Chapter 6

Lucy

I woke up to a huge pain in my left calf. The constant throbbing the previous night woke me up periodically, but each time I'd been able to put more aloe on it and fall back asleep. But that obviously wasn't happening now.

Groaning, I lowered the stone walls of my tent. I now had a relatively large patch of aloe and those healing leaves. I removed the leaves from my calf and winced at the sight. No longer was it bleeding freely, but it was very red and puffy and was emitting some nasty smelling pus. I just hoped this was what it was supposed to be doing in order to heal. I swear, if that stupid eraser had rabies, I was going to kill somebody (no pun intended).

Instead of vomiting like I wanted to do, I slowly calmed my breathing enough to wipe the pus off with a leaf. I carefully applied more aloe to it and covered it with more leaves. I ripped a small portion off the bottom of my shirt and used it to tie the leaves securely to my leg. Hoping it would stay, I stood up and took in my surroundings. Last night was so hazy; I didn't have time to even check if the area was safe. I was out of practice and couldn't let that happen again.

The area looked pretty secure. I could hear the wind rustling the trees and birds chirping in the distance. It actually felt kind of peaceful. But if I had learned anything in my sixteen years of life, it was that nothing stayed peaceful for long. I needed to stay on the move if I was going to find the flock again; if they were still alive. I tried not to think about it, but the thought kept nagging me. I knew Rea was captured, but the rest of the flock could still be out there.

I weighed my options as I started to clean up the campsite, obliterating any sign that I'd ever been here. On one hand, I could go searching for Rea and try to bust her out of whatever school they kept her in. I knew there were several around the world. But on the other hand, I didn't think that I could take another school on my own and I didn't have the slightest idea where she might be held. My best option was to find the rest of the flock and bust Rea out as soon as we could.

My stomach began to complain loudly. I did my best to ignore it. I would create some breakfast when I was several miles away from here. The camp looked like I'd never been here. I stuffed some more leafs and aloe in my pocket and stretched my red wings as far as they would go. It felt amazing, but only then did I realize that my wings had been badly cut in the prison break, most likely from the shards of glass as I broke through the skylight. Oh well. I'd just have to be more careful as I flew. As soon as I found the flock, I'd have Hazel mend them along with my leg.

I got into a crouch and leapt into the air, using my own air current to keep me aloft as I struggled to gain momentum. In a few moments, I was well above the tree line, scouring the area for potential leads as to where civilization would be. I could see a flicker of lights in the distance, so that's where I was headed.

As I grew closer, I could see that my hunch was correct. I must have flown further then I thought last night, because there was no way that the school would be close to any civilization, whatsoever. It was too risky. If the locals found out what they were doing to poor, defenseless kids, there would surely be some sort of uprising against the government to dispose of these horrible people. At least, that's what I hoped. But we couldn't tell anyone, because if we did, we'd probably be used as some sort of weapons. Hopefully when I reached the city, I'd have some idea of where I was and where they'd taken me. But as I got closer, I was not prepared to see what was in front of me. I knew exactly where I was, and I did not like it one bit. But it was unmistakable, because the bright billboards and lights told it all; I was in New York City.

New York! All the way across the country from where my family was! Well, at least, where my family was supposed to be. I wasn't even sure that they were alive. I shook my head quickly. Of course I knew they were alive. I would have felt it if they weren't, right? I couldn't let myself think about that now. So instead, I thought about how much I did not want to be in New York, the city of lights and crowds and thugs. Why the school would choose to house its location so close to such a huge, iconic city was beyond me. But it was too late to turn back now. My leg was throbbing and desperately needed medical attention. I did not want to have an amputated leg.

I flew towards one of the many back allies in the city for a landing. The last thing I wanted was to be spotted flying in one of the biggest cities in the world. I could just see the headlines;

'Injured Birdgirl spotted flying over Manhattan; offering reward to anyone who can aid in her capture.'

So even thought it was daylight, I landed in the shadows. I was completely focused on my leg, the pain nearly blinding me as I landed, so I wasn't paying attention to the sounds around me like a good birdkid should. So I was not prepared for what happened next.

A thug jumped me.

That's right; you heard me (or read me. I'm not quite sure how this saying works when you're reading). A flying birdkid, who has taken out hundreds of creepy strong and creepy looking erasers all at once with just the flick of her wrists, was just jumped by a mugger, and in broad daylight! I know, pretty pathetic. But you know how it is. When you're injured and you can't register anything but pain, your senses are a little dull. And that gives someone like thuggy here a chance to whoop the snot out of you. Needless to say, I was taken by surprise, and I didn't have much time to respond as I was shoved up against the wall.

"Why hello there, little lady," thuggy said, his face so close to mine, his breath was making my eyes water. "What's your name, little miss? What are you doing out here with an injury like that? I should take you to the hospital." He grinned maniacally. I got the feeling he would make a pretty good Eraser. "Or we could just play doctor out here. I'm pretty good at playing doctor. All my patients love their checkups," he said, fingering at my shirt. Oh great. He was a thug and a sexual pervert. Well bud, even with a bad leg, you still picked the wrong girl to mess with.

"Not today, mister," I said angrily, and brought my good knee up and nailed him in the nuts. He collapsed to the ground in a groaning heap. However, putting all my weight on my bad leg, even for a moment was too much for me, and I collapsed on the ground next to him.

Unfortunately for me, he recovered quicker, and he sat up and brought his fingers to his lips and whistled loudly. Then he looked at me giddily.

"You're going to wish you hadn't done that," he said. He stood up, and while I was still on the ground in pain, he walked over and straddled my hips, pulling at the collar of my shirt.

I was now fully disgusted. I tried punching him in the stomach, but he held my hands down. I heard loud footsteps and male laughter.

"Are these the kinds of girls you bring us now, Joe?" I heard one ask. "Damaged goods?"

"Well, she is very pretty," I heard another one say. "I could defiantly have some fun with her."

"Oh no, you don't!" I said furiously, and got my arms free of his grasp while I kicked out with both my legs, injury be damned. My right leg wrapped around his head as he leaned back to avoid my flailing arms. I took his head in a leg lock, my grip almost strong enough to break his neck. These people may have been potheads, but I still couldn't reveal who I really was to them. So that meant no using my powers. I had to rely completely on strength for this one. Luckily, even injured, I had loads of it.

I looked at all of the other men, testing them. "Who wants me to break his neck?" I dared. "I can, you know." All the other men laughed.

"I highly doubt it, missy," said a man near the front. He was wearing a black hat and sunglasses, so I couldn't see his face. Actually, all of these men were wearing some sort of disguises. The man that I was holding was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, but the glasses had fallen off and were sitting beside his head. "But I'd like to see you try." The guy that had spoken earlier was obviously the leader, although he was a sad excuse for one, willing to sacrifice his own men for his entertainment. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of watching his own men die by the hands of a girl, whatever sick entertainment it might be.

I quickly released the man, but as soon as I did, two other men grabbed both of my arms and pulled me back. I realized that the only way I was going to get out of this unscathed was to escape, even if that meant revealing myself. I quickly spread my wings and used air to push both men off of my arms. The other men looked at me in awe. They obviously thought I was some kind of demon because with my red wings and harsh attitude I obviously wasn't an angel. I leapt into the air and hovered there for a few seconds. That's when I heard the gunshot.

Stupid! I didn't even think about whether or not they had guns! I kept waiting for the bullet to hit me, but it never came. I looked over to where I heard it and I saw the leader of the group clutching his hand, his gun on the ground beside him. Standing above him was a small, middle-aged Asian man in a tan trench coat, with dirty jeans and even dirtier sneakers. The leader of the thugs was looking up at him with a dark hatred while he clutched his hand.

"Lee!" the leader shouted. "What are you doing here? You're interfering with business!"

"Protecting that girl," Lee replied in a thick Asian accent. I couldn't really tell the Chinese from the Korean, so I was just going to stick with Asian. (A/N: Sorry to any of our readers who live in Asia and take this to offense. None was intended) "You will not hurt her."

I didn't really know what was going on, but I figured it was as good a time as any to get the hell out of there. I was about to swoop away when I saw one of the men slowly taking out his gun and creeping around to get a good shot at the man who saved my life. I figured the least I owed him was a warning.

"Look out!" I shouted, pointing. Lee looked up at me and saw where I was pointing. The man, seeing he was caught, aimed to kill. He never got the chance.

Lee moved like lightning. In fact, I've never seen anyone move so fast; well maybe Percy. But he has super powers, so he doesn't count. He reached the thug in about three seconds. He knocked the gun out of his hand with a well aimed kick and then brought his clenched hand around to the back of his head for what could have been a death punch if it were aimed a little lower. All this succeeded in doing was knocking him out.

The men all looked to the leader, who was frowning slightly. He signaled with his hands and two men stepped forward, ready to attack. The three adults circled each other for a moment before one of the thugs assumingly found an opening in Lee's guard and leapt forward. Lee grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back. The other man sprung at him, but Lee used the man he was holding as a shield to block his kick. The guy doubled over in pain and Lee shoved him towards the other man causing both of them to fall to the ground.

I was so enraptured in the fight that I completely forgot where I was and why this was happening. That is, until I felt someone grab my bad leg; hard. I bit my lip to keep from screaming. I kicked out with my free leg and caught him in the face. He backed off, holding tightly to his bleeding, and probably broken, nose. I looked back over to Lee. He was now fighting almost ten thugs. He was good, but not birdkid good. Of course, I probably couldn't fight ten regular humans today; heck I had proven that I couldn't fight two, at least without my powers. Anyway, he wasn't looking so good. My birdkid instinct was telling me to get out of there fast, but I couldn't just leave him. So, I flew quickly over to him, kicking some heads for good measure, looped my hands under his arms and picked him up, flying him above the thugs.

Needless to say, he was not expecting this, so the first thing he did was straighten his arms out in order to fall back down. I could feel him slipping, so I grabbed hold of his wrists and held on tightly. Man, he was heavy. He didn't struggle after that, probably because I might have been cutting off the circulation to his wrists, and he didn't want to have to get them amputated. It was most likely that, plus the fact that we were thirty feet high.

Speaking of which, I needed to find us a place to land, and soon. He was starting to get way to heavy, and it felt like my arms were starting to fall off. I saw a flat roof and headed for that.

As soon as our feet touched the ground, Lee took several steps away from me and rubbed his wrists tenderly, staring at me curiously, but not saying anything. I, however, felt the need to thank him and apologize for hurting him.

"Uh, Lee, is that right?" I asked. He nodded slowly. "So, um, ya… I, um, wanted to thank you for saving me back there. I have several ideas on what they would've tried to do to me if you hadn't showed up, so, thanks." Lee just continued to stare at me, still gripping his wrists. Man, I am not very good at thanking people.

"And, uh, I'm sorry for hurting you; I just thought I should probably get you out of there before they really hurt you." His eyes narrowed subtly. "Not like you couldn't have defended yourself, it's just, um, they had guns, and…" I trailed off, looking to him for understanding. Things at the moment were awkward enough without him just standing there staring at me. I opened my mouth to speak, but he just held his hand up, gesturing for me to stop my rambling, so I closed it again. He slowly walked up to me, scrutinizing me with his eyes, as if he were judging me like it was a contest or something. Suddenly I felt very nervous. Not, you know, nervous for my life, but nervous in a way like you were going to get a scolding from a teacher or a parent (not that I would know).

"What are you?" he asked finally. I did consider lying to him, I really did. But then again, he had already seen me spread wings and fly, and didn't seem like he was going to go tell any reporter he could find, so I figured, how much harm could the truth do? So I told him as much as I could in five minutes, leaving out the parts about my family, trying to make him think that it was just me. But he completely ruined my hope for that with his next question.

"Are there more of you?"

Here was a man who I knew I couldn't lie to, not only because I owed him my life, but he was the kind of guy that you couldn't lie to without him knowing it. I knew he wouldn't pry, but I still felt ashamed at the thought of lying to him. Ugh! What was with all these new weird urges to tell the truth! It was like trying to lie to your grandfather! (Again, not like I would know) So, I hung my head and nodded.

"Yes," I said softly. He nodded, but didn't seek further. I felt relieved. He took a step back, and his expression relaxed a little, but his next question surprised me.

"So," he said in his thick accent. "Do you need a place to stay?"

My expression went blank. I couldn't think of anything to say. I looked him over again. He certainly didn't look like much. His shoes were worn, old and covered in dirt, as was the hem of his trench coat which was torn in places. His face was covered in ash and his hands were worn and scarred. And he was certainly quite old. However, this was precisely the kind of appearance that automatically made me trust him. He obviously wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, despite his age. And he could have just let the men back there rape and kill me (not like they could, injured or not I was still a birdkid). So I decided to let him past my walls.

"Yes," I replied softly. He nodded and walked away, gesturing for me to follow him. I made out to, but I hadn't even taken three steps before the pain in my leg came crashing down upon me again, full force, causing me to collapse onto my knees moaning in pain. Lee turned around and saw me on the ground. He rushed forward to support me so that I could stand. I looked down and saw that it was bleeding again. Perfect, just what I needed; another thing to go wrong in my oh-so-perfect day.

Lee looked at me and gestured down at my leg, asking if he could examine it. I nodded and he lowered me to the ground, scooting closer to my leg. He felt around it gently, and surprisingly it didn't hurt. When he sat back up, he looked concerned.

"Leg is infected," he said solemnly. "But I can heal it." My eyes widened.

"You can heal it?" I asked. "How?" But Lee shook his head.

"No questions," he said. "Here, I help you get up." And with that, he lifted me up by the arms and supported me as we walked to the ledge.

"Can you fly?" he asked. I nodded. He stepped in front of me and held his arms out, indicating that I pick him up and takeoff. "Take us to the edge of central park," he ordered. I sighed and gripped tightly to his outstretched arms while I spread my wings. Within three strokes we were in the air.

When we reached the edge of the park, I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion, plus the fact that it was late and I hadn't had a single thing to eat since this morning. So Lee picked me up, carefully avoiding my injured leg, and carried me into the dense green trees as I slowly drifted off to sleep.

A/N: hey guys! It's me. ya, I wouldn't be surprised if you forgot who I was. Its abbl2 in case you were wondering… I wanted to post this and believe on my birthday, but no thoughts were coming. Sorry about that… but it was only a few days ago.

So, ya. We are now officially high schoolers. Not as cool as I thought it would be. I'm actually supposed to be doing my English homework right now, but I was so close to finishing this, I couldn't stop. That and its super late and by super late, I mean 10:10 pm. I know, not late by the majority of peoples standards. But what can I say? I write best at nighttime, and on a deadline. I can't focus otherwise.

Anyways, that's what's going on in my life. I guess you can just keep expecting irregular updates (from me. not carly). I love you all, review, yada yada. Night!