Red dirt was kicked up under my scuffed and worn combat boots. Soft cloth rubbed against my partially bare back- my knapsack, no less. I sighed as I looked ahead of me, seeing nothing but a shabby little shack. I squinted my eyes tightly, trying to see what was really there. It'd been so long since I'd had water, let alone food, so who knows what kind of crazy shit I was imagining. But, as I got closer, I saw that my eyes weren't deceiving me.

A small trail of gray smoke lifted over the roof of the sloppily built shack. The smell of burning would filled my nose, making my head spin. Fire meant people, which meant food, or at least water.

Trying to be as stealthy as possible, I slipped off my shoes without making a sound. The sun was just starting to rise, giving me about ten minutes to ransack whatever those people had. I tiptoed to the entrance of the building, if it could be called as much. My hand reached out to grab onto something so that I didn't fall over from being so dizzy.

Crunch.

A leaf sounded under my too-heavy step. I silently cursed the darned dead thing. Whoever was inside the shack heard me for sure.

Of course, this big, huge, like, 6'4 guy came stomping out of the dang thing and glared at me. The guy was so... dark, and silent, it seemed. His black hair was long, nearly to his shoulders. His eyes dark as the night, clothes no lighter.

I laughed nervously, hoping as to not wake anyone else up. My hand pulled back behind my neck and scratched nervously. The grin on my face stood out against the grime caked on my face. I continued to laugh, quietly that is, like a maniac for a few moments, when a sudden movement caught my eye. The guy in front of me was motioning for me to follow him. He seemed safe enough- no, he really didn't- so I followed him, my footsteps loud compared to his silent ones.

This guy is giving me the creeps...

We continued our uneven stepping until we reached the edge of a cliff I didn't even know existed. I leaned over the gaping hole a bit, peering into the bottomless pit of despair.

"Now, if you don't answer my questions, you're going down there," said the dark guy from beside me. His hand was pulled into a fist, all except one finger, which was pointing into the cliff not even a yard away from myself.

I gulped involuntarily before nodding somberly. The guy turned to me and glared. My eyes pulled together so that I was glaring at him as well. His glare was more fierce than mine, and scared the living shit out of me. I didn't let as much show, though. Poker face was my trade.

"Who are you working for?" His voice was husky, raspy as he pointed weakly at me.

A confused look was plastered on my face. "No one..." I muttered, not sure of my voice. I hadn't used it in god knows how long, anyway.

The guy suddenly pulled me closer to him and started searching me pockets, my clothes, my knapsack. What he was looking for I had no clue. I wasn't prepared to ask him. He pulled away from me and gently shoved me (if that's possible) back to my standing position, about four feet in front of him. His dark eyes held my glare with a somewhat more relaxed look in them. "What's your name?"

"Ali." My voice cracked, shook, and broke off at the sound of my nickname. I shook my head in annoyance. Why am I acting like this?

The guy, who might might have been a teenager nodded briskly. "Nick."

I nodded in the same fashion as he before turning on my heel. When I took a step away from 'Nick' a hand roughly grasped my arm, causing me to stop dead in my tracks. "There's something... Wrong here." He said, glowering at me, his dark eyes seeming to cast shadows upon my soul.

I cocked my head to the side and sighed (Me: XD side, sighed). "Don't see how."

With those words, I turned around and ran for my life. It didn't happen until I heard footsteps gaining pace behind me. I half smiled- then it happened.

My wings snapped out at a four yard span. I pushed off the hard, soiled ground and looked over my shoulder to see...

Nick?!

I stopped flapping my wings, landing gracefully on the ground. Nick followed suit, his dark eyes sending chills down my spine. Then he... Smiled?

It was a lopsided smile, a smile nonetheless. I smiled warmly in return. "So it's true."

Nick looked at me, a giant question mark practically tattooed on his forehead. "What's true?"

"I'd heard about more bird kids, but never would I have imagined it." I turned my head to look back at the shack, now roughly fifty yards away. "Are you alone?"

"No-there are six of us." Once again, the boy in front of me motioned for me to follow him. When we were a few feet from the shack, he told me to stay where I was, putting a finger to his lips- he was telling me to stay quiet. I nodded, annoyed once again.

Hushed whispers came from inside the thing before me- one was definitely female, the other two male. Out came another guy and a girl, along with Nick. With the way Nick was holding onto the girl's hand, I knew she was his girlfriend- or perhaps just a "lady friend." The thought made me scowl.

The girl was blond and stood nearly as tall as Nick. She was pretty- nothing out of the average. Total girl-next-door. The guy on the other side of Nick was looking in my direction, but not at me. His eyes were averted to a spot behind my left ear. His hair was red, skin pale.

***Time lapse***

The redhead's name was Iggy, the blond's Maximum- Max for short. She's the flock leader. The flock I was part of.

The thought of belonging to something made me smile with glee. My teeth shone white against my freshly scrubbed face- no thanks to Max.

At the time, I was no older than 13, a mere two years younger than Iggy, Max, and Fang- a mere year older than Nudge. I was stuck in the middle, poor self.

"Time for some grub, guys!" Max called from downstairs.

Doors opened and slammed shut as the hungry bird kids ran down the stairs faster than you can say 'butterfinger.' I was halfway down the stairs when a rough grasp yanked me back. I toppled backwards, landing on something- rather, someone- with an audible "oof." Looking over my shoulder, I saw the unmistakable black hair and dark eye combo belonging to none other than Nick- whose real name was Fang. I still give him shit about it.

Fang looked back at me with a mischievous grin on his face. I looked back at the odd boy before blushing at the realization of my being on top of him. When I just got finished brushing the nonexistent dirt off of my jeans, I was forced into a crushing hug, strong arms wrapped around me.

Before I knew it, I felt warm lips crashing down on mine.

\ Fang.

Fang?

Fang!

FANG?!

I pushed the teenager back with all my strength- which was nothing to be toyed with, I can assure you. I looked at Fang with an angry glint in my lime green eyes, which shone with not-so-friendly-friendliness. "What the hell are you thinking, idiot?!" I practically screamed at him.

His hand clamped over my mouth. Fang dragged me into his bedroom, with me thrashing around in his steel-strong grip. Once in his room, he turned the thumb lock on his door. Smiling, he gestured to the spot next to him on the bed. When I didn't oblige to his offer, he roughly- really roughly- forced me down by way of shoulders.

A low growl arose in the back of my throat, only to be cut off my Fang's lips crashing on mine for- not the first time- the second time, which is two times too many by my count. This time, when I tried to push him off, I just couldn't. He was too strong for me.

Shrugging and thinking What the hey? I began to kiss back, our lips moving in sync. I was just getting used to the moment Fang and I were having when, you guessed it, the door slammed open and smacked against the wall.

Didn't Fang lock it? Oh, right, Iggy... Gazzy... How I despise them right now.

Fang pulled himself away from me quickly and looked at a very pissed, very red Maximum Ride.

Not good not good not good... Please please please don't let her kill me.

Her face was contorted in anger as she crossed her long and muscled arms over her chest. "I knew you were trouble, Ali, as soon as I lay my eyes on you... Out! Scat!" She yelled the last two words, spit landing on my cheek, even from all the way across Fang's room.

I squinted my eyes to my famous glare before stepping to the window.

Pop.

"So long. Tell Angel I'll miss her."

Whoosh.

My wings flapped out above me

and

I was gone.