Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing that has to do with Maximum Ride. Although I wish I did. I'm just not that awesome.

The flock was sound asleep, sleeping comfortably on the dirty rock floor of a cave that had been carved into the side of a cliff. I flashed my eyes open; they were panic stricken. Full of fear, I sat up and crawled to a wall of the cave, curled up in fetal position and cried.

Stop. This is silly, you're going to wake the young ones, you're going to scare them, there's nothing here to hurt you; anything to make me stop crying. After a moment or two of sobbing, I quieted down; there was no real danger, just my imagination running wild. I closed my eyes and vivid images of Ari trying to kill me and Fang filled them. Once again, tears slid from my closed eyes and plopped on the floor, clearing the dirt under my fingers. I put my fist in my mouth and tried desperately not to break down again. I've been traveling with my flock and no guardian for as long as I can remember. We've seen horrible things, faced Ari, Jeb, Flyboys; we've been experimented on and almost killed; we slept in dog crates; we're always running from our worst fears, fears that would keep 16 year old boys up at night screaming. And here I was, afraid of the dark. What's wrong with me? The darkness closed around me like a blanket; a hot, stuffy, suffocating blanket. Shadows came to life, advancing towards me and my flock. One large shadow bent over nudge, NO! This can't be happening! This can't be happening! They came towards me, shadows dancing towards me, I closed my eyes, They're not real, they're not real, THEY'RE NOT REAL. When I opened my eyes, I saw the shadows had taken familiar shapes, the shapes of Jeb, Ari, and… the last one was tall, I knew it… it was… it was... The shadows came closer, I punched and kicked them, but they were intangible, like a bad dream, the impossible stood before me, and I was helpless.

They were suffocating me, I was going to die. But two hands on my shoulders brought me back to sanity.

"Max, Max, come back to me, I'm here, stay with me." Fang had seen my eyes, my expression blank, he called me back to reality. I looked at him,

"Oh," I said, it was all I could think, "Oh no," my mind overheated and I fell into Fang, knocking him to the ground. I started to cry as I scanned the wall for the monsters that had tried to kill me just seconds ago. "Oh, Fang," I cried, "It was horrible," I pressed myself closer to him, nearly sitting on his lap, clutching the only piece of sanity I had.

"Shhh…" he told me, "It's okay Max, your okay, it was just a dream," He stroked my hair, pulled me into his lap and told me it was over; but I knew it wasn't. "What are you afraid of, Max?" Fang moved his hand to caress my cheek; I looked up through my tears, and saw his face and remembered the third shadow. "What do you want me to do? I'll do anything for you; just ask me. What are you afraid of; I'll make it go away." I looked away from him; I couldn't bear to tell him my fears. "Let me help," he mumbled, he pressed his forehead to mine; our noses barely touched. "I'll make your fears disappear" Fang whispered to me, he leaned in the tiniest bit, his forehead slipped off of mine as he tilted his head, his eyes started to close; he was just so close… it was suffocating…

"Stop," I said without moving, "I'm afraid, that… I, I… I'm afraid of… the, um, dark."

"Is that it? Why the dark?" He said, I wouldn't look at him, but I knew that he was watching me.

"I'm afraid," I paused, "That it will take over my body, my mind, my soul… I'm afraid I'll lose control." I shifted away from him so I wouldn't see his stare.

"Max," he hesitated, "Are you afraid of me?" I wanted to yell no, to tell him that he was my best friend and ask him how he could ever think that; but he was right. So I said nothing. After moments of awkward silence, he got up. I thought he was going to leave, that he was going to hit me, that he was going to hurt me like I had hurt him, that he was going to tell me that our friendship was worth nothing… that he was going to go back to bed.

But he didn't, Fang moved so that he was in front of me and held out his hand. I knew I had hurt him already, so I took it, not knowing what was going to happen. He pulled me up gently, and held me in an embrace. I hugged him back, needing his strength. "Max," he said, "You took my hand, you let me hug you… you hugged me back. You're not afraid of me. Or is that not it? Are you afraid that I'll leave? Because I won't, I will never leave you."

"Thank you," I said to Fang, "Thank you." I composed myself and walked back to my spot where I fell asleep, I looked down at it, still not ready to forget the shadows. Fang walked over to where I was standing, and placed his hands on my shoulders again. He turned me slowly to face him, I looked into his eyes, full of hurt, but not willing to give up yet. His cool hands slid down my arms and hooked around the small of my back, pulling me closer to him. I put my hands around his neck and swayed, as if we were dancing to invisible music. He pulled me closer, up against his chest, and moved one hand to my face,

"Don't be afraid," Fang whispered as his lips fell like tear drops on mine. I moved one hand to his jet black hair that covered his eyes; I ran it through, pulling him closer to me. He pulled back the tiniest bit to angle his head the other way as he pulled me closer still. My other hand that was still on his neck slid down over his heart. I could feel it beating, I felt him, he was so real, he was tangible, and he was not a shadow. I didn't have to be afraid of him, for he was not the dark. The dark is the unknown, what was ahead, what is to this day, unseen and intangible. But Fang taught me something as I laid down next to him with his arms wrapped around me; he taught me to not fear the dark, for it may bring surprises of beauty and happiness, but also to be cautious of it, for darkness can be scary at times, it is fragile. But none the less, carpe diem, seize the day, and live life as it hits you.

But don't be afraid of the dark because,

After all,

Dark is just a metaphor.