Flight Path by Mornwey

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Drama, Romance
Published:2006-09-10 09:05:26
Updated:2006-11-28 09:39:58
Packaged:2021-04-22 00:02:14
Summary:What if the school never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on...

Table of Contents

1. Sometimes
2. Dumb
3. Ain't it Fun
4. Black Celebration
5. Home

1. Sometimes

Flight Path

Summary: What if the School never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on…
Fandom: Maximum Ride
Pairings: None as of yet - I'm working on it. I'm still unsure if I should take the slashy path…
Warnings: Bad language, underage drinking and smoking, sex drugs and rock 'n' roll
Disclaimer: See that word back there? It says 'disclaimer. If I owned these characters, it would not be a disclaimer. Do we see the connection here, dear readers?
Author's Note: I'm not entirely clear on some of the details here. But do you know what the great thing about AU is? It doesn't matter! Anyway, most of the differences can be explained by the fact that they're completely human and were never at the school.

Chapter 1 – Sometimes

When you look around
You can't tell me honestly
You're happy with what you see…

from Sometimes by Depeche Mode


"Andrew! Get out of your bed right now!"

In a tiny, untidy bedroom somewhere outside of Washington DC, Andrew Green moaned and buried his face in the pillow. He winced at the sound of running feet coming down the hall. Crap – sounded like his mom had sent his little sisters to get him out of bed. His pounding headache increased its tempo in some sort of protest as his door flew open and banged loudly against the wall. Suddenly he was covered in sister.

"Come on, Andy! Get out of bed!"
"Yeah, mom made breakfast!"

That was sufficiently unusual for Andrew to raise his head. Their mom never made breakfast. Hell, they were lucky when there was enough money to buy any. Anyway, wasn't she supposed to be at work by now? He sat up and swung his legs off of the bed, sending his six-year-old sisters Laura and Lisa tumbling to the floor. They giggled, grabbing his wrists and pulling him upright.

"Okay, talk to me," Andrew said, fending off the sibling attack; "Why has mom made breakfast?"
The twin girls exchanged looks; "We think it's because of her boyfriend," Lisa said eventually. Andrew groaned. Fantastic. Sounded like his mom had hooked up with some idiot…again.
"Okay, okay," Andrew said, disentangling himself from his two little sisters; "Go get dressed or something – I need a shower."
"We're already dressed."
"Not the point…jeez, just go do something for five minutes and give me some damn peace!" They left obediently, talking in whispers and giggling.

Five minutes later he staggered out of the bathroom, attempting to dry his hair and zip up his jeans at the same time, which was so difficult as to be damn near impossible. He walked into the kitchen with a vague idea of getting some food while he figured out where the hell he'd left his favourite t-shirt, only to find his mom and her new boyfriend staring at him. Especially the boyfriend…Andrew suddenly became acutely conscious of the fact that he was stripped to the waist, and abandoned his hair for a moment to zip up his jeans. Laura and Lisa were sitting at the battered table, eating what looked like eggs and bacon. Andrew felt his mouth begin to water: Damn, I haven't had food like that since the last time I stayed at Jamie's place.

"Um…what's the occasion?" he asked a little suspiciously.
"No occasion," his mother said brightly; "Just making breakfast for my darling children like I usually do." Ah, so that explained it. Probably the guy had kids, and she was advertising her mommy-skills. The man gave a smarmy smile that made Andrew want to throttle him. Apparently there was such a thing as hate at first sight.
"So you must be Andrew. Your mother told me all about you."
"I'll bet she did," Andrew replied flatly; "And who are you supposed to be?"
"I'm Mark," he said, offering a hand. Andrew looked blankly at him for a moment, pointedly ignoring the extended hand. After an awkward pause, he grabbed a plate from the counter and left the room.

"I've gotta go get ready," he yelled indistinctly over his shoulder around a mouthful of bacon; "I'm s'posed to meet Jamie in five minutes." He could feel the dirty look his mother was shooting him as an uncomfortable prickling sensation between his shoulderblades. He usually got his sisters ready for school. But if she was going all super-mom on them, he was happy to leave her to it. Let her try – he ran the house practically single-handedly, since the only time she wasn't at work was when she was out with the boyfriend of the week. There was no way she could cope.

Five minutes later, Andrew was on his way out of the shabby apartment. His headache had subsided a little, but the bright sunlight outside still hit him like twin needles in the eyes. He winced, raising an arm to cover his eyes, and lit a cigarette as he began the walk to school.

At the bridge over the freeway he met his best friend James Griffiths, better known as Jamie. Jamie was one of those boys who are fairly short for their whole childhood, then hit puberty and suddenly shoot up three feet. He was more than six feet tall, which made Andrew – a fairly respectable 5'10" – feel quite short. He had pale skin, strawberry blonde hair and bright green eyes: a sharp contrast to Andrew, who was in all aspects some shade of brown. He was perched dangerously on the concrete wall, traffic roaring past below, and from the bored look on his face had probably been waiting for quite some time. He brightened up when he saw Andrew and jumped lightly down from the wall.

"Hey, man," Andrew said. Jamie scowled as he caught sight of the cigarette hanging from his friend's lips.
"You're a fucking idiot."
"I though you were quitting."
"I'm trying."
"Try harder," Jamie said firmly, grabbing the sorry-looking rollup and tossing it over the wall onto the freeway.
"That was my last one!" Andrew objected.
"You know you love me anyway," Jamie smirked. Andrew rolled his eyes and blew him a mocking kiss.

It was a twenty minute walk to school, and Andrew was silent for most of the way. Monday – not his favourite day at the best of times. But when slightly hung-over and deeply worried about his mom's new boyfriend, they turned into a form of hell. Jamie remained tactfully quiet for a while, but it wasn't long before his curiosity got the better of him.

"What's up, Andy?" he asked; "You look sorta depressed."
"My mom's got a new boyfriend," Andrew replied gloomily.
"So?" Jamie said; "She's got a new one every week – just wait it out till the next one comes along."
"Cheap shot."
"Anyway, the thing is…" Andrew said uncomfortably, "He creeps me out. I walked into the kitchen half-dressed – you should have seen the way he was looking at me…"
"Oh," Jamie said, "Oh right. My sympathies, man." Andrew shrugged indifferently.

They arrived at school early, a marked change from their usual habit. It was about ten minutes to the bell so they headed for the music department. Jamie spent the time playing one of the school's guitars. He was good…very good. Andrew listened wistfully – he had absolutely zero musical talent. In fact, he had been charitably described as a 'ten-thumbed tone-deaf noise polluter'. Andrew was the writer – Jamie was the artist.

In fact, they were so absorbed in the music that they didn't actually register the bell right away. Then students began filing into the classroom.

"Shit," Jamie said, placing the guitar back on its stand. Andrew grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out of the class.
"What are we in first?" Andrew asked distractedly, looking around.
"My feelings exactly."


In case you haven't guessed, Fang is Andrew and Iggy is Jamie. Next chapter will feature Max, and possibly Gazzy and Angel.

2. Dumb

Flight Path

Summary: What if the School never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on…
Fandom: Maximum Ride
Pairings: None as of yet - I'm working on it. I'm still unsure if I should take the slashy path…
Warnings: Bad language, underage drinking and smoking, sex drugs and rock 'n' roll
Disclaimer: See that word back there? It says 'disclaimer. If I owned these characters, it would not be a disclaimer. Do we see the connection here, dear readers?

Chapter 2 – Dumb

I'm not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb
Or maybe just happy
Think I'm just happy

from Dumb by Nirvana


Jessica Morgan looked blearily around the girls' locker room. It was just too damn early. Gym first thing on a Monday morning – what sadistic person came up with that one?

Tying her shoelaces had cruelly and unexpectedly become an extremely complicated task, but she managed it eventually. Her friends Olivia and Michelle were having similar problems – the three of them had been messaging each other well into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes Jessica thought that she hadn't had a proper night's sleep since she got the internet in her bedroom. After a certain amount of trial and error, they managed to make it to the playing fields behind the school.

Jessica was tying her long blonde hair up, eyes fixed listlessly on the grass, so she didn't immediately notice the source of the excited murmur that ran through the girls. Something prodded her in the ribs, and she looked up sharply into Olivia's blue eyes and freckled face.

"Look, Jessie!"

Jessie looked, and realised why the other girls were whispering and giggling. The boys had just come out of their locker room onto the fields. She, along with all the others, eyed them appreciatively. The school – like every other school – had its share of the fat, the geeky, and the just plain ugly. But there was enough hotness overall to make up for it…Jessie suddenly felt much more awake.

"So, who do you like?" Olivia asked.
"Ooh, who's that one?" Michelle said, red curls flying as she bounced on her heels; "The dark haired one with the tan."
"That's Andrew Green," Jessie replied, then blushed as she realised she'd answered a little too fast. Olivia shot her a knowing look, and she blushed even more deeply. She had a boyfriend - she shouldn't be thinking about other boys.
"I like his friend too, though," Michelle added thoughtfully, apparently oblivious to Jessie's embarrassment; "Jamie something…the tall one. I always liked that sort of reddy-blonde hair."
"Yeah," Olivia agreed; "Sadly, we've got no chance with either of them…"
"Why not?" Jessie and Michelle asked at the same time, looking disappointed.
"Well, look at them – they're clearly only interested in each other."
"Yeah, right," Jessie said, rolling her eyes; "You're just trying to depress us."
"She is?" Michelle brightened up, "Oh good."
"Okay, but can't you just see them together?" Olivia said, her gaze becoming distant as a dreamy smile passed over her face; "All hot and p-"
"Shut up, you pervert!" Jessie cut her off a little too loudly. She turned bright red as the entire class turned to stare at her. Olivia and Michelle cracked up with helpless laughter. Jessie didn't pay any attention to them.

Instead she looked around. The school was twenty-five years old and already falling apart. The flat roofs leaked, the paint was peeling, and the fences had rusted. The playing fields were behind the school buildings, backing onto a train line. A train would roar past every so often, and flocks of birds would explode from the bushes with a rustling of wings, whistling and squawking indignantly. A chill wind blew across the unkempt and overgrown grass, stirring up abandoned wrappers and bottles, and bands of light and shadow chased each other across the ground as clouds were blown in front of the sun. The girls huddled closer together, shivering.

"Don't you poor girls look cold," the predictably butch Coach Talbot said with false sympathy; "Well, twenty laps should sort that out." The assembled girls moaned in protest, but threats of detention sent them running off.

Jessie didn't particularly mind – she was on the school's athletics team, and went running after school most days. But Michelle, being short and rather unfit, was already falling behind. Olivia was right beside her, apparently having decided to walk the entire twenty laps. Jessie happened to know that Olivia could easily have kept up with the pack – she swam twenty lengths every morning before school. But she also hated Coach Talbot with a vengeance, and did everything she could to make the woman's life difficult.

At least they were faring better than the boys: Jessie winced in sympathy at the cry of 'drop and give me fifty' from the far end of the field. Coach Kolodiej – who bore an uncanny resemblance to a gorilla – took a sadistic delight in tormenting the boys. As she drew closer to where they were struggling with the press-ups, she slowed to get a better view. Poor overweight Michael Walker was already close to collapse, where as that idiot Trent Parker was showing off – doing one-handed press-ups. Jamie Griffiths was lying flat on the grass, staring into space with a bored expression – he only even pretended to be trying when Coach Kolodiej looked in his direction. Some of the boys – the ones who were actually trying – had taken their shirts off despite the cold wind. This, Jessie thought appreciatively, was a very convenient arrangement. The ones who were trying hard enough the need to cool down were invariably the fittest ones. She slowed a little more, grinning contently at the occasional flash of six-pack.

"Morgan! Pick up the pace!" Jessie shook her head to clear it, and sped up. Nineteen more laps to go.


Communal showers, Jessie decided, were possibly the most humiliating thing ever invented. Would it really be too much to ask that they have separate shower stalls? Was that really such a crazy idea?

Michelle was hiding in a corner, washing at top speed to get it over with as quickly as possible. Olivia, on the other hand, was staring into space, apparently unaware of the fact that she was naked and there were thirty other people in the showers. Shameless was the word most people would use. But on the other hand, Jessie thought with a touch of jealousy, she had nothing to be ashamed of. That was what twenty lengths a day did for you. Jessie did the same thing of most of the others – kept her eyes fixed on the cracked tiles and pretended she was alone.

"So, you two want to go out tonight?" Olivia asked.
"Um…sure," Michelle said. Jessie bit her lip.
"I'd love to, but I can't. Sorry."
"Why not?"
"I'm supposed to be babysitting for the Millers tonight."
Olivia looked surprised; "Those weird scientists? I didn't think they had kids."
"They've got two," Jessie said; "Gary and Angela. They pay pretty well, so I'm not about to blow them off."
"Fair enough."

Jessie sighed as her gaze returned to the grubby floor-tiles. She would have liked to spend the night with her friends. Did she really need the money that much?


Olivia reminds me of me - shameless slash fan-girl. But not the twenty lengths bit…I'm lazy.
Next chapter's another Fang and Iggy, but expect some more Max and possibly a bit of Nudge

3. Ain't it Fun

Flight Path

Summary: What if the School never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on…
Fandom: Maximum Ride
Pairings: None as of yet - I'm working on it. I'm still unsure if I should take the slashy path…
Warnings: Bad language, underage drinking and smoking, sex drugs and rock 'n' roll
Disclaimer: See that word back there? It says 'disclaimer. If I owned these characters, it would not be a disclaimer. Do we see the connection here, dear readers?
Author's Note: I've changed Ari's age so he's at high school with Max and Co. It just makes life easier, okay? The fic is AU for a reason…

It's my birthday tomorrow! Free cake for all – especially if you review!

Chapter 3 – Ain't it Fun

So you come up to me and spit right in my face
And I didn't even feel it – it was such a disgrace
Punched my fist right through the glass
But I didn't even feel it – it happened so fast

from Ain't it Fun by Guns 'n' Roses


Not for the first time that day, Jamie wondered why the hell he'd taken computing as a subject. The teacher had told them where to sit, so he didn't even have anyone to talk to when he got bored. He already knew all the crap the teacher was babbling about; and he really had better things to do than type up an essay on how the advent of the word processor had affected the business world.

So he did what anyone else in his situation would do – went online.

Of course the school had filters to keep students away from the more…interesting…sites. But in Jamie's opinion, getting around them was half the fun. He logged onto his usual messenger, and was glad to se a few of his contacts online.


BiTeMeBiTcH has joined the conversation
SaveThePlanetKillYourself has joined the conversation

BiTeMeBiTcH wrote:
remind me why i picked this?

SaveThePlanetKillYourself wrote:
Do I look like I know?

BiTeMeBiTcH wrote:
no bt then u never do lol

SaveThePlanetKillYourself wrote:
Drop the chatspeak. You know I hate it.

BiTeMeBiTcH wrote:
Why d'you think I'm doing it?

SaveThePlanetKillYourself wrote:
Look out – teacher heading your way!

BiTeMeBiTcH has left the conversation


"James Griffiths!" the teacher snapped; "What are you doing?"
"The essay, sir," Jamie lied calmly, "Like you told us to."

The teacher snorted – he knew damn well that Jamie never worked in class. However, he also knew that Jamie had already forgotten more about computers than he would ever know, so he let it go. Andrew winked at Jamie across the classroom. He tapped his wrist, and Jamie glanced at his watch. Excellent – only five minutes to lunch. He exaggeratedly mouthed 'pizza place?' at Andrew, who nodded.

School lunches could only be described as 'awful' by even the most charitable of people. This was why few people ever ate them any more, preferring to either bring their own or sneak off to the nearest fast-food joint. The pizza place on the other side of the train line did a roaring trade at lunchtime, packed to the gills with students who would rather take their chances with heart-attacks than brave the school's gruel. The queue was already out of the door when Andrew and Jamie arrived.

"I'll go in for it," Jamie said; "What d'you want?"
"Nothing," Andrew replied reluctantly; "I had to put my lunch money to the electricity bill."
"I'll get you something."
"No, don't-"
"Andrew, be quiet. Just stay there while I go get us some lunch – I know damn well you won't get anything tonight." He disappeared inside the building.

The sad thing, Andrew reflected, was that it was true. The health teacher had told them that four meals a day were essential for proper health, as was eight hours of sleep a night. This had come as news to Andrew, who had been living for years on one or two meals a day and less than four hours of sleep a night. He was too young to get a job, and his mom barely earned minimum wage, so there was never enough to go around. It was almost impossible to feed four people on that amount of money – he'd lost count of the number of times he and his mom had gone hungry so that the girls could eat. He usually had dinner, and occasionally lunch, but that was it. He wished that Jamie wouldn't insist on buying lunch for him – it felt wrong, but he wasn't about to turn down free food. Years of experience had taught him to never turn down free anything.

"Your boyfriend treating you to lunch, faggot?"

Andrew closed his eyes, sighing in resignation; gods no, I cannot be bothered with Aaron Batchelder right now… He looked up at the ominous figure looming over him and raised an eyebrow carefully gauged to cause maximum offence. Aaron's – actually rather pretty, why do assholes have all the luck? – girlfriend was standing behind him. She shot Andrew an apologetic glance, and he tried to remember her name. It was Geri or Jenny or something like that, he was pretty sure…

Oh yeah – Aaron.

"Why don't you crawl into a hole somewhere and die?" Andrew said wearily, his tone suggesting that he had far more important things than Aaron to worry about. Aaron did not seem to appreciate this.
"You watch your mouth, you little piece of shit."
"Leave him alone, Ari," the girlfriend – Jessie, that was it – pleaded. Aaron hesitated.
"Alright…if it bothers you that much, sweetheart."

And that might have been the end of it, if Andrew hadn't laughed; "Pussywhipped!"

Afterwards he would admit that it had been a pretty damn stupid thing to do, but he couldn't have stopped himself for a pile of cash a mile high. That was his problem – he never could stop himself, no matter what the consequences. It was worth the inevitable fight for the look on the asshole's face. The crowd stared at him in a mixture of admiration and pity, as in; 'I admire your bravery, but you are about to get seven colours of shit kicked out of you'.

Andrew wasn't quite fast enough to dodge the first blow, and it caught him right on the cheekbone. But his mom's string of boyfriends had been good for something, even if it was only practice in the fine art of being a punchbag. He staggered a little but recovered quickly, and he was ready for the second punch when it came. He blocked it with his forearm, wincing slightly at the pain, and brushed the arm aside to get in behind the larger boy's guard. Andrew's head snapped forward and connected with the bridge of Aaron's nose – there was a sharp crack, and he cried out in pain as blood spurted from the wound. Andrew blinked and shook his head to clear the black spots dancing in front of his eyes. Head-butt on top of a hangover – never a good idea.

It was the hangover that he blamed afterwards, because Aaron recovered faster than he did. A vicious blow to the side of the chest left him gasping for breath, and he felt something crack. The second, moments after the first, was right in the face. Andrew spat blood – right. He'd had enough of playing by the rules.

Another punch was probably aimed for his chin, but he turned and sidestepped neatly so it sailed past his shoulder. He grabbed the wrist and wrenched it down, at the same time pushing up with his shoulder – there was a sickening, gristly noise as Aaron's elbow bent the wrong way, and he cried out in pain. Andrew's elbow shot back, catching the other in the stomach before he'd had time to recover, and the smaller boy turned with murder in his eyes…

It was at this point the staff came out to break it up.

Awed, if somewhat nervous stares followed them all the way back to the school. Andrew spent most of the walk ranting, while Jamie smiled, nodded, and occasionally passed him a slice of pizza.

"…stupid fucking idiot can't just leave me alone, my mom's gonna kill me when she sees I've been fighting again – and I'm going to fucking kill him if I get a black eye!"
"What was it about this time?" Jamie asked lazily.
"Oh, you know how Emma Hansen went around telling everyone we were going out after that party last month? Well apparently that idiot still believes her."
"Yes, it's a problem," Jamie looked at Andrew thoughtfully; "Pizza?"


4. Black Celebration

Flight Path

Summary: What if the School never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on…
Fandom: Maximum Ride
Pairings: None as of yet - I'm working on it. I'm still unsure if I should take the slashy path…
Warnings: Bad language, underage drinking and smoking, sex drugs and rock 'n' roll
Disclaimer: See that word back there? It says 'disclaimer'. If I owned these characters, it would not be a disclaimer. Do we see the connection here, dear readers?
Author's Note: I'm not entirely clear on some of the details here. But do you know what the great thing about AU is? It doesn't matter! Anyway, most of the differences can be explained by the fact that they're completely human and were never at the school.

Chapter 4 – Black Celebration

Let's have a black celebration
Black celebration
To celebrate the fact
That we've seen the back
Of another black

from Black Celebration by Depeche Mode


Jessie smoothed her hair down and patted her creased clothes before ringing the doorbell. It was a quiet suburban street much like the one she lived in…much like any suburban street. Mrs. Miller opened the door with a slightly apologetic look, and Jessie swallowed nervously. That look never meant good news.

"I'm sorry dear, but things aren't quite going according to plan…"
"Do you still need me?" Jessie asked, worried she wasn't going to get paid.
"Oh, certainly. You see, Gary isn't here right now, but Angela has a couple of little friends over, so if you could keep an eye on them for a little while until someone comes to pick them up…we'll pay extra," she finished pleadingly. Jessie perked up at the words 'pay extra'.
"Of course," she said happily. She could deal with two extra brats if it meant more money. Mrs. Miller nodded in relief and hurried out of the door to the car, pressing a contact number into Jessie's hands on her way past. Mr. Miller nodded solemnly at her as he passed, and she found herself fighting the urge to salute for some reason. She watched the car rattle out of the driveway and down the street, then made sure the dog was safely tethered in the backyard before going on check on the kids.

Angela was sitting on the floor of her bedroom with two Hispanic-looking girls. Jessie realised instantly that they were twins, and only seconds behind this was the realisation that she would never be able to tell them apart. Angela, an absolutely beautiful little blonde girl, looked up at her and smiled.

"Hello Jessie. These are my friends – Laura and Lisa."
"Our brother is picking us up in an hour," one of them said quietly; "I'm Laura. She's Lisa."
"Don't worry if you can't tell us apart," Lisa added; "No-one else can."
"…Okay," Jessie said; "Do you girls need anything?"
They exchanged glances; "No, we're fine," Angela said after a moment's silence.

Jessie was smiling happily as she helped herself to a glass of coke from the fridge. The Miller kids were always easy to babysit, and the other two girls didn't look like they'd cause any trouble. It looked like another pleasantly uneventful night of watching TV, followed by a nice pile of cash at the end.

She must have fallen asleep in front of the television, because she woke with a start when the doorbell rang. The clock above the fireplace said it was just after seven o'clock – too early for the Millers to be home. Jessie staggered to her feet and somehow made it to the door. She rubbed her eyes and brushed her hair out of the way as she fumbled with the lock.

The setting sun cast deep red rays across the street, and the air smelled of autumn (A/N: Or 'fall' if you prefer to butcher the language yet further). Jessie blinked at the figure in the doorway, struggling to wake up.

"I'm here to pick up my sisters," he replied uncertainly. Jessie raised an arm to shield her eyes from the sun and squinted to try and see who she was talking to.
"Do I know you?"
"I don't know, do you?" he replied sardonically. Jessie gave up and stood aside to let him in. Once the closed door blocked out the blinding sunlight she was able to get a proper look at him.
"Hey, I do know you. You're…Andrew Green, right?"
She flicked her hair back, suddenly nervous; "Um…you want a drink or something?"
He looked slightly surprised; "Sure…okay."

Jessie led the way through to the kitchen, and Andrew leaned against a counter as she rummaged in the refrigerator. She watched him surreptitiously from the corner of her eye – he looked nervous and slightly awkward, and was looking around the room with the air of someone in a strange, alien place. The side of his face was bruised, and his ribs had to be very tender from the cautious way he was moving.

"Coke okay?" she said brightly.
"Sure," he shrugged.
She handed him the glass and cleared her throat; "Um…I'm sorry about what happened today…at lunch."
He waved a hand dismissively; "It's happened before - it'll happen again. Believe me, I've been worse."

There was a slightly awkward silence. The injuries had to be painful, but the chilling indifference with which he regarded them rather disturbed Jessie. It's happened before – it'll happen again. How much would a person have to take to just accept it like that?

"Nice place," Andrew said, more to break the silence than out of any real desire to speak; "Do you live here or…?"
"Oh no, I'm just babysitting," she replied. She'd always thought the décor was a little cheap and tacky; "It's not that nice."
"You should see my place," he laughed cynically; "These guys probably spend more on their dog in a month then we do on the rent…"

It was at this point that the children came bounding down the stairs. "Andrew!" Lisa – or possibly Laura – shrieked happily, and the twins ran up to hug their brother around the waist. He winced in pain, fending them off.
"Watch it, I'm a bit battered," he said. The girl stilled instantly, exchanging worried glances.
"Again?" one murmured.
The other frowned worriedly; "Did mom's boyfriend-?"
"Laura!" Andrew hissed, and his sisters' eyes swiveled sideways to Jessie. He cleared his throat; "No, I just got in a fight at school. And mom's already given me an earful about it, so don't you two start."

He shepherded the two girls out of the door as quickly as politeness would allow; "Thanks for the drink," he called over his shoulder to Jessie. She stared after him. And some time after they had disappeared from view, she rather mechanically cleaned up the untouched glass of coke.

She knew him of course, in the vague way of someone she'd seen almost every day for years but never really spoken to. And when girls and boys started to notice each other, quite a few girls – including Jessie – had noticed that all of a sudden he'd gotten rather hot. It was common knowledge that his family was in a fairly bad financial situation, especially with him walking around in very second-hand clothes and rarely – if ever – eating unless someone else was buying. He had a tendency to rub the more popular boys the wrong way, so no-one had ever really thought much of the sheer number of assorted cuts and bruises he picked up on an almost daily basis.

But now…she had to wonder.

There will be some Nudge eventually – there's another character I have to introduce before her

5. Home

Flight Path

Summary: What if the School never existed? What if the Flock were just normal kids? If you want to know, read on…

Fandom: Maximum Ride

Pairings: None as of yet - I'm working on it. I'm still unsure if I should take the slashy path…

Warnings: Bad language, underage drinking and smoking, sex drugs and rock 'n' roll

Disclaimer: See that word back there? It says 'disclaimer'. If I owned these characters, it would not be a disclaimer. Do we see the connection here, dear readers?

Author's Note: And finally a chapter with Nudge!

Chapter 5 – Home

And I thank you

For bringing me here

For showing me home

For singing these tears

Finally I've found that I

Belong here

from Home by Depeche Mode

Andrew walked lazily along the street, sisters in tow. It was quite a long walk from the nicer part of town where the Millers lived to Andrew's neighbourhood – which, he was perfectly willing to admit, was a slum. It was supposedly a dangerous part of town, full of criminal types, but that had never bothered him. Hell, most of them knew him. They were more likely to start a conversation with him than try to rob him.

And sure enough, he got a cheery 'hello' from a homeless guy huddled in an alleyway, and perfectly friendly waves from two drug dealers standing on a street corner. A cheap-looking whore stopped to comment on how big the girls were getting, how old is it they are now, my how time flies. It was so weird it was almost funny.

"I'm home!" he yelled as he unlocked the front door of their apartment. His mom came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her skirt.

"Jamie called," she said; "You want to go over?"

"Yeah, sure," he replied. He ushered Laura and Lisa through to their bedroom; "On you go, leave mom to do…whatever she's doing. I'll see you later."

It wasn't very far to Jamie's house, and he made better time without two small people to shepherd. Jamie lived in a nice house set back a little from a busy street, a rather old-fashioned brick building with bay windows. Andrew knocked on the back door, and Jamie's little brother Colin answered.

"Hey," Colin said, "Jamie's upstairs."

"Thanks," Andrew replied, walking in through the kitchen. There was a delighted squeal behind him: "Andrew, I haven't seen you in ages! How are you, honey? Are your little sisters okay? I was talking to Gary Miller, and he said that-"

"Hi, Mo," Andrew cut her off with a grin. Interrupting was the only way of getting a word in edgeways when you were talking to Monique Delacroix. She was a pretty dark-skinned girl, and she'd been dating Colin for almost two years now. She was very popular. Although Andrew despised most of the popular kids on general principle, it was impossible not to like Monique. She knew absolutely everyone, and she was just the nicest, friendliest person he had ever met.

"I'll see you round, okay? We really have got to talk more, I hardly ever see you any more-"

"Sure thing, Mo," Andrew said with a grin, making his way upstairs. Jamie's room was the second door on the right, overlooking the street. Andrew could have found his way to it blindfolded.

"You look like shit," Jamie said bluntly as Andrew walked in, glancing up from the sketch he was doing.

"Gee, I hadn't noticed," Andrew replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes; "Thank you so much for pointing that out to me."

"There's no need to be like that about it…"

"Y'know, there really is."

Andrew flopped down onto the bed beside his best friend. Jamie's bedroom was small, although rather larger than Andrew's, and the walls were barely visible behind a thick covering of posters. It as unusually tidy for a teenage boy's bedroom, owing to the fact that Jamie's mom tended to come in and tidy it up when it got to untidy. There were things in Jamie's room that he really didn't want his mom finding, so he kept it tidy just so she wouldn't do it for him.

Jamie flipped on his TV and connected it to his Xbox. He tossed a controller to Andrew; "Name the game, man."

Andrew browsed through Jamie's extensive collection of video games, most of them pirate copies. Jamie had an unaccountable prejudice against paying for things when he didn't have to, a view Andrew entirely agreed with. "No…no…no…ah!" he pulled a CD labeled 'Rollcage: Stage II' out of the pile; "Haven't played this in a while."

He tossed the CD to Jamie, who read the label; "Excellent choice," he approved, sliding it into the machine.

The game in question was a futuristic racing game featuring gravity-defying cars with guns, and it had been one of their favourite games for years because it was one of the few they were evenly matched in. Most multiplayer console games were either racing games or fighting games; Jamie tended to win at the former and Andrew the latter. Since this one combined elements of both, a race could go either way.

As it happened, Jamie was winning when his mom shouted up that dinner was ready – they always ate quite late as Jamie's dad didn't finish work until half past eight, and his mom had a thing about the whole family eating together. Andrew and Monique were considered 'honorary family', since both of them – especially Andrew – spent more time there than in their own homes.

Dinner was spaghetti bolognas, and Jamie's mom was a fantastic cook. Andrew had known them too long to worry about appearances, and he shovelled as much as he could onto his plate. Jamie's mom smiled at him as he thanked her incoherently around a mouthful of spaghetti. Monique was, somehow, managing to eat and talk coherently at the same time, and kept up a constant flow of conversation throughout the entire meal. Colin just sat watching her with a faint smile on his lips – he was too used to her constant talking to even try and get a word in edgewise. He knew it wasn't going to happen.

Colin had the same strawberry-blonde hair as Jamie, but he had inherited his father's blue eyes and strong jaw-line…unlike Jamie, who was the spitting image of his mother. Andrew found himself wishing wistfully – as he always did when he spent any length of time at Jamie's house – that his family could be this happy and together. That his dad was still around, that his mom didn't have to work constantly. That they always had enough money to eat regularly. It wasn't going to happen, but it was a nice thought.

But the odd thing was that no matter how much he wanted a life like that, he wasn't jealous of Jamie or his family. They were happy. And if occasionally they had enough happiness to spare a little for Andrew, then that was fine by him.


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