I'm only going to put this on once. I am not Stephanie Meyer or James Patterson. I do not own any of the characters other than the ones that I made up (and I will state those in the chapter before I post it). Thanks for reading.

Three years after MAX. Ages: Angel-9 ¾. Gasman-11 Nudge-14 Iggy-16 ½. Fang-17. Max-17 ½.

Chapter 1

Max's POV

"Do you hear that?" A familiar voice asked, waking me from my well needed sleep. I rolled my eyes. Of course I heard the twig snap. It had only been the hundredth one since we had landed in the clearing last night. Now it was almost two in the morning.

"Yes, Fang. I heard it. Now will you please let me go back to sleep? It's almost my watch and I really don't want to be any crankier tomorrow." I mumbled, not even bothering to open my eyes as I responded.

"Suit yourself." Fang whispered. Well it wasn't really a whisper but that boy didn't know how to speak up to save his life. Battle Erasers until he was half dead, check. Finally get up the nerve to ask me out, check. Actually speaking loud enough for anyone to hear him, that's a negative.

I rolled over on the cold, plush grass and looked up to where the rest of the Flock was sleeping. Angel, my baby, although she was now almost ten, was huddled on the branch next to her brother. How she could stand to be so close to the Gasman and his "gifts" is beyond me. Total had passed last year and she had taken it hard. It was good to see her no longer innocent face relaxed for once.

Nudge was leaning against Iggy's hard chest, preferring it to the bark of the tree that he was leaning against. The two of them became "official" on her fourteenth birthday. Even though he is a whole two and a half years older than her, there isn't anyone I trust more for a Flock member than another Flock member. Besides, even I couldn't deny their obvious puppy love for each other. It was what Fang and I would have had years ago if I wasn't so stubborn.

Lastly, my eyes rested on Fang, my beautiful Fang. His dark black hair had been cut last week when we visited my mom. 'She did a pretty good job' I thought as I ran my fingers through the soft, short locks. He glanced at me confused, his dark eyes turning mischievous when he realized it was only me.

He edged closer to me slowly, his face nearing mine at a pace that would make a snail go crazy. When his lips were an inch from mine, he pulled back and I sighed irritated. He smirked at my expression and on instinct I punched him in the gut.

"Ow, Max!" Fang yell-whispered, startling the Flock. They were all fully awake and in fighting positions on the ground next to the two of us.

"Ugh, please tell me that I did not wake up just because the lovebirds were having an early morning fight." Iggy complained when he noted that there wasn't an intruder. Iggy's sight has slowly been coming back. First he started seeing colors in completely white rooms and now he can see in the dark. His night vision is better than any of ours, though his daytime vision still amounts to nothing.

"Don't be mad at them. They just show their love in a more expressive way. A lot of animals are like that. Like did you know that if a male shrew likes a girl and she doesn't return the feelings, one of them usually ends up killed and eaten by the other one. I found that online when Fang let me and Angel do some research for that school assignment back at Anne's. I liked Anne. Too bad she was evil…hey, Max do you think we could go to school here? I'm pretty sure that the last Itex we destroyed was the last one 'cause I mean that's what the Voice said and he's hardly wrong and it'd be fun to wear a uniform again and…" Nudge the ever constant motor mouth was cut off by Iggy's hand curling around her mouth.

"Too early in the morning, Nudge sweetie." He said as he calmly removed his hand from her mouth and she smiled to let him know that she wasn't mad.

"Thanks, Igs." I said gratefully. Fang rubbed the spot where I had hit him and I couldn't help but giggle at the thought of my strong, take-nothing-from-no-one, beautiful right hand man making such a big deal out of a little punch.

I watched as his face dropped and he glared at me teasingly. He was trying to hide his obvious blush as I saw Angel and Nudge giggle. "What?" I asked innocently.

"You think I'm beautiful?" He asked, completely irritated as Iggy and the Gasman started laughing too. I gapped and tried to think of how he came up with that…'Angel! I thought we talked about the 'don't read other people's private thoughts?' I thought to her and she looked down at the ground ashamed.

"Um…hey, Iggy since we're all up, do you think you could make us some breakfast. We'll just start the day earlier than planned." I half demanded, trying unsuccessfully change the subject. Fang shot me a 'this is so not over' look and went to the packs to scrounge up the rest of our rations. We'd have to make a trip into the nearest town soon if we planned on staying here for any longer.

Ten minutes later, once all the food had been licked clean off of our fingers and we had put out the fire, Gazzy walked over to me and Fang. He had a determined look on his eleven year old face and I almost sighed. They were hardly little anymore.

"What is it, Trooper?" I asked, trying to stay focused as Fang played with a loose strand of my hair. Keyword being trying. What can I say? He's just so adorable.

"I want a home." He started and put up his hand when he saw that I was about to interrupt. "Its not that we don't like being on the road all the time but we're tired of it Max. Angel has been trying to convince us all to settle down for years now. Please, just check out a few places for us. We've already looked up a couple schools nearby. Please Max?" He asked, his bottom lip quivering slightly.

"Fine. Me and Fang will go check them out today." I decided and Gazzy's whole face lit up.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you." I heard Angel exclaim from across the field and she quickly told the others what was going on. Nudge and Iggy cheered along with them, well more of Nudge than Iggy. He didn't look like he was 'super psyched,' as Nudge put it, to be going to a school again. He was almost seventeen after all.

"You don't have to do this, you know." Fang whispered in my ear. His hot breath on me neck gave me goose bumps and I shook my head to both clear my head and respond to him.

"The kids want this. Just look how happy it makes them…besides, last time was only bad because of my suspicions about Anne and my hatred towards the Red Haired Wonder." I explained.

"Red Haired Wonder?" Fang asked, both amused and confused.

"That psychopathic wanna be that was constantly stuck to you like glue in Virginia." I stated, not even bothering to hide the jealousy that was creeping up at the mention of the only girl that got to call Fang her boyfriend besides me.

"It was only to make you jealous, Max. You should know that by now. You are the only one that I could ever love." I gaped, shocked that Fang expressed his emotions in words instead of just kissing me like usual. "Besides, I think an education may do the little ones good, we both know its already too late for us." He teased and I whacked him with the back of my hand lightly.

"Well, then what are we waiting for? We should go check out the schools so we can all start tomorrow." I said before a thought from Angel interrupted me. 'Max, it's six in the morning. Most schools don't start yet.' Thanks, Ange. We'll have to wait I guess.