Working retail sucks yo. Still trying to update old chapters while writing new stuff. It's hard when I have 2 and 3 AM shifts…I'm ded.

Chapter 37

I sat in one of the hard plastic chairs in a small waiting area outside the operating room they had whisked Mom into, vaguely aware of Fang's arm around my shoulders, gently pressing me into his side. I wasn't allowed in, no matter how much I yelled and screamed.

Even worse, was there was nothing, nothing I could do to help. Iggy took Gazzy to the cafeteria to look for food. Nudge was with Ella in a room in another wing, who was able to donate blood. I couldn't even do that for her. There was never a time in my life I so badly wished I were a normal human girl. Then again, if I was a normal girl, Mom wouldn't have been…

"Stop," Fang murmured, leaning over to smooth the wrinkles on my forehead with his fingers. The motion felt good against the pounding ache between my eyes, and I leaned into his hand involuntarily.

"I fucked up," I breathed, putting my face in my hands. "I should have listened to you."

"I've been reconsidering lately," he admitted quietly. "I think you were right. We need to stop running. We can't run for the rest of our lives. I want a real life with you. One where we aren't running."

"If we'd run, Mom wouldn't be dying right now," I spat angrily, pulling away from him.

"No, she'd have died on the bathroom floor, scared and alone," he said bluntly, watching my pace in front of him. "Ella too."

I didn't have an argument, so I shot a glare at him and shut him up for a few minutes. Whether he held back saying anything because he knew I wanted him to shut up, or he was just being Fang, I didn't know and I didn't care. He just continued to watch me pace, not offering up any kind of help, at all. And I think that was actually making me even more irrationally angry.

A door swung open and a nurse quickly walked up to us, pulling down the mask on her face.

"How is she?" I asked quickly, but she offered up a small smile and shook her head, making my heart skip a beat.

"I'm not at liberty to say right now, we're still working on her, but she's been stable for the last half hour or so, but that can always change," she explained breathlessly. "I came to ask if you'd be willing to donate blood. I know you were reluctant before—"

"I'm not reluctant," I snapped and Fang stood up behind me, gripping my shoulder tightly.

"It's just that we've gone through half your sister's blood already and we can't draw anymore from her." She shifted on her feet nervously.

My heart shattered right there. The one thing they were asking me to do to save her, and I physically couldn't. Never in my life had I wished I'd been born normal than right then.

"I don't know what—"

"I can donate," a voice announced to our left, three people rushing towards us quickly.

"You are…?" the nurse prompted skeptically.

I felt a relief wash through me as an older Ella ran up to us, an older Iggy and Nikki flanking her.

"I'm Valencia's sister," she said with a charming smile.

The nurse smiled and waved her down the hall, thankfully in the opposite direction of my Ella's room. "Your niece looks exactly like you," the nurse commented as they hurried away.

Ella laughed. "You should see my daughter. Spitting image of my sister."

"Well, well, well," I drawled, turning my attention to the remaining two time travelers. "Where's your captain?"

Iggy quirked an eyebrow at me. "Fang?" I nodded, waiting.

"He is one hundred and sixty million percent against us doing this anymore," Nikki stated dryly.

"So why are you?" I asked, crossing my arms and shooting a look back at my Fang. If he was that against something, there was very good reason.

"Because we haven't changed anything," Nikki nearly yelled.

Iggy threw an arm around her and pulled her to his side and she sighed, letting her poker face return as she calmed down a little.

"You're changing the wrong things, aren't you," Fang guessed.

Iggy only smirked in response. "I'm just here to supervise."

"And Ella?" I asked, not believing that one bit. If any of us would go to the ends of the earth to keep the Gasman alive, Iggy would be second in line behind myself. And maybe Angel.

Nikki frowned. "She just wanted to help," she defended. "This is…different."

"Mom was supposed to die." I meant it as a question, but it came out as a statement, and as soon as the words left my lips, I knew they were true by the immediate changes in Nikki and Iggy.

"She bled out on the floor," Iggy whispered. "I got Ella out of the house while you and Fang fought the Eraser's in the hallway. Gazzy got down the stairs and outside to help Nudge and Angel get out the window. By the time anyone got to your Mom she was gone."

"So what changed it?" I demanded. "What changed to make Fang go to her instead of staying with me?"

"It doesn't matter," Nikki snapped. "Time is fragile. I've never gone back in time to do something like this, I've never tried to change anything before, interact with people I know in the future. I could cease to exist by doing something by just being here right now."

Fang moved to stand next to me. "So Dylan is still a threat?"

Iggy pursed his lips and nodded. "Doesn't happen the same way as before, but it still happens. Same day, same way."

"And us knowing that it's coming doesn't keep it from happening?" I asked. "How? How is that?"

"Time is a little more complicated than that," Nikki said with a glare.

I put my hands on my hips, my patience long gone and my irritation combined with my exhaustion in a deadly cocktail driving me. "Then what are you doing here?" I asked lowly. For a second it looks like Nikki shrank down into herself like a child being scolded. "We can hunt down Dylan ourselves. If you're so concerned about changing the wrong things then go. We'll hide the Gasman for now. We'll take care of it."

"Max," Fang said quietly, voice harsh in my ear. "Stop."

"Do you know something I don't?" I snap at him, pulling away.

"Plenty," he ground out between his teeth. "But you're not thinking straight and you're taking it out on everyone else. Stop and breathe. Drop it until we know your mom is okay. Then we'll make a plan."

I spun on my heel, not wanting to deal with this right now, and headed for the elevators on the other end of the hall. Mom would be in surgery for a little while longer. I could pace downstairs in the cafeteria with Iggy, Gazzy, and Angel just as well as I could in front of the doors themselves…

-x-

Fang ran a hand down his face and sighed as Max tore down the hallway in a blind rage he knew was misplaced. She would end up apologizing in her own way later, he knew. And he tried to excuse it because of her Mom, but talking to Nikki the way she had was uncalled for even so.

"She's a little wound up," Iggy muttered after a few moments of silence. "I know of a few ways the other Fang fixes that in her."

"Stop," he interrupted loudly, holding up a hand, Nikki cringing next to them. "What did you come here for, if you're not going to tell us about Dylan or the Gasman?"

Iggy smirked wickedly. "Oh, I never said I wasn't going to tell you," he explained. "We just don't want Max to know. She doesn't know how this part happens."

"What part?" Fang asked slowly, looking between the two of them.

"We interfered once," Nikki mumbled. "We became a part of it, and you remember us telling you how to stop it."

Fang's eyes narrowed. "Yet I'm against you continuing to interfere?"

"Well, yeah," Iggy shrugged, taking a seat in the chair Max had been in. "Her and the two boys came back and started screwing around, some irrelevant things got changed. But there's one tiny thing we can do that we think will fix the Gasman and Sky."

"What's that?"

Fang looked to Nikki, but she just stared at Iggy.

"You've gotta end the School a little earlier than we originally did."

Fang took in a slow, deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting it out before he spoke again. "Seventeen years and you make it sound like we've just been putting that off. If warning us didn't keep Gazzy from dying, who's to say we even can save him?"

Nikki crossed her arms and nodded slowly. "That's what I'm worried about. Some things in time are fixed points, things that just happen no matter what we do. The universe balances things out in certain ways and nothing we do to change things can interrupt that balance."

"Well, I still want to try," Fang sighed, moving to sit next to Iggy. He put his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands, wishing with everything in him that none of this was happening. He almost wished he hadn't known that one of the flock was going to die, that his own son was going to be taken from them.

"We know," Iggy said quietly. "And that's why I'm here to help you while you're still willing." The joke was apparent, but Fang read between the lines, taking a hint at what his future self was feeling.

He lifted his head to look at Iggy. "Just tell me one thing." Iggy's eyebrows rose in curiosity and he waited. "Do I ever wish it was me instead of Sky?"

"Every day," Iggy breathed with no hesitation.