Meet the Parents by krazykatie

Category:Maximum Ride
Published:2007-05-31 14:41:19
Updated:2007-07-14 15:01:29
Packaged:2021-04-21 23:38:37
Summary:COMPLETE! Corny title, yes. It's when Iggy meets his parents, for that week period. I threw in an extra character, just to make it a little more interesting. Plus, I thought the idea of the other character was cool.

Table of Contents

1. Day 1
2. Day 2
3. Day 2, Day 3
4. Day 3
5. Day 3, Day 4
6. Day 4
7. Day 5
8. Day 6 The Final Day 1
9. Day 6 The Final Day 2
10. Day 6 The Final Day 3
11. Back Home

1. Day 1

Quick intro, this part picks up from the chapter in book two when the flock is saying goodbye to Iggy, when he's going to live with his parents. NOTE: I don't own the book, so I'm writing this from memory.

The goodbyes were impossible. Heart wrenching. This was the last time I'd ever hear Angel's gentle cry, the last time I'd listen to Nudge's incessant prattle, the last time I would feel Gazzy's unwashed hair, the last time Max would give an order around me. There would be no more getting in trouble with Gazzy, no more running and hiding from whitecoats, no more fighting Erasers, no more traveling the world over, flying thousands of feet into the air where nothing but planes could see us.

No more flock.

I tried not to cry, I did, but the whole overwhelming idea of never ever seeing my family – the makeshift one, the one that had been with me and taken care of me for my whole life, not my biological one – ever again was too much to think that I wasn't being emotionally ripped up from the inside out.

I hated crying. Crying hurt my eyes. And it showed weakness, something I had been taught not to do. But…the flock. This was really, truly and completely the last time Fang, Gazzy, Angel, Max and Nudge would ever be standing before me, comforting me. I remembered when we were outside that place, that old store where my parents were supposed to be, and I'd given up all hope of finding my parents. And Max was right there for me. She brought me back, like they'd all done so many times before. And then what did she do? She actually found my parents. After failing to help me, she then actually did it. God, I would miss them. I would miss them all.

"Goodbye," I whispered into crying little Angel's sweet hair.

"Buh…bye, Iggy," she whispered back.

"It's getting late," Max said forcefully, but I knew sadness tinged her voice. "We should go, guys."

Angel slowly pulled away from me. The footsteps led out the door we'd come through. I recognized Angel Nudge and Gazzy's quiet sobs. Of course. Good ol' Max and Fang. Never shed a tear.

"Won't be the same without you," Gazzy said quietly to me.

"Won't be the same without you, either," I echoed back to him. I listened as they all walked out the door. I followed them to the doorway, and stopped where the carpet ended. Their footsteps faded slowly into the distance, and I stood there long after the sound of their boots died away.

Flock. Gone. Forever.

"James," the woman said quietly.

James? Oh, right, that was my birth name.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"They've left."

"I know," I said.

"Please, come in. There is so much we need to talk about."

"I know," I repeated.

She tenderly touched my arm. "Come in the house, James."

She's your mother, I reminded myself. We've searched for her and my dad, and all our parents for ages. This is what you wanted. It's our dreams, and you're the only one living it.

I slowly shut the door.

"Would you like something to eat?"

I shook my head. I wasn't hungry.

"I can't believe you're really here," Mr. Griffith said. He rubbed my shoulder, and I shifted my wing away form his hand. Now would be a bad time for him to know about it.

"Me neither," I murmured.

"We'll show you your room," Mrs. Griffith – I mean, Mom – suggested. "We'll have to fix it up. It's…a little young for you."

"Still has a crib," he chuckled.

She gently took my hand and guided me down a hall. I listened carefully to everything around me.

Oven fan to the right. There's a kitchen there. Clock ticking down the hall. The clock's far away, so the hall must be long. Probably more rooms down there.

"There's stairs here, watch your step," she warned. We turned to the left and up the stairs. They guided me to a room on the left of the hall at the top.

"This is your room in here," she said. I took a deep breath and coughed out mounds of dust.

"Are you all right?" Dad asked.

"When was the last time this place was dusted?" I coughed.

"Um…" he muttered. "Fourteen years ago."


"Let's give you a tour of the house," Mom suggested, conveniently avoiding that subject.

"Yeah, that's a good idea," I agreed. Always, always know everything about where you are, especially if you plan to be living there.

Starting from that spot, they gave me the grand tour of the house (not too grand, though). I tucked away everything they said. I wasn't going to get lost in my own house. And if an Eraser decided to turn up, I sure as hell wanted to know every exit, including windows.

I also noted that the hallway on the first floor was a good long one, well over twenty feet long. That was much longer than my wingspan, and since no other place in the house except maybe the living room seemed to be that large, then the hallway was where I was going to show them.

"It's almost time for dinner. Are you sure you're not hungry?" Mom asked.

My stomach growled a little at the mention of it. "Yeah, a little."

"What do you want for dinner? We'll have anything you want."

Anything? We so rarely got such a large choice of what to eat…I always just ate whatever was in front of me.

"Um…I don't care," I told her.

"There must be something you like, something special," he said.

"Uh…Not to disappoint you, but I really don't care."

She sighed. "How about we go out to a restaurant?"

What didn't they get about 'I don't care'?

There was a silence of about five seconds. I had no idea what was going on and I suddenly became angry for the first time in about an hour that I was blind.

"Let's go out," she said forcefully. What was with her?

He grumbled slightly.

"This is a special occasion," she reminded him. "This kind of thing doesn't happen every day. And, while we're out, we'll get you new stuff."

"Ok," I said.

I walked to the door, and we went out. Since I had no preference to where we went, we ended up going to a small Chinese place. Apparently my mom loved Chinese

I so wish I could have seen their expressions when I ordered an egg drop soup, two rolls of sushi, a plate of cold noodles, a sweet and sour and chicken and a tiramisu for dessert.

After dinner, my mom's only response to any of it was, "I thought you said you weren't that hungry!"

"I'm not," I replied. "We always eat like that."

"We as in…all of your friends?" my dad said, flabbergasted.

"Yeah, we all do."

"How did the people who took care of you feed you all?"

"They didn't," I said. "No one in particular ever really took care of us."

Oops. Was that the wrong thing to say?

The conversation ended there and I wondered how long our conversations would continue to end in awkward silences. Probably every conversation from now until I moved out.

After that, we went shopping for clothes for me, since I had almost none, and things for my room.

Note to self: don't let a woman shop for you. It takes forever. My feet were so sore after the second hour that my dad and I overpowered her and forced her to stop shopping.

On the bright side, I now had two new pants, four new shirts, new pajamas and a new pair of shoes.

I was told that until we went bed shopping tomorrow, I'd be sleeping in the guest room.

They left me in the guest room to go to bed. The air was stuffy so I went and, after a decent while of scanning the entire freaking wall, opened the window. I lay down in the bed and rolled over, dozing off.

A girl and boy shouted next door through the window. I couldn't make out the words, so I ignored it. One of them hit the other. I ignored it again. Eventually, I fell asleep, shivering as the thought suddenly came back to me that I wasn't sleeping in my bed back at Anne's house, and I didn't hear Gazzy's annoying television from the room next to me.

Because there was no more flock.

2. Day 2

Let's get this clear. I know this part is long, and even worse, it's not particularly interesting. If you don't want to read it, that's perfectly understandable. I promise to do my best next time to make it only long if it's interesting. Swear it.

I woke up in the morning, birds twittering outside. They'd fly off in a minute, take to the sky. I smiled. Only a few people in the world knew what that felt like. You could say I was blessed to be one of those seldom few.

Yeah. Blessed. That's me, the blessed, blind, genetic freak.

I wrapped the covers back over my head, and tried falling back asleep. After a really long time, it eventually became clear that falling back asleep wasn't going to happen.

I grudgingly rolled out of bed. I suddenly remembered that I wasn't in Anne's house anymore. I was in my house. My parent's house. Parent's!

That spark of knowledge woke me up more than usual in the morning. I slumped down to the kitchen for some breakfast. It took a while, but I finally got everything I needed to make some scrambled eggs. While I was taking the spatula to the fluffy eggs, I heard one of my parent's footsteps on the stairs.

My mom gasped. "What are you doing?" she exclaimed.

"Makin' eggs," I mumbled. "I'm hungry. You want some?"

"You're going to burn something down!" she shouted.

"No 'm not," I muttered. "I cook all the time."

She said nothing for a minute, as if trying to grasp the idea that I was cooking. Well…I guess not many teenage guys do cook. Especially ones who can't see.

"Um…yeah…yeah, I'll have some," she finally said.

She walked into the kitchen and slumped into a chair. "How long have you been cooking?" she asked finally.

I took the steaming eggs off the stove and over to her. "For as long as I've had food to cook."

"How many eggs did you make??" she exclaimed.


There was a pause as I put the eggs on the table.

"I'll get silverware," she offered and got up. I sat in her chair and waited for her before I started eating. At the very least, one thing we learned form Anne was not to eat with our fingers. Not that we ever listened. But I decided to wait for the five whole seconds it would take her, anyway.

For once, we had a normal conversation. I found out that I was more like my mom than my dad. And apparently, my mom was a late sleeper, too. We conveniently kept the subject away from me and on her. After all, the awkward topics were only because of me.

Mom said I was a good cook and she wouldn't mind showing me some tricks she knew, along with family recipes and stuff. It seemed like things would actually be…normal. Like I could really live like a normal person. Like life could truly be just…normal. It almost made me forget about the flock, and the school and the whitecoats, for now. Almost.

"So where's Dad?" I asked as she was changing the sheets on her bed while I stood there (okay, I'm not the best son in the world, give me a break, I'm new at this).


I nodded. After a silence, I said, "Well…where does he work?"

She paused. "An…office."

"That sounds interesting," I lied.

More silence. I usually liked silence – I could hear things better. But it's the most annoying thing in the world when you're trying to have a conversation.

"I'm gonna go outside," I said. "Fresh air."

I left. I went out to the front lawn and just laid down in the grass. The sun beat down, rays of heat warming my skin, while the grass underneath cooled me. The neighborhood moved gently around me, a car driving past once in a while, some kids playing a game a little way down the block. Is this what normal life was? I liked it. It was very relaxing.

The next-door-neighbors, the ones I was listening to argue last night, were outside. Just one was. He (or she) was moving around the yard. Some kids wolf-whistled as they skateboarded down the sidewalk.

"Yeah, you want it!" the neighbor shouted. Okay, a girl.

More birds were twittering. I again imagined five or six birds flying around, a little flock, alone in the world, just looking out for each other.

"Hey, you!" the neighbor shouted. At first I ignored her, but then she said, "Blondie! I'm talking to you!"

I sat up.

"Get over here."

Please tell me this isn't an Eraser, or something School-related. I could do with anything but that right now.

I took my time and warily walked to her, stopping about three feet from where she was breathing.

"Hey," she said casually. What, she called me over to say 'hey'? Weirdo.


"What's your name?" she asked.

Okay, so, do I lie, give her James or Iggy? Lying wouldn't do any good, not if she was my new neighbor, and I didn't like James so…


"Iggy? What're you doing around here?"

I snorted. "Well, that's neighborly of you."

"Neighborly?" She paused. "What, you my new neighbor?"

"Do you live here?" I asked.


"Then yes."

"What, did the Griffiths move out?" she asked confusedly. "I don't remember a truck…"

"No, they're not going anywhere."

She paused again, as if figuring something out. "Wait – are you living with the Griffiths?"

Oh, a real bright one.


She laughed a little. "I was wondering how long it would be before they got over it. Finally decided they'd get themselves a replacement kid instead of mourning over a baby they didn't even know for a day. Kind of funny."

I leaned in to her, coming closer to her face. "I don't look like the Griffiths to you?"

She paused, scrutinizing me, I guess. "Actually, you kind of do."

I shook my head. Oh, yeah, a really brilliant one.

"I am their son," I bluntly told the thick-skulled girl. "Their real son. The one they lost when he was born."

"Really?" she asked in wonder. "Their son? Wow, I thought the baby was dead. Everyone but the Griffiths did, but I figured they were in denial. So…" she continued, "where've you been for the past fourteen years, if you're really their son?"

So now, do I tell her and make her think I'm a lunatic, lie, or not tell her? I didn't want her to think I was a lunatic, especially since she might be hot, and there was no good in lying so…

"Long story."

"Well, I've got time," she replied easily.

"And I don't want to talk about it."

There was an uncomfortable silence after that. She broke it by saying, "You're…different."

I jumped. "What's that mean?"

"I dunno," she said lightly, "but every guy I see always at least looks my way, if they're not hitting on me." Oh man, then she was hot. Score! "But you didn't even look at me. Not even with what I'm wearing." Great, now I wish I knew what the heck she was wearing. I could only imagine… "The way I figure it, either you're really religious and don't believe in that stuff, you're dating a girl you're really loyal to, or you just don't care."

Wait – it wasn't incredibly obvious I was blind? Then again, she wasn't the brightest crayon in the box.

"You're wrong," I told her. "All three are wrong."

"Yeah? I can't think of anything else."

Just for the sake of it, I leaned in close until I felt her breath on my face. And that felt really nice. "I'm blind. I can't look at you."

"You're not blind," she said solidly, and surely. Oh yes, let's go deny it, shall we. "Blind people's eyes are messed up and weird looking. Your eyes are perfectly crystal blue…"

…Did she just say I have nice eyes?

"Not all the time. Something can look like it's working and still be broken. Swear to god, I can't see."

She stopped for a second before I felt air gently wash past me in strokes, the smell of nail polish suddenly intoxicating my nose. She's waving her hand in front of me. Because that's not stereotypical at all.

In the distance, I faintly heard my mom calling me. Let her call. This was fun.

"Huh," she muttered. "You are blind."


"Wow. I'm sorry. I don't remember them saying anything about the baby being blind…"

"I wasn't blind when I was born," I told her.

My mom's calls were getting louder. "James!" I heard her shout.

"Your mom's calling you," the girl said. I nodded.

"James, where are you?" my mom called.

"In the yard!" I shouted back. Where I said I'd be.

"We're going out now," she said, coming into the yard. The girl walked away from me, her feet softly brushing the grass. "To buy you a bed."

I nodded.

As we climbed into the car, something occurred to me. I don't even know her name.

3. Day 2, Day 3

I made this one shorter, like I'd promised. Is that good? I hope it's more interesting.

I hate shopping. I've learned that. If we're going to be walking for a while, I can deal with that, as long as we're walking for a reason. But shopping is boring. You just walk around and try out different whatever-it-is-you're-looking-fors and stand in long lines with other bored people.

Ugh. Worse yet, we were shopping for beds, so there weren't even any girl's giggles I could listen to, my equivalent of girl watching.

Time passed, I nearly fell asleep, and we finally found a bed.

The rest of the day passed the same as yesterday. We had a really big turkey for dinner, one that I polished completely off, with little leftovers to spare. I wondered if they'd ever get used to that.

My dad seemed really depressed that afternoon. I had no clue why. He said it was a long day at work, but I didn't think it was that. Jeb – I wince at the name – had taught us to notice every little detail, and to catch lies. I was pretty sure that my dad was lying. Dad and Mom kept pausing at awkward moments around me, as if they were silently talking to each other, maybe mouthing words. It was always during a discussion when we were talking about his work or money. Money issues, I guessed.

Night came. I climbed into the guest room bed – the crib still hadn't been cleaned out of my room. After about two minutes after I finally got settled into bed I got up to go to the bathroom. I walked quietly down the hall, passing the whispering voices in the main bedroom. I caught the words "Did you get any of the jobs?" and paused to listen.

"No," Dad sighed quietly. He groaned. "Everything is going wrong."

"How can you say that?" she asked. "James is finally back. We've been waiting fourteen years for that. That alone makes everything better." I smiled.

"But that's just it!" he groaned. I frowned. "He came back now, when everything's going wrong. I lose my job and then two days later, James comes back. Right when we need every precious cent the most." So that was it. He'd lost his job.

"We have the money from going on TV–"

"That? That's not going to do anything! Sure, it's some money, but you've already spent half of it." Money. Geez, it seemed like the world was run by it.

"Look," she began, "you have more interviews tomorrow. You're bound to get one. And listen. Our prayers have been answered. Every night for the past fourteen years, I've asked for him to come back, I've asked for him to not be dead." Which I barely wasn't. "And here he is. You should be happy about that. Stop worrying. It'll come out okay. Now go to sleep."

The sheets shuffled around and then there was no noise.

So. I come to a family with no money. Well. That sucked.


The next day started the same as yesterday, and I didn't mention what I'd heard the night before. Dad was out doing job interviews, and my mom was now cleaning out my bedroom, which I actually helped with this time.

Later that day, I went outside and laid in the grass again, listening to the birds, and once again imaging their huge graceful wings…

Okay, that's not why I was out there. I was waiting for that girl to come out. I'll admit it. Give me a break, I'm a guy.

After about an hour of waiting, I finally heard her walking down the sidewalk to her house.

"Hi," I said loudly, trying to get her attention.

She stopped and then came over to me. "Hi."

"Where've you been?" I asked. "You weren't outside for a while, and you just came down the sidewalk."

She snorted. "It's called school, Iggy. What, you've never heard of it?"

My heart stopped for a second at the bare mention of the word.

"S…school?" I asked as memory after memory flooded back to me, and I shook my head, trying vainly to push them away.

"Yeah, y'know, that place where evil teachers force you to do grueling work, and you have no say in it, you just have to listen to the lunatics, and do whatever they say, no matter how humiliating."

Oh god, she had absolutely no idea.

"School's a terrible place," I quietly agreed.

"How come you weren't there?" she asked.

I sighed. "Getting settled in first, I guess."

She snorted. "You'll just love our school. I hope you don't get Mrs. Ketcher. I hated that woman when I had her. Evil kid-torturer."

Torture. Poor, naïve girl had no clue what that was like. Memories bombarded me and my throat closed up, my spine tensing. That place… the school…

"The school…what a place…" I muttered.

"Yes, the school," she mocked. "The one and only."

I shook my head. "Never mind. You don't know." I turned to leave. I really didn't need this conversation. I had been ready to talk to her, even a little excited about it, but this wasn't what I bargained for. School. I shuddered. Suddenly the idea of the school became worse, now that the rest of the flock wasn't here to share the fear with me.

Her hand brushed my arm, sending a brilliant thrill through me. "Don't go. I like talking to you."

I stepped back to her. "Really?"

She pressed her soft hand a little harder to my arm and ran it all the way to the end of my t-shirt and back again, sending all of the hairs on my arm on end. "Yeah," she murmured.

My throat dried out. I put my other hand on her arm that touched me. I knew she was hot but…who was she?

"What do you look like?" I asked.

I felt her jump a little.


"Yeah, you know, color hair, skin ton, things like that."

She paused for a second. "Well…I have light skin. And, uh, reddish-brown hair with…blonde highlights. I'm five four. Big brown eyes." I smiled a little. She had to add the 'big'. "A couple freckles. Someone told me once that I have nice legs." Sweet!

"And… what are you wearing?" I asked. I needed to completely picture her perfectly, absolutely, as good as if I could see her standing in front of me.

"Um," she stuttered, "a short denim skirt with a black and white belt. A white tank top. White flip flops." She paused for a second, then quickly said, "Y'know I think I have a few chores to do." She pulled away. "Later, Iggy!" she called behind her.

I blinked. What was that about?

Damn. Forgot to ask her name.

4. Day 3

I have an allusion somewhere towards the end of this section to an old comic I used to read. Old as in 1960's old. You may know it though, but for those of you who don't know it, I swear I didn't make it up.

I was fooling around with a radio that must have been sitting in the basement longer than Tut was in his freaking tomb. My mom said I could take it apart, since it didn't work anyway, and I was about halfway through setting it to catch army radio waves – hey, you never know when you might want to know top-secret government whatnot – when the front door opened and my dad walked in.

"I'm home!" he shouted.

I left the radio and walked into the living room. "Hi," I said, leaning against the wall. "How was work?" I asked, making it pretty clear that work didn't exist.

"Oh, same as usual," he said.

"I don't know what usual is. How was it?" Hopefully, I could get him to admit it himself.

He sighed, and sat on the couch, rustling the cushions. "Paperwork…filing…it's not interesting at all."

I sat down on the couch next to him. "Where do you work?" I asked.

"Is your mother around?" he asked. Way to change the subject.

"She's down the block talking to one of the neighbors. She'll be back to make dinner in a minute. What kind of company do you work at?"

He sighed sadly.

"Look," he said, putting a hand on my shoulder. Boy, he had a bad habit of doing that. I moved my wing. "I…a few days before you came back, my boss…well…" He groaned. "How do I put this?"

"How about 'my boss fired me and I'm out of a job'?" I suggested helpfully.

He stopped. "How'd…you find out?"

I shrugged and turned my head to the ground. "I overheard you and Mom the other day talking about it."

He sighed sadly. "I'm sorry, James," he said. "I wish there was some way we could get more money but…we can't. Not right now."

I nodded understandingly. This was generally a really bad thing. Really bad. A spark of curiosity arose in me.

"What did you used to do, anyway?" I asked.

"I used to work with machines. Put 'em together, and stuff. Take apart broken ones for the parts."

I remembered something. "Which reminds me, I have to clean the radio off the kitchen table," I said.

"What?" he asked confusedly.

"Yeah, I was taking apart an old radio. I'll move it upstairs so we can eat dinner."

"You were taking apart…a radio?" he asked incredulously.

"Yeah. Broken thing. I was fixing it," I said. He just stood there for a minute not saying anything, and his perplexity embarrassed me. "I'm just gonna…go clean that up," I mumbled, quickly going to the kitchen.

I cleaned up the table and an hour later we were eating dinner, like a normal family. My dad told my mom about how he hadn't gotten any of the jobs he'd interviewed for, but there was one more he was going for tomorrow, so he might get that one. My mom announced that my room was almost done, and that my dad just needed to get the bed, which was now in the garage collecting dust, for me to finally move in.

There was one more announcement my mom made that nearly made me choke on my food.

"James," she said, "I'm going to the school first thing tomorrow to enroll you."

I spewed my drink halfway across the table.

"James!" my mom shouted.

"School??" I asked incredulously. Get a hold of yourself, Iggy, I warned myself. You don't want to freak out like you did in front of that neighbor girl. I pulled myself together and took a long deep breath.

"Of course," she replied. "What, did you think you'd get out of that?"

"I kind of hoped I would," I grumbled into my cup.

Ugh. School. Why was that word constantly hanging over my head?


Later that day, after my dad had put my bed upstairs, I walked into the living room to hear random blurbs coming from the TV.

"Temperature of," – Bzzt – "You'll never know," – Bzzt – "Again, one eight hundred," – Bzzt – "You'll get a wonderful shine," – Bzzt –

"What are you doing?" I asked whoever was flipping through the TV channels.

"Watching television," my dad answered. I went over and sat down next to him.

After a minute more of random blurbs and bzzts, I asked, "Are you going to stop at a station?"

"There's nothing on," he answered. Finally there were no more bzzts and he stopped at a station.

Some sort of action music was playing and it sounded kind of like a fight scene.

"What's this?" I asked.

"An old show I used to watch," he said. "Spider-man."

I thought I'd heard of that before, but I wasn't sure. "Spider-man?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "You mean you've never heard of him? James, there's a lot I have to show you."

Um, okay…

"Spider-man was this cool comic superhero with spider powers. Marvel created him. He wasn't my favorite superhero that they made though," he rambled. "The X-Men were. They were the best ones. The old group though, not the new one."

What was he talking about?

"Uh…" I said, "What the heck is an X-Men?"

"The X-Men," he began, "were a group of teenage mutant superheroes."

Wait – mutant?

"…Mutant?" I asked slowly.

"Yeah," he said. "There was Cyclops – he had laser vision." Laser vision? I think I might've remembered one of the poor doomed subjects at the School having laser vision. "And Jean was my favorite." Jean…gene…genetic…God, why am I so warped? Oh I know why. I'm a genetic freak. "She could move things with her mind." I definitely remembered there being at least one like that.

"What else?" I asked, completely engrossed. Mutants. Where did these ideas come from? And this was all fake, right?

"There was Beast. He wasn't very interesting. Just really agile." Agile. Well, technically that was a genetically enhanced feature, since they did that to us. "And Ice Man. Pretty simply. He could create and manipulate ice and snow." Okay, definitely did not remember any experiment like that. "And of course, the most important was Professor X." That sounded like the kind of name that Gazzy would invent. "He could read and control people's minds."

I froze. Angel, I thought. God, that is exactly like Angel. Angel reads people's minds, Angel controls people's minds –

"And probably one of the cooler powers was Angel."

Oh, yeah, that wasn't a coincidence at all.

"He had huge white wings."

My heart skipped three beats. He did not just say what I though he said.

"W – wing?" I stuttered, disbelievingly. Why, oh, why must it be wings?

Calm yourself, I told myself, it's just an imaginary comic.

Wait – maybe the whitecoats got their original ideas from this comic. I wondered…

"Yeah," he said. "Big wings, that could take him higher than planes could go. I always thought that it would be amazing to do that. Wouldn't that be really incredible?"

"Yeah," I breathed. "Just…incredible."

"I can only imagine what that would be like." He stopped for a second and then went on quickly, "It's all fake, though. Stop looking like it's so weird."

I nodded slowly and tensely. "All…fake…"

I couldn't put it off any longer. This whole conversation had reminded me that one of these days I was going to have to show them my wings. I had to show them. Better sooner than later. They had to know.

"Dad, there's something I have to tell you and Mom," I announced, standing up.

"What is it?" he asked casually.

"Mom needs to be here."

"Rita!" he shouted loudly, startling me. In a few seconds, Mom came down the hallway from the stairs.

"Yes?" she said.

I stood in front of the TV and sought the top of it for the power button. I found it and turned it off.

"There's something really important I have to tell – show – you," I said, shrugging off my jacket. "It has to do with where I've been."

I completely had their attention now.

"I just want you to be prepared," I warned them, "for anything. Let nothing surprise you. Everything is weird."

"What?" Dad asked, completely lost.

I sighed. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, so I'll show you."

Slowly, I unfolded my wings, pushing them through the slits in my shirt and extending the feathered things wide and completely out to their fullest length. My right wing brushed the wall, my left touching a flowerpot.

In complete shock, they said nothing.

"What…buh…wings…" my mother stuttered. I felt myself growing hot. I wished they would say something real soon. This was getting awkward.

Then again, I guess there was no way it couldn't have been awkward. How many people have you come across that just have wings? 'Yeah, I'm your missing son and by the way, I have wings and can fly.' There we go. That wouldn't scare anybody off at all.

One of them got off the couch – Mom – and slowly brushed my wings with her hand.

"Are these real?" she breathed.

"Um…yeah," I answered, flustered. Max had told someone before, someone named Dr. Martinez, but it had been because she needed to, because otherwise her wing may have healed completely wrong. Which would be bad. She hadn't told us much about it until we all seemed okay with letting people know about us. Which was around right after we went to that diner with the evil manager. But she said that it was a really awkward moment. Maybe she'd felt something like I did now.

"And you can…fly with them?" she asked.

"Yeah," I answered.

"Just like Angel," my dad said.

I fiddled with a loose piece of string on my shirt. "Are you gonna hate me now, cause I'm a freak?" I asked quietly. Say no, please say no.

"Of course not," my mom said. "They're…beautiful."


I folded my wings back in so they wouldn't get tired from being held out so long.

"How'd you get them?" my dad asked.

I smiled weakly. "That's a very long story." Should I tell them? I guessed they had a right to know. Yeah. They did. What secrets am I hiding? "So let's all sit down, cause this may take a while."

5. Day 3, Day 4

Huzzah! I finally finished this part. Sorry it took so long. Major case of school-overload and writer's block.

I think I may have fried their brains. They were completely horrified at my stories. They, and everyone else on the planet, reasonably should be. It sent a boiling hatred inside me as I retold them.

When I finished, my mom slowly stood up off the couch. "I need to call someone. People need to know about this."

I jumped up. "No!" I impulsively shouted.

"James," she said, "People need to know. You can't hold something like this in the dark. These people need to be punished after what they've done."

I sighed and walked slowly to her. "I know. But I'm just asking you not to tell anyone. I know they're bad, I know that more than anyone. But if there's one thing you can do for me, that's not to tell anybody."

"We have to tell –"

"If we wanted people to know, we'd have told them by now."

There was a tense silence while we stood there, holding our ground. I knew people had to know, but there was no way in heaven or hell I was going to be shown off like a carnival sideshow. If she told anyone about the demon spawns, people would need proof, and I was that proof. Then they'd come look at the freaky bird kid like he's some sort of museum exhibit. Yeah. Not on my life.

"Fine," she finally conceded, a bit dejectedly. "Fine. If you don't want people to know then…then no one will know."

I let out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness.

"Night," I mumbled. "I'm going to bed."

The next day when I woke up, my dad was already gone. Off for his interviews.

Over the course of the day, my mom kept asking me annoying questions about me, the School, my friends (which I kept the info on to a minimum), the whitecoats and everything. She kept bugging me about it, so I went outside to avoid her.

The time passed really, really slowly. We'd all for so long really wanted a normal, decent home life, but none of knew how god damn boring it was.

Eventually, my dad came home. He didn't get the job. Oh. Wonderful.

I sat outside on the curb of the sidewalk with my no-longer-broken radio, turning the transmission dial to pass the time while I waited. I only got a signal once, but it was something about donuts. Finally, what I was waiting for came. Light footsteps approached from the sidewalk. I smiled as I recognized the footsteps of the awesomely hot neighbor chick. Someone was walking with her though, someone with much heavier footfalls.

"Hey, I'll see you later," some guy said. "I have to go somewhere."

"Later," neighbor girl said. He walked away.

I dropped my radio by my mailbox and walked over to her.

"Hey," I greeted.


"So who was that?" I asked her.

"My b…brother," she answered. "Well, not really," she continued quickly. "He's like a brother, but we're not related." Oh, good, the flock and me aren't the only lunatics out there who are like that.

"Buhbrother?" I asked, raising my eyebrow, smiling.

"Yes," she responded. "Buhbrother." She laughed a little, and I joined her.

"I have a quick question for you," I said, remembering something.

"Mm-hmm, what?"

"What's your name?"

She laughed. "Took you long enough. Sheila."

"Sheila…" I repeated, playing the word over my tongue.

"My friends call me Shell."

I smiled. "Shell?"

"Sometimes Seashell."

I laughed. "Nutty people."

She laughed, too. "Yeah, they are. Oh," she exclaimed. "I just remembered, I'm going out with them soon. They'll be here in a minute."

I nodded, almost barely hoping for a second that she might invite me. They're probably all girls, I thought, both drooling at the thought and realizing that she wasn't going to invite me. Damn.

There was a muffled buzzing sound coming from somewhere by Shell's side. There was a shuffling, the zipping of a zipper, and then the buzzing became clearer. A snapping sound as if something was being opened. A click of a button. "Hang on a sec," Shell told me. "Hey," she said. "Yeah, I'm ready. I'm outside right now. 'Kay. See you in a minute." The snapping shut of the thing, more shuffling, the zipper again, and then she stopped.

"Sorry about that," she said. "My friends just called. They'll be here in a minute to pick me up."

I nodded. "Have fun with them," I told her.

The next second, a car engine purred up along side us.

"Later, Iggy," she said, walking away.

"Later," I called back. The car door opened, then shut, then the car drove off.

I sighed. I had really been hoping for that to be more eventful.

Oh well. Plenty of time for things to get interesting. I was going to be here a long time.

I walked back over to my radio, but was stopped by a soft crinkling of a stiff paper under my foot. I bent down and picked it up. It was smooth on one side and even smoother, even slippery, on the other, minus a mark with pen. It felt like a photograph. I felt over the pen mark that had been engraved into it.

It didn't feel like anything but gibberish. I'd work on figuring it out later, to pass the time. Since, I'd have to admit, this normal life stuff, that we – the flock – I sighed sadly at the memory of them – that we had all been wanting for so long?

Starting to get really boring.

6. Day 4

It has arrived. Sorry I kept you waiting. There are three unrelated themes to this part in the beginning section because i wrote them at three different times, and still was unsure what to do. I actually think this chapter is pretty good.

"Mom?" I said, flipping the photo over in my hands.

"Yes?" she replied.

"What's on this photo?" I asked.

She moved over to me and took the picture from my hands.

"It's a teenage girl and guy in prom clothes," she said after a moment.

I thought about that for a second. I thought about when I'd gotten the picture. It had been right after talking to Shell so…it might be Shell in the picture. If it was, then the guy was probably a boyfriend. Which meant she wasn't single. Which meant I didn't have a chance.

Unless, of course, they'd already broken up by now.

Unless, of course, the girl in the picture wasn't even Shell.

"And in the corner there's a heart with the letters S.E. and A.B."

The S.E. could be Shell's initials. I had no clue who A.B. could be, though. Maybe the guy, I guessed.

I shook my head. I'd find out later. She pushed the picture back into my hands.

"Thanks," I said. "If you want me, I'll be upstairs."

I went upstairs and threw the picture on the bed. Okay, I thought. What now?

I wished I knew what the flock was doing. There was never a dull moment with them, not even in the long months with Anne.

I wondered what they were doing right now. I wondered if they were already moving on without me. I remembered the sound of Gazzy, Angel and Nudge's cracking, broken, crying voices, and it seemed like we'd never move on without each other. We needed each other, the six of us. At least, I knew I needed them. A flock of six, not five. I felt like such an outcast. Like I could never fit in anywhere but with the flock, as sappy as it all sounds.

And if Fang and Gazzy knew I was thinking these grossly sappy things, they'd torment me with it until the end of time.

I shook my head. Forget it. It's not happening, I thought. They're gone. Face it.

Not long passed when I heard shouting downstairs. I couldn't tell if it was angry or happy shouting. I shot out of my room and leaned over the railing of the stairs.

"Everything's going great!" I heard from my dad. "I can't believe it!"

Happy, then.

"I'm so happy!" my mom shouted gleefully. I darted downstairs, and came out to hear that they hadn't even noticed me there.

"What's going on?" I asked, confused.

"James!" my mom exclaimed, and I suddenly, without any warning, was being squeezed tightly, and, as weak as she was compared to me, she somehow managed to grab onto a handful of feathers and practically pulled them out. It was a sensation similar to someone ripping three strands of hair out at a time. "James, I'm so happy!"

"Mom," I spurted out. "Wings…let go…"

"Right," she said, suddenly letting go.

There was an awkward pause. I guessed that maybe those were coming back into style. I broke it by asking, "What's so great that's going on?"

"Your father got called back by one of the employers!" my mom exclaimed. "The other guy that was picked changed his mind about taking the job, and Tom – I mean, your father – he got the job!"

I grinned widely. Well, that was good.

"That's great news!" I said, hugging my mom back.

"We're going out tonight, to celebrate," my dad announced. I smiled even wider.

Life was starting to look pretty good. Really good actually. Despite that little odd thing with the picture, I had a hot neighbor chick. We were now going to have money. It didn't matter that I was a freak, my parents still loved me. I had a family, a real one. I ignored the absence of flock. Outside of that, everything was looking really good.

After all this time, you'd think, you would really think, that I would learn that that never ever, ever lasts.


I was really happy on our way back from dinner. My parents still weren't getting over the volume of what I ordered, but they'd have to deal with it. Money was coming in, right?

When we got back home, I went straight to my room. I had nothing better to do. I remembered back at Anne's house, sometimes I'd stay up a little late just to watch TV or blog –

I jolted up, which ended up not working out so well since I was changing my pants at the time. I fell on the floor. I grumbled and groped for my bed.

Blog. Duh. I could find out what the flock was doing and talk to them and everything. Blog. Of course.

Gotta love the internet.

I finished putting on my pajama pants first this time, then got up and wandered out the door. I remembered an office being somewhere downstairs. I eventually found it, and heard a low whirring of a computer running. Perfect.

I ran to the computer and ran my hands around the area, and found the keyboard and mouse.

I held one hand tentatively over the keyboard, the other, over the mouse. Something struck me.

Stupid, I thought, you can't see what the hell's on the screen.

With the flock, it had always been the flock who told me what I was supposed to be looking at. What I was supposed to be reading. But they weren't here, which was why I was in front of this godforsaken contraption in the first place.

I clenched my hands into fists. Godammit, why the hell did I have to be blind??

My hands curled and uncurled. It was so unfair. If I could see the freaking computer, I'd know. That's all I wanted. Just to know. But nooo….

A boiling anger welled in my dead eyes. Why me? If it wasn't for those warped freaks of nature who like to call themselves scientists, maybe I'd be sitting right where I was right now, except I'd be playing a useless video game, I wouldn't have wings, I would have sat in this chair a million times before, and most importantly – I would not be BLIND.

I grabbed the closest thing to my hand, which happened to be the mouse, and I ripped it off it's cord, and threw it with as much force as I could at the opposite wall. There was a crashing sound like a picture frame breaking, then a clunk as the mouse fell then a louder clunk and the sound of glass shattering on the ground. My hands found their way to something else – it felt like a mug – and I threw that, too. It shattered and a piece careened into my cheek.

I fell to the floor. "Why?" I muttered. "Dammit, why?"

Out of all of the six of us, there had only been one hugely disastrous genetic engineering mistake. One. And who was it on? You've got three guesses to try. And if you can't get it on the first one, you're as dull as Shell.

"Why me?" I moaned quietly.

Someone was moving around upstairs. I slowly moved into a sitting position. The steps came down the staircase, and I pushed myself onto the chair. The footsteps sounded more like my dad's, and he found his way to the office door and opened it.

"What's going on in here?" he exclaimed. I sat, my head turned blankly ahead of me, suddenly aware that my cheeks were cold with tears.

"James," he said and walked to me, putting his arm around me. "James, what's wrong?"

I didn't move at all. Only my lips moved. "Why me?" I whispered. "Out of so many people…"

"It's okay," he comforted. "It's all fine."

He had no idea what I was even talking about. I bent my head over my hands. He had no idea that I was talking about, how I had to be the unluckiest of the six of us unlucky kids. Blind, for god's sakes! Why me?

Maybe I wasn't the unluckiest. At least I actually had my parents. But there was an empty feeling in me where the flock was supposed to be…and my parents just weren't filling it.

7. Day 5

It's here, my dedicated readers! A totally single-themed chapter. I'm shocked, and I just felt the need to say this, but I've never had a favorite/alert for story/author ever, and this one story got me ten favorite/alert for story/author. It astounds me. And pleases me. Enjoy :)

I woke up late the day after. Later than usual, anyway. My mom was still in good spirits, reasonably. The idea that this life could be a relatively comfortable life cheered me up some, too. My dad wasn't there – he was at work.

I didn't want to go to school, believe me. But my mom said that I was starting next Monday. She said she was giving me the first week off. For reasons I'll never know, but I was certainly happy about it.

Three o'clock finally rolled around and I was standing outside with the smooth picture in my hand, running my fingers over it again.

"Hey," Shell said as she walked up to me.

"Hey," I said, smiling at her. "Is this yours?" I handed her the picture. "I think you dropped it yesterday."

She took it from me and didn't say anything for a minute. "Um…" she nervously said and I raised an eyebrow. Maybe it was her in the picture. "Yeah, it's mine," she said quickly.

"Is that you in the picture?" I asked flatly.

She hesitated. It probably was. "No," she answered. Liar.

I sighed. Whatever. If she wanted me to think that, that was fine.

There was an awkward silence. Apparently those silences really were coming back into style. Oh joy.

"You ever had a girlfriend, Iggy?" Shell asked out of the blue.

"What?" I asked, completely lost.

"Ever had a girlfriend?" she repeated.

Where did that come from? I wished I were Angel. She'd have known.

"…No," I answered.

"Hmm," she muttered. "Just wondering."

What kind of a question was that? My heart leaped, then dropped again. I could only wish that she wanted to be my girlfriend, and that was why she asked. But the chances of that were slim.

"So if you've never had a girlfriend, what've you been doing for the last fourteen years?" she asked incredulously.

Where were all these random questions coming from?

"Places," I mumbled quietly. "Where, uh, I wouldn't have a girlfriend."

"Huh," she said almost matter-of-factly. "Places where you couldn't have a girlfriend? That must suck."

I snorted. "You don't know the half of it."

She paused. More awkward silence. What's new about that?

"I'm sorry," she said, putting her hand on my arm. "Sorry that you never could've had your own girl."

The arm thing again. It sent a shock through up my arm. "Never bothered me," I said. I didn't have time to be bothered about things like that. Busy worrying about dying, running from Erasers, and the other kinds of things that happen in my daily life.

"Oh, I'm sorry. You've been missing out on something great," she cooed, putting her other hand on my other arm. The close proximity was getting to me, and her smell permeated my nose. It was great.

"Been getting a lot of that lately," I mumbled under my breath.

She ran her hands a little bit over me. "Where the hell have you been? Seriously, what kind of place was this, that you don't know anything about anything?"

I turned my head downward. "Hell," I answered.

She laughed a little. "Couldn't have really been hell," she replied giddily.

"Yeah, it was. What's hell sound like to you?"

"Um…" she said. "Fire, and evil demons, and Satan, and pain." She chuckled evilly. "Lots of pain."

I nodded slowly, putting my hand over hers.

"Yeah, that's about right. Especially the last part."

I felt her shudder. "Sorry," I said, pulling my hand away from hers, dropping it by my side.

"No, no," she said, "It's not that." She slowly put my hand back on hers. "You don't have to stop."

We just stood there like that. Just…stood there. It felt different. Different than anything I'd ever felt.

She leaned in to me, until I felt her soft breath on my lips. I leaned in a little, letting my body think for me, letting it control what I did. We slowly leaned in to one another, and the anticipation gave me goose bumps. My heartbeat quickened. Our lips brushed. My skin grew hot and my lips working their way closer. With all of this, I barely noticed the heavy footsteps coming down the sidewalk.

Shell suddenly pulled away and ran, leaving me lost and confused.

"Later!" she called, all the way back from what sounded to be as far as her porch. I was still standing in the same position, my arms still out, my head still a little bent over.

What on earth was that?

I hated girls.


I listened to the crickets out on my porch that night, after a late dinner, and my dad's description of what sounded like a very boring day to me, although I feigned interest.

There were sounds coming from Shell's house that I was trying vainly to ignore.

There would be shouting, then a hard, smacking sound, then more indecipherable shouting, then more hitting. I could tell that one of the voices was Shell's, and it sounded pleading. It had all already been going on when I walked outside. I had been weighing my options for a minute, and finally decided to get up and help. She was a nice girl, and she didn't deserve to be hit, as I assumed she was being right now.

I made it to the window when the sounds stopped. There was the slamming of a door. Then I heard only a soft crying.

I listened. It was definitely Shell. I knocked on the window, to catch her attention. I didn't pay attention to the cold air around me, only the thing I'd heard.

The sounds went silent. I knocked again. I knew she could see me, I knew she could hear me. Why wasn't she answering?

I kept knocking, but there was no sound. None at all. After a while, when I grew annoyed of this silence, I left, walking back to the house.

What was going on? I knew she was in there. What was with her?

8. Day 6 The Final Day 1

This is where I got the whole idea for the fanfic from - this one chapter right here. I've been dreaming about how to do this part for a while. Pleased to say that it didn't come out horribly. I really hope you like this chapter.

It was later the next day. I had gotten up even later than the day before, sometime in the afternoon.

I fiddled with the pieces of what was to be a time bomb. I had no use for bombs now – I didn't think so, at least. Who knew? Maybe an Eraser would show up. Never knew when one of those would pop up, usually at exactly the wrong time.

The pieces were scattered all around me. I inserted the negative attachment wire into the bomb, my sensitive fingers finding and locking the metal in place, and it was pretty much done. The outer shell just needed to be put on now. I specifically chose this specific type of time bomb because I didn't need to know the colors of the wires, so I could do it by myself.

There was a knock on the door.

"Yeah?" I called.

The door creaked open a little. "Oh good. I didn't feel like looking all over for you," my mom said.

I turned away from the mechanical stuff to listen to my mother. "What were you looking for me for?"

"You have nothing planned for the weekend, right?" she asked casually.

I snorted. "No," I said with an air of what-did-you-think?

"Good," she said. "Because we were planning something. A few people are going to be seeing you this weekend."

And with that, she had my attention. "Like who?" I asked warily.

"A couple people who're going to ask you a few questions," she answered way too coolly.

"Questions?" I said robotically. "What kind of questions?" I never felt comfortable being asked questions. Like those people at the hospital. When asked a question, it had been taught in my nature to lie.

"Just some things about you, like your past and stuff."

I clenched my teeth together, gripping the bomb in my hand. This had better not be what I thought it was. "And where are these people from?" I asked.

"Magazines, newspapers, things like that."

I didn't say anything. I tightened my grip around the time bomb. She had gotten newspapers to come here and ask me questions – interview me. Like the freak I was.

"I asked you not to tell anyone."

"It's only a few people," she comforted. "They're not going to hurt you, I promise."

The metal of the bomb pressed hard into my hand. I was like that bomb. Ready to go off any second, but no one knew when. Tick, tick…

"I only asked you one thing, and that was not to tell anyone," I snapped quietly. Tick, tick, tick…

"James, I don't see what the problem with telling people is–"

Click. Kaboom. "Because I told you not to!" I shouted, jumping off the bed. "I only wanted one thing here, and that was hopefully to stay as normal as possible. And you go tell newspapers? Magazines? I can't believe you!"

"Calm down, it's not that bad—"

"Don't tell me to calm down!" I shrieked. "I'm the one who's been…" I sought for the word, "betrayed!" You think I'd know that word off the top of my head by now, considering how often I have to use it.

"What's going on?" my dad said, coming from nowhere. He must've walked in while I was shouting.

"'What's going on?'" I repeated. "I'll tell you what's going on? My own parents betrayed me, that's what's going on!"

"Betray? What?" he said bewilderedly.

I threw the bomb on the ground in frustration. It started ticking, unfortunately – I had forgotten that this one was pretty much finished. I scooped it up, feeling it roll in my hand, and every tick sent a soft sensation through my hand. "I wanted you to do one thing for me – one! To not tell anyone about me! That's it! And you went ahead and did it anyway!" The bomb continued ticking. It would go off in about fifteen, twenty seconds.

"James, what is that?" my mom breathed.

I threw the thing, and I heard it whiz past them and clunk in the hall outside.

"I'm a freak!" I continued angrily. "Don't pretend I'm not! I'm a freak of nature! A human being with wings! Freaks go into freak shows! That was the one damned thing I didn't want! And you go ahead and put me in one!"

"We are not putting you in a freak show!" my dad retorted.

"You're displaying me for the world to see!" I screamed back. "Newspapers, magazines, TV shows, too, I bet! How many of them did you call??"

There was silence as they didn't respond, then a huge, ground-shaking explosion rippled through the floor. It wasn't too much, but it would certainly at least blow a hole in the wall.

"What the—"

"How many?" I demanded, ignoring the bomb.

There was another silence, but I could feel the tension in the quiet. They wanted to know what my bomb had done to their hall. Screw that, they could wait.

My mother answered very softly, very quietly, almost imperceptibly. "Eight," was the almost silent reply.

"Eight???" I shrieked, in an absolute rage. "You called eight?? My own parents called eight separate companies that would put me on the circus sideshow? Parents aren't supposed to do that! My parents are not supposed to betray me!" Parents couldn't do that. They just couldn't. People like that simply couldn't be related to me. "Maybe you're not my parents," I suddenly understood. "You can't be. You just can't."

"Now listen here," my dad said, as if he were actually trying to take authority of the situation. "You are our son and we are your parents."

"No!" I grabbed a handful of bomb supplies and threw them with all my force at the wall, scattering them everywhere. The woman – my mom, maybe, but I wasn't sure – yelped in surprise.

"A parent is someone who watches over their kids, and cares for them!" I shouted, a shudder in my voice. "A parent is someone who does anything for their child, and protects them, and is there for them, through thick and thin! You're not that," I spat. "You didn't even last real parenthood for a week!"

The impact of what I said sunk in. It sunk in even more on me than on them, I think. Of all the kids on the planet, I needed more support than just about any other. And my 'parents' just made my life worse. That's not what a parent does. So they weren't parents. They weren't my parents.

"I should be able to trust my own parents!" And then it hit me. The truth came out, and the revelation broke through. "I should have listened to Jeb," I hissed. "I should have remembered what he said. He said you can't trust anyone. Not anybody. Not one single person. I didn't think that included my parents.

"Then again, even he betrayed us, and he was our dad for two years."

"Just calm down for a minute," Mrs. Griffith said, brushing my arm with hers, her soft skin barely touching the hairs on my arm. I pulled away, and stepped back, my leg hitting the wooden bedpost.

"I've only been able to trust five people!" I shouted, my voice returning to a fervent roar. "Five! Imagine that! You've been able to trust a ton of people, I bet! Tons! I've been able to trust five! And I left those five so I could be with you!"

"Please, you can trust us, James—"

"Don't call me that!" I shrieked in anger. "My name is not James! My name is Iggy! It has always been Iggy, and it always will be Iggy! Just because you chose a name fourteen years ago for me, doesn't make it my name! My name hasn't been James, and it never…will be!"

I shoved past them. I couldn't stay here. Not with people I couldn't bear the sound of, the very presence of. I had to go back to my flock – that was my family.

"Where are you going?" Mr. Griffith called to my back.

"Goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. Griffith!"

There was a pause as I entered the hall, and the still smoldering smell of the bomb pervaded the air.

"Thank you," I called back, "for a fun visit!"

I was already racing down the stairs when I heard Mrs. Griffith's call behind me, wailing, "Ja—Iggy! Iggy! Son! Come back!" Tears stained her words, and I couldn't bear hearing her with anger making my body shake. She wanted me back? After going behind my back like that?

In her dreams.

"Iggy!" the two called, running behind me. I shot out the front door.

Never to return.

"He'll return," Tom reassured himself, nervousness tingeing his voice, as the married couple stood in the door of their little house. "He has to. I mean – he didn't take anything with him. He can't just leave without anything." He let out a feeble chuckle.

"Tom," Rita whispered, watching her only son go, his hair, a mimicry of her own, shining in the sun, his avian wings rippling in anger beneath his jacket. She's never gotten over that weird, freakish surprise.

"Heck, all teenagers get angry. They always come back. They always do in the movies." He looked down at his wife for reassurance. The movies were the only way he'd been able to imagine how life could have been if his son had never disappeared.

"I don't think this is a movie," she said under her breath.

"But," he said, James – Iggy – still walking even farther away, "he has to come back. I mean, he left here with nothing. No clothes, no money…" He nervously laughed again.

"Tom," his wife whispered, gripping her husband's sleeve. "He…came…with nothing. He's never needed anything. Even when he thought he needed parents, he didn't."

9. Day 6 The Final Day 2

Sorry about the confusion. But this, and chapter eight, are not the last chapters. The last chapter is coming eventually, but not yet.

I have a few things to say at the end of this chapter that I feel are relatively important. But I won't give out any spoilers yet.

I stormed out of the house, and didn't pay the slightest attention to the slapping of my feet against the pavement. I accidentally stumbled out into the street, off the sidewalk, pissing me off even more because I almost tripped over the curb.

I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't. The six of us had always dreamed of parents. Perfect parents. Like Jeb had been. Our first clue should have been when he betrayed us.

Tears welled in my eyes.

No, I warned myself, you've cried enough. Imagine if the flock saw how many times you cried while you were here. The thought made me chuckle a little. They'd be all over me, telling me what a baby I was. Which is exactly what I was being.

I guess I'd grown soft while I was there.

That didn't matter though, since I wasn't going back.

"Iggy!" the gentle voice of my neighbor called to me.

I whirled. "What?!" I shouted.

She hesitated, taken aback. "Um…where are you going?" she asked hesitantly.

"Away!" I snapped, turning my heel. A sense of sadness came over me that I would never see Shell again. The sadness was immediately covered by the bitter reminder of the high chances that she already had a boyfriend, and it didn't matter.

"Why?" she asked, and I heard her footsteps coming up close behind me. I stopped. My anger subsided for a minute, as I waited in the chilly autumn air for her to come to me.

"Where you leaving to?" she asked curiously, now standing beside me.

"I'm leaving," I said, spitting fury, the anger now returning, "because my 'parents' are jerks."

"Parents are like that," Shell answered coolly. Her calmness drove me insane. She just didn't get it! "How long you gonna be gone?"

She really didn't get it. "I'm not coming back!" I shouted, though the fire was beginning to die now.

That got her. "Ever?" she inquired incredulously.

"No," I replied, pleased that I was finally getting through to her. "They betrayed me, and I'm not staying around with people like that."

There was a silence as she put together what I said.

"I have to go now," I said, getting impatient. It suddenly occurred to me that my destination was back with the flock, at Anne's home, and excitement and anticipation welled in me at the thought of being with them again.

"No!" she exclaimed, grabbing the sleeve of my jacket.

I wrenched my arm out from between her fingers. "Nice knowing you," I said bitterly.

"At least stay for a little bit," she suggested quickly and nervously. "I mean, you never even got to see my house. You can stay for a little while longer, can't you?"

I thought about that. Honestly, spending some time with Shell did sound fun. And I wouldn't have another chance at another girl…

"Yeah, I guess so," I decided. "Are the Griffiths outside?" I asked. I didn't want them to see me go into her house. If they did, they'd come after me, and I didn't need that. I didn't need that at all.

She stopped, I guess to look, then answered, "No, they're inside."

I snorted. Figures. They couldn't even watch me leave. Forgetting about me already, are we? I thought resentfully.

I felt her dragging me and I followed her lead, down her front path. I almost tripped up the porch stairs, the considerate girl having oh-so-intelligently not forewarned me about the steps.

We entered her house and the first thing I smelled was candles. Lot of candles. Scented candles. It was the smell of fire burning and wax melting.

"Candles?" I asked in confusion.

"Mom likes them," she answered automatically, taking me down a hallway straight ahead. I smelled the candles mostly in a room we passed on the right. I couldn't even imagine what was going on in there. "She's not home," she explained. "She just has them on so the house smells like freaking burning wax for all the rest of us."

I smiled a little. Then she didn't like the smell either.

She continued dragging me down a hall. She turned us left, and then stopped.

Without any warning at all, she shoved me back, and I found myself sitting on a soft, squishy couch with some sort of scratchy cloth-like material covering it.

"Hey!" I exclaimed. A heavyweight shifted the cushion of the couch to the left of me, and there was a loud sound of springs bouncing.

"Well, we're in my house now," she said. She was sitting close to me, so close that our arms brushed.

"Yeah…" I said. I was more than little confused. But the feeling of her skin on mine temporarily shrouded my anger at those people.

She brushed closer to me, pressing her hand to my arm.

"We're all alone right now," she told me. "No one else is home."

Alone…in a quiet room, with no one else…


I didn't say anything as my mouth went dry. My throat closed up a little.

"You said you never had a girl," she said. "Have you ever wanted one?"

I slowly comprehended what she was saying. "Yeah…" I answered hesitantly.

She wrapped her arm behind my back. Goosebumps covered me. I wasn't totally sure how to respond. Was she…hitting on me? I wasn't sure.

Whatever she was doing, I didn't want her to stop.

"Good," she whispered.

She leaned in more, turning me to face her.

"Hope you don't mind," she whispered, clasping her hands behind my neck.

My mouth hung open. I couldn't believe this was happening. It was so…surreal. She pressed herself to me.

This was the most contact I'd had with her. Or any girl, for that matter. Or anyone, outside of sleeping with the flock when we were on the run from something School-related.

The next thing I knew, she had her lips against mine. An electric shock coursed my body, and I pulled my arms behind her back, pulling her closer to me.

Her mouth opened slightly and her tongue tentatively caressed my lips. I opened my mouth and her tongue went in to explore.

Everything that had ever happened or was going to happen flew away right then. I didn't worry about what was to come, and I didn't worry about what had happened. All I worried about was caressing every inch of Shell with my hands. Her skin was soft, and her hair was loose and there for me to run my sensitive fingers through.

We made out for a while, and I loved every second of it. Her hands explored around my neck, and down my jacket. I did the same to her.

Her hands went a little lower, down to the bottom of my jacket, brushing the tips of my wings.



She stopped.

I froze.

The door smashed open and someone shouted, "What the hell do you think you're doing??"

I was a little iffy about writing the kissing scene. Kissing is as foreign to me as having wings is. So I had to use my imagination.

Another thing. I didn't really want to put this whole kissing stuff in there, but when I first started writing the story, I imagined this and liked the idea at the time. This scene is the reason for Shell's existence. But as I continued writing, I realized I didn't like it. But taking it out would defeat the purpose of Shell. So it's here. Cliche as it is, it's here. Hope you liked it. R&R.

10. Day 6 The Final Day 3

Not dead! I actually don't have an excuse for the delayed post of this. In my defense, it's long. So um...anyway, this isn't the last one. That one's coming. Enjoy!

In the next second, Shell was no longer touching me, and I felt her weight on the other side of the couch.

"Wha—?" I started, befuddled.

"A.J.!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

A.J.? What the heck?

The guy stormed furiously into the room, his feet slamming with every step; he was coming dangerously close to us. "Are you cheating on me?" he shouted bewilderedly.

I suddenly recognized his voice and footsteps. It was the guy I'd heard with her a few days ago on the sidewalk. The one she said was her makeshift brother.

"Cheating?" I echoed in confusion. "What the—?"

"No, A.J., I swear—"

I heard a yelp and a hard smack of a huge fist on flesh. There was a crack and I smelled blood. Did he just punch her?

"Don't you ever think of cheating on me!" he shouted, hitting her again. She cried out in pain, and I found myself standing next to them, a look of anger molding itself on my face.

"Stop hitting her!" I demanded the guy.

Miraculously, he stopped. I hadn't expected him to. At first this confused me, but then I felt a hand grip the collar of my jacket and lift me up off the ground. He must've been at least six feet to do that.

"No!" Shell cried, her voice cracking. "A.J.–"

"Shut up!"

"A.J., he's blind!"

I could almost feel him grin, and my dislike for this punk deepened further. "Then this oughta be fun," he said.

What a jerk!

I sensed a fight coming on. I think in slow motion when I fight. It's the only way I can fight. Thinking in slow motion gives me a chance to smell where someone is by their sweat or blood, to hear where they're breathing, to feel every turn in their muscle so I know what's coming. My thoughts slowed down.

Right now, I felt the muscles in the hand holding me shift a little, his arm tilting just enough so that I knew he was pulling his other hand back to punch me. Sure enough, I heard it whizzing through the air, and, much to his astonishment, I blocked it. I grabbed hi fist, now hanging in midair in his hesitation, and twisted it as far in a circle as I could.

He yelped in surprise and dropped me. His mistake. I punched where I'd heard his yelp come from, and felt little wet shards of teeth splinter beneath my fingers, and blood spurt out under my hand. The funny thing about that was that the punch was only half-strength. Humans are so breakable.

He staggered back, then held his ground.

"I though' you thed he wath blin'!" he shouted furiously at Shell, and I couldn't stifle a hysterical laugh.

I whirled and roundhouse kicked him. He staggered again, but this time, out of the desire to actually fight, I heard him pick up something glass.

"A.J.!" Shell exclaimed. "No, don't!" I almost forgot she was there.

I heard the faintest grunt from him, an almost inaudible noise, and I ducked simultaneously. The thing flew over my head and I jumped at him before it even hit the wall and shattered to a million pieces in a huge crash. I caught him by the shoulders and he fell to the ground. I pinned him down and punched him over and over again, until his breathing became ragged and the smell of blood overcame that of the unbearable candles.

The whole thing wasn't fair at all. He didn't stand a fighting chance.

Something was tugging on my shoulder. "Iggy, stop!" Shell pleaded, almost reluctantly. "Stop it, he's my boyfriend! Besides, my parents'll kill me if there's blood on the rug." Although, to tell you the truth, I was pretty sure there already was blood on the carpet.

I stopped. "Boyfriend?" I echoed.

She hesitated. "Yeah," she answered sheepishly.

God, I was stupid. It couldn't have been more painfully obvious. I almost kept going on him, but now Shell had my attention.

I got up and, leaving his bloody mess behind, stalked off to the general direction where I thought the hall we'd come through was. I walked into a lamp. I muttered angrily to myself, rubbing my nose and continued walking with one hand out.

Well. I should've seen it coming anyway. Every time something good happens to me, it ends in lies and betrayals. I should've known Shell was too good to be true.

Shell grabbed my arm and I shrugged her off. "Wait, Iggy, let me explain," she pleaded. I stormed off, ignoring her.

"Look," she tried again, this time her voice coming from in front of me. "A.J.'s a jerk. I'm sorry. I was hoping he wouldn't end up coming in, but he did, and that kind of messed stuff up–"

"Kind of messed stuff up??" I shouted. "Look, I don't know a single thing about what couples are supposed to be like, but I do know that if something gets someone wanting to beat me up, someone messed up."

"Iggy, Christ, calm down, lemme explain!"

"No!" I shouted. "Dammit, what is wrong with everyone?" I let out a noise of aggravation, then took a breath, trying to keep from blowing up again. "I have to go home. Bye, Shell."

"No!" she protested. "I'm going to explain. You looked different to me ever since I met you, and I knew that if I wanted to be alone with you, it would have to be when A.J. wasn't around, since he's such a jealous bully. Then you said you were leaving, and I knew I wouldn't have another chance at you after that. So I took anything I got. Happy?"

I'll admit, I didn't see that coming. I was still too mad at her to let it phase me, though. "You don't even know me," I growled. "All I want is to go home. Are you going to move out of the way, or do I have to make you move?"

I didn't hear her move, so I assumed she was being stubborn. "I don't usually want a guy in particular," she said. "You should be happy."

"You're full of yourself," I spat. Okay, she was hot. Okay, I really liked the whole idea of a hot girl liking me. But now was a really bad time. I didn't need any more betrayal. I shoved past her, storming off down the hall.

I was just touching the front door's doorknob when she grabbed my arm again. "Wait, I just remembered something," she said. I opened the door, ignoring her. "Right before A.J. walked in, something weird happened," she continued quickly. I kept ignoring her, pushing open the screen door. "Right at the bottom of your jacket, I felt something kinda soft, kinda like a feather."

I stopped. I could almost feel her smiling in triumph. I walked through the doorway, shoving past her. No way were we about to get into that.

"Iggy, come on!" she wailed, still walking alongside me. I sped up, trying to lose her. Pest.

"Do you have any dignity?" I wondered. "Stop following me."

"Not until you tell me what that feather was about. It felt like it was attached to something. You have an Indian headdress or something under there?"

Okay…weird question…

"Go away. Nice knowing you. Have a great life," I said, trying to shake her off.

"No. I'm going to follow you the whole way if I have to."

That's just what I needed. Another person I couldn't trust with me.

"You can't come with me where I'm going," I told her.

"I don't plan to. I just want you to tell me what's going on."

"Get over it."




"Fine!" I shouted, whirling on her. "You wanna know?! You wanna know?? I'll show you!"

I wasn't totally sure what I was doing. I needed to get to Anne's – that was where the flock was. Then I remembered that the private school we went to let out a lot later in the day than Shell's did, so they were still in school. Not that it mattered, I'd still have to get to their school. Flying would get me there faster than walking and I wanted to be there ASAP. So flying it was.

I ran, pulling off my windbreaker as I ran. If she wanted to see, if the neighbors wanted to see, if those scumbags that might be my parents wanted to see, they could all see. To hell with them. See what I care.

I unfolded my eagle wings, catching little currents of wind and propelled into the sky. The wind whipped my face, and my wings almost cracked in the strain of having been unstretched for days. My hearing picked up a faint gasp behind me. I soared into the sky, leaving little sounds of suburban life behind, higher and higher, way up.

"Iggy! Wait!"

And that was the last time I ever heard the voice of the one girl who liked me.

11. Back Home

Right. Here it is. The final chapter. Please R&R. This is it. End. Fin. Completion. Done. Not the other one, but this, chapter eleven, is it. Hope you liked it. I enjoyed writing it.

The two words that had never failed to constantly haunt me again ran through my head.

Why me?

I've heard of girls and guys liking each other, without having to cheat on violent boyfriends, getting everyone into trouble. So why does the one that likes me have to?

I've heard of parents who love their children, and would die for them, and care about them, and respect them. So why not mine?

I've heard of heroes, people who really are good and who save helpless children, without turning back to their dark past, and who have truly turned over a new leaf. So why not Jeb?

Six billion people in the world, with hundreds more born everyday, and almost none of them are turned into genetic freaks of nature. So why me?

It's not very often someone will come across a blind in their life, because blinds are so rare. So why me?

I was just pitying myself, I knew that. I knew I had it better than all the other poor kids trapped back in the school.

I brought myself back to the situation at hand. My thoughts had run wild while I was flying, and I reminded myself that, without the flock, I was at a huge loss as to where to go, and how to get there. My only clues were the sounds below, and the hope that I remembered them as landmarks. I knew I was on the right path after a half an hour when I heard (and smelled) the field of cows that I distinctly remembered on our way in.

I followed hints like that. The hard part was staying close enough to the ground to catch the hints without being seen by too many people.

Surprisingly, I found that I was steadily on my way there, and only had to change direction twice. I just had to remember how to get back to their school.

The excitement increased steadily the closer I got. I was leaving the last six days behind, and coming back to my real family. Max, Gazzy, Angel, Nudge, Fang – even Total would be nice to see, surprisingly, though I'd never admit to that little mutt.

Oh, and Anne, the woman who'd even given us that home. Then I remembered how much trust I was laying in Anne. She was from the FBI or something, right? There was no reason to trust her, the same way there was no reason to trust Jeb, or the Griffiths, or anyone.

There was a familiar smell of hot dogs, which, for some reason, were right next to the school. I dove down, quickly, into where I thought some woods should be. Sure enough, I found myself scraping branches and leaves. I landed softly on the dirt, then followed the sounds of shouting people. My heart rate went up as I walking closer, becoming more excited that the flock was so near. The sounds grew louder, and I heard police sirens, among other noises. Everything was panicky and confused.

I walked out of the woods, and into plain view of the school. The noises were much louder here, and I heard adults trying to usher confused students back into the school, though from the shouting and sounds of defiance, it sounded like they weren't succeeding.

What the heck-?


I jumped.

"Jeff, where've you been? Everyone's been so worried about you!" some random student I was apparently supposed to know said. Oh, right, my name here was Jeff. "You went missing, and we assumed the worst."

"I was visiting some people," I answered, sneering at the last word. "What the heck's going on?"

"We're not sure. It has to do with your friends, I think," he said.

I paled. "What?!" What trouble did they get into?

"Jeff!" someone else shouted. "What's going on? First your friends, now you–"

"I don't know!" I shouted above the other noises. "Someone tell me what's happening!"

"The girl," the second person finally answered, "Matt? Max? Something like that. She was running through the halls shouting something 'bandana'." Oh, god, bandada. Bad news. "Then all five of them ran outside and – this part I don't get. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie."

"What happened?" I demanded, my patience running very, very thin.

"These werewolf things came – it was so weird–"

Werewolf things. Erasers. "Aw, man!" I groaned.

He stopped. "You…know what I'm talking about?" he asked in bewilderment.

"Of course I do," I said. "Did my family leave?"

"Yeah, they left a little while ago, and let me tell you, it was weird. They freaking sprouted wings and–"

I groaned again. This was all really bad timing. I would end up coming now, just barely missing the flock. And then again, maybe the timing wasn't so bad. Erasers here meant that the flock would have to leave, and travel somewhere else. If I left right now, maybe I'd be able to catch up to them before they disappeared for good.

"Jeff, what is going on?"

"Jeff Walker!" a teacher exclaimed.

I needed to take off. Now. There was too much confusing noise here, too many people standing too close.

I backed up a little. "Everyone get out of the way!" I shouted, cupping my hands around my mouth, yelling as loud as I could.

There were little surprised exclamations as people finally saw me, and connected me with what just happened. I started running, not caring if there was anyone in the way. I heard someone yell and jump out of the way from right in front of me. After about ten steps, I opened my wings, pouring on as much speed as possible, and took off.

People shouted below me, marveling at me, no longer trying to keep things in control. Which confused me, because the kid said that the flock already took off like I did. Maybe it was just because I was missing for a week, came back for a minute, then sprouted wings? I didn't know. People are weird.

I left the confused people far behind. The excitement in me was welling, after that disappointment. I went faster, as fast as I could. I needed to get back, quickly, or I might never see them again. At that moment, I wished I could fly with Max's unbelievable speed.

As I flew, my thoughts were targeted on the flock. I was heading back to them, back to home.

It suddenly occurred to me that home was back with them – and yet, we wouldn't be staying at Anne's house, not with all these Erasers running around. Since I was heading home anyway, Anne or no Anne, that meant her house meant nothing.

Home wasn't a place. I had thought it was – I had thought we had no home, the six of us. Home wasn't the house in DC I'd stayed in for the last week. Home wasn't the mansion of a house I'd stayed in on the estate for the last two months. Home wasn't the E-shaped house we stayed in for four years before we were forced to leave it behind.

Home was where we were comfortable, and happy, and safe – with each other.

Sounds loomed up ahead, and I flew faster. I heard Erasers fighting, and I heard some gunshots. Most importantly though, I heard the sweetest sound my ears had ever come upon.

It was Max's voice shouting commands at the flock. I heard her ringing, authoritative voice clearly, and getting clearer every second.

They were a little below me, and I flew directly down behind Max.

"Yo," I greeted, hoping to scare the living crap out of them. Which I successfully did.

I was so happy. The next few minutes were spent on happy reunion with the closest people to my heart.

This is where I belonged. I didn't belong with rotten scums who wanted money off me, or trying to find solace with a girl who wasn't worth it.

Flock. Six. Not five. Six. And that's what the number was back up to.

And that's the number it would always stay at. No matter what.