I bring you the first chapter of my brand-new Mari AU! The major differences are that the Flock/Ari/basically all the other characters are normal humans, and like in New York City. Max and Ari are not siblings, and have never met before this point. If you have any other questions pertaining to the plot/setting, say so in your review and I'll explain it to you. I hope you like it!

((Thanks to my wonderful beta, Elemental-ANimal, for reading this over/helping me out!))

Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride.

Striding briskly down the street, Max pulled the hood of her jacket up to cover her face and hair. She needed this job, badly, and showing up to it dripping wet probably wouldn't make a good first impression.

About five minutes later, she saw the building she was looking for, and entered it.

No doorman, she observed, but the lobby seemed fairly well kept. There was, however, an elevator, and she stepped into it.

The soft elevator music playing the background was soothing, and she took a deep breath, smoothing her rumpled clothes.

When the elevator stopped on the nineteenth floor, she double-checked the piece of paper her boss had given her. She needed to go to Apartment 341.

338…339…340… And then there it was, Apartment 341.

Max rang the buzzer, but only had to wait for a second before the door swung open, the bright light from inside the apartment flooding the dark hallway. She could only see the silhouette of the person who had opened the door, and after a moment of silence, she asked, "Hi, are you Aaron Batchelder?"

"Yeah. I assume you're Maxine Ride?"

Max nodded. "I am."

"Come in, then." He stepped aside, allowing her to enter, and for the first time, she got a good look at him.

Aaron was tall, probably six three or six four. He was fairly muscular, but still lean. His black t-shirt and jeans were kind of tight, but not so much to make her think that he played for the other team. Large brown eyes peered out from under curly dark hair that Aaron lifted a large, lean hand to brush back. He had a handsome, angular face that reminded Max briefly of her boyfriend, before remembering that Fang was far more handsome than Aaron.

He asked, "Do you want me to take your coat?"

Grateful to have the soaking wet jacket off her, she peeled it off and handed it to him. He didn't seem to mind that water was dripping all over the smooth wooden floor as he hung it up on a coat rack that held only a black leather jacket and a grey sweatshirt, both clearly belonging to him.

Max ran through what she had figured out about him so far in her mind. He was probably straight, a bit shy, quiet, good manners, neat for a guy but not meticulous, and single, judging by the fact that there was only one pair of shoes and one coat that she could see. He sounded just like the way her boss had described him.

She extended a hand, and when they shook hands briefly, noticed that his hands didn't seem callused or rough. When they broke contact, he turned around and walked towards an open doorway. Max followed.

The room was small, with a couch, two chairs, a bookshelf, and a large paint-splattered table. Pads of paper, pencils, and tubs of paint were everywhere, but the floor and furniture seemed to be fairly clean.

Aaron said, "Sit down, Maxine. Do you want something to drink, or anything?"

Max sat down on the orange couch, "You can call me Max. No thanks, I'm good."

He smiled at her, sitting down on one of the chairs opposite the couch. "If I call you Max, you have to call me Ari."

"Okay then, Ari. Let's get started."

Ari still wasn't quite sure what to make of his model. She was very pretty, but that wasn't what he had asked for. He had wanted someone who was easy on the eyes, but not someone so attractive that they could have looked good drawn by anyone. Still, he needed to get to know her better before he decided whether to use her as the model or reject her and request another girl.

He had found a clean pad of paper and pencils, and selected one from the vast array of colored pencils he owned, and began to draw. This picture wouldn't be for the portfolio, he just wanted to see how she looked on paper.

"So." He didn't look up from his drawing. "Where you from?"

"Queens. You?"


There was a brief silence before he continued, "If you don't mind me asking, how old are you?"

She grinned. "No, I don't mind. I'm twenty-six. What about you, Ari?"

"I turned twenty yesterday."

She tilted her head slightly to the side, confused. "Wow, you look a lot older. You know, in a good way."

They were silent for a few minutes as her gaze took in his apartment, seemingly analyzing everything she could see. He still watched her, even though he was nearly finished with the picture. It was rough, and by his standards not spectacular, but got her down on paper nicely. She looked good in the drawing, and their eyes met. Her eyes were large and intelligent, but kind and seemed to draw him in.

Suddenly he knew that his mind had been made up. Max would model in his drawings.

He set the completely drawing down on the table between them, and said, "What do you think?"

She picked it up, studying the drawing carefully. After a moment of critical examination, she lowered the paper from her face.

"It's good, Ari. Really good." Max smiled at him, and bent forward as she put the picture down on the table, and began to admire the other ones on the table. Ari's eyes widened slightly as he realized that when she bent over like that, he could kind of see down her shirt. Leaning forward ever so slightly, he tried to get a better view.

He didn't think of himself as a pig, but come on, he had an extremely attractive girl bent over in front of him, and he wasn't great at self-control.

Some of her hair fell across her forehead, the blonde strands contrasting perfectly with her blue shirt.

She looked up at him with a bored expression on her face, and said dryly, "Yes, I know I have boobs Ari, you don't need to stare at them. They won't fall off if you look away, you know."

He wanted to lean back and stop looking so badly, but she was so…

"Do it now, or I'll remove your eyeball with my thumb."

Ari immediately sat back against his chair, looking at everything but Max as she straightened, crossing her arms over her chest protectively. Her dark eyes glared at him unrelentingly. He squirmed uncomfortably in his seat; Her gaze defined 'beautiful but terrifying'.

And then she did something totally unexpected.

She burst out laughing. "Oh, God, Ari, you should have seen the look on your face when I said that…"

Slowly, feeling began to creep back into him. It had just been a joke. She was making fun of him ogling her, and she wasn't really angry at him.

He let out a sigh of relief, and when she stopped laughing, he said, "Max, you're definitely hired."

Her face lit up. "Great! When do I start?"

"Tomorrow. How early can you be here?"

"I can get here about…eight. Does that work."

"Yeah. Do you have time to do one quick pose today before you have to leave?"

She shrugged, "What time is it?"

He glanced at the clock on the wall behind her. "Almost ten."

Max swore softly under her breath. "I have to get home, my boyfriend will be home soon, and I have to cook for us. Tomorrow at eight, then?"

His heart sunk when he heard the word 'boyfriend'. He had been clinging to a faint hope that someone as attractive and funny as her wouldn't be taken, but clearly, he had been wrong.

He nodded. "Tomorrow at eight."

They walked to the door together, and Max smiled at him as she put her coat on. "See you at eight."

He numbly echoed, "See you."

She's amazing…He thought happily.

And that night as she and Fang ate dinner, and he asked her how her new client was, she had replied vaguely, "Oh, he's nice." Fang had asked if he should be worried about the competition, and they had both laughed. Max replied that no, he didn't have to worry, but in her heart, she knew that Fang should have been.

Well, I hope you liked it, and it you'd like, check out my other oneshots! I will be posting another chapter for Captive/another Mari fic soon, as soon as my beta/assorted friends finish reading it. Review!