Summary: What if Max and the Flock had never gotten "the talk"? What is the outcome of an adolescence without an adult and knowledge of societal norms?

: We're Okay Now

It's been about a year since Jeb left us.

We've pretty much gotten over it. I think.. it was right after he missed Nudge's birthday, that we decided that even if he were to come back, we wouldn't care.

He'd left and hadn't not bothered to come back. That's called betrayal.

Well, obviously it wasnt her real birthday—we dont know our real birthdays. But its the thought that counts, right? And the fact of the matter is that he didnt come back for it.

It's alright though. It's been a year. Thats an entire half of how long he'd spent with us.

So.. Life goes on. If there's one thing he'd taught us, it was that we need to survive.

And survival is an instinct; it runs through my blood, in the capillaries inside of my wings beneath my tawny feathers, it runs through in my very veins, no wait—arteries, right? Don't veins carry deoxygenated blood? .....Nevermind.

Anyway, the point is, we've gotten into our own routine around here. It's been a year. We're used to him not being here now. We're O.K. Definitely.

Totally. Mostly.


Okay, so not so sometimes. I really do think we're okay though, generally. Angels young.. she's young enough to have that enviable ability to be able to get over things quick. And Gassy has a short attention span, he's easily-amused, he can forget why he was upset in the first place, pretty damn quickly. Nudge gets emotional and upset sometimes.. but that's what I'm here for.

I'm Max. The leader of my flock.

Why am I the leader? I dunno. Maybe it's cause I'm the oldest. Maybe it's cause Fang doesn't seem to show much interest in the department... Maybe it's just cause Iggy's blind.

Maybe just cause I can lead.

I've been taking care of these kids, cause its just me surviving. It's what I'm supposed to do. I'm the leader of my flock. Sometimes it gets hard.. but I've got Fang and Iggy. I've got my entire flock behind me to support me. It's them I'm doing all this for, because it's me I'm doing this for.. they are who I am. Without them, I wouldn't be able to survive. I don't have any identity other than them. Maximum Ride, I am a culmination of who Nudge, the Gasman, Angel, Fang, and Iggy are. They're who I live for.

So.. like I said.. we don't need Jeb. In fact, if he tries to come back, I might as well slam the door in his face! We dont need him! We're doing perfectly fine by ourselves.

...No.. as much as I'd like to believe I would, I know I wouldn't. A large, overwhelming part of me wishes he was here right now, to get Fang to laugh a little, to throw Angel and the Gasman up in the air, to hear the sound of their child squeals, to read Iggy some cookbooks and actually explain what the big words mean.

Its just.. sometimes. But it's been a year. We've settled into our own routine around here. The first few weeks.. Fang refused to talk. He holed himself up inside his room and wouldn't come out except in the middle of the night for food. That was hard.. to not have him there.. I was having enough trouble myself.

But then he came out.. It must've been after three weeks. But he's my right-hand man true to the word, he's my rock. I guess I never actually appreciated who he was to me until Jeb was gone. He might not have the most domineering attributes on earth, but thats not his job—its mine. Fang is there, making his moral decisions and I guess he's just as much of a leader of the flock as I am.

Maybe.. he's more of the leader than I am. Maybe we're co-leaders? (..I hope I don't have an identity crisis smack dab in the middle of this train of thought..). But if Fang is my rock, and the chairman of the flock (dude, I'm the CEO) then Iggy is the manager. He's the dude who keeps us alive.. literally. My cooking skills... apparently have something to be desired... but ANYWAY.. He's Chef Igneous (yes, as in the rock..); His name comes from the fact that he's a major pyro.. Trust the blind guy to be the one making the bombs while being the full-time gourmet chef.. Trust the blind guy to apprentice a freaking 7 year old in his whole BOMB-making pastime. Okay, so I guess he'd be a pretty irresponsible blind guy manager.. but touche`, cause he feeds us pretty damn well. Especially cause we probably need enough food in a day than you need in a week.

But.. Iggy.. he's the guy that helped most with Nudge and Gassy the most after Jeb left. He can connect with the younger kids in a way that Fang might not ever be able to.. and being the leader of the whole shindig, I'm the one that needs to play the Bad Cop most of the time

Now, if I let them stay up till 3 in the morning, eat crapola-loads of junk food, make BOMBS all the time (ahem, Iggy), and let them not brush their teeth or shower for 3 months, where would I be? They're my flock, and I'm responsible for them. Fang, irritatingly, doesn't listen to me much anymore (I'm sure he's got a whole superiority complex going on, being just 6 months younger), but he still listens sometimes, probably out of some type of respect... some type of respect.

...You always get the feeling that when he does listen, he's radiating that vibe: "I'm doing this because you're telling me to. Not because I have to do it just 'cause you told me to. I'm doing you a favor. I don't have to do it. So 'ha' in your face, anyway." Like I said, sometimes it feels like he's secretly the leader of the flock, just cause he's capable of having such a large affect my decisions in everything.

Well, I guess thats what he's there for.

Iggy was there for the kids right after Jeb left.. and although Fang wasn't here the first few weeks.. I guess it was just cause he was just getting himself together.. cause when he came out, he was the one that was there for me and got me together. I tried hard those first three weeks.. but I wouldnt've been able to assume the role of leader of the flock if it hadn't been for Fang.. he's the one that got me to pull myself together, for real. To forget Jeb and run the flock. Even now, late at night, after having a hard day with the flock.. I can knock on his door and sit with him on the roof at the dead of night until morning. I can talk to him about anything and everything. He's my rock.

Getting over Jeb.. I guess it was like a Domino affect. But Fang was the one to push the first one over—me. He was the dude that had to pull himself together. That's what he does. He might be my rock, but most of the time it's like he keeps everything of his own inside of himself. He's the stone cold no-emotions guy. Something you wouldn't usually see in a normal 13 year old. But I guess we're not normal 13 year-olds. We're as normal as you can get, raised in cages for the first 10 years of your life. It was Jeb who had rescued us.. but then he left us.

But it's okay. We've got a routine now. We're O.K. Things are okay around here now. It's been a year. The first few months were hard. But things are normal around here now. We got a new "normal" around here, and it's been here for a while. So we're used to it.

I'm Maximum Ride. I'm the leader of my flock. I'm a fighter. I'll be the mom if I have to, I'll be the Bad-Cop, but I'll do anything to have this flock on our feet. We're fighters.