I don't own Maximum Ride. sigh

What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies Aristotle

Italics are flashbacks. Everything else taked place right after the Flock leaves Anne.

Iggy was lost. He strained his ears, knowing that the flock couldn't be very far away. There it was ― breathing. He went towards it, still concentrating hard.

"Ouch!" Fang let out the scream before he thought about it. It been another long, trying day in a whole series of long, trying days. Now they were searching through a maze of caves to find someplace to crash.

Fang spun around, his mouth open in a snarl. He saw a very surprised Iggy. "Sorry, Fang―" the boy began.

"Why don't you watch where you're going!" Fang growled. He immediately regretted his words as Iggy's expressive face showed hurt before flashing to anger.

"What did you say?" The pale boy's voice was quiet. He'd be willing to accept an apology if Fang admitted he'd been having a bad day.

Fang refused to back down. "You heard me. Watch your step next time!"

Iggy's face contorted into a grimace of rage. He launched himself at Fang getting him a little lower then he meant to but still managing to knock Fang down. Iggy took advantage of his position as best he could, knowing Fang could rip him to pieces. He got one punch in before the positions were reversed.

A single blow from Fang gave Iggy a broken nose. The next one gave him a black eye. Forgetting the reason why he wanted to fight in the first place, Iggy brought up his hands to protect his sightless eyes. Blows rained down on his arms.

"What are you doing?" Max snarled, hauling Fang off of Igyg and shoving her face in front of his.

"He started it!" Fang said lamely, wiping blood off his face. A long scratch by his eye wasn't deep but was bleeding profusely.

Max rounded on Iggy. "Is that true?" she demanded. He had definitely taken the worst of the beating with a split lip and the beginnings of a beautiful black eye.

"Yeah." Iggy said, barely able to talk through the blood. He headed down the passageway out of the cave.

Fang started after him but Max pinned him against a wall. "What happened?" she demanded.

Fang didn't say anything. A wave of guilt washed over him as he realized how unfair he'd been. "I...uh...He ran into me. I guess he couldn't hear anything. I went off on him." He paused. "I might have made fun of him being blind.

The look of disappointment Max gave him was so strong that Fang looked away. "I know, I was being stupid."

Max shook her head. Fang was always the most helpful to Iggy merely by ignoring the fact that he was blind. Being the same height helped too, and Iggy would often put a hand on Fang's shoulder. Fang had even been his protector at (the real) school.

Iggy had been cornered twice while at school by a group of kids who thought it would be fun (and easy) to jump a blind kid. They were wrong.

Iggy would have taken them easily. Kids were nothing compared to an Eraser. But eight on one are bad odds any why you stack them. One got a lucky punch in and Iggy was down.

That's when Fang walked by, looking for Iggy. He saw his friend on the ground, still fighting but obviously out of it. Anger so strong washed through him and the result was eight nearly dead teenagers, one confused Iggy, and a furious Max.

Iggy always moved with Fang. The Gasman was his best friend but Fang was his protector, his eyes in a way. For Fang to be mad at Iggy was a huge blow.

"Look," Fang cast around for a solution to this mess. "I'll find him. Talk to him. Tell him I didn't mean what I said."

"You better mean it." Max warned. "Iggy's a walking lie detector."

Because he paid such close attention to the rise and fall of a voice Iggy was able to perceive a lie with stunning accuracy.

Fang took in a deep breath, then tried smiling. "I'll get him, don't worry."

Max just shook her head.

Fang gave Iggy a hard squeeze on the upper arm. It was the first day. The first class they had ever taken.

The teacher's reaction to Iggy was about as bad as possible. First she looked surprise, then pitying. She spoke to Iggy in a voice one would use with a child. Fang saw Iggy's face harden. This wouldn't be pretty.

They were supposed to be creating a compound by chemically bonding three elements. There were ten to choose from. Fand wished Iggy was his partner.

Iggy knew what to do before they even started. This was so simple. His partner was writing out the procedures while Igg oriented himself with the chemicals. A stink bomb would show them to treat him differently.

He tapped the table twice, just loud enough for Fang to hear. It meant "get the hell out". Then Iggy dropped the bomb.

Fang found Iggy flying slowly just outside the cave. He half-heartedly started flying away, but stopped and started sinking as though he had a pain in his wing. Fang caught up to him, slowing his descent as Iggy sank to the ground. "Hey, is it bad?"

Iggy revolved on the spot and Fang was surprised to find a long, half-healed gash on his left wing, surprisingly pink against the white wing. "Don't worry, it's old." Iggy sighed. "From school. A couple of kids punched me on the back a few times a day. Just once or twice, then they'd run off. One of them had a knife. I think he only meant to tear my shirt but he also nicked my wing.

Fang's mouth fell open. "Iggy, this isn't a nick. It looks like you've been mauled by an Eraser or something!"

Iggy's brows furrowed. "Really?"

Fang sighed and wiped his hand through his hair. "It's been like this all this time? It's been hurting while you fly?"

"Only a little." Iggy assured him seriously. "I'd never let anything get in the way of flying."

Fang rested a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Listen man, about before. I was out of line."

Iggy turned his face back to Fang. "It's okay. I just kind of freaked out. I haven't been thinking straight lately."

"I'm really sorry." Fang cut him off. "It's not like any of it's your fault."

Iggy brought his hand up to his useless yees, wiping them subconsciously. "Doesn't matter."

The principal had called Iggy and Fang down to his office. "So, I hear you two made a stink bomb." The boys remained silent. Iggy's hand was tapping on the arm of the chair. Fang tried to look like he couldn't care less.

"Will you look at me!" The principal snapped. Fang jerked his head up in time to see the principal jerk Iggy's chin up so he was looking into his sightless eyes.

The principal looked away, disgusted. "They'll let any riff-raff in here now."

Iggy's face displayed a new layer of pain and embarrassment. Fang's hands tightened on his chair as he imagined hitting the man. Iggy, sensing Fang's feeling, touched his wrist and shook his head in a barely perceptible "no".

"So I guess you made the stink bomb." The principal said, gesturing to Fang. He was about to nod. What did it matter anyway? When Iggy opened his mouth. "No, I did that." He said politely.

The principal barked out a laugh. "Yeah, right. I bet you couldn't even find the door without help."

"I could." Iggy said quietly, hot tears squeezing out of his sightless eyes.

The principal his him sharply across the face. A coward's punch that came with no warning. Iggy's face registered first surprise, then pain before turning resolutely neutral. Fang seethed, his olive complexion turning red as he saw blood drip down Iggy's cheek from a ring on the principal's hand.

It was dark now. Fank shivered, relizing the two of them had walked deeper into the forest. "We should get going." He said quietly. Iggy shook his head.

"Not yet. Please. I can't face Max yet." Fang nodded, almost smacked himself when he remembered, then said. "Yeah, okay. There's a clearing up here, but we don't have our packs or anything."

"I'll make a fire." Iggy was already picking up sticks. He walked slowly around the clearing until he got every fallen branch. He put them in a pile.

"Ig." Fang said suddenly, before he lost his nerve. "What do you see?"

Iggy looked bemused. "I don't see anything, Fang."

"No." He was about to smack himself again. "I mean, do you always see white, or pink, or black..."

"It's black." Iggy said quietly, arranging the sticks by touch before he took a match out. "Always black." He paused. "It's not at all like closing your eyes. No light ever gets in." he lit the pile, smiling a little as it immediately caught and grew. "I miss light."

Fang was annoyed. He was also tired and sick. Iggy would not stop fidgeting. "Stop!" he said for the hundredth time, moving as far away as he could in the cramped cage. The seven-year olds shared one small cage. Max shared with Nudge. The littlest one, the boy, got his own but it was smaller then the rest.

"Will you settle down!" Fang hissed, trying not to draw attention to them. The whitecoats had just dropped him back off and all he wanted to do was sleep for ever.

"Are you okay Fang, did they hurt you?" Iggy's brilliant blue eyes inspected Fang closely.

"No, they took me on a picnic. Of course they hurt me." Fang didn't want to remember. Why was Iggy so worried anyway.

"Oh. Okay. But you're alright, aren't you. I mean, as alright as always. It's hard, I know." He was babbling. Fang covered his head. Iggy was almost as bad as Nudge.

A whitecoat came over, unlocked their crate. "Come here, you." He grabbed Iggy, who immediately went limp. They'd stopped fighting a while ago.

Fang curled up, glad to finally get some rest. "I hope they do something really bad to him." He muttered darkly.

Hours later Iggy was deposited back into the cage. "Such a disappointment...don't know what went wrong..."

Fang sat up straight. "Ig." He gently rubbed the pale boy's shoulder. "Iggy, what happened."

Iggy blinked and opened his eyes. Fang gasped. The beautiful blue was gone, replaced with a foggy blue-white color.

"Fang." Iggy sounded terrified. "Fang, I can't see." He started screaming. "I can't see anything!"

Morning came. Fang blinked up at the sun. He was careful not to move too much. Iggy's head rested on his stomach. The younger boy looked peaceful as he slept, though the bruises and blood made Fang wince. He regretfully shook Iggy awake.

"What's up?" he asked groggily, sitting bolt upright.

Fang smiled. "Another day, get up and face it."

Iggy was crying. Fang looked over at him. It was his watch. He carefully picked his way through the Flock, kneeling down next to his brother. "Hey, Ig, what's the matter?"

Iggy's head turned in his direction. "Nothing, Fang. Just..." a tear leaked out, then another. "They were my family, Fang. And they wanted to make me into a Freak."

"Not like they needed much help with that." Fang saw this was definitely the wrong thing to say. He backpedaled. "Forget them, Iggy. They're nothing. They're the ones missing out, not you."

Iggy sniffled again. "It wasn't just the wings. Did you know there's a way to read if you're blind? And they kept trying to help me like I couldn't do anything myself. And that stupid name. I wanted to scream , "I'm not James! I'm Iggy!"

Fang, in a very un-Fang gesture, wrapped his arms around Iggy. "It's okay, Iggy. You're okay now."

Iggy smiled, leaning away from the hug. "I know, Fang. I have you."

I love Iggy. I love Fang.

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