Contrary to popular belief, coffee does not make everything instantly better, particularly when “everything” includes being taken hostage, listening to your kidnappers argue over what to do with you, and nearly falling off an overpass. However, when the coffee in question is mint chocolate mocha with a side of sympathetic (albeit slightly distracted) reassurance, it does help a lot.
By the time Saxon, Starlight, and Audrey make it back (in more or less that order) and are all seated with fresh coffees (and whipped cream, in Saxon’s case), I’ve mostly convinced myself that I’m ok. After all, the whole situation could’ve gone a lot worse- I’m not hurt, after all, just really freaked out and more than a little scared. And, as a small part of my mind keeps whispering, the whole rescue was really kind of exciting in a way . . .
As the reporter disappears back out the door, I drain the last of my mocha and clear my throat. “I know Lannis already said it, but thank you, Starlight. And Saxon. And Audrey.” My voice comes out more or less steady, for which I’m thankful. “I mean, really, really, thank you.” That doesn’t seem like enough. Think, Rebecca. “You’re all ok, right?”
“Sore, but otherwise fine.” Starlight stands and sets her cup down on the counter. “Well, it was nice meeting you girls-” her tone is too polite; even I can tell she’s not sure it actually was nice to meet us and I really can’t blame her- “but I should be going.”
“Do you have to?” Lannis appears more tired than any of us (not that that’s saying much, since I can’t see Saxon or myself), but she still looks disappointed that Starlight’s going. I’m sure I look equally so, though Audrey seems fairly ambivalent about it. “If you need to leave, it’s fine, but we’d like it if you’d stick around, or if you dropped in again next week.”
“Next week?” Audrey bursts out, looking at Lannis as if she’s suggested we all go skydiving without parachutes. “You really think we should try this again?”
“Why not?” I lean forward, resting my elbows on the counter and my chin in my hands. “I thought it was a good idea.”
I have a distinct impression that Saxon is facepalming. “You were just kidnapped, for goodness sakes.”
“Well, yes, but that can’t happen every week.” I hesitate. “Can it?”
Behind her mask, Starlight raises an eyebrow at me. “Yes. Yes, it can.”
“That doesn’t mean it will.” Lannis straightens up determinedly. “I still believe we need this community. We can’t abandon it just because the first time didn’t work out.” She looks at the rest of us hopefully.
I feel too tired to smile, but I manage anyway. “I’ll come back. I thought it was fun . . . at least before the whole holdup thing.”
“Well . . .” Saxon draws out the word. “If the rest of you are doing it, I might give it another chance.”
Audrey glances at Lannis. “I’m pretty sure Lannis won’t give me a choice whether I’m coming back or not.”
All eyes turn to Starlight. Her expression is hard- not in a cold way or a cruel way, just in a tired way. “We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be back.”
We all seem to realize that this is the best answer we’ll get- and I’m interpreting it to mean “Yes, but I don’t feel like saying that yet” anyway. “So,” I ask, “now what?”
“Well, if no one minds me asking . . .” Lannis leans against the counter, apparently too tired to keep her determined stance. “I’m fairly certain of what most of your powers are, but I’d like to be clear. Saxon, you have invisibility, obviously, and teleportation as well?”
“Oh!” I look up in realization. “That’s why you didn’t seem to be in the car until after it started moving- I thought you’d followed us out and just waited until then to do anything.”
“Lannis is right,” Saxon says. “Believe me, if I’d just followed you out, I would’ve done something a lot sooner.”
Lannis turns to me. “And you’re a healer, Rebecca?”
I nod. “A healer and a time manipulator, yes.”
“Time manipulation?” Saxon asks, unmistakably interested. “Can you go back in time?”
“Nope. That would be cool though.” I can’t even count the times I’ve wished I could travel in time, to be honest, but what I have is much more useful. “I can speed up and slow down time within a certain radius. So, like, if we wanted to meet and we only had fifteen minutes to do it in, I could slow the time down so it felt like an hour.”
“Oh?” Saxon’s voice betrays her grin. “So you’re why last period English always seems to last way longer than it should?”
I giggle. “Nope. I think the slowing-down-time ability is a power shared by classroom clocks . . . or possibly certain teachers.” I look over at Audrey. “What about you? I saw fire before I came back here . . . was that you?”
“Yeah.” Audrey holds up a hand, making a flame appear in her hand. It disappears when she closes her fist. “And I’m a technopath as well.”
“Cool. Or . . . well, not. Since, you know, fire.” I grin at my own bad joke, and Saxon snorts with amusement. Everyone else ignores it. I don’t blame them. “What about you, Lannis?”
“Telepath and empath.” Lannis either sees my confused look or reads my mind, or maybe both, because she adds. “Telepath is reading and sending thoughts. Empath is similar, but with emotions.” She nods at Starlight. “And I think we all know what Starlight does.”
“I should hope so.” Starlight glances up at a clock on the wall. “Look, it’s been nice chatting with you, but I do actually need to be going.”
I don’t have to be an empath like Lannis to realize that this time she’s said it in a serious, “I have places I need to be” way. Besides, as I follow her gaze, I realize she’s right- it’s gotten pretty late. “I should be getting home too.” I glance out at the darkening streets and wince. Or maybe I should call for a ride home . . . no. I’ll be fine. I will. Right?
“I can teleport you home if you want, Rebecca,” Saxon offers, and I half-wonder if she’s secretly a telepath too or if I’m just that obvious. Probably the latter. “Or anyone else who needs it,” she adds.
Lannis and Audrey shake their heads; they’ll stay to finish Lannis’s shift. Starlight also refuses, without giving a reason, and leaves fairly quickly. I accept gladly and say goodbye to the others. Then Saxon puts a hand on my shoulder, and before I can take another breath, we’re standing in front of my house.
The slight pressure of Saxon’s hand disappears. “Well, nice seeing you, Rebecca.”
“It was great seeing- well, not seeing- you too.” I grin at where I’m pretty sure she is. “Thanks again. See you at school tomorrow?”
“Probably. See you later.”
I wait, but she doesn’t say more, and when I ask “Saxon?” she doesn’t answer. Probably teleported home. I take a deep breath and head up the stairs to the front door. How am I ever going to explain this to my parents?