Disclaimer: Maximum Ride is not mine. However, if Fang ever needs a place to stay...


Right to the Edge

I walked to the edge of the water, staring at the rippling waves in silence. The water was a deathly black, deep enough that nothing underneath could be seen at all. I leaned over the pier, seeing fragments of my reflection scattered by the waves before reforming and shattering again. I almost snorted at myself, feeling poetic and all. However, reality came crashing back, kicking and screaming for attention as I sighed, slowly lowering myself down to sit, dipping the tip of my toes in the cold lake.

Deep in thought, the hairs on the back of my neck suddenly stood on end, and I closed my eyes.

"Hey," I murmured.

"Hey," I heard the returning whisper of Fang, "What're you doing out here? Brooding? Trying to scare away the fish with bad vibes?"

I snorted and turned to face him, "Hardly. I'm just thinking."

"About…?" he trailed off.

"Nothing," I rolled my eyes, patting the spot next to me.

Honestly, that was what I was trying to convince myself. That the reason why I was ready to beat myself over the head with an overgrown twig wasn't because he was frustrating me to no end. No, of course not. I wasn't thinking about his timid touches, small grins, and I most definitely wasn't thinking about the corny little butterflies fluttering in my stomach even at this very moment as he plopped down next to me. I tried to make my mind blank, my face unreadable as he smirked at me.

"Hmmph, didn't think that was possible for the all-knowing Maximum Ride," he grinned teasingly, "But I suppose everybody has their weaknesses."

"And yours?" I faced him, curious now.

But he only shrugged, looking up at the few stars in the sky.

I gulped suddenly, biting my lip as the full moon shone down, silhouetting half of his face, but at the same time reflecting off the water and making him look brighter than ever.

I didn't notice I was grinning goofily and ogling him until he turned back and chuckled at me. I sobered up, blushing as he – in a brotherly gesture I'm sure – put his arm around my shoulders.

I tensed up immediately as he suddenly leaned in, our faces just millimeters apart.

I held my breath as he opened his mouth to say something, my eyes as wide as a garden gnome's. Oh god, not this again.

I was about to politely shove him away and maybe make a dramatic exit by taking off into the sky, when his grin grew bigger.

"Max, look," he said innocently, turning his face slightly to nod towards to water's edge.

Grabbing the opportunity to escape the eyes that were captivating mine, I hastily turned away, cracking my neck from the fast turn. I leaned over the water, looking for what Fang had pointed out, half-afraid that an revenge-seeking fish angry about the bad vibes would suddenly pop out and scare the be-jeebers out of me.

"I don't see anyth-" I started, but paused as I felt an arm encircle my waist.

"Fang," I said in warning, my voice curving higher as I said his name, sounding not-in-the-least bit as threatening as I had meant it to sound.

Then, suddenly, I broke into an embarrassingly girly scream.

No, not because I was afraid.

No, because the water was rushing up to my face; or, more logically, vice-versa

An electric shock went through my body as the cold water surrounded me, bubbles flying furiously from my mouth.

"Gahh - flippin' COLD!" I thrashed furiously, my voice amounting only to mere bubbles.

That little… ugh! I didn't even have the brain capacity to think of a suitable and strong enough insult, my mind was swarming with fury so strong that I was ready to punch Fang out. He had pushed me in!

Ohh, and was he going to get it.

Right after I found which way the surface was, of course.

But right then, I was still a little busy trying to open my eyes underwater and locate the surface. Meanwhile, I was feeling colder. Freezing, actually. What was this, glacier water?

"UGH!" I screamed underwater, which was not a very smart thing to do, seeing as a few precious air bubbles streamed out of my mouth and bubbled up to the surface, leaving me almost breathless.

If I didn't drown, I was probably going to die of hypothermia. Thanks for that, Fang.

Finally, I managed to thrash and struggle my way upward, my head finally breaking the surface. Immediately, I sucked in three huge breaths of sweet air, relief overpowering the anger.

I didn't even hear the loud splash in the background, as helpful the knowledge would have probably been.

But not for long was the relief to stay with me. As soon as my breath had returned, my eyes turned to stone.

"FANG!" I shouted as loud as I could, only just managing to suppress a strangled cry of surprise as something grasped my ankle.

I took another huge breath and held it as I was yanked underwater, my eyes still open and blazing.

Through the blurriness, I could still see the dark form of Fang, the moonlight from above managing to brighten up the depths of the water.

I felt like slapping him, yelling at him, and kissing him all at the same.

Wait.

No.

That wasn't right.

I pushed the last thought from my mind and instead fulfilled my wish and swam forward, resting my hands gently on his chest. First a look of confusion crossed over his face, then mock-horror as I attempted to push him while underwater.

Trust me, it was much harder than you'd think.

Instead of flying 10 feet back and hitting, say, maybe a brick wall or something, he was only pushed about an inch backward.

He chuckled, which was a huge mistake, ran out of breath, and shot to the surface of the water again.

Realizing although I did have amazingly strong lungs, I was half-bird, not half-fish; I definitely didn't have any gills.

But I did manage to dog-paddle like an ungraceful idiot to the surface.

When I was up top, I treaded water and attempted to glare at Fang at the same time.

"What the h was that for!?" I demanded, "I'm going to kill you!"

"That's a bit melodramatic," he grinned, cool and collected. And as if daring me to kill him, he added flippantly, "I thought we'd go swimming."

My eyes widened considerably, hysteria clouding my vision.

"SO YOU THOUGHT YOU'D PUSH ME IN TO A FREEZING COLD LAKE!?" I shouted, waking up a good portion of the whole forest.

Fang's face contorted up for a second, as if he finally realized he probably should've thought that one through.

A freezing cold, furious, wet Max was probably not on his list of things to see before he died.

Unless it really was. Had he planned out his own death? Or was he just incredibly stupid? I'm guessing the latter.

Fang shrugged his shoulders, "What else was there to do?"

"Oh, hmm, let me think!" I mused angrily, "Oh, um, I don't know… maybe not be in a lake!?"

Still kicking with his legs, Fang let his arms drop to his side, a look of hesitation crossing his face.

What was he thinking?

Suddenly, his face blew up with unnecessary confidence, but his eyes softened considerably.

He brought his hands up and rested them on my shoulders.

For a horrifying second I thought he was going to try to use me as a lifeboat and try to push me under the water while staying above. Seriously, I'd heard about somebody who had accidentally drowned somebody who had swam out to save them by pushing them down and trying to stay afloat. But what happened next caught me off guard.

For the second time that night, he leaned in towards me, his eyes searching mine as he pressed his forehead against mine.

"W-w-what…" I spluttered like a fool, my mind working on overdrive.

Why was he doing this? Why was he doing this to me? Why couldn't we just be BFF? Why couldn't time rewind to a time five years ago when I had thought boys had cooties? That was fine, nothing like this happened.

I didn't want this.

But as his lips began their slow decent towards mine I realized something.

I really did.

I hated the feeling he gave me; how even a dark room could be brightened up by his smile, as cliché as it sounded. How the butterflies even at this moment still fluttered in my stomach, my stupid habit of blushing when he got too-close-for-comfort. And yet, I loved the feeling too.

And I definitely hated myself for loving it. For loving him.

Which, of course, I had to keep denying so I could keep a firm hold on my sanity.

Just as his lips brushed mine, I jerked away, my eyes flying open.

As much as I wanted to press my lips back to his, I resisted, dead set on keeping my sanity.

How much more out-of-control and rocky could our relationship get if this happened? It was bad enough that we had kissed already, what, three times? Once on the beach. Then in the cave. Then on… the other pier.

And I couldn't help but think of how much I wanted to do it again. Maybe just one more time.

"Oops," I murmured lowly, but his eyes slid closed in frustration.

Maybe that had been a mistake, pulling away…

Perhaps another kiss-and-never-talk-about-it wouldn't hurt.

So I decided that if he tried to kiss me again… maybe this time I'd let him.

But something inside of him, Fang, had decided that it wasn't worth it, and he released my from his grasp. I felt so overwhelmed by the feeling of disappointment that washed over me that I almost stopped kicking.

I watched, frozen by shock, as Fang simply swam away, giving up that quick.

I wanted to shout after him, but my pride wouldn't let me.

And I just watched. Watched as my love swam away from me.

I had run away from him countless times before, but I had only been trying to protect myself… protect our friendship, the flock, from the pain. But when I had jerked away, I had only seen the hurt in his eyes, and I realized that within protecting myself, I was hurting him.

And suddenly I couldn't deny it anymore.

Screw sanity, I needed Fang. I couldn't take it anymore. Fang was much much better than sanity. Heck, he was my sanity.

I opened my mouth to scream after him, but he had already reached the sandy shore, stepping out of the water. Even from this distance I could hear the water practically pouring off of him and onto the sand, my mind screaming for him to turn around and come back.

He looked back out towards the lake, running a hand through his hair, staring at my still form in the water.

Then, he turned and took a slow stride away from the water's edge, and I felt my heart breaking with every step he took.

Finally, I managed to take control of my body again and swam as fast and silently as I could, racing after Fang. I pulled myself out of the water, feeling my clothes droops and drip galleons of water. The breeze nipped at any exposed skin and I shivered, waiting where I stood, ankle-deep in the water. I watched hesitantly as Fang tense and stopped walking as he heard me stand.

Feeling as though I weighed a million pounds, I managed to drag myself across the sand, wet, cold, and numb, but determined.

At the sound of my sloshing footsteps, Fang inclined his head over his shoulder just in time to see me launch myself at him, grabbing both of his shoulders and turning his towards me as I tackled him to the ground, my lips connected with his the whole time.

I kissed him long and hard, but Fang was too shocked to respond, and simply lied there and took it. Hurt and confused, I opted to pull away, but Fang put both hands on either side of my cheeks, bringing my lips back down to his, kissing me fiercely.

"I… love you," I whispered between kisses, sighing contentedly as he pulled me even tighter.

Fang smiled against my lips, and made a sound that sounded along the lines of, "I love you too," except more like, "Mmm hmmmm hmmm hmm…"

Which, considerably, was good enough for me. I'd take it.