Chapter Eleven

AN: Ah, the freedom of summer! I am free to write gushy cheesy Fanfiction chapters: yay!

"…The city of London is still baffled by what has been described as a 'freak earthquake phenomenon.' Scientists are still searching for an explanation. It seems almost fantastic that the ground could split in such random places, and is it mere coincidence that it split just under the horrid beasts that appeared just before? Whatever the explanation, one thing is for sure: what we saw today has never been seen before. See the whole story online—" I shut off the TV, not in the mood to hear anymore. Max was closing the blinds of the large window that overlooked the city, as the rest of us lounged about the room.

None of us had yet recovered from the day's events; especially Shay. I was grateful that she wasn't convulsing or foaming at the mouth anymore, but she was still drained, anxious, and even a little skittish.

Right now, she was sitting next to me on the couch. I didn't know what the suite looked like, of course, but Max made me swear up and down that I wouldn't touch anything. I readily complied, having no desire to go anywhere for a while.

I remembered, as I looked at Shay's face, the first time I had actually been able to fly (without being hooked up to a machine). The freedom, the exhilaration, and the complete and utter terror had done a number on me—on all if us—and I remember collapsing onto my bed at our E house, so tired, but so hyped up on adrenaline that my eyes couldn't possibly shut.

I guessed that those feelings I'd had might bear resemblance to what Shay was feeling right now. Only, she'd caused a whole city to be worked up into a frenzy, so maybe she felt a little more…disgruntled.

The flock was more than happy to succumb to sleep, but Shay, volunteering to sleep on the couch, said she'd turn in later. I tried to sleep, but something in me refused to let go, and as a result, both Shay and I were up.

I watched her pace back for several minutes before I asked, in a hushed voice, if she wanted to walk around the hotel. Neither of us would be sleeping any time soon, and there was nothing we could do here without waking up the flock.

I slipped a jacket over my wings, and we left the hotel room to wander about. It was only about nine o'clock, and yet it felt like the middle of the night.

"This is crazy," Shay murmured after we'd been walking a few minutes in silence. I felt the soft hotel-hallway carpet beneath my feet as we walked wherever the halls took us.

"Welcome to my world." She shook her head. Now that I had the time, I looked at her more carefully. Her hair was sticking to her sweaty forehead, and her eyes seemed hollow. She looked something like she had right after we'd rescued her from the School, only a little different.

"Are you okay?" I asked. I wasn't really one for sensitivity, but it seemed like the right thing to say. She shrugged.

"I'm just a little overwhelmed," she admitted.

"You're not the first to be rendered breathless by my striking beauty," I assured her, inducing a characteristic eye-roll.

"That's what it is." She sighed, a regretful emotion stealing her face. "It's just scary, you know, when you find out that everything you've known was nothing but a lie; that your whole life is somebody's science-experiment."

"At least that wasn't why you came about," I pointed out.

"In a way, it's worse. I'm not saying my case is worse than yours, because it certainly isn't; but you were made on purpose. Somebody, somewhere, wanted you alive, for whatever reason. I was an accident. If it were up to whoever my parents were, I wouldn't be alive at all." I considered our Petri-dish theory, and then the people in Virginia who might have been my parents. My past was still up in the air.

"You know your parents gave you up for adoption, though—willingly. I could have been stolen from mine in the dead of night and I'll never know. Maybe they sold me, maybe they gave me away, maybe they wish I was still with them. I'll never know what my life could have been like."

"So it could have been better," Shay mused, "Or it could have been far worse. I actually believe that if the whitecoats had left me alone, I might have found a real family; I was still just a baby at the time. I could have been adopted by a nice couple, maybe have a few siblings. I never really knew about the whitecoats interfering—or remembered, rather—so the thought never occurred to me, but now that I know…well, they ruined my chance at happiness." I frowned. Somehow, we'd ended up sitting down somewhere; I presumed we were in a lobby or sitting area of some sort. I could hear the sound of an icemaker behind me.

"You're saying you've never been happy, your whole life?" I remembered the first time I saw her, when she was laughing with the ice cream all over her face. Wasn't that happy? The flock and I had some pretty crazy times, but through it all, there were plenty of times when we were purely, genuinely happy. I couldn't imagine a life without that.

"Well…I've had happy moments, but at the end of the day, I end up back in a group home or foster home, alone as ever." I stared at her face, as candid and sober as I'd ever seen it, and tried to envision what my life would be like without the flock—blind or not blind. Even when we broke up into groups I felt like half of me was missing; what if I was alone? I don't think I could bear it, not having these people around me all the time.

I didn't realize until just then that I'd been taking everybody for granted.

"Is that why you wanted to stick with us?" I asked. I recalled the way she'd tried so hard to get away, and then the next day she was totally chill with everything.

"I guess," she mumbled. I waited for more, which came shortly after. "What you guys have, it's something I always wanted. When I sat in my bed at the foster homes, I'd just wished there was someone I could relate to; but even in the foster homes there were cliques and social groups that I didn't fit into. I just wanted someone who could look me in the eye and be like, 'yeah, me too.' You guys have that."

For a while, we just sat there as I let her words soak in. What would it have been like if I hadn't had the flock with me through those atrocious times at the School? Or afterward, after Jeb left us, when all we had was each other. If I hadn't had them with me…I don't know what would have happened to me.

I wasn't sure what else to say. What could I possibly say that would atone for her whole past? So the silence dragged on, and the two of us were left to contemplate all that had happened lately.

Finally, I thought of something unrelated, and what I thought was a lighter subject, that I'd always wondered the answer to.

"Why did you take seven self-defense classes?" When Shay looked at me, something in her eyes had switched. They had been gradually softening this whole conversation, but now she looked closed-off all over again.

"We can talk about that another time," she said brusquely.

"But I—"

"Another time. I'm going back to the room." She got up quickly, and I had no choice but to follow if I didn't want to get lost.

I wondered why self-defense classes were such a touchy subject. She'd just told me about her innermost feelings, about life at a foster home; weren't we past this?

I had the door key, so when we got to our room, she had to wait outside it for me. I raised my eyebrows at her.

"I'm sorry," she muttered reluctantly. "It's just not something I like to talk about." I nodded, as this would suffice for me, and unlocked the door.

As I settled down for sleep, I tried to figure Shay out. I thought about the little things that set her off, the lonely life she had, the things she'd gone through that she can't even remember. Maybe I was blind, was raised in a lab, didn't know my parents, and was constantly on the run, but the makeshift group of people I called a family made me more fortunate than so many other, non-lab-rat people.

But I might just turning into a total cheese-ball.

AN: So, this chapter was more of a filler, to get you to see a little bit more of what Shay's life is like. I apologize if it felt too cheesy, but we need a few chapters like this to keep the story going, right? Let me know what you thought of it. (: