So this story is set after the third book. It's Max POV and there's a bit of Fax too. Just a couple of warnings though, THIS IS NOT A HAPPY STORY!! And also language. It's not too bad, but I do drop the f-word a couple of times.
Disclaimer: No, I'm not JP, and unfortunately I own nothing. Well, very little. Please don't steal the bits I do own, which is really only the plot.
Flying is, well, flying. There is nothing like it. There is nothing even remotely like the feel of the wind rushing through your hair, the feel of the air under your wings, seeing that glimpse of farmland hundreds of metres below you. Sailing through the open skies at over 100 miles an hour. Up here there's no one and nothing to worry about, it's just you and the sky. And the flock of course, but they don't exactly require worrying.
'Wouldn't be great if everyday was like this?' I asked Fang, pulling up alongside him, 'When we could be carefree and on top of the world?'
'Sure,' he replied, glancing at me quickly, 'but today isn't over yet.'
As if on cue, Iggy dropped down to join us.
'Flyboys up ahead,' he said, frowning, 'it sounds like there's a lot of them.'
'When you say a lot, how many do you mean?' I asked, seeing my glorious day disappear slip away.
'I'm not sure, but I'd guess around 50.'
I could now hear the flyboys, and they were getting louder alarmingly fast.
'There's not enough time to run away,' I said finally, trying to think of what we could possibly do, 'Fang, help me to get everyone else organised, Iggy, get ready to throw some bombs.'
Iggy smiled wickedly, and flew back to Gazzy, no doubt to organise the distribution of bombs, etc. between the two of them.
'Okay guys, we've got trouble up ahead. Gaz, and Ig, I want you two up top and throwing as many bombs as you can. Kill as many as you can before they get to us. Nudge and Angel, I want you down below, at 10 and 2 o'clock.' I looked out and saw approaching robot army, flying robot army. 'It's show time.'
Fighting, like flying, is in a league of its own. Unlike flying, I definitely do not recommend fighting. I knew Iggy and Gazzy were still throwing bombs, I could still hear explosions going off every once in a while. And I was keeping an eye on Angel. She seemed to be holding up at the moment, but I was ready to jump in the moment she needed me. But apart from that, I had no idea how the rest of flock was holding up. I was too busy trying to hold off three flyboys who obviously hadn't heard of taking turns. It would be nice if all the flyboys lined up for their one-on-one battle. However that was never going to happen. And wishful thinking certainly wasn't helping here. The flyboys had arranged themselves so each time I turned to defend myself from one of them, I was left exposed to another, and as such I'd managed to wrack up a fair few scratches. Nothing major luckily. At that moment, one of them lunged forward, causing me to turn sharply to defend myself against his razor-sharp, metal claws. I kicked out at him pushing backwards, and causing him to abandon his attack. But not before I felt sharp pain from my right wing. I spun around sharply yet again, and hesitantly tested the wing. It hurt like hell, but it was still working, and for the moment that was all that mattered. I needed to end this, and quickly. But before I could finish that thought, another flyboy launched himself at me. I punched him and then tried to get at the weak spot Jeb had mentioned back in Germany. And then I felt it. The same as before, except this time in my left wing. It's one thing to fly with one injured wing, but two? My left wing had been picking up some of the slack for my right wing, but now that it was back on full duty, my right wing just gave up. My left wing managed a few feeble flaps before it too caved in.
Angel, get Fang. Get help.
I managed to think, hoping, trusting, that she'd heard me. That he'd catch me. But then as I started falling, I saw him, and for a fraction of a second our eyes met. And he knew I needed him. And I knew those flyboys weren't just going to let him go.
And then I was falling. I was wrong before. Falling is a hell of a lot like flying, except exponentially more frightening. Especially the part where you see those glimpses of farmland hundreds of metres below you, and know that in a few seconds you'll be crashing into them. I opened my wings, hoping to slow down my fall, even marginally. But God, I was still going so fast.
And then I landed. And there was pain like I'd never experienced before. I was alive, but only just. Every single bone, organ, cell, was screaming out in agony. I was wishing that I hadn't opened my wings, that I'd landed on a big pile of rocks instead of in this field. Because then at least I'd be properly dead, and it would all be over. The pain, my life, everything.
Oh shit shit crap FUCK! Please, oh please, God, make it end. Make it stop. Just kill me now.
I see a streak of black cut across my vision, and before I have a chance to wonder what it is, he's beside me. And for a moment I let myself think that it will all be okay. He's here, Fang's here, he'll take care of everything.
And then he speaks.
'Oh fuck. Max, Max, please be okay. Can you hear me, Max? Please, please hear me, Max,' he says, and I hear the quiver in his voice and I know he is just as scared as I am, and for once he can't make everything better.
I try to tell him that I can hear him, and to tell him that I need him to just keep talking, just keep talking so that I can carry the sound of his voice with me to wherever it is that I'm going. But something somewhere along the lines refuses co-operate, or is simply overridden by the pain that is still tormenting every single freaking part of my body, and the only sound that comes out is a low groan. And so the words die before they ever got a chance to live.
'Max,' he says, 'Max, come on, you can pull through this. You're not going to let yourself be beaten by a little fall are you? Not the incredible, indestructible Maximum Ride?' he tried to give a little laugh, to make everything seem a little lighter, but he seemed to choke on sound, and it too died before it got a chance to live. God, everything seemed to be dying today. Even I'm dying today.
His attempt to make light of the situation abandoned, a note of desperation entered Fang's voice, 'Please Max, we need you. We need you with us. What would we do without our fearless leader? You can't do this to them, Max. You can't do this to Angel and Nudge, Gazzy, heck, even Iggy. They need you, and they need you alive. And what about me, Max? What the hell am I supposed to do without you? I need you. I need you Max. Please don't do this to them. Please don't do this to me.'
And then he bit down on his lip and turned his face away from me. I wanted to shout at him that he couldn't do that, couldn't take himself away from me. Not now. I wanted to tell him there was no point. That I knew what he was trying to hide. I'd seen it before he'd turned away. I'd seen the single tear begin to make its way down his cheek. But I couldn't tell him. I couldn't sit up and put my arm around him and wipe it away, like I'd done for the younger kids in the past. Like I'd never had the chance to do for him.
I felt a sense of loss build up inside me as I realised there was something I needed to tell him. Something he had to know. Something that I'd kept a secret, even from myself. Something I'd never told him, not really. And now I never would.
Oh God, Fang…
The words were practically burned into my brain now, at the top of the list of things I wished I'd done but never had, and now never would.
'Max, please,' he whispered urgently, 'please Max. I need you, Max I…'
And then he paused. And then he said three words. The most beautiful three words ever to exist. And he told me exactly what I had been wishing I'd told him when I still had the chance.
'I love you,' he'd whispered, making the words sound almost like a prayer.
Oh God, Fang, me too. I love you so much.
If only I could be sure he knew I felt the same. I had to make sure he knew. But I couldn't even make myself say two words. Not even 'me too'. I tried to nod, to reach my hand out towards him. Anything. Everything. And I had no idea if I managed to do anything, let alone if he knew what it meant. So I just had to trust, that somehow he knew, he understood, that I loved him.
I looked at Fang, and drank in his image. Tears were pouring down his cheeks now, and he was past caring whether or not I saw. I wondered briefly what was happening to the rest of the flock, whether they were still fighting, or they were around here somewhere, watching, waiting. I hoped desperately that no one else was hurt. But the sight of Fang's face pulled me away from everything else.
Oh God, Fang, I'm so sorry.
His anguish was written clearly across his face, usually so impassive and hard to read. I wanted to make it stop. I wanted to make his pain disappear. But he was hurting for me, because of me. And there was nothing I could do to make it better. Nothing at all. And somehow that was painful than everything else put together, and everything else was pretty fucking painful. And his tears… Had I ever seen him cry before? I wasn't sure, but I didn't think so.
Oh God, Fang, please don't cry for me. I hate seeing how much I'm hurting you.
His mouth was moving, but I couldn't hear the words. They kept blurring together into a mess that I just couldn't make sense of. And then I heard my name. And then I heard it again. And again. And again. My heart skipped a beat, which probably wasn't the smartest thing for it to do at that moment, but it did, when I realised that that was all he was saying. Just my name, over and over again.
Oh God, Fang, I love you so much.
And then black dots crowded my vision until they're all I could see. In my mind I screamed at them, yelling at them to give Fang back, but instead my hearing goes too, and replaces Fang's voice with a ringing sound. And I'm alone in the darkness with only my pain.
Oh God, Fang, I need you to be strong for them. Please, for me?
And I'm alone in the darkness, with only pain, for what feels like a very long time, although at this point time has lost all meaning. But eventually the pain begins to fade and there is simply the darkness. I know what comes next, but I'm beyond fear or hope, or even sorrow. This is the end. And so I let go. And I too fade into the darkness, and I too am no more.
Oh God, Fang…