Chapter 4

I groaned, feeling surrounded by consciousness and cold air. The contrast to waking in the isolation tank soothed me just a little, but knowing I was still in the School somewhere kept me rigid in my skin. Pulling my eyes open, the first thing I saw was a very worried Fang. I sat up slowly and rubbed my aching head.

"How're you feeling?" he asked. I turned to get a better look at him, rolling onto my knees. Simply reaching out and taking his jaw in my hand, I held back a gasp at how hot his skin was. I tilted his face this way and that, using my other hand to brush his hair away. "What are you—" He swatted my hand away.

I cut him off. "The camera," I said, gesturing over my shoulder with my thumb at the small black box in the corner that hung conspicuously from the ceiling. I took his hands in mine—they were so cold.

"I'm fine," he muttered.

"Where's your jacket?" I scolded. "You're not fine, you're stupid." I pulled off my sweatshirt and chucked it at his face. Well, it wasn't my sweatshirt—it belonged to the whitecoats—but they had given it to me when they decided that I should not walk around naked. The sweatshirt was too big for me anyways, but it would fit Fang for now. Anything to cover up his chest...

As he put that on, I scooted across the floor a few feet over to Iggy, who was still slumped against the wall. "What did you do?" I asked, letting my fingers flutter feather light across the bloody strips of shirt wrapped around his leg. The blood had long dried and there wasn't any sign it was still bleeding. That was good.

"Whitecoats," he muttered. "What about you?"

I looked down at myself, but before I could say anything, Fang was already poking and prodding my leg, making me wince.

"Her leg is bent at a funny angle about two to three inches below the knee," Fang described to Iggy, who also began touching, but softer.

"An old break," he said. "Healed all wrong. Sorry, Max, but once we get out we'll have to re-break it." Iggy's face was apologetic. I groaned mentally, but couldn't help the swell in my chest at the thought of escaping soon. Which reminded me…

"How did you guys get in here, anyways?" I asked.

"Came to bust you out," Fang said simply with a grin, reclaiming his spot in the corner.

"Getting caught in the middle of a rescue mission isn't particularly something to smile about, dumbass," I ranted. "That's typically rule number one, don't get caught." Seriously, he was seventeen now, he should know how not to get caught. But his eyes widened a fraction and his eyebrows rose then dropped quickly. Was he urging me to play along? If…no…what kind of plan…he didn't…

Some say realization hit them like a ton of bricks, well, if you measure this realization in the matter of bricks, I'd have been hit by an entire brick house. And in my chest, I felt like it. I felt like all the wind had been knocked out of me for a second in one, horrifying realization that my family is seriously stupid.

"You morons!" I growled, reaching out to punch Fang in the leg, but it was a lot weaker than I'd intended. My words had double meaning, a hidden, deeper meaning that I knew Fang and Iggy would understand, and the face value for whatever whitecoat happened to be listening in on the videos. "What kind of…"

They had meant to get caught.

"I don't wanna know—" I started, but the door swung open and Jeb, flanked on either side by erasers, entered the room. I gripped the hood of Fang's sweatshirt and stood up awkwardly, dragging him with me. "You told me you'd kill him," I snarled. "Well, if he dies because you can't keep him healthy, then what will you have to hold above my head? I'll kill you."

"Thanks mom," Fang muttered sarcastically before falling into a coughing fit for a few seconds. He really needed…appropriate medical attention. I made a mental note to take him to Dr. Martinez's house as soon as we escaped. She was probably the only medical professional we could trust right now.

We stood, glaring at each other for a few seconds before Jeb spoke.

"Change of plans, Maximum."

"Oh, too bad. What's the new schedule look like now?"

Jeb motioned the two erasers forward. "You're going to the new tank a few days ahead of schedule. I'm doing this for your own safety, really."

"The what? What about your plan?"

He crossed his arms over his chest. "I told you, some collegues were pushing to move up the breeding experiment, I couldn't hold them off any longer."

Rage spilled in my chest. "If you were worried about my safety I wouldn't be here."

He sighed in exasperation. "You've grown dense in your old age, Maximum—"

"I'm only seventeen!"

"—and for an experiment, that's an extremely long investment, especially for an experiment that so violently misbehaves." He motioned to the two Erasers with a couple flicks of his fingers

"Woah, woah! Hold it! Stop!"

I took a shaky step backwards and nearly tripped over Fang. He steadied me, his hands on my upper arms. I realized he'd just heard about where they were taking me and the breeding experiment. Through the fabric of my long-sleeved shirt, I could feel his freezing cold fingers tremble.

"What about the chip?" I asked, my voice as shaky as Fang's hands.

"Already in," he smirked. Gosh, did I just wanna hit him. Just once. Please, if there is some sort of higher power out there watching me, let me just sock him once before I have to die.

Fang stepped in front of me and I realized that the erasers weren't for me, but for Fang and Iggy—both weakened drastically. Jeb reached over and grabbed my wrist, thin and boney from the lack of food.

As soon as we got into the hall, I took my first swing, collecting every ounce of energy in my body. Hearing my knuckle crack as it connected with his face was like music. I chose to ignore the searing pain as I smiled. Damn that felt amazing. Jeb fell to his knees.

I walked up and my knee connected with his head, which then connected with the wall, before he fell to the floor, unconscious. Chuckling at what I planned to do, I pulled a pen out of his pocket and snapped it in half, gently touching the pointy edges to make sure they were sharp enough. I leaned over his face and began to carve into his cheek.

About two years ago, we tried to settle into a permanent home. We did for a while. Before we were forced to leave, Fang and Gazzy got into video games like crack addicts. Iggy just…listened to them play—not exactly much fun. Gazzy was speaking text-talk for weeks.

I stood up and admired my word. But it didn't last.

"Pay attention, Sweetie!" a sickeningly sweet voice chimed behind me.

A prick and I was done.