Word count: 1,692
Pairing: Fax, one-sided Eggy, mutual Niggy
At least, that's what was running through Fang's head when he saw a familiar form in the place he thought he could achieve absolute anonymity; New York City, a place filled to the brim with normal people, people he hoped would unknowingly help him hide from everything he thought he left behind.
Of course, he thinks, Ella just had to be on a field trip with her school's band to compete in some national competition; he knew about it too, that was the kicker- she was talking about it to Max the night he left.
She looked happy, but detached, and her hand kept twitching in the direction of the pocket in which she kept her phone, like she was expecting an important call. Fang knew that she hadn't seen her yet, and so he hoped to keep it that way, opting to cross the street before he needed to- he was planning on doing an up and away the second he was out of sight, something about Ella's appearance had unnerved him.
He is almost in the clear when a voice addresses him, a voice that makes him think it can't be Ella, Ella's too nice to even think about talking to someone like that, because he had never, ever heard someone talk like that, a feat, considering his less-than-standard upbringing.
"Found them yet?"
This of course surprises him, because on top of the bitterer harshness of her tone, he didn't think anyone knew about his plan. This makes him think that maybe the whole flock knows, and he wonders in spite of himself what they think about it, what Max thinks about it. Does she think it's noble? Stupid? Worth it?
He chooses his words carefully, and it shows- his tone is slow, deliberate.
"Ella," a nod, "no, I haven't yet. I came close a few days ago, but nothing came out of it"
She shakes her head in disbelief, says "That was rhetorical, Fang. To be honest I couldn't care less," a new form of bitterness creeps in to her voice, "But Max would- she cares too much, if you ask me."
And he knows exactly why she is so bitter, and it has nothing to do with him.
"When are you coming back?" she asks after a pause, less bitter now. "They miss you so much"
He is momentarily willing to abandon his search, go back and try to make it better, but he knows that would just make things worse, and he knows Angel already hates him, he doesn't want to make that any worse.
But no, he stands firm. "I'm not coming back, you know that and Ma- everyone knows that."
A strange look crosses Ella's face, somewhere between on the verge of tears and ready to beat the crap out of anyone who came close to her.
"Fang, when was the last time you saw Max cry?"
he considers this, and answers as truthfully as he can when he says, "Probably when she thought your mom was dead, in Hawaii."
She nods, and says, "And the time before that?"
He shrugs, "I don't know, when Ari died?" he turns it into a question because he really is unsure. He's known Max since birth, but he had only seen her cry a handful of times.
Ella can tell he's unsure about his answer, and when she asks him about the time before that and he doesn't know, she nods and smirks, like she's pieced together something beyond Fang, and it annoys him to no end, if he's being honest with himself.
"That's the point, Fang," she says, calmer than before, "the only time Max ever cries is when she loses someone she loves. She thought her mom had died, so she cried. Her brother died, so she cried- she lost you, probably forever, and cried."
He doesn't want to think of Max crying, but Ella is forcing him, and it hurts him more than he thought it would, because the times where he had seen max cry he was there for her, a shoulder to cry on, and now she needed a new shoulder; her old one was the cause of her tears.
He stays collected though, and only lies a little, saying, "I knew going into this that she was going to be upset. She has the whole flock to help her though."
Ella sighs like Fang's being stupid. "She hasn't stopped."
He doesn't understand. "What do you mean? She has to have stopped, she's Max!"
She just shakes her head and tells him that since she read his letter; she's been doing nothing but crying, barely stopping to eat. Nudge has been trying to cheer her up, she says, and Fang notices that bitter edge to her voice again.
He can tell that people are starting to get annoyed with the two of them, blocking pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk, so they go into a Starbucks, which Fang doesn't see as very appropriate, but it was the closest thing to where they were standing.
He can't seem to forget about Max's new shoulder to cry on, and so he says, "What about Dylan" Twisting the name into something awful.
Ella sighs, like she's been doing a lot, and says, "I hate to be repetitive, but what was the last thing you fought?"
He's confused with the direction the conversation has taken, but answers anyway.
"Those Erasers I guess."
"And before that?" she asks.
"The M-Geeks in Hawaii"
"Keep going," she prods.
"Um, Flyboys, older erases…" he trails off, "what does this have to do with Dylan?"
"They all have something in common." She says.
The subtlety is lost on Fang, and so Ella clarifies. "They were all programmed to destroy you. They were created, technology and nothing more. Dylan's no different; he was programmed to be Max's 'perfect other half', which, by the way, is crap. If you both made it past all the other things people have created for you, you can sure as hell make it past one kid!"
He would never admit it, but Ella makes sense. He's starting to get mad at her though, ruining his plans to help the entire flock, especially Iggy. Thinking of Iggy reminds him of exactly why Ella's being bitter, and he figures this is as good a time as any to bring it up, if only to see if he can get a reaction, and to see if his hunch is right.
"Well I'm pretty sure you have an ulterior motive in even talking to me." He says, smirking, "a bit of a bird-kid hate I'm sensing, Ella? Or maybe just one little bird girl in general?"
She cuts her eyes at him, tells him that that isn't any of his business- but he's just getting started.
"Iggy comments on the blog, you know." noticing her expression, her I will seriously injure you if you continue look that she must have learned from Max, he keeps going, "what's the matter, Ella? Upset about something? Could it be that when I left there was only one person that could comfort him wasn't you? Him and Nudge are happy, you know."
She screams "SHUT UP!" as loud as she can, and people stare but evidently she doesn't care very much, because she just starts crying and runs out of the building. He sighs because he knows he went too far, and runs out too, trying to catch up.
He finds her crying in central park, and when she sees him, she squares her shoulders, and charges at him, clawing and punching and screaming at him that he can't do anything without screwing everyone and everything up, and he lets her, mostly because she can't do much to hurt him, but also because he knows he deserves it.
She's done now, and she starts to cry, and she lies down on a bench and cries even harder. He awkwardly sits on the ground beside her, and lets her get it out of her system, the smartest thing he's done all day.
Between tears she manages to say that she wasn't going to go to the competition because Max needed her, but she went when she remembered the story of how the flock got Total, in New York City. She figured it out then, that Fang was looking for more bird kids like them, to give angel the flock she wanted, and to find the eyes for Iggy that the doctor had offered them. She thought that if she found Fang in New York, she could help him find the eyes for Iggy, and maybe he'd choose her instead of Nudge.
He states the obvious. "That was stupid."
She laughs a shaky laugh, but doesn't say anything, and Fang thinks that it might be time to come clean.
"I lied" he says.
"I did find something. Iggy's eyes, I mean. I found a way to send them to your mom's house. I guess it was before you left."
Her mood drops again. "I was stupid."
He nods a bit, and chuckles. "Go home," he says.
She shakes her head. "Not without you. I can't stand looking at Max like that anymore."
He smiles, but it's a sad one. "Don't get me wrong; I love her with everything I have. I want her to be happy, and even though she'd never admit it, she'd be happier if Angel had a flock of her own to lead. She'd be gone; let's be real for a second- she's the reason for all of this."
She smiles, but only a little. "I guess I'll see you later then?"
"As soon as I can find more freaks, I'll be right over" he says with another smile, a real one this time.
She unexpectedly hugs him, which really just makes him miss Max more, but he appreciates the gesture. He wishes her luck with her competition, and asks him not to tell the flock about their meeting. She knows when he says "the flock" he means "Max", but doesn't say anything.
And he thinks that maybe coincidences aren't so bad.