Different

Summary: Fang teaches Max a little thing about being different. Post TFW. Fax. One-shot.

MAX POV

If there is any mercy in this cruel, cruel world, kill me now.

Maybe you don't understand. I'm a fifteen-year-old mutant bird-kid protecting five other mutant bird-kids of various ages. And that pretty much guarantees that I am not cut out for situations like this.

My heart definitely doesn't flutter at the thought of being cornered. I don't enjoy someone controlling what I can and can't do. And I'd rather shoot myself than talk about how I feel. Guh.

So that's why I'm praying for God to smite me the hell out of here, pronto.

To help you put together the picture in your mind, envision me, uncomfortable as all get out, pressed between a huge oak tree and Fang, who, let's just say, looks like he has something on his mind.

Why, you might ask?

Because in the flock, hide and seek is a war, not just a game. And winning is not only surviving, but conquering. So it was dire for me to find a nice big tree to hide behind, ASAP, before Iggy took me out.

Unfortunately, my nice big tree was the one tree in this entire forest that held the one bird boy I've been avoiding all week.

"Hey, Max," Fang whispers, looking down at me. In the process of looking down at me, Fang's chin knocks into my forehead. Yeah. He is invading my personal space big time.

"Can we talk later?" I ask. "I bet Iggy I'd win, and my entire stash of Hershey bars is kind of riding on this game."

"Unfortunately," Fang breathes, "this can't wait."

Now. There are not too many things that Fang can't wait to talk about. One being the fact that the flock is in some kind of imminent danger. Usually he doesn't push that off for too long, for obvious reasons.

Two, if someone's taken something of his. Like when Gazzy used Fang's watch to build a bomb, when Iggy took Fang's jeans just to be an ass, or when Nudge took his laptop to catch up on Pretty Little Liars.

And three, whenever he wants to talk about us. The emphasis on us because apparently, we are a thing. Apparently, we became a thing and I didn't even know it. Apparently.

Again, I'd rather shoot myself.

That's why I'm the epitome of jittery right now. Fang is doing all of the three things that make me uncomfortable. At the same time. I mean, seriously. You'd think, after fourteen years of being my best friend in the whole freaking world, he'd catch onto these things.

But no. Oblivious Fang continues being oblivious. Story of my life.

"Max," Fang sings softly, trying to get my attention. Well, I know how to get his attention. One nice, well-planted kick to the balls would definitely do the trick. But ever since I was seven and kicked him so hard he almost cried/barfed, we've decided that it was an unspoken rule that I don't do that unless it is absolutely necessary.

Fang's long, deft fingers brushed my tangled hair back from my face.

It's absolutely necessary.

As I lift my foot to show him who's boss, he chuckles.

I raise an eyebrow curiously. What's so funny? Is there something on my face? I glance down at my clothes to make sure they're all in place.

"Max…"

Okay. Now I know why the saying, That's my name, don't wear it out was created.

Some poor girl probably had some guy who would follow her around - even when she took every measure to avoid him - and would get all up in her business and then say her name a million freaking times until she was drove up the wall. Or, well, tree.

This girl and I clearly have many things in common.

"M-"

"What?" I almost shouted, then jumped and looked around. I'd momentarily forgotten that we were in the middle of a game. After I'd assured myself that no one had heard me, I looked back at him.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" I asked testily, glaring up at him. Fang's mouth quirked into an infuriating smirk.

"No reason," Fang muttered. "This is the first time in days I've actually seen your face, since you insist on avoiding me…"

I flushed, stuttering, "I have no-"

He made a noise, halfway between a laugh and a sigh.

"Max," he says, "you're different."

I'm…excuse me?

I'm different?

What is that supposed to mean? Are you serious? That could mean a million different things.

Different bad, different good? Different as in, there's no one else like you, would you marry me? Or different as in, get the hell away from me, you crazy freak? Different as in, you've changed, or more like, you've always been…different?

When someone like Fang says something like You're different, it can be the best compliment you'll even get, or a really freaking depressing reality check. Probably the second one in my case. Because being different sums up my entire life. Now, whether my life is beautiful in a unique, special way - as opposed to my life being a joke to the entire universe - all depends on how you look at it.

I, as the optimist I am, like to look at it as a joke.

Analyzing something Fang says could send any sane human being around the bend, but for a totally insane person like me, it pretty much just made me want to punch him. Which I would've done, if he hadn't have just taken both my hands into his and entwined our fingers, as if we were in some romantic, steamy embrace.

No. Just, no.

"In a good way," he whispers.

Okay, well that answered one of my hundreds of questions. I looked at him, trying to figure him out.

"As opposed to…?"

"Being different in a bad way?" he offers, leaning closer to me.

"Like, being a freak?" I question, leaning my head against the tree. On the inside, I was asking, Why hasn't anyone found us yet?

"Different doesn't mean being a freak," Fang says. Then he adds, "Or at least, it doesn't have to. Not for us."

I was pretty sure it did have to mean that.

"You're not a freak," Fang mumbles. "You're…unique."

"Right," I say.

Because unique people are chased and tortured by twisted scientists. Pfft.

"Max," Fang whispers.

"Quit saying my name!" I demand, looking up at him.

He continues as if he hasn't heard me. "That's another thing about you that's different. You're name." He shakes his head, lifting a lock of my hair off my shoulder, examining it, then tossing it over my shoulder and running his hand down my arm. "God, Max, everything about you screams-"

Get the hell away from me?

He starts leaning into me, his eyes getting that look in them; the look I've only seen once or twice. The look he gets when he's about to -

Kiss me.

I don't move. If I move at all, it's towards him. That shows you just how well my mind is working right now. Maybe I tilt my head, close my eyes. And by now, I'm just impatient. I mean, is he going to kiss me or isn't he?

"Relax," Fang mutters.

I open my eyes to glare at him and gasp at how close he is. Our noses are brushing. One of his hands is still in mine, but the other one is grazing up and down my arm. And his eyes…they're looking right through me. Into me, into my head, into my thoughts.

"Stop," I order him, my voice shaking slightly. I clear my throat.

"Stop," he breathes, "what?"

"Doing that."

"Doing…what?"

"Fang."

"Max?"

I huff, slumping against the tree.

"What iswrong with being who we are?"

I give him a look. Well that came out of nowhere. "I never said there was anything wrong with-"

"But you think there is," he says. "You think that we're all mistakes."

"So?" I ask finally when I realize he's right. "Don't you?"

"I've already told you what I think we are," he says, tipping his head down to whisper against my neck. "What I think you are."

"What is your deal?" I ask skeptically. I don't even know what were doing, or how long we've been standing here. I honestly can't think of any reason why no one has found us yet.

Fang looks at me, staring deep into my eyes. I stare back.

"Mind elaborating?"

"You're like…trying to…seduce me," I stutter.

"Trying?" Fang asks coyly. "Or succeeding?"

I huff, elbowing him in the ribs, trying to get him away from me. He stands his ground, leaning closer, pressing against me.

"If I were really trying," Fang mumbles, his breath grazing my cheek, "I'd do this."

His hand, the one that's been drawing patterns on my bare arms, tangles in my hair and pulls my head towards his. But before our faces can collide, like I think they will (because - hello, this is my life), his lips catch mine roughly. His other hand, that's wrapped in mine, moves slowly up the tree until our entwined fingers are level with my head. It takes me a long time to respond to his lips, but he is patient. When my lips start moving with his slowly, he presses his mouth closer to mine, harder. And his tongue sweeps over my bottom lip, sending tingles through my whole body.

He pulls away.

I stand there, like a frozen, stunned bird-girl who just had the life kissed out of her. I'm probably wheezing or something - something really unattractive - but I don't even know because I'm kind of just thinking FANGFANGFANGFANGFANG-

"How was that?"

Nice.

Good.

Awesome.

Amazing.

Incredible.

Indescribable.

I tilt my chin up, trying to read him, trying to get the feeling back into my tingling, numb lips. Trying to form a full coherent thought.

"Different."