Book by its Cover by iluvzuzu

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Friendship, Romance
Published:2007-10-30 22:59:24
Updated:2008-11-29 00:16:36
Packaged:2021-04-21 23:19:11
Summary:Lissa's account of her short part in the second book, as well as some time after that. Yes, i know you all hate Lissa, so did i, just read it, ok? good. Flissa as well as some other pairings... you'll have to read to find out :D

Table of Contents

1. Book Nerd For Life
2. Becoming a PG
3. No Insinuations
4. The Apocalypse
5. The candy to my Halloween
6. Superman Can't Kiss Like This

1. Book Nerd For Life

I know. I am shocked and amazed as well. I don't get it either.

Ella's already laying on the floor of the office, dead from shock.

Because this is an actual chapter.

Of an actual Maximum Ride story.

Granted, it's not about the main characters. Well, it's slightly about Fang, because Fang rules.

But as you may have noticed, this is about Lissa. I know you all don't like Lissa. Heck, I didn't either before I really thought about it. But seriously, would Fang be kissing a girl that was bad news? Don't we trust Fang's judgement?


Here's Lissa's story of friendship, love, and how all of that blows up in your face. :D

Chapter one

Book Nerd for Life

Sometimes, I just want to kill her. You know who I'm talking about. She's at your school, too. Maybe she's blond, maybe not. Maybe she's pretty, and maybe not. Maybe she has the biggest damn boobs you have ever seen in your life. Maybe she doesn't.

Either way, the Popular Girl is everywhere. She's rude, annoying, and backstabbing. One minute you think she's your friend, the next minute she's talking about you to the cute boy on the other side of the classroom.


I have to say that the PG here has got to be the worst. Crystal Jacobs is her name. She is one of the un-blond ones who get highlights to make their hair look blonder.

"So, Lissa," says Crystal. "Teach says we're getting some new kids. Two boys. Brothers, by the sound of it."

"Thanks for letting me know, Crystal," I say, not looking up from The Prisoner of Azkaban. Crystal always feels the need to inform me of unnecessary things. I really don't know why.

"Ugh, why are you always reading those things?" Alora, Crystal's sidekick, asks.

"You mean books?" I ask politely.

Alora looks disconcerted, but then says, "I mean those stupid books about what's-his-face. The guy with the scars."

"He only has one scar," I inform Alora while Crystal, who is now down the library row, supposedly looking at the old issues of Seventeen, shoots me death glares.

Alora's way-too-plucked eyebrows draw together. "Like it matters," she slams my book down onto the table. Danget, she lost my page!

"Hey!" I say loudly.

Crystal and Alora laugh cruelly. "That's Lissa," Crystal chokes out. "Book nerd for life."

I roll my eyes nonchalantly, but it still hurts. What, just because I like books that makes me a nerd? I guess so, in Crystal's book anyhow.

No pun intended.

"Is there a problem here?" says a voice from behind me.

Crystal stops laughing, and when she speaks, she sounds breathy. "No… we were just laughing at the fabulous joke Lissa just told!"

I stand up and turn around to face Alex Delbecq, my best friend since forever. I now understand why Crystal's gone all googly-eyed. See, Alex is tall, super-smart and pretty cute. If he wasn't my best friend, I'd totally like him.

"Hey Alex," I say calmly as Alora lets out a shrill giggle. I smirk at Alex and he gives me a pained expression.

"Ready to go, Liss?" Alex says sweetly, ignoring what I'm sure must be the death glares aimed at the back of my head.

"You bet," I tell Alex.

"Bye, uhm… what are your names again?" Alex looks innocently at Crystal and Alora as I turn to face them.

"Crystal Jacobs," she says forced-pleasantly.

"Alora Okamura," she says, swinging her long dark hair behind her.

Alex's smile is strained, but he says, "Okay. See you around, Alona. Christy."

They look murderous.

Outside, Alex's sister Jasmine, more commonly known as Jazz, is waiting in her beat-up truck that used to be Alex's dad's.

See, his dad died back in the fourth grade. That was pretty much what sealed the deal on our friendship; my dad had died the previous year, and so we had some stuff in common.

Alex and I swing into the back of the car laughing.

"What's so funny?" Jazz asks, adjusting her mirror. Jazz is pretty much the non-blond Barbie doll. She looks like Alex, really, same dark hair, same brownish-hazel eyes, same tan skin. She's also slender and very pretty. Basically, she's your perfect French girl.

"Well," Alex breathes. "Crystal and Alora—you know them, right?"

"Freshmen PG's? Yeah," Jazz glances at me in the mirror as she pulls out of the parking lot.

"Well, anyway," Alex continues. "They were being real bitches to Lissa. So I was like, what's your name again?"

"They were about ready to kill him," I agree, still laughing. "The only reason they didn't is 'cause they think he's cute."

Alex blushes. "Yeah. So then, they tell me their names, right, and I'm like, oh, that's nice, bye Alona, bye Christy."

Jazz giggles. "Wow, they must've been annoyed."

"Super annoyed," I conclude. "They think everyone knows who they are. Like, I could go to NYC and be all, oh, I know Crystal Jacobs, and the people over there will fawn over me by association."

"Especially since I'm a nerd," Alex concurs. "They think nerds have nothing better to do than worship them."

"Hey, Liss, you coming over or should I drop you?" Jazz asks.

"Ugh, I gotta go home. Evil essay due tomorrow that I probably should have started last week." I make a face at Jazz in the mirror.

After Jazz and Alex drive away, I enter the dark house. Mom still isn't home.

She's been working late a lot recently. I wonder if she's going on dates without telling me, and I feel anger rise up in my chest.

She doesn't belong to anyone but Dad! She doesn't need someone to take care of her! She's got me!

But I know that it's pointless to think about my mom going on secret dates, so I sit down at the computer to start my essay. My cat, Caniche, nuzzles against my legs.

If you're wondering, Caniche means puppy in French. That's why I gave that name to my kitten.

Well, the logic made sense at the time. Ah, better start that essay.

Using symbolism, the author shows that…

I can't stop thinking about what Crystal said. About those boys that were coming tomorrow.

I'm hit by an idea, so inconceivable… and yet… I've just conceived it, so now I'm trapped.

Now that I've got the idea, I can't get it out of my head. It's just perfect. These boys don't know me. They have no reason to believe that I'm a dorky little book nerd. It's brilliant.

I am now ready to commence Project Lissa Flynn: Book nerd to PG.


I know, it's insanity that I even updated so before you get too mad at me for making a crappy story that isn't even about the flock, just remember: I cry easily. Don't be mean!!!

Well, I mean, yeah, criticize, but don't insult. Don't waste my time by flaming me. There's just no point. I'm not going to blow up at you, and I'm not going to quit this story just because some moron tells me it's stupid.

Or you know what? Flame me. At least I'll have something to entertain me.

So… uh… review, please!

And for those that know me and my obsession with Baby Names & meanings, Flynn, which I have chosen to be Lissa's last name, means "son of the red haired one."

Just for entertainment.

2. Becoming a PG

I know some of you are still skeptical about my updating (coughellacough). But I swear I will, okay?

I swear I haven't ditched my other stories—well, let's be realistic, I've probably ditched my other Maximum Ride stories—but I haven't ditched my HP ones, honest. With the possible exception of the sequel to Just your Average Issues. That was a pretty bad story near the end, though, so I don't think anyone cares.


Here's chapter two. R&R, please :D

Chapter Two

Becoming a PG

When my alarm clock starts beeping, I normally hit snooze. I normally try to wait until the last possible second before getting out of bed. I normally eat a poptart in the backseat of Jazz's pick-up.

That, my friends, is why this day is different.

Today, when my alarm clock beeps, my eyes fly open and my stomach flips over. Today's the day I become a Popular Girl. I jump out of bed and rush to my closet, where I pull out my "Auntie Kate" jackets.

See, my Aunt Kate always sends me clothes I would never wear in ten-thousand-billion-kazillion years. Miniskirts, lacy camisoles, those cream-colored vests with the fake-fur collars, etc etc etc. Clothes Crystal or Alora would wear.


I had shoved it all in the back of my closet, thinking I would never wear any of it unless Auntie Kate came to visit or something, but now I think I've found a use for them.

I pull out a green sweat jacket—holy crap, I'll look like such a prep in this—and a white camisole with lace along the bottom. I shiver. I can't believe I'm actually going through with this.

It vaguely registers in the back of my head that the camisole and jacket are from Abercrombie—at least, I think they're from Abercrombie. That's the one with the moose on it, right?—and I shiver again, thinking about how I actually own clothing from Crystal and Alora's center of worship.

I lay the camisole, jacket, and my white uniform shirt out on my bed along with a way-too-short-for-comfort uniform skirt. I always opted to wear the pants, but PG's always wear skirts.

I dash into my mom's bathroom and look through her many shampoos. See, my mom always has the most overpowering scented shampoos. She has everything flowery from Apple-blossom to Zinnia in her shampoo stash. I pick up Lavender, the one smack in the middle of her alphabetically organized shower caddy, and hurry to my bathroom.

Once I'm out of the shower, I rub a clear spot in the fogged-up mirror and begin to brush my hair.

Ah, my hair. I've never known quite what to do with it. It seems like it's always been long, red and frizzy. This is partly why I've stolen Mom's shampoo. It supposedly reduces frizzy-ness, and besides, I figure that just in case my hair's still a mess, the scent will be enough to distract these new guys from my looks.

After blow-drying and straightening my hair, I put on my uniform and the Auntie Kate jacket and rush downstairs.

My mom is in the kitchen, wearing the usual purple pajama pants/purple camisole, drinking the usual purple mug of (not purple) coffee, and reading the usual (also not purple) newspaper.

She looks up as I enter and spits some coffee back into her mug. Spluttering, she says, "Liss, are you wearing clothes my sister gave you?"

I half-nod.

"And did you use my lavender shampoo?"

I half-nod again.

My mom starts laughing so hard, she has to put the mug and paper on the counter. I stand in the doorway, hands-on-hips, and give her the best PG death glare I can muster.

By the time my mom stops laughing and is able to look up at my (pitiful excuse for a) death glare, she has to start it up again. By the time she's finally done, I've already stuck a poptart in the toaster and set a plate and a glass of apple juice on the counter.

"So, Liss," Mom says, "who's the lucky guy?"

I scoff. "I can't change my image without it being for a guy?" I blink my eyes innocently at her.

Mom shrugs. "It's just not like you to wear something from—" she eyes the moose on my jacket—"Abercrombie."

I grab my food and sit down at the table. "Okay, look," I say. "There's going to be two new guys today. Brothers or something."

"Aha," my mom says. "So, you don't even know if they're worth your time? That's not like you either, Lissa. Maybe you need to rethink this."

"Maybe you need to quit trying to analyze me. There's a reason you're an artist instead of a shrink, mom."

She scowls at me. "I don't think I heard you, Melissa," Full name. Uh-oh. "Would you like to repeat that?"

"No ma'am," I say, finishing off my poptart. Jazz honks the horn outside. "Gotta go! Later, mom!"

I hop into the back of Jazz's truck. "Hey Jazz, hey Alex," I say. The Delbecqs stare at me. "What?"

"Jesus Christ, Liss, are you trying to give me sinus problems?" Jazz asks, rolling down her window.

"Is the shampoo really that strong?"

"Nah, it's fine, Liss, I'm just messing with you." Jazz smiles at me in the mirror. "It smells really nice."

I turn to look at Alex, who is still staring at me like I've come back from the dead. "What's up with you, Alex?"

"Nothing," Alex says, shaking his head.

Jazz mumbles something under her breath that sounds suspiciously like, "I guess nothing's wearing a green Abercrombie sweater," but I decide not to comment.

"Have you finished the essay, Alex?" I ask.

"Oh, yeah," Alex says. "I did it the night it was assigned."

I shake my head. "That's right. I'd forgotten why we call you a weirdo."

Alex smiles, but something is wrong. There's still something in his eyes that vaguely worries me.

"Are you okay, Alex?" I ask. "You're kinda… out of it."

Jazz takes a sharp breath and turns the corner.

"I'm fine," Alex insists.

When we reach the school, Jazz smirks as she pulls into the parking lot. Alex gets out of the truck and starts walking up the path, but Jazz stops me as we get out.

"Lissa?" she says.


"Promise me you'll be careful, 'kay?"

"What are you talking about, Jazz?"

Jazz lays her hand on my shoulder. "Look, Liss," she whispers. "You look real pretty today. Don't let the boys take advantage of you, got it?"

I nearly laugh, but I know it'll make Jazz mad. "Okay, Jazz. No problem."

"Jasmine?" a timid voice comes from the other side of Jazz's truck.

"Yeah?" Jazz calls.

A boy I know to be in band walks around the truck. Despite his being a band geek and all, he's pretty cute. His name's something like Ivan or Eric or something. He has blondish-brown hair and really nice eyes behind frameless glasses. I think he plays the trumpet. Or the clarinet. I don't remember.

"Hi, Jasmine," he says.

"Oh. Hey Isaac," Jazz says dismissively. Ah, Isaac. I knew it was something like that.

"Well, I gotta go," I say hurriedly. "See ya, Jazz. Bye, um, Isaac."

I rush into class.


I have been staring at the new guy for three hours.

There are two of them, as Crystal had said. Jeff and Nick. And they say they're brothers, but I don't buy it, unless they're adopted.

Jeff is very tall, probably about six feet, and Nick is just a bit shorter, at about 5'9". Jeff has strawberry-blond hair and blue eyes that are obviously blind. Nick, however, is very dark. His skin is tan, maybe Greek or Arabic or something, and his eyes are dark as well. His hair is black, but it looks as though he had the tiniest bit of bleaching done on the tips of his bangs.


I've been staring at Nick, if you were wondering. I really want to go over and talk to him, but I don't know how. What should I say?

I really don't want to say something stupid, like telling him where he could find a book.

And yet—"Do you know where the dictionary is?"

Nick looks up at me. "What?" Oh my gosh, he's really cute. It's really not like me to get so boy-crazy, but wow!!!

"Our reference materials are over here," I point at the shelves of dictionaries and encyclopedias that are next to the row of computers. "When we have free study time, you can walk around and do homework. If you need to look up stuff, the computers and other references are over here."

Oh my gosh, I sound like a dork. He's never going to think I'm a PG now.

"Oh." He says. "Okay. Thanks."

God, Lissa, what is wrong with you? Freaking flirt with him! I tell myself. You've seen Crystal and Alora do it a thousand times!

My mouth feels dry. I swallow and step closer to him. "I'm Lissa," I tell him. "And you're Nick, right?"

A very curious thing happens. Nick's facial expression doesn't change, but something tells me he's nervous. Not the freakish hormonal kind of nervous I am, but like, really nervous. Like I'm threatening him with a gun or something.

"Uh-huh," Nick says, the tiniest bit of his strange nervousness leaking out into his voice.

So I tell him the only thing that could possibly make him any more nervous than he already is. "I'm glad you're in our class."

"What? Why?" Now he looks sort of hormonal-nervous too. I was getting closer to him, and I figured he was probably either disgusted by my sure-to-be frizzy hair or getting a sinus-headache from my mom's shampoo.

I muster up all of my courage and give him the look I've seen Crystal give a thousand times. "Why do you think?"

Mrs. Cheatham calls the class to attention, and I smile and walk away, leaving Nick visibly dumbfounded.

At lunch, Alex comes up to me, laughing slightly. "Man, Liss, what did you do to that guy?"

"Which guy?" I ask. "The one who tried to feel me up? I practically castrated him. Or do you mean the one that cornered me and asked me out? I got Mary to kick his—well, you know—with her little heels, you know? The nice black ones that are against the dress code."

"I mean the new guy," Alex says, brushing his hair out of his eyes. "Seriously, Lissa, he looked like he'd been chosen as America's next Top Model!"


"He looked bewildered. Dumbstruck. Confused. Dazed. Bemused. Befuddled. Need I go on?"

"I get the point, thanks, Alex." We walked to our usual table in the back of the cafeteria. The cafeteria layout is pretty simple; PG's and B's in the front and Smart Kids in the back. Those sections are, of course, divided by how cool you are.

The regular SK's, like me and Alex, have the center back table. There's the Band Geeks at the left back and the Social Outcasts on the right. There aren't very many SO's, so the SK's spill out onto SO territory if they get to lunch late.

Up front, there are the basic PG's and B's. They're your sports players, cheerleaders, dance team, etc. Then, there's the Nice Kids, the ones who are the real sort of popular. They're the ones that run for student council, drink milk, and fight for animal rights. They're technically SK's, but they're just so much cooler. Then, there's the Gangster Kids.

Frankly, they scare the hell out of me. They're not very good gangsters, I will admit, because I mean, hello! This is a private school. But anyway, they're the ones who sag their uniform pants, have red in their shoelaces, mouth off to teachers, you know that type too.

Chari is a great example of the typical Gangster Girl. She shows off the tiniest bit of bra strap and the tiniest bit of cleavage and the tiniest bit of lacy black panties under her clothes. It's not enough for the teachers to care, but it's too much for the kids to handle.

Everyone is scared of Chari and her gang. They aren't really a gang. They're a group of well-bred private school girls rebelling against their rich parents. But that doesn't stop them from scaring the hell out of people.

The thing about the cliques is that really only freshmen kids are in them. In the middle of the cafeteria, all of the older kids sit, all together. There's no pattern at all with them. It pretty much seems like they're all friends.

I think it's highly unrealistic that they really are all friends—I mean, you see basic separations. Band Geeks all together, Popular Kids all together, but PG's and B's at the same table with BG's. It just makes no sense to me. Didn't they have a clique system in 9th grade?

I glance over at the NK table, I see J.J. Hartford talking to a girl I haven't seen before. I guess she's new, but it seems weird that there're three new kids in one day.

Ah well. Maybe they're all related, then we could have a wild house party and I could make out with Nick and hell, the new girl can have Alex! She seems his type from here, tall, blond, and beautiful. Well. Anyway. That's such a stupid idea, I almost laugh.

And I think about what my mom would say if I threw a wild house party. "Melissa Karen Flynn, I am very disappointed in you. Promise me you used a condom…"

Yeah, that's my mom for ya.

"Liss, are you okay?" Alex's eyes meet mine and his face flushes.

"Yeah," I try to say, but it comes out croaky. I clear my throat. "Yeah. Just thinking about stuff."

I think one reason a bunch of girls like Alex is because of how easily he blushes. He'll blush when he's embarrassed or uncomfortable or even just annoyed. Also, Alex has never had a real girlfriend, so they all want to be the first to "break through his shell" or whatever.

"You don't… you know… like the new guy, do you? Nick, I mean." Alex's voice sounds casual, but his eyes reflect intensity. If it was anyone but him, I would be suspicious.

"Uh… well… I don't really know him. But yeah, he's pretty cute, I guess."

Alex nods thoughtfully and says, "Well, I hope you'll be careful. Something's not right about that guy."

Another great—or do I mean annoying?—thing about Alex is that he can almost always sense when people are lying. This is how he always sees through Crystal and Alora's NK act.

"He barely says anything, Alex. How can you tell he's lying?"

"I just don't like him, okay?"

I scrutinize him. Something's been off with Alex all morning, but I can't quite figure out what it is. Finally, I say, "Okay."

We don't speak for the rest of lunch.


After I've finished my homework and given Caniche a treat, I head over to the Ice Cream Shoppe where I work part time with Alex.

Alex is already here, along with J.J. Hartman who also works part time.

"Hey Alex. Hey J.J." I say, pulling my apron over my head.

"Hi Lissa," they chorus.

"Brie's got a new beau," J.J. informs me. Brianna is the manager of the Ice Cream Shoppe. She basically has a new boyfriend every week.

Brie is short, just barely taller than me, and she has a little blonde pixie haircut. She's very pretty, in that cute little fairy sort of way.

"This one," she says, coming out of the back, "is the one. I'm sure of it."

"Brie, sweetie, that's what you said the last time," Alex says. It's our little staff inside joke that the reason Brie has so many boyfriends is because she hasn't found the right one: Alex.

"Alex, babe," Brie says, her eyes twinkling, "I told ya, I'm too old for you."

Brie's really 25, but she looks young enough to date Alex. I wrinkle my nose. "Ugh, you guys disgust me. I think you might be sweeter than the ice cream."

Finally, at nine, Jazz comes to pick us up. Her friend Kelly is in the truck with her.

"Jazzy," Kelly says seriously. "Give the boy a chance!"

"I won't," Jazz is saying as Alex and I slide into the back. "Come on, Kelly, he's just so… Isaac. And he's too… Isaac."

"Sounds like a terrible guy, Jazzy," Alex says. "You know, I heard a guy got sent to jail last week for being too Isaac."

"Uh-huh," I agree. "My neighbor was being so Isaac, he got grounded."

Kelly stifles a giggle. Jazz glares at us in the mirror. "Mind your own beeswax," she says icily.

"Jeez, Jazz," Kelly says. "Calm down. They're right, you know. There's absolutely nothing wrong with him. He's adorable, he plays the trumpet, he's a math genius," Kelly pauses as if for emphasis. "And he calls you Jasmine! I don't know what his best quality is!"

Jazz rolls her eyes, but says nothing. Finally, she drops me off at my house.

When I unlock the door, Caniche jumps on me, which is odd. Normally, he's asleep when I get home from work. "Mom?" I call out. There's no answer, so I figure she's in the basement working on something.

I head upstairs and after a while, manage to fall asleep, thinking of Nick all the while.


So, that was kinda long, I think. You like? I like. Fang is hot. I didn't type that, my hand just spasms some— Fang is hot— times.

So, I'm bringing Sam in soon… despite everything, I like Sam. He makes Fang super (hot) jealous… anyway… please review!

3. No Insinuations

This is the part where you don't review telling me that I'm making Lissa too oblivious. Okay? Max is more oblivious than I'm making Lissa, and some of you would do well to remember that. There are some minor sexual references in this chapter, so I thought I should let you know. And I know I make Fang pretty OOC, but I'm pulling it off as a "he's acting like he's somebody else" kind of thing. That is all. Read and Review, sivous plea.

This morning, I put on the blue Hollister sweater instead of the green Abercrombie sweater.

I know. It's such treason to own things from both stores, let along wear them one after the other.

I walk into the kitchen and see a note on the counter. Liss- was up late last night. Make sure to eat breakfast. Yes, poptarts count as breakfast, but I'd prefer you'd eat something healthier. Love, Mom

I grab a poptart and run out to meet the Delbecqs.

Alex is staring—or do I mean glaring?—out the window of Jazz's truck when I get in. "Hey, Liss," Jazz says.

Alex mutters a quick, "Hey," under his breath.

"What's wrong with him?" I stage-whisper to Jazz.

"I don't know," Jazz stage-whispers back. "But I caught him putting his sheets in the wash—" Alex kicks the back of her seat and the car swerves. I smirk, but decide not to ask who the girl was. Alex's face is very red as he turns back to the window.

Alex walks with me to my locker. As I gather my books, he sighs. "Yes, Alex?" I say impatiently, as though I'm a teacher being interrupted.

"How do you know if you're in love with someone?"

"Yeah, Al, 'cause I know all about that stuff," I say sarcastically, slamming my locker shut. "Sorry I can't be much help. Why don't you ask Mr. Lazzara? He's got that whole English-teacher-slash-librarian-slash-aspiring-romance-novelist thing going on for him."

Alex smiles faintly and nods. "I think I will. Thanks, Liss."

"No problem?" Alex is being so weird. Oh. My God. Is he in love? That would sure explain everything… but with who? And do I really want to know?

My thoughts are interrupted by Nick, walking past me in the hall. "Hey Nick," I smile.

"Oh, hi. Lissa, right?"

My name just sounds so much prettier when he says it. "Yeah," I breathe.

"Can you tell me where the library is?"

"Better yet, I can show you," I gesture for him to follow me. He does, and soon Crystal and Alora are shooting me identical PG death glares. I see Alex at the check-out desk talking to Mr. Lazzara, and I quickly lead Nick in the opposite direction.

"Who's that guy you hang out with?" Nick asks.

"Oh, that's Alex. He's been my best friend since we were little," I say, logging on to one of the library computers. "There. You can look up stuff or find the books you want on here."


"Did you have any friends back in… wherever you came from?"

"California," Nick says, smirking slightly. "And yeah, I had some friends. And some not-so-friends."

"What were they like?"

"Well," Nick says, turning to me. "We kinda moved around a lot. Our parents, see, they were uh…" he pauses, as though trying to remember a phrase. "Missionaries."

"Our? So you have siblings?"

"Yup," Nick says, unconsciously picking at the fraying mouse pad. "Five. Two brothers, three sisters, and a dog. A really, really, annoying dog," he mumbles the last part under his breath.

"What are their names?" I ask, hoping he doesn't find my questions annoying.

"Jeff, of course, Max, she's in our grade too, Tiffany-Krystal, who's in 6th, Zephyr in 4th, and Ariel in 1st. The dog's name is Total"

"Wow. Interesting age differences," And a weird name for a dog. Then again, I'm the one with the cat whose name means puppy in French, so I can't really talk, can I?

"Yeah," Nick says, still picking at the mouse pad. "We're all adopted, except for Zephyr and Ariel."

"Ah," I say, unsure of what to say next.

"You got any siblings?" Nick asks.

I shake my head. "It's just me, my mom, and my cat. My dad died when I was about nine."

Nick doesn't say anything. Then, he says, "I'm sorry." A pause. "I never knew my real parents,"

"I'm sorry," I say. "But your adopted parents—you like them, right?"

"When they're around," he says. We're silent for a moment. I glance at his computer screen.

"Oh," I say. "Are you interested in birds?"

The corner of Nick's mouth twitches. "Slightly." There's another pause. "Do you believe in mutants? Like, human-animal hybrids?"

I frown. "Like, sci-fi stuff?" I shrug. "I don't know. It seems a little far-fetched. Scientifically impossible, I guess. But maybe, yeah. Government secrets or something." I smile.

Nick nods and looks back at the bird books. The he looks at me and says, "I knew you weren't an idiot."

I'm taken aback. What? "Huh?"

"You acted like such a ditz yesterday. I knew you weren't stupid."

"Um… thank you?"

"You're very welcome," Nick says, standing. "We should get to class."

I pass a PB named Sam on the way out of the library. "Hey, Lissa," Sam says. No matter how many times he talks to me, it never fails to surprise me. I'm just such a Book Nerd and he's just such a Jock.

"Hey, Sam," I say tiredly.

"What do you know about the new girl?" Sam asks. Nick stops dead in his tracks.

"Do you mean my sister?" he says rather aggressively.

"Max?" Sam asks, surveying Nick's dark hair and dark eyes.

Nick nods once. "That's her."

"Does she have a boyfriend?" Sam wonders.

Nick visibly refrains from rolling his eyes and mutters, "I'm going to be late." And he stalks off.

"What's up with him?" Sam asks.

I scrutinize Nick as he walks toward our classroom. "I have no idea." I say. "No idea whatsoever."


"Hey, Nick," I say after fourth period. "D'you want to eat lunch with me and Alex?"

Nick looks at me and says, "Sure."

Alex doesn't seem to be thinking along the same lines. When Nick and I walk up to the table. Alex looks pointedly at me and says, "What's he doing here?"

"Eating lunch," I say in a final tone.

Alex rolls his eyes.

"What's your problem?" I ask him.

"What's your problem? You can't just invite some stranger to eat lunch with us!"

I give a derisive laugh. "Oh, of course not! I mean, imagine if we all invited strangers to lunch! We'd—gasp!—meet new people and—Oh my God, this is just so terrible—make friends with them!"

"I thought you were supposed to be my friend!" Alex says loudly.

"What the hell, Alex, you're acting like a 5th grade girl!"

"You're the one acting like a 5th grade girl! Oh, Nick, want me to show you around the classroom? Oh, Nick, did you need help finding the library? Oh, Nick, wanna get in my pants?"

That's when I lean across the table and slap Alex as hard as I can. The world seems to freeze. Everyone is silent, and all eyes are on me and Alex. "Think what you like," I tell him in a dark and icy voice. "But don't you ever imply that all I'm out to get is sex."

Alex glares at me, and then at Nick. He stands and turns to leave. As he walks away, Alex calls to me over his shoulder, "Fine with me. Next time, no insinuations. I'll say it straight out."

Mwahaha! That was really fun to write. I love writing fight scenes.

So there you go. If you thought I was making Fang too chatty—no one cares what you think!!!

Well, I care about the other stuff you think. Just not what you think about that.

Please review!

4. The Apocalypse

Here I am, updating once again.

I think you all should know about my new years' resolution. I have resolved not to start new stories until I finish the three I have going. That means The Adventures and Romance of Katie Bell, Betting on Evans, and Book by its Cover will all be finished before I start a new story. One shots don't count, I can write those whenever I damn well please.

Though, as someone very wise once said, "new years' resolutions are things you promise to do in the New Year, and then give up on two weeks into January."

I hope I can focus on these three, though, because they're decent stories and I don't want to ditch them.

Disclaimer: Don't own Max Ride characters, but I own Alex and Caniche, and they're the coolest—well, Alex is not on my good side at the moment, but he'll be back. I also do not own "Of All the Gin Joints in All the World." That would be owned by Fall Out Boy.

Anyhow—on with the story!

I really, really, really do not want to go to school today.

Like, so much it's not even funny. I would rather sleep under Alora's bed for the rest of my life than go to school today. I mean, the "school" part of going to school won't be that bad. But the "going" part of going to school is what I really don't want to do.

Jazz, of course, will insist on picking me up. Jazz is cool like that. She's loyal to her brother, but no matter what Alex thinks, I know Jazz will always be my friend. Alex, though, will ignore me in the car, or worse.

I really wouldn't put it past him to—I don't know!—text Crystal while I'm sitting next to him. This is terrible on two points; first of all, Alex hates Crystal. She's always been mean to me, and fake-nice to him. He hates fakers and liars more than anything. Second point is, Alex is anti-texting. He doesn't mind IM, though he says he'd rather just call the person up and talk to them on the phone, or meet them somewhere. But texting—it annoys him almost as much as girls who wear purple eye makeup.

But if anything, I'd expect him to do something like that. Something that would make me want to scream "why aren't you acting like you?" at him.

And plus, even if he tries to talk to me, I don't think I even want to. He basically called me a whore in front of the whole school! I mean, how could he say that? He knows me! He's known me for ages, he knows I've never even kissed a boy!

A terrible thought occurs to me. What if Alex honestly thinks that I've been lying to him about my love life? I shake that thought away—why would that even matter, anyhow?

I briefly consider telling my mom I'm too sick to come downstairs, but mom always sees through things like that.

Caniche pushes the previously ajar door open and struts inside, jumping gracefully onto my bed.

I scratch the top of his head, behind his ears, and he purrs. "I don't know what I'm going to do, Caniche," I tell him.

"Mrreeeooow," Caniche says.

"Ingenious," I sigh. "You know, you're so lucky to be a little kitty. No troubles, eh? I bet you wouldn't slap your best friend if he called you a slut. I bet you wouldn't go falling for the really, really hot new guy."

"Mrreeeeoow," Caniche agrees. He dodges my hand and jumps up onto my desk, knocking a few CD cases to the ground. I sigh and get out of bed to set them back on the desk.

"I guess I have to get up, huh?" I look at him as he paws the antenna on my radio/CD player. "What, first you knock over the CD's, now you want me to play them?"

"Mrreeeeoow," Caniche says, and I believe, had he the ability to smile, he would be smiling.

I roll my eyes. I'm talking to a cat. Are you happy now, Alex? You see what you've reduced me to? I'm talking to a cat, playing a CD Aunt Katie sent me, one that I've never listened to! They're freaking—I don't know, emo or something.

Who the hell names their band Fall Out Boy? What, they're just sitting around, and the singer says, hey guys, what should we name the band? And so then the guitarist says, "Fall Out Boy" because he's high on something and really has no idea what anyone's talking about. So then the drummer decides it's a good name.

I mean, seriously. Only crack-heads think up stuff like that.

I pause in getting dressed, trying to figure out the lyrics. So far, all I can understand is "cuz you don't know who I really am" and something about "waste time dreaming of you" and then later I think he says "the way your make up stains my pillowcase."

When the song ends, I replay it. I don't know what it is about it, but I really like it. Weird. I take back what I said about them being crack-heads, though they probably are.

Well, I suppose I can't stand here in a bra and uniform skirt listening to emo bands all day. Though, strangely enough, I wish I could. I sigh for what seems like the billionth time that morning.

I head downstairs after my shower and I call Jazz's cell phone—I really don't want Alex to answer their house phone. "Pick up, pick up, pick up!" I mutter as the phone continues to ring. Finally, Jazz answers.


"Are you still going to pick me up?"

"Of course," Jazz laughs. "No fight between the two of you could ever make me leave you behind, Liss. Honest. I mean, yeah, he's my brother, but you're like my sister. And I know you guys couldn't stand being apart for too long anyhow."

"Thanks, Jazz," I say, honestly relieved.

"No prob, Liss. Hey—just out of curiosity, why are you two fighting?"

"Well, I told Nick—the new guy in our class—to sit with us at lunch. Then Alex got all PMS and implied I only liked Nick because I wanted to f—"

"OH MY GOSH!" Jazz shouts. "My brother is such an asshole—but you know why he's all pissy-bitch about it, right?"

"Uh, if I did, do you think we'd be fighting still?"

"Well, it's 'cause he—"

"JASMINE!" I hear Mrs. Delbecq shout.

"Gotta go," Jazz says. "Pick you up in ten."

"Kay," I say doubtfully. "Bye ya." With a snap that means Jazz as shut her phone, I press the off button.

I wish she could have told me why Alex was so mad.

God, I feel stupid. I feel like the answer is dangling right in front of my nose, and I can't quite reach it. I'm usually good at figuring out how to fix problems. But this one—I don't know. Maybe it's just because this time, I don't have Alex to help me figure it out.

The ride to school is silent. Jazz occasionally takes in a loud breath as though she's about to say something, but never does. Alex is—yes, I guessed correctly—texting.

"Who are you texting?" I want to ask. Oh, I want to ask it so badly. But I know he's only doing it because he wants to piss me off.

Finally, after meeting Jazz's eyes in the mirror, she asks, "Who are you texting, Alex?"

"A friend," Alex replies unhelpfully.

"Does this friend have a name?"

"Alora," Alex says stiffly, pointedly focusing on the tiny screen of his cell phone.

I assume Jazz and I are wearing identical expressions of disbelief, because I feel my mouth drop open as I watch hers do the same in the mirror.

"Alora Okamura?" We both say loudly.

Alex nods.

I want to kill him.

More importantly, though, I want to kill Alora. The only bright side to this is that it's Alora and not Crystal. Alora may be a bitch, but I have the feeling if she hung around with J.J. instead of Crystal, she'd be really cool.

The thing about Alora is that she's always like, a cone of whomever she hangs out with. Sometimes, I kind of want to know who the real Alora is.

Other times, though, I want to take a chain saw and cut her up into little pieces and hide them behind bricks in the fireplace.

But enough about her.

As we get out of Jazz's truck, Alex shoots off without waiting for me. I bend down to tie my shoe as Jazz pulls some stuff from the passenger seat into her book bag.

"Hi, Jasmine," Isaac says. I look up from my undone shoelace to see that he's holding hands with Kylie Something-or-other, who plays violin.

"Hi Isaac." Jazz's eyes flicker to their clasped hands. "Kylie."

"We'll se you later, Jazzy," Kylie smiles uncertainly as she and Isaac make their way to the band room.

Jazz slams the truck door with unnecessary force and she stomps off towards the science wing. I catch up with her and say, "You know, Jazz, I hate to state the obvious, but you kind of lost your chance."

Jazz shoots me a death glare worthy of Crystal Jacobs and says, "Thanks for the info, Liss."

"Okay, Jazz, look," I say, trying to calm her down. "If you liked him, why didn't you tell him?"

"He—I—why does it matter now?" Jazz stops, and I realize there are tears in her eyes. "You said it yourself. I've lost my chance."

"Jazzy," I say soothingly. "You need to tell him how you feel. I'm not saying he'll ditch Kylie for you, but you'll feel a lot better."

Jazz snorts. "Oh, yeah, I'm sure I'll feel so much better once the guy I like knows I like him but doesn't like me back."

"I'm just saying, Jazzy. You'll feel better once it's off your chest."

She stares at me. Then she gives a sort of watery laugh.

"What?" I say, slightly annoyed.

"That's exactly what Alex would have said." Jazz laughs.

Now it's my turn to give her a death glare. "Look, Jazz, I hate fighting with him. Can you stop talking about him? I already have to see him in class."

Jazz looks at me seriously. "Liss, do you know why he's so mad about Nick?"

"I told you I didn't," I say. I think I'm finally going to find out what I have to do to get my best friend back.

"It's 'cause he—" the bells rings, drowning out Jazz's words. She runs to her science class, waving behind her.

"Oh my fucking god!" I shout, slamming the palm of my hand against the locker next to me. It can't be coincidence that I never hear why Alex is mad at me. Either Jazz is insanely bad at timing, or I have bad Karma.

Do I even believe in Karma?

Well, I guess my Karma can't be that bad, because when I enter the classroom, Crystal's desk is empty.

Alora, however, is still here. As I walk to my desk, Alora's eyes meet mine and she gives me a tentative smile. I find it a little strange, but also comforting in a way. I smile back.

Ah, I knew the world was coming to an end. Alex hates me, but on the bright side, I may become friends with Alora.

Yep. Definitely the apocalypse.

During free time that day, Alora walks over to my desk.

"Hey, Lissa," she says.

"Hi," I say warily. "Where's Crystal?"

"Oh, you didn't hear?"

"Um, apparently not," I say, giving her a quizzical look.

"Yesterday was Crystal's last day. She moved to New York." Alora's eyes are downcast.

"Really?" I ask, taken aback. Alora nods.

"That's why I'm here, actually. Crystal leaving and all—it made me realize that I should have been nicer to people. I mean, look at the situation I've gotten myself into!" she laughs without humor. "I was mean, and I acted stupid, and no one liked me. But I didn't care, because I had Crystal. No matter how mean I was to other people, she was meaner, and so by comparison, I didn't feel that bad." She pauses, as though to check that I'm getting all of this. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry I was always so mean to you. And I also must confess that I've read all the Harry Potter books too."

I think my mouth must have dropped open somewhere during that speech, because at this point, I close it. "You mean, that whole dumb sidekick thing was an act?"

Alora nods. "I'm sorry about a couple days ago—when you were reading the third book and Crystal and I—well, yeah. I'm sorry."

"A-apology accepted," I stammer. Alora being nice is one thing. But Alora apologizing? Can I use the word "apocalypse" once more?

"Good. And I also was wondering… is there anything going on between you and Alex? Romantically, I mean."

"Romanti—what? No, of course not," but as I say it, the thought hits me that maybe Alex is jealous of Nick. Maybe Alex likes me. Is that what Jazz had been trying to tell me all along?

Alora seems to sense my uncertainty. "My, my, what a cliché, Lissa Flynn."

"What is?"

"You're falling for your best friend," she smiles.

"I—I don't—no, look, Alora—"

"It's okay, Lissa. I won't tell anyone." She kneels down next to my desk and leans her arms on the top of it. "Here. I'll give you a secret in return." She gestures for me to lean in closer. "You know Sam Nixon?"

"Yes, strangely enough," I say.

"Well, um…" Alora seems unable to say what she wants to say.

"You like him? But I thought—Alex—"

Alora smiles again. "Alex? So not my type. Crystal was insanely obsessed, though. And you seem to—"

"I don't like Alex, Alora. I like Nick. So, now we're even?"

"We are," Alora agrees. "And… um… friends?"

I pause. I mean, she seems nice now. And not even fake nice. It would be good to have someone to talk to… "Friends," I agree.


At lunchtime, I approach Nick. "Hey, so d'you want to sit with me again today?"

"Yeah, sure," Nick says. We sit down and for the first time, I notice that Nick eats a lot of food.

"Hungry much?"

Nick blushes. "I have an extremely high metabolism," he says.


"I guess your dude isn't sitting with you today," Nick says.

"I guess he isn't," I say, slightly annoyed with Nick for calling Alex "my dude."

I need a discussion topic. "Do you like Fall Out Boy?" I ask.

Nick's facial expression becomes amused. "Is it that obvious?"

"Not that you look emo or anything," I smile, thinking that Nick looks about as emo as anyone possibly could while wearing our school's dorky uniform. "I was just wondering."

Nick swallows a handful of chips. "Yeah, they're pretty good."

"My aunt sent me a CD a couple months ago… I'd never listened to it until this morning."

"Really? Why not?"

"I don't know. I thought they were drug addicts or something."

Nick laughs quietly. "They probably are," he says.

I glance across the cafeteria to see Alex sitting with J.J. and Alora and the random blonde girl who I think is Nick's sister.

"Is that your sister, with J.J. and Alora?" I carefully avoid Alex's name.

"And your dude? Yeah, that's her," Nick says, and I can't help but notice the slight bitterness in his voice.

"You're pretty protective of her, aren't you?"

He looks somewhat startled. "What? Oh. Well. Yeah, kind of. She tends to do stupid things without thinking them through. It's my job to be protective."

I watch him as he traces the rim of his plastic root beer bottle with his index finger. He really is good-looking. I've never been one to go all insane about cute guys—God knows I never could have hung around with Alex if I was constantly aware of how cute he was—but something about Nick… he's just so mysterious. It adds a lot of intrigue there, and mysteries, as we all know, are a real turn-on.

"Remember when you asked me if I believed in human-animal hybrids?" I begin.

Nick's head shoots up. "Yeah,"

"You believe in them, right?"

Then Nick does something that strikes me as rather odd. His left hand is lying on the table, and when I ask him that, he glances down at it and twitches his fingers, as though checking to see if they work. Then he says, "I see no reason not to believe in them."

When I finally get home, (after another silent car ride) I realize I've forgotten to ask Jazz why Alex is so mad at me.

If I knew that, I could forgive him and he could forgive me and we could be friends again.

The question I have to ask myself, though, is whether or not I still want to be friends with him.

A/N: of course she still wants to be friends with him.

By this point, of course, Fang kind of wants Lissa to figure out he's a bird kid. I think he's tired of keeping it a secret.

Please review!

And look up "Of All The Gin Joints in All The World," because it's a really good song.

Happy Holidays!

5. The candy to my Halloween

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. Here it goes, then.

"Lissa?" My mom calls up the stairs.

"Yeah?" I hit save on my essay for History.

"C'mere a sec, hon," Once I get downstairs, my mom pulls me into her "office." I use quotes because mom paints for a living. She's not famous or anything, but she's sold some stuff. "Here it is, Liss." She flips the canvas around for me to see the painting.

I study the painting. It shows a little girl with a man and a cat in one corner, then the same girl, only older, in the next corner reading a book. In the corner below that, it shows the girl, much older now, sitting dejectedly in a dark corner holding a stiletto-looking object in her hand. The other bottom corner shows the girl sitting by herself, still with the shoe, watching a boy from across a room. In the center of the painting, the girl is holding a book in one hand and the hand of the same boy from the same boy from the bottom corner in the other. The stiletto is nowhere to be found.

I choke back the hardness in my throat. "What do you think?" mom asks softly.

I sniffle. "I think you're trying to tell me something?" My mom pulls me into a hug.

"Lissa," she whispers. "I just want you to know that things will work out so much better if you don't try to be someone you aren't."

"Who am I?" I can't help it; I start crying into my mom's shoulder. It really doesn't matter, seeing as she's crying too.

Ugh. Touchy-feely moment much. Not that I don't love my mom-- I do, really. It's just… I hate how she always thinks I'm still a little girl.

I guess, though, the painting shows the little girl growing up… but still being the same girl.


Later, I call Jazz.

"Yeah, Liss?" she says when she picks up.

"Why is Alex mad at me?" I ask urgently.

"Gosh, Liss, I thought it was obvious," Jazz says.

"Look, Jazz, just tell me. Tell me so I can fix it."

Jazz sighs. "I don't know for sure, but I think he likes you. He's way-jealous of tall-dark-and-gorgeous, and he doesn't know quite what to do with himself."

"Has he talked to you about this?"

"No… but you could call it a sister's intuition. I just… I dunno, Lissa. I hate seeing you guys like this. You without Alex, Alex without you… it's like Halloween with no candy. It's just not right, Lissa. You guys have been friends for ages. I'm so not telling you that you should ask him out or something, definitely not. I'm not even saying you're in the wrong, here. If Alex does like you, he should have kept better control over his emotions, waited until you were ready before going all psycho-jealous on you. On everyone. So really, all I am saying is that I hate when my friends fight. And you two are more than my friends, you two are my family. So, please, if not for the sake of your friendship, for the sake of your Jazzy."

I smile. "You're awesome, Jazzy. But if that's that problem… I dunno how I can fix it. I can't stop hanging out with Nick-- I really like him, Jazz. But I hate fighting with Alex so much. I want to be his friend again… I think… but I don't know how to do it yet. I swear, though, that when I figure it out, I'll talk to him."

"That's my girl," Jazz says softly. "Night, Liss. See ya tomorrow, bright and early."

"Bye-ya, Jazzy." I press the off button on the phone and set it down at my desk. Sighing, I print out my history essay. I shove it in my folder and set it into my bookbag.

God. I hate fighting with Alex. We never used to fight. We never had any arguments, ever. About anything. Was it too good to last? Tears roll down my cheeks. I finally know why he's mad at me… but how, how on earth can I fix this mess?

Alex was my best friend. I should care about him over Nick, shouldn't I? But at this point, Nick is my only friend. So why risk losing the only friend I have for one I'm not even sure how to get back?

Plus, I like Nick. A lot. He seems so smart, and mysterious. And way cute. But Alex… Alex is the candy to my Halloween. Without him, I'm just not me. You know what I am without Alex? I'm the box of raisons Mrs. O'Macy gives out every October 31st.

I just don't know anymore. I've never felt more confused in my entire life. Once more, I reflect on just how lucky Caniche is to be a cat. No problems, no boys, no best friends… I'm his best friend. Caniche knows no one as well as he knows me. And no one is ever truly mad at their kitty. Sure, cats have shorter lifespans than humans. But aren't their lives much easier and happier than ours?

A cat's true bliss is to be fed and scratched and petted… they don't need expensive cars or clothes… they don't have to do homework… they don't have to go to bed on time because they have to get up at six tomorrow to shower… Ugh.

I think about my mom's painting. The girl… me, I suppose it portrays… she's happier with the book and the kitten and her father than she ever is with the shoe. When she's innocent, she isn't afraid to do what she loves. When she's obsessive with the shoe, she's miserable.

And I know, even though this is exactly what my mom wanted me to do, what I have to do. Tomorrow, I'm going to use my shampoo. I'm going to put my hair back in that ponytail. I'm going to wear a jacket I bought at Sears. And do you know why?

Because Alex isn't the candy to the Halloween I've been for the past few days. I've been like a cheap imitation Halloween, like the carnival the school holds the weekend before the 31st. For Alex to be the candy to my Halloween, I first must be Halloween.

Project Lissa Flynn: Book Nerd to PG-- Terminated.

A/N: Well, I'm glad she's through with that after what… two days? Of course, it's going to take her much longer to get Alex to be her friend… well, please review.

You can have my invisible leftover Halloween candy :)

Sorry this was so short. I just had to post something to keep myself sane.ishis

6. Superman Can't Kiss Like This

A/N: Sorry I haven't updated in so long. Here it goes.

Superman Can't Kiss Like This

Okay, well, maybe not terminated. I mean, I thought about it, I really did. But what was the point in being, you know, ugly again? It wouldn't make a difference. I just have to be myself, like my mom said. I can just be… you know… a prettier version of myself. I don't think Alex could complain—not if what Jazz said about him liking me is true. In all those idiotic teen romances Auntie Kate buys me, whenever the girl changes herself for a guy, the guy's always like "I liked you better before." But I don't see how Alex could complain about me looking nicer as long as I was still the same person.

So, not terminated. Just… toned down.

I use my old shampoo today, but I also use this special conditioner that's supposed to tame frizziness. That's good. I definitely do not need frizzy hair to be myself. I pull my now slightly de-frizzed locks into a high ponytail instead of the usual low one. That's compromising, right?

I dress myself, putting on my khaki uniform pants instead of the plaid skirt, and buttoning every single button. Minus three at the top. Again, a compromise! People like Chari leave five undone.

When I go downstairs, mom is in the kitchen drinking her coffee and reading her newspaper. "Well," she says, not looking up, "someone smells like Head & Shoulders."

"Ha ha," I say sarcastically. "You're the one being all hinty about wanting me to do it."

"Because it's better for your scalp," she defends.

"Because you think I'm turning into a slut," I counter.

"Melissa!" she seems astonished that I even know the word.

"Am I wrong?"


"Right, Mom." I grab a poptart and kiss her cheek. "Love you."

And I take my backpack and walk out the front door, deciding to sit on the porch until Jazz comes to get me. When her truck pulls up, I hop up and skip to the door, finishing off my poptart. "Hey, Liss," Jazz says.

Silence, says Alex.

"Hi, Jazz. Hi, Alex."

Silence, says Alex.

"Your hair looks good like that," Jazz tells me, pulling back onto the road. "It frames your face well."

"Thanks," I say.

Silence, says Alex.

"At least he's not texting," Jazz says, obviously in response to my agitation.

"Right." I say.

Silence, says Alex.

When we get to school, Alex slams his door as usual and dashes off to his locker immediately. "That's really starting to piss me off," I say, grinding my heel into the ground.

"Only now?" Jazz laughs. "He's gonna break my truck. I don't know what his problem is anymore. Kid's a psycho, I always knew it. Then again, he always gets like that this time of year."

"Tomorrow, isn't it?" I ask.

"Yeah." Jazz looks sadly at the ground. "You still coming with us to the cemetery?"

"Of course, if you still want me to."

Jazz sniffs a little. "I do. Alex does, too, he just doesn't want you to know he does." She looks at the cloudy sky. "Five years and he's not over it. I'm not over it. Should we be over it? Are you over it?"

"I don't think you ever get over it. My mom's not over it, that's for sure."

"Neither is mine." Jazz and I smile sadly at each other.

Isaac doesn't come by this morning. I think he knows he's made a point. But I can tell by the look on Jazz's face that it's breaking her heart to walk away without seeing him.

In class today, I have no idea what's going on. Mrs. Cheatham's babbling about something—the transitive property? Have we already started math?—and Alex is laughing with Tess Kliewer. Tess Kliewer. Tallest person I've met in my life, maybe, but she's also very sweet and adorable. I've never liked her. NK if I ever saw one. Still, though. It wouldn't kill her to stop touching Alex's shoulder as they laugh under their breath. Know-it-alls. I bet they totally know what the transitive property is, whereas I'm sitting here going "Um, triangles? What?"

Then again, maybe Tess is doing this for the benefit of someone else. I mean, you'd have to be blind not to notice the way she stares at the blind kid. Heh. Which is why she's lucky he's blind, because obviously he'd catch her watching him within about three seconds. Tess, she's never been one for subtlety. She's had a crush on every guy over six feet tall within a three mile radius of this school. Not including teachers. Honestly. Have some standards, woman! Doesn't personality count for anything anymore?

Of course, Alex just so happens to be 5'10". Almost Tess standards. Not that it bugs me or anything, I'm just saying.

Finally, we have study period, so I ask if I can go to the library. I can't stand being in this classroom a second longer than I have to be. I want to be alone, maybe read a book about other people whose lives epically failed worse than mine is currently epically failing. So imagine my annoyance when another set of footsteps joins me in the hallway. I turn around, ready to unleash a number of choice words that would've sent whoever it was screaming for Mrs. Cheatham. Except, it's Nick. So I don't do that.

He catches up to me and says, "Lissa. You're going to the library, too, huh?"

"Yep," I say, not quite sure what he's getting at. If it was some other guy—one who didn't know me—I would think he was flirting with me, the way he's walking so close and mussing his hair. But it's Nick. Mister Mystery. Tall dark and silent. He wasn't supposed to flirt. So that must not be it.

"You like me, don't you?"

"Um," I stutter. "What?"

"You know. As a person. You like me, right?"

We stop walking and I just stare at him. "Sure. Yeah. Of course."

"So if I told you something…" he steps closer to me. "You'd still like me, wouldn't you?"

"Um," I say, "Sure. Yeah. Of course."

"Come with me, then."

"Oh-kay…" he tugs me into an empty classroom. And then he takes his shirt off. And I'm just standing there, going "And he thinks this will make me like him LESS?" only then he turns around so that his back is to me. And he snaps out his wings.

Yes, you heard me. Wings.


"Oh, wow," I say. Because even though he's standing there with freaking wings shooting out of his back, I still can't help but marvel at how beautiful he is. The way the muscles in his shoulders flow into the muscles of his back, and further into the muscles of his… wings… he looks like an angel. A dark angel, yes. But an angel nonetheless.

"Is that all?" he questions.

"You look like the angel of death."

He seems to find this very amusing. "Right. So you don't think you're going crazy?"

"Nick," I tell him, "I've been going crazy for a long time."

He chuckles, folding his beautiful wings back in and throwing his shirt on. "I knew you wouldn't go all psycho on me. Max'd kill me if she found out I've shown you… but I knew I could trust you."

"That's why you're so obsessed with mutants," I realize. "Because you are one. And your parents? They're not really Missionaries, are they?"

He shakes his head. "I don't have parents."

"Everyone has parents," I disagree.

"I mean, I don't have adoptive parents. We're living with this woman from the FBI right now. She enrolled us here."

"That sucks," I say bluntly.

"Yep." He pauses, looking me over. "I'm really glad you didn't tell me you were sorry."


"I hate it when people are sorry. It makes me feel like there's something to be sorry about."

We sit there in silence for a few moments. Then, I say, "Your siblings, too?"


"So you guys are like… superheroes."

He gives me a half-grin. "I've always said Max thought she was Supergirl. I never knew where I fit into that, though."

"Supergirl was Superman's sister," I say. "I guess that makes you him."

Nick thinks about this. "I guess so."

"D'you have… you know… powers? Besides the… wings…I mean."

His eyes drop. "Some of us do. I don't. But I'm really strong," he says proudly.

"Oh yeah?" I challenge.

"You wanna try me?" he retorts. I throw a weak punch at his shoulder. "Is that all?" he asks, nearly grinning now.

"Don't make me mad," I say darkly. "I can get pretty scary." I give him my PG death glare.

"Still not as scary as Max when she's pissed."

"Oh, really?" I say, walking forward, still glaring. He takes a step back every time I take one further. In the end, he nears the wall, and I push him against it. "Scared now?"

He looks down at my hands, which rest on his chest. Then his dark eyes meet mine, and he swallows. "Um," he says.

"Um," I repeat. "I…" And then, just because he's so damn adorable and he just told me his deepest darkest secret, and maybe also because he smells good and we're both just full of teenage hormones, I kiss him.

I'm scared for a moment that he doesn't want to. Only then, his hands find my waist and he's kissing me back. And he's holding me closer to him and I'm feeling the muscles through his thin uniform shirt tense and relax as he moves, angling his head differently, his hands trailing down my spine.

And all the while, all I can think is "I bet Superman can't kiss like this."

Eventually, the bell rings, and we both jump away from each other. "I'm sorry," I say quietly. "That probably shouldn't've happ—"

But he kisses me again, silencing me. "Don't regret messing with the mutant bird kid," he tells me, ducking out of the room. "We're people too. So I'll see you at lunch, then?"

"Uh-huh," I manage.

Then the reality of the situation hits me. I just made out with Nick. Mister Mystery. Tall dark and silent. The angel of death. Superman. I always thought I'd tell Alex when I finally did something with a guy. We were always going on about our non-existent love lives.

But if he was mad at me, he wouldn't care. If he liked me, it'd be tactless. But if I don't tell him, he'll eventually find out and then get mad at me all over again for hiding something from him.


This was definitely a lose-lose situation.