This is in Fang's point of view.

I'm not sure what I was supposed to do. When this kind of thing comes into your life, you kind of just have to stop and rearrange your thoughts.

And in those kinds of times, you don't really have time to stop and wonder what you're supposed to do. I knew what was going on. The smell of death and burnt cubicles filled my nostrils as I made my way through the crowd of people. I was the same as them for once, just staring up, and wondering whether or not anyone would live.

Why don't I just start out at the beginning, not the very start, but close enough so you understand my dilemma.

Tuesday Morning

7:29 am:

"Iggy! Don't you dare set those bras on fire! I just bought them!" Nudge screeched as I took a seat at the kitchen table. I had to be in at eight-thirty to start the coffee and refill the printers with fresh paper. My job was at the local newspaper, helping out for right now, but as soon as possible, I wanted to have a full-time job there and write my own columns in the newspaper. And Max said that blog would never help. I grinned at the thought, pouring myself a cup of what was hopefully orange juice and grabbed a bagel.

I had just snatched my car keys off of the kitchen bar when I heard thumping footsteps behind me.

"Wait!" Max grabbed my arm, her other holding a toothbrush.

"What?" I held back my laughter at her toothpaste-covered lips.

"I weed ew to tack e to wok," She responded, a bit of spit flying out onto my shirt. I grimaced, wiping it away and responded, "Fine. Leaving in five minutes."

"Tank ew!" She smiled and ran off back into the hallway.

8:15 am:

I drove up to the side of Max's work building and watched as she grabbed her things together. "So what time do you get off?" I flipped through the radio stations, hearing one with a very deep voice scream out "The end is coming! I can't believe you all-" Talk show? No thanks.

"Around seven. I think I'll take the subway to Henderson, and then I can head home from that way," Max answered, checking the traffic before opening the car door.

"'kay. Call me around lunch. I might be able to grab a few more minutes for my lunch break. Maybe I can meet you." She smiled, swinging her purse over her shoulder, and came around the other side of the car.

"See ya later," I rolled down the window, kissing her quickly, and nodded.

"Love you," She waved and had turned her back already. My three little words caught somewhere in the wind and car horns of New York City.

"Love you too."

8:44 am:

I started up another coffeepot and then left the break room, turning down the hallway to switch on a few more lights, check the bathrooms in case the janitors were lazy the past night, and then headed back to my area. The TV blaring in the break room was talking about crashing stock markets and someone betting that gas prices weren't going to do so well in the next few years.

Hope not. My Suburban can't take much more. It already costs enough to pack the whole Flock in the car and fill it up.

I reached over, turning the volume down on the TV set, and switched on the radio. "Good morning, New York City! The time is eight forty-five and it's a little overcast. Showers are expected for later on, but tomorrow looks to be sunny and pleasant. This is Pete Michaels for your 'Eye in the Sky'. Now onto some great music."

Oceans apart day after day
And I slowly go insane

My boss came in, eyeing me to turn the music down, and I obliged, yanking it down to some low background music.

"Hey, Fang," My co-worker Jason greeted me, leaning against my desk, "You watch that Patriots game last night?"

"Nah. I was out. But I'm sure I could catch the rerun tonight sometime."

Jason shook his head, "Too bad, man. It was awesome. Brady threw a thirty-seven yard pass that ran all the way down for a touchdown. Bad ass, huh?"

I hear your voice on the line
But it doesn't stop the pain

I nodded and swiveled in my seat, "What's the boss got planned for us today?"

"Not sure. I heard something about some advertising agency coming over. But nothing other than tha-"

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" A screech came across the office, silencing even the hum of the computers.

"What's going on?" I got up and went to where my boss and another employee stood, watching the TV in horror.

Someone turned the volume back up and we all stood, watching the news anchor motioned to the carnage, "Firefighters are making their way into the north tower, trying to evacuate as many people as possible. Sources say that a large aircraft, presumably a jet or commercial airplane, crashed into the World Trade Center 1."

If I see you next to never
How can we say forever

As the music and soft cries and wives and husbands pulling out cell phones all faded away, I replayed what Max had been wearing that morning, (black pants and a white blouse), what she had last spoken to me, how the assistant holding her door opened had looked at her as she passed.

Then there was just movement. I was running back to my cubicle, grabbing my phone and dialing Iggy's number. I don't really remember what I had said, either. Something about getting straight to the World Trade Center as soon as possible and helping. I wasn't exactly sure how I could help, but I was going to.

I was just thanking anyone who happened to listen in that Max's office was in the south tower.

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

The ninety-seventh floor. And I was going to fly up there, if she already hadn't escaped, and get her out.

9:00 am:

I had flown down to the World Trade Center, finding police and firefighters everywhere, blocking every entrance or exit to the north tower.

"Sir, you're going to have to stay back. We're getting these people out as soon as possible," A policeman shoved me backwards into the giant crowd.

"You don't under-" But he had already moved on, shoving more people back onto the street, where car horns were making some kind of horrible and strangled music. People around me were screaming, some taking pictures with their phones, and speaking to total strangers, asking them what had happened.

Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

Then I moved on, shoving through the crowd, and dialed Max's number. Four rings and her voicemail. Damn it. As soon as I hung up, Iggy's picture appeared on my screen, and I quickly hit talk.

"Hey, Fang, where are you at? I just got off the subway. It's crowded as hell. I got Nudge to come with me so she could lead me around."

"I'm near the south tower. I just passed the north, but there are a thousand people out here. The police are trying to shove people back but I don't know what to-"

A loud noise cut me off and everyone looked to the sky, where another plane was coming, slicing through the smoke and towards the south tower.

I took for granted, all the times
That I though would last somehow
I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
But I can't get near you now

My heart stopped, my blood thickening and my stomach lurching into my throat. I heard screaming, but mine became the loudest, the closest, as people were rushing towards the tower, as if they could stop the plane.

"Max!" I dropped to my knees as the plane hit, my ears muffled for a moment, and suddenly flaming debris were landing around us. I struggled for breath and stood up, turning in circles to see if I could spot Iggy or Nudge.

Not finding them, I shoved the phone in my pocket and spread my wings, flying up towards what I had counted as the ninety-seventh floor. I busted a window, hearing screams and watching smoke pour down from above me. Knocking away the window blinds, I stalked through the offices; a door with Cantor Fitzgerald written across it was already busted out to my right. Employees were wailing, knowing that it was the end. But not for Max. Definitely not for Max. I would make damn sure of that. "Max! Max, where are you?" I shouted through the roaring flames and sobs surrounding me. There was a man in one corner, calling his whoever and telling them how much he loved them.

Oh, can't you see it baby
You've got me goin' crazy

It was like watching a death scene slowly unfold, some people around me jumping out of the windows to escape, some pulling out pocket knives to just end it right there, and some barricading themselves underneath desks, hoping that it would be enough to save them.

"Who are you looking for?" A voice spoke through the smoke to my right.

"Max Ride. She works on this floor. Do you know where she is?" The old man nodded and smiled up at me,

"Last I saw, once we got word of the north tower being hit, she ran out the door and down the stairs." That was odd. Why didn't she just fly?

"Okay. Thanks," I smiled and then took off, but before, I reached down and shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr…?"

"William Fallon Jr., and a pleasure as well." I dropped his hand, watching him for another moment. He leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands together, and hummed an old Johnny Cash tune to himself.

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

I left without another word, wishing I would stop crying because I wasn't supposed to cry. I was supposed to be the strong one of the Flock. The 'Rock of the Flock' as Nudge had nicknamed me.

My phone rang, "Fang, where the hell are you? I've been hearing people talk about some bird guy flying up into the towers and I sure as hell know it's not me! Now what the fuck are you doing?"

"I'm in the south tower looking for Max."

"Are you crazy? Why didn't you wait on us? We could have helped you and-"

"Because I didn't want to risk your lives too! One of us is bad enough."

"One? You mean two! You and Max better get out-" I ground my teeth together,

"Don't worry. Max will make it out. I'm not letting her die." Iggy was still talking when I placed the phone back into my pocket, tromping down a set of stairs until I reached another door. "Max, where are you?"

9:42 am:

No Max. I hadn't found one single hint of if she had been there, whether she had made it somewhere safe, or if, my gut and every fiber was voting against it, she had been in the upper floors. Exactly where the plane had hit. I had spent at least forty minutes searching for Max, Iggy calling me here and there trying to convince me that Max was okay.

Okay? Right. She was okay as the two tallest buildings in America were burning before us. I remember passing firefighters on my way through the stairwells and so many people. The people were everywhere, packed tightly like we had all been canned inside some tuna package of horror. Every so often, you would hear someone announce, "People are falling out. They're committing suicide."

Some people just nodded, some began sobbing a bit more, and some just rolled their eyes saying, "It's not that bad. The firefighters are helping." I don't think anyone inside those towers exactly knew how extensive the damage was. But in the end, I was one of those stuck inside the towers, too. I was forced down to the bottom with everyone else, like a flock of sheep. I couldn't open my wings wide enough to even fly down the middle of the staircases, and with all of the people and debris that was falling from inside, I wouldn't have flown for long.

But my biggest problem? Still, no Max.

Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

9:57 am:

I was somewhere on the twentieth floor when I got the call.

"Max is safe! Get out of the tower, now!"

"Max? She's out there? Let me talk to her!" The phone was fumbled with and soon my heart was filled with relief,

"Fang? Where are you? Get out here, now! I can't let you die. How could you be so stupid and go inside the tower-?" If I could have, I would have dropped to my knees and cried. But now I was the one stuck inside the tower. I was the one that needed saving.

"Listen, Max, don't worry. I'm only a few minutes from getting out. Stay where you are."

"I'm not stupid! Get out here now or I will go in for you!" I just chuckled (I think some of this was getting to my head and causing me to lose it) and answered, "Max, I love you, and I'm coming out any second. Just stay-" My phone beeped loudly and the screen went blank. Insert any cuss word you please here. And here. Here. And… here. I slammed my phone against the wall and cursed it, my cell phone company, and just about anything or anyone else I could blame for why Max might come into the tower to save me. But Iggy would never let her go, and with Nudge there, they could both hold Max back. That kept me going, knowing that everyone was safe, and maybe we could help the firefighters out and get some people to safety. Oh, and the fact that with another set of stairs, I saw a bit of natural light. The lobby.

10:01 am:

Being released from the tower was probably the greatest feeling in history. Maybe, maybe not. But you weren't there, so for all of us, it was. I actually helped a woman named Kit outside, so that she could make it out quicker on her broken leg. I bid farewell to her and then ran. I kept running, pushing past people who were standing around.

I ran through the blood and tears, of people not looking up, but instead following the line of bodies that poured out from the north tower. About three blocks down, my raptor vision finally spotted Iggy and Nudge. Whether or not they could hear me, I began shouting, "Where is she? Where is Max?" I was a broken record, repeating again and again, my voice rough and scratched.

Where. Was. Max.

Oh, can't you see it baby
You've got me goin' crazy

I tackled Iggy to the ground, slamming my fist onto his chest, "WHERE IS SHE?" Nudge ripped me off, holding me as steady as she could as Iggy stood.

"She ran away. I had her in a freaking headlock and she got away." I slammed my fist into a nearby mailbox, sending it flying, papers floating around us everywhere. Iggy had let her go? How? Did he have a death wish?

"Dude, don't worry. We called her. She's coming out. Once we saw you, she said she was headed out of the lobby." That's all I needed to know. Max and lobby. I would meet her there and make sure she never went inside ever again. My sanity couldn't take much more. This time, I flew back towards the buildings, and reached the entrance within seconds. So much for Max's "let's stay undercover and not let anyone know we're bird freaks" plan. I was trying to push through the crowd and at the same time step around the broken bodies. Max wasn't anywhere.

Then, like God had been there the whole time and had finally decided to drop the curtain, I saw black pants and a brown shirt through the mounds of people.

"FANG!" She screamed, rushing my way, as I kept on through the crowd.

I wonder how we can survive
This romance
But in the end if I'm with you
I'll take the chance

I felt tears rushing down my face, the whole Mr. Emotionless thing thrown out of the window, and then… the roars of what sounded like a train. There was a giant explosion, as if someone had set of a large bomb, and then it was just stacks and stacks collapsing on top of one another. I looked up, seeing the south tower crumpling towards us, dust and smoke rushing towards the ground faster, as it chased the people away. I was pushed back, the total opposite way I wanted to go, and I motioned for Max to fly and get out of there.

She nodded, opening her wings, just as the south tower finally plummeted onto the streets of New York City. There was a sudden emptiness, the light blocked out by the falling tower, and it was one of those moments you need to say "you just had to be there", but you wouldn't wish that on anyone else.

10:06 am:

Even though my voice was filled with smoke, I still continued to scream. The force from the building sent me back a few hundred feet. My body was now caked with what looked like yellow flour, and to my right I saw a man's body, his name tag still pinned to his shirt. I collapsed, waving away the fog to see if anyone around me had survived.

Here and there, people were milling around, but most were the same as me. Frozen. I'm not sure what I was supposed to do. When this kind of thing comes into your life, you kind of just have to stop and rearrange your thoughts.

And in these kinds of times, you don't really have the better judgment to stop and wonder what you're supposed to do. I knew what was going on. The smell of death and burnt cubicles filled my nostrils as I made my way through the crowd of people. I was the same as them for once, just staring, and wondering whether or not anyone would live. If anyone was left alive in that giant pile of rubble that used to hold businesses, fortunes, and lives. My gaze still heading upwards, I watched the north tower burn, its figure appearing out of the smoke.

It took me another moment to realize Max wasn't in the air.

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

But something was wrong. The world didn't feel any different, besides from the obvious collapse of a building with about one thousand people inside it. And if Max had died, I was sure there would be some way to tell. Besides, my heart would have stopped along with hers. I would gladly throw myself in front of a train for her and she would do the same for me without a single opposition.

I tried standing up and found that I could not, so I sank back down onto the sidewalk. My eyes traveled back to the body that lay underneath a pile of metal sheets.

Then, through the smog and death and tears and pain, a voice spoke.

"Fang! Fang, where are you? Oh, God…." I opened my mouth to speak, but was stopped when a pair of arms wrapped tightly around me. Max was brushing away the dirt, planting kisses all over my face. She sat down on my lap, gripping my shoulders tightly as she buried her face into my chest. "I thought I'd lost you. Oh, Fang, I couldn't find you. I thought… thought the tower had collapsed on top of you. You were gone and I was searching the skies for you because I used my super speed to get out of there quickly but then I came back and you weren't-" I placed a single finger onto her lips, watching as she slowly lifted her head and broke out into fresh tears. I kissed her softly, my arms tightly around her, and whispered soothing words into her hair.

Soon, a fresh rain sprinkled about us, a few drops landing on my arms and back, before a shower came down around us. I stood up, picking up Max bridal style and carrying her down the street through the debris and past the still-standing north tower. I kept going until I found Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel waiting on a corner, eyes lit up and tears pouring out of them.

Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

"Max! Fang!" Angel cried out as she raced towards us, followed by the rest of the Flock. We stood there in the middle of New York City, amid the terror and wreckage, gripping and hugging each other like some PG-13 rated Disney movie.

It was the greatest moment in my life and, at the same time, the worst. Our Flock was together and we were safe, and still the World Trade Center's south tower was smoldering right behind us, people weeping and praying for those fallen and the ones still stuck inside the north tower.

Tuesday Morning

10:05 am:

At exactly 10:05, there was a moment of silence for the south tower and its fallen members. In ten minutes, there would be a moment of silence for the Pentagon. And in about twenty-five minutes, America would have another moment of silence for the north tower. The newspaper's headline that had been dropped on our front stoop read One Year Anniversary of 9/11.

Just outside our window, you could see the New York City skyline, and a blank space where the towers once stood, opening more sunlight to the dark city. We'll always look back at that day in history, knowing it was the day that America stood together as one whole nation, the day when everyone proudly waved their American flags around, the day some fathers didn't come home, some sisters and brothers weren't at Thanksgiving, co-workers went missing, and children would take their last plane ride.

Above our fireplace, a painting hangs in memoriam of the attacks- a single, battered American flag floating in the wind as firefighters, police, paramedics, and other citizens stand around it, translucent against the colorful stars and stripes of freedom.

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

AN:

This story is dedicated to all who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001, and whose families waited hours and days to receive the news their loved one wasn't coming home.

The names used in this story were actual people who lost their lives on September 11th:

William Fallon Jr.- Age 53. Died in World Trade Center

Kit Faragher- Age 33. Died in World Trade Center

Business inside Twin Towers mentioned: Cantor Fitzgerald

Song: "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx