MAX

It was painful to fly. My wings pumping up and down in the air jostled knife-cut muscles, and it got worse with every wing stroke. On the one hand, I could suck it up and fly as fast as I could to get it over with, and on the other, I could level out and ride the wind. But I knew that I couldn't fly for long. Even though I am a super-powered mutant, I needed to treat my wound soon. I could tell the edges were already knitting themselves together, so I needed to stop the bleeding and clean it out so it could heal.

To do that, I would need a water source.

I scoped out the land as I flew over it, listening as hard as I could. Finally, when my mind was begging me to just pass out already, I heard it. The soft gurgling of a streambed as it whispered its way through the forest. With a gusting sigh, I let myself drift to the ground, not really having enough strength to fight the wind. Therefore, I looked like a feather dropped over a cliff, twisting and swaying as I slowly descended.

I took the time to carefully peel away my windbreaker before stepping into the river. I was fairly sure I would be safe, since nobody was around, and as long as I was paying attention, I would hear someone coming from over a mile off.

I stepped onto a smooth-looking rock, the water swirling frigidly around my ankles. The iciness felt sweet and rejuvenating against my skin, taking away my fatigue and the hot, choking feeling in my chest.

I took another step, the water rising until it surrounded my knees. The stream whispered to me as it rolled smoothly over me and the land, quieting my fears and reminding me that I had won. No one had gotten hurt because of me, except for me. Just as it should be, I thought.

This last step I took plunged me into the crystalline depths of the fresh, salt less water. (Which I was glad about. Salt? I might have actually passed out.)

The water prodded at my wound with gentle fingers, its playful mood switching to that of deep concern. Bobbing ripples on the surface slid past me, washing my pain to flow with the current, far away from me. I let out a sigh as comfort washed over me. The river echoed me, a relieved smile evident from my friend.

I closed my eyes to assess the damage that had been done in my chest. I gasped as I realized that it had gone straight through me heart. That explained why it had been bleeding so much.

There was a barely audible, high pitched note, which echoed through my bones as well as the forest. I felt water wrap her cool arms around me in a smooth, caress-like embrace. The water around me glowed for the briefest of moments, the water appearing as if the sun had sparkled on its surface before once again being obscured by clouds. I looked up, registering the crisp, gray-blue sky before a smile twitched up the corners of my lips.

I felt the life pouring into me like a blood transfusion, and touched my fingertips to my chest, right where the hole was in my tank top. I felt skin that was smooth and cold, as though made of porcelain. But it was soft, and seamlessly flowed into the rest of my skin, which felt exactly the same.

I threw my arms out, as though embracing an invisible person, but I felt the water swirl up and still in my arms for a moment, felt the pressure against my sides and pressing the bottom of my wings into my back.

"Thank you," I sighed, my voice bubbling up my throat and blending with the gurgling voice of the dancing waters.

I eased my way out of the stream, the bitter goodbye perched on my tongue. My voice was echoed back to me from the surface of the stream, the regret-filled tone of it sounding higher, more melodic as it echoed back.

I studied my reflection as I pulled my windbreaker. My clothes were sopping wet and permanently stained dark red. My hair flowed down to my waist, a shade of brown somewhere between light and dark. I was annoyed it had gotten so long. Surprise, surprise, I hadn't exactly gotten the chance to cut it in say…the last four years or so. I was taller than I remembered, my face more angular. Through my water-logged jeans I could see my hip bones protruding widely from (where else?) my hips. My tank top, in its wet state, stretched uncomfortably tight around my chest. No matter how long I stared at the hole in my shirt, though, it was still unharmed skin. No gaping hole, no blood, not even a scar. Just regular skin, as though the knife wound had been a dream. Finally, I studied my eyes. They were a crystalline, aquatic blue. The lingering effects of the water's powers.

I remember when the scientists tried to give me the power to control water. I was so scared that it would kill me. They were trying to do it through some complicated re-wiring of my nervous system. Not that I tried to understand it. I just tried to survive it. After I had (just barely-it put in something like a coma for a week) they found out it wasn't quite like they had planned it. It gave me some sort of affinity for water, some connection to it. I could understand water's thoughts and language. After that, she grew an attachment to me, and says that I'm her best friend. But I can't actually control her. I can ask her to do things, but water has a mind of its own. She'll do what she wants. Though, she does love helping me. Rather it's something I've asked her to do or not. (i.e. healing my wound.)

Through the thin, mist-like cloud covering, I could see the rich colors of sunset camo-pattern itself across the horizon. Wow. Destin had attacked in the morning, right? Dang, I must have been flying for a lot longer than I thought. I had made my estimate around three times smaller than what it had felt like, since I was wounded. Time always passes slower when you're in pain. I'd been here at the river for an hour, at least. I think. Was that longer than I had been here, or less?

Note to self: Get internal clock fixed. And while I'm at it, fix my internal compass so it doesn't squeak anymore, I thought sarcastically.

Looking down at my chest, again, I decided to bandage it. Not because it needed it, but to keep anyone else from seeing it. I did not want to explain how a fatal wound (or at least, a would-be fatal wound, if I was totally human) was entirely healed without so much as a scratch within twenty-four hours.

So I sat down, and once again making sure I was alone, stripped off my jacket and tank before wrapping the bandage securely and thickly around my torso, carefully avoiding my wings. Let me tell you, NOT EASY. It was a fading fast twilight by the time I put my shirt back on and started flying back.

Measuring the time it took me to get back, I realized that I must have flown a fourth of the way across the Country before I got to that river. Of course, I had been flying impossibly slowly, trying to avoid pain. At top speed, I got back a lot faster. I really need a watch, so I can tell exactly how long these things take.

I landed carefully around four or five miles out from mom's house. I folded my wings tightly against my back, pulling my windbreaker over them and zipping it up all the way to the collar.

I could already hear two wolves speeding towards me. I tuned into their minds.

Jake! Jake, is this her scent?

Whoever was speaking, which was not a voice I recognized from Jake, Leah, or Seth, let the my smell fill their minds entirely. Strangely enough, I could only hear him talking with a bunch of other voices I didn't recognize and Jake. No Seth or Leah.

Yes, that's her! That's her!

The footsteps became more frenzied.

Jake, she reeks of blood. Do you really believe that she could possibly still be alive?

Yes, Sam. Seth says she is. I think we should listen to him on this one.

Jake, you know that emotion could be clouding his judgment.

Would you know if Emily was still alive?

Neither of them spoke. I leaned against a tree and waited for this Sam to arrive. I pressed my palm against my chest, as though using pressure to keep my (non-existent) wound from bleeding.

A giant, sandy-brown wolf-Sam broke through the foliage and lurched to a stop in front of me. I knew from his mind that he was starring at my eyes, since the river's touch gave them the quality of generating light. It was faint, but still. In the dark, I'm sure they stood out. And they were still strikingly blue. Judging from the magnitude of the power used to heal my wound, the glow would last another four days. I wouldn't have my brown eyes back for another week.

Then Sam's gaze flickered to my blood soakedness, and my hand pressed against my supposed wound.

You can hear my thoughts, correct?

I nodded my head.

Then get on.

He turned so his side was facing me, and bent down. An order to ride on his back. I bent my knees and jumped, grapping on to his neck fur and hoisting myself between his shoulder blades. Once I had stopped fidgeting, he took off, back towards the house.

I tuned out from his mind, which was a ongoing stream of reassurances to other wolves, some who were closer to the house and delivering the news to my mom and Ella. And whoever else was there, I guess.

How long had it been since I'd eaten? I was painfully starving. I felt like scarfing down a whole McDonald's right now. I tried to put a clamp on my hunger as we slowed down, nearing the house. We broke through the final mass of trees to see a gathering of people around the house. A lot of tan, only-in-pants guys who were obviously wolves. Seth, pacing by the door, with Leah trying to get him to look in my direction. Mom was red eyed and holding tightly to Ella's hand, Charlie's arm around her waist. Bella, Alice, Carlisle, as well as a red-haired guy, a suspiciously muscley guy, clutching a busty blonde to his side, along with a sandy haired male and a caramel-haired female, were all standing towards the back of the house. They all had that over-paleness, that disgustingly sweet smell, and were model-good looking. Almost everything about them screamed at my instincts to stay away.

As soon as they caught site of us, I felt someone digging into my mind. I immediately threw them out, and put a lock down on my head. Closing my eyes, I focused on Mom and Ella's heads, and extended that mind block to them, too. I had practiced with this skill back at the school (shudder) to perfection, but there was one little setback. As long as the block was in place, I couldn't read their minds, either. But I was the only one who could break it, thank goodness.

That was bad, I couldn't help but think. Was there a wolf who could read minds? I looked at Bella and her family again, my mind screaming Eraser!

Then Sam came to a full stop and I slid off his back, only to be practically tackled by mom and Ella.

"You're alive, you're really alive!" Ella shouted, loud enough to break Seth out of his pacing and turn his head.

"Of course I'm alive. You really think I would die from that?" I scoffed. Ella smiled and shook her head, wiping her eye. Then I turned towards mom

"Uh…Mom? Food?" I asked. She nodded, smiling, her eyes focused on mine. I didn't need to read her mind to see the question on her face. But she didn't say anything, not wanting to draw attention from the others.

I noticed Seth approaching, though from the looks of Leah trailing behind him, it was against her will. He kept a good distance, looking like it was painful to do so.

"Can I…Could I hug you?" He asked tentatively.

Every time I tried to force myself to relax, tension would spring right back. Why the hell (or school. Same thing.) did he care?

No matter how I stared at him, he just stood there patiently, his eyes hopeful, open palms facing up in the universal sign for I am not a threat. I come in Peace.

I surprised myself with this one. I took a few steps forward. I reached out my arm, and, without any other sort of contact, rigidly patted his back. Good enough. Then I stepped back, quickly. I couldn't tell if he was satisfied with that or not. But he must have been, because he stepped away to give me more space. It occurred to me, too late, to read his mind. Why hadn't I thought of this before? Usually, I was so precise and efficient that I was unrivaled. Was it usually? Or was it school-inflicted? I couldn't even remember.

Looking over, I could see hatred, though diluted and intermingled with confusion and interest, burning in Bella's eyes. There was a girl I hadn't noticed before clutching her hand. A girl who looked similar to both Bella and the red-haired guy, who I assumed was Bella's husband and the girl their daughter.

Jake, running in from the woods (human) was the first to break the tense silence.

"How stupid are you? You are seriously injured! You could have died! Not to mention that you're killing the rest of us with concern!" He had been jabbing his finger angrily in my direction, and motioned around to the amassed group on the phrase "the rest of us."

Why would any of them care? They don't even know me. But then again, they do know mom. And her, I'm sure they care about. If anything happened to me, she would be upset, and that would upset them secondhand. This thought made me remember my mother.

I spun around to face her. "I'm sorry mom. I really am. But you know I had to do that," I said. I tried to look regretful. I really did. But I just couldn't make myself.

"Yes, sweetie, I do. I do understand. But I just got you back. I didn't want to lose you again," She said. Oh, right. The whole thinking I was dead thing. Forgot about that.

I heard Jake growl. He probably thought I had ignored him.

Carlisle stepped forward. "Max, could I look at that knife wound now? It looked like it had hit your heart. If I don't do something about that, you really could die-"He said, using a doctoral voice that was shudderingly familiar.

"Oh, it went right through my heart. That's why it was bleeding so freaking much," I stated. There was silence all around as everyone stared at me. I turned back to mom. "By the way, you're okay, right? The knife didn't hit you? You're not hurt?" She just shook her head numbly, her eyes staying on me even as she turned her head. It was a little on the creepy side. I felt everyone's eyes drift to my wound, to all the blood. Then to the wound area. Which I'm sure, in their minds, would make me fall over dead in the next thirty seconds.

"Are you…Okay?" Carlisle finally sputtered out.

"I'm fine, I replied curtly, then continued, "It was a simple knife wound. Please. Like that would kill me. I have had way worse in my lifetime."

I had a sudden flashback to when they re-wired my nervous system. They literally had to take off pretty much all my skin and bisect most of my muscles. They couldn't use any sort of painkiller, because it would mess with my nerves/brain, ruin the procedure and endanger my life even further than it already was. I have never been in so much pain in my life. I came so close to dying. I think I even saw the light. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

Mom's hand latched around my elbow. "Carlisle, I'll examine her. I've treated her before, and she's much more comfortable with me. We'll just go get her checked out now." There was a sudden, intense urgency to her. I wanted to argue, but I found myself just as silent as the rest of them as she towed me through her front door and upstairs to the bathroom.

Wow, two chapters in two days. GO ME! Not that I don't owe you guys, since I've waited three months before following though my awful cliffy. But hey, this is, like, six or seven Microsoft pages. THAT is an accomplishment. I did a lot of things in this chapter that I might regret later. So please review and let me know what you think!

I would like to thank the people who thanklessly (wait a second…) followed my story even though I was in a major writing deficit disorder. (Aka writers block) It's your encouragement that finally got these chapters up!