We were surrounded by white rocks...I could see all the horrors.
The rain poured. The world was crying......for Gazzy.
He was slipping.....we all knew it.

"Gazzy. Gazzy, no. Don't. Don't, dammit"
"I'll be okay, Iggy. You'll be fine without me."

I was looking down at my best friend. Gazzy had been my secondhand man. The flock was slowly giving up. Gazzy was almost gone.

"GAZZY. No! You can't just...." I broke into tears. Gazzy pulled his mangled lips over a bloodied smile. His teeth stared at me...'This is what you've done. You did this to me.
"I promise Iggy. Nothing will be different....I know you guys always thought I couldn't do anything."

"No! Gazzy!" Max broke in. "You'll be fine, we'll get you to a hospital...it'll..all....." She fell to her knees, Fang quietly picking up her crumpling body. Nudge was bawling over a rock, Angel silently letting tears slip, as she kneeled in the mud, hands splashing dirty water on her tear-streaked face. I could tell they'd all given up. I would never give up.

"Remember, Iggy? When we blew up the Erasers? Remember me like that..."
"DAMN IT! Gazzy, you're not dieing! I won't fucking let you...."
I picked him up, cradling his mangled body into my exhausted arms. His eyes were full of sorrow. I could tell he would let go any second.
NO! I couldn't let him. I unfurled my wings, flapping as hard as I could into the downpour. It was useless. Mother Nature had even resigned herself.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't save you"
"It's okay....it wasn't....you"
Gazzy fell limp in my arms.
"No. No......No!"
I laid him on the ground, as if laying him into a bed. Max and I fell toward him, palms down, my fist punding into it as I gritted my teeth, Max's sobs loud and painful. Nudge crawled over, Angel following her, supporting each other in thier crawl of grief. Total laid his head on his paws, dog tears running out of his eyes. "You guys...are so full of bad luck." It was a bad time for a bad joke, but I understood...total and Fang didnt handle mushy emotions well...Max either.
Fang slowly kneeled. I caught a small tear slide down his cheek. He gasped loudly.
"Gazzy! Dammit! We'll kill them all.....for you, Gazzy."
Max said in a hushed yell. It was all she could choke out between gasps and tears. Fang cradled her in his strong arms, his black hair matted down with freezing rain to his forehead. Angel was shaking her head violently, saying "No...no...my brother." in a sweet, innocent little girl voice. Nudge fell in the mud, gasping all the air she could, her head on one bent arm, the other outstretched in a failed attempt to go farther. I was still leaning over him. I couldn't let him go. It was my fault!

The damned Flyboys had ambushed us, and Gazzy was the only one taken, going upwards, screaming and yelling for me...only me. I leapt for him, and they just ripped him to shreds and dropped him, bleeding and screaming. He looked much worse than Fang had even looked after his fight with Ari. We were all messes, sobbing, gasping, crying tears of sorrow. None of us doing justice to Gazzy. I turned back to him, pulling his dead body up into my arms. I hugged him fiercely, biting my lip as it busted open. I let myself bleed on him, even then sorry and sad. Overwhelming regret swelled up in me.


Next Day


We'd found a town, Clarkdale, Arizona. We spoke to the morgue people.....told them we were hiking and an animal had mauled our brother. Half truth, at least. None of us could hold back the tears. Hot, sad water spilled out of red, spent eyes. We ignored questions about our parents.....eventually resorting to force. Max got very upset, and Fang pulled the man by his collar two feet up, looking him in the eye. We got our burial site. Max had enough money to buy him a nice plot with everything, even a fence around it.....just the thing to keep people away from our secret.

"Gazzy.......Gazzy. I will never....NEVER forget you." I muttered it through clenched teeth, regret and spite mixing in my eyes. I hugged him, best I could. Nudge bit back her tears and sobs long enough to plant a silent, sweet kiss on his cheek, a tear dropping onto it. I pulled Nudge into a hug, as Angel embraced her brother, saying words. I've heard the brain works for atleast...32 hours after the body dies? So it's possible Gazzy heard all the nice things we said about the poor, unappreciated kid that day. Fang and Max went in a sort of simultaneous hug, both wrapping thier arms around his shoulders, biting thier lips, sobbing and crying on his body. Total jumped up, barked, and licked Gazzy's face. The people closed the casket, put it in a concrete case, and lowered him down. They piled the dirt on him. No one had asked about the bulge on his back.....we were glad.
His tombstone was inscribed as:

Gasman Ride

2000-2009

Wonderful child, brother, and the best friend a bird kid could have.
Your wings are pure white now.

We walked away, all of us crying, sobbing, and even Fang had a gasp escape his mouth, and tears slid onto Max's shoulder. He held her tight to his side, as we all walked away, regretful and spent.

"I promise Gazzy. Never. Will. I. Forget. You." I muttered.

Goodbye forever, Gasman.