A/N: I've recently gotten engrossed in the world of maximum ride. If I could, I would marry these books, settle down, and have a few baby books. But, as it is, I have to settle for trying to write a fanfic about them, which could turn out good, or it could turn out bad. You can comment on which category it falls into. And if possible, if it falls into the latter, could you lend a hand in getting it to the former? Appreciated
You can choose when this is set really. It's after their first proper kiss, when Max flew away, but before they get together properly. I don't really know when or even really where this is set.
A Study of Birds
I lay back in the hotel bed, just thinking. The darkness around me tried to press itself against my eyes, but my enhanced vision made it so that instead my eyes utilised what little illumination came from the lights some way away, falling through the window of the room so that I could pick up the smallest of details.
Max had once said that I was the person that always said the least, and thought the most. I had almost wanted to disagree, but I knew that it was true. I was naturally quiet. Or, at least, as natural as anything else about myself. Who knows what the scientists at that god-forsaken place altered about me. A question that tortured not only myself, but my entire family. What parts of our personality was truly ours, what was engineered, or a mistake on their behalf?
How could we even know?
But this was such a frequented path of thoughts, its twists and turns so familiar, that all questions had already been so pushed and tested, that their answers came quickly. Whether I was naturally how I was, or it was placed in me by the whack-jobs at the School, I was who I was, and I was happy that way. Just like everyone else was.
And anyway, if it was them who had made us like we were, I imagine they were regretting it, the way we seriously naffed them off every time they tried to talk to us.
That thought made me half smile.
And with that came the thought of something else that made me smile – a rare enough thing with me.
For the entirety of my life -the lives of every flock member- for as long as I could remember, I remembered her. I remembered her strength, her encouraging smiles, the way she looked after each of the little kids, and how she gave me and Iggy the tough-love approach, making us compete to make us stronger. She understood what worked on each of us, and how to make us survive, how to get us out of danger in the most efficient way.
Even when it had been Jeb that had gotten us out of the School, but it was she who kept us out. It had been Max who had made us feel safe, and it was she who we had gone to when we were hurt, or when we needed to talk. She hadn't noticed it, but Jeb had. And had noticed the way it bothered him.
And right from the beginning. Right from the very moment I saw her face, even as drawn as it had been when we were in that place. Even then, at such a young age, I knew that I felt differently towards her than I did the others. While I loved them all so deeply, that was different.
I was in...
Okay, this was getting out of hand. I didn't do gushy lovey-dovey feelings, just as Max didn't, judging from the way she took off as soon as I ever made any sort of move.
But recently, that's all I could think. The way I wanted to be with her every second, and be with her alone, away from the others. I wanted to feel what her lips again and again. They looked... so...
I rolled onto my side, holding my head and squeezing my eyes closed tightly to try and block those thoughts and to keep in a growl of annoyance. I was glad the others were asleep, and that I had been allowed my own bed.
And that Angel wasn't in the same room.
That little white devil-child, I mused fondly.
She always seemed to lock on me whenever I was thinking about Max, and she always gave that knowing smile. Somehow, I always managed to forget to guard my thoughts around her. Well, no. That was a lie. Only when I was thinking about a certain brown winged beauty.
"Brown winged beauty"?
Okay, when did I bash my head?
And how hard?
I got up silently, heading over to the window, the carpet ruff against my bare feet. There was a wide ledge to the window, or at least, wide enough for a skinny bird-kid to sit on.
The night was cloudless, but the city's lights made the stars almost disappear. I wanted to see them properly. I wanted to feel the last of the day's warmth in the thermals that we could utilise to float almost effortlessly. And after living with hawks, we had honed our abilities even further.
...Hang on a second...
Would it... it might work... Just maybe...
After throwing on some trainers, I went to the room next door, where Max and the girls were sleeping.
When I was woken by a hand on my shoulder, my first reaction was that something must be wrong. All of us were mentally trained to automatically be wide awake when we felt something was wrong. I sat up quickly, putting my body between the person waking me and the sleeping form of Angel lying beside me, checking where Nudge and Total were. Already adrenalin was pumping...
Then I saw the somewhat warmer-than-usual eyes of Fang, only visible in how they shined in what little light could be discerned from the open door and the curtained window. His face held no panic, that I could see, and I felt my heart rate slowing exponentially.
"Fang...? Wha... what's the matter?" I said blearily, tiredness replacing the adrenalin in my system. I thought I saw his face flicker slightly.
"Oh..." he seemed uncertain of himself, which really started sending alarm bells ringing. Fang uncertain was something that just didn't happen, but then he was set again, looking more like himself, "Wanna go for a spin? I need to stretch my wings."
"Sure" I heard myself saying. I didn't really think about it. Lately I was doing that a lot. Agreeing to what ever he suggested. I don't quite know how worried I should be about that...
Oh to be young and in love. And feathered... murmured the Voice.
And what wondrous piece of fortune-cookie insight have you got for me at this time of night? I snarled.
Morning, the Voice corrected as if unable to stop itself, at which I rolled my eyes.
After throwing on a jacket and some shoes, we were U and A, the stars becoming more pronounced against the indigo velvet of the night as the lights from the city became fireflies, their luminescence smeared across the ground as we flashed by.
...Poetry lives on, and thine name is bird-girl.
We flew higher and higher, moving away from the city, but not straying too far. Iggy didn't seem to mind taking watch, as we'd all been catching more Zzzs than usual, so we were pretty rested compared to what we were normally used to.
I was watching and following Fang, as he seemed to be looking for something. It was a warm night, the heat of the sun having heated the ground, the thermals from which still rising up, which we used to make flying easy.
"Hey, Fang, what're you looking for?"
"Hm? Oh... Water"
That confused me. "Why? Fancy a late night dip or something?"
He threw me a smirk over his shoulder, before coming to a stop over a large lake.
"No. I want to try something, but it's safer to try out over water first."
Now I was definitely confused. "What do you want to try out?"
He looked at me directly, and I realized that even without thinking, I'd followed him as he went higher into the sky, keeping level with him.
"Do you trust me?"
I finally looked at him properly. To anyone else, he would look like the poster boy for "Calm and Collected Monthly", but I wasn't anyone. I was Max, and just as I knew that he understood me better than anybody else, sometimes even better than I knew myself, the same applied to me for him. I could tell see the uncertainty in those obsidian eyes.
"Of course I trust you."
"Well, aside from when I have dessert. Then I don't trust you as far as I can throw you," His lips tugged into a smile, just for a few seconds, which for Fang was like falling out of the sky with laughter, and I knew that I'd at least calmed him down a little, "But chocolate mousse aside, I trust you with the things that matter. I trust you with my life. It would be stupid and a lie to say I didn't after the number of times you've already saved it. I thought you already knew that."
"Then trust me now. I won't let you get hurt. I promise"
I was about to ask how I was going to even get hurt, but before my lips had even parted for me to utter much more than a gasp, he had lunged forwards. My eyes widened as his fingers laced through mine, locking and bringing him so close to me that I could feel his breath on my skin.
My wings couldn't move enough to flap. We were falling.
"What are you-"
We were falling, falling, my still open wings barely slowing us down, but instead mostly just making us tip, over and over, the world spinning and tumbling so that I barely knew which way was up. Our fingers still locked in a death gri- bad wording, bad wording.... tight hold, we span with each other.
Now I understood the reason he'd wanted to do this over water.
Water was a lot less deadly than solid ground. But at this speed, and from this height, it would still feel like running into a stone wall. Or rather, being launched into a stone wall. From a cannon...
The muted tones of night span around me, and I realized how quickly the ground was coming towards us. Seconds passed like minutes, and yet faster than I could count even with the beats of my franticly pumping heart.
Then I looked at his face, and the world almost froze. Eyes locked as tightly as our fingers, even as my hair, which had become like a creature in itself, whipping my face, trying, it seemed, to get away from me and what could be my messy fate, our eyes still remained on each other. Even with every instinct, every particle of my existence screaming at me to push away, to gain altitude, to fly away from danger, I could read the words that Fang said to me silently.
There were other things hidden in that gaze, things that I couldn't take in. Not yet. So for now, I read the words he was sending me in those dark eyes.
And I did.
I trusted him.
How could I not?
I trusted him to the point that I didn't even look down again to see how close the dark water was growing.
I didn't look away from those eyes.
Until finally, though I knew not even seconds had passed, he pushed against my hands, squeezing my fingers in signal to let go. He said, only one word, almost lost in the screaming of the wind in my ears, but still I heard that word, as quiet as fallen leaves across a silent path.
He let go, pushing me far enough to allow me space to flare out my wings to catch the air. I came almost to a complete stop in the air. I looked down to see the water so close that my stop had left ripples as the air was pushed against its surface by my wings. I stared at the reflection in the glassy water, at the dazed look on the face of the girl looking back at me. Her hair was a confused mess on her hair.
Then my eyes flickered away, to the shadow behind her, given features only by the bleached light of the moon, and the glittering of dark eyes that could be mistaken for stars.
...Okay, seriously, what did those nutters put in me, "A Bird's Guide to Poetry and Clichés"? Or was my head so completely scrambled by that fall.
But I looked away from the mirror-Fang, flying up to hover with the real thing.
"Left that a little close, don't you think?" I said, trying for calm and cool, but only just managing to keep the exhilaration out of my voice. Darn you adrenalin! I thought pointlessly, mentally shaking a fist, you ruin my serious moment.
He grinned, and I could feel my heart still fluttering from the excitement of the fall, "We didn't crash, did we?"
I ignored him, as we continued up and up, and my system slowed back down to normal, "Where did that come from anyway?"
"When me and Nudge lived with those hawks. I noticed some of the pairs would do the same as what we just did. Well, obviously using their feet, but you get the idea."
"Didn't know that hawks were suicidal"
He gave me one of those Fang-grins, the ones that where so unique to him. His face had taken on a look of such heightened thrill and excitement, that you only get when you're running on adrenalin. It made him so...
I didn't even know how to describe it. Huh... Maybe I didn't have bits of Shakespeare dust in my brain after all.
"Not suicidal" he said quietly, as Fang always says anything, bringing me back from my reverie, "I got the idea.." he flew closer to me, though this time more slowly, making it clear that he wasn't going to repeat the stunt. And there it was... that look of uncertainty again, "that it was... more... of a courtship."
"Oh" was all I could say before my brain blew out.
He was really close now, his wings working to keep level with me, but doing the opposite to mine to prevent them hitting; his went backwards as mine went forwards. A warm hand touched the base of my back, pulling me yet closer, and his fingers lifted my mouth to his, and all thought processes, but for the instinct to flap, stopped dead.
He was gentle as he had been in the cave, but firm, decided. He didn't rush, and he wasn't demanding.
The kiss was soft, sweet. Mind blowing. Everything I could ask for.
I reminded myself to breathe. A lesson I'd learned from the first time.
We stayed like that for a long moment, lips and bodies pressed together in the air above a tranquil lake, in the light of a moon. Could a girl ask for anything more?
He broke away, reluctant, but at least he understood me enough to not go on.
And I saw that in his eyes, that he was waiting for me to fly off again. And I didn't want to. I didn't want to hurt him. And I knew, somewhere, buried deep inside me, I wanted to stay there, to be with him. To be with him.
And yet... I still didn't think I was ready. Not... just yet.
And I could see that he saw it in my eyes.
He let me go, cold air replacing the warmth of his skin. My mind started to panic, and it took every ounce of strength not to hare off, to fly away in his face.
"I can't... I'm not..."
"It's okay," he said before I'd even worked out what I was going to say. "You can go back. Just..."
I watched him guiltily, my heart beating like a humming bird's wings.
"Just... tell me. If you want me to stop, to back off... I will. I just... I want to know"
I don't think I'd ever seen Fang with his shields so low as they were in that second. He was that boy in the cage next to me again, unsure what was going to happen next.
It was too much.
My wings took me away before I could even stop myself, even think about it.
But before I'd gotten far, his warm, calloused fingers wrapped around my wrist, not violently, but enough for me to remember myself, and slow down.
"Just yes or no, Max. Do you want me to stop, or not? Please"
I couldn't look at him. I made a show of trying to get away, but not once did I pull out of his grip, as I knew I could.
Then a whisper fell from my lips, quieter than a mouse scuffling, and yet I knew he'd hear me.
I watched Max's wrist slip from my fingers, and her flying back in the direction of the hotel, disappearing into the night.
A smile spread slowly across my face.
There was hope for us yet.
A/N: I don't know if the hawks mentioned in the books use "Cartwheeling" in their mating rituals, but I found that bald eagles do this. If you want to see what it is, look here: http://jawsblog(dot)com/2008/02/01/part-of-the-eagle-mating-ritual/
I hope you enjoyed this. It's my first Maximum Ride fic, so like I said before, if there's anything that you think I can improve to make it more in character, or to make it a better over-all fic, don't hesitate to say. I'm friendly enough to not snap or snarl at you, though preferably no out-and-out flames.
Thanks for reading :D
Huggles, cookies and glomps