Jazz and I walked back to the bookstore in silence, both of us obviously thinking about different things. I was still trying to process what the Voice had told me and if it was just a bunch of lies that I would be stupid to believe or if he really was some kind of super-mutant who wanted to help me. I didn't know what Jazz what thinking about, but I assumed it had something to do with whatever had happened up on the roof after I had left.
When we came to the bookstore, we began to quietly round up the others. I heard Nudge's voice near the children's books and walked over there as Jazz went over to the romance novels to get Kalie. I poked my head around a corner and saw Nudge sitting on a bench with Gazzy, Angel, Thing 1, and Thing 2 sitting cross-legged in front of her. She had a picture book in her hands with the pictures facing out towards the others, making it so she had to read upside-down. She was doing a pretty good job at it, though.
"'If I ran the zoo,' said young Gerald McGrew, 'I'd make a few changes, that's just what I'd do.'" I glanced at the other's faces while Nudge read. They all looked so young. Gazzy's eyes were glued to the pictures and his mouth was hanging open a little. Angel had a small smile on her face as her wide eyes looked over the words and the pictures. Thing 1 and Thing 2 just sat there, looking mesmerized by it all. A smile crossed my lips as Nudge continued to read. It was the cutest little picture I had ever seen, and I kind of wished it could have just gone on like that forever. But, alas, even the most beautiful things must come to an end... Like the fleeting sunset and--okay, forget the mushy metaphors. You get the idea.
I walked over to them, trying to be as quiet as possible. Nudge glanced up in the middle of a sentence and blushed. "Oh, hi, Max..." she said slowly. The others turned to look at me and their smiles disappeared.
"Hey, guys," I said softly. "Whatcha' readin'?" Nudge turned back to the book and I could tell she was embarrassed, even though I didn't know why.
"'If I Ran the Zoo', but Dr. Suess." Gazzy supplied quickly. "Can we finish the story? Please?" he asked, his eyes begging. I sighed.
"I dunno... Aren't you hungry?" I asked, remembering that we hadn't had breakfast yet today. Gazzy thought for a moment then replied.
"Yeah, but I want to hear the rest of the story." he finally answered. I raised an eyebrow. I have to admit that I hadn't been expecting that...
"Okay, I guess if you want to hear it that badly..." I said with a shrug. Their faces lit up again and they all turned back to the story.
"Thanks, Max!" Gazzy called as I walked away from them, towards the mystery section to find Fang.
"Hey," he said when I got there. He didn't even look up from the book in his hands.
"Hey," I mumbled in reply. I stopped next to him and looked over all of the books. "Did you see the younger kids over there?" I asked him.
"Yeah," Fang said simply. I gave him a look.
"Didn't you think they were cute?" I prodded as he continued to look at his book.
"And that's all you have to say?" I asked, getting a little annoyed by the one syllable responses. He thought for a minute.
"Yeah." he said as he closed the book. I expected to see a smile on his face, telling me that he was joking, but there wasn't one. His face looked as serious as usual, and I could tell there was something on his mind. I sighed and figured that if he wanted to talk to me about it, he would...eventually.
"So, where's Iggy?" I asked.
"I think he was over by the graphic novels. Ya know, a bookstore is probably his least favorite place to be..." Fang replied in a full sentence this time.
"I know, but I didn't think we'd be here for that long..." I replied softly.
"He can't even read braille." Fang mumbled and I rolled my eyes.
"I get it, Fang, you both want to leave. I told the kids we could stay for them to finish their story, though, so you're both gonna have to deal for a little longer." I said, getting a little irritated. This day hadn't been going so well for me.
"Fine, then," Fang snapped, closing his book and pushing it back into the shelf. "I'm gonna go find Iggy." he mumbled then brushed past me without the slightest care. I stared ahead with a look of disbelief on my face. What was up with people today?