It was no surprise Fang couldn't sleep. It was a hot summer night and he was beyond uncomfortable. The flock had found this abandoned condo near the edges of the Rocky Mountain National Park. The area was completely abandoned except for a small horse ranch a few miles up the road. It looked big from the outside, but it only had two bedrooms and one bathroom. Max had insisted that the boys stay in one room while the girls slept in another. It was hard to sleep in a room with two other boys in July with no air conditioning and the windows all boarded up.
He'd woken in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat and thirsty. He kicked the blankets off and rolled onto a colder place on the hardwood floor. Just as he was drifting off again, Angel walked out of the bathroom, waking him up. Her bleary eyes and tired expression speared him through the heart. She was just a child and she was living like a criminal. Little girls should have a pile of stuffed animals and a comfortable bed to call her own. He wished he could provide for them properly. He sighed and stood up.
The other boys were sound asleep, Izzy letting out a soft snore every few seconds. Fang tiptoed across the room, careful not to step on a creaky floorboard, and started down the hallway. He passed the open door to the girls' room and stopped to check on them.
Nudge and Angel shared the queen bed: Nudge on the right, arm hanging off the bed; Angel on the left, curled into a ball like a puppy. Max lay on the floor, blankets at her feet, her shirt riding up her abdomen. He smiled at the predictability of it all. He headed down the hall and up the stairs to the kitchen.
Thankfully, the electricity and gas were still on. Fang and Izzy had tried to fix the air conditioner when they'd first gotten there that evening, but with no success. They'd all had refreshing showers and a hot meal before retiring for the night. Fang opened the freezer door and stood in the cold air for a few minutes. He noticed the thermometer outside on the balcony read 75 degrees. The one inside read 90 something. He knew they should have left a door open to cool off. Max had been worried about someone breaking in while they slept. Good thing she was asleep. Fang opened all the doors to the condo except the front door and the whole house cooled down dramatically.
As he walked back towards his room, he heard Max mumbling in her sleep. He pushed the door open a little wider. When he leaned into the room, he could see she was still sleeping, peaceful for once, the lines on her forehead relaxed. He almost laughed at the comical way she was sprawled out. He could hear the fan blades slicing through the stiff air above him, trying uselessly to cool down the tiny room.
When Max sighed and rolled away from him, he turned back into the hallway. He knew he was reading into it, but even in her sleep, she rejected him. He suddenly felt so alone, wandering around at night, watching people sleep while they were so vulnerable. He shouldn't have felt that way. He was Fang. Silent, stoic, emotionless Fang. When she sniffed and moved farther away from him, he felt his heart drop like the Tower of Doom.
He'd tried to do everything that was best for his family, especially Max. He was the oldest male. It only made sense that he should be in charge of protecting and caring for them. But Max filled that role, too. And she never accepted anything from him, even things she really wanted. He didn't even know why he tried anymore. He knew he'd hurt her when he left those months ago. He'd hurt her and she might never heal from it. But that didn't mean he wouldn't try to make up for it.
He wandered back to his room and lay down on the cold floor. He could hear Izzy's breathing on the other side of the room. It sounded deafening in the silent of the night, keeping him mercilessly awake.