10 Secrets of the Maximum Ride Characters by FantasyFan5

Category:Maximum Ride
Published:2008-04-05 19:38:56
Updated:2012-12-17 10:05:09
Packaged:2021-04-04 14:35:28
Summary:Ever wished you knew what went through Fang's head? Wondered just whose side Jeb was on? Well, look no further. These are ten of the MR characters' secrets that you don't see in the books - their fears, their hopes, their loves. Slight Fax. JP owns all.

Table of Contents

1. Max
2. Fang
3. Iggy
4. Dr Martinez
5. Nudge
6. Angel
7. Max II
8. Gazzy
9. Jeb
10. Ari
11. Anne
13. Ella
14. The Director
15. Extra Secrets

1. Max

A/N: I really, really wanted to write this fic and I had ideas rolling around in my head for it all the time, so I'm finally sitting down to write it. I don't claim that any of these things actually happened to the characters, after all, it is a fanfiction. Just a warning, there is a very, very slight MR 4 spoiler in number ten. So, without further ado, the fanfiction!

Disclaimer: Except for this one thing. JP owns the incredible, indescribable Maximum Ride. No matter how sad that makes me.

Ten Things You Never Knew About: Max

One: The first time she saw Fang when she was maybe two, he was so angry at the whitecoats that it scared her just the teensiest bit. They dumped him in her cage, and she scooted away a little so he wouldn't get mad at her too for some reason. Later, after he calmed down a little, she shared her daily piece of bread with him. Warily, he took it, dark, little boy eyes searching hers for something that said that this was another test that led to something bad. When nothing horrible happened, the left side of his mouth slid up in what Max thought was a smile. She smiled back.

A few days later, they were inseparable. For years, they never split up. Until, of course, a certain Eraser was thrown into the equation.

Two: Once, out of her lab window, she saw the Erasers chasing a little girl across the practice field. She couldn't figure out why a human girl would be at the School until she noticed that instead of feet, the girl had hooves: and the hooves were starting to move slower. She looked away as the Erasers caught up, and promised herself that when she was able to, she'd never have to watch the underdog get hurt again – not if she could help it.

Three: When she was five, she used to pretend that the pretty whitecoat with hair like hers was her mommy since she didn't have one. She smiled at her when she went by her cage to give her food, and each smile brightened Max's day.

Then, one day, the whitecoat took the blond boy away. He had things on his back like hers. When she came back, she didn't give Max a smile like she normally did. Instead, she had a scary look on her face that Max didn't recognize, and the blond boy was crying. Later, Max found out that he couldn't see anymore.

She didn't pretend that was her mommy again. She didn't need one, she decided. Moms were overrated.

Four: The first time Gazzy let loose one of his gifts, she honestly thought that it was a gas leak and that they were all going to die.

Five: Max is deathly afraid of being alone. The last time she was completely alone, she had been taken away for 'improving' – without the boy with dark hair who had grown on her so much. That alone had scared her half to death. The whitecoats had picked her up with rough hands, and she kicked and screamed, torn between having to go back in her cage and being taken somewhere to have God-knows-what done. Then she felt a small prick in her arm, and suddenly her arms and legs were really, really heavy.

Later, she woke up to darkness. She didn't know what had happened, but she guessed that she'd been under the knife again. That never meant anything good – most of the experiments taken away for 'surgery', which was a euphemism (she'd learned the word from Jeb – good, wasn't it?) for dissection, never came back the same. She put out her arms to try to sit up as her breathing quickened. Even with her raptor-vision, she couldn't see anything in the dark. Had they taken her sight away, too? "Hello?" she whispered. "Anyone?"

There was no answer. She tried to move again, but felt a searing pain in her arm. She looked down at it, forgetting that she couldn't see. With her other hand, she felt the spot that hurt, sucking in her breath as she accidentally pressed down a bit too hard. There was a healing incision there that had been stitched up, and the area around it was tender, but it was no worse than an Eraser gash. She checked herself all over for other wounds, but found none.

After she was taken back to her cage by the whitecoats a few hours later, she managed to forget about her arm. For such a small cut, it was probably nothing anyway.

Six: The day after Max and the rest of the winged kids were rescued from the School by Jeb, they got to learn a little of how to fly. Max loved it immediately. Sure, she had flown a little when she was escaping from Erasers (she still shuddered when she thought about that), but that didn't really count. This was new, amazing, ex- exhilarating? She thought that was the word. There was finally a reason for the things on her back called wings, and she adored the feeling.

Seven: It wasn't until after the flock was rescued that they decided to name each other. There hadn't really been a need for names before at the School, and they could only talk in snatches of time anyway – talking wasn't exactly allowed. Jeb helped all of them choose what to be. The dark haired boy chose Fang because he said it sounded like him – dark and dangerous. The blind one chose Iggy, but Max never really knew why. Something that had to do with fire, she thought the black girl had told her. They had named her Nudge, since they always had to poke her to get her to stop talking. Then the rest of the flock named the kinda smelly one the Gasman- for obvious reasons. And then there was the youngest one, who Max got to name by herself. She decided on Angel, because she had already mentally called the girl her angel, just like she had seen mothers do on T.V., and she considered Angel her baby. When Jeb said that she could name herself, Max felt like the most special girl in the world, but she'd also felt a little hurt. Did he not want to help choose her name? She never asked him or told anyone, but she always wondered.

Eight: She never really forgave Fang for only one thing, besides leaving, that is. For God's sake, he locked her out of the house in the middle of a freaking thunderstorm! If there was one thing she hated, it was thunderstorms. It wasn't that she was scared of them – it was just that the noise and the flashing lights reminded her of the School, and he knew that. Jerk.

When he let her in, he swore that he'd left the door open, but she just glared at him. She was on her way to forgiving him until she saw the laughter in his eyes at her soaked state. Nope. This was one thing that she was not letting slide. After all, she was the leader, and what she said stood.

The next day, Fang woke up to find all of his clothes missing. He had to hunt around the soaked forest for each and every shirt, pair of jeans, and random sock. Max had grinned when she saw him glaring at her after he came back from retrieving all of his things. Oh yeah. Now they were even.

Nine: For awhile, when she was about twelve, she had thought that Iggy was kind of cute. She didn't like him like him of course – they weren't nearly as close as she and Fang were, and she and Iggy were the very definition of brother and sister – arguing sometimes, but making up later. Anyway, it didn't change the fact that she loved the blond hair. All the same, she'd always preferred black to blonde.

Ten: Max knew she liked Fang. Fang knew that she liked him. For God's sake, doesn't everyone remember the cave incident? What about the docks? But she couldn't admit it. No way, no how. She just couldn't. That was a side of her that she wasn't sure she wanted a part of – emotions were tricky things, and hers were especially confusing. Then you add in that whole little dilemma about them being practically brother and sister, and you practically had a recipe for a perfect disaster, people. And besides, that Max was foreign. Vulnerable. And if she wasn't Maximum Ride, fearless leader of the Merry Band of Mutants, then who was she?

A/N: And so ends Max's spotlight. I'm not sure whether I'll continue or not, REVIEW and tell me! Flames, criticism, likes, dislikes, everything's accepted. But please review!

P.S. I really hope you guys caught what was going on with Max's arm…

2. Fang

A/N: Chappie numero dos of 10 Secrets of the Maximum Ride Characters! (Man, I need a more creative title.) I've decided there may be spoilers for MR4 in each chapter (MAYBE) so if you still haven't read it yet for some reason, be careful. Oh, and this is now rated T.

As many of you guessed, yes, this will be Fang. Thanks for all of the reviews, alerts, and favorites, guys! I got twelve reviews in one day! You rock! (And there are now seventeen. AMAZING. Keep it up!)

One: His earliest memory is of pain. Blinding, stabbing, white hot pain. Apparently, the head whitecoat had a few apprentices that needed to learn how to successfully perform surgery on a recombinant DNA life form. So far, though, it wasn't too successful, since the anesthesia had worn off too early – and he could feel every cut, stab, and slice. He screamed, and he could dimly hear scientists arguing over his head. He felt another prick in his arm, and the pain faded away.

The pain may have gone, but his consciousness had not. He was still awake, and they didn't seem to care.

Being dumped in a new cage in a new area of the School two days later had hurt everywhere. A blond girl about his age was there. He glared up at the whitecoat with the loud voice that had landed him here, in this new place, with nothing familiar. The girl moved away, but he was too angry to care that he had scared her.

He calmed down later, but it took time. Later, he would believe that the surgery he had undergone was the best thing that had happened to him at the School – because it had landed him with Max.

Two: Four year old Fang was absolutely, positively terrified. He was…actually; he wasn't sure where he was. He knew he was in the middle of a lot of trees, and that was it. It was the first time he'd been outside, ever, let alone away from the School. He was by himself – but he was being followed. It was another test, but he wasn't sure what they were testing. He just knew he had to get away, away, away.

He could hear the Erasers tearing through the forest after him and pumped his legs faster. For what seemed like endless hours this went on, until his lungs burned and his legs felt like they'd been pounded on endlessly by Eraser fists. He collapsed, silent tears streaming down his face, hoping fervently that the Erasers wouldn't find him.

Unfortunately, he didn't get his wish. Luckily, however, a whitecoat was with them, which was the only thing that prevented them from jumping on Fang and tearing him apart. "Are you crying?" the whitecoat demanded. "Stop that! Stop right now! You're not made to be a whiner. You are a fighter. A machine. You got that? Stop!" He hit Fang's face hard, who squeezed his eyes tightly shut at the blow.

When he opened them, there was only a bit of hurt left as he buried himself deep inside his head, where no one could disturb him. When he looked up at the whitecoat again, not a trace of emotion could be found in the dark eyes.

Three: He had listened to the blond girl talk to the blond boy in whispers night after night. He wondered if they were siblings – they had the same color hair, even if their eye color wasn't the same. He would lean against the wall of his cage – he had his own now, after all, he was seven, even if the cage was too small for him– and listen to them talk. If they were brother and sister, he was really jealous. He was close to the blond girl, and he hated to think that someone else had that too.

Four: He looked up to Jeb. He liked Jeb. After all, he'd set them free, so how could he not? Did he ever love Jeb as a father, though? No, not really. He didn't think that he would ever be able to fully trust a whitecoat again, and sometimes, Jeb acted a little off at the E house. Fang seemed to be the only one to notice when he would get a strange look in his eyes, but it was only when he was looking at Max. Anyway, even if she was only a few months older, he did have Max. Not really a parent, but the two of them together could do anything, he thought.

Five: He gets called emo a lot for his black clothes and silent nature, but he's really not. Black was a habit at first – it made it much easier to blend in with the shadows at the School. Not that they exactly had a choice of what to wear, but blending in meant that you weren't caught or experimented on. Later, though, black just seemed to fit him – Fang and black just went together like…like salt and pepper. And as for being quiet? Well, for one thing, there's no reason to talk all the time. Why should you talk a ton when you can get across what you need with one word? Plus, he had Nudge. Enough said.

For another, it was calm inside his head. His head was the one thing in his crazy life that he had complete control over – except at night, when thoughts of the School crept back inside his memories. It was better not to talk sometimes.

Besides, the person that he talks to the most understands him with just one glance.

Six: Total bugs the crap out of him. Sometimes, it gets to the point where he regrets letting Angel keep him. He can tell he makes her happy, which is all fine and good, but how the heck does the little furball know everything? It gets to where if Total says one more thing about his love for England or the Eiffel Tower of France, Fang just wants to take Total's mouth and clamp it shut. He would – he tried, once – but Angel stopped him. Thank God he actually can put his hand over Nudge's mouth.

Seven: Lissa. Just her name makes Max's eyes narrow, Nudge giggle, and Iggy stare off into space wondering what she looks like. And, okay, so maybe he had liked her a little bit. A little. She was nothing like Max, of course – they were practically polar opposites. But hey, he was a guy, Lissa was pretty, she was nice to him, and she actually liked Fang. He never expected any girl to like him, but then all of a sudden, there was Lissa. And when she kissed him, he was so surprised that for a second he didn't know what to do.

Max getting jealous was just a big plus. But then she'd gotten him back with Sam. Why did she always have to go one up on him?

Eight: He hates the color red. Don't ask him why, he just does. Maybe he's seen too much blood, too many red glints in Eraser eyes…actually; he does know why he hates the color red.

Nine: He realized that he felt something different for Max than just brother/sister love that day on the beach, when Ari had smashed his head on a rock and Max had kissed him. A million things had rushed through his head at light speed – did Max like him that way? Was that just a sisterly kiss? Judging by the way she had just turned bright red, probably not. Why had she kissed him, then? Did he like her? Could she like him? He was utterly glad that Angel (hopefully) wasn't reading his mind just then, because his thoughts were getting to be as talkative as Nudge.

It had taken him awhile to sort out all of his thoughts. He still wasn't sure that he liked Max that way until he saw her kissing Sam. His insides clench just at the thought. It was then that he was sure – because all he had wanted to do was go down there, rip Sam off of her, and kiss her himself. But of course he hadn't. He had settled for gently teasing her when she had gotten back inside – but after he left her room to go to sleep, he stayed awake, staring at the ceiling. What the hell was going on with him?

And he'd kissed her. He wasn't thinking. He was sure that she felt at least an inkling of what he did. He was definitely sure now, after their talk on the docks. Both times he'd kissed her she had responded, but then ran away.

God, she was so damn stubborn.

Ten: The best day of his life wasn't the day that Jeb had rescued him from the School, like the day that tops the rest of the Flock's list. The happiest day of his life was when he had met up with Max and the rest of the girls. When he hugged Max, he was finally whole. Yeah, he'd been pissed that she'd chosen Ari – Ari of all people! – over him, her best friend in the entire world, but that was okay. They'd get over it eventually.

They spent the rest of the day away from the flock, talking, catching each other up on everything that had happened in the weeks apart. Those had been the hardest weeks of his life – even at the School, Max was a certainty. During those hell weeks, he hadn't known if he would see her again. Ever. That was the worst part.

It didn't even matter that Iggy called him a lovebird when he and Max finally got back to the rest of the flock. Max was back.

A/N: That first part was way sadder than I had intended, but Fang kind of wrote himself, if you know what I mean. He was so much fun to write, that I came up with more than ten – so if you want to read those, just leave a review and I'll give them to you in the reply!

3. Iggy

A/N: Sorry for the wait! I've gotten really behind with sports and school, so I didn't have a lot of time to write.

Just some clearance – in chapter one, what was going on with Max's arm was her chip being put in, as many of you got. Next is Iggy!

One: It goes without saying that Iggy thinks that out of all of his family, he was hurt worst by the School. Becoming blind at age five was the worst thing that could have happened to him. Sight was more important at the School than anywhere else. If you couldn't see the Erasers, you were more likely to get torn up. If you couldn't see the whitecoats, you didn't know when to shrink up against the cage and make yourself invisible. If you couldn't see, you might end up killing yourself, because you would end up dead anyway, and everyone knew that it was better to die by your own hand than by the hand of the psychos at the School.

He had seen it happen before, when he hadn't lost his sight yet and still thought that nothing that horrible would ever happen to him, even if he was kept in this hellhole. They had taken away one of the human/ursus hybrids for improving – they wanted to attempt to give him heat vision, and it obviously went horribly wrong. Without going into too much detail, they ended up having to surgically remove his eyes from all of the damage that had been done, and instead of replacing them with fake eyes, they sewed his eyelids shut. The bear genes in the kid had given him permanent claws, and he had fresh claw marks across his face from trying to take out the stitches for the next two weeks before he died. He thought that if he got out the stitches, he'd be able to see. It had broken Iggy's heart – and then, a month later, the same thing had happened to him.

Two: Iggy used to love staring out of the window of his section. He watched the cloud formations and the birds flying by. There was one bird that perched on the wide window sill outside every day. It had made its nest there, and Iggy would talk to it in a low voice. The blond girl and the dark boy he talked to sometimes, but not as much as they talked to each other. That was okay. He kept himself occupied at his window, just soaking up the sights and talking to his bird. It was the only way that he didn't die of boredom.

He had liked a blond lady. She had been nice to him, had gained his trust. When she came to his cage, he actually lifted his arms, asking to be picked up. When he went with her, there were no bad tests. He would be rewarded, or smiled at, or something else good would happen. Of course she had been the perfect pick for the director of that particular School to send for Iggy. If she had said, "Jump off of a cliff with your wings tucked in – trust me!" - He would have done what she said without a second thought. He had been stupid to trust her, he thinks now. The director knew that Iggy would go with her without a fight, unlike for the other whitecoats in the building. It made taking away his sight easier.

It wasn't until he was strapped down on the table that he began to suspect that something was wrong. "It'll all be over soon," crooned the lady whitecoat. "I promise. We're making you better." Iggy relaxed. If she said it was okay, it always was. He drifted off to sleep under the influence of a drug, wondering what new thing was going to happen now. It couldn't be that bad, if she had said it.

"Open your eyes," said a dreamy voice awhile later. It seemed like it came from very far away, and Iggy wanted to open his eyes and see who it was that was talking to him. His eyelids felt like they were made of lead, and it took some effort to open them. Still, all he could see was black – not even a slit of light. "Good job," said the whitecoat. "Can you tell me what you see?"

"Not all the way open," mumbled Iggy, still somewhat sedated by the drug. Couldn't she tell that his eyes weren't wide open? He couldn't see anything.

"Yes, they are," said the voice, confused. "What do you see?"

The drug's effect began to wear off more, and Iggy was able to groggily sit up. He touched his eyes – they were wide open. But he still couldn't see.

His stomach dropped. Why couldn't he see? His breathing came quicker and his heart sped up. "I can't see," he realized. "I can't see! Why can't I see? Make it go away!"

"Quiet!" said a new voice, a deep male one with an accent. "Marian, what did you do?"

"I didn't do anything wrong, it was probably you who messed it up, Roland, you never pay full attention to what you do! You've ruined it!" said the blond lady's voice angrily. "All the hard work, the research, the planning, all of it's gone down the drain because of you!"

"I swear I'm going to have you stationed somewhere else - Germany or something-" said the male voice again. They continued to argue in loud voices, completely ignoring Iggy.

Later, he was dumped roughly back in his cage, which only made the tears flow faster. He could hear the other two in his area crawl to the front of their respective cages, trying to see what happened. He tried desperately to match a picture to the sounds, but he was too distraught to even continue down that train of thought, and gave up, sinking into a corner and wrapping skinny arms around his legs.

"What's wrong?" asked the girl, concern lacing her voice.

"I can't see," he sobbed. "I can't see! They said they'd make me better, but it didn't work…" He curled up in a ball in the corner of his crate, just wanting to be left alone.

Later, he could hear his bird perch on his windowsill and chirp questioningly, but he couldn't see it anymore.

Three: He constantly wonders what the rest of his siblings look like. He remembers Max – the five year old Max – distantly, and he has an idea of what she looks like now from touching her face, seeing with his fingers. He remembers Fang, and has a guess at what he looks like now, but using his hands to 'see' Fang is a little weird and awkward, so he doesn't do it. But Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel he's never seen before, ever. He wants desperately to have a mental picture that's real, and not just one that he guesses at. Max has told him, many times, what they all look like, but it's not the same. He loves the new power that he's gotten – the power to know color by touch – because it helps him visualize things so much better. He'd wondered the exact shade of Nudge's skin for awhile now, anyway. Yeah, so that sounds weird. But think about it – if you'd never seen half of your family before, wouldn't you wonder?

And, in his defense, there are a lot of different shades of black. He's not sure which one Nudge is. Okay, that didn't come out quite the way he wanted it to…it sounded really racist. He's just going to shut up now before he gets sued or something crazy.

Four: He makes the bombs because he likes the satisfaction – there's nothing cooler than hearing a huge boom from something that you made yourself – but he also makes them to feel like he does something useful. If he didn't make them with Gazzy, he would feel like dead weight. Sure, he has great hearing, but so do the others. And Fang is pretty good with a lock pick, so there goes that skill. But he is the only one who can build a bomb from almost nothing, the one that can deactivate a bomb in little to no time depending on the difficulty level, and that is the only thing that keeps him on the safe side of sanity.

Gazzy might be getting good at bomb making, but Iggy hasn't quite taught him everything that he knows yet.

Five: Max wasn't the only one who Lissa bugged the crap out of – he couldn't stand her. He had no idea if she was hot or not (according to Fang, she was kind of pretty, but you could never trust him – he was too obsessed with Max) but God, her voice – that voice could drown out a whole hallway of people, and it was so high pitched it hurt his ears. It made it really hard to concentrate on Fang's footsteps in the hallway when Lissa was with them chattering away. Of course Fang didn't say anything, and he was the reason that she was even hanging around them – so he let Iggy do all of the "Yeahs" and "Okays" and "Whatever you say"-s of it all. Not. Fun.

Gee, thanks, Fang. Just leave him with chatterbox. She was as bad as Nudge, but Nudge's voice he could tune out. Lissa…well, not so much.

Six: Angel is freaking frightening. Come on, the kid can read minds, control minds, shape shift…is he missing anything? Probably…oh, yeah, breathing underwater, talking to fish, and now he thinks he has everything. Even for them, it's not normal. He seriously believed that she had betrayed them when they had been taken – who else was young enough for the School to corrupt? Who else was powerful enough for the School to want them back? (Well, Max, of course – but everyone wanted her, it seemed like.) He loves Angel like the sister he never had – but sometimes he's not sure if he can fully trust her. You just can never tell with that child, you really can't. He feels, like, insanely guilty, but there it is.

Seven: The funniest, absolute funniest moment of his life was when he and Gazzy blew up Max's Mickey Mouse clock. If only he could have seen the look on her face – Gazzy told him that she was pissed. He can imagine it now – face screwed up, eyes wild, mouth gaping open in disbelief. Perfect. Then, of course, she had to go and punish them by searching their entire room for explosives, which she promptly flew with and dropped in a lake somewhere. That had made Iggy furious, but he had kept some stowed under his shirt and the beginnings of one in his pocket, so at least he hadn't lost everything.

Why Max's clock, you ask? Well, there's nothing else more fun than blowing up Max's stuff.

Eight: His parents broke him more than he wants to admit. Finally, finally, he had found his family. They cared about him. He was normal. He missed his first family like crazy, but these were people that he was actually related to. Didn't he belong here more than anywhere else? Wasn't he supposed to fit in here, happy and loved and well fed and everything? They didn't even care that he was blind. They were planning on getting him a guide dog until he explained that he really didn't need one. His mother had fussed over him and tucked him in, even though that was a little weird. She was just like a real mom was supposed to be. It was going to be perfect.

And then, it wasn't.

Yeah, they were cool with the wings. They could care less if he had a beak. Either way, his picture still would have been plastered across People magazine, The New York Times; everyone would know his name, his face. He would be the circus freak again. Wasn't that what parents were supposed to protect you from? From feeling exposed, vulnerable…scared. He'd never admit this to anyone else, not even Fang or Max or Gazzy. It's just too personal. He'd put so much stock into having parents, he'd gotten what he wanted, and then all of his dreams had come crashing down.

Maybe it isn't the blood you share with people, but the experiences? It's too philosophical for him, but it sounds about right.

Nine: The one good thing about being blind is the hearing. He can hear anything, anywhere, thanks to his body naturally adapting to the lack of sight. He makes the perfect eavesdropper. He's heard so many conversations between Max and Fang than he can count. It keeps him pretty well informed, to be able to listen in on everything. It helped a lot at the School – he knew when a test was coming up and whether the test was good or bad.

It also meant that he was the 'lookout' for when they escaped the School – he would be the first to hear any Erasers that were coming up behind them.

Ten: He used to view being blind as a curse. Sometimes, he still does. He learns everyday how to cope, tiny tricks to make life easier. Being blind now isn't so bad – and maybe he can finally just accept his life.

A/N: "And, in his defense, there are a lot of different shades of black. That sounded really racist. He's just going to shut up now before he gets sued."

I AM NOT racist, guys, okay? And I am black, so please don't send me angry messages about black people. And if you are racist, keep the comments to yourself.

Alright, so sorry for the LONG wait, and I hope you review!

4. Dr Martinez

A/N: Alright, guys, I know a lot of you were expecting Nudge but I had a stroke of inspiration for Dr. Martinez, and no one said I had to go in order, right? It'll also be written in a very slightly different format. So, here they are: her ten secrets.

One: Valencia Alvarez first met Jeb Batchelder the first day of internship at Itex. She was twenty two years old at the time. It turned out that they had both been conned into joining – Val had wanted to be a vet. Jeb had wanted to work with genetics. Both had applied for jobs after leaving university, and Itex had appealed to both of them. At least, what they knew about Itex appealed to them.

Once they had agreed to join, they were there for good. All interns were made to swear an oath of secrecy. No one could know that they worked for Itex – not even their families. Jeb had joked that it was like being inducted into the CIA. Val didn't laugh. She was a little disturbed that they weren't allowed to say anything about it. It was ringing alarm bells in her head, but Jeb wasn't bothered in the slightest.

The two were soon best friends, and inseparable. Val felt herself becoming closer and closer to Jeb with each passing day, but sometimes she felt herself worrying about his happy go lucky attitude. She pushed it away, though – his wide smiles helped to brighten her day, and she didn't know how she'd cope with some situations without it to calm her down.

Two: The work at Itex was challenging, but fun. She was allowed to learn something new about the company every once in a while, and she got to work with many animals, which she loved. Her job was to keep them in good condition before they were taken away. She didn't know what they were taken for, but the man that came to transport them was always kind, so she never suspected a thing. Jeb worked in an entirely different area of the building, and she didn't see him as often anymore. She missed him a little. They had been close.

Three: One day, one of the minor directors of Itex came up to her with a proposition. "Are you Valencia Martinez?" he asked her as she was grooming one of the tabby kittens. She straightened and turned to face him, pulling at her uniform to lessen the wrinkles.

"Yes," she said hesitantly. "What do you need?"

"I'm Mark Federico. I need you to come with me to my office," the man said to her, nodding curtly. "Mr. Batchelder is there as well. We have an offer for you both."

Val's eyes widened and she smiled eagerly. What could it be? A raise? A promotion? "Of course," she said immediately. "Just let me put the kitten back in her cage."

Federico raised a hand. "Leave the kitten," he ordered. "Come with me now. It's important." Val was more than a little taken aback by this, but she obeyed orders, meekly putting the kitten down and following him back down the hallway.

When they reached his office, Federico motioned for Val to take a seat next to Jeb on one side of the desk. He then sat on the other side and pressed his fingers together thoughtfully. The office had a window that poured light into the room, and a shaft fell on Jeb's hair, making it sparkle and distracting Val momentarily.

"You two have been chosen for a new breakthrough," Federico said seriously, looking at them both. "Itex has been researching this for decades now, and you both should feel privileged. You will be the parents of a new generation of humans." Val stole a glance at Jeb. He was entranced by Federico's words, drinking it all in. "We have the means of creating the first human hybrids," Federico continued. "We've chosen the both of you to create a fertilized egg that will then be injected with exogenous DNA. The embryo will grow to be Itex's pride and joy."

"She – or he – would be treated well?" Val asked, immediately concerned for the future of what could be her baby.

"Naturally," Federico replied, leaning back in his chair. "Any other questions?"

Something seemed to hit Jeb, and he said urgently, "Wait – when you say parents – do you actually want us to -?" Federico just looked at him. Jeb sat back in his chair and mouthed wordlessly, stealing glances at Val every now and then, which she didn't miss.

"So?" Federico asked. "Do you accept? The both of you will receive raises, promotions, the whole nine yards if you do this for us. Your child will be well cared for. Don't worry about a thing. We'll take care of everything." He leaned forward again and pushed a thin stack of papers toward the both of them. "This is the contract. If you do decide to do this, I'll need you to sign."

"I really think that Jeb and I need to talk about this," Val began, but Jeb cut her off.

"We accept."

"What?" Val hissed, whipping around to face him. "You haven't even looked at the contract yet! What if there are legal things in there that bind us for life?"

"Think about it," Jeb whispered, his face lighting up with excitement, "just think about it! We're being offered a great opportunity. Don't you want to take a risk?" She made the mistake of looking into his earnest blue eyes and her resolve melted. She trusted him. She trusted him way too much.

"Fine," she relented. "I'll do it."

Federico grinned. His smile was cat-like. Feral. "Excellent."

Four: She never, ever wanted to let her baby go. Her daughter was perfect. Angelic, even. After she was born, Val took the first chance she got to hold her and look into her eyes. They were Val's eyes – a mesmerizing brown. It seemed to be the only physical trait that she had passed on to her child, as the baby had Jeb's skin and hair. And of course, the wings hadn't come from either of them.

"Beautiful," she breathed, touching them gently. "Just beautiful." They were mostly white, but she could see the beginnings of tan streaks and speckles here and there. Her daughter yawned delicately and snuggled further into the blankets that she was in, one tiny hand reaching out and instinctively closing around Val's finger.

Val was irrevocably in love with her baby, and there was no chance that she was letting her go.

Jeb came rushing into the room, beaming when he saw Val. "Isn't she gorgeous?" he asked. "Look…she has my hair!" His face fell when he remembered the news he brought. "Val…I was sent to tell you that Federico wants her to be taken back to the facility. It's time to let her go."

Val held her closer to her chest. Unfortunately, it was hard to look fierce and foreboding when you were holding a baby in a hospital bed. "No," she argued. "Jeb – I can't just give up my daughter and know that I'll never see her again. I just can't. I didn't want to do this in the first place."

Jeb came closer and knelt by the bed. "Val," he murmured, "we have to. We'll lose our jobs, our lives – while you've been on maternity leave, I've learned some things. Itex is everywhere – we can't run away with her. They'd track us down way too easily."

"I don't care," she said vehemently. "I'm not giving her up, Jeb, I won't do it!"

"Is there a problem?" Federico was leaning in the doorway, one eyebrow raised.

Jeb stood hastily. "No, no, there's nothing wrong."

"Good, good," Federico replied. "So you're ready to give up the experiment, then?"

The experiment – her daughter had become the experiment.

"He might be," Val spoke up, ignoring Jeb's movements that said don't do it, "but I'm not."

Federico sighed. "I thought that we might run into this problem," he said, almost to himself. Val shifted so that her daughter was partially obscured by her body, the first tinges of fear starting to prick at her heart. Federico poked his head out of the doorway. "Fabian?" he asked. "It's time."

"Time?" Val asked, the fear creeping further into her heart and squeezing it with a cold fist. "Time for what?"

A man in a lab coat appeared next to Federico. Val's eyes widened – he was holding a needle.

"You failed to read the contract, Valencia," Federico said. Val was transfixed with horror, unable to tear her eyes away from him. "It clearly stated that once the experiment was born, she was ours and ours alone. You have no custody of her whatsoever." She felt a sudden prick in her arm and jumped – the man that Federico had summoned had injected something into her with the needle.

"Sweet dreams, Valencia…" Federico laughed, as she slipped off into sleep…

Five: Sometimes she wonders if her marriage had been a little rushed. She met Alberto Martinez five months after she had her child with Jeb. He was kind, thoughtful, and cautious – Val thinks now that the cautious part was what made her fall in love with him. She needed someone that wouldn't be reckless and jump into situations – unlike some people she knew.

She and Alberto were married one year after they met and had Ella, their first child, shortly after. Her parents were absolutely ecstatic for her. To them, she was veterinarian Dr. Valencia Martinez, married with one daughter and a wonderful husband. Underneath, she was still Miss Val Alvarez, mother of two daughters, who was still – though she hated to admit it – harboring feelings for a certain Jeb Batchelder. She was living a double life – who others saw her as, and who she really was inside.

Six: She had told her parents that Alberto's death was the cause of just another L.A. drive by – there was gang activity not far from the place where she worked as a vet, and it was easy to say that the gunshot wound was from that. In reality, however, she knew that his death was anything but random. It was meticulously and carefully planned.

She had been the first to find his body. She had been inside the lab working late, heard the shots, like popcorn, and rushed outside when they ended. Alberto was face down outside, blood pooling from several wounds in his chest. "No," she whispered, "no, no, no, please no…please don't let this be happening, this can't be happening…" She knew better than to move his body, but she could see a scrap of paper poking out from underneath his chest. She tugged it out with a growing sense of foreboding.

We see you, Valencia, the blood spattered paper read. No more hiding.

She hardly remembered calling the police, and drove home in a daze. She paid the sitter who had been looking after two year old Ella and sent her home, then sank onto the couch in the living room, head in hands. It didn't take long for Ella to come and tap her shoulder. "Dónde está Papa?" she mumbled sleepily, rubbing her eyes.

Tears trickled down Val's face. "Papa's not coming home tonight, niña," she whispered sadly, stroking Ella's hair. "Not tonight." She stood and lifted Ella into a sitting position on the couch. Val crossed into the study and pulled out a map of the United States, bringing it back to Ella, who was beginning to drift off. "Pick somewhere, sweetheart," she coaxed. Ella lifted a pudgy hand and stabbed at a random spot on the map, then nodded off to sleep.

Val looked at the map and at the place where Ella had left a sticky fingerprint. Arizona. "Arizona, here we come," she whispered.

Seven: She never, ever expected Jeb to show up at her doorstep one September day while Ella was at school. The doorbell had rung while she was making cookies for Ella as a surprise for her birthday. She wiped her hands on her jeans, leaving darker streaks of grease. She opened the door with a look on her face that quickly changed to a deep frown.

"Get out," she said, ice lacing her voice.

"Val, please," he pleaded. "You have to help me! They took my son."

Her eyes narrowed. "And? If I recall correctly, they took my daughter as well and you didn't seem to care. You stood by and watched."

"I've regretted it every day of my life," he answered, his eyes boring into hers. Val remembered a time when those eyes had convinced her to do anything. It didn't work this time. "Please believe me. You've got to help."

She said nothing.

"I brought you something," he said, partly to cover up the silence. "Here, look." He held out a package, which Val took reluctantly, glaring at him. "Open it," he prompted. She paused, looking at him again, and tore the brown paper off. Inside was a book on recombinant DNA, a book on birds, and a picture of a blonde baby boy.

"What do I want with these?" she asked venomously.

"It's kind of…well, I thought you'd like the books," he stuttered. Val kept the surprise off of her face. Jeb never stuttered. "And the picture…well, look closer." She held the picture slightly closer to her face and peered at it. She could barely make out a tip of a wing.

"He's another avian hybrid, isn't he?" she asked him. Before he had a chance to respond, she asked, "Exactly how many are there?"

"Six," Jeb said, "But that's beside the point. Please, Val. Please help me save my son. They're going to graft wolf genes into his DNA; I think it's to punish me-"

Val raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And what did you do?"

Jeb just looked at her.

"Look," she started. "I feel for your son; I really do. But I'm not risking the life of my other daughter. I've already lost my husband. I'm not losing her too." She sensed that Jeb had stopped paying attention after the word 'daughter' as his eyes were slightly glazed over.

"You have a daughter," he said finally.

"Yes, I have a daughter," she said curtly. "And if you'll excuse me, I have things to do for her."

And with that, she shut the door in his pleading face.

Eight: After Jeb had told her that there were six avian hybrids, she wasn't positive when she saw Max that she was her daughter. The hair and eyes were a big clue, but she wouldn't allow herself to hope. She seemed too good to be true. It had torn her apart when she had left again, but she knew that she had to. If that really was her daughter, then she most likely was as stubborn as her mother was when she wanted to be, and that meant that nothing she could say would change her mind.

Nine: She read the books that Jeb had given her, more than she'd like to admit. They had a special, hidden place in her study, along with the picture of the baby avian hybrid. She'd been viewing them again that day – the day that Max had returned. Looking at the picture of the little boy, she'd suddenly become overwhelmed with emotion. That could be a picture of her daughter that she was holding, instead of a stranger's child. She could have had hundreds of pictures of her, but instead Itex had ruined everything. Everything.

She needed air.

She had stepped outside and taken a huge breath of air to calm herself down. The hairs on the back of her neck had prickled, and she immediately swept the area, paranoid after Alberto's death. Her eyes lit upon someone she thought that she would never see again.

Max, she mouthed soundlessly.

In the joy that came with Max, she never realized that she hadn't put the books or the picture back in their place.

Ten: When she discovered that Max was truly her daughter, she was so happy that she thought her heart would burst. Finally, finally, finally, here was her daughter. She felt whole again, as if a missing piece of her heart had suddenly been returned. Here was the girl that had been a part of her life for so long now – nearly fifteen years of wondering, of pain, of fear.

Finding Max again made it all worth it.

A/N: Wow, this was long. I really hoped you guys liked this one – it's my favorite. I hope that I did Dr. Martinez justice.

Review if you liked it! (Please?)

5. Nudge

A/N: Hello, everyone! IT'S SUMMER! (For me it is, at least.) You all know what that means…more updates!

For Nudge, I tried to make some secrets seem as if she was talking to you, which means some secrets could seem a little odd. I hope that they turned out right and not too terribly out there. So – enjoy the secrets of Nudge!

One: Silence. That was all that she ever heard. There was no wind, no distant thuds or clinks. There was only the silence, always. It pressed on her ears, filled her brain, suffocated her.

Silence. Nudge couldn't stand the silence.

She tapped her fingers against the edge of the crate, trying to create something for her ears to hear. She had to convince herself that she wasn't going deaf. She longed to hear human voices, even if it meant that she was going off for one of those horrible experiments they made her do. There was no window, so she couldn't even attempt to amuse herself by staring outside.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap – tap – tap.

She started singing to herself quietly, trying again to fill the silence of her solitary room. She didn't know any songs, so she made one up, mostly made up of nonsense words and random tunes. It still didn't satisfy her, so she sang louder and louder until finally, a man banged open the door.

"Quiet in there! Why the hell are you singing? Shut up!" And with that, he slammed the door shut again.

Nudge curled up tighter in a corner of her cage, her limbs cramped and sore from being in the same position all the time. The silence was back.

Two: It wasn't until she was three or four that she was finally moved to a room with other experiments. She'd never been happier in her short life. She had thought that she would go crazy with the endless silence. Here, they were allowed to talk in whispers, which she took advantage of gladly. The other three in the room – two boys and a girl – put up with her talking most of the time, but other times the blond boy poked her and rolled his eyes to make her be quiet.

She didn't really mind. It was okay as long as they let her talk. She'd never have to deal with the silence again if she could talk.

Three: Family is her favorite word, and, trust her on this, she's full of words. Family is what she sees when she looks out of her cage window and sees a flock of birds surging by. Family is what she thinks of when she imagines a normal life, one where she is free from the School and has parents and friends. Family is what she knows everyone has, even the evil whitecoats. Family, to her, is the most important thing in the world. She can't imagine what would happen to people without family, because:

Family is what she feels a part of when she looks around at the rest of her flock, and she can't imagine not being a part of that.

Four: She's not sure why she relates more to Angel than Max. Max is closer to her in age and maturity then Angel, and Nudge can have fun and joke with Max, too, but Angel has just always been her best friend out of her family. Maybe it's because Max has always had Fang. For whatever reason, it's Angel that she talks to most, the person that she goes to when she's learned something that's especially funny or unusual. Plus, Angel understands the girly side of Nudge, but Max would wrinkle her nose and go away to do something more boyish, like…who knows, maybe she'd go climb a tree or something. Not that that's bad. Nudge doesn't know for sure what else.

She's getting off topic. Anyway, she and Angel just click in a way that she doesn't do with the rest of the flock. Sometimes they call themselves 'mental twins' because they definitely don't look anything alike, but they think the same way. Well, most of the time they do.

Five: Fang has always kind of scared her. Don't get her wrong, she trusts him and she loves him like a brother and everything, but gosh, look at the guy! The combination of black and – well – just Fang himself is pretty intimidating. Especially when he's mad. When he's mad, his eyes get all dark and you don't even need expression on his face to be able to tell he's mad, you can feel the anger just rolling off him in waves.

That's why when they fight Erasers or Flyboys; Nudge always stays a little away from Fang. She's always had this little nagging suspicion that an Eraser or a Flyboy will duck and one of Fang's mega hard punches will hit her instead. Seriously – can we say ow? She'd be out cold for practically a week. Not to mention that then Max would be mad at Fang for not paying attention and then things would be all awkward. Maybe she'd still be knocked out for that part and she'd miss the awkwardness. If she was lucky, anyway.

Six: There is one thing that she's sure Max doesn't know about her, and it's the only thing that she doesn't ever want Max to find out. If Max ever did find out, then Nudge better find a good way to disappear for a while until Max cooled off enough not to absolutely kill her.

You see, Iggy and Gazzy weren't the only ones who helped blow up that Mickey Mouse clock.

Yeah, you caught her.

It had been Iggy who had cornered her two days before The Incident. She'd been carrying the finished – for once – laundry to Max's room when he'd put a hand over her mouth and yanked her into his room, causing shirts and socks to go flying. "Nudge," he'd whispered, pulling her into his closet, "We need your help. Gazzy and I need something to blow up. We wanna test this timer theory we have, and we need something that's small, portable, and is preferably a clock. Ours won't work since they're digital. What other clocks are there?"

She frowned. "Why won't digital work?"

He sighed and rolled his eyes, a sign that he was annoyed. "They just won't, okay? This is urgent. Do you know or not?"

"Well," she started, "there's Fang's clock. You know, the one Jeb brought back for him from that carnival?" But Iggy was already shaking his head.

"No good," he told her. "I asked him and he said flat out no. Then he shut the door in my face. Some good he is."

Then Nudge's face lit up. "Max's clock! You know, the Mickey Mouse one? I bet she won't even notice it's gone cause she always keeps it under that one pillow, you know the striped one, since the ticking is so loud at night and it drives her crazy and she can't go to sleep. And she has her watch to tell time, anyway. So all you'd have to do is sneak into her room and nick the clock and she won't even notice! We can get her a new one anyway. Can't we?"

Iggy blinked a couple times, and then an evil smirk slid over his face. "Nudge, you are the best sister I could ever have! Who would have thought that you'd be such a criminal mastermind?" He rubbed his hands together. "This is gonna be great…I've gotta tell the Gasman. Thanks, Nudge!" He gave her a quick hug and sprinted out of the room.

So obviously, she had felt guilty when Max was wondering where her clock was. Apparently, something had been missing when she tried to fall asleep that night, and she'd figured out that her clock was missing. Iggy had glared at her when Max was yelling, but amazingly, he hadn't ratted her out.

Her secret was safe.

Seven: She tried, once, on a dare from Gazzy, not to talk for a whole day. She only lasted for an hour.

He had laughed and said that she had proved him right – she couldn't go for a day without talking. She had laughed along with him, but she didn't tell him the real reason why she had begun to speak again. The ultimatum not to speak had reminded her too much of the School, where welts were ripped into her cheek if she spoke at the wrong time or if she said the wrong thing. The silence in her head brought back memories of a two year old Nudge, all by herself in a cold, dark room, unable to speak, scared to move…

And so she spoke.

Eight: If there's one thing that she wants, even more than wanting a family related to her by blood, it's some one to love her that isn't required to. Family doesn't really count for that….they have to love you, because they're family. If she had someone like a boyfriend that liked her for her, not because he was related to her, that would be the most amazing thing in the world. She'd feel special and like she was on top of the world, just like she imagines that Max feels like when she's with Fang. She wishes that someone could love her as much as Fang loves Max.

Nine: Okay, so she's not positive that Max and Fang like each other, but she's pretty sure. For one thing, Max kissed Fang on the beach. But that might have been because she was afraid that he was going to die. That was kind of weird, actually. Then there's just the fact that they're so in tune with each other, all the time. Like how she imagines a mom and dad would be, only better. They always know what the other is feeling, and she can see how Fang glances at her every once in a while, just to make sure she's okay. It's so sweet. And whenever Fang gets hurt (which seems to be a lot lately) Max goes so pale she looks almost dead. She hopes that when they finally figure it out, they'll make sure to tell the rest of the flock.

She might be eleven, but she's not so stupid that she can't see what's going on between Max and Fang.

Ten: Her favorite place to be of all the places she's ever been is definitely the beach. There's not really a specific one, it just has to be a beach. Swimming is so much fun, and she feels even lighter than she does when she flies in the water. Everything is just so relaxing – the sun, the water and the sound of the surf.

And the best thing?

It chases away the silence.

A/N: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I hope you guys liked it!

By the way, you guys can have input on which character I do next! Review, and then check out the poll on my profile!

6. Angel

A/N: After seventeen votes in the poll, Angel won by a landslide. Thanks so much, guys!

Also, thanks to melissaeverlasting for inspiration for this chapter – even if you don't think you did anything!

One: Angel was afraid. She didn't want that man to touch her.

"Come here, Specimen 11," he coaxed. He smelled like sweat and bad breath. It hurt Angel's nose. Just one more test, she could hear a voice say in her head. Actually, two tests if the first one goes well. It better hope that it goes well, or else this experiment is over.

Angel was only one, and she couldn't understand all of the voices she heard in her head. It only happened when she was around other people. She could pick up on one word most of the time – test.

She didn't like that word. It scared her. Whenever she heard it something bad happened to her, and it didn't matter what the big men said – the tests were always bad. She shrank back against the wall of her cage and peered out at the man with large, frightened eyes.

Oh, for the love of God, why does she always do this? It takes ten minutes just to get her out of the freaking cage. It's almost like she knows that her brain has to be tested today….

There it was again. That word. Test.

Angel whimpered as she was pulled out of the cage.

Two: Angel was never much of a crier as a baby or a toddler. One year in the School had stopped that pretty well. The only time that she had really cried – flat out bawled – was when Jeb was out of her sight for too long. She was around three, and the rest of the flock was out flying. Jeb said she wasn't strong enough to fly that far away from home yet, so she stayed back at the house.

She didn't know where Jeb was. One second, he was there, watching with a smile as she played with her dolls. The next, she turned, about to ask him where her brush was, and he was gone, like he had just disappeared. She couldn't hear his thoughts, either – by now she had figured out what the voices in her head were.

It scared her to death. She was closer to Jeb then everybody else knew. Where did he go?

She dropped the doll and ran on pudgy feet through the E-shaped house. "Jeb!" she shouted. "Jeb! Jeb!"

She ran through the house for ten minutes, yelling his name until her voice was scratchy and yucky. Then she sat on the floor and cried and cried. Jeb had gone. He'd left her. Where did he go?

It was only a little bit before she felt a big, warm hand on her shoulder. She jumped, but she could hear Jeb's voice in her ear saying, "Angel, it's okay. I'm here, Ange. Don't worry." She turned and buried her face in his chest and kept crying until she felt better. She pulled back some and looked at his face.

He could see that she was mad at him for leaving her alone. "I'm sorry, Angel," he said, and he really sounded sorry, so Angel forgave him. "I won't leave you again. I promise."

It was only a year later that he broke that promise, and with it, Angel's heart.

Three: She's never really thought of Max and Fang as her brother and sister. They're more like a mom and dad to her. Well, because first, they're eight years older than her, and that's a lot! It's more than double her age. Plus, they're always together. Like a team. Aren't moms and dads like that – a team?

Then there's Iggy. He's more of a brother to her than Max and Fang, but more like a cousin than a brother. It's that same age difference thing again. Max told her one time that there are brothers and sisters that are ten years apart or more. She can't imagine that. People even older than Max, Fang, and Iggy as her brother or sister? It's just…different. But she can't talk about different, can she?

Anyway, she was talking about the older three. It doesn't change that she loves them a lot – because she still does, and probably always will. She just doesn't love them the same way that she loves Nudge and the Gasman. You know?

Four: The most scared that she has ever been was when she had to pretend to be a traitor, back before the flock split up. It was so freaky to have to walk around the School – the School – and act like nothing was wrong, like she wasn't scared stiff. Jeb had scared her too. Ever since that first day when she couldn't hear his thoughts, she's been pretty nervous around him. She doesn't know what to think of him anymore. She always knows whether she can trust someone – and with him, she can't. It scares her, more than she lets on.

Plus, she heard stuff, while she was pretending to be bad. Horrible stuff. The old lady that wanted to give the rest of the flock cookies passed her in the hallway. Her head was filled with pictures of the flock dead with green tinted skin, poisoned from the cookies. It made Angel want to throw up. She knew that Max would be smart enough not to eat them, but she also knew that Max loved chocolate chip cookies. She almost couldn't function until the lady came back fuming, angry that they hadn't even wanted to eat the cookies. Except for Total. It was only then that she could move, and breathe a silent sigh of relief.

The worst part, though, was everyone but Max thinking that she really was evil. She couldn't stand the looks on their faces. Every one of them was filled with disbelief and shock that first day. The next time when she came in, she could tell that they hated her. Gazzy didn't, though. Thank God for Gazzy. He didn't hate her.

But she'll always remember that hurt look on his face. It killed her to have to act like she wanted to kill him. She could never do that.

At least, that's what she tells herself.

Five: She was only halfway joking when she told Max that maybe she should be the leader. She really meant it.

Angel had been feeling a little off that day, anyway. She was a little crabby. Nudge's talking had been annoying her. Iggy and Gazzy had been annoying each other, which was annoying her. Fang was….well, Fang didn't really talk a lot, but his thoughts were all swirling and confusing. It was like he was shouting at her. And then, Max seemed like she couldn't make any decisions without asking Fang first. It bothered her. Max was independent. She didn't need to ask any questions. Angel wouldn't ask questions if she was leader. She would just do what she wanted to, and they would do whatever she said. And if she didn't, she could just make them. No big deal.

So when they were hurtling down the highway in that Echo and got pulled over, that was the last straw in Angel's day. She could tell that they were going to get in trouble. What was Max going to do now? So she had to step in. She convinced the police woman to just leave and forget all about them. Max couldn't do that. But she could.

She loved Max, she really did. Max was her mom. She didn't need her real mom. But still. There were some times when she just wasn't sure about the whole leader thing. Like, whenever she was having a bad day. Angel just felt mean. She didn't like it then, and she doesn't now.

Six: The sewer fight was one of the scariest things of her life. Watching Max kill Ari changed the way that she felt about Max forever. She'd never seen anyone really die before, and the times that she had at the School they had just sort of stopped breathing. It was never as violent as a broken neck. She'll dream about it forever – the shocked look on Max's face as she realized what had happened, the frozen expression of pain and hurt on Ari's.

She could hear Max's thoughts, coming at her fast. She knew that Max hadn't meant to hurt Ari that badly. She knew that – but she was still a little scared of her in that moment. It made her feel safe that she could take care of anyone – anyone – who wanted to hurt her, but at the same time, watching someone from your family kill someone would scar anyone for life.

Max's thoughts were coming too fast. It was like she was screaming at her mentally. Max's thoughts were her thoughts, she saw what Max saw.

Too fast, too fast, too fast!

She had to get away from there. She just had to.

She ran back along the corridor, almost slipping a couple times on the wet floor. She thought that she was just going to run away for a little bit and then go back. Just to make her head hers again. But then, just as she was back in the room where all of the experiments had been, she stopped. Someone was in here, someone she couldn't see. She could hear their thoughts.

Where is everyone? I can't believe everyone else got out of here and I got left behind AGAIN. It's not right. I want to get out of here….

Angel whirled around in a circle, trying to find the source of the thoughts. Then she saw it – the black dog that reminded her of Toto from The Wizard of Oz. He was sniffing along the floor, probably trying to find the trail of the other experiments.

"Toto?" she said quietly, just to see if he would respond.

The dog looked up. "No, it's Total. Everyone calls me that who comes in here, every human, but that is not my name!"

Angel froze and her mouth fell open. That dog had just talked. The dog stared back at her. "What?"

"You talk," she realized.

Total rolled his eyes. "Yes, I talk. Okay?"

Angel started to smile. This could be fun. All she had to do was convince Max. "You want to get out of here?"

Total nodded.

"Come with me."

Angel had always wanted a dog.

Seven: She had to warn Total to keep quiet until she told him it was okay to talk. She wanted it to be her secret, for now. She didn't have any secrets from the flock. Not anything that she considered secrets, anyway. And all the girls at her school told secrets. It was like, the more friends you had, the more secrets you had. Angel had a lot of friends. She had no secrets. Except for the wings and everything about her family. Those were big ones.

Secrets seemed like fun. So she decided to keep that one. She was a little disappointed when Max figured it out, but oh well. Total was getting antsy anyway. He hated not talking. Besides, it wasn't like the flock was missing anything when he didn't talk. He didn't have much to say that was interesting.

Eight: Only Angel knew how Max and Fang really felt. They didn't even know. It took Fang ages to figure it out, and then when he did, Max was still all confused. It frustrated Angel. Why couldn't they both just figure it out at the same time?

Still, it was kind of funny to have a sort of behind the scenes pass to everything that was going on. Fang only kind of liked Lissa, but Max got really mad and hated Lissa with all she had. She was supposed to be asleep when Max came home from her date, but she could feel all the anger and jealousy radiating from Fang's room when Sam kissed her. After school, she thought for sure that they would finally figure it out. Fang did, at least. But no. Max couldn't. Grr.

She wants so badly to just use her powers to make Max see – but she would be in so much trouble if Max ever found out, and then Max probably wouldn't realize that she actually did like Fang.

Sometimes being a mind reader is so frustrating!

Nine: She can't stand being on the run all the time. Most people don't really get how hard that is. All she wants to do is just go home, where she has a bed and stuffed animals and a view of the mountains. Somewhere that she can stay, where she's safe. She can never have that again any more. She always has to keep moving, keep flying. They always have to fight to stay alive. It's hard.

It makes it worse that she knows what she's missing. Every time she goes to sleep on the ground, she can't help but think about her bed at home with all her animals, the bed that's probably blown up by now. But Angel doesn't complain. She knows Max has a ton on her mind – she probably knows better than even Fang. She doesn't want to add to it.

And if everyone else can take it, she can, too.

Ten: She feels lucky that she has Gazzy as a brother. She'd never say this to the rest of the flock, because she doesn't want to make them feel bad, but having someone who you know you share something with is special. Max understood, after she found out Ella was related to her. It's like that with Gazzy. She loves the rest of the flock, she really does, but Gazzy is actually her brother. She shares blood with him and family. When she looks at him, she can see her eyes and her hair. There's nothing that's really like that, not anything in the whole wide world.

If she had to choose between Gazzy and the rest of the flock – not like choosing halves, but the whole flock – she would have to choose Gazzy.

Even if Nudge is her best friend.

A/N: Done. Finally! I hope you all enjoyed it. And don't forget to REVIEW!

7. Max II

A/N: To eliminate some confusion, this is Max II. However, for the first few secrets, she will simply be named as 'she' because at first she had no name. That was short and sweet – so enjoy Max II!

One: She never knew that she was supposed to hate the scientists. To her, they were just parental figures, people who helped her through all of the challenges and tests that she was put through. They were firm with her many times, if she didn't do the right thing or didn't do as well as they thought that she should, but she never realized that that was bad. It was just normal. Just like she never knew that not all kids grew up in a lab, she never knew that she was an experiment. It never even crossed her mind.

They told her that the little kids that were kept in cages were bad. They weren't worthy of what she had, they told her. She was special. She had never heard anything different than that, and grew up believing something that other experiments were never told –

She was special.

Two: She often wondered why she heard the other scientists call each other by name – like John or Matthew or Russell – but they never said anything like that to her. One day, after her daily sparring session, she asked Anne why she didn't have a name. "Do I even have a name?" she had asked. She winced as she sat down next to Anne – she still had some bruises from where the Eraser had hit her, but she'd finished him off in the end. She might have been only seven, but she had nearly killed the Eraser before the time was up. The scientists were ecstatic.

Anne's face abruptly shut down after she had asked the question. "No," Anne had replied. "You don't have a name."

"Why not? Everyone else has a name."

"Humans have names," Anne answered. "You aren't human. You don't need a name."

She had frowned, confused. "But I look just like you. What do you mean, 'I'm not human'?"

It was then that another scientist had come over and whisked her away. She didn't find out what Anne had meant for three more years.

Three: Anne was her favorite scientist. She was almost like a mother to her – even though she might not have a bed, Anne always made sure that her blanket in her room was not too ragged or thin, like tucking her in. She got mad if the other scientists were mean to her. With Anne, she felt safe. Nothing could hurt her if she was with Anne.

Anne was also the only scientist that she could show affection to. If she felt any emotion at all towards anyone but Anne, she was punished. When she had smiled at an Eraser, a scientist had hit her across the face. She couldn't even smile at the other scientists in case they hurt her. She quickly learned to either show no emotion around others – or if emotion was a must, it would always be either anger or complete indifference.

So as a result, it was with Anne that she learned how to love and with Anne that all of her emotions poured out of her. Towards anyone but Anne, she was insolent, mean, and sarcastic. No one minded, in fact, they even liked it. She heard them saying that she was developing exactly like the first – what the heck that meant, she had no idea, but she always assumed that she would find out soon enough.

She was right – and she had never regretted it more.

Four: On her tenth birthday, her life was turned upside down.

Anne had taken her to a room with a long table in it. She didn't know why the table was so long – the only people sitting at it were Marian, the blonde scientist that she normally saw in the avian wing, and two male scientists that she didn't recognize.

"Sit, please," Anne directed her, pointing at a chair. She sat obediently, smiling up at Anne, and then turned to face the other scientists, scowling. The change in her expression was so abrupt and startling that Marian blinked in surprise and jerked back a little.

"Well?" she asked venomously, raising an eyebrow and leaning back in her chair. "What is it?"

A raven haired scientist recovered himself first. "You see," he began, clearing his throat. "Well – you know that you have wings, correct?"

She raised both eyebrows disbelievingly, and her eyes were mocking. "Are you serious? Yes, I know I have wings. What else would be on my back? Please tell me that you weren't serious when you asked that question."

"Those wings aren't the product of your DNA," the scientist continued.

She rolled her eyes. "Ooh, shocker! Newsflash: you told me that already. Ninety eight percent human, two percent avian. I heard that last year. Anything else you feel like sharing?"

"I'll just get straight to the point, then," the scientist started again. "You are a clone."

She just looked at him. "And a clone would be…?"

The other scientist chipped in now. "A clone is a perfect copy of someone else's DNA. You are a copy of the original human-avian hybrid. There's another one of you."

A rushing sound was filling her ears, but she kept up her insolent expression. "So you're saying…that I'm just a copy?" She felt like she was falling. What happened to special?

"Not just a copy," the scientist said, a note of pride filling his voice. "You are the copy of one of the best experiments Itex has ever produced."

Marian not-so-subtly elbowed him in the ribs. "What he's trying to say is," she told her in a sickeningly sweet tone of voice, "you are a copy, yes, but a superior copy. You are even better than the original. And when the time comes, you will replace her. You are the best there is. The ultimate. Maximum."

She still felt betrayed, but she kept the shock and pain off of her face well. "Is that my name? Maximum?"

Marian glanced at the first scientist, who nodded. "Yes," she replied. "That is your name. Max, for short."

"Max," she said, trying it out. She liked it. It seemed to fit her perfectly.

"Yes," Marian continued, "Max II."

Five: Ever since she found out that she was a clone, she's hated the number two and anything that came in pairs. She often didn't wear shoes. Twins annoyed her to no end. Seeing pairs made her remember that she had another half to her pair. Her other half wasn't even a twin. It was an original, and she was an afterthought. She was the result of, 'Oh, look at how well this turned out! Let's clone her!"

She never saw the other Max to her pair, and she never wanted to – unless the other Max was dead.

Six: She met Ari at age twelve, and immediately didn't like him.

He was meant to be her partner, her sidekick, Anne told her. When the time came to take the original Max down, he would help. "You two will work well together," Anne told Max II that day. "You both hate the original so much it scares me sometimes." Max II offered her half a smile as they walked down the corridor to meet him. Anne opened a door on her right for her, and she walked in, brushing her overlong hair out of her eyes.

Ari was fighting another Eraser in that training room and didn't even seem to notice her as she walked in. She watched his fighting skills with grudging respect – he was pretty good. He dealt the other Eraser a hard uppercut to the ribs and a swing to the head that knocked him out cold. He watched him fall with a grin on his muzzle.

"Next!" he snarled out.

Anne stepped forward. "Ari, wait a moment." He turned. His eyes glinted red for a second, and then the irises changed to their normal color as he morphed back into a human.

"What?" he asked impatiently.

"This is your new partner," Anne said, laying a hand on Max II's shoulder. The act was maternal, but had slightly lost its effect when Max II had grown to be nearly as tall as Anne. "She's going to help you take down the original Max when it's the right time."

Ari's eyes narrowed. "You sure she's up to it? Max is pretty dang good at whatever it is she does, from the reports that Jeb's brought back."

Max II's temper flared. "Am I up to it? I assure you, I'm way better than that failure. I will run circles around that chick and hit her so hard she won't know her own name."

"Easy, Max II," Anne said. "Calm down." She took deep breaths, glaring at Ari.

"I'll show you," she whispered so low that Anne couldn't hear her with her human ears. Ari raised an eyebrow as she continued, "I'm so much better than her. I'll show all of you. Just wait."

Seven: When she learned that the flock and the original had escaped the School, and that was the only reason she'd been told that she was a clone, she was beyond furious.

"How the hell did they escape?" she yelled at Jeb. "I heard you helped them! Why the hell were they allowed to go off and do whatever they want, la-di-da, while everyone else is stuck here? I thought they were worthless!"

"They are," Jeb said, but his tone was unconvincing.

"Then why does everyone make such a big freaking deal about them if they're worthless, like they should be?" Max II challenged him. Ever since her tenth birthday, it seemed like her life was crumbling down around her. First she found out that she was a copy. Then everyone started comparing her to the original, and sometimes the original won out. She hated it. Couldn't they see that she was an individual? She wasn't just a carbon copy of some girl that she'd never met. She felt insignificant, as if she was no more than a speck on someone's shoe. She hated that feeling. She was special, she told herself. Special.

She glared at Jeb, then spun on her heel and stalked away. She could see only one way to get her life back, and she would accomplish it.

The original had to go. The first Max had to die.

Eight: She had thought that nothing, nothing that anyone threw at her could possibly shake her. She had been through every single training situation imaginable. She had fought people twice her size and weight. Her IQ was higher than average. Her logic skills were excellent.

Nothing, not any of that, could have prepared her for watching the original Max with Anne.

Anne watched the original – the inferior original, she reminded herself – like she looked at her. It was hard to believe that she was acting. Sometimes she had to wonder if it was real. Anne had so much love and protectiveness in her eyes that Max II could see it from far away.

And the original didn't even realize it. She didn't appreciate who Anne really was, and it only made Max II hate her more. She just thought she was so great, didn't she? Now she had everything – the perfect family, the perfect school, and by the way she related to the emo kid, a guy. He probably wasn't perfect, but at least she had a guy. Max II was only ever loved, in any way, by Anne – and now the original had apparently taken that away too.

Her hate was fueled by the emotion she was taught never, ever to feel – jealousy. For the first time in her life, Max II was jealous.

Nine: She thought that the rest of the flock was crazy while she was observing them, but that was nothing compared to when she actually had to pretend to be Max. Come on – there was one that never talked and one that never shut up. They brought a dog on a raid. One was blind. The youngest boy had something really funky going on with his digestive system – and that defect was smelly. And then the little girl was just plain creepy. She was always giving her these weird looks, and they made her feel like she was being x-rayed.

But even so, for those few short hours that she was Max, she felt on top of the world. Everything was going to plan. She was the ultimate. Maximum.

And then the original had dropped in, and she was pissed. There was no other word to describe her. By the time that Max II realized that the original wasn't just a mistake, it was too late. The first Max had her in a chokehold, and the whole effect of her with blood running down her face and a murderous look in her eyes really freaked her out. She had never imagined that this would be the way that she would die. She didn't even have an expiration date.

After she had basically gotten a reprieve – when the original had handed her back her life – she figured out that maybe, just maybe the scientists were wrong. Maybe Max could be better than her. The thought both scared her and calmed her. On the one hand, there was someone who was better than her, and she was way unaccustomed to that. On the other hand, it felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders. There was no more pressure to be the best. She could just be.

Ten: It was only after she was almost killed that she finally figured out that she didn't have to jump through the scientist's hoops anymore. She didn't have to be a variable in a science experiment or a copy of someone supposedly better. She could just be a normal person, and her first act as a normal person was to get the heck out of there. She had to escape, and she would. If the first Max could, she could. What she didn't know was that the first Max had help.

She was caught as she tried to wriggle out through one of the air vents, and packed off to Germany, labeled as a 'failed experiment'. Labels. She hated labels.

She would escape, she vowed. Somehow.

A/N: Fin! As with Fang, Max II was just so much dang fun to write that I came up with more than ten – so if you want to read them, just tell me in a review!

8. Gazzy

A/N: I believe next in the poll was Gazzy…? So here he is. He was really difficult to write since JP doesn't really give you a lot of information on him, but…..I did my best.

One: The Gasman used to wonder, cramped in his cage at the School, what it was that he had done wrong. Why was he being punished? What had he done wrong? Because he must have done something to be stuck here. Good kids just aren't stuck with wings on their backs and nearly no food. People who are good aren't tortured everyday.
They don't have to watch as their sister is dragged off for another painful experiment, watching you with big eyes, waiting for you to do something.

The worst time was before they were taken to a room with what would be the flock. It was just him and Angel, in a room the size of a closet off of a tiny corridor. A scientist had opened the door, letting in a strip of light that hurt the Gasman's eyes after being in the dark for so long. He covered his face with one hand and turned away from the door.

"Specimen 11," the scientist read to himself off of his clipboard. Gazzy cracked open one eye. That was his sister. What did they want with her? They had never taken her before. She was only a few months old.

Then the scientist's voice changed as he figured something out. "Oh, my god, this is the hybrid that everyone's been talking about in the break room! We haven't even had a chance to test it at all yet. I can't wait to see what qualities they'll find in this first test…" He trailed off, checking the label on Angel's cage. "Yep, this is you."

He knelt to unlock Angel's cage and Gazzy opened both eyes, squinting against the light. The man's back was to him, but he could tell that he was lifting his baby sister out from her cage and placing her in a different carrier. She didn't deserve this. She couldn't even talk yet.

So what had they done to deserve it? And had Gazzy done something to condemn his sister?

Two: Gazzy will probably always feel guilty that he can't shield his sister from everything. She's the only blood relative that he has, and he's lucky to have her. He should be protecting her with his life!

So when she was taken by the Erasers, it felt like his heart had been torn out of his chest, leaving this huge hole that he couldn't fill up. It was practically unbearable. He should have done something, he should have saved her, it was his fault, and all those thoughts kept rushing through his head. It was horrible, having to watch that helicopter carry his only sister away back to a place where she would be torn apart.

It was even worse when Max wouldn't let him come with her. Angel was his sister, not Max's, not anyone else's. If anyone had a right to save her, it was him. But did he get to go? No. He had never been angrier at Max – not when she had taken away TV for a week for something stupid (shredding a pair of jeans – they were just pants!), and not even when she wouldn't let him build bombs with Iggy because she had thought it was way too dangerous for a six year old.

Well, he showed her.

Three: He knows that Max calls him her 'trooper'. Well, what else can he be? There are people older, of course – almost everyone is, except for Angel, so it's not like he has to do anything like lead. He's the youngest guy, though, and Iggy and Fang are as old as Max, so they're ancient. Guys are supposed to be tough. They can't cry. They have to be able to hold up in whatever it is. So he has to, too. He has to prove himself. Just because he's eight doesn't mean that he's weak or that he can't do anything. He can be just as good as any of the other older flock members – maybe even better, someday.

And plus, he has to be strong - if he breaks down, he's not sure that he'll be able to keep going.

Four: Iggy might be his best friend in the whole world, but it's Fang that he looks up to the most. He's never really tried to get closer to him, because he doesn't want to seem too clingy or anything – he's perfectly fine, and he knows that Fang doesn't need anyone to be okay.

That's exactly why he looks up to him. Fang is tough and silent and can take anything that's thrown at him. Gazzy, on the other hand, is strong, but not tough, he thinks that he talks too much, and if he had to do what Fang dealt with all the time, he would probably be dead. He wants to be able to be like that – strong and silent.

Well, maybe not too silent.

Five: Even though he still wonders what he did wrong to deserve being experimented on, he wouldn't be normal if you paid him a million dollars. All the stuff that normal people had to do was just too stupid to worry about. Like school. Who wanted to waste their time five days a week sitting in a classroom listening to grown ups drone on about South America and division? Not him, that was for sure. It wasn't nearly as bad as the School, but still.

And then there was the whole parent issue. He wasn't like the rest of the Flock, who wanted to meet their parents. Ever since Angel had dropped the bomb that their parents had been paid to give up their children, he decided that he didn't need parents, not even adoptive ones. They made you do too much. Like chores. Fighting an Eraser is a chore. Making sure the supports on your house aren't eaten through by termites is a chore. Everything that parents make you do is just annoying. Like cleaning your room. Bo-ring.

No, he's definitely staying different. It's the only thing he knows how to be.

Six: Probably his deepest, darkest secret is something that Angel told him the day after she revealed the truth about their parents, when they were in the park in New York.

She had called him over to sit by her on the tree branch, and said in a whisper, "Gazzy…I have another secret about our parents. But you have to promise not to tell anyone, especially not Max. She's really worried right now, and I don't wanna make it worse." Her voice ended really quietly, and she coughed, the movements shaking her thin body. The Gasman's fists clenched with anger. She still looked horrible from being at the School. The bruises on her cheek and arms hadn't completely healed, and it left her entire left side looking greenish yellow from the healing bruises.

"Gazzy, I'm okay now," she said, reading his mind. "Now can I tell you? Do you promise?"

He nodded solemnly. "I promise, Ange. Not a word."

She nodded, accepting that. "They sold us to the School…to help our brother."

Gazzy couldn't help it. His jaw dropped and his whole body went numb. "Our brother? We have a brother? Well, where is he? Is he still at the School? We have to save him!" He said all of that in a hushed whisper, used to being shocked and having to keep quiet.

"Yeah, he's at the School," said Angel. "But, Gazzy, listen. He's not an experiment. He's human."

Gazzy froze.


Angel took a deep shaky breath. "He's a lot older than us. Like, thirty something. But he got a job at Itex around ten years ago, I think. Awhile after he got the job they said that they wanted people to make some new experiments, but they needed donations or something like that." Gazzy still couldn't talk. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"So he volunteered our parents. They didn't have a ton of money, so he said that the School would pay them a lot of money if they gave us up."

"Why?" Gazzy burst out. "That's just crazy!"

"He doesn't even know what they did with us next," Angel said. "That's the worst part. He doesn't even care."

Gazzy felt like he needed to scream. First his parents, and now his brother. What was it about them that made them so easy to forget about?

"It's okay," Angel said. "Don't feel bad."

But that just made him feel worse, because he was supposed to be the older brother, so he should comfort her.

"I'm fine," he said. "Thanks for telling me, Angel."

"Gazzy? Angel?" It was Max. She was peering at them from the next tree over, concern lining her face. "Are you guys okay?"

His throat tightened. No, he thought, I'm not okay. I'm mad and hurt and I want to go home. But we don't have a home right now.

"Yeah, Max," he answered. "We're fine."

Seven: He wishes that he had a better power than the one that he has. The mimicry is cool, and really useful, but the other one is just okay. Seriously – everyone else has really cool powers. Max has super speed, and geez, just look at his sister. And then there's him – the Gasman who produces a cloud of stink.

When he first got that power, he thought it was awesome! But then he had time to think about it. Everyone else could probably use their powers in a fight, except Iggy. What could he do? Maybe blind them in the cloud or temporarily distract them with the stink. But in a bad fight, that probably would hurt him more than help him.

He's only ever told Iggy that he feels – well – a little useless sometimes. He knows that the flock would never, ever trade him for the world, and he loves them all. But sometimes he wonders how he ever helps them. Fang is a great fighter and Max's second in command. Angel reads and controls minds – very handy. Nudge can hack into computers. And Max is well, Max. But what does he do?

Iggy assured him that he knew exactly how he felt.

Eight: Gazzy tries so hard to just deal with everything that he's been given and not complain. Angel's told him that Max is always worried, always stressed. He doesn't want her to feel any worse, so he tries. He's probably the most stoic eight year old in the world.

But sometimes, he slips. He shows that it's not the easiest thing in the world to keep going like this, never knowing when he's going to eat next or when he's going to sleep. And then, he feels guilty. He shouldn't make it harder for Max. He has to keep any bad feeling inside.

He doesn't realize that most of the time, that's exactly what Fang is thinking, too.

Nine: The zoo was amazing, when they got to go. He had never seen any of those animals before, and it was so weird seeing them in real life. He had never imagined that elephants and giraffes were actually so big. He knew they were big, but not that big. He had had a blast, and even managed to forget about the reason they had come to the zoo – to get away from the Erasers chasing them.

But then, after they had left, he really got to think about it. Was it okay to keep the animals in the zoo? The people – and he had, too, he had reminded himself – had just gawked. It was fun, but at the same time, those animals could be him.

He swore never to go to another zoo.

Ten: Besides Max and Fang, he thinks that he had it worse out of everyone when the flock split up. On the one hand, there were Fang and Iggy. Iggy was his best friend in the entire world, and there was no way that he was leaving him. Not ever. And he looked up to Fang like the big brother that he never had. Leaving him would be almost as bad as leaving Angel.


She was what made it hard.

I have to go with Max, she had thought to him that night. I have to, Gazzy. She's like my mom. I can't leave her.

What about me? He demanded. Angel, I can't lose you again. But… he cast a painful glance to where Iggy and Fang were standing, waiting for the two of them to choose. I don't want to lose them either. I don't know what to do.

I'll miss you, too, Gazzy, Angel thought, reading his mind to see where his thoughts were leading toward.

He shook his head violently. No. No, I can't leave you. It's not right. You're the only blood relative I've ever had.

Well, it's the same for me! Gazzy, it's okay. Just do it. I know you want to. I'll be with Max. I'm fine.

A small corner of his mind had already recognized defeat. He knew what he had to do. He stepped toward Fang, and he could see the pain in Max's eyes and the briefest flash of relief in Fang's.

Besides, were Angel's last mental words, Who wants to hang around with a bunch of girls?

9. Jeb

A/N: Holy crap. You must hate me. I honestly DON'T blame you. I'm horrible, I know. Flame me all you want. I really, REALLY suck at updating.

BUT: I will give you fifteen secrets since I suck. So I'll make up for it. Not really, but I'm trying. The story is alive again!!

Who are the secrets of, you ask? Why, Jeb, of course.

Please review. I love you. :D

One: Science had fascinated him from the time that he was nine. He used to take a magnifying glass and examine the lizards that slithered along in his backyard. It fascinated him, everything about it. How were things created? Why did they exist? Could they be changed?

One day, as he was watching the lizards, his favorite one suddenly froze and stared up at the sky for a split second, then rushed off into the undergrowth in the blink of an eye. Jeb jerked back, startled by the quick movement, and then glared up at the sky through his glasses at what had made the lizard run away.

A bird was circling overhead. It looked so graceful and dangerous at the same time that all Jeb could do was gape in awe.

It was then that he decided he wanted to be a scientist.

Two: He was always the nerdy kid in grade school. Short, pale, and four-eyed, Jeb was the butt of almost every joke that you could think of. 'Squirt', 'Midget', 'Loser', and 'Four-eyes' were all used so much against him that one kid even forgot that his name was Jeb.

"Hey, loser!" he shouted at him in the hallway one day. He shoved hard into him and sent Jeb's books flying. "Get out of my way!" Jeb's hands fluttered like pale spiders over the floor, attempting to gather his things as they were trampled over by the other students.

A tanned hand reached down into his line of vision and picked up his science book, presenting it to him. "Here, Jeb," said a kind voice.

He looked up cautiously, wondering who his savior was. His teacher had his book in hand, a small smile gracing her lips. "Thanks," he mumbled, looking down again as he took the book.

"Any time," she replied, straightening up. "Don't be late."

"I won't be," he promised, grinning childishly up at her.

That was his first love.

Three: He was convinced that he was going to marry Miss Hopkins. It didn't matter that she was old – seriously, she was like twenty something – but when he got older and bigger, it wouldn't matter. She'd love him back, and everything would be fine.

He could even forgive her for the fact that she taught English and not science, which was obviously his favorite subject. He raised his hand for every question that she asked, oblivious to the glares of the other students. He was going to be the best student ever for Miss Hopkins.

It was when he finally noticed the lone ring on her finger that he realized she loved someone more than him.

Four: He felt powerless, all the time. He hated it. He didn't have the guts to stand up for himself in school; he didn't have the power to make girls look at him with respect; he didn't have the power to do anything. He wanted to feel powerful, for a change. He wanted people to look at him with respect and whisper as he passed, "There he is…" He wanted a lot of things.

He didn't get all of them.

Five: More than anything, he just wanted to feel needed. More than even feeling powerful. He had no friends, so there wasn't anyone his own age that needed him. He had no pets – his mother was allergic – so there was no dog to look at him adoringly. His parents certainly didn't need him – they made that quite clear. They were always talking about how it was difficult to pay the bills, especially his father. It was 'harder with another mouth to feed', he would say, sending a pointed glance at Jeb.

Was that so much to ask? To just feel needed?

Six: When he finally hit puberty, things started to change. He wasn't exactly a football lineman or anything, but he did fill out a little. He became much taller. He even noticed one girl eyeing him in the hallway one day. He'd straightened up a little and puffed out his chest, feeling on top of the world.

It was probably his new found confidence that taught him to be persuasive. He could talk anyone into doing anything. Well, almost everyone. He could talk teachers into changing his grade, his parents into lending him extra money, employers into giving him a job.

Maybe Jebediah Batchelder was actually starting to be someone.

Seven: Fresh out of college, he met Valencia Alvarez, at the Itex orientation. She actually seemed to show some interest in him, and he attempted to impress her with all of his knowledge of genetics. She wanted to be a vet, he found. They talked for ages that first day, and became fast friends. It was almost as if he'd known her his whole life.

He couldn't help but admire everything about her – her dazzling smile, the way her eyes lit up when something interested her, her care for animals. He faintly remembered the way he had felt about his teacher, and decided that this was much, much better.

It was real.

Eight: He doesn't want to admit that it was only a few words from Mark Federico that convinced him to give up his only daughter. He's too ashamed – how could he have been so easily manipulated?

Federico had cornered him after he and Val had agreed to produce Itex's newest pride and joy. "Batchelder!" he called, stopping Jeb's retreat down the hallway. Jeb turned, frowning.


"Look," Federico continued, catching up to him. "I know you didn't even look at that contract." Jeb looked at the ground, slightly sheepish. He had known that was a bad idea. "No, no, that's fine," Federico backtracked. He clapped Jeb on the back. "Good man, Batchelder, good man. It's that kind of dedication that we need around here."

"Really?" Jeb asked, glancing up again and smiling.

"Of course!" Federico replied like it should have been obvious. "But there is something that you should know. Just don't tell Alvarez. She may back out."

Jeb hesitated, but then replied, "Alright."

"You're going to have to give up your daughter," Federico said. "You can't see her again once she's born, do you understand? Ever, unless you're chosen to help with the experiments."

Jeb visibly flinched at the word experiments, unable to cope with the idea of his future daughter being dissected, just like he'd done to other faceless experiments.

"Come on," Federico continued, seeing the flinch. "We need you."

Those three words convinced him. "Agreed," he said, sealing the future of his unborn child.

Nine: It was seeing his little girl for the first time that finally snapped him back down to earth. What was he doing? He couldn't just give up his little girl to some scientists who would perform all sorts of crazy things on her. She was his, and he was going to protect her the best that he could.

It was for that reason that he tried to stop Federico.

Val had still been in the hospital then – it had only been her second day. Jeb was determined – nothing was going to hurt his daughter. Nothing.

He cornered Federico in the hospital parking lot that day, as he was attempting to get into his car. "Federico!" he called, stopping the other man from starting the car. "Wait!"

Federico rolled down the window. "What?"

"Don't do this," Jeb pleaded. "Please don't do this. Don't take my daughter."

The other man rolled his eyes. "Batchelder. Please. We went over this, remember? About nine months ago? It's not yours anymore. It belongs to Itex now. Get used to it." He began to roll up the window again, but Jeb jerked open the door.

"What the-?" Federico exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Let my daughter go," Jeb repeated. He had never stood up for anything in his life. It might be a little late, but he'd be damned if he didn't start now.

Federico's eyes narrowed, and he stepped out of the car menacingly. "You can't have it back."

"She's not an it," Jeb replied stubbornly.

Without warning, Federico's fist came out and clocked Jeb across the jaw. Federico's ring cut him, opening a cut along his jaw line. "You know what, Batchelder?" Federico asked in a smug tone. "I'm feeling merciful. So I'll even ask the Director if she'll put you on this experiment. Just so you can watch it grow up. Okay?" Snickering at himself, Federico climbed back into the car and pulled out of the parking lot.

Jeb just held a hand to his bleeding jaw, defeated.

Ten: It hurt to look at her.

He couldn't stand it – knowing that he helped to cause all of the misery that she went through. Though he got her out of some experiments, they were only minor, and the major ones were irrevocable. Watching her being returned to her cage day after day was the worst type of punishment he could imagine.

It was even worse than his last memory of Val – punishing him with her eyes, attempting to shield their child before she was taken away. She had had the right attitude, at least.

He didn't deserve either of them.

Eleven: He should have known that bringing another child into this world would be a mistake.

Ari – his son – shadowed him constantly as soon as he could walk. He looked up to his dad like no one else. Jeb loved that Ari saw him as a role model, but he also slightly regretted it. He had done things that weren't suitable for a parent.

He also felt guilty that he hadn't truly thought of himself as a parent until that moment.

Twelve: Priorities change. Now, the only thing he truly wants is forgiveness. But no matter what he does, it never seems to come.

Thirteen: Finally, after ten years, the solution came to him. God, he was an idiot. Why hadn't he seen it before?

The one way he could truly forgive himself – get her out of there. All of them – the human/avian hybrids. There were six total. Maybe, if he did that – raised them as his own – some of the guilt that constricted his lungs with each breath would be eased. Maybe.

Fourteen: Naturally, Val had been the first person he'd turned to when Ari had been taken away. He knew why his son of all people had been taken – it was punishment for letting the flock escape. How could he have been so stupid? He should have known that even if he tried to do something good, something else that he'd done would come back to haunt him. He shouldn't have raised Ari. He should have given him to his mother. He was an idiot.

But he had turned Val away, too. She didn't want to see his face anymore, and who could blame her? He had taken away her daughter and destroyed her life. That was his fault as well. She'd moved on – she had a daughter, and she was Dr. Martinez now, which meant she'd found a husband.

He should have known. He'd pushed everyone away in his life – his daughter, his son, even the one woman he loved – all without even trying.

He was a failure.

Fifteen: Max had turned out to be more than he ever could have hoped for. She was smart, strong, and caring, despite all that she had gone through. She was truly amazing. He didn't blame the other five for looking up to her, and he suspected it was something more than age that made her the leader.

But of course she was. After all, she lived up to her name. She was the best, the ultimate.


And she was his.

A/N: So. As I said. You may flame, because I deserve it.

But pretty please leave a review. =D

10. Ari

A/N: I can tell I'm going to enjoy writing this next one.

Enjoy Ari's secrets.

One: His first real friend was a girl with wings. It didn't matter that she was much older and always locked in a cage. To two year old Ari, she was the best person in the whole world. Besides his dad, she was the first person that he went to in order to share his good news. She was always ready with an encouraging smile, even when she looked so tired she could sleep standing.

He hated it when she was out of her cage for 'improving', like his dad said, but because it meant he couldn't see her for awhile. He wasn't allowed to see her for two days after she was let out of her cage.

Even Jeb, his dad, seemed to share his opinion on the girl. It was obvious when he brought Ari with him to work; Ari could tell. His dad looked at Ari's friend the same way he looked at him, only better.

Two: He was afraid of animals, any kind. It was partly his dad's fault – he shouldn't have let him wander around the School without someone watching. But all the same, it happened. He found out about the experiments.

She was a girl, he thought, staring out from behind a cage door with wide, unblinking eyes. At least, he thought that she was a girl. It was hard to tell – there were no identifying features in the face or on the rest of the body. All else aside, she stunk – the odor of rotting flesh and unwashed body.

He wasn't sure how much human she had in her. She was covered in scales, and her feet and hands were webbed. He looked closer and saw that she had gills – but she was far away from any water.

That explained why she slowly but surely stopped breathing. Just like that.

He hates fish now.

Three: When he was three, his dad left.

It wasn't like for most kids, when their dad leaves and they have a mom to take care of them. When Jeb left, Ari was alone. All alone.

Miss Anne took care of him for awhile. She wouldn't take him home with her, but she gave him a room at the School. It wasn't a bad room. It had a bed and a window, and there was a little dresser where he could keep some of his clothes.

But the walls were bare and concrete, and there was a lock on the outside of his door. Even though for a long time – almost two years, in fact – Miss Anne was nothing but nice to him, Ari missed his dad.

Four: He was never allowed by the avian wing again after his dad died, but Miss Anne would never tell him why. He missed the winged girl almost as much as he missed his dad. She was the only friend he had. He wondered if she was always being improved now, and that was why he couldn't go by the avian wing. Maybe he was never going to see her again.

Or maybe – the thought was almost too horrible – maybe the Erasers got her.

Ari was deathly afraid of the Erasers.

Five: When Ari turned five, Miss Anne wasn't nice anymore.

"Ari," she said one day, her voice dripping with false sweetness, "how would you like to be improved?"

He cocked his head to one side, staring up at her. She was so tall. "Like my friend got improved all the time?"

"Who's your friend, sweetheart?" Miss Anne asked, reaching down to run a hand through Ari's blond hair.

"The girl with wings," he told her. "She has yellow hair."

Anne's eyes narrowed, and her expression turned greedy. "Oh…oh, I know who she is." She composed her face again, making it kind. "Yes, just like her. Only your improvement will be much better."

"Improving means you make things better, right?" Ari said, before he could stop the words. Anne's face looked happier.

"Yes, that's exactly what it means," she replied, extending a hand towards Ari to hold. "Come with me."

He obediently took the proffered hand and followed her down a maze of hallways, into a part of the School he had never been before. The chemical smell that filled the whole building intensified, and Ari used his free hand to cover his nose.

Miss Anne led him to a room with a white table and lots of stuff that Ari guessed was for improving. Jeb refused to give him books on any of the stuff that they used to improve experiments.

"Does it hurt?" he asked, as she picked him up and set him on the table. More people were coming into the room now, all wearing white coats like his dad did.

"Does what hurt, honey?" Miss Anne asked absently, as she bid him to put on a paper gown. "Make sure you ready the formula," she said over her shoulder to one of the men.

"Being improved," Ari clarified.

There was a flash of something behind her eyes. "No. No, it doesn't hurt. You won't feel a thing."

She lied.

Six: New Ari was powerful. New Ari was strong. He loved the feel of his Eraser body, hard, muscular, and tall. Anne didn't look so tall anymore. Now she was the short one.

Oh, he could definitely get used to this. Why was he afraid of Erasers again? Erasers were good, the ones that the whitecoats loved.

He couldn't remember a whole ton from before he was an Eraser. After all he was only five when he was changed, how many memories does he keep from then? But he remembers a few things – like that Jeb left him. He left him all alone in the School, and he only came back when he found out that the scientists had experimented on him – on Ari.

Well, he didn't need Jeb. He could do without him. He wasn't a child anymore on the outside, and he was strong – people would do whatever he wanted if he said the right words and showed the right muscles.

He also found out why Jeb had left him. He'd left him for Max, his winged friend. Neither of them had wanted him, had needed him.

Ari hated them both.

Seven: It was a savage pleasure, the hunt.

He had never known how thrilling it could be, the excitement of the chase. And of course, it was only fitting that his first big assignment be to take down the flock.

The flock – that was what they called themselves, that little band of mutants, a group of six. They just thought they were so cool, didn't they, giving themselves a name? They thought they were so much better than everyone else. Idiots. He'd show them who was really better.

He loved how the adrenaline coursed through his veins as he fought with the bird kids, knocking the blind one unconscious, throwing the black girl against the tree. It was amazing how it made his vision clearer, making every blond curl stand out as he stuffed the youngest one into a sack, threw her in the car. Satisfying, the look on their faces as they recognized him. Exhilarating, how the rage and desperation in Max's eyes fueled his hate as he aimed the rifle right between her eyes.

How he longed to pull that trigger, to permanently erase her.

But it would ruin the pleasure of the hunt.

Eight: When Max had killed him, the old Ari had shown through, just for a second. "I wouldn't hurt you. Not like this." he'd said. Like a moron.

Oh, yes, he most certainly would hurt her that badly. After that, Max had to go. He would be the one watching the life fade from her eyes, listening to her beg for mercy. His revenge would be sweet.

Dying hadn't been all bad. He was pissed that Max had the nerve to try and kill him. Christ. To think that he used to look up to her.

Of course, he hadn't been dead long enough to figure out if there really was an afterlife. He also didn't intend to find out any time very soon.

On the other hand, Max would. And he would relish every moment as she faded away.

Nine: No. He relishes the word as it escapes from the lips of his victims, as pain flares in their eyes as he lands a well placed punch. No, they say, as his body morphs in painful pleasure into the stronger body of a wolf and his claws form into a fist. Their screams are his music, what he thrives on.

Their pleas spur him on rather than making him stop to consider. They are nothing important, worthless. They have to be exterminated. And yelling no will do nothing for them. No is what he was told when he wanted to see Max, when he was a little kid. No is what he heard when he asked if his father loved him more than Max. No is what was said when he asked Max to come away with him, just the two of them. And no is what he hears when he asks the world if there's anyone at all who loves him.

Ari doesn't like being told no.

Ten: When his expiration date kicked in, it was like everything that the whitecoats had instilled in him was kicked out. The old Ari was back, the one that remembered how to love and how to forgive. He just wondered whether it wasn't already too late to make amends.

Like Max. He wanted another chance with her. He doubted that Fang would ever forgive him. He had almost killed him, twice. Ari was disgusted with himself. How could he have been that savage, that ruthless? The scary part is that he can still feel that part of him inside, dormant. He doesn't want to let it back out.

He's not that afraid of his expiration date. If he's going to die, he's going to die.

And besides, he's already died once.

A/N: Hmm. I'm not sure how well I like how this turned out. Seven is definitely my favorite, though. He WAS fun to write, though, so I have extra for you again. Tell me if you want it. =D

You know the drill. ~looks pointedly at green button~ If you don't press that button, I will disguise you as Ari and sic Fang on you. Mark my words.

11. Anne

A/N: Guys guys guys! Guess what?? I finished my novel!! Which means I can write this again! Whooohoo! *FantasyFan5 runs in circles as readers just stare*

I'm so freaking excited. So now that my novel is in the editing stage rather than being written every day and night (no kidding) I have more free time! (Who cares that I'm going to fail my physics project? Actually....uh...heh heh...change of subject!)

Okay, so not going to lie...I feel terrible for leaving it THIS long...I mean, really? That's just despicable. *cringe* So I give you fifteen secrets rather than ten to attempt to account for it. Please please please don't hate me.

So...15 Secrets of Anne.

One: Anne has always had it good - she was born into a rich family in Massachusetts and was the stereotypical spoiled American little girl. She was given everything that she could ever want as a child - new toys, a television, anything. She was always 'Daddy's little girl', and she loved her dad as much as she loved herself, maybe more. Her mother, on the other hand, was not Anne's favorite person. Anne wanted a mother like she saw on TV - someone that would love her, and care for her, and have baked cookies ready when she came home from school. Instead, she had a mother that would be talking on her cell phone when the chauffeur dropped her off at her front door, who would wave impatiently at her when Anne wanted to talk, and never gave her a second thought as she obsessed over her first love - her work. Look at me! Anne wanted to scream. Pay attention to me! I'm your daughter, shouldn't you care?

But nothing ever worked.

Two: As much as Anne disliked her mother, she wanted to please her. She wanted to do something that would make her mother notice her. But nothing worked - not her straight As, not the awards that she brought home from her prestigious New York boarding school. "That's nice, honey," her mother would say, looking straight through her as if she wasn't there. And so Anne pushed herself to be perfect, the best that she could ever be, on the off chance that maybe, just maybe, her mother would notice.

Three: Anne never wanted to go into science. All that she wanted to do was teach - to impart her knowledge to smiling children each day. To her, it seemed like a dream job. However, when she told her mother the Ice Queen that, she was immediately shot down. "No," her mother told her. "That's out of the question."

"Why?" Sixteen year old Anne protested. "Why can't I be a teacher? What's wrong with that?"

Her mother looked at her disdainfully. Anne noticed with disgust her perfect hair and complexion. What a control freak. "What's wrong with it?" Her mother repeated. "Anne, look around you." She waved a hand around the massive dining room that they were seated in. The table was covered with a pristine white tablecloth, which was laid with the finest china. The area was lit with a chandelier of the finest Austrian crystal. "Do you think that we would be able to pay for this if your father and I were both teachers?" She snorted. "No. Absolutely not. Teaching is a profession for the poor, and you are above that. You have class."

"I can have class and be a teacher, mother," Anne argued. Her mother cut a green bean into pieces and looked up at Anne again, her blue eyes two twin chips of ice.

"This family has prestige, Anne Elizabeth," her mother said firmly. "We have a name, we have a reputation. You will not mess it up." And with that, she pushed her chair back from the table, leaving the rest of her dinner untouched. The clicking sound of her designer shoes against the floor receded gradually as she left the room. Anne remained seated, staring at her plate, and wished she was someone else.

Four: Even when she went to college - majoring in science - and realized that nothing she was could do would make her mother see sense, her desire for perfection was now ingrained in her. Rather than going out and partying on Fridays and Saturdays with the rest of the Wellesley girls, she stayed alone in her room and studied, memorizing the ins and outs of genetics, running small experiments in her room with plants. Against her will, she was interested. Part of her still screamed that this wasn't what she wanted to do, but she silenced it. It would do her no good - her parents refused to pay unless she majored in science and went on to graduate school.

So a scientist she became.

Five: She chose Itex as a job when she was twenty five years old. Anne had always been the slightly awkward one in social situations, and sat by herself with a notebook at the orientation, writing random thoughts as they entered her head. Because of her research on genetics during college and graduate school, she was almost instantly tapped to join the team of scientists who wanted to create a new species all together. The prospect excited her, made her feel like she was doing something important. At first, it was like a new, exciting game, something to challenge her. But as the days melted into weeks, which drifted into months, it began to show its ugly underside.

Six: The very first experiment that they created, a human/piscis hybrid, was a complete failure. It hadn't turned out quite the way that they had expected it to - instead of it having merely webbed feet and hands and fish eyes, it also had gills. By the time that they had recognized that important fact, it had already died.

Anne's world came crashing down as she watched something that she had brought to life die because of her own mistake.

Seven: She hates herself. She hates herself for not trusting her instincts and becoming a teacher, like she wanted to. She hates herself for making mistakes that cost other living creatures their lives. She hates herself for not doing the right thing and just walking away, quitting her job, refusing to create more failures. She hates herself for doing nothing as experiments die, watching her with eyes that ask the same question.

The guilt eats away at her like acid, burning a hole through her heart.

Eight: She can't deal with all of the self hate. It has to go somewhere. And so she pushes it off onto the experiments, the only things that she can think of as below herself. She pushes them through test after test, watches them under magnifying glasses and takes endless notes. They're nothing, she tells herself. They're not even human. I'm so much better than them. By hating them, for a little, she doesn't have to hate herself as much.

But then she goes home, and sits in her empty house alone, and the hatred swallows her whole again.

Nine: She offered to be the primary caretaker of the clone of the first human/avian hybrid to see if some of the pressure could be lifted off of her chest. Maybe if she was able to show love to this...creature? Human? She could start healing herself, begin to fix the hole in her heart. For awhile, it worked. The clone adored her, and she could feel herself becoming attached to it as well. Little by little, the hole healed, until she was herself again. She was Anne.

Then Max II discovered she was a clone, and the eyes that had once looked at Anne for reassurance, with love, now turned on her with the same hate she normally reserved for other scientists.

Why was it that she could do nothing right?

Ten: She's jealous of Jeb. That's right, you heard her. He somehow found it in him to do the right thing - to let experiments escape. Why hadn't she thought of that? He managed to give them a life. She had no idea that he actually cared for the experiments - she could only think of them as experiments, thinking of them as anything close to human would undo her - all that Anne saw was Jeb absolving himself of the same guilt that she felt every day.

She wished with all her heart that she could do the same.

Eleven: Eventually, her ambition paid off. She became Director of the American Itex.

She didn't care.

Twelve: The Erasers scare her half to death. She's beyond glad that she didn't have to deal with that particular development. Successful they were, yes. But by the age of three they were all murderous monsters. She suspected that if given the chance, they would turn on the scientists themselves. She always, always gave them a wide berth, and only dealt with them if she could help it. She thought that they could sense her fear.

Whoever gave them that wolf-like ability, she would like to see.

Thirteen: Finally, her chance came to rid herself of the guilt that she had wallowed in for so long.

She was called one Thursday morning around two years after Jeb had returned from freeing the avians. "Anne?" said a brisk female voice. "This is Marian Janssen. I'm sure you're on top of the situation with the avians on your end?"

Of course she was. Did this woman think that she was stupid? But Anne bit her tongue, as she always did, and replied, "Yes, of course. Why?"

"We've decided we'd like to see how they relate to human beings. We're going to put them in a private school, there's one all set up near you already. It was created a few years back; we've given it an outstanding reputation already. All that's left is a place for them to 'stay' during the experiment. As you're the head of the American Itex, you have been chosen."

Anne felt the beginnings of a smile cross her face, but she kept the smile out of her voice. "Excellent," she told the German Director. "When does the test start?"

"We'll get a hold of you," the other woman said. "Clear? Good. Goodbye." And with a click their conversation was over.

Anne replaced the receiver, letting the smile take over her features. She wouldn't treat these avians like she had the rest of the experiments, she resolved. She would finally put things right. Those things were going to love her.

Fourteen: She did everything for the six kids that she wished her mother would have done for her. She baked them cookies, she made them dinner, she sat and talked to them. Eventually, she forgot that it was even an experiment. She really started thinking of them as her kids, especially the youngest, Ariel. She was so precious. Anne could hardly believe that her colleagues wanted to experiment on this innocent little child.

Slowly, she began to heal with them there. Maybe, she thought, if they were there forever, Anne could come back as well.

Fifteen: Watching them fly was the most breathtaking sight that she had ever had the luck to behold. It was enough to make her wish that she had wings as well, so she could join them up in the boundless blue sky, wheeling above the earth as if nothing could hold them down.

When they left, she was so caught up in watching the mesmerizing, fluid movements of their wings that she almost forgot to be sad.

A/N: Hmm. Well, that was odd. I honestly had no idea how this was going to turn out. Opinions?

The green review button is sick. Quick! Click it to keep it alive! (And me...I die without opinions.)


HELP MEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry SORRY for the Author's Note Update. I HATE it when people do that, but I have a good reason.

Quite honestly, I am STUMPED. What character should I do next for 10 Secrets? The only ones left are bit characters, but I really just don't know what to do. All the main characters are done, so should I stop? There's a poll on my profile for that.

And I'm also worried that this story will be taken down ANYWAY because it's a list story. Have you heard of the Harry Potter fic Things by Dodger Gilmore? It was where I got my inspiration for this fic, and it was taken down awhile ago. So that kind of freaked me out, because I don't want this story taken down. So don't tell the admins. =D

So, if you guys don't mind, could you leave a review or PM or something and give me some input? I'm writing this for you all. -grins-


Peace and love,


(sorry again for the update with no chapter! D= I feel like a terrible person)

13. Ella

A/N: SNOW DAY!!! I have successfully kicked my brother out of the house to go sledding and my mom left to go talk to the neighbors, so I have the computer to myself! Mwa ha ha.

I just checked the poll, and it was unanimous that I continue! Thanks, guys - it means a ton!

Any dialogue or names that you recognize belong to James Patterson, the rest belongs to me. And now, the chapter - Ella's secrets.

One: She wishes that she could remember her dad. Even just a little bit. Her mom tells her that he was a great man, that he was trustworthy and honest and loved her to pieces. But no matter how much Ella strains her memory, she can't remember anything. Not his smile, not his voice, not even his face. She knows what he looks like, of course - there's a framed picture of him on her mom's dresser, in her room. Her mom only looks at it occasionally, as if the very sight causes her pain.

But for Ella, knowing his face is not nearly the same as knowing him.

Two: Her mom taught her to always stand up for what was right and to follow her heart. "Whatever your heart tells you to do is probably right," Valencia Martinez always said. "Sometimes your head gets in the way too much. It isn't always something that you can think about. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself."

She took that to - well, to heart - and as a result became just a bit headstrong. Sticking up for what was right came before all of her other senses - even her sense of self preservation. That would get her into trouble - multiple times.

Three: Her best friend is a guy, Kevin Ortiz. He lives two streets over, and the two of them have been best friends since first grade, when they met at school. She has a lot of friends - mostly girls - but Kevin will always be her best friend. She has pictures of the two of them all over her room - making funny faces at the camera, grinning widely to show off missing teeth, standing in front of new bikes.

She used to get teased for it a lot, and Kevin did, too. When she changed from elementary school to middle school, the older kids thought that it was weird that a guy and a girl were best friends. Ella and Kevin see nothing wrong with it. Why can't they be best friends? Who says that her best friend has to be a girl?

"Just ignore them," Kevin always says. "They don't know anything. We've always been best friends, right? Who's going to change that now?"

She wishes that she could be like him and just let the taunts roll off of her back, but the words make her blood boil.

Four: The one thing that she really, really regrets is letting Kevin get mixed up with their town's gang. Well, it actually wasn't really something that either of them could prevent. But she had still let him go back into the school alone after their track practice one day, to pick up the running shoes that he had left behind in the locker room. It wasn't really her fault that he had walked in on three of the guys vandalizing the locker room. And it wasn't her fault that he had been beaten up so badly he could barely stagger out of the school towards her, causing her to cry out in alarm and nearly pass out from shock.

But she feels like it is.

He couldn't come to school the next day, too black and blue to do much at all. He had told her who exactly was responsible for it, but he refused to tell her why they had beaten him so badly. She was too afraid to confront the boys about it, however much she wanted to stand up for her friend, but instead contented herself with sending death glares at them when they weren't looking.

One day after school, the leader, José, cornered her. "I know you know what happened the other day with Ortiz," he told her. His breath smelled terrible, and she pushed herself against the lockers to stay as far as possible from him. "Don't tell anyone about what happened, you got that? It's between him and me." And with that he was gone.

So of course she had to tell.

Five: Ella had known, deep down, that it wouldn't be long before the gang found out that she had told on them. But what was she supposed to do? They beat up her best friend. They weren't getting away with that easily. She hadn't expected them to corner her on her way home from school, forming a circle around her. And she certainly hadn't expected them to be carrying guns.

"Look who it is," José sneered. "The squealer." The other boys laughed automatically. She was scared out of her wits, but she tried not to show it. She would stay strong, she vowed silently to herself.

His face turned ugly. "I told you not to tell anybody about my little situation with Ortiz!" he yelled. "It was none of your business. I had to teach him a lesson."

Ella bit her lip. Anger was coursing through her. How dare they? Teach him what lesson? Finally, she found her voice, praying that it wouldn't shake. "By beating him up?" she retorted. "He looks like he got hit by a car. And he didn't do anything to you!" Kevin still refused to tell her anything, but she knew him. He wouldn't have done anything to them, ever.

"He mouthed off to me. He exists. He breathes my air," José said arrogantly. The other boys laughed again.

Ella's eyes darted back and forth, trying to find some way - any way - to escape. Her eyes landed on a girl who had just stepped out from behind a building. She looked terrible - her cheek was scratched and she had a black eye. Had José and them gotten to her, too?

The gang had noticed her eyes widen, and turned to the girl. José glanced at her dismissively and turned back again. "So, Ella, what have you got to say for yourself?" he asked tauntingly. He was almost done talking, Ella knew. "Is there any reason I shouldn't teach you a lesson, too?"

"Three guys against one girl. That seems about even." a voice said. Ella had to stop herself from gasping. The girl had just strode up, fury written clearly in every line of her face.

"Shut up, chick," one of José's buddies said. "You better get out of here if you know what's good for you."

"Can't," she said, walking to stand by Ella. Ella looked at her in alarm. What was she doing? "Actually," the girl continued, "I think kicking your stupid butts would be good for me."

The gang laughed. Ella looked nervously at José. His eyes had narrowed - a huge danger sign. "Grab Big Mouth," he ordered. The other two moved to flank the new girl.

It happened so fast Ella barely saw it.

In the blink of an eye, the girl had snapped a kick into José's chest that seemed to crack a rib. When the other two rushed at her, she grabbed the gun out of his hands and cracked it against his head so hard blood began to flow. Ella was frozen to the spot, unable to move. Who was this girl?

The girl turned to look at Ella. "Run!" she exclaimed. "Get out of here!"

Run? She was supposed to just run and leave this girl by herself? Ella looked at the gang, who looked more than a little worse for wear. It was obvious this girl could take care of herself. After a moment of hesitation, Ella turned tail and ran for home, envisioning her mother taking her into her arms and telling her everything would be alright.

That was the first time she met Max.

Six: She hadn't expected Max to show up at her house later that night as she let out Magnolia. She had figured that she would go home to her parents or something like that. She definitely hadn't thought that she actually would have been shot. The gang actually used those guns on her?

But she definitely hadn't expected Max to have wings.

Shock was the only thing that was going through her brain.

Max. Had. Wings.

That first day, she couldn't help but stare. What was she supposed to do? Her mom had somehow been able to act casual, but it wasn't that easy for Ella. As the next few days went by, however, it became easier. So Max had wings. Okay, no big deal. It didn't change the facts that she had saved her from José's gang, or that she had become something like Ella's cousin or sister in just three days. Ella had never had a sibling before - it was always just her and her mom. Max filled in that gap without even trying.

She never wanted Max to leave. But of course, she had to.

Seven: The sight of Max flying was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen. Her wings were huge, but gorgeous - speckled brown with the occasional white splash, as if someone had taken a paint brush and dabbed at her wings at random places. Ella felt jealousy rise up in her as she waved hard at Max, who was rising into the air. It must be amazing, to take off into the air on a whim, to feel like the sky could swallow you up.

But then she remembered how Max refused to talk about how she got her wings, how she had no home, how her mother had told her she freaked out at chemical smells.

She was no longer jealous.

Eight: In the days after Max had left, she could think of nothing else. She went to visit Kevin, who had returned to school. She acted like everything was normal. But she was always thinking about Max. Where was she now? Who were the people that she had to meet? Was she alright?

Kevin walked with her after school every day. The two of them probably couldn't do anything against José's gang, but it made the both of them feel safer. Besides, the three leaders seemed more than a little worse for wear after Max had run them into the ground. Kevin really wanted to know who had beaten them up so badly, but Ella lied to him - a first - and said that she didn't know. Some inner sense told her not to say anything about Max to him. Not now, probably not ever. She hated keeping secrets, but it was something that she knew she had to do.

She couldn't help but wish that by some miracle Max would return.

Nine: She hadn't expected Max to come back. Wished for it, yeah, but never actually expected it.

And to top things off, Max was her sister. Her actual, blood sister. How amazing was that? And Ella had gotten to meet the rest of Max's family. Well, flock, according to Max. That was what they called themselves. It was easily the best day of her life - sitting there filling herself up with her mom's delicious Mexican food, laughing at Max's crazy dog, watching in awe as cute Iggy did everything with no trouble even though he was blind, showering Angel with affection.

It was perfect.

Ten: She thought it was awesome that Max and Fang were best friends. After all, she and Kevin were best friends, so why would it be weird that Max was best friends with a guy? She thought it was amazing how in tune they were with each other, how Fang could say one word and Max would understand, how they could share a glance and know what the other was thinking without even trying.

As she watched them more, though, she couldn't help but notice how there was something there that was more. She couldn't put her finger on it. They weren't exactly like she and Kevin. She glanced at her mom, and she knew that she saw it too.

There was something else there.

A/N: Oh, come on. How could I RESIST adding some Fax in there? *grins* haha

So, who knew that Ella would inspire me so much? I've written extra secrets. You guys know the drill - review if you want the extra ones and I'll put them in my reply!

Oh, yeah, and good news! I found the extra Fang secrets that I lost. So for those of you that reviewed awhile ago asking for those, I HAVE THEM! hahaha

So yeah, extra Ella, extra Fang....anyways. CLICK THE BUTTON!

peace and love,


14. The Director

A/N: Dear Lord. See, this is what happens when I try to get another story on a posting schedule. Grrr. But now that my schedule for my chapter MR story is established, I can get on a schedule for THIS one. Whoo hoo! (Ahem...you should also check out said story. There's one and its sequel. And yes, I am shameless.)

Okay, so I have a bit of a problem with this. JP, according to you, the Director is 107 years old at the end of STWAOES because she has tortoise genes or whatever. I can understand genetic engineering in 2005 (where everything starts, if we assume it starts when book 1 was published)...but really? In 1898? Before they even had cars? But whatever. Let's chalk it up to 'they're way ahead of the times'. I'm going to ignore that GLARINGLY OBVIOUS PLOT HOLE and write about the Director. Who I'm having immense trouble with anyway.

ANYWAY...I'm going to stop rambling and give you a chapter.

One: She woke to flickering candlelight.

Her entire body ached, as if each nerve in her body was sending out waves of pain. Her eyes darted around the room that she was in. The candle illuminated only a small portion of it - the mattress she lay upon, the hardwood floor, and a table to her left. Her eyes widened in fright as she took in the tools that lay upon the table: an array of scalpels, a pair of wickedly sharp scissors, and a microscope to name a few. She looked around, hoping for a hint on where she was, but the rest of the room was consumed by flickering shadow.

A door opened and she jumped at the sound. A man approached her mattress. Her heart rate sped up and she tried to push herself upright, to get away, but her body was too weak. It didn't want to work. As he came closer, she could see that his face didn't look too menacing. She relaxed.

A little.

He knelt next to the mattress and began bending and extending her limbs. She could only look at him in fright. "Alright," he said to himself. "Let's do a little memory test." He looked up at her. "Do you remember your name?"

"Marian Janssen," she whispered automatically.

"Good," he asserted. "What year is it?"


"How old are you?"

"Five." She didn't understand why he was asking these questions. She couldn't even remember how she had gotten there.

He put a hand on her neck and counted for sixty seconds. "Heart rate is good," he continued. "It looks like everything is in order with you." He smiled in a self-satisfied way and began to get up.

"Wait!" Marian rasped out. "Where am I? Where are you going? What's going on?"

He would only answer one question. "Welcome to Itex."

Two: Marian later learned that she had been selected, because of her parents and supposed 'good breeding', to be the crowning jewel of Itex's brand new genetic engineering program. As they had not yet discovered how to change the DNA of an unborn baby, they had had to settle for one that had already been born. That one had been her. It had been a gamble - both of her parents were strong and healthy, she was strong and healthy, therefore there was a chance that she would survive the experiment. She was lucky to still be functioning.

She was the property of Itex, now, even her parents had no claim on her. She was never given any further explanation as to why she couldn't go home 'just to see them', why she was constantly watched by at least two people, or why suddenly she was locked day and night in this stone building.

As years went by, her memories of her parents, of her childhood home, began to fade until they were no more.

Three: Things may have been miserable at times at the German Itex fortress, but truly the scientists weren't that terrible to her. She got an education, far better than one that she would have received at even the private school her parents planned on sending her to. She learned to speak English, French, Italian, Spanish, even Japanese. All of this was at a young age, while the pathways between neurons were formed easily.

Above all, however, she learned science. From the time that she was strong enough to be able to walk around from her 'surgery', she learned. Biology, chemistry, physics, you name it, she'd learned it. As the new discoveries came around, she learned those as well.

When she turned ten, they began putting her in leadership positions over other experiments. She was put in charge of overseeing the children that they brought in to experiment on. Marian never learned that it was wrong - there was no one there to tell her so. However, there will always be one incident that stands out in her mind.

She had been eight years old, and they had placed her in a holding cell with ten other children. They all looked up at her, frightened. It had given her a sense of power to know that she was the one they were looking at with such fear.

"Please," one dared to whisper. "Why were we brought here?" The child's face was dirty and her clothes were in rags - unlike Marian, they had not been chosen for 'good breeding'. They had been chosen because no one would miss them.

She pointed a finger at the child imperiously. She must have seemed like she was playing pretend - an eight year old pretending to be a queen. "Be quiet," she ordered. "There's no talking in here."

One of the boys was older than her, and even though he was thin as a stalk of grass, he stood up shakily to face her. "Who are you to tell us what to do?" he asked her in German. "You're littler than me. And you're a girl."

Marian was slightly frightened, but she had long since learned never to show her fear. She kept up her cold facade. "You listen to me because you have to," she replied in the same language.

His eyes narrowed. "I don't have to do anything. None of us do," he gestured around at the rest of the children in the cell. "But we want out of here."

Marian lifted her chin. "No."

The boy stalked toward her and grabbed her around the waist, flipping her over his shoulder. "Fine. I'll do it my way." Marian screamed and beat her fists against his back, and suddenly he collapsed. She fell hard, cracking her head against the stone, but heaved herself back up again. To her horror, there was a pool of blood billowing out from beneath him. She stumbled backwards, eyes bugging out.

"Now, that wasn't something that we could condone, now was it?" asked a calm voice from outside the cell. Marian looked up. A man with pale skin and dark hair was standing outside of the barred entrance, fingering a knife sheath that was on his hip. "They sent me down here to check on you," he said by way of explanation to her unanswered question. "And good thing I did." He nodded to the boy that was lying on the ground. "Let that serve as a warning to the rest of you," he called to the other children, who had backed up to the very far corners of the cell. One of the little girls was crying.

"Now, Marian," he said, beckoning her closer to the bars. She stepped up to him warily, and he grabbed her chin between two fingers. "Be a better leader, won't you? So this doesn't have to happen again?"

Needless to say, her leadership skills went through the roof.

Four: The tortoise genes in her, it turned out, did absolutely nothing except grant her an extremely long life. And no, she does not move slowly, thank you very much.

Five: Not unlike the Max II that she would grow to create, Marian was not treated like the others. She grew up feeling special, entitled. It gave her the sense that she was important. While Itex was only raising her to be a scientist - nothing more, nothing less - they didn't expect that she would be driven enough to eventually become Director of the entire organization. It was their fault, really - she had grown up watching people with ambitions who had told her that 'she would be important someday'.

Her important just wasn't the same as their important.

Six: She doesn't believe that the world really has use for parents, one of the reasons that she looks down on the flock. Why on earth would one want to find their parents when they were already conveniently out of the picture? It didn't make sense to her. It was why she made sure to leave that picture of the younger blond male with them, made sure that they knew he had been sold. If they were ever going to be of any use to her, they had to disregard their parents completely. Otherwise, they were weak.

She would never admit to the fact that this had stemmed from the fact that her own parents had recommended her for research that had just been beginning, had dedicated her life to it before she had even reached the tender age of six. She won't even allow that thought to take root in her mind.

Seven: Marian wishes that she could change the fact that she is an experiment. It sets her apart from her colleagues, from the other Directors. She's had to work extra hard for the respect that she knows she deserves. New colleagues that are in on the secret still look at her like she's something to be dissected.

She's partly to blame for that, she supposes. After all, she condoned that type of behavior towards any other type of experiment. But she was different. She was special. They couldn't look at her that way. Didn't they realize that she was the one that would be controlling the world someday? That without her on their side, they could all very well die?

She was different, damn it. Show her some respect.

Eight: Though she knows that she is, in fact, an experiment, she doesn't view herself as one. To clarify - she doesn't believe that she is like the experiments that she sees each day in cages, bags of skin and bones. Of course she's not. She was chosen, wasn't she? And those things were made in a test tube. She was born from humans, so she must be human. She has a fully fledged mind, so she must be different. She has emotions, so there must be something different on some fundamental level.


Nine: The avian mutants don't understand her Re-Evolution Plan. All that they see is 'pointless murder', but she would not be able to live with herself if that was so. They also think that it's a plot for Itex to take over the world, but that isn't the case either. If they would just open their eyes, they would see the truth.

The Itexicon Corporation wasn't trying to destroy the world; they were trying to save it. Didn't they see that the lives that would be lost were merely collateral damage? It was necessary. Humans, as foolish as they were, had overpopulated the world, had polluted it, had watched it deteriorate without a second thought. With the Re-Evolution Plan, most of those corrupted people would be out of the way, and only her few selected people and experiments would be able to walk the earth. If the entire world was cleansed to a select few, it would be much easier to regulate - and thus, they could prevent any more disasters from happening. No more war, no more pollution, no more endangering of species.

It escaped her how the mutants could fail to see this.

Ten: There is no trace of the frightened five year old girl in Marian Janssen anymore. Now, she has learned power, and how to manipulate people to get what she wants.

For example, the oldest avian hybrid female. She had the thing believing for days that she was truly her mother. Granted, there were certain things already in her favor - the blond hair and brown eyes, for example - but the rest was all a matter of simple mind games, and mind games were what Marian did best. How else would she coerce people into doing her bidding, into becoming subordinate?

And in the end, it's really only her way that matters.

A/N: Finished! Dang, that took way more effort than usual. I don't know why it took me so long to 'crack' the Director. Eventually she started talking...if that makes any sense at all...

Oh, yeah, the schedule thing. I'm going to try and update every weekend. Any requests for characters? (Preferably not someone as minor as Sam, who I really can't say anything about, but other than that...)

And LASTLY...about secret number 9. I am really curious to see what you guys thought of that one. I think I know the answer, but it could be a potential good discussion - who is right? The Flock, or Itex?

My personal answer is the Flock, but I think you could make a case for Itex.

15. Extra Secrets

A/N: That awkward moment when you don't update your story for nearly three years...

Hello everyone! Believe it or not, I actually am alive. I'm a college student at Tulane University now and currently working on the second draft of a novel, so fan fiction quite obviously took a backseat. But I am INCREDIBLY SORRY to everyone who supported me, reviewed my stories, and enjoyed them, because it wasn't fair of me to just leave you in the lurch like that. I just re-read TFA2 and I'm mad at myself for leaving it like that because I want to know what happens.

I've been out of the fanfic world for a while now, and I don't think my stories are very relevant anymore. But I love them dearly and the random reviews (that make my day, by the way!) seem to still like them, too. So for those of you that supported this story (and still check your alerts), I thought I'd give you some closure and a Christmas present of sorts. This chapter won't be just an author's note: I'm home for Christmas and on my old computer, so here is a compilation of all of the extra secrets that I wrote. Some of you received them through reviews years ago, others never read them at all. But either way, I hope you enjoy this last update!

Again, I just want to say thank you for reading my work, dealing with the ridiculousness of my teenage self (how am I nearly twenty?), and supporting me for the three years I was active on this site. Every single one of you brightened my day!

All my love,



One: Unlike the rest of the flock, he really doesn't give a damn about finding his parents. The flock is all the family that he'll ever need. He doesn't care if his parents gave him up voluntarily or not. The point is, somehow, they gave him up, and they didn't do the best job of trying to get him back. They screwed up and he got stuck with a shitty life.

No, he can definitely do without parents.

Two: The worst moment of his life was when he found Max on the beach trying to take out her chip. When he finally caught up to her, he thought that he had been too late, that no matter what he did he was going to lose her.

It scared him to death.

But he couldn't show that. So he made his fear into anger, slapped the shell out of her hand, and dumped antiseptic in rougher than he probably should have. But when she looked at him, her eyes bloodshot, looking weaker than she ever had, his anger dissipated, and all he wanted to do was hold her. But of course he didn't.

He vowed never to let her get hurt so badly ever again.

Three: He never did like Anne. He won't claim that he always knew or anything like that, but ever since she 'coincidentally' showed up at the hospital as an FBI agent...he just kept one eye open.

Four: He might not want parents, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't wish for someone to look up to, someone to unload all of his problems onto. Sure, he talks to Max. But he doesn't tell her everything. She has enough on her mind already. He knows that she depends on him as much as he depends on her. So the biggest things he keeps to himself, unwilling to make Max's job harder than it needs to be. She stays strong. Why shouldn't he?

Max II

One: She woke up in a white room with bright lights. People with masks over their mouths were standing over her. Fear flooded her body as a man leaned over her and shined a light into her eyes. Her breath began to come faster. What was going on?

"Eyesight – check," said the man in a deep voice, leaning away. She could hear a scribbling noise directly after he spoke. Her eyes flicked toward the sound. "Hearing – check," the same man said, sounding satisfied. "Further tests shall be conducted later to determine the clone's health and overall importance. Well done, everyone. The experiment is so far successful."

Clone – she didn't know what it meant yet, but it wasn't the last time that she would hear that word directed at her.

Two: One day, as she was walking down the hallway with Anne, she stopped for a drink of water from the dispenser. As she filled her paper cup and took a sip, she looked up at the window in front of her and frowned.

Apparently it wasn't a window, like she had thought, but a mirror. Her reflection was looking back at her. Strangely enough, however, the version of herself in the mirror was scared, breathing fast, and wearing what looked like a long white nightgown. Their eyes met for a split second, before Anne's hand clapped down on her shoulder.

"Come on," Anne said. "Let's go."

She forgot about her reflection later. It must have just been a new experiment.

Three: She thought that all people had wings until she was eight years old. It was only then that she found out she was different.

This realization probably would have hurt some people, or at the very least offended them. This wasn't nearly the case with her. She felt as if this only made her even more special, like she was gifted. It made her better, in her eyes.

Four: After the fight with the original, Max II has to admit – she has a grudging respect for her. She's been conditioned to hate the original Max – it's what everything led up to. But she finally realized that the scientists were wrong. Both of them were worthy of living. Both of them were special. They were different in a ton of ways, but in other ways, not physically, they were so much the same it scared her. Hating the original would be like hating herself now. She just can't do it. She doesn't think that they'll ever be best friends – that would take a miracle. But if you asked her now if she hated the original, she would have to say no. How can you hate someone who gave you back your life?


One: Ari had never really been a violent person until the whitecoats changed him into an Eraser. He couldn't even watch scary movies.

Now, his life WAS a scary movie. But he couldn't say that he didn't enjoy it.

Fighting really was incredible. It might just be the way that the scientists had messed with his head, but he was only ever really happy when he was fighting. It gave him a sort of primal pleasure, feeling the way that his muscles stretched and coiled, the vibrations as his fist met flesh. It was as if all of his nerves were live wires, crackling with energy and electricity, humming in the air.

Yes, that was the only time he was truly happy.

Two: Max was his SISTER.

It was practically incomprehensible. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that the girl who had been his first friend, the girl that he had then attempted to destroy multiple times, had the same blood that ran through his veins.

Surreal was the best way to describe it.

Three: It hurt to look in the mirror.

He had never felt like he'd belonged, but this was just too much. He wasn't human, wasn't an Eraser, wasn't anything. He was something stuck in between, some sort of mistake. It was no wonder that he was a failure.

Every time he looked into that sheet of glass he longed for it to lie to him, to reflect who he really was – a scared, seven year old boy who just wanted to be normal. He wanted to go to school – the real kind – to have two parents, to have friends.

But the mirror didn't lie.

Instead it showed him what the scientists had made him into – someone between human and wolf, with ragged claws and a face not quite right. NQR, as Nudge liked to say to Angel behind his back. He heard. He heard everything they said and everything the whitecoats said.

He wished more than anything that he didn't.

Four: He hurts.

Not physically – he doesn't let anyone hurt him physically, and not many can except for Fang. But he hurts mentally, when he's torn between being Ari and being an Eraser. He doesn't really know what a cutter is – no one has ever bothered to tell him – but he gathers that it's people who hurt themselves because they hurt inside.

He's not a cutter, but he's a biter. He digs his teeth into any part of his body until he can finally feel something, something that says that Ari is still inside. Not even his nerves work right anymore. They send pain messages slowly, until his teeth have been buried in his arm for two minutes and his brain finally registers the pain.

But he doesn't care. Any pain is better than the mental kind.


One: She wishes that she were braver. Sure, she told on José's gang. But she could have done so much more. Maybe she could have done something at school, confronted them about it instead of running off and being a tattletale.

Maybe it's just that she wants to be more like her half-sister. They share the same blood. Why are they so different?

Two: She doesn't like the CSM. Okay, yes, they are out there for the good of the world and to stop global warming and all that stuff. But all that Ella knows is that because of them, she sees her mother less and less, and she only gets to see Max on TV when she's doing something else for publicity. What about her? Why is she always the one that's left alone? Maybe it's selfish. But she is only human.

And she misses her family.

Three: She doesn't know what to make of Jeb. Her mom seems to be quite fond of him, and she knows that he's Max's father. But if her mom decides to marry him or something, Ella's not sure just how she'd take that. She sees the way that Max looks at him. Max doesn't trust him at all. There must be some kind of reason, right?

And beyond that, she already has a father. She doesn't need another one. Long before Jeb got there, it was just her and her mother, and they were just fine. They still will be, without him.

Four: The moment she found out her mother had been kidnapped was the scariest moment of her entire life, worse than when Kevin had been beaten up by that gang, worse than right after Max had left - for the second time - and they didn't know if she was dead or alive. She hates to admit it - but she wasn't sure that even Max could save her mother. Because at that moment, she didn't consider Dr. Martinez the mother of both her and Max. Max had only known about her mother for a few short months. Ella had been her daughter for years. Her mother was the single most important person in her entire life, and if she lost her -

She lost herself.