just going to leave that there. He's just a sucker. Anyway, he needs our help. Are you in?"
Nudge grinned. "Sure thing. Fnick."
"So, when do we start? Cause I've got some really good ideas; like we could catch up with her and start talking about Fang's amazing girlfriend, and how they're so serious; and how beautiful she is; or maybe we could just say that Fang's not interested in a girlfriend right now because he's had a traumatising experience, and he won't be alone and intimate with anyone but his family; or maybe we could say he doesn't want a girlfriend, and that he's found himself now, and that what he did before was when he was confused and didn't know what he wanted. And he doesn't want Lissa. Cause he's interested in...other things, you know? And maybe-"
Iggy slapped a hand over her mouth.
"Seriously, don't you ever breathe?" he asked.
Bits of Nudge's sentence were coming back to me.
"What? I am not pretending to be gay!"
"Slow down on the homophobia, kid. It's an idea" said Iggy.
"It's a stupid idea. And stop calling me kid, I'm two years older than you."
"Do you want our help or not, doll face?"
"Iggy, for the last time, you are not a fifties detective." I paused. "But I do need your help. Please."
Iggy grinned and high-fived Nudge. I glared at them.
"Great. You're supposed to be the mature ones. I might have more luck with Gazzy."
Nudge pushed Iggy's hand away from her mouth and took in a deep breath. I knew what was coming next.
"Faang! Come on, you have to let us help, we'll be really good at it; Gazzy doesn't know about the whole relationship thing, and we do, and-"
"Wait a minute. You know about relationships? This coming from, to use Max's phrase, the sexist pig and, well, Nudge...you've never had a boyfriend, have you?"
"I've read Twilight! And loads of other teen novels like that, and I know!" protested Nudge.
"Nudge, Twilight is about a sparkling vampire who likes a girl because she smells nice. It has nothing to do with real life."
"Oh, sure, says the talking bird-kid," responded Nudge, folding her arms.
"Heh. Burn," said Iggy.
I ignored them both. "Look, can you just think of something? Please?"
"Okay, Fnick, what do you want us to do?" he asked.
I shrugged. "Get Lissa to leave me alone."
"Can't you do that?"
"No! She'll start...you know" I said uncomfortably.
Iggy grinned unsettlingly.
"Yeah. I know. But you're supposed to be in charge around here until Max gets back, can't you deal with it?"
"No! Look, Lissa is...attractive, and I am..."
"A hormonal teenage boy who isn't in charge of his emotions?" suggested Nudge.
"Well...yeah, basically. Can you guys help or not?"
"Oh, we can help. Right Nudge? Or should I say Tiffany-Krystal?" replied Iggy.
"Uh-huh" said Nudge brightly.
"Tomorrow" decided Iggy. "You'd better stay inside today, Fnick. We don't want your racing hormones getting the better of you."
"Yeah, whatever," I said tiredly.
Iggy turned to go up the stairs. "Come on Nudge, we've got some planning to do."
Nudge practically bounced up the stairs after him. Great. I've entrusted my future to a over-excitable teenage girl with a vampire obsession and a sarcastic bomb-maker who keeps calling me doll-face. Maybe I should wait it out and let Max kill me after all. That is, if I survive these next ten days.