Max groaned out loud.
She was alone in the house.
Since the flock had settled down in an old farmhouse near Mrs. Martinez and Ella's in Arizona, the flock had started to feel safe in their new home, and had even started going to school.
They seemed to have made several friends already, all of them but Max, who sat at home all the time, cleaning, reading, or just thinking of all the things that could go wrong while the rest of the flock was out.
But, having already completed those tasks, plus lazily surfing all the TV channels without finding anything of interest, Max was BORED, which was a rare occurrence.
She thought about it, Angel was at a birthday party, Gazzy was with his friend Dylan playing a new Xbox 360 game or something, Nudge was at the mall with the rest of her gaggle of friends, and Iggy and Fang were at the skate park.
Even Ella and Mrs. Martinez had gone to get Ella some new shoes for a dance.
Max hated the feeling of being alone; it made her feel really small and friendless.Max Pov
I know, I really don't have any friends at this point, even being here for six months hasn't changed my total belief in the fact that if we DO make any friends, we'll just get run off to some nowhere again and deal with it all over again, so why bother?
That's me for you, optimistic Max.
But the whole "Leave Max alone for all eternity" thing was getting old fast.
Later that evening, the flock FINALLY managed to straggle together for dinner, and I was not happy.
Why, you ask?
Well eating dinner at 9:00 just because that's when everyone managed to get their butts home really did not appeal to me.
I had made a perfect meal, I even went all out and set the table, I put all the food in dishes, lit candles and dimmed the lights a little bit.
The flock came in and stared in awe at the plate heaped high with fried chicken, and the steaming bowls filled with veggies and mashed potatoes, Iggy just kind of smelled in awe.
Gazzy pulled Iggy toward the table and started to sit down when I grabbed his arm.
"Not so fast," I said, smiling mischievously, " the only way you guys get to eat is if you promise to spend tomorrow as a flock, as a FAMILY."
Groans erupted and Gazzy was the first to start.
"AWW! Come on! Dylan just got the new Grand Theft Auto game and he's inviting Steve AND Randy over to play." Gazzy said, lower lip trembling.
"But Sylvia's mom said that she'd take us to get our nails done!" Nudge whined.
"And they're opening up the new rail at the park tomorrow and-"
I cut him off.
"Well you guys could go do that stuff, that is," I grinned slyly, "if you want to eat PB and Js in the kitchen while I enjoy." I sat down and folded my hands in my lap, showing them that I was totally serious.
A chorus of "fines" and "whatever" filled my ears as the flock sat down, pouting.
Ahh. Victory is sweet.
"What are we going to do then?" Gazzy asked, reaching for a large leg of chicken.
I was totally surprised at this question, considering I was just happy to spend some quality time with them.
"Uhhh…" I started,
" OOOOHHHH!!! I KNOW!" shouted Nudge, her mouth filled with mashed potatoes, eyes wide.
"Chew, swallow, then speak." I reminded her, eying the small spatter of chewed potato on the table.
"So I was talking to Rena the other day, and she was all like, 'did you hear about the fair this weekend?' And I was all like 'no', so she was talking to me about it. There's gonna be rides, and animals and stuff! Please Max? PLEEEAAASEEE?"
I hesitated for a minute, a Fair was an open space, but with a TON of people, a quick getaway might be difficult.
But I thought of alternatives, there really weren't that many, so I decided to see how it would play out.
I looked at the rest of the flock, arching my eyebrow, "What's the verdict guys? Is the fair okay?"
Angel nodded vigorously and started bouncing up and down in her seat.
"We're goin' to the fa-air." She sing-songed while trying to eat a forkful of mixed veggies.
And of course Gazzy had to start.
"Corn dogs! Yeah!" He said, poking Iggy in the ribs, causing him to jerk to the side and spit out a mouthful of partially chewed chicken.
"Fang," I asked, " Is that okay with you?"
He nodded while gnawing on a chicken leg
"Whatever." He said.Fang POV
"Then its settled" I said, smiling triumphantly " Now who's gonna help me clean up?"
And let me tell you, I have NEVER seen those kids move faster, the only thing left was Iggy, sitting at his place.
"What happened?" he said, feeling around for the Gasman, who had already fled to the safety of his room.
"You're going to help me clean up." I said
"Crap." Was all he said.
The next day, everyone woke up early.
I made sure they were showered, wearing clothes with no holes and happy expressions, well mostly happy expressions, except Ig, who was still mad that I made him help me clean up the table.
Usually it wasn't my thing to make sure everyone looked presentable, but for some reason I just felt like the flock SHOULDN'T look like a wind-blown, battle-scarred pack of skinny kids.
Don't ask me why, I just felt motherly all the sudden.
Angel was pretty upset though, on account that I told her that Total probably wouldn't be allowed inside the Fair.
"But why!" she had protested, bottom lip quivering
"Because there'll be other animals there, and they might scare him." I said, knowing that that was total crap, but it might be hard to explain to six-year-old Angel that a dog that wouldn't shut up would be easily caught and hauled away by a bunch of country folk.
But now we were all on the field behind our house, preparing to take off.
Angel, Gazzy and Iggy were already hovering in the air.
I watched Fang take off, his dark wings huge and evil looking against the greens and blues of the field.
Last off the ground was me, but after a quick run and jump I was ascending, followed closely by the flock, our plan was to fly the short six miles to the fairgrounds, then land somewhere hidden and walk the rest of the way.
I savored the wind rushing through my hair and on my face, it had been a while since I had flown, considering there was never anyone home to fly with.
I was a bit disappointed when Fang pointed out a place hidden by a clump of scraggly trees to land.
We landed, then walked in a normal fashion to the gates of the Fair, as we got closer, Angel and Nudge's eyes got bigger and bigger.
The tops of some of the rides could be seen, and the smell of hamburgers, cotton candy and livestock drifted into our senses.
Iggy hummed along to the happy tunes produced by the carousel while we paid our way through the gate.
As soon as we were through, the little kids started in.
"Oh, Max! Everything's so cool! Can I go on the Ferris wheel?"
"Yeah! And I want to see the horses and stuff!"
"Hey Max, did you hear they have a pie eating contest? I want to enter! I'm gonna kick everybody's-"
"Slow down, Gazzy!" I handed each bird kid a ten-dollar bill and told them all to be back at 2 and to stay together.
No sooner had I stopped talking when Angel and Nudge ran off in the direction of the sounds of various farm animals, and Gazzy was tugging Iggy in the direction of the signs boasting all kinds of food and homemade stuff, which left me and Fang alone.
He kind of looked at me awkwardly.
"So, how's life?" he asked, observing his worn-out, dirty Vans with great interest.
"Not bad." I said
"It's cool to finally get to hang out with you again."
Well whose fault is THAT? I thought, but I melted a little, it so wouldn't help our relationship to go all frost queen all the sudden.
Our relationship. That sounded so weird and foreign to me lately.
"So, Uhhh, ya want to go grab a soda or something?" He asked, staring into my eyes.
I brightened a little.
About four hours later, it felt so much like it used to between me and Fang that I wanted to scream in triumph.
We had drunk sodas, eaten a bunch of corndogs, ridden some of the probably illegal rides, and had tried some of those dumb midway games, which explained the little teddy bear key chain that Fang had won for me dangling from my belt loop.
We had looked at some of the prize-winning animals, and watched some dogs do an agility course.
"Not Total in a million years." I had said, and then Fang and I started to laugh so hard we almost cried.
"We've got like ten minutes before we have to meet the other kids at the grand stand, is there anything else you want to do?" Fang asked, shoving more kettle corn into his mouth.
It was then I noticed that we were standing in front of the Tunnel of Love, and that's when it started to get awkward again.
"Uhhh, well, I…" I stammered.
"We should get in line." He said, as he threw the empty paper bag away and motioned toward the growing line of couples holding hands, waiting to get onto one of those weird swan boat things.
"Yeah!" I said, trying (but failing) to not sound overjoyed or awkwarded-out.
About five minutes later we were drifting slowly down the little river, Fang held my hand and we just sat together for a little while.
He was really super close to me, which normally would've creeped me out, but I was surprisingly relaxed, my head gently rested against his broad, muscular shoulder.
He started to play with my hair, twisting it around his finger and running his fingers through it.
He touched my neck gently, which made me tense slightly.
He raised my head a little, so I could look into his deep, penetratingly dark eyes, he didn't say anything, he didn't have to.
His calm expression seemed sweet to me, and he kissed me lightly.
It was then that I knew that I would never lose him, he would always be part of me, even if he was not directly with me.
I also knew that I would always love him.
A little while later, we met the rest of the kids at the grandstand.
Angel was carrying a bag of cotton candy, while Nudge was hugging a stuffed horse to her chest, Iggy was munching on a cookie almost the size of his head.
Gazzy was the last to come back, he wore a proud expression, a gold medal and his signature scent of flatulence.
"Lemme guess," I said, eying the gold medal with a pie etched into the center, "You won the pie-eating contest.
"Yup!" he said proudly, letting another one rip.
The entire flock protested in disgust.
"Dude! You're sleeping on the couch tonite!" Iggy said, pinching his nostrils.
We all laughed, and headed back out to our spot in the back of the grassy parking lot and took off toward home.
Max? Angel's thought was waved telepathically to my brain.
What sweetie? I thought back, flying a little closer.
Can we come back tommarow?
I thought for a minute
We'll see, I thought, We'll see.