He Makes My Fears Fly Away

No way. It was simply not possible. I mean, I've been through some pretty terrible things, but this makes them look like mice to a cat! A genetically engineered mouse to a great, big, mall-shaped cat. Yes, it's true, Maximum Ride, saver-of-the-world, is currently at a mall, trying on skirts! I swear, if I ever meet the person who invented Bambi Eyes…

"Wow, c'mon Max, you've got to try this one on, you'd look gorgeous! They've got it in your size too!"

I glared at the top Nudge was offering me with revulsion. It was midnight-blue, really slim and was sleeve-less – you know, the type with straps. It seemed really fashionable. I hated it. Now Angel had joined Nudge's lost cause, saying I had to buy something, else why did I come to the store in the first place. To please her, I grabbed some random pieces off the rack that were the least hideous and got out of there. There was a water fountain up ahead and I sat down on the bench beside it. I watched the glistening water fall for a few moments, like pure drops of… pureness… sparkling softly. Hey, that sounds poetic. Huh, me, the poet! Who would've thought it? Suddenly, I had an eerie feeling that I was being watched and the back of my neck prickled as the hair on it stood on end.

"Nice view."

I must've jumped at least three feet in the air.

"Stop that! You frightened the life out of me!"

"Stop what? Breathing?"

Did he realise how old that had gotten? I rolled my eyes, sending him a 'that's-so-childish' look. Fang stared back at me with a defiant 'what-ya-gonna-do-about-it?' in his eyes. I sighed and shrugged my shoulders, then motioned with a slight tilt of my head to where the younger girls were still drooling over some new designs by Roland Mouret. He immediately knew I meant I couldn't hang around them any longer and wanted to go with him for a while. Times like these my best friend being able to know exactly what I was thinking was really helpful.

"Can't wait to escape off with me on a romantic break for freedom, hey?" he said, smirking.

Scratch that, he's a sexist pig and I hate how he can practically read my mind. I fought the blush that was rising to my cheeks and sent him a death glare, one of the ones I usually reserved for when Iggy and Gazzy blew up something without my permission. With satisfaction I watched him shrink away. For a few more moments we sat in companionable silence. Then Fang stood up and started walking back towards the shops.

"Come," he said, showing his mastery of the English vocabulary.

"Aww, do we have to, haven't I already suffered enough for today?"

He snickered. I glared. Suddenly we both burst out with laughter for no 'apparent' reason. Fang's laugh always made me feel dizzy, like the world had suddenly started spinning round at triple the speed. Some part of me deep down inside the dark recesses of my mind told me to stop staring at him, but I found I could no more tear my eyes away than I could turn the sky purple. It was actually quite creepy the strength of need I had for… what am I saying, I don't need Fang. He said something and – with great difficulty – I focused on his words, rather than his deep, brown, gorgeous eyes- No! Bad Max!

"Sorry, what were you saying?" I asked quickly.

"New shop. Seems safe. Weird display. You should see."

I sighed again. Was he really that incapable of a normal conversation? I followed him to the store and gasped as I noticed his 'weird display'. He nodded, almost imperceptibly. In the shop window there was a huge poster advertising 'Maximum Ride Action Figures'. Under it were crude but still easily recognisable – mainly by the wings – representations of each of the Flock. Angel, Gazzy, Nudge, Iggy, Fang… and me. I stopped at me.

"I do NOT look like that – well, not most of the time anyway!"

Fang snickered, seeing the mini me. It was wearing boy's clothes, had its hair hacked really short and was wearing a vicious snarl on its face. Sure, I'm not really a female model, but I'm not that repulsive.

"Why am I the only one that's ugly?" I moaned.

Fang's expression grew serious.

"Don't ever say you're ugly! You're beautiful."

And with that he walked away, leaving me more confused than ever. He thought I was beautiful? And why did it make me feel so warm inside? It shouldn't do, I knew that much.

"Fang, wait!" I called after him, "What do you mean? Fang!"

I ran into the building, calling out for him. I walked past a clothes rack and then suddenly found myself slipping. I reached up to the rack to stop myself falling and managed to pull that over as well. I hit the floor and was conscious of somebody laughing. Fang materialised in front of me, the source of the laughter. Hey, I said I liked his laugh, I never said anything about him laughing at me.

"Oh very funny," I said sourly. "What did I say about tripping people up when you're invisble?"

Scolding him didn't seem to be working so I resorted to my secret weapon: the water bottle. Aiming it like a water pistol, I squirted a stream at Fang's face. His look was priceless. I'd never wanted a camera as much as I did then. I jumped up and ran back down the aisle before he could react. I needed as much of a head-start as I could get for when he started chasing after me for revenge. I forgot about everything else for the next quarter of an hour as we ran around screaming like five-year-olds – okay, maybe I did the most screaming… Oh all right, I definitely did most of it… Oh fine, yeah, I did all of it – but can you honestly picture Fang running around screaming? Didn't think so. Eventually I surrendered, exhausted and soaked from head to toe.

"I love it when you admit to my superior intellect."

I snorted, "Yeah, well I love it when I come in to see you cuddling up to an old teddy bear."

"Oi, Mr Cuddles was a special case, and it only happened once!"

I was referring to a time back at the E-house, when I had walked into Fang's room and saw him hugging a stuffed animal. I kept teasing him about 'Mr Cuddles' for months. He only managed to stop me by threatening to let Ig blow up my room.

"Anyway, I love you…"

I blinked once. Fang blushed.

"I mean, I love you when you try to threaten me. Sooo funny."

I eyed him warily. For some reason I felt like he was lying (and since when did Fang blush anyway?). I opened my mouth to press my point further… and then closed it again. Because I had just noticed something. A big something. The likes of which I had never seen before. I was standing in a mall (which face it, was not my favourite place to be), packed with shoppers running back and forth, backed into a corner with no clear way out and the space between the aisles was barely enough for me to stretch out both arms. It was claustrophobia's dream.

And I was fine with it.

My vision went blurry and for a second I thought something had gone wrong. Then I realised it was just tears clouding my eyes. I looked back at Fang with a blinding grin on my face. So blinding, in fact, that after a few seconds he literally had to blink rapidly and look away. I had no doubt, now, that it was him who had made my fears seem like nightmares I had just dreamt up all along. I leaned towards him and whispered something in his ear.

"I love you too."