"Iggy! Hurry the hell up!" I called, rubbing my forehead. That boy was never on time!
"I'm coming, I'm coming, geez," he called back, twelve year old Gasman trudging behind him in a sleepy blur.
As soon as he saw me, leaning over the food with a spatula in hand, he groaned audibly. "Aww, man, don't tell me you cooked! Please, I'm actually looking forward to tonight!"
What was Iggy referring to? The fact that tonight was homecoming at our school, and he was looking forward to his date.
I waved the spatula in front of me threateningly, "No, I was just cleaning up a bit, you dunderhead. Where's Angel?"
"Right here, Max," a small tinkling voice said, appearing behind her brother and stepping around him, her Scottie Total in her skinny arms.
"Morning, Sweetie," I said, flashing her a smile that the boys certainly didn't get. "You ready for that test in Math today?"
She nodded, an almost evil glint in her eyes as she said, "Yup. Remember? I can 'read minds.'"
I chuckled. It was a sort of inside joke. Ever since she was a baby, little Angel had been so dang in tune with her people skills, it was almost like she had been crawling around in your head and just picking answers from it.
"Right, almost forgot, Sweetie."
Before we really knew it, we were all being dropped off at the Sixth through Twelfth Center, waving bye to Dr. Martinez, the kind lady who had taken four scraggly kids out of the foster care system and into her home. (She even had the crisp, 'legal documents' to prove her custody of us.)
Angel, Ella and Gazzy wandered off to their friends, and that left me and Iggy scanning the crowd for three people.
"Looking for us?" Two voices chimed from behind us in a sort of smug way.
Iggy and I whirled on the spot, completely startled by the twins that were casually looking at us.
"Geez! Guys! How many times have I told you not to do that?!" I exclaimed, holding a hand to my hammering heart.
"Plenty—" Tally said, flashing me a grin before practically dancing over to Iggy and hugging him.
"But it doesn't mean we'll listen," Fang finished, slinging his arm around my shoulders.
"Quit it with the twin thing, guys," Iggy said, only half annoyed. His brilliant eyes went from one dark haired sibling to the other, finally settling on the XX chromosome one.
"Nah," they said at the same time, making me laugh at the completely put-out look on Iggy's face.
"What's life—" Tally.
"—The twin thing?" they asked at the same time, and then joined in on the laughing.
"I regret ever telling you guys to watch Harry Potter," Iggy said, smacking his forehead. "You seem just like the Weasley Twins, just more emo."
Tally swatted Iggy's arm, "I resent that. I'm not emo; I just think black is a lovely color."
"Riiiight, and my name is Maxine," I drawled, rolling my eyes.
Another round of laughter.
Tally wasn't really aware of what was happening during lunch, or her first few classes either. She had just been floating along comfortably, half thinking about the half-nightmare she had the night before.
She had been quiet when she awoke completely surprised and groping at her throat, trying her best to be silent and not wake up Nudge.
Her eyes snapped into focus when she felt lips on hers.
"You all right? You were a bit spaced out there, Tally," Iggy said, nose still practically touching hers.
"Yea—no. Just thinking about this weird…nightmare…" she muttered, pulling away from him and rubbing her forearms. Why had she chosen to wear a short sleeve when she wore long sleeves even during summer was beyond her…(Was it Nudge's turn to do laundry? She always slacked when she saw that gihugic mountain of clothes…)
"Wanna share?" he asked, his light brows knitting together when he saw her fidgeting.
Tally shrugged, "Whatever floats your boat, I guess…"
Iggy kept his alert eyes on her, ever attentive, waiting for her to begin.
"It…it was a weird nightmare. It felt like a nightmare but I liked some parts…but, the majority was completely hellish…this place, the word 'School' pops up to me especially. But it wasn't like a school, more like a hospital…the antiseptic smell was so tangible…burning almost, mixing with the sour scent of death…"
"Makes sense, you've never liked hospitals…" he frowned, as if realizing something. "None of the flock have, in fact…"
The flock—she gave a small grin—exclusively consisting of Maximum, Iggy, Gasman and Angel Ride, and Fang, Nudge and Talon Ghost. The original seven who banded together while at the orphanage. The caretakers were really appalled when they all refused to take on any other name then the ones they had chosen.
Why the flock? One of the Orphanage heads said they just seemed to "flock" together. And the name stuck out to Max, who began using it, and the younger kids parroted her…
And it was formed like that.
"Yeah, a bit weird, I guess…but it was different from a hospital as well…more sinister I guess. We were in dog cages…just curled up there, and from what I could see, all of us—the flock I mean—were beat up."
She scowled, "But I was separated from you guys, I tried reaching out to you and calling out your name when I realized I couldn't. So I reached up and could feel scars on my throat…this is where I began crying…then I looked up at you guys and heard one thing come out of Max's mouth…'Iggy's blind, Fang. It's the whitecoats fault…'"
Iggy's breath pitched and she almost stopped her retelling for the sake of not causing him any discomfort.
It was something they shared, scotomophobia. Fear of being blind.
"You all right?" Tally asked, stroking her hand on her freckled cheek.
He swatted her hand away, "Fine, fine, go on…so you were basically mute"—Tally flinched, her hand rocketing up to check her throat for the gnarled scars, almost sighing when all she felt was a small knick where Fang had gotten her when they began fighting a bit too rough.—"And I was blind. What else?"
She licked her lips, turning her eyes up to the sky, watching a lonely puff of white float on by, "Well, we weren't just in cages, flashes of experiments; torture really. Whitecoats…those are the scientists, I mean, and this huge werewolf things called Erasers…and experiments dying…these boogeyman things called Goblins, robots…
"But then there's the few things that I could tell were…better."
Iggy looked into her eyes, noticing how they the gray was glazed over.
She smiled at him, a full blown grin, "We had wings. And powers. And we were free. Eventually."
He returned her grin with one of his own, pulling her towards him. "Tell me more."
She laughed light-heartedly, "Oh God Iggy, flying was the best! You felt so free! And dive bombing, flying with hawks, knowing that the sky was ours…it was so awesome!"
"That does sound sweet," he admitted. "Now tell me more about the powers?"
She smacked his arm lightly, "You would be one to only be concerned with that, wouldn't you?"
"I'm concerned with other, less noble things, if you wanna find out…" he murmured, grinning.
She rolled her eyes, "Sexist pig, jeez. Well, Max got supersonic flight, moving things with her mind and a freaky Voice in her head, Fang got to blend into shadows, you got to feel colors and talk with me through this mind link, I guess, Nudge could feel vibrations and attract metal, Gazzy…his scent was amplified to be the equaled to the point of a dangerous bioweapon—"
Iggy snorted, startling her, "As if he isn't a bioweapon already. Do you have to share a room with the little living stink bomb? Noooo…"
Chuckling Tally said, "No, and I don't want to. Now, where was I? Oh! Right, Angel. She had so many freaking powers! Breathing under water, talking to fish, reading minds, controlling them…jeez. And Total could freaking bounce so high and talk, damn…"
"What about you?" Iggy asked suddenly.
"You skipped yourself."
"Oh, dream-me called it molecular acceleration…I guess."
"Like that thing that chick from that one show does?"
"You mean Piper? Yeah. Speeding up molecules till they collide and explode, slowing them down to an almost standstill…but I could project a picture as well, which always brought a smile to your face, apparently. It wasn't nothing much though, I always ended up watching you and Gazzy build bombs though."
He opened his mouth to say something when the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. With a groan Tally regarded her uneaten pepperoni pizza and Sprite.
Iggy met her gaze when she looked up, and they both nodded.
"Who really needs PE? We're on the track team, after all…" Iggy said slowly.
Tally grinned. "I have keys to Fang's car, lets go."
They jumped to their feet, Tally dragging him by his wrist to the parking lot, a smirk on his face.
"She just had to steal the keys, didn't she?" Fang asked me, well, sort of whined I guess.
Then again, Fang just doesn't whine. The farthest I've seen him go is doing the Twin thing with Tally when they both want to come over to our house, always trying to bamboozle Anne into letting them go with a later curfew.
"Yes, Fang," I said, spotting Angel, Ella, Gazzy and Nudge walking together from a ways off. I waved to them, flashing a smile. "Look on the bright side, we have Homecoming tonight."
He grimaced. "That's a bright side? Stuffy suits and horrible shoes, spiked punch?"
I rolled my eyes, "I know it was Tally and Nudge's idea, but c'mon, show some enthusiasm. I have to wear a freaking dress. Hello? Yeah, Houston? If I have to wear a dress, screw the moon. I want out."
He gave me a look that clearly said, Awesome. Nice to know that you'd turn down a discovery for mankind if you had to wear a flimsy, gauzy piece of cloth.
I gave him one that said You know I'm completely right so back off right now before I deck you.
The kids all scrambled into the car, front and backseat, Angel smooshed between me and Fang, and we drove off with the flock bobbing their heads to Wake Up (Make a Move) by the Lostprophets.
Getting home and dressed (and giving both Iggy and Tally a firm kick when I caught them on the bed in his room, playing a very aggressive game of tonsil hockey) for Homecoming wasn't so big.
But Nudge was running around making a big deal out of it, saying something about having a cute date and something. Ella rolled her eyes and mouthed Nutso to me.
I grinned and high fived her, Nudge could be nuts on occasion.
Tally had kicked Iggy out of the room when she noticed the time, taken a shower and thrown on her own dress before trying to placate Nudge. "That's looks great, Nudge." "Go easy on the eyeliner there, chica." "The gold ones, they look cooler." "You can go dressed as Darth Vader and everyone will think your are Pretty, Hot and Tempting, chiquesita. No need to fret so much."
The last one seemed to mollify her, oddly enough.
I left the younger kids with Dr. M, giving her a grateful look, then we all hobbled out in our uncomfortable shoes.
The guys pulled up in my car, looking pretty dang awesome and "debonair." All suited up and (Iggy, that dork, actually bowed and kissed Tally's hand when he saw her in her simple black halter with her butt-length hair in small curls) Fang smiled at me.
He gave one glance at the show his twin and almost-but-not-quite brother were putting on then cocked an eyebrow at me as if to say They are such nerds. Please tell me you don't expect me to do that. PLEASE.
I shook my head, adjusting my purse on my shoulder, instead leaning up and planting a brisk smoocharoo on his lips.
He smirked appreciatively, running his tongue over his lips, "Mm, you been hitting the chocolate chip cookies, Max?"
I rolled my eyes and slugged his arm, muttering about how chauvinistic he was.
Tally popped up next to him, grinning. "Actually, she practically had a panic attack—"
"—Yep. She hit the cookies and started muttering nonsense about being so damn old—"
"—Midlife crisis? At eighteen?"
"—Most likely. It is Max we're talking about here.—"
Fang just nodded solemnly here, "Of course."
I growled, "Fine, pick on Max. Let's see you get some action tonight, Mister Fang."
"Tally! Tally! Wake up!" her eyes fluttered open groggily. Where was she?
Her eyes met fogged over ones. She opened her mouth to ask What but then closed it again. She couldn't talk, how could she have forgotten? Yes, Iggy?
"It's time for us to leave, you planning on getting up anytime soon?"
She sighed, Sure…but it was a really nice dream…No wings though, bummer.
She pulled herself to her feet, frowning at how littered in scars they both were.
If only it could have been true.
She glanced at Max and saw almost the same sadness.
They both shared moment and nodded.
Something passed between them, they weren't entirely sure of what, but it was there.