Let’s try that again. This time, what if instead of blocking the first three attacks, I evade backward to use the terrain to my advantage. Then, while her guard is down, I tackle- which results in her below me, with the leverage advantage. Okay, that happened again. What if I take the low approach, keep her off the ground as much as possible.
It made sense, given I had a lot of strength to use, but not the bulk that came with it. Anyone looking would guess I weighed around one hundred, though my actual weight was over one sixty, as an athletic woman my height should be. However, my muscles were more like a chimp’s than a human’s, so I had strength to match a huge male body builder. Pushing off the ground would let me use that strength, while staying above left me at the mercy of my weight.
Now that I had a new idea of what that meant in a fight, I began another run through my power. Go low, stay low. With a lot of my shapeshifting lost, I couldn’t do any major changes to my body any more, or I’d have changed my spine and skull to protect me in future battles. Cost to heal is a problem, maybe I should ask Domenic about making me some armor.
No, the point is to get more powerful without reducing myself to a beggar getting handouts. I looked over at where Domenic slept with Chloe curled up on him. Too late for that. She had her mouth open, which cast a soft blue light as she drew in power that I was using to run my simulations. Thanks to her, I’ve used my power more tonight than I could have in a month on my own.
I rolled backward into a handstand push-up, then lowered my feet to the ground while keeping my legs straight. With one final push, I went from upside down to standing on my toes. Then I walked over to where they lay sleeping. They are cute, in a pathetic sort of way. They’re like pandas; adorable, but too stupid to figure out how to breed on their own.
I looked at Chloe’s peaceful, rounded face. Pretty, but not beautiful, and yet Domenic would rather be shot down by her than take a shot at me. I don’t get it, but I guess I don’t need to.
During the night, I came up with a few ways to kill her. My favorite thus far was to hide a bunch of dry ice in the corners of the room, so they’d suffocate in their sleep. Thanks to some tests, I learned I could still suffocate, so Chloe could, too. The hard part was finding that much dry ice.
Nah, I’ll come up with something else. This would be like drowning a sack of puppies, anyway. Besides, I made a month of progress with my skills in a single night, and wanted to see if tomorrow worked out the same.
I brought my hands together in a slow, loud clap which echoed through the metal encased garage. The peaceful background noise in my mind started to change, so I repeated the motion a few times.
GroggyDiscomfort ConfusedUnfamiliar RealizationAlertMortified. They came awake and in the same moment. Domenic wrapped his arms around Chloe, to protect her and mark his territory in that typical way men do, while she dived out of the bed with a burst of power. Chloe was three feet in the air and five feet away before she figured out she was dragging her boyfriend and their bed with her.
She stopped in mid flight, but everything else kept going. Domenic slammed into her, then the metal slammed into them both. They fell in reverse order, with the metal hitting concrete with enough force to leave cracks, then Domenic hitting it like a soft air mattress.
FearHorror. “Dom!” Chloe didn’t fall or land so much as dive-bomb the metal. For him, it behaved like mud to soften his fall. For her, it did its best to resist, but the sound of tearing metal its only accomplishment. PanicLoss. “Oh god, please be okay!”
We can feel each others’ emotions, how do you not know he’s fine? Still, I marveled at how powerful they were. Domenic had absolute control over, and immunity to, metal. Chloe was strong enough to drag around hundreds of pounds without thinking, and dig through solid steel as if it were putty. That silly display would have covered half this garage in gore, had I been the victim instead of him.
DispleasureSecure. “Don’t worry, my ego broke my fall.” When I fought them before, I thought Domenic left gaps in his armor, but now it seemed his power allowed him to speak through solid metal. Maybe he makes the metal vibrate in a way that sounded like speaking. “It died on impact, but everything else is fine.”
ReliefSafeLove. Now she remembers we can tell who’s been hurt. “Thank god you’re okay!” Chloe wrapped herself around Domenic, and both of them seemed to have forgotten I was in the room. Again.
I can’t stand being ignored. I clapped my hands together again. “Gotta admit, never seen foreplay like that before.”
ShockHumiliation. Chloe turned on me. “It’s not foreplay!”
Don’t I know it. “I ain’t judging, feel free to sleep with your boyfriend-”
DefensiveAnger. “And he’s not my boy-!” DisappointmentRueful. Chloe stumbled over her word, then looked at Domenic while he climbed out of the pool of liquid metal. “I, uh. It’s complicated, and none of your business.” ContemptDisgust.
I just shrugged my shoulders and leaned back against a wall, stretching to show off my long legs. They liked the sight, much as they pretended otherwise. I wonder how it’d play out for me to seduce one, or both, of them. In our silence, I considered what I’d need to do to make that work. Either was a different set of challenges, but not impossible with a little bit of time. Then I can keep all the benefits of my stronger powers.
Chloe was more attracted to me, a detail which disgusted her; it seemed like I did something personal to her, though I had no idea what. In her case, I might have to debase myself, beg forgiveness, fake some tears, and appeal to her controlling side. None of which I looked forward to, but perhaps worth it. In the end, she was a hot mess who didn’t know what she wanted, and I could use that to my advantage.
Domenic liked how I looked, and was willing to admit it to himself, but he wanted Chloe more and was better able to control his emotions in the first place. Breaking him away from her would be tough, but he was frustrated by her childish behavior and the fact that she didn’t find him attractive. I can use that, all it would take is pretending I want him. Plus, he’s a man, it’s never hard for a pretty girl to convince a man to help her.
These two won’t be tough, not for me. Even as a child, a man as powerful as my father couldn’t keep his hands-
I crushed that thought, and focused on them. “None of my business, sure. What is my business is figuring out how we do this thing we’re doing. We beat a dozen Espers, tricked all” my “our enemies, and I’d like to keep doing that.”
AgreementDetermination. Domenic let his metal melt away. “You’re right. We can’t afford mistakes, ” RegretFocus. “We’ve gone too far to turn back. The best plan, for now, is keeping you here in the garage. With Chloe living here again…” he stopped to look at her.
She nodded her head. “I’ll talk to your grandma, but I still have a month or two left on my rent. She doesn’t strike me as the type to rip me off.”
CertaintyRespect. “She’s not. That makes the garage my default bedroom again. At least Nanna is good about respecting my privacy.” HesitationUncertainty. Domenic stopped for a moment as he considered what to tell me. “Uh, it’s a long story, but Chloe’s staying here thanks to” ContemptHate “family problems.” ResentmentDisappointed.
Oh, there’s a story and a half. I dismissed all the obvious answers right away, her emotions were powerful, but far less personal than her hatred of me. Oddly the opposite of Domenic, who had a personal reason to hate her family. Like peeling an onion. A dysfunctional, borderline retarded, onion. “None of my business, right?”
HateDisgust. “No, it’s not.” Chloe’s voice crackled with electricity, and the hint of ozone returned to the air.
InterdictionConcern. “We can make it work for the time being, if you’re willing to stay in the garage with me.” DiscomfortApology. “Uh, I can build a partition in the garage to give you some privacy.”
Oh, privacy is the opposite of what I want. SuspicionTerritorial. I avoided looking over at Chloe. She thinks I’ll try to do something with him while we’re alone. Smart girl. “I’m surprised you trust me that much. Not worried I’ll dig my way out?”
FearResignation. Domenic reached over and touched Chloe’s elbow. He kept his eyes locked on mine, and I could feel his mind looking for the right words. DeterminationObjective. “We don’t have the resources to play jailers all day, every day. Sooner or later, we will slip, and you’re too good to miss that opportunity.” Last night, for example. “If we are going to do this, if we want to win, then we need to be able to rely on each other. So I’ll make you an offer. Just step out that door, and we won’t follow.” ShockNegationAnger ConfidentNecessity. “This is your chance to run.”
Golden light radiated from Chloe’s eyes, mouth, and finger nails. “You can’t! We can’t let her go!” Her head snapped back and forth between me and Domenic, unsure of which of us she would have to punch in the next couple minutes.
Oh, you stupid, stupid boy. I almost feel bad about this. I hoped my smile wasn’t as smug as it felt. “I know what you’re doing.” What he thought he was doing, at least, was an appeal to the fact that I would rather die standing than run away. All he did was piss Chloe off and gave me an angle to drive them apart. “But you’re right. I’ll be a model prisoner, no need to tie me up. Unless you want to, that is.”
DiscomfortRejection OffenseJealous. Though his skin was too dark to see it, I could tell Domenic was blushing. “Uh, thanks, but that’s… I’m not…”
I kept my smile as I looked at Chloe, who looked like she was about to fly over and break my neck. I slipped my tongue out to wet my lips. “Oh, no, I was talking to her.”
ShockDisgust. Chloe’s eyes widened, and then narrowed again as she crossed her arms. “I’ll pass.”
“Open invitation, if you change your mind.” I knew that if she did, it wouldn’t be any time soon. Which was fine by me, I knew she’d be the more difficult project. “So, now that thats out of the way” and you’ve forgotten to build a privacy wall “the plan is for me to hide in the garage, until when?”
WorryHesitation. “I’m not certain, myself. There’s no possibility of getting Nanna to agree to any more house guests.” It may have been the truth, but his real reason for saying it was because he didn’t want me anywhere near his family. “I admit, I don’t have any contingencies-”
A hammering at the door cut off Domenic’s excuses. “Hey, nerd! Stop looking up gay porn and open the door!”
ExasperationNecessity. “That’s my sister. If I don’t get that, she will make a scene and won’t go away.” He was walking to the door even as he spoke, but stopped after a moment to look at me. “To avoid any surprises, she figured out my powers, and suspects Chloe. She’s going to suspect you as well. Just… do whatever you can to deflect attention, you’re the one with” FrustrationCynicism “Fate sensing. Use that to deflect questions or whatever. Please don’t flirt with her anymore.” DisturbedWary.
Yesterday, they told me much the same thing; either they forgot, or Domenic wanted to make sure I remembered. “Best I could think of at the time.” And it was fun. “I’ll try harder this time.”
SuspenceUncertainty. “Thanks.” He opened the door a crack. “Dammit, Bea, can’t y-”
The door pushed open, almost smashing Domenic in the face, and Beatrice slipped through the gap she forced. The light from outside showed it was still early enough in the morning that the orange of the sunrise hadn’t completely left the sky. “Hey, Dumbenic, show some gratitude.” Dumbenic, I’ll have to remember that one. “I’m here to cover for you and her scrawny ass.” Beatrice waved a hand toward Chloe. DistrustAnnoyance.
Domenic glanced back at us, but only for a moment. “Now is not the time for your drama.”
“Oh, I know. I told Nanna you’re out here, and Chloe’s up in your room. You got, like, five minutes before she comes out here an’ starts askin’ questions you don’t wanna answer.” ConcernDread. I could have written poetry about the smug grin she had on her face. This girl knew she had the upper hand, and she’d be milking it forever if she could. “Now, you’d better get in there, and distract Nanna so blondie can sneak upstairs.”
“Why don’t you distract Nanna?”
“Because I ain’t tryin’ to tap that.” Bea’s smile get any more smug, if only because that would have been impossible. “You outa be thankin’ me for helpin’ this much. Now run along, we’ll give you a few minutes to drag her into the kitchen or somethin’. I dunno, that’s your problem.”
ResignationFocus. He looked back and gave me a rather pointed look. “Alright, I’ll go first. Will you be okay out here alone for a few minutes?” UnderstandingAgreement.
Chloe walked as fast as she could without making it too obvious. Her threads suggested she’d be getting between us. Interesting. How much does this girl know? What is this history between her and Chloe? Kinda comes off like she’s an ex girlfriend or something.
“Yeah, I need to get home soon, anyway. It’s been a fun night, maybe we’ll do it again some day.” I helped them by walking toward the far end of the garage, putting distance between us. It had the effect of making Chloe’s actions seem less suspicious.
“Give me three minutes, then get inside as fast as you can.” Domenic rushed out the door, intent on getting back out here in as little time as possible. He may have claimed he was letting me go, he may even have believed himself, but he didn’t like having his eyes off me right now. Or perhaps it had more to do with his sister being in here with me. Either way, it put a lie to his bogus claims of trust. In time, that will change, and I’ll have him as my own.
I wasn’t looking with my eyes, but I knew Beatrice was watching me. “So, you’re Dom’s new pet project, huh?”
What. RejectionOffense. I turned to say something, but Chloe reacted first. “I am not a ‘pet project’, thanks.” Chloe did better at hiding her power than I’d expected, given how bad she was at controlling it around me and Domenic. “Now, could you please stop being a complete bitch?” Yeah, that’s the voice of a pissed off ex right there.
“Takes one to know one, right?” Beatrice pushed past Chloe, which took brass balls the size of Buicks if she knew Chloe’s powers. “So, Felicia was it? I asked a question.”
I kept my smile, while drawing on Chloe’s spare energy. Fate threads were always messier in conversation, where any word, any change in body language, could rewrite the conversation. Combat was simple in comparison, with clear goals and results I could follow. Convincing Beatrice that I wasn’t going to hurt her brother seemed to be the goal for now; I could try to get to know the girl, gather more useful information, later. “I was just passing through, that’s all.”
“Dom has this bad habit of bringing home stray dogs,” she said. InsultedAngryUncertain. I kept quiet, waiting for the story I knew was coming. “Back when he was a kid, he seemed to find a new lost pet every couple months. He never went looking, they just seemed to fall into his lap, somehow. Most of them had tags, and he gave them back to the owners. Once in a while, he came across one that was just some homeless stray. It’d give us fleas, shit all over the house, an’ then run off in a week. Like a doggy crack head.”
She’s making this story up. Perhaps the animal rescue part was true, my powers weren’t a perfect lie detector, but there were no doggy crack heads in the real story.
I put on my flirty smile as I faced the girl down. “Well, I don’t have fleas, but if you find me a collar and give me a bath, I won’t ask for any peanut butter.” IncredulityHorror. Wow, Chloe did not like that one.
Her smug smile faltered for just a second, then it widened again. “I told you, find me that bar first. We’ll talk later.” She turned and walked back to the door, while Chloe stared at me with the most adorably horrified expression on her face. There, she got one more jab in on Chloe. “I guess Dom isn’t missing out on much with you, huh?”
DisgustRage. “I didn’t sleep with her!”
Beatrice stepped out of the garage and began to close it behind her. “Well, that does sound like you, but isn’t she wearing your shirt from last night?”
MortificationHate. Her head snapped toward me when the door closed. “You stay here! We’ll be back as soon as we can.” I still don’t know how she managed to open the door, then slam it behind her, without ripping it out of the door frame.
I just brought my hand up to rub my eyes. “Okay, whatever asshole stuck me in a telenovela? If you’re watching this, know that I will find you, and then you will die screaming.”