Disclaimer: Characters (c) James Patterson.
Iggy just had to let it out.
One giant, earth-shaking sigh that sounded like a dying gasp for breath.
Fang instantly turned on his heel and stopped in mid step. Unseeing, Iggy rammed his cane against his best friend's foot.
"Aw shoot, sorry –" Iggy began, tapping the cane irritably with his fingers.
"You can go home if you want," Fang interrupted with an embarrassed cough.
Iggy had never heard the dark boy sound so meek and anxious before. Well, he supposed Fang had a good reason to be. That same reason was why Iggy decided to put up with it for the whole day. He promised himself he wasn't going to let Fang do anything stupid. Even if the boredom killed him.
"Like hell am I!" Iggy said with forced cheer. He slung an arm around his friend's shoulder. "We've already went to four jewelry stores. One more isn't going to kill me."
"Seven," Fang corrected with another embarrassed cough, "This one's our eighth."
"Well," Iggy grated with a smirk, "I've been having so much fun that I must have lost track."
Iggy groaned in exasperation. Wondering how his best friend even had the guts to propose to Max in the first place, he gave Fang a push in the direction of where he hoped was their eighth jewelry shop. "Just get in there."
Needless to say, Fang did. Iggy followed close behind.
He had grown used to the chimes that rang whenever a customer entered. Did all jewelry shops have the same bell? For Iggy, it felt as if he had just been entering and reentering the same shop for the past five hours. The smells were the same; clean, pristine, and slightly metallic. He even got used to the frigid temperatures all the stores seemed to have. He guessed it was around sixty-six degrees Fahrenheit, nineteen degrees Celsius.
"Uh, I'm just gonna sit down somewhere while you look around, alright?"
Iggy could hear Fang shift suddenly, as if he had been startled.
"Huh? Wha?" he asked, distracted.
"Me. In chair. Okay?" Iggy more or less repeated. The less words he used, the more Fang could filter into his head.
Fang nodded eagerly. "Oh yeah. Yeah. Sure."
He walked off and Iggy had no choice but to follow him anyway. With a dramatic sigh, he rested his chin on Fang's shoulder, bringing his arm around his neck for a playful headlock.
"I thought you were going to sit down somewhere," said Fang, struggling in earnest. Iggy released him.
"Oh yes," Iggy said with a laugh, "I guess I'll just go look around and see if there are any. You know, with my perfect twenty-twenty eyesight."
Iggy could practically hear the devastation on Fang's stricken face.
He held back his laughter and patted his friend's head. (Iggy was actually going for Fang's shoulder, but Fang was standing closer to him than he thought.) He expertly turned the pat into a ruffle.
"Fang. I was just kidding. Seriously."
Fang swatted Iggy's hand away and began matting down his short, spiky hair. "Ooh, haha," he said with a bit of his former self, "Very mature of you, asshole."
"What? We're only twenty-four," Iggy grinned, "We can still afford to joke around."
Fang only returned a half-hearted grumble, grabbing his hand and escorting him to the nearest chair. When Iggy sat down, Fang said, "I'll be back if I see something I like."
"Take your time," Iggy replied with a wave and a smirk.
He heard Fang walk off and be instantly assaulted by the shop's clerks. It was exactly how the other seven shops went as well. He was amazed that he even had time to sit down before he was also greeted by another clerk.
"Excuse me, sir," a lady's voice spoke to him, "May I help you with anything?"
Iggy turned his head to the voice with a ready smile. He had time to revise his usual answers. He felt that a little variation with each one could offer him some sort of salvation from Fang's madness.
"No, thank you," he said pleasantly, "I'm actually with that tall, dark, young man who looks about ready to shit himselt, I assume."
There was a startled pause and then a string of quiet giggles from the lady clerk.
"So, I take it you're going to be the best man?" she asked, amused.
"It's a brutally exhausting and grim duty, but someone has to do it," Iggy answered solemnly.
There was another delay in the woman's voice. Iggy could tell she was studying him intently. He gave her an enigmatic smile. Taking off his dark sunglasses, he gave her a wink. "To answer your silent question, it's yes, but only if you'll keep it quiet. Fang's got enough on his mind without the media and paparazzi hounding him over."
"You're Iggy," the lady exclaimed quietly, "Oh, my god! That's Fang? His hair! And he's buying a – Oh, my god!"
Iggy bore it on with his infinite amount of patience. He tilted his head charmingly and chuckled. With a flourish wave of his hand, a white feather magically appeared between his fingers. "This stuff's pretty confidential. You can keep a secret right?" he whispered, handing the lady his feather.
"Oh god, yes! Of course! Thank you!" the clerk gushed.
Iggy waited for a moment, but found that the clerk hadn't left his side yet.
"So, I'm not the one who's buying anything. I'd appreciate it if you'd help my friend pick out something nice for Maximum Ride," he grinned.
The lady gave a quiet squeal and with another torrent of thanks, she hastily moved to wherever Fang was.
As soon as he was sure she was busy with Fang, Iggy leaned back in his chair and rubbed his temples. It had been five years since the flock's latest escapade, which involved the usual saving the world, only with more reporters and cameras than usual. Right after the Itex incident, life got really quiet, almost peaceful. The flock was able to have a somewhat normal life, granted a bit more glamorous than they would've liked. Hell, they were heroes now.
But, eventually, all the hype receded a bit. Iggy was grateful that five years of being a celebrity could die so far down that he was able to walk on the streets again without being mobbed by fans.
They had all grown up now, he reflected thoughtfully, in looks and… mentality. Fang was (finally) getting married and his ridiculous signature emo-hair had been hacked off into more of an adult style. Of course, he was still reserved, but at least he didn't find it so hard to become sociable when it was necessary. Being one of the six World Ambassadors tended to improve geniality, or drive someone positively mad.
And about himself, thought Iggy, well… he supposed he had changed too. Working for a master's degree in engineering physics and owning a first-class restaurant was no small thing either.
But there were some things that would never changed.
He heard Fang walk over with sullen and stomping footsteps. Iggy checked back a grimace and he knew that his friend hadn't found what he wanted. "Get your hands out of your hair before you start going bald," he suggested before Fang could say anything. Over the course of the eight shops, his best friend had developed a habit for pulling his short hair whenever he got frustrated. Iggy wasn't sure if Fang's fans could handle his new short haircut, much less total baldness.
He could hear Fang hastily stuff his hands into his pockets.
"Iggy, how the heck am I going find the perfect ring for the woman who has saved the world at least three times and just happens to be the love of my life?" Fang wailed in despair.
Iggy had a list of all thing scathing and sarcastic comments he could say, but settled for something more subtle and kind. Fang was nearing hysterics and frankly, Iggy wasn't going to be the one responsible for sending Fang to the local asylum. Fang could do that on his own.
"That's what you said about the engagement ring," Iggy reminded, "We only had to visit three shops for that."
There was air moving beneath his nose and Iggy had the sudden impression that Fang was shaking his finger in his face.
"When you get engaged or married, I hope you'll suffer the exact same things I'm going through right now," the groom-to-be said.
"You'll suffer more as my best man," Iggy replied sweetly, "Besides, I already know what rings I'd get."
There was a rough second of silence, but Fang seemed to perk up, "What kind would you get?"
"A silver band," the blond supplied, "The same color as my eyes with a diamond the color of as my bride's eyes."
"Wow. I didn't know you were a romantic," Fang grumbled enviously.
"No. It took me four shops to think of it," Iggy grinned, standing up, "So, are we leaving or what? The day's still young and there are at least three more jewelry shops in the city."
"Iggy, it's five in the evening and I hate to break it to you, but multiply that three by another three."
Iggy winced, "What ever happened to the meek and apologetic Fang that said it was alright if I went home?"
"His best friend made him his best man."