*sigh* Right. I'm going to be brutally honest here. When I wrote this fic I was fourteen, very new to fandom, and didn't have anything vaguely resembling a clue. This fic is absolute crap. It's OOC, cliche-ridden, and the only reason I haven't taken it down is that for reasons that mystify me, there are people who like it.

And to those of you who left complimentary reviews...why? Don't you want decent-quality fic? Please. Stop encouraging crap fic. Speak out against it!

An Older and Wiser TSD

Chapter 1

The Flock were flying south.

They were in a loose v-formation, Max leading. In less than a days time, they would be in Washington DC, ready to find their parents. But they weren't happy. As a matter of fact, they were all silently furious at Max. Even Total had picked up on the atmosphere, and huddled in Angel's arms, whimpering occasionally. Max had told their secret. And it wasn't something small-scale an necessary, like when she had needed Dr Martinez's help. She had told the whole god-damn world.

She had sent her diary to a publisher.

That had resulted in a lot of arguments, and she was backed into a corner no matter how she tried to defend herself. She said that it was the easiest way to let everyone know the truth. Iggy pointed out that everyone would think it was fiction. She replied that in that case they were still safe. Fang said that normal people weren't the problem - the erasers would be furious.

So in the end they just gave up arguing, and headed for DC. Even that was a source of argument, though. Gazzy and Angel were getting cold feet. Their parents had sold them to the School - they'd probably hand them straight back to the erasers. Nudge was still enthusiastic, but Iggy and Fang privately thought that no normal humans could ever be their family in the way that the Flock were. And Max...well, she didn't have any family that they knew of.

They stopped for the night somewhere outside of Philidelphia. Iggy started a fire, and Nudge and Gazzy started getting food out of the packs. Angel sat staring into the flames, and Max subsided into a corner, brooding.

Fang waited carefully until he was sure that no-one was paying any attention to him. Then he took a notebook out of his bag. He'd started a diary in an attempt to make sense of the confused feelings swirling around his head. He opened the book, and took out a pen.

The others are getting suspicious, (he wrote). I know I've been acting a little strangely. I suppose I know why - although I'm scared to admit it, even to myself.

Max's book - I suppose that's what set it off. I read it. She seems to spend a lot of time dwelling on "The Kiss" as she calls it. I do to, but for a very different reason. It was the moment I realised that she could never be anything more than a sister to me. But there's one thing I clearly remember about those twilight moments when I drifted, semi-conscious, in a world of pain. Pale slender hands floating over me, an inexplicably comforting touch. I'm in love, but it's not Max I want.

God help me, it's Iggy.

The the Flock were headed towards DC. It would only be a few hours before they landed, and the atmosphere was of nervousness. The closer they got to their parents, the less sure they were that they wanted to find them.

They arrived late, and after a brief discussion, they decided that they would wait until morning. They settled on the roof of a block of flats, and Nudge talked Max into letting them go to McDonalds. So when they settled down for the night, they were comfortable and well fed.

Angel was sitting against a chimney, Total in her lap, and she and Gazzy were playing with the little dog. Nudge, exhausted, was already asleep. Max was brooding in a corner, as she'd been doing a lot recently. Iggy was sitting close to the fire, and Fang was writing in his diary.

Every time my mind wanders, I find myself watching him (he wrote). I wish I could stop being afraid, but I can't. I'm scared of the the others would say if they knew how I felt...of what he would say. I'm scared that Angel will read my mind, and know. Even writing this diary - what if someone reads it? And most of all, what will happen when we find our families? The Flock split up...I can hardly bear to think about it. I'll miss them all. But him the most. It hurts me to think that I could never see him again.

And I can't shake the feeling that I'm being unforgivably stupid. Writing down my innermost thoughts...it's almost as if I want someone to read them. Maybe I do. Perhaps it would be easier if they found out second-hand. To tell them myself - I cringe in embarrassment at the very thought.

"What're you writing?" that was Max.
"Nothing," Fang replied a little too quickly, snapping the diary shut and putting it back in his bag. Max looked a little disappointed, but moved on swiftly.
"We're going to get a few things tomorrow," she said, "A map...an address book maybe." Fangs shrugged.
"Whatever," he said indifferently. Max looked slightly annoyed.
"Don't you want to find your parents?" she demanded.
"Not really. How could normal people ever really be our real family? We're a flock, and I don't think a human family could ever compare." Max looked at once disgruntled and hopeful. Oh, god, he thought, does she think I want to stay for her?

He couldn't be bothered ridding her of that ridiculous notion once and for all. One thing was for sure, though. He wasn't going with any 'family'. The Flock were his family, whether they liked it or not. He determinedly didn't look at Iggy. Hoping for a little more than just family? He quickly squashed that thought. He lay down to sleep, using the bag as a pillow. He wouldn't put it past Max to try and read the diary while he was sleeping.

Don't even think it, he thought, You couldn't cope. Hell, I'm not sure I can.