Definitely PG-13

Warnings for the usual stuff.

It's not a love triangle, and not a love square. But there's four people all in love, and most of it one-sided. And then there's the hate, and most of that's one sided as well. I'm the one who's unlucky enough to just fade into the background.

A/N: I keep saying that Fax is, in my opinion, the crappiest pairing out there, mostly through bad writing that drags even the good stuff down. I don't even read the stuff. And somehow, it keeps slipping in.

I've decided that Faxness! is like Golden Syrup. It gets everywhere, sticks to everything. It can be gloopy or runny. It oozes, it's sap, and it makes things mushy. Some people like it, some people don't. It can make people crazy. It goes with some things, and not with others. And, finally, it can attract butterflies, and it inevitably attracts ants.

This was originally a oneshot written just after School's Out Forever. After the tragic events in Saving the World... I decided to expand on it, and this became an AU story. I didn't end up finishing it though. Now I have, so it's finally being reposted. Max and Ari are NOT related in this story.


Part One


"We're so stupid to do this, you know. Be in love with her. She can't love anyone who's so obviously physically imperfect. Because she's so shallow, and so caught up in herself."


They were at it again.

Iggy had the best hearing of all the flock, and besides, they were the only ones awake. Iggy, and Max, and Fang. He was supposed to be on watch, making sure that everything was okay while the little ones slept. He couldn't really watch, but he could listen. And he couldn't listen, because all he could hear was them.

He didn't know where they were, but then he didn't think anyone else did either. They were camped out in a clearing in a forest, and it was night. There was nothing around for miles, and all he could hear was the whisper of the wind through the leaves, and the whisper of his voice in her ear.

Oh, yes, he had the best hearing of all the flock.

She giggled. "Oh, Fang, don't."

Quietly, he stood on his watch-rock. He could be the quietest too, fading into the background. He wasn't the leader, he wasn't the one with powers, and he wasn't talkative. He was old enough to not be taken care of. He was old enough to know what he wanted, and what he couldn't have was breaking his heart.

Even quieter, he stretched out his wings, and jumped into the air. Wings caught and he soared up into the night. He didn't need to see to fly, and he didn't need to hear them. He'd be back before they remembered that there was a world outside of each other.

It was cold up here, and he could hear a jet screaming high overheard. He wasn't sure that he'd remember the way back to the clearing, but if all else failed, he'd wait until they noticed he was gone and came looking.

He banked, and then banked again, flying figure-of-eights just because he could. He loved flying.

And he had the sky all to himself.

Almost all to himself.

There, faintly on the edge of his hearing, air through feathers. Thrsssh. Someone was here, flying. One of the flock? Flying Erasers?

Someone large and pain slammed into his shoulder and ribs, and a hand wrapped around his mouth. Desperately, Iggy tried to kick and punch the attacker. He was falling, but one of his wings was pinned painfully, and he couldn't get it free. The other chuckled in the way that only an Eraser could.

"Little blind bird-boy out here all on his own? What a pity! What are we gonna do about you?"

Iggy had the best hearing of everyone in the flock, and he never forgot a voice. He stopped fighting. Ari chuckled again, and the hand removed itself, so he could breathe.

"You're in love with her too, aren't you." He said. It wasn't a question.

He realised that this wasn't the wisest thing to say, when something hit him out of nowhere. On the other hand, Ari had had to let him go. He spread his wings out, and hovered.

"Quit your bad Eraser act, Ari, I just want to talk. I know you're alone here, and I know that we're in earshot of the flock if I yell loud enough. I'm sure Fang wants a piece of your hide. "

He could hear Ari's wing beats in front of him, and could almost sense the incredulity and confusion rolling off of the Eraser. "You want to talk? About what, bird-boy?"

Iggy snorted. "And quit with the insults. I'm not Fang, and I'm not going to be baited."

Ari hissed at him, and from the sound of it, smacked one massive hairy fist into the palm of one equally massive and hairy hand.

"Fine, I'm listening."

"You're in love with Max. I can see it, and I'm blind. I can hear it in your voice, when you talk to her. You hate Fang, you're so jealous of him. I'm jealous of him. I'm in love with her too, because she's Max – she's Maximum Ride, and she's beautiful, and brave, and can kick ass. I'm the blind one, but she doesn't see me, and she just doesn't like you. You kidnapping Angel has a lot to do with that. Like it or not, we're in the same boat. Helplessly, hopelessly in love with Max, and no chance at all of her loving us back."

Ari snorted.

"We're so stupid to do this, you know. Be in love with her. She can't love anyone who's so obviously physically imperfect. Because she's so shallow, and so caught up in herself."

This time Ari growled.

"And you're just as bad as Fang at not talking sometimes. What, did you get together back at the School and take classes on how to be endlessly monosyllabic?" Iggy demanded in irritation.

"Maybe I just don't want to listen to your endless hormonal teenage rants about how your life sucks." The Eraser shot back.

"Jealous because the track record says you won't make a teenager, Ari?" Iggy retorted. "How long are Erasers lasting these days?"

Ari slammed into his side with no warning that he'd even moved. Iggy struggled against the massive Eraser, but both his arms were stuck, and one wing was bent back at an angle that made his shoulder scream in protest. The feathers off both were being bent back by the speed of their descent; Ari's wings were not strong enough to support both his and Iggy's weight.

They slammed into tree branches on the way down. Iggy pulled his lone wing back in, desperate to not break the bones. Ari slammed into the ground shoulder first with a groan of pain. Iggy had the somewhat softer landing across Ari's torso.

Both of them lay there, stunned, in the dark forest, panting heavily.

"You do this often, bird boy?" Ari unexpectedly asked after they'd lain there a few minutes.

Iggy gave a dark chuckle. "Crash land? Or lie on the damp ground in a dark forest? Or get into fights with Erasers? Talk to an Eraser? Lie on the damp ground in a dark forest with the Eraser I just had a talk to and a fight with after crash landing?"

"You're a cynical bastard."

Iggy slid away from Ari, disentangling his wings from the Erasers' by touch.

"I haven't crash landed in nearly two years, but I've done the damp ground thing far too often. Same goes for the fighting. Talking – not so much. As for the final, this'd be the first."

"There's a first time for everything." Ari said quietly, heaving his huge frame into a sitting position.

Iggy grimaced, really not liking the connotations that the other boy put into that one simple statement. "Why are you out here alone, Ari?" Iggy asked, curious and keen to distract Ari.

"If I tell you, you'll hate me," He replied, sounding more vulnerable than Iggy had heard him since they'd been at the School. Ari had been three then. "The flock always hated me, ever since I was just little."

Iggy thought for a few minutes, listening to Ari idly playing with a stick. "I'm guessing that you want to get Max? Good luck with that." He said, only half sarcastically.

Ari said nothing, and Iggy was surprised at the fact that he was still sitting here in the middle of nowhere, with someone who'd tried to kill him many times before. Why? What was it that kept him here?

"Is she…" Ari began. He went silent. Iggy knew better than to prompt him, and possibly anger Ari again. He could be killed in the blink of an eye, and yet he was still here, listening to the confessions of someone who he'd been sure he hated up until only a few minutes ago. Maybe they were both just misunderstood.

"Is she happy?" Ari asked. "With Fang?"

"Yes." Iggy replied softly. "They're happy."

Ari curled in on himself, wrapped his wings around his body in a feathered cocoon and whispered. "She couldn't be happy with me, could she?"

"Or with me."

"Then why are you in love with her?" Ari asked roughly.

Iggy chuckled. "Gods, she's Max. I know that's not much of an answer, but…how many other girls her age do I know?"

"What about the freaky black chick?"

Iggy swung his head round to face Ari, so the Eraser could read the emotions on his face. "Nudge!" He exclaimed. "Ew, man, she's like my little sister! And seriously, don't you have all those freaky Eraser females?"

Ari burst out laughing. "Jeez, the Eraser females? Sure, they've got the appetite for that kind of thing…" Iggy's cheeks flushed, "But Daddy dearest doesn't like me lowering myself to their level. Even if they'd have anything to do with me in the first place, which is unlikely, because pretty much all the Erasers think I'm ugly."

"If it's any consolation, I'd be happy to see your face," Iggy said with a grin, "But then, I'm blind, and I'd be happy to see anything. Well, mostly."

Iggy sensed Ari's grin, and heard him snort. "The blind-bird-boy would be happy to see it. Real cute. Problem is, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me in…a long time."

Iggy grinned, and leaned over and poked Ari lightly on the shoulder. Ari poked his shoulder back, then stood. Iggy felt the offered hand brush his shoulder lightly, and he took it, letting the Eraser easily pull him to his feet.

"So, what now Ari?" He said, brushing damp leaves off his clothes.

"I was thinking that we'd take off, and I'd point you in the direction of your flock."

"That's it?"

"What were you expecting? A fight? I'd kick your ass. I'm not really working for the School anymore, I don't care about them, I don't care that they want you, I want her. That's all." Ari rumbled. "This way," He tugged on Iggy's sleeve. "There's a clearing for take-off."

Iggy obediently followed, for a few moments. "Why should I trust you? You could lead me over a cliff, for all I know, get rid of some of the competition."

Ari stopped walking and chuckled. "Not my style. I'd just rip your throat out." Iggy swallowed, and shivered as he felt a claw lightly run across his throat.

"Oh," He said weakly.

Ari just chuckled, and started walking again. Iggy swallowed convulsively for a second time, and decided there were worse things than following the sounds of someone trying to not make a sound while walking through the damp and dark forest.

He stopped when Ari did, hearing the absence of sound, the absence of echo that told him that they stood in a clearing. "Up, Up, and away," Ari said cheerfully, unfurling his wings. Iggy matched that, flicking feathers ruffled by the fight and letting them fall back into place.

He almost heard the challenge from Ari, something not said, and something he couldn't see, but they both leapt into the air simultaneously. Iggy could hear the passage of the larger, the sound that feathers made, the hiss of moving air, and with his greater agility, managed to stay right on Ari's proverbial tail, much to the Eraser's disgust.

He heard Ari's voice over the wind, telling him where they were to land. For a first time guide, he wasn't doing too badly at explaining what was in the area, with what Iggy knew already, like avoiding the rock. He made a decent landing this time, quiet. Ari whispered across that the Flock was still sleeping, and Iggy felt a slight twinge of guilt, but mostly relief. He sighed.

"Happy to be back with your flock?" Ari asked slightly nastily.

Iggy shrugged, "They're my flock, my family, y'know." He said.

"No, I don't know. I don't have a flock, or a pack."

Iggy winced at his lack of tact, he knew that Ari had never really fit in properly, and that it really did suck to be Jeb's kid. "I'm sorry."

"Why?" Ari questioned. "It's not your fault. It's Dad's, for doing this to me. Anyway, are you going to be okay?"

Iggy snorted. "Like you really care! Whaddaya mean, anyway? They don't know."

"Mindreader brat."

Iggy bit his lip. "Oh, Angel." He heard Ari shift, and give the slight snort he knew meant someone was rolling their eyes. "She…probably won't say anything. Even if she does, though, what can Max do aside from going nuclear? At least then she'd say something to me. Fang'd only ignore me, but then, I won't miss much, because he doesn't say ..." He bit off the rest of that sentence as Ari growled. "Sorry."

"Stop saying that." Ari grunted. "Sign of weakness." He stalked off into the trees.

"Um, Bye." He said weakly at the retreating back. Iggy wasn't sure if he felt like laughing or crying or whatever the hell… this was confusing. He'd just spent the past…however long talking to Ari Batchelder. As in Ari Batchelder, son of spawn of the Devil who was also known as Jeb Batchelder, Eraser Commander, and the one who had captured Angel. As in Bad Guy.

He wasn't sure what to think.