Frayed

Chapter 1

"Do you have a gun?"

Frowning, Fang shook his head. "No. Why?"

"For my homework," Ethan said, not looking up from the paper. "How come?"

"How come what?"

"You ain't got one."

"I don't need one."

"Ryan does."

"What are you talking about?"

The boy kept nodding. "I asked my teacher if I had to ask both my parents, seeing how you guys don't live together. She said sure. Course, she always tells me sure. I think that she likes me better than everyone else. Like this one time, I fell off the slide at recess-"

"Stay on topic, Ethan."

"Anyways, I asked Mom and she said that Ryan has one." Ethan finally turned to look at his father. "Does that mean that you're tougher than him and don't have to have one?"

Staring at the first grader, Fang said yes. Of course. He was still at the age where your father was the strongest persona in the world. And wasn't Fang? If it wasn't for him, the world wouldn't be here. Ethan was one of the few kids who could have his father as a hero and it actually be true.

"What are you doing with your homework anyways? I don't see how it's your teacher's business if I have a gun or not."

"We're learning about gun safety."

"You know not to touch one, right? What other safety do you need?"

"I dunno….Guess what I did yesterday!"

"What?" Fang asked, holding in a sigh. His youngest could talk forever. Most of the time he just tuned it all out. Today was no exception. It was about twenty minutes later that his other son walked in.

"Did you know that it was snowing?"

Fang nodded. "You didn't walk, did you?"

"Yeah."

"From school?"

"Yeah."

"Why? You should have called me. I would have picked you up. Why didn't your mom or her boyfriend?"

"I don't know."

"Next time you call me."

"I can't," he said as he shook the snow off him.

"Why not?"

"That stupid jerk took my phone."

"Who? One of your teachers?"

"No. Ryan."

"What? Why?"

"Heck if I know," Bruce said as he took off his coat. "I'm passing all my classes, so I don't see why I can't have it."

"I'll get you a new one," Fang said, frowning. Stupid jackass taking stuff from his kids. "What do you guys want to do tonight? Can't go anywhere. It's snowing too much."

"Can we watch a movie?" Ethan jumped up. "I brought one with me."

"What is it?" Fang asked, glancing at Bruce. Most of Ethan's movies were stuff that no one older than eight would be interested in.

"Toy Story!"

"You always watch that," his brother complained.

"I know. We like it. Huh, Dad?"

"Yeah, but…let's watch something different, okay?"

The youngest boy's face fell. "How come?"

"Because…we'll watch it later, alright?"

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Okay."

Bruce shook his head before walking off further into the apartment. His dad was so weak.


By eleven, both of his sons had fallen asleep. Toy story was only halfway through, but they both passed out. It had probably been a long week for them.

Slowly, as not to wake Ethan, who was sleeping against him, Fang stood up and laid the boy back on the couch. After covering him over with a blanket, he looked over at Bruce, who was in the chair. Fang removed the coke can from his lap before going to turn off the TV and go to his room.

It hadn't always been like this. A year and a half ago, he would be at home, with Max, and happy. Now he got his boys every other weekend and every Thanksgiving. Max got Christmas. Ethan made a big deal that Halloween was an important holiday too, so Max let Fang have that one.

The boys seemed to like it this way too though. Every weekend they spent with Fang was a party. They stayed up late, at junk food, and just goofed off. Max said that Fang wasn't a good father. Both boys would beg to differ.

Sighing a little, Fang went to go stand on his porch. It was small and led to the fire escape, but Fang still liked to sit out on it. It was a pretty nice apartment. Ethan had fun helping him find one. Ethan always had fun. It killed Fang when Max kicked him out only to bring him back to break the news to the little boy. It wasn't fair. Ethan never got upset. He did that day.

The snow had died down. When Max and Fang first moved up north, he hated it. It reminded him of living in the E-shaped house and all the baggage that came with those memories. But he did it anyways. For Max. Everything he did was for Max. Why didn't she believe that?

Fang heard someone stirring inside. Turning his head to peak in through the sliding glass door, he saw Bruce was looking through freezer. He probably wanted ice cream. Fang always had ice cream, just for them. He didn't eat badly for the most part. Always worried about another threat to the world, he was a workout freak. On these weekends though, he'd eat anything and everything, just to be like his boys. That's all he wanted. To be good for them. And he was. Wasn't he?

Turning back to look at the cold night sky, Fang couldn't help, but to reach his hand into his jean pocket and feel around for the edge of the picture. It was a small picture, frayed and dirty after years of being moved for pants to pants by Fang, accidentally washed by Max a handful of times, and even once being thrown away by mistake. He dug it out of the trash though. He needed it.

Pulling it out from his pocket carefully, Fang stared at the photograph. It was from when Max and Fang were five and still in the School. Back then, before the School used video cameras to document everything, they would take pictures of their wings and other body parts for record keeping purposes.

That day, Max was in one of her bad moods even though Fang had been getting the brunt of the horrible treatments the past week. At that moment that would be caught in time forever by a camera, Max had her hands over her mouth, trying to hide the fact that she was laughing. At the same time, Jeb had told Fang to show him his arms and Fang, being his overly confident self, was flexing his arms, flaunting the muscles that only existed in his head.

Jeb had given the picture to Fang right after the world was saved. He gave Fang a lot of things. Money, being one of them. Told him it was dirty work, saving the world, that is. They had found Angel, only to lose Dylan. Fang would be lying to say that he was turn up over the other boy's death. Another casualty in a war that never should have been fought. Happens all the time. Max had been crushed by it, but she bounced back. Did Fang use her wounded state to his advantage? Sure, but who wouldn't?

The snow was starting again. Sighing, Fang stood up and went back inside. Bruce was gone from the living room, probably off to his own bedroom. Ethan was still on the couch, but Fang found it easier to just leave him instead of waking him up.

When he got to his bedroom, Fang sat the photo on the dresser, in between his bottles of Jack and Jameson. Today was Friday. Shot of Jack.

"For better tomorrows," he told the photo before turning in for the night. More like for a better life.


"Dad?"

"Hmmm?"

"Can Bruce make me breakfast?"

"Mmmhmm."

"Can we make eggs?"

"Mmmhmm."

"Thanks."

Fang opened his eyes slowly before sitting up. The weekends with his boys were the only days he let himself slack on waking up on time. Normally, he'd take a run, hit the gym, and still be back home to take a shower before work. These days though were lazy days. He didn't know which he preferred.

When he walked out of his room, he saw that his boys had been up for awhile. Long enough to make a mess of the place. Fang didn't care though. Not like anyone ever saw it.

He checked in on them in the kitchen before going into the bathroom. He took his time showering before going back out to take damage control on his kitchen. Not before stopping by his room for his photo though.

"Here, Dad, we made you some," Ethan said, handing him a plate before going to sit down in front of his own.

"Why are you eating in here, Ethan?"

"Bruce's watching CSI and I don't wanna. It's nasty."

"Yeah," Fang agreed as he sat down with his youngest. "Nasty."

After breakfast, they watched some more TV before deciding the play video games. After about an hour, Fang left them to their own devices and went into his bedroom for awhile. They thought that he was napping, but he was actually on his phone.

"Dude, I need some help."

The man on the other end sighed. "With what?"

"I haven't been laid in, like, five days. I have my kids this weekend, but the rest of my week's free."

"What happened to that chick?"

"Kendra? Broke up." Fang laid down on his bed. "I'm having a dry spell."

"A few days isn't a dry spell."

"It is for me."

"Got a steady girlfriend now, bro. I can't help you," Fred said. "Call someone else."

"You have to know some girls. Come on, double date. Monday."

"I can't."

Hanging up on him, Fang called around a few more times before finally just giving up. He'd have to find someone on his own.

"Dad? We're bored."

Groaning, he got out of bed to open his door. Ethan was standing their, his shoes on.

"I wanna go play outside."

"Bruce can take you."

"You too."

"Fine."

There was a park across the street from Fang's place. As they were walking over there, Bruce ran into some friends. Telling him to be home before dark, Fang let the thirteen year old go.

"I wish Bruce had stayed," Ethan said, running out ahead of Fang. He loved the snow. It made everything look magical in his eyes.

"We have all of tomorrow to spend with him. Besides, Ethan, at least we get to be alone. Just me and you."

"Yeah." He started smiling brightly again.

Fang followed behind him up and down the desolate park, half listening as the little boy rambled on about things Fang couldn't care less about. Sometimes he thinks that Ethan rambles because he knows that their time's limited. Two weeks without seeing your boy is hard. Especially when you know he's spending time around another guy.

"You hear me, Dad?"

"Huh?"

"You weren't listening."

"Was too."

Ethan stopped walking. "I said that I'mma be an astronaut when I get older."

"Is that what you're going to be?" Him and every other boy under ten.

"Yep. Or a racecar driver."

"Wow."

"Yeah."

When Ethan began to walk again, he slowed enough so that he was matching Fang's pace. Looking down at the boy who was now at his side, Fang smiled.

"What do you wanna do after this?"

"We never did get to finish Toy Story."

Fang held down a grimacing look. "No, I guess we didn't."

"Can we?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Good. Can we start it from the beginning?"

Shoot him in the head. "Is there any other way to watch it?"

Fist pumping the air victoriously, he then asked if they should wait for Bruce before they started it. Smiling a little, Fang said yes. It wouldn't be fair to make him miss out on it, would it?


"But what if I don't wanna go home?"

"You have to, Ethan," Fang said, not looking away from the road as he pulled up to his old house. The worse part of this all was Max kept the house. What a heartless person she was to sleep with another man in their bedroom, their bed. He could never do that. Mainly because he wasn't gay, but he couldn't with a woman either.

"Just shut up, okay?" Bruce jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped. "Your such a baby about everything."

"And? Baby's are cute."

Fang sighed. "Bye, Bruce."

"Yeah, bye."

He ran off into the house, slamming the door behind him.

"Why's he so mad?" Ethan asked.

Because he had to watch Toy Story.

"I don't know. You know how big kids are. Always so bratty."

"Yeah."

They sat there for a minute.

"You have to get out now, Ethan."

"Can't we go play at the park again? Or get ice cream?"

"It's too cold for ice cream."

"What about cookies?"

"Ethan-"

"Wanna come see my room?"

"I've seen your room."

"But I got a new…huge TV that's way bigger than yours."

"It's not good to lie."

"How do you know that I'm lying unless you come see?"

Getting out of the car, Fang immediately opened Ethan's door car door. "Ethan, come on. I have things to do."

"But can't you come in for just a minute?"

"You know that I can't."

"Can too."

"Why are you being so difficult? Huh?"

He always was. It didn't make sense to him why they all couldn't just get along and live together.

Fang unbuckled the boy's seat belt before slinging his bag over his shoulder. "Come on."

"No."

"You're really going to make me pick you up?" When he got no answer, Fang lifted his seven year old into his arms. "You're too old to be carried."

"Then take me home."

"You are home."

"Not home with you."

Walking up to the door, Fang shifted him to one arm before opening the door.

"Are you hurt?" Max asked as she came into the room. "What happened?"

"He's fine," Fang told her, though not looking at her. Not much to look at these days anyway. She was pregnant. With the spawn of Satan. Or at least that's what Bruce tells him.

"Then why are you carrying him?"

"Please?" Ethan looked up at Fang as he sat him down on the couch. "One more day. Please?"

Everyday, if Fang had things his way. Damn court systems. What makes Max more suited for taking care of kids than him? Because she had boobs and not balls?

"I can't. Besides, don't you wanna go watch your huge TV?"

Ethan blushed a little. "Maybe it's not that big."

"Maybe it's the one that I bought you."

"Maybe."

"Probably?"

"Yeah."

"Thought so."

Max was staring at him so hard that Fang couldn't help, but to look back at her. She turned her vision away from him immediately and he did the same. Instinctively, Fang reached into his pocket and touched his picture. He liked looking at that picture more anyways.

"I'll see you later, E-"

"No, Dad. You can stay and play. Right? You don't got nothing better to do, right?"

Picking his words carefully, he said, "Well, no."

"Then what?"

"Your mom wouldn't want me here."

Max made a face at him. She probably thought that he was putting this off on her. So what if he was? She always paints him to be the one that left and he lets her, if only to save a hope for reconciliation. Now that that's gone, he couldn't care less about her feelings.

Ethan turned to look at his mother. "You don't care? Huh?"

"Ethan, you spent the whole weekend with him," Max reasoned.

"And? I have to spend a week with Ryan. Can't I just stay with Dad for a week and see you on the weekend?"

Fang took that victory silently. Giving his son a little smile, he ruffled his brown hair. "It doesn't work that way. I'll call you before you go to bed."

"But-"

"I have to go now."

Ethan pushed up from the couch and ran off, not even looking back or saying goodbye.

"Nice, Fang."

Now he was kind of pissed. "What did I do?"

"You always get them so worked up," Max complained.

"I do that? Or the fact that your stupid boyfriend lives here does that?"

"Shut up. He's not even here right now."

All the better. Fang shook his head at her. "You did this, Max."

"What do you mean 'I did this'?"

"You made it to where I only get then once every two weeks. You know that you screwed me over and they do too. You get what you ask for."

"Just get out, Fang."

"You-"

"Now."

He cut his eyes at her before walking away. He always walked away. He never escalated fights. He never won them either. Max liked it that way. Who wouldn't?


Mondays sucked. Bruce always said that he hated them because he had to go back to school. Fang hated them because they were the start of a week without his boys.

Today, he had work. After that, the whole late afternoon and night were free. So, he worked out.

He was in the middle of his pushups when his phone went off. He let it go to voice mail, not wanting to end his afternoon work out so easily. After about the fifth time it rang, he couldn't take it.

"Hello?"

"What would you do if I said that I had a hundred dollars, no girlfriend, and am sitting at a bar right now?"

"I would ask who drove you."

Iggy laughed. "Touché."

"What are you doing in town? And why do you want to get me drunk?"

"For the hell of it." Iggy was still laughing. "I'm actually coming through on my way to New York."

"Again, I'll ask how."

"A buddy of mine and I are going to start a business, Fang. He's driving. And yes, he's can see. You wanna hear about the business?"

"Is it a pyramid scheme?"

"Are you interested in joining up?"

"Nope."

"Then yes, it is."

They talked for awhile before Fang hung up so that he could get ready to go out that night. He had deduced that the reason he had been in such a bad mood wasn't all Max's fault. He also hadn't had sex in a week. Tonight that would change. Not all aspects of being single were bad.


I know I said I was done with Maximum Ride, and I really did plan to be, but life sucked without it. I didn't realize how much time I spent writing. About a week after ending Eternity, I was already writing again. Life was so boring for that one week. This story was the only one out of all the ones I wrote first chapters to, and trust me, there were tons, that I'm going to keep working on. It may turn out to suck, but I like the idea of it.