I was surprised at how vehemently some of you fought for another chapter. I'll admit that I half expected everyone to be done with this after the yearlong hiatus (:

I'll be honest with you guys: I'm afraid that updating won't come easy to me after all this time. More than one of you asked for an update within a week, and I kinda blanched like "wait am I actually expected to do that."

let's put it this way: I'm going to be a junior this year, taking two APs, honors calculus, and journalism plus three other classes. I'm in an orchestra, jazz band, multiple choirs, and play club soccer, trumpet and piano. And I'm a procrastinator like crazy. So that isn't the best combination for an oft-updating FF writer. /: I'll do my very best, although I'll admit I need a kick in the ass every now and then.

enough with the AN! Here you go (: enjoy.

Fang and I were lying sprawled across the bean bags in my room, staring wordlessly up at the blank white ceiling. Officially, we were doing homework, but it was after soccer practice (for Fang, at least) on a Wednesday night and frankly, neither of us felt very motivated to explore the exciting world of logarithms and the history of early native peoples and had stopped working approximately half an hour ago.

"Fang?"

He grunted in response, twiddling his pencil between two fingers as he gazed intently up at the wonders of slightly bumpy plaster.

I took that as encouragement to continue speaking. "Do you think I'll get to play soon?"

He glanced at me carefully, his long black hair poofed out in a stark contrast to the light blue material of my bean bag. "For the Lynxes?" he clarified.

"Yeah."

We lay there in silence for a moment as Fang thought about his answer. I honestly didn't really know what to expect him to say. He wouldn't sugarcoat the truth if he thought it was bad, but would be reluctant to dash my hopes at the same time.

I glanced down at the bandages swathed around my right ankle and tried not to groan in frustration. It felt a lot better after the two weeks offand I no longer needed crutches or the boot, but I was notorious for going back to playing from injuries too early. I trusted Fang's opinion more than my own on this one.

"I think that even if you feel ready, Anne's going to make you practice at least a couple times before she lets you play in a game," Fang replied quietly. "Like, maybe you would be ready for tomorrow's game, but she won't let you just go straight back into it even if she wanted to have you there."

This time I did groan, flopping around to display my displeasure at this probably very accurate guess. The only sounds were Fang's quiet breathing and the crackly shifting of the bean bags.

"I feel fine now," I said, trying to sound convincing.

"I believe you," Fang replied calmly, turning on his side to look over at me. I met his gaze, searching his dark eyes to make sure he wasn't being sarcastic. He wasn't, thankfully. This was actually a really serious matter to me, and I was glad he understood that he shouldn't take it lightly.

"And Ella's wrist is basically healed, so she gets to go back to playing tomorrow," I sighed, a little envious of my younger sister. Of course I was thrilled that she was healed now, but still, she would be on the field and I would be unwillingly gracing the bench.

"She also has been playing in most of the practices still, since she could run and keep her wrist protected," Fang reminded me. "The only thing she wasn't doing was full contact stuff. And now she can, so she's game ready. You, however, are not."

"Stop being logical," I moaned, burying my face into my bean bag's silvery material. I kicked the air in halfhearted defiance, scrunching up my nose as my back twinged in protest. My ankle, however, felt completely fine. Or maybe not completely fine, but at least 90 percent there. "I hate it when you out-logic me."

"It's okay, I know you still love me," he replied, his tone just oozing with self-assurance. I raised my face from the bean bag, glaring at him with enough force to shrivel a weaker soul than he. Fang, however, was unfortunately strong against my powers of glaring, and seemed unaffected. "Think on the bright side," he offered, a tiny smirk pulling at the corner of his mouth. I instantly went on the defensive, suspicious of anything he might say with that uncharacteristically impish look on his face. "At least tomorrow I'll have my number one fan on my bench cheering for me. How great will that be?"

I snarled, hurling my previously discarded pencil at him. Fang swatted it away with annoyingly good reflexes though, so I continued to launch various homework items his way. My bent notebook, a tattered novel, the biggest shred of eraser I could find, my history textbook- I went on till I couldn't find any more ammo. When none of this seemed to faze him very much (except the textbook- that one caught him pretty good in the stomach for a moment) I growled and shot to my feet, simultaneously pleased with the ability to balance fairly painlessly on my right foot and filled with the necessary rage to grab my bean bag and launch both it and myself on top of a very surprised Fang.

"What is wrong with you?" he wheezed, his startled voice muffled from underneath the silver bean bag currently pressed over the majority of his body. I pressed it down with my elbows, using all of the body weight I could muster up as I pinned him down as best I could with my knees.

"I am not your cheerleader!" I growled, digging into the bean bag even more. He struggled against my attack, squirming to attempt to escape and breathe and stuff like that.

"Max, good cheerleaders don't murder their idols," he chided, somehow still bent on messing with me even though I was pretty sure he was losing air quickly down there.

I let out a sound somewhere between a pterodactyl shriek and lion roar, firmly deciding that he was going to die for that one. "Why do I put up with you?" I hissed, fighting to keep his struggling body under control of the bean bag. My arms were starting to shake with the effort of keeping him oxygen-deprived.

To my immense dismay, Fang finally got the bright idea of rolling over, sending me toppling to the hardwood floor with a painful smack and embarrassingly loud squeal. Thankfully, Ella and Mom were out picking up the pizza for dinner, and were not around to witness that.

Fang ripped the silver bean bag out of my grasp, pinning me down so I couldn't scratch his eyes out or something equally as violent that I might regret later. He leaned down really close to my face, still fighting to keep me disarmed…

…and smiled.

A real, toothy, truly happy, utterly unusual and extremely gorgeous smile that was a completely unfair weapon against me in my wild righteous fury.

"Damn you," I breathed, feeling all of the fight drain out of me as I stared up at him, mind going a teeny bit- alright, completely and utterly- blank. "You should not be allowed to win like that. It's not sportsmanlike."

"What do they say in that book you have?" Fang breathed back, jerking his head somewhere behind him to the mess of scholarly projectiles I had fired at him before. "All's fair in love and war."

"Is this love or war?" I asked, smiling a little bit back at him. The unusual smile that had so easily calmed me down had dimmed into one that was slightly more normal but just as beautiful coming from him, and I felt happy lying there on the hard, uncomfortable floor of my bedroom with him.

Fang quirked an eyebrow at me. "Are you saying it's not both when it comes to us?" he retorted. "'Cause somehow, I always tend to get the feeling that it is."

"I have no idea what you mean," I said sweetly, fluttering my eyelashes up at him and conveniently ignoring the localized warzone scattered around us.

Fang laughed, the sound making my smile turn up a little more at the edges, and leaned down to kiss me. My smile widened even more as our lips met, and I tried to tug my hands out from under his pinning to touch him. He wouldn't let me go though, his mouth just barely pressed against mine, but lingering long enough to start driving me a little insane with each calm, soft brush of our lips.

I struggled a little harder, straining to press up into a full kiss, but Fang pulled back slightly to keep the pressure the same: light as a feather, barely there at all. I let out a noise of frustration, and he laughed softly, the sound vibrating against my lips and making me shiver. I opened my eyes to find him gazing down at me with amusement written clearly on his face, unmoved by my reactions to his teasing. He was toying with me, wanting to see what I would do next.

So I laid still for a moment, staring unblinkingly into his eyes, and pulled back from his mouth. He followed carefully, keeping the light, insane touch the same while watching out for any sudden movements from me to trick him. We stared at each other, breathing shallowly.

Then, without moving my head, I poked my tongue out of my mouth and licked him straight across the lips.

He recoiled slightly in shock, and I took the opening to surge up against him and kiss him hard, yanking my arms out from under his and using them to push him down. Fortunately for him, he slammed into one of my bean bags instead of the floor like I had. Fang didn't seem to care either way though, pulling me into his lap as we kept kissing.

"Don't tease me like that," I ordered him harshly in between kisses, digging my fingers into his hair.

Fang's mouth curved up in a slight smile. "I don't know," he replied, his words breathier and deeper than normally. "I kind of like this reaction."

I snorted and tried to pull back, but he just wrapped his arms around my waist, his fingers slipping onto the skin poking out from under my shirt. I shivered lightly, giving up on any sense of revenge and giving in instead to the moment. I'd let Fang win this time.

I snuck my hands under the hem of his loose black t shirt, a jolt of excitement shooting through my body as I felt the warm skin of his hips under my fingertips. Fang pressed me a little closer, and I ran my hands further up his sides in return. I could feel the slight curve of his torso and the solid path of his ribcage, the hem of his shirt catching on my wrists as my hands went further up. After a moment, he pulled back, his eyes locked with mine as he took the fabric piled around my wrists and pulled the shirt completely off of his head.

He shook his hair out like a wet dog as I sat in his lap and stared at the smooth olive skin of his chest and shoulders. I reached out carefully and curled my hand around his warm shoulder, and that seemed to be enough for Fang to pull me close and press our lips together again. His hands smoothed comfortingly over my back, making me forget about any stiffness or pain there. All I could feel was the overwhelmingly good presence of Fang.

"I do love you," he murmured against my mouth, his hands sliding up the skin of my back, bumping slowly and lightly over each vertebra with warm tingles. His fingers were approaching the bottom edge of my bra with what should have been alarming speed, but I couldn't quite bring myself to care. This was Fang. Not Sam. Not Omega. Not anyone who would hurt me. I trusted him not to hurt me.

"I love you too, Fang," I whispered back. He breathed in a little more sharply than necessary as my hands smoothed over his chest, and I squirmed with inward delight that I could make him react like that. So much for his brick wall persona.

My shirt had been bunching around his wrists just like his had on mine, and we only had to look at each other for a split second before he pulled it over my head and tossed it to the side. I watched his face as his eyes flitted over my torso, my hands twitching slightly as I fought the urge to grab my shirt back and tug it furiously over my head. The self-consciousness melted away, however, when Fang met my eyes again, and whispered, "You really can't know how beautiful you are."

It was like he had washed a warm wave through my system: I immediately relaxed, feeling the giddy happiness that I would normally not allow to go too far take over my body as a whole. "You really can't know how completely amazing you are," I whispered back.

His response was his lips on my neck and hands on my waist. I pressed against him, not caring that the only thing between our torsos was my highly unattractive bra. It was old and worn and a plain navy blue, fraying on the straps and not the teeniest bit sexy at all. Ella probably had way more attractive underwear than me. Hell, my mom probably had sexier underwear.

But that didn't really matter as Fang's mouth traced a heated path down my neck. My hands skated across his back, reveling in the warmth and solid presence that was Fang. My already uneven breath caught in my throat as his mouth reached my collarbone at the same time his fingers were playing with the clasp of my bra, teetering on one hook since I had been too lazy to attach it properly this morning. It stayed shut perfectly well that way, after all. That was, unless someone's fingers were fiddling with it as temptingly as Fang's were…

Who knew what might have happened if my hands hadn't finished exploring his back and were brushing around his stomach to find his chest again? Because if I hadn't accidentally touched the hard edges of the mysterious scar on his stomach that I had completely forgotten about, I'm not sure what would have come next.

But I did, and Fang jerked away from me faster than I would've thought possible, his eyes slightly wild as he stared into mine. I fell backward, dislodged by his sudden movement and just barely managing to reach out and catch the floor with a palm and a half before I made its rather rough acquaintance again.

"Fang?" I finally asked, my voice quiet so not to somehow startle him so badly again. I was completely unsure what to do as we stared silently at each other, breathing hard for what I assumed must have been completely different reasons.

Fang just stared at me for a moment, clearly trying to collect himself, before shaking his head slightly and blinking hard. "I'm sorry, Max," he breathed, reaching forward to help me off the floor. "I just… don't like being touched on my stomach."

"On your stomach?" I echoed, and we both heard the silent question I was really asking: You mean on that weird-ass scar you refused to tell me anything about that one night we went swimming at Nudge's house and I tried to ask about it and you flipped out then too, right?

He chose to answer the first, spoken question though. "Yeah," he said shortly, averting his eyes from mine. He kept one hand at the base of my back, the other hand resting in between us in what was clearly a barrier between my touch and that strange, forbidden scar of his. "I didn't mean to knock you off like that."

"It's okay," I heard myself say automatically. I just stared at him, all of my previously warm and blurry thoughts slowing back into focus again. What was he hiding that made him react so badly to anything to do with that scar? "I just… I guess I hope you know that you can trust me," I finished quietly, trying to make him look at me again. His eyes stayed fixed on his abandoned math textbook, laying completely uninterestingly on the floor a couple feet away.

I waited for a moment, but he made no response. A surge of disappointment crashed through me, and suddenly I couldn't stay touching him any longer at that moment. "Or maybe you don't trust me as much as I thought," I murmured, shifting to get off his lap. Fang's eyes snapped back to mine, and I had to push his hand off my back as he tried to keep me seated.

"No, Max, that's not it," he tried to argue. "I do trust you."

"Really?" I asked, sliding successfully out of his grasp. I didn't feel very pleased with my success though, but instead kind of cold and sad. I reached over and grabbed my shirt, then turned to look at him again. "Because I told you one of the very worst things about myself. I told you about what a monster of a kid I was. I told you about nearly murdering another person by accident. I told you about Mike." My voice cracked on his name, but I refused to stop, clutching the fabric of my shirt in my hands like a lifeline. "And you won't tell me where you got your scar?"

He stared at me, a painfully desperate look in his dark eyes. They looked blacker than they ever had before. There was almost no distinction between the iris and pupil in each. It made him look almost like a frightened animal.

"My scars may not be as visible as that," I gestured toward his stomach, and even that made him flinch. I tried not to care too much about that, pushing onward. "But I told you the whole story of my worst one. So forgive me if it hurts that you can't trust me enough to do the same."

I started putting my shirt over my head, but before it had gotten over my elbows Fang had moved to grab my arms, lowering them between us as he stared at me with the most earnest face I had ever seen him wear. "You have to understand, Max," he said quietly, his voice deep with a pain and far away quality that almost hurt to listen to. "I've never told anyone about this. Not Iggy, or Gazzy, or Nudge. Not even my parents know the whole story."

I watched him for a moment, trying to gauge the amount of emotion he was suppressing at that moment. If he was showing this much pain, clearly involuntarily, he must be waging an internal war to keep everything else under control.

I let him lower my arms, my shirt falling off to pool around my hands. I watched without resisting as he tugged it gently off and knelt beside me. Close, but not touching anymore.

"I tried to understand," I told him, trying to sound gentle. "I didn't ask again after the first time. But it scares me, Fang. No freshman boy living a perfectly normal life has a scar like that across his stomach, or emotions tied to that scar so harsh that they trigger reactions like yours. It scares me. I'm scared about what the hell could have happened to you." I stared into his eyes, reaching out and pushing his chin back when he tried to look away again. "No, don't avoid this," I ordered. "I'm the one who runs away. You're stronger than me."

"I'm stronger than you?" Now it was Fang's turn to echo in disbelief. "Where the hell did you get that idea from?"

I just stared back at him. "Umm, excuse me?" I replied, momentarily distracted. "Of course you are. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. And you know it's not easy for me to admit someone's better than me at anything. But you are better than me at being strong in every way."

Fang didn't appear to have an immediate answer to that. He just scrutinized me with those black eyes of his, and I was sharply reminded from the pressure of his gaze that I still wasn't wearing a shirt. I felt instantly exposed, torn between the heat flashing between us and the desire to run and hide from this half-naked confrontation.

"I am not half as strong as you, Maximum Ride, in any way," Fang informed me, his voice even deeper and more serious than before, only an undercurrent of unease betraying that he was still shaken. I couldn't help but shiver at the sound.

"Oh yeah?" Yeah, that was my brilliant retort.

"Yes," he answered simply. When he didn't appear to be about to expand on that, I opened my mouth, even though I wasn't exactly sure what I was about to say. Fang cut me off though, a flash of annoyance crossing his face for a split second. "Max, you can't argue," he said, sounding almost irritated. "You've moved how many times? And managed to adapt and create a new life how many times? Had how many people crush your trust underfoot? Picked yourself up and kept going as your own person how many times? Taken how much care of your little sister? You taught her an entire year's worth of material so she could be in the same grade as you!" Fang's voice had been steadily rising until it reached a volume I had never heard from him in conversation. He was dead serious.

Unfortunately for him, so was I.

"Oh yeah?" I repeated, my own temper flaring a little. "I've had my mom and my sister through everything, supporting me. Other people shouldn't have the power to change who I am, no matter how much they hurt me, purposely or not. And Ella is the genius for that, not me." I narrowed my eyes at him, reaching out and shoving him backward, just hard enough to catch him off guard so he fell back on the bean bag. I rose onto my knees, fisting my hands as I started picking up steam. "And what about you?"

"What about me?" Fang shot back. He had recovered his composure remarkably quickly after his unexpected fall, and was now glaring up at me again.

I ignored his interruption. "You're strong on the outside, physically and mentally holding up above average skills and personality. You're strong emotionally to deal with all of the crap that I throw at you."

"That's different," Fang argued. "I'm a reserved person, and I'm lucky to have talents that I can work on to improve. And I love you."

I tried not to let myself be swayed by the way he said the last part, but I couldn't help the shiver that sprinted down my spine. I kept going, though. "And you just said you haven't told anyone about this secret. Not your friends, not your family. It's totally on you, and it's clearly a heavy load to bear if you flip out so easily at it being touched, literally and figuratively. You are so damn strong, I don't even know how you keep up that mask of yours."

Fang was silent this time. He turned his face away, staring vacantly off somewhere in the area of my bed.

I softened a little when I saw the way his shoulders were trembling, just the tiniest bit. "Let me help you, Fang," I pleaded, my voice cracking as I said his name. My hands unclenched out of the fists they had formed, and I released the tension in my arms as I waited.

Fang took a deep breath, still not meeting my eyes.

"Fang?" I whispered.

Still nothing.

I breathed in and out, trying to mentally compel him to respond. Nothing.

"Fang?" I repeated, my voice still the same volume. "I love you too."

He visibly flinched, turning his head slowly to look at me. The expression on his face was like nothing I had ever seen there before: small, lonely, afraid. Things that Fang never was. "Come here," Fang whispered back, his voice broken as he held out his hands out to me. I watched his fingers tremble, and the last of the frustration drained out of my system instantly. He was letting his guard down.

I scooted slowly closer, reaching to take his hands in mine. Even trembling, his hands were still warm and firm and felt like safety. I watched them, olive skinned fingers linked with my lighter toned ones. He pulled me gently closer until I was kneeling in front of where he sat on the bean bag, and took a deep breath. I watched his chest rise and fall for a moment, before my attention returned to our hands as he continued to pull them closer to himself. We both flinched a little as he pressed my fingertips lightly against an edge of his scar.

He seemed to hesitate, all the muscles in his shoulders, arms and torso tensing up again. I looked back up into his eyes, which were locked on my face. "I love you," I said simply, squeezing his hands lightly.

It helped a little. His arms and shoulders relaxed, although he couldn't seem to release all of the tension he was harboring as he pressed my left palm flat against his scar. The hard ridges of the oddly angled mark were a complete contrast to the clear skin of the rest of Fang's torso, and just knowing how vulnerable those simple marks had caused him to be made me want to smooth them away.

I tightened my grip on his other hand, rubbing my thumb over his hand in an attempt to keep him calm. He released a long, shuddering breath, closing his eyes and trying to inhale smoothly again. I slowly spread my hand out to cover the main body of the scar, his hand still on top of mine, holding it against his body. I leaned forward on my knees, tucking my head onto his shoulder for a moment as he struggled to breathe steadily again.

Fang only let me stay like that for about ten seconds, then he roughly reached around me and yanked me off the floor and back into his lap. In any other circumstances I would've protested loudly and vehemently at his blatant manhandling, but right now I let him pull me closer, not making a peep as he wrapped his arms around my bare back and buried his face in my neck. He needed to be weak right now without me pulling out the trademark Max snark and ruining the moment, also trademark Max style.

"They beat us up," Fang mumbled into my hair, his voice almost unrecognizable in tone. It sounded so helpless, so lost, so unlike the voice of the confident, quietly put together Fang I knew. "So badly that I could barely think anymore. They blinded Iggy. They ripped my stomach open. They… I…" His voice shook, and I reached up to tangle my hand in his long hair, trying to soothe him as I cradled his head and stroked the silky strands between my fingers. "We were just walking in the park," he whispered, his voice a little stronger than before. "We were kids. Just playing soccer and goofing off on a Saturday afternoon. And they jumped us, crippled Iggy, almost gutted me. I somehow… I somehow managed to fight back. It was like an adrenaline rush all of a sudden, and I knocked a couple of them out. But there were four more holding Iggy down and b-blinding him-" he choked again for a moment, then kept going, "-and I tried to fight them all. I don't know how I managed to get rid of them, honestly. I was just a kid, and they were grown, armed men. But somehow they all ended up on the ground, and Iggy was lying on the ground with his hands over his eyes…"

"That was where this came from?" I whispered slowly, the fingers of my left hand smoothing over the scar again as he trailed off.

"Yes," Fang whispered back, almost indiscernible from his mouth being pressed against my shoulder. "But that's only the part that I've told everyone who had to hear a story about what happened. It's not everything."

"Do you want to tell me everything?" I asked quietly. I continued to stroke his hair, not wanting to push anything out of him in this alien, fragile state but also wanting to know the truth. The whole truth.

Fang was quiet again, to the point where I thought he wouldn't answer again. We just sat there like that, me running my fingers through his hair and gently across the scar had brought him so much turmoil. Quiet, together, waiting patiently. He made me patient, for once in my life, to hear something that I wanted to hear. I could have given him all the time in the world at that moment, just because I cared that much about him.

Not gonna lie, that was completely out of character for me and more than a little alarming to realize, but I brushed it off as much as I could. This was Fang's time. It wasn't the moment for me to freak out over some dumb self-revelation like the apparent shift in my personality because of the boy who was currently holding me like he might break if he let go. Even if I wasn't used to letting people have that kind of power over me… even if it was a terrifying concept to even consider… now was not the time.

I felt his lips move against my neck, and he took another long, shuddering breath. Before he could say a word though, the sound of the front door creaking open echoed upstairs, accompanied by Ella's cheerful greeting yell of, "We have secured the goods!"

Fang and I jerked instantly apart, staring at each other in panic as we realized the consequences of Ella possibly bursting in on us at this admittedly suspicious-looking moment. "Dammit," I breathed, struggling out of Fang's lap in a mess of tangled limbs and mixed communications. I hit the floor with a painful smack on my elbow and back, the wood cold against my skin as I scrambled for the shirt that Fang had discarded from my body.

It was at this moment that I discovered it is never harder to tell the arm hole from the neck hole of a tank top than when you are frantically trying to clothe yourself before your little sister stumbles in on you and your boyfriend half naked.

Fang, however, didn't seem to have this problem. His shirt was on in less than eight seconds, and in a flash he was kneeling at my side struggling to fix my failure of an attempt to put on my own. "Max, how did you even do this?" he hissed, yanking my arm out of the neck hole and trying to guide it into the proper place. "Are you two years old or something?"

I gave up on all hope of dressing myself, simply letting Fang do it for me as I listened to Ella's footsteps pounding ominously up the staircase. "You know I'm bad at doing simple things!" I hissed back, scrunching my nose as he shoved the top of my shirt down over my head. "Watch the hair! I'm vain," I whined.

"Shut up," Fang growled back. His irritated tone of voice, however, was greatly contrasted by the gentle hand he smoothed through the wisps of hair escaping my ponytail.

"Act natural," I ordered him, although I couldn't help but smile as I carefully removed his hand from my hair. Fang rolled his eyes and flopped back down on a bean bag, snatching a pencil and a notebook from the previously abandoned warzone and beginning to scribble intently away. I lunged for my history textbook, flipping it open to a page at random and sprawling out near Fang's elbow just as my door swung wide open.

I have to say, the bored expressions on both my own and Fang's faces were grade A acting material. "Sup, Ells?" I offered, flipping a page in my textbook, glancing up at her from where I lay.

Ella surveyed the mess of scattered books and school supplies on my floor, raising her eyebrows for a moment before deciding to brush it off as normal Max activity. "Just wanted to let you know that the pizza's here," she replied, smiling again. "Mom and I decided to get three this time just in case you guys randomly declared another eating contest and decimated our dinners."

I snorted. "That was one time," I informed her coolly. "And it was only because Fang is a rude son of a-"

"Pizza sounds good," Fang cut me off, kicking me lightly in the thigh. He started getting up off the bean bag, laying the notebook to the side.

"Sweet, it's all ready when you are," Ella said, grinning. She started to leave, but at the last second turned with her hand on the doorframe, a mischievous smile sneaking over her face that instantly made me wary. "Oh, and Max?"

"Yeah?" I asked suspiciously, narrowing my eyes at the too innocent tone of her voice.

She glanced over her shoulder back toward the staircase, then back at me. "You might wanna turn your shirt the right way before you go downstairs, or Mom might get the right- I mean, wrong idea about what exactly you and Fang were studying while we were gone."

My mouth dropped open as I couldn't help but look down at my tank top. Sure enough, it was inside out. I looked instantly at Fang, who had retreated instantly behind his unreadable mask at Ella's remark to try to avoid the brunt of the humiliation at her amusement.

"Dammit Fang, and you said I had the dressing abilities of a two year old!" I snapped. He simply raised an eyebrow at me in response, and I groaned back.

Ella just laughed, closing the door behind her as she retreated from us ridiculous human beings.

I sighed, lifting the hem of my shirt over my head again. It didn't even really bother me anymore that Fang was still in the room as I changed. "So much for fooling Ella," I mumbled. I worked the material of the tank top in my hands, trying to turn it back the right way again.

Fang's hand covered mine, instantly making me look up again. "Yes," he said simply, his eyes boring into mine, dead serious.

"What?" It took me a moment before I realized what he was talking about. "Oh." We sat there, staring at each other, our fingers tangled in the blue cloth clutched in my hands. "I'll listen any time you feel like you're ready to talk," I murmured, holding his gaze as reached up to touch his cheek. "I'm here."

Fang just stared back at me, expressionless as usual, his mask fully in place. "Thank you," he replied, the monotone of his voice not betraying any emotion on the surface.

But I knew that he was just trying to keep control. I knew how that felt, all too well.

So I smiled, looking back down at my shirt and finishing turning it back the right way. I shook it out to pull back over my head, but right before I could lift it Fang reached out to touch my side, his fingers brushing my ribs and thumb trailing over my stomach. His touch sent lightning through my system, and I couldn't help but shiver.

"You really can't know…" he murmured, his eyes sweeping my body until they locked back in on my eyes. We both heard the unspoken words to finish the sentence, repeated from earlier:

How beautiful you are.

So as I finished fixing my shirt and we stood up to walk downstairs, hands linked between us, I didn't even care anymore about missing the Lynxes game tomorrow, or my petty jealousy of Ella being game ready while I wasn't, or even any of the crap with Max II and Terra. For now, I was with Fang. He trusted me. He loved me. And that was all I needed right now. Yesterday may have sucked hardcore. And tomorrow might suck even more. Hell, there was a 95 percent chance that it was bound to suck even more.

But today was good.

Ayyy… I missed writing fanfic (: more than one person asked for more Fax cuz it's been fairly light in recent chapters, so I figured this was a good way to do that whilst simultaneously actually moving the plot along? (: somewhat?

And hehe tbh I don't care if it wasn't because this made me happy. =D did it make anyone else happy? Let me know! And everyone have happy feel-good feels, mmkay~

~TMI~