Everything stood still for that single moment.

The heaven's were crying in addition to the weeping women and solemn faces.

At the front, were four bird kids, two dogs and four humans…

And in the middle of all the mourners, was a closed coffin being lowered into the ground slowly…

-

"Run!" I shrieked. Damn Mr. Chu for paralyzing our wings! How the heck was I supposed to prevent Fang's death with our wings clipped?!

"Max!" Angel called, glancing at my right-wing man.

I hazarded a look at him and nearly snarled in frustration.

His teeth were gritted, dark red dripping from his mouth, eyes completely bloodshot.

I slowed down to reach back and grab his wrist.

Damn if I was going to let him die right now! Not after I promised everyone they'd live!

-

Iggy scowled down at the coffin.

He completely hated this sea of black they were in.

He hated the fact that one of their own was being lowered into the ground, after surviving for so many years…

Little trails of tears fell down his freckled white cheeks, dripping down onto his suit.

He almost smirked at what the person in the coffin would have thought of all of them in formal wear. Of what a fuss they would've made.

-

"NUDGE!" Gazzy yelled, Iggy trailing behind him.

I nearly gave myself whiplash looking back at her, squinting my eyes against the blinding white of the hospital-like building.

She was cradling her hand, crimson soaking her white sweater, but still running steady. "I'm fine!" she called hoarsely. "Keep going! We can still run out of here!"

I cursed a blue streak, skidding on a turn and ducking a bullet over my head.

I was going to keep my promise.

They wouldn't be in cages.

And no one would die, dang it!

-

Angel sobbed, arms locked around Iggy in a death grip.

All the sad thoughts!

Why wasn't the person in the coffin getting up, giving a wry laugh and saying it was all a bad joke?!

Another body wrenching sob ripped at her, and she felt Iggy's hand on her back.

Someone really needed to tell her it was a joke! It wasn't funny anymore!

-

"Angel, Nudge, Gazzy! Into the van, now!" I screeched, whipping around and knocking down an M-geek version 5.0 in its ankle, then giving it a chop at the neck. "Fang! Iggy! Get into that van now! I'll hold them off!"

-

I watched the funeral from a hill, far away.

Tears were dripping from my face slowly.

I didn't want to be anywhere near there.

No.

Cause then that'd mean it was true.

I placed my hand over my heart, feeling an empty but still there clench. A heart-attack like feel, seeing everyone in so much pain.

Being in so much pain myself.

WHY?!

Why did we have to have so much rotten luck!?

Why was I so damn cursed?!

-

Iggy had gotten into the van-- thank God, even if he was a moving a bit drunkenly with injuries. Jeb was hollering, at the wheel, for me and Fang to hurry up.

But how could I do that?

We were practically slipping in a puddle of blood, our pants soaked through from the knees down.

"Max! Just leave already!" Fang said, grunting as another bullet lodged itself in his thigh.

Tears prickled at my eyes, "No, dammit!"

I went to go force him into the car, grabbing him by his upper arms, only for both of us to go sprawling on the floor.

-

From then on, I remember screaming, being pulled into the car and off of Fang…

-

Fang scrunched his eyes closed, hands fisted in his hair, little round drops appearing on his jeans.

Pain, he felt a great and incredible pain as he gritted his teeth, sitting on the ground right across from the funeral.

It shouldn't have happened the way it did!

The name on the tomb stone—

-

Nudge and Gazzy cried, holding onto each other. A bulldozer pushing dirt on the coffin…the grave…

Max had been so right when she had first said that family meant all of them…not just a few…

So why had she herself contradicted it?

-

I flew over to where Fang was sitting on the ground, tears falling from his eyes much in the same way as everyone else in the flock.

And I just collapsed by him.

-

They had screamed bloody murder when Max and Fang went down, and Nudge and Iggy practically leapt out of the van and back in with them.

While Jeb sped away, and the M-Geeks seemed to retreat, they freaked out over their mother and father figure…their siblings…

"Max! Oh God, Max!" Nudge wailed.

At that point, Fang's eyes opened, "Wha hap'in?"

Angel cried with relief, her tiny body thrown over him. "You both passed out from blood loss! Oh, my God Fang, please. Max is going to be okay, right!?"

He put his bandaged and bloody hand on her head, then turned to where Iggy was trying to fix Max up before he even fixed himself up.

Max's head was on Nudge's lap, completely still and pale as death.

Iggy's hands were shaking as he tried to get her pulse, then began compressions…and finally just stopped.

"Fang…I don't know what to do anymore!" he said, looking up with frantic blind eyes. "What do I do!?"

"Jeb! You know what to do, don't you?!" Angel hollered, almost demonically. "DON'T YOU?!"

Fang reached for her hand… "Wake up, Max…"

-

Do you really know what it's like, watching the ones you love grieve over you? Your ghostly figure hovering above the one you love while your body is being buried under tons of worm infested soil? Soon to decay and be recycled back into the earth?

To collapse by the one you're in love with, trying to reach for him only for your hand to go through them?

I sure as hell do.

"Max, why did you have to die?!" Fang asked the air.

I covered my face with my hands out of habit…no one would be able to hear me—even if I had a megaphone or something on this horribly lonely plane.

"You should've let me get shot! You should've just quit trying to save me!" he seethed, punching the ground in one frighteningly fast and strong move. The earth practically moved.

"It should be me being buried today! You're Maximum Ride! You were supposed to watch Angel, Nudge and Gazzy go to school, help Iggy out, be Ella's sister and Dr. Martinez's daughter! Not some corpse rotting away in the ground!"

"I'm sorry Fang…" I sobbed, holding myself, still in the shirt with the blood, the bullet still in me. "But I wouldn't let you die…I can't…I'm sorry…"

"Max?" Fang's head whipped up, goose bumps rising on his skin. He looked around wildly.

My eyes widened and I scrambled up right next to him, "You can hear me?"

He froze, "Max…if you're here…Idunno….do something…"

I could've rolled my eyes. Typical Fang.

I reached my hand out and tried to touch him, seeing the red jump to his face in the cold. "I love you, Fang."

I felt myself disappearing, my body disintegrating into a filmy mist, but I heard his voice carrying in the wind. I saw his hand touching where mine's had been only moments before. "I love you, too, Max."

-

As Max left, a hawk gave a cry over them, swooping out of formation of it's flock of six others.

The Flock looked up simultaneously…all thinking about the girl…

The savior whose name was on the tombstone.

Maximum Ride.