Title: Then and Now

Author: TearsOfEcstasy

Summary: Fang and Iggy revisit a childhood friendship, only to find something new in it's place.

Rating: PG13 for homosexual/bisexual relations.

Pairing: Iggy/Fang. Slash.

WARNING: Yes, two males are going to engage in romantic activities. You have been forewarned. Any anti-slash flamers will be met with my personal wrath.

Disclaimer: MaxRide is James Patterson's, but I have temporarily clubbed him over the head and stolen the characters for my own amusement. Just don't tell anyone, okay?

Dedication: to H.Moth on Fanfiction and Angel of Death on the maxride site, who wrote the first two Iggy/Fang slashes and helped make way for this bit.

A/N I: Yes, I swore I was done with Maximum Ride, but a new trail had to be blazed! I'm talking about slash! The greatest medium of all! Anyways, I'm very excited about these bit, if it goes well, more to follow. If not, ah well, I gave it a shot. That's all that really matters.

Of Then and Now

Chapter I: Sunset Blues

There was a cold wind running through New York that day. From the first waking hours of the morning, till even then with the sunset glistening in the horizon, random, icy blasts of wind would roll across the streets, ripple flags and chill its victims. It seemed to come at regular intervals, like clockwork almost. An odd phenomenon in itself, but Fang wasn't too bothered.

He had pulled a heavy overcoat on (black, to match his usual attire) and that seemed to do the trick. Or maybe it wasn't really the coat keeping him from feeling the cold dusk air. More likely, it was the fact that he'd gone completely numb to all physical feeling, both from the cold and his own tangled train of thoughts.

That morning, he'd left the flock's roost in search of some alone time, and he hadn't looked back since. First, it was the café (he hadn't bought anything, though, he'd only done a good bit of people watching. Which was amusing enough), and then he transferred his sulking party to Time Square, where he nearly got mugged, then there was Central Park, the record store, and, for one last bit of so-called thrill, he hopped a boat to Long Island. Once arriving at his destination, the lost looking boy wandered hither and thither before finally resting at Greenwood Cemetery.

He hadn't really meant to end up in a cemetery, he had only been looking for a place to take flight back to the city, but the cemetery seemed to match his morbid mood and that was just fine. Plus, not very many people enjoyed spending their time at a cemetery, so he'd at the least be alone.

After a good bit of mindless ambling and reckless exploring, he came across a small, polluted New York river and a forgotten stone bridge. It was obvious no one had come around for a while, most of the tombstones were ill cared for and many had simply crumbled. It was the perfect place.

So there he'd been for the past hour, sitting and staring at the dirt waters. Every so often, something in the water would twitch. Fang thought it was a rather stupid fish for swimming up a polluted New York river. Then again, it could have been a fly. A half-witted fly, nonetheless. It really didn't mattered that much, so he didn't know why the thought kept coming back. But it did.

When he wasn't thinking about the damn fish and it's obvious lack of sense, Fang would find himself leaning dangerously off the edge, as if he was about to jump in. And he might have (a semi-welcoming thought at that time), if it hadn't been for the damn fish... fly, whatever it was, that kept resurfacing in his mind.

But it was better than the other thing, the other thing he couldn't think about. So he'd let his mind wander away, Total- Gassy- money- Max- back to money- food- Angel- the damn fish, and then back to money again.

Money had become very tight lately, for various reasons, and Fang couldn't help thinking that there had to be something he could do about it. He obviously couldn't stop eating, because he wasn't really eating as it was. Neither was Max or Iggy, and Nudge and Gassy weren't quite as quick to ask for a second helping. Even Angel seemed to sense the impending financial hardship ahead, she hadn't asked for a candy bar in well over two weeks. Which was not like her at all.

They had nothing to sell, and no one to sell anything to, anyhow. Which, of course, left only one option. They had to open up a new window for money to come from, not just the ever draining, mysterious bank account. A new window being a job. Of course, no one in their right mind would hire a fourteen-year-old without parents, a house, or a work permit. Especially one with wings. Still, his mind began to race with half finished ideas and less than well planned schemes.

Have to get a job, He told himself sternly, money's running out. Not enough money for food. Not enough money for anything! $6.50 an hour was minimum wage. Not enough, not even close. Gotta find a high paying job, with long hours. Need to buy more food, more blankets, soap, get a real place to stay, Iggy-

No, he stopped himself in mid thought, he wouldn't think about that. Because once he did, it was all he could think about.

It's a hopeless situation, he told himself, don't get too involved.

Too involved? He argued, He's nearly my brother!

You'll only be let down in the end, he reasoned. That was right, he would be let down. Couldn't get too involved, if he just kept his head down and kept doing what he was doing, nothing bad could possibly happen. Not to him, at least. Someone would have to get hurt, but he wouldn't let it be him. He couldn't, because things would have to change... and as much as Fang tried to deny it, he was terrified of the prospect of change.

At the School, things had been the same, day after day, week after week. He like the sameness, the patterns he could follow to make the day easier. It was like letting his mind go into autopilot. After escaping with Jeb, things started out very hectic and crazy, but soon enough he could find another pattern to follow. When Jeb left, he just carried on. But ever since New York, it'd been harder to cling to the sameness, and the patterns. Especially now, when things were changing so fast, Fang felt like the world was slipping out from under him. And he was utterly terrified.

Once again, Fang caught himself leaning too close off the edge.

Am I trying to kill myself? He wondered faintly.

"How is it?"

Fang felt a seize of panic run through his body, thinking of the worst possible scenarios. That he'd been caught by a police officer, an Eraser, or worse, Max. What could he possibly say to explain any of it? Not that it would make sense to a police officer, they'd take him to a psych ward or Juvenile Detention. But Max... she'd never stop badgering him until she got the truth. About his fears, and all about his secrets... If she ever knew she'd probably kill him, that was a fact he could count on.

But when looked up, expecting a hard glower from angry eyes, he was rather surprised to be met by Iggy's gentle smile and carefree demeanor. He looked about as far from angry as possible, with his great smile and relaxed posture. He seemed to simply scream lighthearted, worry free days and tireless nights. One could almost mistake him for happy, except for the glaringly obvious tired look in his sightless eyes. Dark circles road beneath them, and the usual spark of playfulness that shone brightly in the darkest hours was dull and grey, almost lost among the great load of weight Iggy had taken to carrying.

"Iggy!" Fang caught his breath, "What are you doing here?" Without a second thought, he swung his legs over and stood in front of Iggy, he looked him over for any hint to what could have possibly led him to do such a foolish thing as to follow him all the way to Long Island.

"Max got worried, she came out looking for you. The rest of us sort of tagged along. Gazzy and I have been looking for you since noon."

"Where is Gazzy?" Fang asked, glancing behind Iggy for the younger boy.

"He ran off to get Max."

Oh God, why'd he do that? Iggy being there was one thing, Max was another entirely. Iggy was a kitten in comparison to Max, who ranked somewhere between grizzly bear and vicious shark.

Her temper, though very short, was not without reason. After all, Fang wasn't exactly known for being a perfect little boy. Even when they were kids, he'd get into all sorts of trouble, and last week, she'd found him smoking. It was only one cigarette of a half empty pack he'd found in the trash. He'd never really smoked much before (once he did steal one of Jeb's cigarettes when he was twelve, just to see what it was like) and people said it was a great stress reliever. He had been under a lot of stress, it was just logical. At least, that's what he'd convinced himself.

Of course, she'd found out and had a right fit. She made him throw the pack out and wash out all his clothes to get rid of the smoky smell, but that hadn't done much. Now he smelled like a mix of smoke, filth and cheap soap. Not exactly an alluring aroma.

He didn't know if Iggy knew, he suspected the blonde did though. Even if Max hadn't told him directly, he was bound to smell it on his clothes and his hair. Which still reeked, and he couldn't help thinking how revolting that must have been.

"I told him not to," Iggy offered apologetically.

"Well, he did anyways," Fang sighed sulkily as he retook his seat on the ledge. Just as he did, Iggy followed and sat next to him, swiveling his upper body to face the warmth of the sunset. He looked a bit troubled, but Fang didn't take notice. He was much too busy with his own thoughts.

He could already hear Max screaming in his ears. What were you doing? You could have gotten us caught! Led Gazzy and Iggy into danger... Which was just perfect because all he needed was another reason to want to kill Max.

Thinking of it, he could really use another cigarette right now. But he didn't because Max made him through them out. The hell with her so-called Maxocracy, it wasn't just a dictatorship! It was a god damn communism!

Fang couldn't help smiling to himself, if only Max could hear him now.

He stole a glance at Iggy, and found himself cursing for not being able to read minds. Iggy's face was it's usual calm, looking completely content in the world. Except for a glimmer of... something, a glimmer of something in his eyes.

Fang wanted to reach out to Iggy, to talk to him again as they had when they were kids. When they were kids, Iggy was Fang's best friend. The two were rarely apart, but after Jeb rescued (could he call it rescued?) them, things started to change. There was a riff between them that simply wouldn't let them be as close as they had been.

Maybe it was simply male hormones forcing them to find separate territory (as Jeb had accredited his observation to) or maybe it was Jeb himself, who seemed to favor Max and Fang for the fact they were the strongest of the lot. Either way, Iggy grew into a quick-witted, artistic type while Fang turned into himself and began to pull away from his so-called "family".

And in New York, things were still very different from the childhood bliss. Max was always hanging around him, she seemed to have it stuck in her head that he liked the attention, and Iggy would disappear to some place or another for an hour or so, before Max could notice his absence, and return with a stupid grin on his face. It was really quite irritating.

"You never answered my question," Iggy said after a moment.

"Which was?" Fang asked, picking at a loose thread on his sleeve.

"How is it? The sunset, I mean."

Fang looked at the sunset, it was just a sunset. There wasn't anything too great about it. Maybe he'd been listening to too many cheesy romantic comedies, because there was really nothing special about the sunset. It was a great orange ball coloring the sky all purple and blue as it sank, something as mundane as that didn't really need a description. But Fang obliged.

"It's... uh, it's pretty. The sun's red and the sky around it's all purple and orange."

"Sounds nice."

"It's okay." Fang shrugged.

"Whatever you say."

Fang smirked, "We rhyme."

"So we do." Iggy smiled back.

And the moment had passed, a glimpse at their childhood comradery lost again.

Looking out at the dirty waters, Fang couldn't stop his thoughts from wandering back to Max. And what she'd do when she found out where he'd been.

"Max is going to kill me when she gets here."

"Yeah. She was pretty pissed."

"Pissed? You think I was pissed?"

Oh, God. Here it comes.

"I was not just pissed! I was absolutely livid!" She stomped over to the two, staring Fang straight in the eye, "Now? Now I'm furious!" Her stare was cold and hard, her look dared him to speak, to say anything to possibly defend himself. He knew better than to take that dare, it was just another excuse for her to get angry.

But how could he pass up on a dare?

"I can see that, Max." Fang said cooly.

Max seemed to move past furious and into a realm of anger that had to no name, it was the type of anger that often sparked homicide.

"Where have you been?" She said through clenched teeth, "We've been looking all over for you!"

Fang considered answering, then thought the better of it.

"It doesn't matter, anyways!" She snapped, "We're going back home, where you can't get the rest of us in any more trouble!"

Fang felt asking her how she could call the abandoned warehouse they shared with a colony of termites a home, but thought better of it and bit his tongue instead. Max was angry, but she'd subside in the end. Just as she always did.

He tossed a careless glance at Iggy, to find him staring back in his own sightless way. He gave a sort of half smile as if to say, just go along with it. So Fang did as Iggy seemed to suggest and took his word thrashing with grace, and when Max had yelled herself and finally announced it was time to leave he paused just as Iggy came up behind him, obviously searching for a shoulder to hold on to.

"Thanks," He whispered, and Iggy seemed to understand because he simply nodded and rested his finger tips gently on Fang's shoulder.