Wings Of A Wizard
Disclaimer: I do not own "Harry Potter"; or, as it turns out, "Maximum Ride". I just read the "Max" book, okay, and now? Now I'm waiting for more. It's sort of pathetic, really…I just had to go and get 1&2 of the manga-version.
And I read "Fang" – and will read "Angel" when I have money again, or can go to the library when open – the thing about starting a new job, the pay delay!
"Seven In Seventh Heaven"
London opened his eyes and could see bright color upon bright light, and knew he was blind. He would never see a clear blue sky during the day. So his dream ended and the morning began. Morning began at noon, so it wasn't really morning at all. London folded his arms and laid his chin upon them, waiting and listening. He knew it would not be long until the others started stirring. Fang snorted in his sleep, Iggy snored, Angel huffed with soft breaths against his neck, and Nudge cuddled between Max and he – who sprawled over them all. Gasman began the morning (that wasn't really morning, but noon) in his usual way.
"Gazzy!" Nudge gagged in protest, waking with a whiff of the foul air. Gasman blinked at her sleepily, startled by her scolding, he struggled to sit up – to argue, but smelt it too and merely blushed.
"She who smelt it dealt it." London stated, with a sleepy smile. He wouldn't know it was returned by Gazzy, for being defended. He did not see, also, that Nudge was that and thought that their comradely smiles were in trickery. She curled her tongue in disgust aiming her wings to whack at London (a common enough game among the winged flock now, and one that London would dodge, when he could see) that it was Fang who woke silently when Iggy stiffed feeling movement keenly – Fang who tackled her off the bottom bunks and onto the floor with a rush of dark feathers and gleaming teeth.
"How dare you!" Fang hissed at her, and Nudge was wide eyed with her own guilt. The flock had long been helpless against adults, and born among them was an unspoken code that they themselves would never offer harm to those weaker then they. Together they were strong, a family of freaks.
"I…I forgot." Nudge gulped, breathless not at her back meeting the floor and stealing her breath, but at the sob that welled up to choke her. London too had forgotten, that the flocks were but children used to him protecting them, being powerful in the dark where monsters like he ruled. Nudge looked to London who stared sightlessly toward her, his eyes eerie green where they should be luminous silver and green. There was no bright silver to them, nothing that caught the light like a cat's eye gleam.
"Forgive me?" Nudge asked it of London, alone whose opinion mattered most. He had been her target, would have been her victim.
"There is nothing to forgive. I trust you all with my life, I am blind without you, lost." London couldn't meet her eyes, for he couldn't see. But his smile, his faith in her, she treasured. Nudge could see the others though, and they were all meeting her eyes, accusation seething within them on behalf of a protector she shared with them. That she had almost betrayed and hurt. Better to forget the days where the flock was turned against each other by the School in the name of science. That would never happen again, though the trigger lay just under the surface of everyone's memory, buried but raw.
"I wish you wouldn't…" Iggy says, but does not finish – he does not after all know exactly what he wishes London wouldn't do - his hand reaching blindly for London's face, fingers pressing over eyelids and eyebrows. What had succeeded with London had failed utterly with Iggy, and though Iggy would never say he blamed London – he'd seen London, once – before the needle had stolen his sight. The sight ghosted in his mind's eye now, as he saw London by his fingers and bones. London had more trust in them then Iggy could ever think to give up to anyone. It was, he felt, wasted on him – but given freely none the less, that trust, that loyalty – it shook his fingers, made them tremble on London's still skin. He'd made no effort to move away, to flinch, as Iggy knew he himself did and could not help.
"It is what it is." London's lips moved under Iggy's fingers, and Iggy couldn't help but blush. To London it would always be that simple, what felt right was right. Iggy could never have that faith – but he could touch it in London. Gazzy's tummy rumbled like thunder, and he giggled nervously when all eyes fell on him. Angel opened her big blue eyes and yawned, blinking at all of them curiously. She looked to London, and though he could not see her, he heard her voice ringing clear like a bell – chiming eagerly though his mind.
"What did I miss?" Her sleepy demand is full of nervous energy. He returns amusement and patience learned between chains and stone floors.
"What else? The noon time rituals of the flock, little Angel – did you sleep well?" He returns in like way, his voice in her mind smooth and full of fire as it never is aloud. Angel knows him as something like a force of nature, his power bidding only his command; his control is something she wants for herself, with an envy that she hopes she will never need. He taught her it was okay, to speak between the flock this way.
"I dreamed of feathers falling from the sky, and a green skull gleaming in the night over all." She is puzzled by what she says and has dreamed, but London is chill along his spine. He wonders if this link between them is doing more harm then good, if his very dreams spill over to taint her. Angel feels that instinctual retreating and holds onto the link, drags at it and clings.
"Why!" Is her silent shout as tears begin to fill her eyes as she watches London in the daylight, he is so powerful but helpless, and refuses any kind of weakness in himself. It is a mix she does not understand, but is determined to help.
"Angel, what's wrong?" Gazzy asks his sister softly, wide eyed and looking about protectively for what could cause her to cry. Angel takes deep breaths, holding to that link as it stills inside her, waiting for her to let go. It's enduring and Angel knows that no matter how long she clings to the link, she'll falter for lack of rest, and be alone within her own head.
"He…he thinks he's bad for me! For us!" Is what she says aloud and accusing. For the first time Angel digs into London's mind, and searches wildly for what's making him like this so she can fix it.
London does flinch from –her - them then, for the first time. Angel determines it to be the last.
"What, how?" Max demands, her frustration and puzzlement plain and honest.
"Broken." London says for himself, correcting – his gaze is vague but stern. His voice pleads. He does not see them, but he can see her, what Angel is doing so recklessly. He can stop her, but it will hurt her, and London does not really think that Angel will hurt him on purpose – it is a question of defending himself (and hurting her), or protecting her (and who cares, really, what happens to him?). A line he can not cross.
Angel sees that, bites her lips, and presses in and in and in, digging as close as she can into London's mind so he might never escape. She doesn't like what she's doing, and for the first time since she learnt to do this and London taught her it was right and good to use her gift, she feels wrong and dirty.
London looks sightlessly toward her, and Angel closes her eyes and prays. Not to the God she is named after the messengers of, but to London whose mind she's tangled within her own so there is no parting them now without killing the both of them. A part of Angel wants out and away, and she knows it for instinct and a melding of what London wants – but she prays, softly.
"Please, London – you know what's in yourself, and now I do too. I know you, as no one before has and no one now ever will." Possessive and fierce, this Angel promises. She feels that weight of wrong in her, and guilt eats at her that she's done this and London hasn't fought and hurt her. She's stolen something of London, and no one will take it because it's hers. It's weighted and equaled and judged and passed between them, equally. Angel is as much London as London is Angel, and they are as nearly one as they will ever come.
"You are a part of the flock and we are whole with you. We can not survive without you. I love you. If you are broken so are we all, together we are whole, we are the flock!" Angel strains and struggles and grasps out- aware of Gazzy holding her hand, of Max hugging her little body (still as sleep) and Iggy feeling her head. Aware in a flash of Fang shouting in London's unaware features, for all of Fang's fierce voice, his touch on either side of London's head is warm and soothing: that Nudge has tears in her eyes, and holds London's still body (so still, and lifeless, like death) which she would have struck down only this morning. Angel senses them all, and touch makes it easer to gather their minds together like strings, and Angel holds it within her mind, showing them all to London gently as cupped hands.
"We are the flock! You are ours!" It is cold, so cold, so suddenly, and Angel is aware again, like a breath of air above the sea, precious and life-giving, all their bodies are still like puppets with cut strings. Angel has their lives – their minds – gathered in her cupped hands, showing them off to London who is so silent Angel wonders what she's done to all of them. If she can undo it, she doesn't know and is so scared all she can do is hang on – to London, to Gazzy (her farting big brother, protective and good), to Max (so bold and proud), to Fang (fierce and dark), to Iggy (noble and gentle), to Nudge (playful and kind), and hold them together and wait. She doesn't know for what. Or what will happen if London denies this, denies them this.
She can't do anything, for fear clogs her throat, freezes her. She can't fix this, she meant only to fix London, but she's done something bad, truly bad – and she feels that London is aware of it.
So very, very aware of all of this- what it means, forever and ever, where Angel is not. She can only think that she should have waited, that it was meant to be a choice split between them all, and it is not. She will spend the rest of her life making up for this, if only London does something.
Finally, finally, London stirs.
"I am yours, as you are mine." He accepts, and warmth and light and all good things well up in Angel, she feels, and it feels right. And it wells up, that power in London that Angel likens only to the nature of world, or the world's origin, like magic; it wells up and binds them, warm and accepting. They are a web, with separate stings, but connected to each other – not merely though Angel and London, but it's spread between them all, an equally entrapping net to bind them.
There is no getting rid of it, no getting away from it.
It's a part of them all, within them one is all, and all is one.
Mine, the thought rouses London, protective and rearing. He gasps, fully awake and aware, and Fang is touching his face, words ringing in his ears that he now hears to remember.
("Who is broken?" Gazzy's puzzled musing…"Why is London bleeding?" Nudge, hesitant and panicked…"Angel, Angel? Wake up sweetie – London's not broken!" Max, crooning…. "Max!" Fang, crying out as London slumps like he won't ever wake…"What can I do?" Iggy, demanding and sounding like tears… "Please, please."...)
"What was that?" Fang's words slur, drunken. His eyes are open, and he is grinning at the sight of London looking back at him. He's not quite himself, but London forgives Fang that – none of them will be only themselves, and its final doing was his fault. He hadn't had a choice: it was –literally - do or die. One and all.
"That was Angel." London can not take the blame, and Angel's big blue eyes blink up at him triumphantly. She isn't sorry in the least, and he wonders if one day she will be.
"It wasn't all me! It was you –and, and all of us!" Angel sputters as she starts, and looks about for agreement. She gets blinks and blank faces. They don't know what's been done, but they will.
"Oh." Nudge says, faintly, closing her eyes as like a wave crashing to the shore (into her) she feels the weight of them all gathered at once.
"I have a headache…" Iggy says, softly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Angel looks to London, biting her lip and wide eyed, and he sighs.
"Hey, hey!" Gazzy whimpers, feeling small and crushed.
"Enough!" Max shouts out, but it does no good. Angel and London put them all together, but it is London goes to work pulling to parting them enough that their thoughts are their own, and they have to really want, have to reach out, in order to feel and think to and with another of their flock. They are separate parts of a whole. It works, though it is new and raw.
"Thank you." Max says, short and stinging. Angel pats her hand, for rebuke or comfort, though London doesn't see it – he gets an echo of the feeling of it. He can't help that or change it, and Angel welcomes that small connection, and does not begrudge him it. He can feel what they do, both within and out, as they do. In that way he is not blind.
"Now," Fang shakes his head free of the feelings and thoughts of the flock, "will one of you – Angel, London – please explain what's going on?" Fang isn't accusing, but narrow eyed and sharp, his wings half raised as if to fly. Angel meets his eyes and her chin is raised, determined to be heard.
"I woke up, I'd had a nightmare – about death, falling feathers, green skulls – it seems silly now…but. It had scared me. I asked," Angel taps her finger to her temple, "London what had happened to wake me. It had seemed I couldn't wake from the dream. I told him about the dream, and he….shattered, it seemed to me. He was broken, bleeding – as if, no – no I'm sure. He was dying. He was killing himself. He thought he'd hurt me by that stupid dream, thought it was his and he was infecting me – us – with his, his bleeding in his brain? I wouldn't let him die, I showed him what he had to live for – in us, but I did it wrong, and he knew if he died he'd take me – take us – with him. He did something else instead, and here we are, alive and whole. We are the flock." A smile of enlightenment creeps over Angel's face. Max runs her fingers though golden hair, her eyes soft. London knows that she is safe from blame. He is not, he is tense and feels strange – as if he doesn't know where he is and the ground is like sand, sinking under him.
"London…?" Nudge whispers – so near a whimper- and it sounds as if she's going to cry.
"Say something!" Fang demands of him, his fingers curling helplessly against London's face.
"I can not undo it." He finally says, like a plea. All the scientific experiments in the world, the worst and more, and he – the freak, the monster – who did not mean to do what has been done, may ruin them.
"Is Angel right, were you killing yourself while we…we just sat here?" It's Iggy's demand that shakes London, that has him look in Iggy's direction, where Gazzy hold's Angel's hand his grip tight enough to be while knuckled, and Max holds her little body, warm and safe. She is alive, if he had made any other choice – she would not be. And he would be a monster, dead – but a monster. Now he's tied to them, and he welcomes each echoing touch he feels ringing in his head, for it means that he could no more hurt them then hurt himself.
"Look at me." London demands of them, flicking his forked tongue and his sharp teeth.
"What do you see?" His wings rise up, red like blood, to shadow them all. They are something bat-like – where theirs are like a bird - but feathered: something strange and primal. They are meant to be dangerous.
His question is not meant to be answered, but is.
"A brother…" Fang says it, his own dark wings reaching up to touch, to cover London's own with his. It's a gesture both tender and trusting. But they must never trust him, above all - London knows that.
"I am no one's brother." London hisses, menacing – Fang's eyes are wide at that denial, and London uses it to his own advantage, with those dark wings so vulnerable above his own he moves, and for the first time the flock realizes how very fast London can move. They see then the talons – not merely on London's hands and feet, but in his wings, a talon thumb at each wing joint, like a raptor's claw. He has only to press down to tear into Fang's delicate wings, to break and maim him. Fang is pinned beneath him, helplessly, like any common butterfly. Among them, only London's wings are weapons.
"Think, you fool – think of the Erasers." They try not to, and Fang does not flinch from London. Not even now. London looks away from that fierce feeling of belief in him, that pride and surety in a bond, not of Angel's doing, but based something more then mere survival. He can't escape it, for Fang is reaching to touch their minds though the link.
"Street kids – like me. Monsters – like me. Too fast, too fierce – like me. Do you not see what you've done Angel?" London is blind when he looks to Angel, but Fang feels him tremble. He knows London's strengths, and believes whole heartedly that London will not hurt him, that this is a show to get them to run as fast and as far away as they can from him. Fang knows what will happen to London after that, he would go back to the School and make it a ruin, make it burn. He'd die alone, like that. The surety of that knowledge fills Fang, and maybe it leaks from London – but Fang shoves in thought his bond with the others, what they risk. What London thinks his life is worth – is nothing, isn't worth living, without them – without the flock.
"You are not an Eraser." This Fang says in all surety. Max looks between Fang and London, and relaxes, trusting in Fang to know what he's doing. London does not – can not – see this, but he feels it. Feels the bond binding them one and all, and knows he can not break it this way.
"No? No, I am worse something primal and predator. I am a work in progress." London's voice is full of self disgust. They all feel it.
"You are a protector. Our protector - and you are good, London." As it is Iggy (who is blind, like him) that says that, London doesn't argue – he can't. He's tried and failed, and he knows it – the bond can't be broken, not so simply as that. It's something he's done – that Angel offered, choice or no choice among the other flock. Iggy accepts it, accepts him, and London couldn't live with himself if Iggy hated him.
"I want the bond…" Nudge says, her closed eyes flickering as if in REM sleep.
"One is all, all is one." Angel quips with a smile, and London resolves to never let her read The Three Musketeers.
"I'll never regret it if it means you're alive. Never." Max vows her eyes full of the old fondness that London can't turn away from. For her he changed his name for the third time, the final time – he's deemed it to be, and he'll live up to the gift of that name that means freedom to them.
"Better alive then dead, any day, any way." Gazzy agrees, and London sighs.
"So be it." And just like that London is off of Fang and standing on his own, fingers on the wall. His look is expectant and sure enough its Gasman's stomach that growls. A faint smile curls his lips, but his eyes are closed. Iggy huffs, but that does not stop Gazzy from gripping his hand and totting him out the door, clinging to that hand. It's sure that Gazzy does not need the company, but keeps it to be Iggy's guide.
Nudge gathers up a yawning Angel in her arms, letting the more formidable Max and Fang take London under their wing, though not literally. London keeps his eyes tightly closed; to open them with the sunlight filling the house would pain him. In the bedroom the curtains had been drawn and the light dimmed, not so now.
"Wow! Look at it; mountains as far as the eye can see! And we're up here, in the middle of all of it." London sees though Angel's eyes as she peers though the windows all around them.
"Ah, good morning – did you all sleep soundly?" It's Jeb that asks but that he says nothing about London coming into the room with the flock all around him. It brings sharply to mind his impending…mating. That there is no telling when and he does not want to be about the flock when it begins. He seeks in himself for any hint of it, but there is nothing but the flock.
"Not really." Angel is young and blunt, and Max snickers under her breath, tickling London's ear.
"You're not to take London away again. We've decided it." Fang states, plainly it's a demand that can not be denied and will not be bent. His gaze underlines that plainly, and all the flock feels at ease with that, Max nodding along with the rest. Fang does not need to bring to blame that London was left alone, and this bond between them all was the result of it. They unanimously did not regret the bond that bound them, but they were uneasy with what else might happen in the wake of it.
Jeb doesn't address Fang's words, instead he gestures to the table and its oatmeal and applesauce and grapes and mango and watermelon, with toast roasted and buttered. London sits between Max and Fang, and if it's a gesture in the making, he had not made it. He eats, as do the rest, because it's what Jeb expects, and London had decided already – he would not undermine Jeb, he'd set the best possible example, and any outcome the flock, unruly and underage, decided to chose was a direction unto themselves.
"You took so long that I and Ari went shopping for you." Jeb speaks up as they finish, and he nods to the shopping bags along the hall wall. It isn't asked or answered, how Jeb came to know their sizes - but that he dares determines what the flock should ware, that makes London, look with closed eyes to where Jeb sits. It is a silent protest that the flock would not have caught, had they not been bonded.
"Anything you do not like, we can trade in for something else." It's a mild admittance of wrong, but London says nothing. It's Fang that watches as Iggy takes his knife in hand and with the smaller Gazzy wobbling to the walls with the bags. Iggy sits where Gazzy bids and Jeb can do nothing but watch as Gazzy and Angel take shirts out no matter size or style and tell Iggy where they need cutting.
"We need room for our wings." Nudge explains with a smile. London does not smile, though he can guess what is happening. Max tugs at his hand, and London stands gracefully as if it were his plan all along.
"Where is Ari?" London asks – though his face it toward the flock, for he may be blind but he has very good hearing. There is no child here that is not of his flock.
"At school." Jeb regrets the word as soon as it is uttered, that much is clear. The flock hears it and thinks of cages, and dogs and the gleaming eyes of eager Erasers. They are still and subdued, even if they do not mean to be so. It is wrong. London knows he will try for the rest of his life to change that way of thinking, but like the Erasers, he fears he'll be too short lived to be of use.
That is also why he'd tried to break the bond when it was new and they were waking, for if he dies – if any of them dies – he does not know if they would all die as one, or if after the survivors (if any) would want life.
"Not the School, a preschool. It's…different." Jeb's protest is lost on them. It is only when Max attempts to strip out of her tan scrub shirt that Jeb, wide eyed protests, again.
"It isn't proper to do that Max, between young women and young men must be discretion – privacy." London knows that the red of Max's cheeks isn't shame but anger.
"It's hard to think of that, having been brought up in a cage." Her voice is soft and scathing, but when Nudge takes up Angel and the crinkling bags of clothing meant for the girls, Max follows her into another room. Better that Max should leave then fight over such a simple thing with Jeb.
"Leave." London demands of Jeb, and when Jeb frowns, in puzzlement – he doesn't back down.
"You were a scientist." Fang points out, his face grim: Jeb flushes, in shame – he remembers too well what London faced with Mad Scientist, and the displays that had been commonplace, between London in chains as a pet, and the Mad Scientist master over all.
It isn't for those reasons alone that London insists, for whatever he faced, the flock had shared in smaller measures. What should have caused humiliation and shame had been scraped out of them as if with a knife.
"How about these pants, navy…?" The material Fang passed to him felt fine, like something for sports. London frowns, but doesn't complain.
"Any jeans…?" London heard Iggy ask of Gazzy.
"Blue and black, only those two colors I'm afraid." Gazzy mutters, fingers crinkling bags in sharp bursts of sound that London makes a point not to flinch from.
"Unimaginative lout..." Iggy complains, but holds out his hand expectantly. Fang sees that their blue jeans, and snorts.
"Would you rather pink?" Gazzy asks brightly, already sporting a fire engine red shirt and just shot me orange. Fang isn't sure if he's entirely kidding, Gazzy just might think pink would go well with Iggy's cream skin. Gazzy eyes the pink shit Nudge had left behind in a huff of disgust – perhaps only Angel would ware it, if it were her size at all.
"What did you give me?" Iggy pauses suspiciously, his hands on the edge of his pants.
"Blue." Fang says, before Gazzy can say. Iggy rolls his eyes but shimmies into them, they fit, and he mockingly holds his hands up.
"How do they look?" It's a question that isn't really meant to be answered, but Gazzy does, in his own way.
"Are they tight?" His question makes Iggy's nose scrunch in confusion.
"No." It's questioning, worrying at what they see and he can't.
"Then they are fine and you're not turning into a girl." Gazzy declares, and throws a black shirt which Iggy catches, smirking.
"It's black." Fang states in warning before Iggy can ask, and the blind boy curls his lip and tosses the shirt toward Fang. Fang likes it just fine, thank you – he'd also taken the black jeans before Gazzy could hand them over for Iggy to reject.
"Is there something tan, brown, or gold?" Iggy lists off his fingers what he thinks goes well with blue jeans. Gazzy finds a bright yellow shirt, looks to Fang who shakes his head "no" once and sets it aside. There is a brown one, dark, with fuzz like velvet. He puts it into Iggy's outstretched hand, and when Fang makes no noise of protest, slides it over his shoulders and waist. Fang is wearing the black jeans and black shirt, and now its London's turn.
"What goes with navy blue?" Iggy asks them aloud, tapping his chin.
"Remember that I can see better then the lot of you come night time." London warns, against any sort of mischief. They are boys and teenagers, and though London does love them like family, he wouldn't trust their sense of style against the Devil.
"Yes, sir." Gazzy whines mockingly, but points out the army green with a grin.
"Army green?" Fang suggests aloud, knowing better then to trick London. London clenches his eyes closed, as if with a headache. It could be worse.
"Sure." Short, and with a long suffering sigh.
It's handed over and London is helped to dress by Fang and suffers no sting to his dignity, blind and however helpless he is. Iggy had suffered just the same. The girls clamor in, and Fang eyes them.
"Max is in a grey sweater and red pants. Nudge has a fashion sense, blue blouse and khaki pants. Angel is in baby blue and peach." He announces it all in one, though Nudge giggles: London can't help but be a little impressed.
"Let's go outside!" Angel demands at once, having had enough at being closeted inside. London couldn't agree more, and wonders if his name, that of a big city, is truly all that appropriate after all.
It's day out, and he can't see – yet. Max leads him with the lightest of touches on his hand. It's strange but he can feel her movements though that little sink-on-skin contact, where she bends her knees, where she takes a step to avoid something. He mimics her effortlessly; maybe it is only that he's lived so long in the dark and gotten used to it, imagines things. He hopes that is all it is, but he doesn't think so. Not really. He feels the warmth of the sun on his skin and doesn't know how long it's been since he last felt it. A long time, that much he knows. He can't see, but he can hear – probably better then most.
He hears a sound that shatters everything, all peace and hope and dreams. Copters and something like the howl of wolves in the distance.
"Flee to the trees." He tells them, when they look to him – unable to help themselves in the old instincts that creep out of the façade of children in new clothes, facing reality. Their reality is this, to be predator or prey.
Come what may, the bond sings between the seven of them – they will not be caged again. They are free.