Prayer Of A Winged Mutant
Summary: Inside Fang's head in St Patrick's Cathedral, while on the run from the cops. During MR:TAE. Implied Faxness.
A/N: This is just Fang's POV of the church bit in TAE. He was very quiet, which made me wonder about his thoughts. Quotes from p. 327 - p. 333. Rated for some language. Hey, you'd be swearing too if you were being chased by Erasers/cops. :)
We were on the run. Again. What a surprise.
Cue rolling of eyes here.
Only this time it wasn't Erasers. It was the cops. Or so we thought, anyway. It was getting a lot harder to distinguish human from mutant. Those sick bastards at the School were improving them all the time, and as a result, we were constantly on alert. Well, this time we were just breaking the law, not being chased down for experimentation.
Made a nice change.
We were heading south and east from Central Park. We needed to get lost, and quickly, but we weren't doing a great job of it. I was carrying Angel, but she was getting heavier by the second as the rarely-used muscles in my legs began to tire. Flying really was so much easier than running. Panting, I placed Angel down, and turned to Max, who was looking flushed and anxious.
"Inside a store?" I said, searching the streets quickly with my eyes, scanning the doorways for a viable option. "Then out through a back exit?" Out, and then a swift U & A.
I needed to fly, I could feel the feathers twitching beneath my clothes, brushing against my skin. Plus, it made me even more anxious while we had to rely on our feet alone. Our wings were the advantage, we needed to use them.
Max deliberated. I could see the cogs working in her brain, saw her arms fidgeting with the urge to fly, clearly feeling the same way as me.
"Yeah, maybe so," she said, looking around anxiously, searching for our pursuers. "Let's turn east on 51st."
No sooner had the words come out of her mouth, we turned as one, and I felt my feet begin to burn as they pounded furiously against the concrete, while my eyes were still searching frantically for a safe haven. I saw it at the same time Nudge did, but being the resident motormouth, she got it out before I had even opened my lips to speak.
"What's that?" she pointed to the large building. There were tall spires fixed on the top, and it looked ancient. I pondered it for a few seconds before I realised it was a cathedral.
"Is it a museum?" asked the Gasman.
"No," said Max. "It's a church." She looked exasperated, not realising what this meant.
"A church!" said Nudge, excitedly. "I've never been in one. Can we go?" I strongly resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I saw Max, and she seemed to be thinking along the same lines. I knew she would be insisting we left at once. I could read her face as easily as the pages of a book, and I had wondered more than once what that meant. As I contemplated this, my mind briefly wandered back to that... kiss...
I snapped out of it at once, and spoke. One word that would instantly convey my meaning to her. "Sanctuary."
I could see her almost click into understanding at once and sharply, she nodded. She jerked her head towards the doors, where a stream of people were entering reverently. I got her meaning at once. Blend in with the crowd.
Once we entered the building, I felt irrationally anxious. Like somehow we were... intruding. I had never been a religious person; I hadn't even known about the concept of God during my years of torture in the School. All we knew, all we had ever known... was cramped spaces, pain, white coats, and needles. Once I got out, and found out people believed in such a thing as God, I was annoyed. I kept thinking, if there was a God, why would he let all of us be subjected to that kind of treatment? Then I thought I had done something to offend him... somehow.
Just us, being here, in this church felt wrong. Maybe it was because we weren't like everyone else. We weren't one of 'God's creations'. Maybe we had been once, but we had been messed with. Tainted. Maybe once we belonged here, but now we didn't, because of them, because of what they had done to us. Maybe there was no afterlife for mutants - freaks - like us. I was snapped out of my thoughts by Max's quiet voice whispering next to me.
"Let's go," she said. "Down there."
I followed her line of sight, and we walked slowly and silently down the tiled floor, drawing ever nearer to the ornate white altar at the front. I took in the huge stained-glass windows with pictures of saints and godly figures. I suddenly felt a crawl along my neck... like they were all looking at me. Judging me. Though I knew that was impossible, and also stupid. Being in this place was messing with my head, but being out there would mess with my Flock, so I kept my mouth shut and followed the others.
I heard the Gasman breathe, "This is awesome." Then I saw Max nod, her lips slightly parted in awe. I wondered why she felt safe in here and I didn't. Maybe she was just a better person than I was. She deserved to feel safe somewhere. I suddenly realised how grateful we all were to Max. If it wasn't for her, we would all be back in the School and locked up in dog crates again a long time ago. She had kept us out of the School, out of misery. As far as I was concerned, if there was anyone who deserved to feel safe in the house of God, it was Max.
"What are those people doing?" Angel whispered to Max. I barely picked up her soft, musical voice.
"I think they're praying," Max whispered back.
"Let's pray too," said Angel. I raised my eyebrows at that, and I could see Max open her mouth to speak, but before she could say anything, Angel had headed for one of the empty pews.
"Uh-" started Max, but she looked resigned, and followed after Angel. I saw Angel look around to see how she was supposed to sit, and then assumed a kneeling position, hands clasped in front of her, eyes tight shut. I wondered what she was praying for. We all followed after her, though I felt awkward doing this.
"What are we praying for?" asked Iggy quietly.
"Um - anything you want?" said Max tentatively. She was a brilliant leader and an amazing fighter, but when it came to things like this, she was just as stumped as the rest of us.
"We're praying to God, right?" asked Nudge.
"I think that's the general idea," said Max warily, and I resisted the urge to smile. It was so cute when she was winging it, no pun intended. Wait. Did I just apply the word 'cute' to Maximum Ride? She'd kill me if she ever found that out.
I took my position, feeling like an idiot as I did so. However, once I had gotten into that position, I felt strangely relaxed, as I hadn't when I first came in. It was as if this position had drained away all my stress and anxiety and filled me with a sense of peace. I could hear faintly the prayers of the others as they mumbled out loud. I didn't know what to pray for, so I listened, though you weren't supposed to eavesdrop on people's prayers.
"Dear God," started Nudge. I wondered if God would like her - ever so slightly unconventional - method of prayer. "I want real parents. But I want them to want me too. I want them to love me. I already love them. Please see what you can do. Thanks very much. Love, Nudge."
Pity coursed through me, for Nudge. She just wanted to find her parents so much. I wished God would answer her prayer.
As Nudge fell silent - for once - I closed my eyes, listening harder.
"Please get Celeste back to me," Angel prayed. She was praying for a teddy bear? Well, if it made her happy, I suppose. "And help me grow up to be like Max. And keep everyone safe. And do something bad to the bad guys. They should not be able to hurt us anymore."
Ditto for me, I thought. Angel was so strong, just as good a fighter as one of us, but her prayer reminded me that, although she had been through so much, she was still a little girl at heart. Praying for her teddy bear first.
I heard Iggy's prayer, and I felt bad for the guy. I knew how much he tried not to show us how much his blindness really affected him.
"I want to be able to see stuff. Like I used to. When I was little. And I want to be able to totally kick Jeb's butt. Thank you."
Amen to that last part, I thought.
I felt really proud of the Gasman when I heard his voice, profusely whispering.
"God, I want to be big and strong. So I can help Max, and other people too."
I opened my eyes slightly, just in time to see Max looking a bit anxious and doing a quick round search of the church with her eyes. Her eyes were creased with anxiety and stress, the way she had only ever looked about one person - Jeb. My teeth gritted a little at the thought of him. She closed her eyes again.
Then I heard her voice, cutting through all the other mumbling.
"Please help Angel about Celeste," she muttered, and I gave a small smile. Trust that to be the first thing Max prays for.
Her voice grew quieter, until I could barely make out the words. "And help me be a better leader, a better person. Make me braver, stronger, smarter. Help me take care of the Flock. Help me find some answers. Uh, thanks."
My mind was whirling with surprise. Didn't Max realise she was already all of that and so much more? She was everything this Flock could ever have wished for. She kept us all together, kept us safe. She didn't get half the credit she deserved for it, either.
Truth was, though I'd never admit it out loud, being a freak with wings and enduring childhood torture had given me the best family I could have ever asked for. I didn't need to know who my parents were. To me it didn't really matter. The Flock were my family. My brothers and sisters. My best friends. And Max... well, I didn't quite know what she was to me yet.
As far as I was concerned, the only thing my parents had contributed to my life was my DNA. And even that had been unrecognisibly screwed with by crazy scientists. So I was only in this 'finding our parents' mission for the others.
At least, that was what I told myself. Deep down... I think I needed closure. But if I didn't get it, I always had Max and the others. The Flock. My Flock. My family.
A sense of calm swept through me as I knew what to do now. I knew how to pray. What I wanted. What I needed. For the Flock to be safe.
They were who I prayed for.
What do you think? Good, bad? First MR fic. :)
- Raven x