Dilemma

A/N: So, I've always thought that Max was missing a chapter right around here. It felt like JP skipped from one scene to the next with no transition whatsoever. So, here is a transition.

Summary: What did the Voice mean to accomplish, hurling heavy words like soul mate at me in a time of desperation like this? I mean, you don't just throw around the term soul mate. That's some pretty serious chiz. Like, big time. Fax. A lost chapter of Max.

Disclaimer: Hi. James Patterson owns Maximum Ride. My name is not James Patterson. Therefore, I do not own Maximum Ride.

Phew. So that's out of the way…

So. This follows directly after chapter 30 in Max. Here's the excerpt:

Just then Fang came over and sat next to me. John smiled at him and got up to go sit with Brigid and Angel.

Fang reclined his seat. After giving the cabin a casual glance, he slipped his hand under my blanket, finding my hand and holding it. I felt my cheeks reddening and hoped no one would notice.

"This sucks, about your mom," he said, his voice so low only I could hear it. I nodded, feeling the strength in his hand, the muscles and tendons, the bones, the calluses and scars. "And Nudge," he went on. I nodded again, mutely remembering that night out in the desert with Fang and then coming home to find disaster and chaos. And the next morning, Nudge leaving the flock. Suddenly my throat felt tight, and my eyelids heavy. I closed them.

"I'm here." His voice was so soft, I wasn't even sure I'd heard it. But I had.

And there, with nine words, Fang had summed up everything I was thinking, everything I was feeling, everything in my past and future.

He's your soul mate.

Voice? Are you back?

MAX

Since, as you know, I am not one to act spontaneously (Me? Impulsive? Noooo), I sat there, in my leather recliner, and mulled this cute little statement over.

For an hour.

Soul mate?

The Voice refused to say anything else, and for a bit I was worried that I had imagined it. Maybe I hadn't heard the Voice at all. Maybe it had just been…wishful thinking. Maybe it had been Angel, trying to push Fang onto me again. Or-

It could have been the Voice.

The Voice hadn't been wrong yet.

Over the past hour, everyone else had hit the sack a bit early, since we had no idea what to expect when we landed. Not to mention our sleeping had been a little muddled due to the events of the past twenty-four hours.

Me? There was no way I was getting any sleep now. Just thinking about today made me sick. I'd run off with Fang, only to come home to be told that some goon took my mom to get to me.

It was my fault. All because I was too dang stubborn.

Story of my life.

Fang had always told me that my tenacity was my fatal flaw. He'd said it was my only weakness, and that I needed to learn to give a little.

Pfft. What the hell did he know, anyway?

And I couldn't forget, even if I wanted to, that Nudge had ditched us to go to school. I would say I can understand her reasoning…but I couldn't. I really, truly couldn't.

I swallowed thickly, leaning my head back on the headrest of the recliner. What did the Voice - if it was the Voice - mean to accomplish, hurling heavy words like soul mate at me in a time of desperation like this? I mean, you don't just throw around the term soul mate. That's some pretty serious chiz. Like, big time.

But Fang and I? Destined? Meant to be? Designed for each other?

Seemed too good to be true, if you ask me. Everything good in my life was too good to be true.

Not Fang.

My eyes widened. That was definitely the Voice. Angel was sleeping, curled up beside Iggy on the couch across the small plane's cabin from me. And why the hell would I put a thought like that in my own noggin?

I turned my head slowly to look at Fang. His hand was still in mine, but his eyes were closed and his breathing was soft and slow.

The Voice was right. Fang had always been there for me. He'd always understood me and stuck up for me. Even through all the tension and frustration between us over the past few months, Fang had still set aside all of that and acted as my right-wing man when I needed him most. I could count on Fang. I relied on him. I'd trust him with my life. With the flock. With anything.

With your heart?

Ewww.

Excuse me while I BARF.

Mushy gushy stuff…ugh. Words like love and heart and feelings and affection (ew, affection, I hated that almost as much as I despised the word intimacy)…they should've been banned from use.

The point…what was the point?

The point was that, so far, I had been incapable of trusting him with my…heart. He'd tried - oh, Lord, he'd tried - and I really loved him for that. For…how had he put it…"choosing me"? I loved him for choosing someone as messed up as me. I did. Really.

Yeah.

But at the rate I was goin', that boy was gonna die trying.

Every time I tried to let myself give in to him, something would always happen to convince me that it was dangerous or selfish or stupid. Every. Time.

And now here he was, holding my hand and telling me that he was here for me while I wasn't sure if I could ever love anyone enough to push away all of that fear inside me. I doubted I'd ever, ever be able to. But I wanted to. I did. I wanted to.

Was that enough? Just wanting it?

I turned all the way onto my side, careful to keep our fingers entwined. Our faces were close. I leaned over the arm of my chair and onto his, watching him sleep.

Oh, God. Hey creepy, it's me, Max.

But…I needed to figure this stuff out. Me and Heart needed to sit down over lunch and figure out the plan. We would probably invite Brain, too, since he kind of needed to be apart of this.

"Am I invited?"

"Holy-" I jumped, then pressed myself to the other side of my chair, as far away from the very-much-awake Fang as possible. I put my free hand over my heart, gasping. Had I really just said that out loud? Seriously? Oh, jeez.

"I didn't know you were awake," I hissed. Fang's eyes were still closed, which was a relief.

His face turned up into a grin.

"Whatever," I mumbled. I leaned back against my headrest. "I'm going to sleep."

Fang didn't say anything, and he didn't open his eyes. I took a deep breath and leaned back, closing my eyes.

That had been close.

I knew there was absolutely no chance I was going to sleep now, but I would pretend if it meant avoiding a heart-to-heart with Mr. Gooey Emotions over there. I tried my best to act however sleeping Max acts, and figured that after a while of silence he'd fallen for it.

"You suck at pretending to sleep," Fang whispered, low and gravelly in my ear. My breath hitched.

"Leave me alone," I snapped. His thumb started to rub small circles on the back of my hand.

"You snore," Fang said. "It's easy to tell when you're faking if you don't snore."

"I do not snore!" I hissed.

"Like you would know," Fang muttered. "Your never awake to hear it."

"Fang, I want to sleep. Okay?"

He didn't answer again. Just laid beside me and stayed silent. For a few moments, I was naïve enough to think I was in the clear.

"Max-"

"Shh," I said, elbowing him. I turned onto my back again and pulled the covers up to my chin. I realized Fang was using my same blanket and that I had pulled it off of him. Fang jerked on the blanket, pulling it mostly off of me.

"Hey!"

He didn't answer. That butthead. I moved a little closer toward him and pulled the blanket back, huffing as I laid back and tried to get comfortable. Then I realized that we were pretty much as close as our seats would allow, our shoulders and legs pressed together. I sighed, trying to calm my skittish nerves.

Back to my dilemma.

I could remember every single detail about our kiss in the desert. It had taken my mind off of everything else, helped me escape to a different world. A world where it was just Fang and I, just us, together, holding each other, kissing…

I cleared my throat.

Not that I was embarrassed to be thinking about that right now or anything. It was just…

Now would be the absolute worst time for Fang to sprout mind-reading powers.

His thumb, I realized, wasn't rubbing circles against my hand anymore. His hand was limp in mine. I peeked through one eye at him and saw his head was tilted a bit on the cushion, his lips slightly parted.

He was asleep. He had to be asleep.

I leaned up on my elbow, hovering next to him.

He was my best friend, you know? I mean, how could I not love him? I had always loved him, even if it was just as a friend. I had always loved him and trusted him.

But now…Maybe it was different.

"Fang," I whispered. He didn't answer. But hell, that didn't mean anything. He never answered. "Fang? I have to tell you something."

He still didn't say anything. Usually, if it sounded urgent, he answered. Right? Right. Okay. So he was asleep.

"Fang, me and you…" I began really softly. I needed to say this. Even if he didn't hear me. I needed to say it. "Fang, you're my best friend. You're…I mean, I guess…I choose you, too. I guess."

I guess. God, I sounded so ridiculous it was insane. But I seriously did not have it in me to force myself to say I love you or anything mushy like that. Even if everyone in the plane was asleep. I just couldn't. He would have to settle for I choose you, too, I guess.

I'm a hopeless romantic.

"But that doesn't mean…I don't know. It doesn't change anything. It can't. I wish it could. I wish…well, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything."

I leaned back from his face, watching him. Not a flinch. "It should, but it doesn't."

He was asleep. He had to be. I mean, I'd just poured my heart out to him! Well, I mean, I'd kind of poured my heart out. It was as close to a love confession as I was going to get, okay?

And he didn't say anything.

He better had been asleep.

"Okay," I said after a second. "Okay. Goodnight."

Then, as I moved to lay back, Fang's hand that was in mine jerked me forward so I was practically on top of him. His other hand ran up my spine and my neck, eventually holding the back of my head gingerly. I was only an inch away from his face, and I had probably two seconds to realize that he was awake - that little twerp - before he pulled my mouth to his. He didn't even open his eyes or say anything. At all.

He just kissed me, so deeply I couldn't breathe, and I closed my eyes and let him.

When he finally pulled away, I was panting lightly, staring at him in shock. Was I ever going to stop being shocked when he did that? Jeez.

"Fang-"

"Shh."

I leaned back, pressing my back into the soft, comfy cushion of the chair. My breathing was coming way too fast. I glanced over at Fang again and his eyes were - you guessed it - closed.

He was still holding my hand.

This sucks, about your mom. True.

And Nudge. Also true.

I'm here.

"Thanks," I whispered.

He squeezed my hand gently.

"Always."

Then, of course. Iggy.

"Oh, my God, please! My ears are bleeding! Stop. It hurts."

I sat up. "Go to sleep!"

A/N: This is how I pictured the rest of the plan ride. Um…tell me what you thought. Review!