A/N: As I'm sick little kitty cat, I've been all tucked up in bed instead of going to school today. I'm halfway through Phoenix Fanatic's "Diary of a Lovesick Mutant" which I may or may not have especially wanted the day off to read... no comment. :) Anyway, this little bunny popped into my head and laid a few eggs (a physical impossibility, I know) and this was born.
The soundtrack to this fiction included Death Cab for Cutie, John Mayer, Relient K, Hoobastank and Nickleback. (I like to call it my Maximum Ride mixtape.)
This is set before the Angel Experiment, back when they were still in the School.
I have to be honest; after living in a dog crate your whole life, your biggest ambition is pretty much just to get the hell out of there. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up except, possibly, oh, I don't know, free?
But we've gone up in the world. We used to get a complimentary dog crate that didn't have enough room for you to stand up in, a workout in the whitecoats "training facility" – ie. the experiment rooms – and food and water. Occasionally.
Who are "we", you may ask? I'm Fang, and the other five lucky half avian kids that surround me get this 5 star treatment too; in the crates next to me were Max and on the other side, Nudge. Opposite us were Iggy, Angel and the Gasman. Max and Iggy were around the same age as me. I had been crate buddies with Max since we could talk and Iggy had joined us a little later. We could only suppose this was because he was blind; they had subjected him to more experimentation than Max and I. It made my blood boil.
Nudge had followed and then finally, Angel and Gazzy. They were brother and sister and the youngest of all of us. I was Fang, the strong, silent one of our little Flock (what, didn't I mention we have wings?) but I fumed that two such young kids could be put through this. Of course, Max, Iggy and I had been there, at that age; therefore I knew what they were going through and knew I would never want anyone to be subjected to that.
But I digress. These days, we had so much more than just crates, experiments and water. Now we got homework, too.
In a vain attempt to find out how much we were like "normal" kids, the scientists had started to give us maths equations and books to read. We were hopeless at the start but we were getting better at reading and writing. In fact, I loved to read. I soaked up the books they gave us occasionally like they were water. Math, however, still flummoxed us.
It was one of these days full of homework goodness that Max was taken out for experimentation. I watched helplessly as she spat in the whitecoats faces and was dragged out of her dog crate. I cared for Max more than I cared for myself. I clenched my fists as I imagined what they might inflict on her today; probably something that would make her weaker than ever. I could see in her eyes that she was getting physically wasted by living at the School. Max and I had never needed to speak to each other; we had just had this connection, right from the start. We just knew what the other was thinking, feeling. Max, along with the rest of the Flock, would always be the closest thing to family I would ever have. You don't go through torture together and come out like strangers.
A while later, Max was deposited back in her crate. She glanced over at me and shot me a weak smile as she curled up on the floor, exhausted. I always admired Max's bravery. She would never let the kids know how much pain she was going through. I sighed inwardly. She looked so... downtrodden. I glanced down on the floor of my crate and ripped a sheet of paper in half. I grabbed a pen and in my best attempt, began to write.
Why so glum? Surely, after living in such luxury for your entire life, you would have something to smile about!
No? Well, maybe you should count yourself lucky. After all, is there anyone else you would really want to have spent your life in a crate next to? I didn't think so! Maybe it's my charm or my wit. Maybe it's just my ability to keep a conversation flowing. I don't know. You'll have to tell me.
I paused and chewed the end of the pen thoughtfully. Then I jumped.
Look, Max. You know I'd do anything to get us out of here, right? You and the kids are everything to me. I know I'm getting emotional, so if anyone ever says 'hey, let's give the winged freaks a camera!' then I suggest you take a picture. I can't see it happening often.
I just wanted to see you smile, Max. A real, genuine, 'I don't have to live in a dog crate' smile. I want to see Angel and Nudge playing with Barbies. Fricken Barbies. Because that's what kids do, they play with little toys with far too much breast that they shouldn't be exposed to and I would never let my kids play with but hell, if only life was that simple. I want Iggy to be able to see again and I want Gazzy to want to beat his little sister up, rather than trying to stop her crying every time she comes back from another experiment. I want them to get the chance to grow up like normal kids and do everything we couldn't. What's so wrong about that?
I'm sorry Max... this was supposed to cheer you up, not bring you down. But in the end, I suppos, what I really wanted to say was, I love you, Max. Like a sister. Like a best friend. And if we ever get out of here, it'll always be me, you and the kids. Try not to think about what they did.
Slowly, so I didn't draw any attention, I folded the note in half and slid it into the crate next to me. Max's eyes were closed but I nudged her leg with my hand and when she looked up, motioned to the note. She looked a little bemused as she leant over and picked it up. Suddenly the doors banged open and she quickly stuffed the letter down her shirt. We didn't have the luxury of pockets.
Later, when we were all returned to our crates and we were supposed to be sleeping, I heard the slightest crackle of paper. I lay still, facing out of my crate and looking into Angel's. She was sleeping, sucking her thumb, her blonde curls falling in her face.
There was a sniffling sound and I looked over at Max. She was crying.
She didn't have to say anything. I saw it all in her eyes.
I reached out and so did she and our hands clasped each other's tightly. She pulled herself right up to the side of her crate and we lay facing each other.
"Thank you" she mouthed silently. Then she proceeded to pull something out from her shirt. It was a folded up piece of paper.
"I wrote it earlier" she whispered as she passed it through the bars. I was overwhelmed at how on the same page we were, without even trying. With one hand I turned it over and read: