Your Friendly Neighborhood Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride or anything associated with it. I do not own Fang (yet, hee hee). I am also poor and have no money, so suing me would get you nowhere, anyway. So, please don't. Thank you and have a glorious day full of happiness and contentment. And stuff.

A Note!: I feel the need to add today, March 18, 2009, that this story takes place after The Final Warning. Now that the new book's out, I need to inform the populace...

I loved staying at Mom's (Dr. Martinez for you clueless ones). It felt like, well, home. And lately, we'd been lucky enough to be able to stay at her place with Ella and Jeb for a while, 'till we planned our next move. And, yes, I had considered that our next move should be 'stay here and live with Mom forever' but the Voice and Jeb had to butt in and reminded me that the safety of the world as we know it was at stake. So off to save the world it is. The cookies will have to wait.

One could get used to living here, though. Especially if their last home-away-from-home was mountain cave full of bats (that Nudge was convinced were going to fly in her hair. Wouldn't take her head out of Fang's backpack for an hour. You can imagine how he felt about that.). I even got to share a room with Ella while I was here. Likewise, Nudge bunked with Angel, Gazzy stayed with Iggy, and the Prince of Darkness and Solitude, Fang, slept alone. Total, meanwhile, shared the couch with Akila.

As usual, I was up before Ella, who would sleep through 'till noon if you let her. I got dressed and headed for the kitchen. Mom was already up and working on a pot of coffee. I said 'morning' to her, and then looked around the kitchen for Fang. He was always up before me. I used to joke that he must be part rooster because he was always up at the crack of dawn. He was nowhere to be seen.

"Hey. Where's Fang?" I asked Mom. "Have you seen him?"

"Nope." She answered. "Maybe he's pulling his little disappearing act again?"

I rolled my eyes. Ever since we'd got here, Fang had been 'practicing' his new power, staying perfectly still, usually around hallways or in empty rooms, until someone(usually me) walked by. Suddenly, he'd magically appear, scaring the feathers off of whomever it was that'd just innocently turned the corner. He was getting annoying.

"Well, if that's what's up, I'm sure he spring out of the woodwork." Literally. "Meanwhile, I'll get some toast started." It was the one thing I could cook almost successfully.

"I'll make eggs!" Iggy's voice came from the hall. He turned the corner. "Morning all."

"Morning." We both replied. Dr. Martinez headed over to the fridge.

"How about I make some orange juice?" She said, holding up a couple of oranges from the fridge.

"Sounds good to me." I replied.

"Sweet." Said Iggy, starting up the stove. Dr. Martinez got him a carton of eggs to start with. Our big mutant-majority family could go through a couple of those cartons, easy.

"Hey," Said Ig, "Fang not up yet?"

"I don't know, we think he might be pulling his Houdini act again." I answered.

"Hey, Fang!" Iggy called. "Just to let you know, there's a new house rule. Invisible people don't get fed!"

We laughed. "That should get him to stop." I said.

Suddenly, I smelt something burning. Uh-oh…

"The toast!" I yelled, diving toward the toaster.

"Oh, goody! Maximum's Special Charcoal Toast Recipe again!" Iggy laughed.

I repressed the urge to chuck the toaster at him, and settled for glaring menacingly in his direction, which, of course, did nothing.

I hate cooking.

Fang was on fire. He was surrounded by it. There were scientists aiming flamethrowers at him. Trees were on fire. The sky was bright red. There was a penguin staring at him. Wait, a penguin? Oh well. He tried to fly away, but then, a Flyboy grabbed him by his legs, yanking him down. He screamed and…

Shot straight up in bed, mouth open in a silent scream.

It was a good thing his scream had been silent, because he wasn't sure that his throat could've taken him actually screaming. It hurt badly enough that he wondered if he could talk. He tried. His voice sounded kind of cracked.

He flopped back on his pillow, trying to find a cold spot. His face felt hot. Strangely, though, the rest of him was freezing. He curled up under the blankets, wrapping his wings around himself. He started thinking back on his dream.

"I guess I get what all the fire was about." He thought, burrowing his face into a different cold spot on the pillow. "But the penguin? What the heck! Whatever. I wonder what's up with me, anyway?"

H never really considered that he might be sick. He was always the healthiest one of the Flock, usually the only one not to catch whatever bug the others did.

He rolled over, looking for the next cool place on his pillow, and went back to sleep. He was dead tired and figured he'd figure it out in the morning. Heck, he even thought it might all be gone by morning. Just a freak illness or something. Maybe he was dreaming it. He felt kind of out of it anyway, like he was half-asleep or something. "Yeah." He convinced himself as he drifted off. "It'll all be gone by morning."

If any of this sounds downright weird to you, like, for instance, the whole penguin thing, just remember this; I wrote this whole chapter while on cold meds. I'm not responsible for anything I say or do while on meds.

By the way, the penguin has a name. It's Pooky. Don't ask. I had to add that for my friend, Andrew. 