It was no surprise Fang couldn't sleep. It was a hot summer night and he was beyond uncomfortable in the small room. The flock had found this abandoned condo near the edges of Rocky Mountain National Park a few hours ago and had immediately settled in for some rest. The area was completely abandoned except for a small horse ranch a few miles up the road and a set of train tracks half a mile away. It had looked big from the outside, but they found it only had two bedrooms and one bathroom on the ground floor and a large living space and kitchen upstairs. 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 sealed boarded up.
He'd woken after just a few hours, soaked in sweat and thirsty. He kicked the blankets off and rolled over onto a colder place on the hardwood floor. Just as he was on the edge of drifting off again, Angel walked out of the bathroom across the hall, waking him up. He watched her pad her way up the hall, rubbing the sleep from his eyelids. 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 after a few minutes of tossing and turning and stood up.
The other boys were sound asleep. Iggy letting out a soft snore every few seconds and Gazzy lay there with his mouth hanging open, dead to the world. Fang sat up and tiptoed across the room, careful not to step on any creaky floorboards or any stray fingers, and started down the hallway. He passed the open door to the girls' room on his way 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. Of course Max would have given the bed two the younger girls, even though all three of them could have fit. He headed down the hall and up the stairs to the kitchen.
Thankfully, the electricity and water were still on. Fang and Iggy had tried to fix the air conditioner when they'd first gotten there that evening, but with no success, mostly because they'd never had AC of their own and knew nothing about the system. They'd all had refreshing showers and a hot meal of noodles and a can of Vienna sausages 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 a little bit at least. Max had been worried about someone breaking in while they slept, since no one was staying awake to keep watch. Good thing she was asleep. Fang opened the patio door as far as it would go and the whole house cooled down dramatically in just a few minutes.
As he walked back towards his room, he heard Max mumbling in her sleep. He couldn't make out what she said. He pushed the door open a little wider and snuck his head around the door frame. 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, shirt riding up, hair and limbs flung around her.
When Max sighed and rolled away from him, curling onto her side, he turned back towards 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 in a stranger's house, 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 Iggy's heavy breathing on the other side of the room. It sounded deafening in the silent of the night, keeping him mercilessly awake.