AN: This was originally a Miggy that decided it didn't want to be a Miggy and was therefore rewritten as a Fax. This is largely due to the fact that I realized in my quest to prove all pairings are equal, I ignored my favorite pairing. So now enjoy a fluffily perfect Fax oneshot that is way too long to be a oneshot but is one anyway.
Seventeen Weeks and a Day:
Staring blankly ahead
Just making my way
making a way
through the crowd
And I need you
And I miss you
and now I wonder....
If I could fall
Into the sky
Do you think time
Would pass me by
'Cause you know I'd walk
A thousand miles
If I could
Just see you
It wasn't the first time she's been here, tied up in the dark. But it wasn't the same. This was a different darkness, a never-ending and terrifying darkness that overwhelmed the senses. Lying in the dirt that she hadn't seen in longer then she could remember, she didn't cry. Her tears were used up. She could barely remember, in the back of her mind, coming here, being pushed into this dark and dirty hole. The sound of the door closing, a final echoing snap far behind her. It had opened again, of course, but never again had it brought with it any light. She wasn't tied up anymore. The binds had fallen away after but a day of struggling. But that had not helped. She couldn't escape. She tried, of course, she tried. She screamed and shouted till her voice grew to hoarse to whisper. She banged her fists against the iron door until they began to bleed. She'd scratched and pulled with all her might, trying to force the door to crack but succeeded only in breaking three fingers, losing more blood. No one ever talked to her. She fell asleep eventually. And when she woke, there was food. She tried to fake slumber, allude to a safe passage for her unknown captors. But whoever they were, they were clever and never fooled. And the few tries they'd left her without food or water for two days. She stopped trying, after that.
It took ten days for the real fear to set in, so much more intense and binding then when she'd been forced into the room. No one talked to her and she never saw anyone. She began to wonder if she was even really alive. No one tried to rescue her, she never heard a sound that was not her own. And after a while, she began to wonder if anyone ever would.
She tried to remember what had happened, how she had gotten to this hell. She ran that day over and over in her mind, a constant soundtrack to her darkness.
They had been flying, she and Fang in the lead, nothing unusual there. She loved flying, the feeling of the wind in her hair, a feeling that they could go anywhere, do anything. It was a happy feeling, a safe feeling. A quiet, peaceful world all their own. Just them and the birds, a world of freedom for them to explore.
That was, when the silence lasted.
"I'm HUNGRY!" Nudge shrieked in a piercing whine.
They'd set up camp in the woods. Iggy had started a fire and was roasting hotdogs. Fang was glued to the shining screen of his laptop. Angel, Gazzy and Nudge had taken to the air for a game of tag, leaving max free to fish out an old paperback she'd snitched at their last stop and find a quiet stop in a tree to read, waiting for one of her siblings to come and interrupt her for supper.
It never happened.
There hadn't been any sign of life near the clearing they'd settled in that night. It was pretty, the tall pines not even slightly disturbed by the strengthening breeze. Beautiful really, with the sun beams flittering softly through the branches.
She had started running even before she fully registered Angel's scream. She'd found Fang, holding his arm tight to his side, it was bleeding, but neither were interested in tending it at the moment. Without a word they'd rushed back to camp, not a heartbeat going unanswered in the silence between them.
Erasers. Not flyboys or some new deformed monster, just good old-fashioned dogs. They stood in the camp, not an avian to be seen. Suddenly one of them spotted the two and then the shouting began. Fang had wanted to run but Max stood her ground, waiting for the erasers to reach them. They didn't know where the flock was, what if they had them? Fang hadn't liked it, he wanted to attack or flee, fight or flight. But Max stood her ground; they had to find out what was going on first. All the while the erasers were growling and snapping at each other, as if having a wordless conversation regarding the fate of the two teenagers before them. It was all extremely surreal, everyone standing around arguing instead of trying to tear each other's heads off.
Then one of the erasers lunged without warning, claws extended and teeth bared. A burning shock run up Max's left leg as he sunk his teeth into it. She fell to the ground before Fang could react. Then he was a blur, attacking first the one hovering over her and then the others. She lay there on the ground, unable to move as the erasers ganged up on Fang. Slowly her vision blurred and Max realized it was from loss of blood. She heard voices and then, in a shocking horror, watched as Fang finally fell on the ground next to her. She tried to scream, but nothing came. Then she felt herself rising above the ground, the pain raged as she was thrown over someone's shoulders like a sack of potatoes. All the while she kept her gaze on Fang, watching finally as she saw first Nudge then Gazzy reach him. Then they vanished she didn't even know if they followed after her, she was too far gone. There was her last glimpse of light as her cell door closed behind her, then nothing.
She kept careful track of the days, measured by her meals instead the usual night and day. The meals themselves were a fitting time piece, stale and consisting largely of dry bread and hard cheese eaten in the dark.
She no longer feared the darkness, it was merely the background for her patience. After all, Fang didn't give up and the flock would be by his side every step of the way. She knew, at least, that they had escaped. And through she'd surely enjoy the company, she wouldn't ever wish such a horror on them, especially Fang. God only knew what so much blackness would do to his personality.
That thought made her smile, it wasn't a real smile, but it was better. She wasn't without anything here in this dark cell, she had hope.
After thirty days she knew it was beginning to get to her. The shadows hovered on the corners of her mind, demanding entrance. Fang wouldn't do well here. So much alone time would do terrible things to his soundness of mind.
She had that too, the knowledge that at least it was her here in this hell and not him.
She missed him. So much. More than the flock, or her mother, or coffee, or reality, or chocolate chip cookies.
After fifty days she had to resort to desperate measure to keep the shadows at bay. She began to daydream. She imagined all the things she'd never done. All the things she was going to do if she got out of this hole.
When she got out. She had to believe that. She had to give him more time. He couldn't find her if she was nothing to find. She had to keep her mind intact, for him.
But he better hurry up.
She tried singing to herself, tunes that she'd listened to back at the old house. Ones she'd heard the kids singing around the fire. But after a while she began to forget the words. Then she'd just hum softly, anything to drown out the silence.
That was when the shadows began to break through, her mind was no longer always her own. She spent the days curled up in the corner, far from the door that had led her here as possible. Her knees tucked in close to her chest, she dreamed. She dreamed of Fang's arms, wrapping around her, of Iggy's smiling face, Angel's happy tears, Nudge blabbering on so fast Max couldn't understand her, Gazzy hugging her legs… Of spreading her wings wide, leaping into air, to freedom…
These kept her going for another twenty days.
After that the true darkness came, faceless shapes and voices formed in the shadows. She didn't sing anymore, forgetting the tunes as well as the lyrics. She became afraid to even whisper, worried she's open her mouth to use her voice only to find that she didn't have one anymore.
Finally she stopped fighting the darkness, just settling with existing within in it... slowly drowning. She began to forget was noise was. The only sounds she could recall being the scraping she made while moving around and her own breath forcing her chest to rise and fall. She couldn't remember Iggy's condescending laughter or Fang's soft voice. She could still remember him though, what he looked like when he smiled. And she held on to that, because nothing else could be trusted. She became exhausted if she tried to think about anything anymore, so she just held that picture, held him in her mind. That was all she could find the strength to do anymore, sleep and remember him.
Even though she hadn't stopped hoping, after a hundred days she began to believe she might not be alive when they finally got here. When he finally got here would he gather her lifeless body, a shell instead of her. The thought made her fight all the harder.
She knew she was losing weight, during the occasional brief moments of logic she noticed that her bones were grafting to her skin. That she was becoming very weak with only bread and water to eat for and hundred and fifteen days.
She was losing her grip on reality; She could feel it slipping, slowly. She had no control, it just continued sliding downward, meeting less and less resistance.
Sometimes, when she was falling asleep she would be gripped by sense that this was it. He was coming, but he would be much too late. He'd find her here, in this dark and lonely place, curled into a ball as she was now. All she had to do was close her eyes and let the end come.
It never happened.
She hadn't moved for three days when she heard the shouting. It was then she knew she was cracked. There were crashing sounds above her and tears began to soak the ground around her face. Soon she'd forget what sanity even was. One hundred and twenty days had passed, and now she was completely gone. She'd try to remember the number…
Then came the scream. A wonderful, familiar perfect scream. And it was then she knew for sure that she was hallucinating. Because only one little girl could scream like that. The tears began to pour out harder.
She wished the end would come already, so she could get some peace.
Suddenly she felt the light against her closed lids, but instead of opening them, she cringed back. The light was unfamiliar now, a stranger. Even though she'd never given up on rescue she knew she'd never again see the light. And now it was flooding her senses and she wasn't sure how to react. She wasn't sure she wanted to react. Then the voices started again, the voices of the shadows that had been silenced for months. They were whispering, saying her name.
Wait, her name? They'd never done that before. Always just jumbled whispers, never coherent. Never so precise and never her name.
"Come one Max, come back. Open your eyes Max. I'm here. I'm here and I'm not leaving, Max. Max, Max, I'm so sorry…"
It was a very sweet voice, not the same one that had whispered nothings to her in the shadows. It was the voice of a guardian angel.
The angel-voice whispered. And Max realized she knew it.
"F-fang?" Her voice sounded so strange to her ears. A hushed whisper that cracked and groaned. He heard her of course, and suddenly she felt herself being crushed tightly to him. He was here, really here. And she wasn't dead.
"Open your eyes, Max. I'm here I've got you. We'll be out of here soon." His voice was so reassuring and soft, like a wave crashing over a beach that hadn't felt water in a hundred years. With agonizing slowness she tried to obey, prying her eyes open with all her might. Then she saw him, a blurry outline among the harsh white, his sharp jaw line, his passionate eye boring into her.
And then she began to cry again.
"Max," Fang whispered, he was holding her, they were walking, he had her bridal style in his arms. Evidentially the danger was passed. Max thought she could see the outline of trees behind Fang, but she wasn't willing to look away from his face just yet in order to check.
"Don't cry Max. I got you. I'm never letting go." Which only managed to make her cry harder.
"The light." Max managed to whisper. "It hurts… so much." She felt the corners of her mouth turn up at the pain and she smiled at him.
"Angel's waiting for you, Max." Fang said, knowing this would encourage her more than anything.
Then she fell asleep.
She remembers a glimpse of her flock hovering above her all smiling and crying.
Max knew that she was home
THIS IS A LINE BREAK, REALLY IT IS, I PROMSIE THAT THIS IS A REAL AND ACTUAL LINE REALLY I'M NOT KIDDING THIS IS A REAL, TRUE HONEST TO GOODNESS LINE!!!!!!!
It had been three days since she'd flew in Fang's arms to Arizona and Dr. Martinez had put her in this bed, Fang hadn't left her side since finding her in the cell. He rarely stopped touching her, even if it was only a grip on her shoulder or his hand lying next to hers, he stayed as close as he could under Dr. Mom's watchful gaze. Dr. Martinez had banned the rest of the flock from her room except during express visiting hours. She had tried to bane Fang too but Max had used the last reserves of strength to reach out her boney fingers to grasp his hand. She couldn't find enough energy to tell him to stay, but her point was made and Dr. Martinez reluctantly allowed him to pull up and chair by Max's bedside. It probably wouldn't have worked except Fang had squeezed her hand and smiled. Unknown to Max, this was the first time Fang had smiled in seventeen weeks.
He hadn't said anything at first, just sat next to her and held her hand, smiling whenever she managed to get her eye open. Dr. Martinez had ignored him, bustling about the darkened room that would grow slowly brighter, allowing her to get used to the light again.
Finally she had left the two alone. As soon as the door close Fang reached out his unoccupied hand to stroke her left cheek, looking at her silently, as if he couldn't believe she was real.
It was then Max found enough strength to speak, snap at him really. She couldn't take the silence anymore. She needed noise, chatter; anything to assure her this wasn't another dream.
She needed distractions, and he was the perfect provider in that regard.
He obediently began to talk, going on and on about everything that had happened in her absence, from the vital to the humanly trivial.
He'd started with her story, since in truth that was the only thing he had thought about for more than a couple of seconds while she was away.
She'd been kidnapped by a group outside of Itex who believed the flock to be Itex agents sent to destroy their nearby facility. They were rebels who had been hardened by war, and were thereby even more paranoid then the flock was now. No contact, no give, no negotiation. Max was deemed the very essence of what they hated and they locked her up without trial because they had been locked up themselves. They were hoping the flock would give up on her.
"But that didn't happen." Max whispered with a smile, but Fang frowned.
"Not exactly, no. I… We; Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, Angel and I. We never gave up on you. But after a few months we needed help. We didn't know where to look. So we went to… to the source."
"Is that why Anne is here?" Max asked, remembering glimpsing the women before Dr. Martinez could shoo her out when she'd first woken up.
"Yes, but we didn't start with her. First we found Jeb, and he helped us to look. But after a while, even he didn't know where to keep searching. That's when we contacted Itex." For the first time since he'd started talking Fang looked away. Staring at the ground. Max almost gasped when she realized how yellow his skin was, how dark and deep the circles under his eyes were. His eyes were bright with anger though, glaring at the floor, his grip on her hand tightened almost painfully.
"They left Jeb in charge of the search, for a while. As long as we let them… keep an eye on us. Study us really. Sometimes they'd want us to run an experiment in exchange for their help. And if it wasn't too radical, we'd do it."
"Oh, Fang." Max's heart was breaking. It was like the school all over again. Only this time they couldn't fight back.
"Don't be upset, Max." Fang said, looking back at her again. "It wasn't that bad and we didn't let them near Gazzy or Angel."
As if that was supposed to make her feel better.
Itex had been here, among her flock. They'd being giving them orders and using them and the flock had complied because of her.
But it was over now. They would leave if they had to. Run, they'd done it before. Fang was launching into a description of how they had found her and Max struggled to pay attention. She was back, here. That was what mattered. She could kill Anne later. Sometime during his recount she'd fallen asleep. But he'd been there when she'd woken up, even though the whole house was dark and she could hear the slow breathing of sleeping figures in the room down the hall. He was still there, clutching her hand, his eyes closed as he dozed lightly by her side. She couldn't bear to wake him and she fell asleep staring at him, only to have him fill her in on the rescue story the moment he woke up the next day. He told her how Nudge had picked up on some information by touching a defector's old photograph on a visit to Itex headquarters (the thought of which sent shivers down Max's spine), recounted a huge argument in her Mom's living room, Iggy's cautious support of Nudge, and finally Itex's threats (none of which had really weighed heavy on the decision) and finally the rescue mission itself, all while giving her that I'm-not-entirely-sure-I-didn't-dream-the–whole-thing smile of his.
"It's really Nudge who did the heavy lifting." Fang said, the smile disappearing. "She was ready to do anything to save you Max. If she hadn't found that trace… I'm not sure what you would've come home too." She picked up on a note of conviction in his tone, like it would have been his fault if Nudge had done… whatever it was Itex wanted her to do in order to save her. And also… regret. Like he should have been the one to give his all for her.
Shaking it off, Fang looked at her with a lopsided smile. "Apparently we just can't live without you, Max. Looks like you're stuck with us."
Max smiled and reached up to touch his cheek lightly. "I missed you Fang."
Fang froze for a second under her touch, and then smiled again. He didn't believe her, didn't get it. She knew him well enough to read it in his eyes and know that he wasn't allowing himself to believe.
Well, she could be stubborn too.
"I need to get out of here." Max said suddenly, swinging her legs off the side. It'd been three days and she felt rejuvenated. She wasn't tired anymore. She didn't want to do this here and she didn't have too.
"Where?" Fang asked cautiously, looking like he was ready to call for Dr. Martinez.
"Anywhere, I don't care. I just want out of this room."
Fang frowned, but stood up. "Alright, let me go get you a jacket or something." Max looked down at herself and noticed she was wearing only a too-big nightgown over her sickly thin frame.
Half an hour later, and after a little help from Nudge to get into her clothes, Max was ready to go. Fang had his arm around her firmly, but not very tight, as if he was worried she'd fall but also worried she'd bruise if he held her too tightly. As soon as they were clear of the house Fang swung her up bridal style and took to the air. They flew for awhile, just enjoying each other. Max realized how light she was. Fang didn't even seem to be struggling under the extra weight. She was literally light as a feather.
Finally he set down in a quiet clearing, allowing them both a moment to rest. She sat down on the cool grass, just enjoying the feeling of being outside again, completely wrapped up in that single sensation.
She felt his eyes on her; she'd always been able to feel it when he stared. She felt it most of all now, since she had become so numb to the sensation. Unlike before though, she felt rather self-conscious as he stared, knowing what she must look like with her bones jutting out from beneath her skin so ashen and discolored from malnutrition, her unkempt hair in desperate need of cutting.
She jumped suddenly when she felt his hand in her hair, running his fingers through it. She looked at him and he had that expression on his face again, like he couldn't believe she was real.
Suddenly he pulled away, as if just realizing what he was doing.
"Sorry," He said softly, looking away. "I missed, ah, we missed you."
"We?" She repeated, frustrated. The word came out harsher then she intended. Fang looked up at her. "Do you know why I'm sitting here next to you Fang? Haven't you realized I couldn't have done this on my own?" She snapped. Her words weren't following a logical train of thought anymore. She was tired of dancing around this, tired of dancing around them. "Do you know what got me through that Fang? Do you know who kept me going? Even after the darkness claimed my mind? Even after I started going crazy?" Fang winced but he didn't look away.
"You did." Max poured all her emotion, all her certainty into these two words. Fang's eyes widened slightly. Suddenly embarrassed, Max broke his gaze and stared at the ground. "I thought about you, when it got to be too much. I thought about you a lot."
"Me?" Fang whispered, the disbelief coloring his tone.
He still wasn't getting it.
Well fine, Max would try this his way. "I thought about you all of course, but, after it became too much, it was just you Fang. Not the flock, you." For a fleeting moment Max wondered if she should be doing this, endangering their friendship this way. But four months of solitude had snapped things into perspective. She needed him to know how much she needed him. Not the flock, him.
"Me?" He said again, but it was different this time. He was trying not to believe, not fall into the trap that hope held. Max grabbed his hand, looked up into his eyes.
"You, Fang. It's always been you. And I'm tired of trying to deny it. I'm tired of trying to protect myself, protect you from this. I need this. I need you to know and damn the consequences." She wasn't frustrated or embarrassed anymore, just determined. He needed to know, that was all. Whatever was going to happen after could happen after.
"I knew," Max continued. Fang was staring at her, at a loss for words. Max wondered if this was a good thing. "I knew that you would find me, I knew you cared at least that much." Suddenly she realized how quiet he was being. What if he didn't feel the same? He knew now. It would only be fair to give him an out. "If that's all Fang… If this isn't what you want then…"
But his face was up against hers and Fang was leaning down to murmur in her ear. "Of course I found you." He whispered harshly, passionately. "One hundred and twenty days Max. I went one and twenty days without you. I counted, I couldn't help it. Something like that tends to put things into perspective." He leaned away a bit so he could look into her eyes, his forehead resting against her own. "I love you Max. I need you. More then food or oxygen. More than anything in the world." His eyes closed tightly, his lips centimeters from hers. His hands freeing themselves from hers to bury into her hair. "Of course I want this. More than anything Max… But are you sure? Can… Can you possibly want someone like me? Want someone who left you rotting in that hell hole for seventeen weeks? I don't think you can love me, Maximum, when I can't love myself."
Max hands touched either side of his face and slowly he opened his eyes. "Is that what this is about?" She whispered, her eyes searching his. "Fang… You are phenomenal. There aren't even words to describe how undeserving I am of you. You saved my life, not just a few days ago, but every day, Fang. This is all I want, right here, you. All I need right now and forever is you."
Fang's eye burned into hers, and he found that he actually believed her. He couldn't help it. Max wouldn't lie to him.
Suddenly Fang smiled. "Look at us, a couple of romantic saps declaring ourselves in a secluded meadow. It's like a scene out of a bad romance novel."
Max smiled back but didn't move her gaze from his. "I don't need romance Fang, only you."
"That's probably a good thing." He whispered just as he bent down to capture her lips with his.
And at that moment time stopped, and when it started again nothing else would matter, because they, at least, had found their perfect ever after.