Sorry it's been so long. I finished Nevermore. I am oddly at peace for the first time since FANG. At least I'm not staying up all night wondering if Max will screw up her life and end up with Dylan. Read and enjoy!

Freak Fest Chapter 30: Hold On

Fang's heart felt like a cold, clawed hand was clenched around his jittery heart and was squeezing the life out of it.

"Are… are you sure?" Fang silently hated himself for showing his despair, shock, and overall terror like that when Max needed him to be the strong one.

Max's own heart was beating so fast that there was a fair chance it would burst. He could feel her heart pounding through the thin material of her shirt as he held her up against her chest. His arms were wrapped around her small waist and his chin rested on the top of her head. Fang felt a stabbing pain as her whole body wracked with sobs. She couldn't be… could she? Her stomach was still very flat, like it always was, but if she was right, there was a little living being; growing inside Max, not centimeters away from him.

"Mostly." Max said flatly, managing to shoot Fang a sarcastic look amongst her tears.

Fang's breaths were short and irregular; as a last attempt to keep from breaking down. He wanted to tell Max that it would all be okay, that they would get through it and they would be fine. Empty promises and sweet nothings. Yet, he couldn't bring himself to speak those lies, even if they had a chance of comforting Max. She would probably rather him be silent than to feed her more lies. They'd been lied to too much and they didn't seek comfort in them even now.

"We… we should make sure. Do you, I mean…" Fang managed. Max understood his meaning though. She was grimly sure that she was pregnant, but Fang's suggestion was logical, as per usual. She didn't know how to exactly make sure, but Dr. Martinez would. Now, they would have to tell her. After all of this, after all that they'd gone through, as if it wasn't bad enough, it just had to get worse.

"We'll go tell her. I'll tell her. Please just… just do one thing for me." Max said, trying to keep her voice from quivering. Fang looked at her with his haunted eyes.

"Anything." Fang said soberly.

"Don't… don't leave me." Max said with her voice breaking. She looked up at him, her eyes shining, brimming with emotion.

Fang swallowed, but barely managed it past the huge lump in his throat.

"I won't. I promise." he said. He gently extended his arm and wrapped it around her small waist. Normally, Max would have rebutted any help he would offer her, stubbornly insisting that she could walk perfectly fine without any help. However, nothing about this situation was normal. For once, she wouldn't mind a little help.

Fang softly urged her forward, guiding her with his hand, which was resting on the small of her back; a touch that had always sent sparks through her body. Even his touch wouldn't penetrate through the numbness she was feeling.

Max shuffled forward, staring listlessly at her battered sneakers. She had just gotten her freedom. She should have known that it was too good to last. She'd barely even tasted freedom and now it was being snatched from her by the cruel, sadistic hands of fate. She couldn't take care of a baby. She didn't even know where to start.

Slowly, Max took a step, than another. Fang stood there, quiet but resolutely helping her along, hi silence acting as more of a comfort than any murmured reassurance. His sturdy black combat boots made little noise, which was very unusual for such a heavy shoe. But he was Fang; the boy moved like a shadow.

As they walked, Max kept her gaze aimed at the ground, while Fang kept glancing at her and at the approaching log house. All that he could think about was the tiny baby that could be living inside of Max. Part him and part her. Part monster because of him. The baby would feel the constant gnawing of the wolf inside of it to, the way that it clawed at Fang from the inside every moment of his life. It was a constant fight, and after months of fighting it, he was beginning to get weary. Max would have a monster inside of her, and it was his fault for doing it to her.

He'd been told countless times, by the Flock, by Max, by Dr. Martinez, that what happened to Max and him at the School in that dark room wasn't his fault. It wasn't either of their faults. The whitecoats were responsible, Jeb being the guiltiest of them all.

But no matter how many times he heard it, it never sunk in. If it wasn't his fault, why did he feel so guilty whenever he and Max became intimate and remembered the incident in graphic detail? Had the drug they'd given him turned him into an animal, or had it released something that had been there all along? And poor Max… he knew that no words could be a sufficient apology to her. He could only watch her and agonize in silence as she suffered. There was nothing that he could do now but stand by her side through all of it now and be there when she needed it.

Right now, all that she needed was for him to be there by her side. They finally made it to the front door, and Fang gently opened it up for Max, hoping that she wouldn't be annoyed by the chivalry. She was strange that way. To her, chivalry was an insult because it somehow meant that he was implying that she was incapable of opening the door herself. He'd found that one out the hard way.

Max made no comment and mutely entered the cabin. Fang slowly walked in behind her, closing the door behind him.

Fang guided Max to Dr. Martinez's room. They needed to make sure that she really was having a baby before telling the rest of the Flock. The rest of the Flock! What would they think?

Nudge would be happy for Max; she would adore the baby, but might worry for them in secret. Angel would know that Max and Fang would be scared out of their minds, and try to brighten the mood with happy comments. Gazzy would probably be a little wierded out. He probably couldn't see Max, the girl who kicks butt and leads them having a swollen belly then later carrying a little winged, lupine human baby of her own around. Then Iggy, he would be the worst. Fang would hate to see the boy he'd recently begun to call an ally and friend hate him to a whole new degree again. He would probably never be able to look at Max or Fang the same way again. He especially wouldn't be able to look at the baby. It would be part of the girl that he loved and part of the boy that won her heart over him. Iggy would be Fang's enemy again. Fang had never really had a guy friend before. Now he was about to lose the only one he'd ever had.

The pair reached the doorway to Dr. Martinez's room. She mostly stayed in her room, when she wasn't at work or out of the house. This was it. Fang looked at Max, his eyes revealing nothing. Max swore she saw a glint of a miserable sort of fear before it was gone again. He removed his hand from her waist; instead holding out his hand for her to grip on to. Max knew that she would have to be the one to break the news, since Fang was a man of little words and all.

Fang stood tall, firm, and with strength that Max admired and envied at the moment. Why couldn't she be as composed as he was? She took a deep, shaky breath. No, she could do better than that. She tried to draw strength from Fang, and took another deep breath. It felt almost collected, like the deep breath she would take before speaking her orders to the Flock. It sounded better. She could almost fool herself into believing that she felt better.

She grasped the brass knob of the door and turned it, then entered the door. They saw Dr. Martinez sitting on the edge of her bed, with her legs hanging off the edge. She looked lost in thought, but soon snapped out of it when she saw Max and Fang come in. She smiled warmly at them, but her cheerful expression slowly faded when she saw how morose the two bird-kids were.

"Is there something wrong? What happened?" Dr. Martinez asked in a concerned voice. Her eyes were bright and sincere.

Max steeled herself and silently prepared for what was to come. Fang squeezed her hand reassuringly. She saw from the determined expression on his face that he wasn't going anywhere. He would be right there with her the whole time.

"I've… learned something. Something important. It'll change things." Max said. She took a deep breath. She felt like breaking down, but she had to hold it together. She had to get this out. She could be strong; strong like Fang.

Dr. Martinez waited for Max to finish patiently, listening to her every word.

"I'm… we're going to…" Max's breaths were more and more uneven. She felt her emotional barriers crumbling. "I'm pregnant."

DR. Martinez stared at Max, like she didn't quite hear her correctly. Then, Max felt the tears fall. Her breaths came out in choked sobs and her ribs hurt from trying to hold them in.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Max choked out. Fang looked at Max, his heart breaking with every tear that fell from her eyes. Max. The strong girl that he'd known and loved and held on to; the girl whose memory was the only thing that kept him sane while he was suffering in the School… he'd broken her. He'd reduced her to this; and it was tearing him up inside.

Dr. Martinez wanted to fall back on the bed, but she knew that Max needed her now more than ever. She'd always been a sort of parental figure for Max, and right now, Max really needed a mom.

She stood up and strode over to Max's shaking shoulders. Fang was still holding Max's hand as Dr. Martinez embraced Max in a fierce hug, and Max let herself be enveloped in the most motherly hug that she'd ever received.

Fang saw that Max didn't really need to grip onto his hand any longer. She wouldn't be alone. She had Dr. Martinez to hold on to for the moment. Fang released her hand, and Max looked at him. His dark eyes seemed to pierce through her soul, and she understood his emotions. She nodded tersely over Dr. Martinez's shoulder.

Fang needed some time to wrap his head around this new mind-blowing, life-changing news on his own. Without a word, Fang turned around and left the two girls to console each other. He needed to get out of there. He needed air. Lots of air. He couldn't breathe. Fang's steps grew faster and faster until he was running. His combat boots sounded loud, so very booming that it made the floorboards creak. Iggy poked his head out of a doorway irritably. He'd been trying to take a nap. He'd had a lot more time on his hands since he'd let Max take up the mantle as the leader of the Flock, and he was really enjoying all of this new freedom. However, he was still in the Flock, meaning that peace and quiet was very hard to come by. The stamping of Fang's heavy combat boots against the old wood flooring was nearly deafening. That was the odd thing. Fang was never loud, but Iggy knew that it was Fang running down the hall. He strained his ultra-sensitive ears even further. He heard Max's muffled sobs from Dr. Martinez's bedroom. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong.

Angel stepped out of her room at that moment. Her adorable face was contorted into a sad, almost pitying expression.

"Go talk to him. He really needs someone to talk to." Angel said. There was something almost pleading in her voice. Iggy was about to pester her for further details, but Angel turned around and went back to her room.

Even Angel knew that Fang was really beaten up about something. And for her to suggest that Iggy get involved in one of their lovers spats… there was something very fishy about this whole thing. And Iggy was going to get to the bottom of it.

Iggy followed the sounds of Fan's careless footsteps out the door, and, predictably, out to the thick woods. Iggy silently cursed. He was blind for Pete's sake! It was difficult as it was to navigate through the house, considering that the kids left stuff in various places on the floor. It was going to be nearly impossible for him to chase Fang through this forest without whacking into at least a dozen trees.

Iggy wanted to just give up and go back into the house and enjoy the blissful silence while he still could, but Angel had said that he needed to talk to Fang, and she had implied that it was urgent. Iggy still wasn't best friends with Fang. After all, he was with the girl that Iggy was in love with, but if he needed help, then Iggy would help him. Helping Fang would be indirectly helping Max. He would do he could to help her, even though she didn't love him the way he wanted her to.

Iggy took in a deep breath, and ran at a quicker pace. He could hear Fang running through the woods, and mentally mapped where Fang was. He knew that it would be impossible to track the Fang, who walked silently, on any other day.

Iggy sprinted, and only ran into half a dozen trees before he heard Fang suddenly stop. Iggy skidded to a halt, and hoped that Fang didn't hear him and start running again, because he was pretty sure that he now had bark imbedded in his forehead after that wonderful little hike through the woods.

Iggy waited to hear something, anything from Fang. He expected growling, or shouting in Avian, or maybe even howling, which Fang hadn't done since the night of Ella's funeral. He wasn't prepared to hear breaths coming out in irregular, choked gasps. It wasn't because Fang was out of breath. A sprint like that was nothing for him.

Fang wasn't out of breath from running. He was trying to hold back sobs.

Iggy felt cold. So cold, that goose-bumps prickled on the surface of his pale skin. He'd never known Fang to cry, not once.

Iggy then heard a thump, Fang falling to his knees on the grass. His jeans were now probably going to be grass-stained, but Fang wasn't even thinking about the grass, the woods, the possibility that he was being spied on.

The only thoughts running through his mind were of Max, and the poor soul that Max was carrying inside of her. Her kid. His kid. Their baby. He was a monster. If he wasn't, the baby would cease to exist in the first place. He wouldn't have done that to Max. In his emotional turmoil, he didn't notice that his high-emotions were causing him to morph into an Eraser without the remote.

Fang clutched his face with his hands, not allowing a single tear to fall. Even alone in the woods, he still was Fang. He wouldn't cry. His stubborn refusal to let tears fall resulted in an odd sort of sobbing. He was shaking, trying to breathe, but unable to, but at the same time, he couldn't cry.

He felt sharp claws digging into his scalp; they were from his hands. He barely felt the pain, but at least he felt something. Inspired by the pain, he felt a desire to tear something to shreds. If he was going to be a monster, then he deserved to tear something to pieces like one. Fang stepped over to a tree and furiously started shredding the bark with his claws. Claws were meant for tearing flesh away, not ripping through bark, so Fang's hands were bleeding and soon filled with good sized shards of wood. Fang didn't care that he was hurting himself. It was something to feel. He needed to do something. One of his claws broke off, exposing the sensitive nerve underneath. Fang let out an involuntary yelp and the sudden, sharp pain and leapt away from the tree. He took a look at his hands and saw the dark red blood oozing out of his worn hands. He saw the pieces of wood that stuck out or were even imbedded in his skin. He looked at his claws, which were broken and chipped.

A large drop of blood fell off of one of his fingertips and seemed to fall in slow motion as it hit a blade of grass, then sunk into the earth.

If Iggy could see, he would be astonished at what Fang looked like, and a good bit frightened, and he had a good right to be. He could have never imagined anything like it before.

If Fang would have looked at himself, he wouldn't even recognize himself. At the moment, he wasn't an Eraser or an Avian-human. He was something in between. His shaggy black hair was as unruly as ever from darting through the forest. His eyes, which were usually a velvety black, were a luminescent yellow, which was really strange, since his eyes didn't change color when he was a full Eraser. Fang's claws were extended, of course, and dripping with his own blood. Fang had thick black hair creeping along the side of his face, kind of like sideburns. His ears were tapered to points, like the ears of a wolf. His muscles were larger, and denser than they were when he was an Avian human. He no longer looked slim and lean, he was more brawny.

Iggy, however, took the moment of silence between the two of them to decide on what to say. Fang opened his mouth, as if he was going to speak, revealing elongated, sharpened canines, but he quickly closed it again.

Amongst his grief, he hadn't noticed Iggy slowly approaching. Fang remained oblivious to the blind bird-kid's presence, even as Iggy cautiously approached him from behind, like he was trying to creep towards a shy deer.

Finally he stood behind Fang. He didn't have to see to know that Fang was emotionally broken from something, and it had to be awful in order to make Fang this upset. Then, Iggy did something that surprised himself more than Fang, which was saying s lot. Iggy's placed a pale hand on Fang's shoulder, in a comforting and almost brotherly way.

It sort of hit Fang all at once then, and nobody could scorn him for the tears that finally and steadily dripped down his cheeks. He hadn't cried since he was a small child; cold, hungry, terrified, alone, and dying in a dog crate. Fang was now facing more than he'd ever faced before. He'd hurt Max, and now she was going to have his baby. His, a monster with screwed up genes. The baby would curse him every moment of its life because it would be part monster too. All because of Fang. Every time he would look at the baby, he would be reminded of that. He was going to be a daddy. He didn't even know how. He wouldn't know where to start. Now, Iggy who loved Max too at one point, finally and truly accepted him. He had a brother, a family for the first time in his entire life. He'd never known how much he desperately wanted someone to call family until right now.

His chest ached with the utter force of his sobs and his odd half-morph stage slowly faded until all that was left of his Eraser self was the blood and splinters on his hands. Blood and tears fell into the grass, and the scene looked very much like a deep, depressing painting that onlookers would quickly pass by because it tore their soul to shreds.

Iggy stood behind Fang, tall and resolute, like a reverend comforting a mourner. He knew that Fang wouldn't like it, but Iggy let his pity, now more genuine than ever pour from his soul and out of his eyes. He now knew what would make Fang so anguished. He knew Max was going to have a baby.

Most of the tears were for Fang, but he cried for Max too. She was probably just as scared and upset as Fang was. Something like this didn't deserve to happen to them. It especially didn't deserve to happen to her. To some, it may have seemed selfish and a little pointless, but Iggy couldn't help but cry for himself a little too.

Max the girl that he liked, maybe even loved, was pregnant. With some other guy's baby; she didn't and would never love him the way that he wanted her too. He was trying to move on, but that wasn't an easy road to travel.

So the two heartbroken teenagers wept in the woods, where no one but the other would see their silent anguish.


Dr. Martinez wanted to be absolutely sure that Max was pregnant before they made a plan of action. When the sun set over the mountain peaks and the crickets began their nightly serenade, DR. Martinez left a quietly stoic Iggy to watch over the younger kids while she took Max and Fang with her to the veterinary office where she worked. She noticed sadly that Iggy had found out about the baby somehow. She had no idea of what transpired over the hours when Fang and Iggy had disappeared earlier, but she assumed that Fang had, in one way or another revealed the pregnancy to Iggy. She felt terrible for him, because the mother in her noticed that Iggy had started to love Max from the moment that they'd brought her home. I must be unimaginably painful for him to see her carrying another guy's child. She gave no indication of the pity that threatened to overcome her. Pity helped no one. She would know.

Fang opened the passenger side door for Max, a gesture that Max openly ranted against in a half-hearted attempt to make her feel anything but this time-stalling sadness. He smiled at her weakly. She gave him a timid, halfhearted smile back but climbed into the backseat instead. He instantly climbed into the backseat with her, and grasped her hand when he thought no one was looking.

His reluctance to show public displays of affection was endearing and morbidly ironic since Max just might be having the baby that neither of them willingly conceived. Dr. Martinez looked through her rearview mirror as she drove them down the winding mountain roads. Max leaned her head against Fang's shoulder and he absently stoked her hair, both too exhausted to sleep.

Dr. Martinez turned her eyes back to the road when she saw the awful suffering, broken souls lying behind their eyes. She tried to think about her plan to 'sneak' them into the vet's office.

It would have been long closed at this point, so she was sure that even the lazy janitor would be home by then. She was one of the two veterinarians who worked there, so naturally she would have keys granting her full access to the property.

The van's tires crunched on the rough gravel as the van winded down the mountain. The scenery flashed by in a twilight blur as the sun's remaining light finally disappeared. Max leaned up against Fang and as her bare skin brushed against his skin, he flinched from her fevered skin.

"She's so hot." Fang murmured, the deep timbres of his voice shattering the tense silence of the van.

Dr. Martinez was very surprised to hear him say something, let alone something of that nature during the current situation. She stared in the rearview mirror.

Fang's brow was furrowed and his dark haunted eyes, which were usually so carefully guarded, were shattered, revealing the teeming emotion within. He brushed his calloused and scarred hand across her sweaty forehead and brushing her choppy bangs away from her half-lidded eyes.

Dr. Martinez instantly realized that he'd literally meant that Max was hot as in running a fever. She could have rolled her eyes at the automatic assumption. She should have known that he would have been speaking seriously; he wouldn't be the Fang that she knew if he wasn't. He would only goof off somewhat when he was around Max. He was still trying to relax, but after expecting pain or death at any moment, who could really blame him.

Her eyes welled up at the memories of Max and Fang genuinely being happy for the first time in their lives. She'd once caught them up late at night watching an old movie cassette tape on a little beat up little TV that Gazzy and Iggy had revived from the junkyard. They'd even hooked it up to an old car battery so that it would run. There was no cable, of course, considering that they didn't exactly want to be traceable by any means.

Fang and Max were sharing the couch like they always did, lying side by side and were sharing a bowl of popcorn. Loose kernels of popcorn littered the floor with the precision of land mines. The blue light from the TV lit up the scene with a low blue light. Max and Fang's hands brushed against each other repeatedly as they reached for handfuls of popcorn almost in unison. They would look almost exactly like normal teenagers doing a normal teenage thing if it wasn't for their wings splayed loosely out of the slits in their lose t-shirts. Both of their hands scraped the bottom of the bowl for one last handful. Max said something unintelligible and Fang looked at her for a moment before a small, crooked smile appeared.

The both presented a hand over the bowl and thumb wrestled over the last bit of popcorn. Max won and Fang scowled as Max triumphantly scooped up the last handful. A playful glint appeared in Fang's dark eyes and before Max could react quick enough. He began to tickle her. Max bit her lip to keep her shrieks of outrage quiet, but a muffled version could still be heard. Max toppled off the couch. Fang took this to his advantage and swiped some popcorn from her palm. He popped it into his mouth and looked down to the ground at Max. She scowled at him and murmured something in Avian, probably some explicates that he had yet to learn in English. He grinned widely at her.

Her scowl softened almost to the brink of nonexistence at his rare full on grin. She pulled herself back onto the couch next to him. Max laid her hand flat on the couch. Fang looked at her, his wide smile adding to a private, indiscernible sort of expression and looked into Max's eyes. Max looked right back into his eyes, and something seemed to spark between the two of them. Fang slowly, almost cautiously moved his hand placed it on top of hers. A small smile crossed Max's lips and she leaned over and snuggled up against Fang, her head resting on his hard shoulder. Fang softy kissed the top of her head.

They were like two teenagers, almost normal even. Most teenagers wouldn't understand the complicated but powerful attraction between the two of them. And of course, normal teenagers didn't have enormous wings protruding from their backs either.

However, for the moment, Max and Fang were two teenage kids in love, with all complications forgotten. They were happy.

Dr. Martinez didn't want to end that between them, she'd never seen the two so at ease. She wanted the moment to last as long as it possibly could. As quietly as she could, she turned around and left them to what they did when they thought no one was watching.

Dr. Martinez was lost in thought once again, silently diagnosing the cause of Max's sickness in a true motherly and doctoral fashion. She quickly ruled out the flu and any other human sickness because she'd read the scientific files that Jeb had supposedly 'obtained' from the school when he'd originally bought Max. She and all the other bird kids were specifically designed to be immune to all human illnesses. She could be under too much stress and that was what was making her so ill. It could also be a form of morning sickness, because it was actually quite common for women to have morning sickness in the evening instead of the morning.

Suddenly, Max spoke in a wavering voice that sounded so foreign coming from her mouth.

"Stop the car."

Dr. Martinez all but slammed on the brakes and careened to the side of the road. Max broke out of Fang's grasp and staggered out of the van and stumbled towards the forest off the side of the road.

Fang bolted after her. Dr. Martinez stared worriedly into the brush where Max and Fang disappeared.

Max didn't get too far into the thick forest. The sharp branches tore her skin like groping claws. Max stopped and keeled over next to a pine tree suffering from termites and retched into the grass. She had been too nervous and upset to eat anything before they left so undiluted bile burned her throat. Fang appeared behind her like a shadow; dark, quiet, and always by her side.

His gut wrenched painfully at the sight of her crumpled up in the grass. He had done this to her. He would never forgive himself for this. He knelt in the tall yellow-green grass and held her hair up. To her credit, she didn't cry. She had every right to, but Fang's heart clenched at her insistence to be strong.

Her mouth tasted horrible and her stomach churned sickly. Fang stroked her hair and kissed the back of her neck, he small pale hairs on the nape of her neck as soft as down feathers. He kissed the side of her neck, so soft it was more like the memory of a kiss.

"It'll be okay. We'll be okay." Fang murmured softly. The words surprised Max; she hadn't expected to hear him speak at all.

Without a word, she turned and gripped him in a fierce embrace like it was the last time she would ever see him. Though the uneasiness in her stomach didn't go away, it softened a bit. Fang held her close to him, as if his body could protect her from anything that could hurt her.

If anything can hurt her more than I already have, I'd love to know what it was. Fang thought darkly. He brusquely shoved it and similar thoughts away to the back of his mind.

After a minute or so Fang stood up and held his hand out to help Max to her feet. Max swatted his hand away.

"I can get up by myself." She said with more confidence than she felt. She stood up too quickly and a wave of nausea swept over her. She gritted her teeth and her legs quivered unsteadily. Fang's arm snaked around her waist to keep her steady. The gesture somehow seemed protective yet affectionate at the same time. The warmth of his hand on her lower back was enough to make her legs completely turn to jelly, but she didn't want to show even more weakness today. She was way past her daily limit of confusing and overwhelming emotions for the day.

"I can walk by myself, thank you." Max snapped, but they both could tell that she didn't really want him to let her go.

"Who said you couldn't?" whispered Fang, his warm breath tickling her ear. Max bit back a smile and walked forward, with Fang close by her side, where she always wanted him to be.

The night air was getting colder and colder. And Max shuddered involuntarily. They were almost to the van, but Fang shrugged off his black hoodie. Max felt like she should protest, but honestly didn't want to. She lifted her arms up like a child being dressed by their parent, and he slipped the hoodie over her small shivering frame.

She inhaled and snuggled closer to the hoodie. It smelled like him and the scent was an instant comfort. She wrapped one arm around Fang's waist and the other gently guided his head town towards hers. Their lips met in a kiss that was soft, light, and quiet, like the footstep of a dove.

Everything would be okay as long as they were together. Both of them desperately wanted to believe that. They would survive this as long as they had each other. Just hold on.

When they reached the van, Dr. Martinez was worriedly staring out into the dark woods. She looked visibly relieved to see them back in one piece, although she looked at Max with sympathy.

"I'm fine." Max assured her. "We can keep going. I think it was just all the turns in the road. It made me dizzy. Flying is a whole lot different that car riding."

Dr. Martinez nodded and continued to drive to the vet center, stealing occasional glances in the rearview mirror.

Max was now wearing Fang's black hoodie leaving him wearing a plain black t-shirt and those dark-dark wash jeans he seemed to prefer. They held hands, Fang gently squeezing her hand, and Max tightening her grip in return.

Dr. Martinez finally pulled into the back parking lot of the small local clinic. It was completely deserted, just like she knew it would be. She parked the car, unlocked the back door, and motioned for the two troubled teenagers to follow her inside.

She led them down the main hallway to the largest examination room. She couldn't believe the irony of having to test Max to see if she really was pregnant in a veterinary office. She would love to take them to a real doctor, but of course he would find her avian-blood to be strange and that would lead to way too many questions. Besides, while they were both here, she would like to take a few X-rays and a blood sample of Fang to determine if his Eraserism was reversible. That is, if he would allow her to. It might be a bad time.

Max sat on one of the chairs in the examination room and Fang sat next to her. They were both rattled by the experience of being in this place. The smell reminded them of the School and the park and of all the horrible things that had been done to them by the whitecoats. The whole atmosphere wasn't as coldly sterile as the rooms at the school or the experimental rooms of the park were, but it still had the whitecoat-feel to it that made them very uneasy. Dr. Martinez prepared to take Max's blood test and was explaining the procedure to them in order to fill the tense silence.

"I'm going to be taking a blood test, which will only require a little blood, but it's a guaranteed way to know if you're really… expecting." Dr. Martinez tried not to choke on the last word. "We used this method on animals, but people use it all the time too. Since there aren't exactly any other people here, I can get the test done in about an hour."

Max nodded mutely, her hand still clenching Fang's like a lifeline. Both their hands were cold and clammy. Their hearts raced with nerves and adrenaline pulsed through their systems, not only for the test but for dealing with all the memories of the whitecoats tortures at once.

Dr. Martinez brought the needle over along with the disinfectant. Max held out her arm like a professional, and sadly, in a way, she was.

Dr. Martinez watched the two teenagers who were obviously scared but trying to put on a brave façade. She wiped of the surface of Max's elbow with the disinfectant and slid the needle expertly into Max's arm. Max didn't even wince as the sharp metal pierced her skin. The small container above the needle filled with ruby liquid. Fang gripped the arm of the chair with his free hand until his knuckles turned a ghastly white. He hated seeing this happen to Max and just sitting still while doing nothing. He hated the smell of this place and he hated the memories it brought. He hated the reason that they were there and he hated that it was his fault.

Of course, it wasn't his fault, but nevertheless, Fang blamed himself for the predicament, as if he could have resisted the powerful drug that the whitecoats had injected both him and Max with. No one could have resisted it.

Dr. Martinez finished drawing blood and quickly put a band aid over the small hole in her arm where the needle event in. She tried to ignore the many other tiny white scars that covered the interior of her arm from countless other injections and blood samples.

"Okay, this'll take a while, so you guys can go out into the waiting room if you want. There's a couch there. It's more comfortable. I'll come and find you when the test is done." Dr. Martinez said. She gave them a quick smile as she disappeared into a room filled with all kinds of odd machines.

Max studied the band aid on her arm quietly. It was covered with little yellow smiley faces.

"I think I'm going to keep your jacket." Max said quietly. Fang looked at her, his black eyes meeting her golden brown ones. "I like it too much to give it back."

"You should keep it. It looks better on you. I like seeing you wearing my clothes." Fang said, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

"Just as long as you don't start wearing my clothes, I think it'll be okay." Max said, returning his tight lipped half-smile with one of her own. Fang's posture relaxed by a fraction of a degree. He chuckled, a deep sound that reverberated through the room.

Max's heart fluttered unexpectedly at the sound.

"Come on, a couch sounds really great right now, cause these stiff little things aren't cutting it." She replied, standing up and pulling him to his feet, leading him down the hall by his hand. His smile relaxed and expanded the slightest bit.

Max plopped down on the large leather couch in the waiting room. It was worn from common use, but it made it all the more comfortable and a bit homelike... Nothing like they would have in the school. The waiting room may have smelled like cleaners and antiseptics, but the walls were a peaceful blue and the walls were decorated with peaceful black and white photographs of local mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. A black wooded coffee table displayed a variety of magazines, most displaying various animals on the cover. Several other squishy Lazy Boy type chairs were strategically placed around the room. There was even a small fireplace near the corner of the room. It seemed more homelike in here. Except maybe a more organized home than Max or Fang was used to.

Max leaned far over until she was lying down on the couch. Fang was behind her lying between her and the soft back of the couch, his head propped up against the armrest. Max was on her side, facing away from Fang. She was desperately tired but the stress was keeping her awake. Fang probably couldn't sleep if he tried; so instead of attempting sleep or letting his thoughts drift away, he massaged Max's back, right between her wings. Max sighed in contentment and the tension seemed to slowly drift away. Fang's jacket smelled wonderfully like him and he was close to her and the massage he was giving her back was excellent.

"Fang" Max murmured, sleep now approaching her like an incoming train.

"Yeah?" He said softly.

"Promise to never leave me, okay? No matter what happens?" Max asked softly, he couldn't read her expression because she was facing the other way, but her voice actually sounded a little strained, as if that was bothering her.

"I'll never leave you. I promise."

"No matter what?"

"No matter what."

It was quiet for a moment, and Fang was rubbing gentle circles lower and lower down her spine, careful to stay between her wings.

"Fang?" Max murmered, even more quietly this time.

"Yeah, Max?" Fang replied.

Max was quiet for a moment. He was almost positive that she had finally fallen asleep. At least one of them could benefit from some sleep.

"If I really am… gonna have a baby, I wouldn't have picked anyone else but you to be the daddy." Max said softly.

His heart nearly stopped beating in his chest and his throat seized up, like there was something preventing him from breathing or swallowing.

He couldn't have said anything if he had found the proper words to describe what he felt at that moment. He'd never loved something so much in his whole life. He loved her more than he could ever have believed to be possible.

He gently pulled her closer to him until she was up against his chest. She could feel his ultra-fast heart beat through his shirt and the sound was more comforting that anything she'd ever known. Her head was nestled against his chest and his chin rested above her head. He kissed the top of her head, stunningly at a loss for words when he actually wanted to use them.

They were frozen in time, and neither one wanted the moment to end. It was timeless in the room. There was a clock, but neither one glanced at it. Besides, they hadn't exactly learned how to read an old fashioned round clock quite yet. Time didn't matter. The moment was measured in the steady rising and falling of the other's chest, the rapid beating of the other's heart, and the feeling that their hearts were about to burst at any given time because they loved the other person so much.

It could have been seconds, minutes, or hours and they would not have known the difference. But when Dr. Martinez walked into the room, the time spent together wasn't long enough. Fang looked up at her and sat up, realizing that Max was still asleep. He hated to wake her, she looked peaceful for the first time really all day, but this was news that they had to hear; now and together.

Fang gently shook her awake and Max's eyes didn't open, but she mumbled,

"No, Fang stay."

He wanted to. He really did. He could lie there with Max forever. But reality was about to come flooding in and he had to be ready to keep his head afloat, or they'd both drown.

"Max. You have to wake up. The test is done." Fang said in low voice. Max's eyes fluttered open, instantly filling with worry. She sat up, adrenaline and pure terror waking her up faster than coffee ever could.

Dr. Martinez looked at the poor teenagers sitting in the waiting room of a veterinary office in the middle of the night, waiting for the result of a test that would drastically change their lives forever.

The look in Max's eyes reminded her of the poor young girls begging in front of stores or supermarkets that she saw in the city when shopping. Drug and food hungry, homeless, wearing ragged clothing, no father, no family, and no hope.

Fang has a look in his eyes that she'd seen in men much older than he was, old men who were already tired and weary of the world.

They were fifteen, for God's sake. They shouldn't have to go through this. They were the people who least deserved this. When she was nervous, she tended to develop a Nudge-like tendency to babble.

"Well, in many cases, I'd have to check for sexually transmitted diseases and such, because they are a very real problem and are very serious, and even deadly." Dr. Martinez said quickly. Max turned her gaze to the floor, and Fang reached over and took her hand again, reminding her that he would be there, no matter what. Max squeezed back feebly.

Dr. Martinez immediately realized that she'd only worried them even more.

"Don't worry though! You definitely don't have any diseases. Back at the, um, the park, I had to check for those sort of things, especially Fang, since we didn't know exactly what his background back at the place Jeb bought him from. It was all just precautionary. But you guys were clean." Dr. Martinez amended.

Fang's eyes actually widened and did something that Max had never seen him do before. His cheeks actually flushed with embarrassment. Max chuckled softly and quickly kissed Fang on the cheek. His dark eyes darted over to look at her. The edge of his mouth quirked upwards; physically unable to form anything closer to a smile.

Dr. Martinez could have smacked herself in the forehead. Her prattling was making everything worse.

"So, the results came back." Dr. Martinez started, clearing her throat. She had to sound like an adult here. They needed one.

Max and Fang glanced at each other solemnly; hands intertwined, and looked intently at Dr. Martinez.

"Positive. The test was positive." Dr. Martinez said in the steadiest voice she could muster.

Max felt so many emotions all at once. it was hard to decipher them all. Fear being the dominant emotion felt, but sadness, self-loathing, helplessness, and guilt also tore heart heart to shreds. There must have been something else she could have done, something so that it wouldn't have come to this. She couldn't be a mom, she didn't know how. She never really had one except for maybe Dr. Martinez, but it wasn't exactly the same thing. She was going to have a baby. For sure. What was she going to do?

Fang felt a sort of second wave of realization hit him at that moment. It was official then; medically confirmed. He was going to be a dad. A huge wave of guilt engulfs him, the same thought of It's all my fault repeating itself like a mantra inside of his head. His hand began to shake uncontrollably. He quickly seized the quivering hand with his other hand, which halted the shuddering for a moment before spreading to both arms. He silently cursed himself. Weak, weak, weak he was weak. How could he stand here and shudder like he was freezing to death when Max needed him to be strong now. There was absolutely nothing he could do now for her except be there for her. He couldn't undo the past, but he'd never felt so useless or filthy in his entire life.

Max walked dazedly towards him, and he immediately pulled her tightly against his body. Max couldn't hold back the tears any longer. She wasn't ready to be a mom! She didn't even make the baby with Fang, well, not by her own free will. He hadn't either. Jeb, who was still out there somewhere, would stop at nothing to get her now that she was going to have a baby. It's like Jeb was still controlling her life, even though she was thousands of miles away from the park. She sobbed into the soft dark material of Fang's shirt.

"It's okay, sweetheart. We'll be fine. It'll all be okay. I promise." Fang said softly. He looked down at her shuddering form clutching onto him. She was going to have their baby. She wasn't ready for this. He definitely wasn't. The baby would be a monster, a monster just like him. Only a monster could have let something like this happen to Max.

To his horror, a few tears leaked down from his eyes and dripped into Max's golden brown hair. Max pretended not to feel the hot droplets splash against her scalp.

"I meant what I said. About you." Max managed softly. Fang almost didn't believe her. But he knew that she was sincere. That meant much more to him than she could have ever known.

"Max?" Fang said softly.

She looked up at him through red-rimmed eyes. "Yeah?" she replied, sniffling.

"There couldn't be a better mom for our baby than you. You'll be the best." Fang finally found his words.

"How do you know?" Max asked.

"You're Maximum Ride. You are the most stubborn and smart and amazing person I know. You lead the Flock, like a mom. You have to be a good mom, because how can someone as wonderful as you not be?" Fang said.

Max could only hold on to him. He didn't know a whole lot of words in English, but he sure knew what to say. It was quiet for a moment.

"I'm not ready for this." Max whispered, her voice breathy and barely audible.

"Me neither." Fang said, his voice cracking.

"We'll make it through. I'll be here with you."



I had to splice this in half because of the length. Ill finish up the last half. I just couldn't get this darn chapter to sound right! I re-wrote it so many times, then edited it, then re-wrote it again… I feel horribly, horribly guilty for posting so late, but I swear that the other chapter is well on its way to completion and the waiting period between these chapters won't be long. Reviews would be immensely appreciated, as I would LOVE to know how this chapter sounds, since I'm losing my few hours of sleep to write. :P ah, well. Writing first! School tomorrow takes the backseat!