Gazzy and Angel get so neglected in this story D:

Chapter 36

"Hey, Angel," Gazzy started quietly. Dr. Martinez had gone down the wine aisle looking for something for dinner, so he and Angel had broken off when they passed the candy Aisle, following Nudge.

"I don't know," Angel replied to his thoughts. She looked at him and offered up a sad smile.

"I know you saw me die," he nearly whispered, rolling a bag of gummi worms between his hands. "You saw them remember, I know you did."

"I did," she said curtly, going back to scan the shelves.

"Would you be able to stop it?" he asked, voicing his thought this time.

She let out a loud breath, crossing her arms more to hold herself together. The memory she saw had been replaying in her head every minute since she'd seen it. "I don't know, Gaz. There's bound to be a huge shift in actions now because Dylan isn't in our lives in the same way."

"But he's still out there," he argued.

Angel nodded slowly. "Yes, but we don't know how it might happen." She walked up to him and pulled her brother to her, not knowing any other way to comfort him. "The biggest advantage we have is knowing who and how. Max will never let him near you ever again."

"We still don't know when," he grumbled into the crown of her head.

Angel pulled away and looked up at him with a smirk. "Nikki saw it happen."

"How tragic," he frowned, tossing the bag onto the shelf at his feet, not bothering to hang it up on its hook.

Angel shook her head vigorously. "Not what I mean—I mean, yeah, it's tragic she had to witness the death of—" She caught herself and shook her head, forcing herself to slow down. "What I mean is that is Nikki saw it, you have lots of time."

Gazzy's pale brows pulled together and he just looked down at her with a frown still plastered on his face.

Angel rolled her eyes. "Nearly everyone else has figured this out, Gazzy," she groaned.

"Figured what out?" he snapped.

"Mm-mm, I'm not telling you. I'm not getting in trouble for that," she teased. "But Nikki is much, much younger than us in the future. You're seventeen when she's born."

"How do you—"

Angel cut him off with a terrifying glare and a finger pointed at him. "You tell no one I told you that," she said, voice low. "I'm only telling you this for your own comfort. You're seventeen when she's born, and she's fifteen when she saw us and you were gone."

Gazzy did the math in his head quickly. "So at the end of the next 21 years I'll be dead," he mumbled.

"That's a long time, Gazzy," Angel whispered, taking his hand and squeezing it. "That's a long time to come up with a plan, don't you think?"

Gazzy considered this, but gave her no response. She could read his thoughts. He didn't need to talk about this anymore. He was tired of it eating him up, his impending, untimely demise on the horizon. 21 years was going to be no time at all…

-x-

We started doing patrols after nearly two months of nothing. I didn't want the flock getting sedentary, and as much as I would love for them to be the carefree, worry-free kids they deserved to be, I didn't want them to get too comfortable and let their guard down.

So we started a rotation of patrols around town, our house in the center of the watched area. We divided into pairs, an older kid with a younger for the time being. Me and Angel, Fang and Nudge, Iggy and Gazzy. It worked well, I felt. We did regular sparring to keep up on that front.

But you can never be prepared for everything…

I only woke up because Fang sat up. I wasn't sure at first why, because he'd left the bed in the middle of the night before. But this time he was sitting so still, he began to vanish. I sat up slowly next to him, my hand skimming the sheets looking for his. He reappeared as his fingers sought out mine and tapped it three times.

My blood ran cold and I froze, following his eyes to the window. But I didn't see or hear anything.

A heavy footstep creaked quietly in the hall, so quiet I knew we wouldn't have heard it without our enhanced senses. We hadn't prepared for this. We'd run drills of what to do if we heard someone outside, or someone trying to get in.

We hadn't thought they'd be able to get in without us noticing.

Fang pressed a finger to his lips as he slowly left the bed, forcing his body to disappear. I waited, holding my breath until I saw the door crack open, cursing the noise it always made when the wood of the door stuck to the frame.

And then the door was kicked open and Fang stumbled back as an Eraser forced himself through the door. Only one?

I pounded on the wall next to me, hoping to wake up Nudge and Angel before I leapt from the bed to tackle the Eraser while Fang got his bearings and sprung forward to join me. I dropped low, kicking out a leg and sweeping the Eraser's out from under him as Fang landed an uppercut just beneath his chin. The combined hits flung the Eraser backwards and his head smacked down onto the floor, letting out an echoing crack in the hall.

Whoever wasn't up was now.

I stepped over the unconscious Eraser and into the hall, surveying what I could. Nudge's door was open and I could hear the struggle in the room. Iggy's door across the hall was open but empty. Ella's door was shut, and there were three Eraser's headed for Mom's door at the end of the hall.

I let out a battle cry as I tore down the hall, hoping to distract them from where they were headed.

One of the Erasers changed back into a tall man with short, dark hair. He was wearing a tight black tshirt, cargo pants, and combat boots. He smirked and reached out with one hand. I ducked beneath it easily, going low for his knees.

With blinding speed I couldn't see, his other hand shot out and caught me by the throat. With ease he held me up in the air so my feet weren't touching the ground. I tried to yell out, but couldn't get enough air into my lungs.

"You're distracted, Max," he sneered. "We're here to eliminate those distractions."

I swung a leg up and pushed on his chest. His grip loosened, but didn't drop me.

"I'm not distracted," I gasped out. "I'm uninterested."

My struggling got a little more frantic as the other two Eraser's kicked down Mom's bedroom door, and I heard her scream in surprise. She was holed up in her bathroom, I guessed. I had only seconds.

Fang darted passed us into the room and I watched Gazzy come up behind the Eraser with what I could only assume was a bat, metal by the sound of it cracking against the back of the Eraser's head.

He dropped me completely, his arm going limp as he dropped to a knee. But he wasn't down for long. Again, the blinding speed had him up on his feet again, towering over Gazzy before he backhanded him down the hall.

We were too confined here. But we couldn't leave, not with Mom and Ella still in the house. Ella's door was still shut and I hoped with all my heart that Iggy was in there with her.

I was so, so, so tired of running. I glanced behind me as Gazzy got to his feet and darted down the stairs.

The stairs…

I didn't have to run, but I didn't have to be on the offensive, either.

"What, the School couldn't give you a shirt your size?" I asked flippantly.

He cracked his knuckles and took a step towards me. An Eraser flew from Mom's room behind him and crashed into the door frame, splintering the wood. One down, one to go. Fang was hopefully holding his own well enough.

Nudge and Angel still sounded like they were floundering a bit, but I could hear them both fighting still. At least a good sign there.

"You are just distracted all over the place, aren't you?" the Eraser stated, continuing to stalk his way over to me. "Worried about your little mutants?"

"That's pretty funny considering you're a mutant yourself," I replied, forcing a laugh to keep him distracted. "Mind telling me what I'm wanted for? I figure this is more than just the usual 'eliminate the old rebellious experiments' thing we've been getting for like, five years now?"

He crossed his arms and stopped walking, glaring down at me and I felt my hand brush the handrail of the stairs.

"The new director has a re-envisioned plan for you," he said easily. "We're going to breed a new generation, a better version of yourself. Jeb derailed your cognitive growth when he kidnapped you from the school. We plan to rectify that this time around."

I nodded slowly. "I vaguely remember Jeb mentioning that the last time I visited," I said sarcastically. "Sadly, I can't say my uterus is available for rent that this time."

His eyes narrowed at me as a loud crash sounded from Mom's room and Fang limped into view in the door, blood coving his hands and forearms. My heart nearly stopped at the sight, but he pushed himself into invisibility, flickering a few times before he was out completely.

The Eraser looked over his shoulder, probably noticing my attention being diverted again.

"So, what are you like their alpha?" I asked, drawing his attention back to me.

He advanced again and I toed the top of the stairs behind me, letting him get within reach of me.

"I'm not like their alpha," he growled lowly, intimidating me just a little. "I am the Alpha."

I dropped low again, hoping to kick his legs out from under me, but he jumped in the air. Something behind him knocked him mid-air and he flew down the stairs with a foundation-rocking crash, splintering the bottom two steps when he hit, landing on his back.

Fang flicked back into view beside me, breathing hard. I grabbed his hands, but couldn't find the source of the blood, which I think put me in shock even more.

"I called an ambulance from the phone in her room," he said between gulps of air. "The two Erasers in her room are dead."

"Check on the others," I barely managed to call back to him as I tore into mom's room. It was totally wrecked. The frame of the bed was cracked, the comforter slashed spilling filling all over the room. Blood was everywhere. A trail of it led me to the master bathroom, where I could see Mom lying on the floor.

"Oh, god," I breathed shakily, dropping to my knees next to her. "Mom?"

"Max?" her lips moved, but her eyes didn't open.

One of her legs was ribbons of claw marks and blood, but more worryingly was the horrific trio of gashes going down the length of her side. I turned around and ripped a towel off her rack, easily tearing it in half to press into the wound.

"This is my fault," I realized in a terror-filled moment, vaguely aware of the sound of sirens. "We should have left."