Wings Of A Wizard
Disclaimer: I do not own "Harry Potter"; or, as it turns out, "Maximum Ride". Please, no more birds dive poop-bombing my boyfriends car. Or, just no suing- sounds good, yeah?
Note; …yah, I've just got no excuse for this one; maybe…that childish little girl wish-whim of; "wings are pretty?" 'Sides, do you know how hard it was to think up a "Flock" name for Harry at 12 AM? I went through Sparky, Fledge(ling), "Origin", "Alpha", Cleveland (…what the fuck?...-squeak-) and now I'm sticking with Harry's name being, uh…
…London, you know – like "London Bridges"?, or, England – oh, or London England! –squeal- it's Brilliant, right? Oh. Bite me; –sticks out tongue-!
"98% Normal? Not so much..."
Eleven years old, and he didn't know his name; or if he was truly even eleven. What he knew was grim stuff, real-world things, that kids, he guessed sometimes when he watched the normals (lucky ones) walk around in the park, weren't supposed to know. He knew the best way to get sick was to linger after dark, when the restaurant clean-crews were finished with the chain restaurants, and eat the dumpster food. It was bad stuff, but it was food – and he wasn't turning his nose up at it. Better to be always sick, then to starve.
He knew that if he went anywhere near people who offered hand-outs, there was a price – always – for now, it was that he was too young to be on his own. So there would be "protection" offered, or thrust upon him. He'd be in someone's adult custody. After that, he might be off the streets, but he had something to offer, and there would be no escaping the gangs.
He watched who came and went, learned things by watching, made wise too early by it. If he starved, he knew, he'd be desperate enough to whore, and those sorts were bad and always on the look out for flesh-fonder. As long as he was sickly, he was an "undesirable". Hookers had haunted eyes, and pinched-thin cheeks, but they dare never sneeze.
He'd rather that, always and anyway – to sick and full, then come to be something worse. He knew too, that he had things about himself to hide; he was an unwanted 'unfortunate' – a victim – and that gained enough attention by friendly and predator eyes both. Better to be seen for what it seemed that he was (and was, in truth, when it was all he wanted to be, content with being unwanted and free), then to claim some talent and be deemed a freak on the streets. He kept it between his lips and teeth, biting his tongue on what he didn't have words for, what it was he could do, if pressed. It was a tool, sometimes, it had its use; but it was, he knew, fire. It could burn him, just as with as much ease as he could seek to use it in turn.
"Lo, Bridges," an old man with bent body and wispy dirty hair smiled down at him without any teeth, "got any cigs? I'd trade you this bit?" He waved a book, taunting, and the boy, short for his claimed age of eleven, raised a black brow and widened green eyes at this pointed cruelty. Thin aged fingers pressed over cover title and author name, pointedly.
"Smokey, what you got? What's it called?" Bridges asked, half in whine. Old though he was, the man seemed to snicker at the youth. He was well-known for his name, and his love of nicotine, taking up the habit of yanking half-used smoking cigarettes from the street.
"Not that damned King, for sure, stuff like that ain't any good for you. Missus Bag-Lady yammered about your nightmares for weeks after, I says it was only Firestarter, about little girls, but she says no more like that." Smokey shared a grin with the boy called Bridges, who rolled his eyes at him after.
"Always got those nightmares, Smokey, ain't no book did that." The old man patted the boy on the shoulder, knowing just how lucky they were to still have the youth around them. He'd been found under the Bridge in winter, and if it weren't for Missus Bag-Lady going about her 'rounds, they never would have found the year old in the snow alive. Smokey had called the lad "Lucky", until the boy himself had read about boys changing their names when they got to be older in a fantasy book by Le Guin, then he insisted on being called a man-name, so Bridges it was, though Smokey thought him still as Lucky Bridges, he'd never say so.
He was damned proud of the boy, he'd half-raised as his own, and better off being on the streets then growing up to go to war and die.
"I know, lad, but this one is just as good, I think, its good stuff by that McCaffrey woman, filled with dragons any boy ought to like that, I think." Bridges got a shine in his green eyes, and Smokey hid his grin knowing the hook had dug itself into the boy, as his back straitened up and he eyed the book in a hungry light.
"Smokes aren't good for you." Bridges said, worrying on his bottom lip, looking away then knowing he had shown his interest and half the game was lost. Smokey laughed then and it was hacking, most like a cough then anything else, with winter coming on too swiftly.
"Too much reading isn't any good for those pretty green eyes." Smokey warned in turn, having seen how the boy squinted to see now and then. Bridges pouted a bit, sulking, knowing that the game was won and he wasn't to be the victor. Handing over the cigs, Smokey passed the book in turn, and left the boy on the park bench.
Later that evening, when Smokey would come looking for the boy named Bridges, he wouldn't find him, but he would find to his cold-hearted dismay - the book Dragonflight abandoned alone – thrown off the bench in disarray.
Bridges didn't like the streets. He liked this place less. Here he was always in a white room with padded-pillow walls, floors, and ceilings. First few days, food come in from under the metal slot in the door, he knew better then to eat it. He knew, too, that he was watched. He replayed it over and over in his head, how he'd gotten into this place.
He was trying – and failing – to make sense of it. It was around the time when people with homes and places to be went away from the park, but Bridges always stayed a little while longer then they did, so they paid no mind to him not leaving as they did. Even the joggers didn't stick around between dusk and dark, they came before or after, the between hours for a little while, were his.
Then there had been men in suits, official and government like, and Bridges had hid, quickly. He wanted nothing to do with those sorts, and wanted less to be noticed. He'd tried for most of life to not be noticed. It seemed, for a little while, to be in his favor. They kept looking, but they didn't find him – or whatever they looked for.
The ground had gotten cold, leeching the warmth from his limbs. He knew if he didn't move he'd fall asleep and not wake up. Or the men might find him. Bridges had decided to try and sneak away. He hadn't made it further then out from under the bench; then he'd been weighted down by heavy bodies on his back and body, and they'd wrestled the book away from him. He'd screamed and called, never having made such noise since he was a babe and hadn't known any better. He had been sure it might have been noticed. If it had been, it had been ignored, and Bridges had been stolen from everything he had ever known.
He hated them for that. He was determined they would regret it, he decided, grimly, he'd rather die then let them do whatever they had planned for him. So, he didn't eat. And tried not to sleep, but he had to – and when he did, he knew he woke up drugged. He was tied down to a cold metal table, with something that wasn't duck tape, but kept him in place all the same.
He had started to scream even before the needle went into his eye. Sometimes he still dreamed of those same wailing, mewling screams. He woke in the dark, but he could see. Could see the shape of things could see their light – their color – and knew that if there was real light, he would see nothing at all. He would be blind.
He knew, now, what they were going to do with him; experiments. Whispers on the streets (because there were always whispers, about everything) told of little kids going missing, kids not too young to missed and too old to be of use – like him – there one day, gone in the night the next. These would be experiments, the kind science could go, but shouldn't.
Bridges knew they didn't care what he did, if he lived, it would go on and on until he died, even his death would only be noted as but an annoyance. There were always others, other kids like him, from the streets and the unwanted homes of reluctant parents. As much as Bridges tried to dream, and in his dream, keep hope – he knew it something that adults who could do something wouldn't notice, or would turn a blind eye to. There were too many unfortunate little kids, and not enough eyes on them.
What these people were doing to him was awful, inhuman, but no one would know or care if he died. He vowed, then, after loosing his sight to something new and sickening strange, that he would live. Survive to escape – and then, then he would tell them all. Ruin them, as they had so thoughtlessly ruined him.
It was a matter of revenge that kept him going.
Big brown eyes were looking at him from the other side of a cage. Not his cage, her cage. He didn't call himself Bridges anymore; he'd stopped calling himself anything after the first scream had crossed his lips. They called him things though, like a pet, Brit was the favorite. He didn't have a cage, not even the white room, that didn't mean he walked free.
Oh, no, never that. He wore a crazy-coat, it strapped his arms to his side, pinning them across his chest. They called it a strait jacket. Around his neck was an electric shock-collar, a metal bit of shiny, if he got away, it would send paralyzing jolts of electricity beating down his spine. Cruelly, if mocking, they chained his feet together in iron.
They'd worked on his ears, after his eyes. They were pointed and he could hear someone breathe even if he was blinded, always, by the light they tormented him by. Then they'd worked on his teeth, and mouth. His teeth were pointed. His tongue forked. He didn't taste anything anymore, but that could have just been a clue that they were piss-poor cooks. He'd told them so.
They were turning him into a freak. They'd worked on his skin then, as if to make up for the lack of taste-buds, his skin was sensitive and new and scary ways. After weeks of the hopefully asked question; "…how does that and this make you feel…?", those words had taken a wholly different meaning. He still shuddered if he brushed against something blindly.
He was being transferred somewhere, he knew that much. They gloated about it. You think its bad here, kid? Wait to you go to School. It seemed he wasn't going alone. He almost resented the little girl, huddled in the cage, wide eyed and watching him like a hurt puppy. He had liked dogs, on the streets. Not now, they were yet another weakness to be used against him, now. In the dark, he watches her, and even if she couldn't see him, she seems to know he was there and watching her, so she watched the dark. Watched him, unknowing.
He wonders what she would think if she were to see him. Would she scream? Cry? Beg…? He is glad she can not see him – now - even if it is a cruel thing to think. He'd almost forgotten the old vow, to flee, but his resolve hardens anew, while brown eyes watch him blindly.
"I'm called Brit." He says it, and his voice is husky and a pathetic thin thing that rasps like cold stone. It lisps-hisses a little. Those are the first words he's spoken willingly, not urged out of him by screams. He waits then, for her answer, he is good at it – solidly patient – but even so begins to wonder if she can speak.
"I…I don't know my name." It's a whisper, but fleeting. If not for his damned keen hearing, he would not have heard or understood the words.
"That's okay, seems we're in for the maximum ride, kid." Talking he learned long ago lets the time pass. If it means his fellow prisoner won't stare so fearfully into the dark, he'll be content with it.
"I like that." She says, with tilted chin and a smile on her lips.
"What?" It surprises him, and the words press out, seemingly eager to be heard.
"Maximum Ride, call me that." She tells him, matter-of-fact, something firm and sure about her as little as she is. He half-smiles, though she might never see it. Might never know it; for better, or worse.
"Alright, Max it is, then." He says in turn, hearing his own amusement in his voice, wondering if she can and understands it for what it is. He doubts it. For a long time, there is only the rattle of their metal cage. He does not know if they are traveling over road or by plane, does not want to know.
"What does Brit mean?" Max asks, small and hesitant again. It does not suit her, she is made of stronger stuff then this and he intends to let her know it, without saying so. Saying something means little. It won't hurt, Brit, only a little. Promise it'll be over, Brit, before you know. Most of what people say is made up all of lies. He won't lie to her, he promises himself without words, not ever. Not even if it might hurt her, he won't tell a lie.
"A joke, I guess, short for Britain. I think I'm from there, closer to London, England though." His voice edges toward his accent though it sounds like gravel dragging against stone, rumbling earth, like he has a bad cold, sick in his lungs.
"If they call you that, I won't." Max decides, abrupt and short. She is very to the point, very rough around the edges. On the streets, such boldness would be weak. He finds it refreshing. He thinks he'll encourage her to be so, if he sees her again.
"What will you call me?" It's only with a little curiosity that he asks, if it is tinged and mixed with the rough sounds his voice makes, he wonders if she has learned to take notice. She isn't very old, not even yet ten. He wonders if she can count.
"London." Max decides, for once her silence is very short. Newly named London, he closes his eyes, thinking of a time and place that seems so very far away. When he opens his eyes, he sees that she is curled up on herself, a fetal position on her side; she has her eyes closed. He knows she is not yet asleep.
"Thank you." London murmurs soft in the dark, and if she smiles a little more, she still does not say a word. It is enough, for now, still. He knows he must keep going – if not for his own sake then…- for hers.
"Well, well," London has come to hate those words, this Mad Scientist that lets him wonder in the dark where he wishes but hides him, chained in the dark underground maze of the lab, "what have we here? Little birds chattering, oh dear, oh my…."
London knows he can not do anything to save her, his Max, still he knows he must try. He stands in front of her dog-sized cage, back ram-rod strait and his eyes furious. Over the months, Max is no longer alone along the row of metal crates; five little ones have joined her. They whisper in the dark together, and give what comfort that can be offered. London knows they envy him, hate him a little for his supposed night-time freedom. None of them can see so very well in the dark and one can not see at all (a retry, London suspects, of his own experimental eyes) not as well as his own delicate day-blind green luminous eyes.
He's never told them what he looks like. What has been done to him, his nails were plucked from his bleeding fingers and black talons he couldn't guess the origins of inputted, in hopes that the alteration would take hold. They had. A further mutation of his skin had taken hold after, and they told him he didn't have skin anymore, but scales small translucent and iridescent; they thought it could be mortified. Into what, they had not said. Still, his skin was as tortuously sensitive as ever.
"My dear," totted the Mad Scientist speaking to London chidingly, "it is not done, making friends – beneath you, my lovely." London shivers, hissing his distaste as the man creeps closer remembering the Mad Scientist touching him reverently in a relish as he half-slept, helpless.
"Don't listen! London, you mustn't listen to that man!" Max, his brave Max, cries out, gasping at her own rashly spoken words as she speaks them, hears them as if she didn't mean say so – what she guesses of makes of the Mad Scientist's words of him, London won't dwell on – she puts her hand to her mouth, biting her palm. She knows she's only made things worse.
Mad Scientist is still then, and as London has never seen him so solemn and damningly frozen-still, London fears.
"Oh, so you think you've earned a name, being given on by these snotty brats. Well, that isn't done, my lovely, you've spoken to them, no doubt – but they have not seen you." Mad Scientist grins, and there is something disarming and charming in it. So much so, that for a moment even London is fooled into thinking he isn't angry as all that. But he is, and what he does is so much worse then what London thought he would do (and that is bad enough, with needles and not-quite sleep and hands touching him in places they certainly shouldn't).
He switches on the light. London howls in protest, shrieking as the light blinds him. He pants for breath, filled with fear at the not-sight, as the Mad Scientist has never done this to him. London cowers, on the floor, his back pressed into the metal cold metal, it does not matter, it is a feeling, at least - something. He hears soft gasps, cries, and damning silence from where he knows the cages to be; then, there are footsteps coming near.
"They will have to be punished, for this, my love – seeing you so, my beauty. You shall learn how unwise you've been." Mad Scientist hovers over him, shadows him, and touches his jaw and tracing to his cheek up to the blind eyes. He feels wetness keenly against his cheeks. His own tears, never before since the first time has anyone made him cry. London snaps his sharp teeth at that hand, and a cold needle pushes up into his neck, painful beneath his skin.
"London – no!" He hears as his limbs grow heavy and his mind drifts, though he has time to wish he hadn't heard Max say anything at all. She's only making it worse for them all.
"L-London, please, please you must wake up…p-please? Don't leave. Don't leave me alone, not like this…" Max pleads with him, for London would know her voice anywhere. She torches his hand, talon fingers and scaled flesh, with her own, reaching for him – to him – as if she wants to reassure herself that his body is still warm; still alive.
"No, it'll never be like this, Max." He murmurs to her, his voice slow and slurring, fighting the drugs and wishing he hasn't woken up at all. It's a selfish thing, but no truer for it.
"What…what have they done to us?" It isn't Max that asks, for Max knows better then to want to ask, by now. It's the boy, tall and pale, blind. London finds himself looking, then, but it is the keen pain on his back, like burning metal, that lets it sink in, damning like a bleed in the brain.
"Wings - we have wings, all of us; grafted." London answers, for no one else can, because they sit in the dark, and London can see while they can not. It's familiar, and London knows that Mad Scientist is watching now, and all this is just for his amusement. Like a pretend play, they are puppets, performing. For a long time, there is nothing said, for what can be said?
"Freaks…he said it, little birds, indeed – fucker." It's hissed by the eldest boy, with dark hair, who calls himself Fang. It stings, even if it is not exactly an accusation of blame.
"It's my fault." London says it, for someone must and better him then any one of them. That would hurt the worst, to hear one of them, his children, say so.
"No, no it's not – they would have done it anyway, they were planning on it." The littlest, Angel, looks up at him, a toddler shouldn't speak so well, yet she does - as if she really can tell. It's reassuring from her in a way it would not be, from anyone else. London lets it sink in and nods though she can not see. Nonetheless, she is satisfied by his seeming acceptance.
"Oh, God…" Dark shin shivers as if cold, and Nudge huddles nearer to Angel and Max, as if seeking warmth, though it is comfort that she craves. London dares not go near them, for all that Max reaches, straining, to hold onto his hand.
"London, please, you couldn't have done anything, Angel is right. What...what they've done to us – it…it's nothing to what they've done to you." Max tells him, squeezing the hold on his hand, tightening as if that alone will make him believe. London takes a breath, looking about the empty metal walled room. It's barren, as if they've been abandoned, a cold comfort. A lie.
"He touched you." The littlest boy says it, when the others dare not. His name is Gasman. For a while London only breaths, in and out, slow and deep, while all the rest seem to hold their breath.
"Yeah, I know." Better me then you; is what London does not say, because something must be said if not that. The continued silence is strained, and London wishes it wasn't. Something will break soon, with the tension so high and solemn, and it might be his sanity.
"You never told me you were a dragon!" It's Max that says it, accusing, his bold Max, and London can do nothing but laugh, loud and as reckless and bold as she tries so hard to be, for him. The others snicker soft or ha-ha in whisper, huffing under their breath, quiet even in their amusement, for they know better then to be as noticed as London has made himself be all these long years for their sake, and never did they get the chance to laugh, free. London wishes with all that he is, for them to be free to learn to laugh.
"Sir, though the grafting worked, we have to be sure – useless wings are no use to further our cause." His name is Jeb Batchelder. He is only an intern-scientist with great ambition and greater potential. London is kept like some great predator pet at the feet of Mad Scientist, he tries to pretend at lounging and lazy sprawled limbs, to look as if he has no where else to be, and isn't being forced to being played as the let at it's masters feet.
The collar around his neck is lax, the chain played with by Mad Scientist in absent minded laze. He is sure now of his absolute control, and London suspects he is right to think so. London will not risk the children again. His eyes are wrapped (or his head hooded?) to keep the light out, and he is still blind, but at least there is no real pain aching through his mind like a mad migraine. His hands and feet are chained together, because a strait jacket might damage his wings, and London can not stand to have those wings touched because every touch is pain – or, far worse and more damning, a pleasure. Better to have his wrists rubbed raw.
"A good point, very well, take the brats out to play in the sun; may they have little pleasure in it." Jeb walks away, saying nothing else. London knows that this man is different, and he lets hope seep into him that, maybe the children might make some sort of impression upon the man. He already pities them, cares in a way that his human, strange, for all the others see only objects or smart little pet-experiments. Jeb sees humans. It's his weakness, but London sees this as a chance and he would be fool not to use it. To throw it away, well, that would be a waste.
"Hmmm, how old do you think you are, my pet?" Mad Scientist doesn't expect him to speak, but London has kept careful count. It has only been two years; two impossibly long years. His hair was petted thoughtfully; it fell long to his shoulders. London was careful not to move.
"Thirteen, sir?" An aide guessed, rightly, for though the Mad Scientist does not think that London would answer, someone must. Mad Scientist goes quiet, and London knows something like a smile must be crossing his lips.
"Ah…well, he's not yet reached sexual maturity, has he? Let us make it an interesting process, no?" He knows he makes some helpless noise of protest, because Mad Scientist is listening for it. London knows his heart is beating, but it seems only cold sinks into his chest, filling his limbs with cold ice and dread. The press of a needle under his flesh is almost a blessing.
London wakes, and knows he is not alone. A small hand rests on his chest, a head pressed to where his heart beats. This body pressed to his, thankfully, it is too small to be Mad Scientist playing a game. London lets his eyes open, sightless, and knows he is hooded like a hawk, he sighs, letting the listener and those near know that he's awake.
"What have they done to me, this time?" London asks, his voice a gravely thing ill-used, he knows that of all of them, Fang would answer the most truthfully. London does not let himself think of what they may have done to him, he's gotten too used to it to let himself to dwell on such horrors his mind makes up all too eagerly.
"I'm sorry, London, I couldn't stop him. When I came back, they were celebrating it as a success; it was easy for me to drug them." Jeb answers instead of one of London's children, and though it is a surprise to have Jeb speaking to him so easily, London is quiet. In is silence, Max speaks, playing with his long black hair and whispering softly into his ear.
"We've gotten away, London – all of us, we're free." There is wetness against his chest, and London knows that Max is crying. The other children aren't asleep, he hears them breathing and shifting, trying to be quiet – and he knows that is for his sake – they wanted him to sleep while he could. It must be bad, what they've done to me this time; his mind hisses to him like a lizard-snake, cruel and taunting.
"Its cost was too high." Fang says, and London wouldn't have expected him to say so, because for the children –always before - any price for a chance at freedom did not seem high enough. London just breathes for a long while, waiting, but no one says anything more – so he must urge them on. He must know, because the not knowing – always before it was worse, the not knowing.
"What else?" London asks in the midst of their silence, and Max is still and shaking beside him. She won't speak, he knows, and tries not to begrudge her silence.
"I don't know exactly what might happen, London, but, ah, from what I could make out of it, they forced your body to emit pheromones at an increased rate at a gestation rate; when you get older, when you reach puberty, you'll be able to become pregnant – to bear children. London, there…there's something else," Jeb breaths through his teeth, he is driving, London knows even as he feels keenly the tenseness in the air – can practically taste it – London has never feared anything more in his life then that "something else" Jeb won't say, "you know how female dogs and cats, they go into heat – even birds have a mating season, humans only differ that they can have sex and reproduce at any point during a mature lifespan; I'm sorry, London, but they also made you less human, like…like that." London can plainly hear the disgust Jeb has for this final offence against nature. Still, he has to be sure he understands.
"I'll go into an animal-like heat?" London puts an empathies on the words, and why not? It's his life, his future – if he lives to see it.
"Yes…" Jeb answers, and there is no cruelty in him, only hopeless thwarted desperation.
"Can you fix it, fix me?" London asks, because he has to know for sure that Jeb will do what he can, even if he knows it, saying it – well, sometimes people lie. Jeb hasn't, and won't – not about this.
"No." There is a finality, a surety, there that London wishes he could not hear; but he has. He can't deny the truth he hears with his own ears. There is no undoing what's been done in this final physical offense. London has to find a way to live with it, and he will, if it means the other six kids are free, because in the end - he is all they have other then Jeb.
He won't abandon them.
Note; yeah, that last part I wasn't expecting either, Harry (AKA London/Bridges) looks more like a flying dragon given human shape, rather then an angelic bird kid with quirky side-effect ability. And, yes, Harry will find out about the magical world and just what being a wizard means soon. I'm kind of looking forward to it! –bouncy-