"Ok, Brian, get out. You're already late for your class." Jan wasn't really in a bad mood, just frustrated.
Brian pushed the door open. It was true that he had a kickboxing class that had started two minutes ago, but it was cool. They were just stretching right now. He'd run up there and apologize. He'd have to do some pushups and then that would be that. He was more interested in the information that Jan had told him earlier in the day.
"So, let me get this straight. You can't use your super strength at all?", he asked as he got out and closed Jan's car door.
"That's right", Jan reiterated for the third time that day. It was really more than that. Jan couldn't even feel her power inside of her. She had already told her Sara and Alisha about her problem. They had been encouraging, but perhaps it had been a mistake to tell Brian.
"You're no stronger than anybody else right now."
Jan curled her arm as she walked and flexed her bicep a little. The
muscle knotted then bunched producing the peak that she was known
for. "These aren't fake you know."
Brian huffed. "You know what I mean. Like, you can't take that van over there and throw it across the parking lot, huh?"
Jan sighed as they walked towards the doors. "No, Brian. Not that I would want to ruin that person's van, but right now I couldn't throw it even if I wanted to."
Brian grinned and stepped close to her. He was fidgety while Jan walked towards the door with graceful authority like always. "That means that I might be able to beat you up."
Jan looked at Brian and rolled her eyes. Brian threw a couple of shadow punches near her face. She ignored him and kept walking.
"Yeah, Jan, no super strength, here's my chance!" Brian chuckled and bounced around. He threw a couple more punches. These were a little closer.
Jan was getting annoyed. "Brian, stop being stupid, and please stop doing that."
He kept at it. Jan raised her right arm to swat one of his fake punches. They were getting a little closer as they got near the door. "I think I can beat you up. I took a guy in class last week, and he was bigger than me, and Jan, you're just a regular chick now. I think I'm going to go a couple of rounds with you." Brian laughed and bounced to the front, making Jan have to stop walking. He should have paid closer attention to her demeanor.
"That's right. Its time you learn some manners." Brian smiled and threw a couple more punches. He threw a kick that brushed against Jan's bag. Brian was lost in the moment and didn't notice the muscles in Jan's jaw tighten. She had to move her head to keep his knuckles from touching her nose. Finally though, she'd had enough. In the middle of a flurry of punches, Jan's right arm shot up from her side. She caught Brian's hand, forced his fist open with her thumb and then used only two of her fingers to twist Brian's wrist around. She twisted it hard. He yelped and went down to a knee.
"Ouch Ouch! Okay! OKAY!"
Jan was standing up straight and holding him with seemingly no effort at all. She looked down at him and tisked. She let up on the pressure a little, but didn't let him go.
"I took it a little too far didn't I?" It seemed like Brian just noticed that Jan wasn't finding his attempt at humor very funny at all. "I'm sorry." She let him go, and they continued into the gym.
Brian was quiet as they came in and scanned their membership cards. "I should have known better than to say all that, Jan", Brian said as they came to the stairs. He was serious now, and he felt a little ashamed. He could see that Jan was upset.
"Yeah, Brian, you should have."
Jan's tone only made Brian feel worse. "I didn't know how you felt about it."
Jan stopped walking again. This was that last she was going to talk about this for the day. "Brian, I may complain about my power from time to time, but not having it is like a big empty spot. Its like waking up and realizing that you're missing an arm or something. I know you thought it was funny that I'm like you and everybody else. Well I'm not, Brian. You woke up completely whole this morning. I didn't. When I work up, I was still missing part of me. Hopefully, I can figure out what's wrong and get my strength back soon, but in the meantime, I don't need grief from you or anybody else."
Brian didn't have anything to say. He went up the stairs to join his kick boxing class while Jan went to the ladies locker room to put her bag and jacket away. After that she went to the weight room. She wouldn't let Brian's antics bring her down. She promised herself a good workout.
Sara Hewitt leaned against the heavy hospital style door and pushed the lever to open it. She nearly lost her balance as it swung. She was so tired that her eyes didn't even want to focus. She had overworked herself, and she had to concentrate to put one leg in front of the other. She was doing her rounds, and this was the last stop. This room used to belong to a comatose patient named Amir, but he had recently died. He had been fighting against so many ailments that it had been just a matter of time. Most of the staff at the Cherry Glen Long Term Care Facility were used to their patients dying, and it only pained them distantly, rarely did they feel the loss personally. It wasn't that way for Sara. She was one of the world's most powerful telekinetics and telepaths. She could do things with her mind that people could barely imagine, but with all of her skill and with all her power, she had to accept the fact that some things were out of her control. When Amir had died, Sara had gone into a closet and cried. She rarely cried, but she had known Amir as well as she knew anyone in the world, or even better because they knew each other thought to thought. There was no closer way to know a person, and now he was gone. His room had sat empty for a couple of days, but there was a new occupant. It was time to make the first check of this new patient.
Sara frowned when she came fully into the room and looked at the teen aged girl lying in the bed motionless. She looked so healthy and vibrant, but she wasn't. She couldn't see any outward signs of the trauma that had sent her here, but it had to have been pretty severe to put this girl in a coma. Sara sighed and lifted the girl's file from the end of the bed. Nicole Washington, aged 16. She had been in this condition for less than three months, but the doctors gave her a very small chance of ever regaining consciousness. Sara was tempted to probe Nicole's mind, but she wouldn't. She was too tired. She had spent the last hour with Chuck Thornton, one of her patients who had been in a coma since Sara was 4 years old. Chuck was getting closer every day to waking up. He was training his brain, and he was able to make complex calculations in his head for the fist time in years, but he still could not control any part of his body. Sara had gotten upset at the death of Amir, and she had pushed herself too far today trying to help Chuck. She had worn him out as well. It was rather frustrating, but the more she learned about her power, the harder she tried to use it.
Sara looked down at Nicole. The girl's breathing was even strong. She must be an athlete. It was such a waste. Sara was about to extend her mind and see if there was any of Nicole left inside when the door opened. Sara turned so quickly that she got dizzy. The man who had opened the door had to rush over and hold her up.
"Are you ok?", the man asked as Sara got her balance.
"I'm ok, sir. Thank you", she drawled wearily.
"You don't look ok", a woman said as she came in with her son. "You want me to call somebody? Brody", the woman called to her son, who was right behind her. "Go and get-"
"Oh, no ma'am. Really I'm fine." Sara smiled and rubbed her hands through her curly blond hair. "Are you Nicole's family?", Sara asked to change the subject.
"Yes, we are. My name is Donna. This is my husband Walter, our son Brody, and that is our daughter. She goes by Nikki."
"Nice to meet you all", Sara said as she shook their hands and introduced herself.
She spent a few minutes listening to the family tell stories about Nikki. They all had something great to say about her. They also explained to Sara how she had ended up in that bed. Nikki and a few friends had been leaving the first football game of the season and had been broadsided by a drunk driver. One of the friends died, one of them walked away, and Nikki had ended up here.
"We're going to take the best care of her, and never give up hope.", Sara told the family as they were leaving.
Sara left not long after the Washington family. She walked down to her Hummer, but was in no shape to drive. She knew that Jan and Alisha were too busy to come all this way to pick her up, so she called the only person close. She hoped to catch him before he headed home. Armen picked up on the first ring.
"Hey, Armen, could you come over here to Cherry Glen and drive me home? I don't feel so hot."
Armen was winded after jogging to the Cherry Glen parking lot from his job at the restaurant down the street. He still had on his waiter uniform as Sara explained that she had a headache was too tired to drive home. She climbed into the passenger seat while Armen took the keys. She was asleep before he even pulled into traffic. He looked over at Sara in her pink scrubs and smiled. She always seemed to be on top of things, always steady, confident, and despite her size, sometimes intimidating. Laying against the side of the door exhausted, though, she looked serene and fragile, like a porcelain doll. He felt good that she trusted him not only with her property, but also with her life and safety. For a guy like Armen, those things were not givens, and they did not slip past him unnoticed.
Jan was smiling as she walked out of the weightroom toweling her face. She had forgotten all about Brian's antics, and she had pushed the problems with her strength to the back of her mind too. At least for the next several minutes, Jan didn't have any worries on her mind. Her blood was flowing, her muscles were pumped, and she felt great. She had hit the weights without mercy, working every muscle group that she could in the short time. Like always, her body had responded. She was usually proud of her biceps, but sometimes she just wanted to flex them over and over for her own enjoyment. After a heavy set of preacher curls, she had flexed in the mirror a little longer than she normally did, but her peaks were pretty damn sharp today. Her veins were pulsing, and her shoulders were looking pretty good too. Jan got requests for exercise tips from men and women alike. Guys usually wanted to know how to make their arms bigger, or sometimes they just wanted to know her phone number. The women usually wanted to know how she managed to sculpt her lower abs to such perfection, but to Jan's surprise, she hadn't gotten a single abs question today. That was probably because instead of her usual sports bra, Jan had worn a form fitting tank top. For some reason that outfit had shined more focus onto her over all shape. During this workout, she'd been bombarded with hip and butt questions. Jan had smiled and tried to help the ladies out. Some of them hadn't known how nice Jan's figure was underneath the basketball shorts she usually wore to cover her compression shorts. She hadn't put the basketball shorts on this day, because she hadn't wanted to pull them from the bottom of her bag. Now everyone in the weightroom knew that her lower body was equally as impressive as her upper body. She had tried to deny it to herself, but she liked the attention a little bit.
"See you later", a guy on the leg extension machine called out as Jan pushed through the door.
"See ya Sax, and don't over do those leg exercise. You don't want your knee to pop out again."
"Yes, mom!", the middle aged man teased. They both laughed and Jan walked out. She had been helping Steve Saxby with his rehab after his injury because he couldn't afford a trainer. She did that sort of thing for several regulars, and they didn't know that she appreciated it almost as much as they did. As Jan got older, she was more aware of her faults, and one of them was that she was often perceived as unapproachable. She was too perfect, and she seemed to be above people instead of amongst them. She was fitness royalty at the gym. Everybody knew the tall girl with the great body who worked out there, but Jan had gone out of her way to introduce herself. She wanted people to know that she only seemed aloof. In reality, she was pretty easy to approach and to get along with. Now that she was minus that rage, she becoming downright nice.
Jan took a long drink from her water bottle as she headed for the stairs to the women's locker room. She smiled as she saw a familiar form sitting by the steps. A little boy had his head down, working at something sitting in his lap. Jan didn't go directly to the stairs, instead moving silently behind them, then jumping out from behind nine year old Timmy Rogers.
"Boo!", she yelled.
Timmy flinched and turned quickly. The look of surprise on his face made Jan laugh. The boy started to frown, but he couldn't get mad. Instead he looked at Jan with a weary smile. "That wasn't fair", he declared once his heart had stopped racing.
"Oh, that's coming from Mr. Suckerpunch himself." Jan laughed again. It went away as she looked at the boy more closely. Usually Timmy would have punched Jan in the stomach by now, but he hadn't even tried. Jan had been a little annoyed the first time Timmy had punched her, but it had turned into a game. He was a boy and Jan was a girl, so he thought that his punches should have at least hurt her. Timmy's little fists could barely dent Jan's abs when she was relaxed, and when they were flexed his knuckles would hurt when he punched as hard as he could. Timmy was small for his age, but he always seemed full of life when Jan saw him, not today.
"What's wrong? You look a little down." Jan sat next to the boy and put her arm around him. Timmy's mother Mary was one of Jan's students. She was raising Timmy alone, after his father had died fairly recently. Jan never asked what had happened, but she felt for Timmy and his mother.
"I'm fine", Timmy began. He smiled up at her, but it looked like a strain for him to do so. "I'm just tired today. That's all. I'll try and punch you next time."
"Ok", Jan said with a grin as she started up the stairs. She stopped and looked at the book open across his lap. "Did you draw that?", Jan asked after she saw that Timmy was holding a sketch book.
"Umm, I drew some of these, but this was one of my father's books." He pulled it close to him so she wouldn't see too much.
"Oh. You're really good, and so was your dad", Jan began and went up to the first step. "I hope you feel better."
She bounced up the stairs, getting mentally ready to teach her class. She would ask Mary what was the matter with Timmy later. Her mind was focused on her lesson for that day, and she didn't notice the commotion down stairs. She had pushed open the locker room door, and started towards her locker when she heard Timmy yell.
"Jan! Jan!", the boy yelled urgently.
She jumped to action at the sound of Timmy's voice. She dropped her water bottle to free her hands and rushed out to the hall. She covered ground quickly. She heard other voices as she made it to the top of the stairs. Jan jumped from the top to the bottom. Her senses were completely tuned in and adrenaline was pumping through her body. She looked all around. Her eyes fell on Timmy right away. The little boy's face was pale, but he didn't look to be in any danger. He saw her and pointed towards the corridor. Jan took a quick step forward and looked where the boy was pointing. "Oh no", she breathed.
Teri, one of her students, was clutching her daughter and both were backing away. Jan could see the terror on their faces, but she couldn't see what they were looking at.
"No, Jim! Please! Leave us alone!", Teri cried. The woman moved away from her ex-husband, but she knew that there was no way out behind her, only rooms that lead to more rooms with no where to go. People in the gym wanted to help, but Jan saw quickly that Teri's ex-husband had a knife, a big knife, and he slashed at anybody who came close. He held the knife in his right hand while he wiped his bleeding nose with the sleeve on his left arm.
People had run from the basketball courts, weightrooms, locker rooms, and any other part of building at the sound of Teri's screams, but they could only get so close. Jan saw one guy try and get close. She felt a chill when she saw that it was Brian. He looked over in Jan's direction before he locked in on the man with the knife and crept closer. Jan wanted to scream, or to run over there, but she was too far away. This was going to play out.
Brian came from the man's rear quarter and then he made his move. He lunged at Jim, who turned quickly. He held the long knife at the ready and slashed. The knife nearly hit Brian in the throat. Jim stabbed at Brian a couple of times before he pushed the young man to the ground.
"Stay the fuck back! All of you!", he bellowed. The people did after that. Jim turned his attention back to his ex-wife.
"You bloodied my nose, Teri", Jim yelled. "You learned some of that kung-fu shit, but that's not going to help you. I tried to do this the good way, but you ran off and hid from me. You should have known I would find you. I'll always find you."
Jan had to get over the shock of seeing a crazed man wielding a knife in the middle of this normally peaceful place. She looked closely at Jim, and could tell quickly that he was a man at the end of his mental rope. If all civility and reason were stripped from a man, that man would look like Jim as he crept closer to his wife. His eyes were fixed on their daughter. To him she represented what he wanted even if he had given no thought at all to the needs of raising a child. He felt that having Jaimee would make his life good again, but he had lost any chance of his life being good a long time ago.
Jan was content to stay back in the crowd as the events played out in front of her. The last thing she wanted to do was escalate things, and she knew that she had a way of doing that. Someone had called the police by now, and Teri was inching her way closer to the stairs. If she came towards the stairs then that would cut off all but one angle of attack that Jim could have. Jan was pretty sure that Teri was going to come that way. When she did, Jan and the other people standing around would be able to protect Teri and Jaimee rather easily. Preparing for that, Jan took Timmy by the shoulders and moved him behind her. The boy took his sketch books and didn't argue. Mary, his mother, was behind Jim and knew better than to try and pass him. Mary was getting worried about her son until she saw Jan's hand wrap around his shoulder. That made her feel better. She knew that Jan wouldn't let anything happen to him, and she was right.
"You were supposed to come back to me!", Jim yelled. "I told you that I had changed, and you promised. Then you run off! You run off and take Jaimee. I can't see my own KID! No calls, no birthdays no nothing!" Jim's anger rose and he quickened his pace.
"Its over between us, Jim." Teri tried to keep her voice calm, but she was scared. She looked at the faces around. She wanted them to do something. She was trying to keep it together for Jaimee's sake. She didn't know it, but she had been doing the best thing she could for her daughter and herself until Jim started coming faster. Then Teri made a wrong move. She started going towards her right, and not towards the stairs.
Jan groaned inwardly, and her shoulders slumped for an instant. With one step, Teri had screwed up, and now Jan had to act. Jan took a deep breath, and started through the crowd. She was always ready for action, and she only thought about her lack of her super strength in passing as she cleared the group and readied herself to confront a man with a knife. She came up behind people and gently pushed them aside. The people moved to allow the tall young woman through.
"No, Jan", Teri whispered through her tears.
Jan ignored her and walked forward. The gym regulars didn't know how to react as Jan confronted the crazed ex with the knife. She had a reputation as a bad ass, but that knife was big and sharp, plus Jim was big and crazy.
"Sir", Jan began calmly. "Please, put the knife down. Nobody wants anyone to get hurt."
Jim squinted and turned his eyes away from his ex-wife and daughter. He had known that there were people around him, but they had been faceless. Now one of them had a face, but he didn't care. He didn't care that the woman standing in front of him was good looking. He didn't care that her voice had been calm, even soothing. He only wanted his daughter and he wanted his ex-wife out of the way.
"Get the fuck out of my way bitch!", Jim yelled and continued.
"No", Jan said in the same tone as before. "Put the knife down, and leave Teri alone. Do you really want your daughter to see you acting like this?" Her tone made Jim's crazed attitude seem that much more ridiculous.
Jim turned his blood red eyes towards Jan. "Stay the fuck back! You don't get it! Teri's going to be with me, or nobody at all! And Jaimee's my daughter! You're never going to be able to take her from me again!"
"I didn't take her, Jim. I got custody after the divorce", Teri yelled. She had lost her sense of calm. "You never cared about us. Look what you're doing! You've gone crazy, Jim. You're scaring Jaimee, and me too. Put the knife down!"
"Why are you doing this Daddy!", Jaimee called out to her father. "Why!?!"
"I have to baby! Its okay. I won't hurt you, but your mother knows why. She's forced me! She gave me no choice. She knows she's wrong, and she knows that either she can end it the right way, or I'm going to end it my way!"
Jaimee cried and clutched closer to her mother. "You're scaring everybody, Daddy, and me too!"
"Close your eyes, baby. This will be over soon!"
Jim looked at Jan and then past her to towards his obsession. For weeks he could hardly sleep. This woman had ruined his life, and she belonged to him. Jaimee was his daughter, and Teri was his wife. She would either be his, or no one else's. He never gave a thought to his actions or to the tall girl who had come through the people. They were sheep, and he was a wolf. He would have what he wanted, and no one was going to stop him. Jim took a good grip on his knife, and started forward again. There was no where for Teri to go. He would catch her, and then it would be over for him. He could take his life back from the woman who had ruined it. Teri started backing away again, this time more quickly. Jim readied himself to run.
Jan had a moment of doubt like any person would. She couldn't trust her strength. She already knew that, but she was used to it. She hadn't relied on her strength for most of her life, but even back then she could draw from the rage that was the core of her power. That rage wasn't there. Jan wasn't afraid of confrontation, but if she failed in this, she would be letting Teri and Jaimee down. It only took Jan a spit second to overcome her doubt. Strength or no strength, this asshole wasn't going to touch Teri or Jaimee. Jan took one long sideways step and blocked Jim's path.
Surprise won out over anger. Jim couldn't believe what he was seeing. His rage returned. "Get out of my way!", he roared.
"Put down the knife", Jan hissed. Her eyes narrowed, and she felt her own anger start to wash over her. This wasn't the fury that she was used to, instead Jan was angry at the entire situation and she was ready for a fight. She didn't think Jim was prepared for what she could do to him, super strength or no super strength.
"I WARNED YOU!!!", he yelled. His arm swung out. Light glinted off the sharp edge of Jim's blade as it sliced through the air. Every muscle in his body, and every thought in his head was dedicated to drawing blood from this young woman. He wanted to cut her deep, the same way Teri had cut him.
Jan jumped to her left as his slice began. Her quick reflexes didn't fail her. She turned her body to the side and sucked in her stomach as far as she could. The blade barely missed the skin tight fabric of Jan's Under Armour top. It whistled as it passed her. Jim reversed his slice and extended his arc. He was ready to lean forward, but this girl didn't back away. She stepped into him. From inside of his arc, Jan leaned to her left and extended her arm slightly downward. Jim's arm went right into her big hand. She closed her long fingers around his wrist. She tensed her shoulders, and the muscles rippled as she absorbed the power of Jim's swing. Her already pumped muscles swelled as Jim resisted her. Her triceps thickened as she pushed Jim's arm away from her body a little, despite his efforts to control his own arm. Jim was shocked again, but Jan didn't give him a chance to react. She reached across his body with her right arm, and took Jim near his elbow. She took a very small step to the right with one leg and pushed against Jim at the same time. He instinctively set his feet to push back, then Jan tightened her grip and twisted in one explosive movement to the left. Jim felt torsion in his arm like it was being screwed from his body. Before he could realize what was happening, he was going over. Without a single grunt of effort she had flipped him. The next thing Jim knew, he was on his back. The girl's face was shadowed because of the florescent light shining in his eyes, but he could see clearly when she took his right hand in both of hers. With a quick and violent twist, she disarmed him. She tossed the knife to her left. It skidded across the white floor near the corner where the people from the gym were. One of them quickly picked up the knife to get it away from Jim. She let the man go.
He scrambled to his feet. His enraged eyes met Jan's steely cool ones. He threw a quick punch with his right. Jan moved her head only a couple of inches and let the punch sail by. Jim threw another and another, but Jan slipped his punches with ease. His nose started to bleed again, and Jim was beyond thinking. His anger grew with every missed punch. Finally he'd had enough. He stopped punching and reached out for this girl. That's all she was. She was just a girl, and he could kick any girl's ass. He didn't know that Jan had been waiting for this. He took her by the shoulders and squeezed his fingers into her. His fingers made indentions on her Jan's skin until, with another explosive burst of speed and strength she shot her arms up from her side inside his grip. She burst his hold open. His arms flew apart exposing his chest and stretching his ribcage and upper torso muscles. Jan used the momentum of her burst and brought both her arms forward. She held her palms out and impacted Jim in the chest with the heels of her hands. He staggered back and went down to a knee. His face had been red from anger, but now it was turning a little blue from lack of air as Jan had nearly emptied his lungs with one powerful blow. She took a step forward and towered over the man. She stood there in her skin tight workout gear with her every muscle etched and chiseled as if by divine design. There were no weaknesses, and there were no blemishes as Jan stood there. She wasn't breathing heavily, and she wasn't even upset. She glanced at Teri and Jaimee before looking down at Jim.
"Are you ready to settle down?"
Jim had caught his breath, but he still clutched his chest as he raised his head. "Fuck you!!", he screamed and threw an awkward punch from his knees. The punch was aimed for Jan's lower abdomen, but she jumped back. That gave Jim a chance to jump to his feet. He rushed at Jan and threw another punch. This one right for her head. He was on target and he was going to show this girl what a man could do. The smack of the impact echoed in the relatively small space as Jim unloaded all the power he could muster into the palm of this girl's left hand. Jan's body shook, but her muscles tensed as the power of his punch was absorbed by her shoulders, traps, triceps, pecs, and lats. She quickly closed her fingers and now it was her turn to dig into him a little. Jan grit her teeth as she quickly squeezed as hard as she could. Jan had always had a powerful grip, and Jim was learning that the hard way.
"Aw shit!", Jim moaned as this girl's fingers compressed his hand. He felt the small bones moving around inside his fist, and he heard them pop as he tried to pull his hand free. He tugged and tugged. He tried to pull her off balance if he couldn't do anything else. Jan was forced to take a step forward. Her long leg reached out, and Jim pulled as if for his life, but Jan's quads just jumped into action. Long lean muscles bunched up on her upper leg forming the teardrop at the top of her knee, and stretching her shorts a little to contain the muscle growth. Her calf fired in quick secession to keep her balance.
Jim couldn't help, but look at the physical specimen in front of him. Her every move produced more muscle shapes. As impressive as she was, this girl was still just an obstacle. Jim had been pulling as hard as he could, but his hand was still caught. He tried some trickery. He put his leg back then pushed back forward. To his surprise, the girl just adjusted. He threw a quick jab with his left hand. It missed, so he threw another. Jan was ready. She raised her right hand, and once again there was an smack as Jim's fist hit the center of Jan's hand. He knew he'd made a mistake as soon as he threw the punch, but it was too late now. Both his hands were trapped. He looked on as this girl's beautiful stared back at him. He could see the effort on her face, but she held him.
"Calm down", Jan began, breathing was just a little heavier now. "I don't want to hurt you."
It would have been better had she said nothing, because Jim's rage came back with full force. He stood up as straight as he could, hunched his shoulders then tried with all his might to bring his arms out. With a pretty quick movement of his own, Jim forced Jan's arms out then their chests touched. They were face to face now. Jim's alcohol tinged breath assaulted Jan's nose, and his heavier body pressed against hers. It was a test of strength and of leverage. Jan usually loved a challenge, but this one was a little more serious than usual. Jan knew that she was the only thing between this man and Teri and Jaimee. She had to keep him off of them. There were more people standing near Teri, but they couldn't handle Jim. No, this was a challenge that she had to win alone. She didn't have her super strength, but it didn't matter. She pushed any thoughts of failure from her mind.
"Not so fucking tough now, bitch!", Jim spit and slobbered in Jan's ear. "I'm going to get Jaimee, and nobody's going to stop me. I'm going to knock your stupid fucking head off." Jan inhaled sharply, as Jim started forcing their arms down. "That's right bitch, not so tough now!"
Jan set her jaw, and pushed against him. "You have no idea", she said under her breath just before another outburst of power that Jim had no answer for. He was trying to pull their arms in to gain the advantage, but Jan had longer arms than he did, and she was going to use them. With all the power trapped in her triceps, Jan straightened her arms. Against all of Jim's resistance, Jan forced her arms out. Their bodies shook with the effort. Jim could feel his body stretched a little more than it liked. He fought against it, but he was helpless as he watched this young woman's body began to flex in earnest. He thought that he had seen her body at its most impressive before, but he hadn't seen anything.
Jan's muscles tightened, all of them. At first it looked like the skin was being attracted by her muscles like a vacuum clinging to the muscle fibers beneath. The unreal definition and detail of Jan's muscles were breathtaking, but that was just the beginning. She exhaled and her muscles looked like they were going to burst from her skin. They just surged, making her clothes expand around them, and forcing Jim's arms back. Her pecs flexed so hard and so big that they pushed against Jim's own chest, increasing the distance between the two of them. Jim couldn't believe it. His eyes darted every which way, looking for a way out and to see if this was real. The couldn't be real. She was forcing his arms back against his will. He tried to lean forward to gain any advantage, but it was too late. Jan's biceps began to balloon. They swelled with each beat of her heart. The most powerful muscle in Jan's body was working overtime to feed fresh blood to the most impressive muscles on Jan's body. A thick vein snaked down the peak of her left bicep, while another equally impressive one went across her right. Jim couldn't look away as he watched the individual fibers of Jan's biceps swell and tighten and harden and flex harder by the second, forcing his arms to her bidding. He could see the dual heads of her biceps as she kept it up. Higher and higher the peak rose until he was sure that it could go no higher, but it did. Higher and stronger, until she had him where she wanted him. Even with so much energy used, Jan had enough for another burst of energy. She forced Jim's arms down against his sides at the same time she curled her forearms and it was complete. She forced his hands back, and the pain began.
Jim screamed, and went to his tip toes, but it was no use. She poured it on. Her arms were rock solid and her muscles were rock hard as she kept going increasing the pain like a child would have done to a weaker child. Jim hopped around in pain now.
"Are you finished?", Jan asked him. She had to raise her voice to be heard over his screams.
"Yes! Fuck! Let me go!"
Jan's forearms bunched up even more as she sent another surge into Jim's tortured hands. "Are you lying to me?"
"No, please!" She let him go and Jim quickly backed away favoring both wrist at the same time. Jan flexed her fingers and took up position between Jim and his ex-family. He looked over his shoulder. A few people had worked their way into the small space. Jim knew that he was trapped.
Jim looked at Jan and then at his wife. Tears welled in his eyes. "I'm your husband, Teri! And Jaime is OUR daughter! Why did you do this to me!?!"
Teri stepped from behind a man who had shielded her from her husband on the off chance he had gotten past Jan. "You did this to yourself, Jim. I loved you, but you treated me like dirt on the floor. You didn't love me. You never did, and it showed. My life is my own and not yours. I loved you, but you thought that I was just your slave. No, Jim. You ended our marriage a long time ago. I finally got the courage to do something right for myself and for our child. I don't have to live that way anymore, and neither does Jaimee. We both deserve better than that, Jim."
"But I can change, Teri. I can change. Just...", Jim's words became muffled behind his sobs.
"No, Jim. Just look at yourself. You came here with a knife. Come on, be honest with yourself and let us go on with our lives. If it wasn't for my teacher here, think about what you would have done."
Jan looked at Jim, and she couldn't help, but feel sorry for him. In that instant, she felt extreme pity. It wasn't easy to watch a person come apart right before her eyes. She watched as everything he had built up in his head, including whatever her lead him here to do whatever he was going to do. It was all gone. He had been forced back to reality, and he didn't like it. Jim had seemed like a big bad man not half a minute earlier, but standing there now, he was very very small. For the first time since her fight with Jim had begun, Jan wished that she had her super strength. She wanted it so badly right now as they stood there, not because she needed the strength, but she needed the rage. The fury and rage of her power would have shielded her from feeling so sorry for the man she had just beaten. It would have helped her to mentally keep her guard up because Jan was a passionate person, and it didn't take much for her to get emotional.
"Its your fault", Jim mumbled under his breath. Jan heard the words because of her perfect hearing, but she didn't really listen. "You filled her head with all of that stuff. You told her never to come back to me", Jim mumbled as he built another fantasy to replace the one that Jan had just helped to destroy. The reality of what Jim had done to his family was too much for him to bear. He couldn't face it, and he would do anything he could not to. He had to have someone to blame, because the truth of his neglect and bad actions threatened to overwhelm him. He looked at Teri, and his anger came back, but when he looked at Jan he felt his rage boil over again. He was seeing red, and blood was going to flow.
Jan watched as the rage filled Jim again. It was hot, and it was from his soul. Jan could see herself in his eyes. She knew about an all consuming rage. She didn't notice Jim reaching his hand into his pocket. She was lost with her own thoughts. His fingers touched the top of his buck knife. He pulled it out in one quick motion. He lunged towards Jan. She saw it at the last second and dodged, but not quickly enough. She felt the strange and hollow sensation of the sharp blade slicing into her flesh. The wound on the inside of her left forearm was fairly deep and long. Jim had drawn blood.
Jan watched as two drops of her blood fell onto the floor. She watched those two drops fall down and make twin circles. A few more circles followed them as the cut dripped faster and faster as her heart rate went up. Jan was pissed and mad. She hadn't hurt this man on purpose. Out of respect for Jaimee, she hadn't even hit him, but that was about to change.
Jim did not wait for Jan to react. He turned from her and ran with the knife in his hand towards his Teri and his daughter. They both screamed and the crowd of people tried to protect the mother and daughter plus themselves as Jim came forward. Jan was angry with herself for once again underestimating an opponent. She had promised her brother Thomas that she wouldn't do that, but those drops of blood on the floor proved that she had. Jan hated breaking promises even if Thomas would only know about her failure if she told him. Either way, she felt herself getting angry, very angry. She looked up from the blood at her feet. She saw Jim running. To her he moved in slow motion.
"NO!! DADDY!!!", Jaime yelled at the top of her lungs as her father came closer. He only made it to within five feet.
Jan took two steps, but her legs were so long that they ate up ground. She reached down and caught Jim's ankle on his back step as he ran. The man fell over forward, but he got up quickly with the knife still in his hand.
"I'm going to fucking--" Jan cut him off with a quick jab to the nose, then another. Jim slashed at her with the knife. Jan jabbed him again. Her right arm was ready, and before Jim could slash again, Jan threw a right cross that twisted Jim's whole body around starting with his head. He straightened himself, but he was unsteady on his feet. He took another weak slice at Jan, but she was beyond caring about the knife. She set her feet, and got her balance. The muscle fibers in her pecs, traps, and biceps tightened. That was the only warning Jim had before her big fist slammed into his nose. He fell back from another jab, but a right cross came a spit second later, followed by two jabs, then a bone crunching left hook that exploded against his jaw. She was on the balls of her feet bouncing forward as he staggered with the knife still in his hand. He waved it at her. Jan drew her fist back and sent a punch to his midsection. Her knuckles buried deep in his gut. He nearly vomited as he dropped the knife and clutched his belly. Jan didn't let him fall on his face. She drew a quick breath and exhaled as her upper cut hit Jim in the chin. The people watching had never seen anything like this girl's bicep peak as she hit Jim. He stood up past straight, almost falling over backwards. Jan coiled her body and sent a spinning kick to Jim's ribs. She felt his ribs flex, but they didn't break, yet. He was forced near the wall. Jan stepped forward and fist flew. Jim threw a couple of quarter speed punches. One of them hit Jan in the side of the face, but she barely felt it. She squared on him, and unleashed a series of punches that impacted one after the other with amazing speed. Then she widened her base and really loaded up her right hand. Jan put every ounce of her strength into this one fast looping punch to Jim's ribs. Her face wasn't even recognizable as she dug way down to power this punch. Every muscle in Jan's body was dedicated to this one action from her calves to her traps. Jan had been working out and training since she was 12 years old, but she had never tried to throw a punch any harder.
When Jan's fist hit Jim's ribs, she broke them. Two of them broke completely and two more cracked. Blood sprayed from his mouth, and his body doubled over like it was going to fold in half sideways. He tried to fall to the ground. He reached out with his left hand to grab something, anything to help him stay up. Jan jumped back, and unleashed a vicious side kick. Her leg was fully extended when the sole of her running shoe it Jim in the sternum. He slammed back to the concrete block wall. He hit so hard that he bounced off of it. Jan stepped in and quickly took Jim by the right arm and shoulder. With a small movement from her hips and shoulders, Jim was flipped. He landed on his already bruised back, but Jan was finished. She stepped over him and dropped her knee onto his right shoulder, pinning him to the ground while she leaned over him. She took a handful of Jim's shirt with her left hand as she brought her right arm high over her head, and then fired it down again and again. Jan's punches detonated against Jim's face. His head bounced against the cement floor with each powerful blow. The people in the space cringed after each blow. Some of them even oohing and ahhing, but Jan couldn't hear any of it. She was on automatic. Her eyes found the target on Jim's face and her body hit it. It was that simple. Blow after blow landed until blood sprayed out from the cuts on his face after every blow. Jan raised her arm again. It seemed like she would never get tired. If anyone had ever wondered what it would be like for a man to be beaten to a pulp, this was it. Jan's eyes had found their target and her right arm was about unleash more fury, when one voice broke through.
"No, Jan, please don't hurt him anymore!", Jaime yelled. The ten year old girl ran from her mother's arms and stood near her father. "Stop fighting him, please!"
Jan's arm hung in the air a moment before she let it down and let Jim drop completely to the floor. He grunted when he hit. Jan's breathing was a little labored as she got to her feet. Jaimee looked up at Jan and then to her father. She knelt down beside him. Jim's right eye opened allowing him to look at his daughter's face because his left eyes was so swollen it looked like he was growing a second head. Blood leaked from cuts all over his face, but despite all the pain he was feeling, he looked at his daughter and managed a smile. He raised his arm and put it around her gently.
Jan stepped closer. Her impossible body was covered in a nice layer of perspiration. Her chest rose and fell a little more often that normal, but she looked nearly fresh. Her muscles were still pumped, and the veins pulsed with her beating heart. "Are you finished?", she asked him simply.
Jim nodded weakly. He was finished. As he lay in pain, Jim fully understood what he had been about to do, and indeed it overwhelmed him as he had feared. In a strange way, this tall girl had saved him from completely ruining the rest of this life. "Thank you", he managed through busted and swollen lips.
Jan didn't quite know how to reply, so she said nothing. It wasn't long before two police officers burst in with their weapons drawn. When they came in, they pointed them at Jan. She quickly raised her hands, and looked towards Jim. The cops put away their guns, and went into arrest him. He didn't struggle at all. The paramedics came in just after the police. They didn't know what they were going to find inside there, but they found just two people injured. The police had arrested him, but it was going to be a little while before he would see the inside of a jail cell. Jim was going to have to spend a few days in the hospital first.
Brian came over to Jan as one of the paramedics was bandaging her cut. He had already cleaned the wound and now he was expertly wrapping gauze then tape around her forearm.
"I take back all that said earlier", Brian began. The medic looked at him, but didn't shoo him away.
"What?", Jan asked without taking her eyes off the man wrapping her forearm. She never winced from the pain, and she even looked a little satisfied when some blood soaked through the dressing.
"Remember earlier, I said that I could kick your ass maybe. No. I was wrong. You would turn me inside out." The medic chuckled, but kept working.
Jan reached out and patted Brian on the arm. "Naw, Brian, you know you're one of my peeps." They both laughed.
"So you'd beat a guy like that to save me too?"
Jan frowned and looked up at him. "Haven't I already?"
"Oh yeah, right. You have. Don't know how I could have forgotten that." Brian thought back to a couple of months ago when Jan had saved him from a ruthless and enormously strong gangster named Gary Pulser.
"And Brian, what were you thinking going after that guy like that? He could have killed you. You saw me there. You knew I could handle him." The medic was finished and Jan stood up from the chair.
Brian shrugged his shoulders as they walked away. He got close to her ear. "I saw you, but you don't have you powers, and I thought that maybe... I don't know that maybe I could help."
Jan just shook her head. "Brian, I don't have half of my powers. My healing is working just fine. Even if he stabbed me with that knife it wouldn't have mattered."
Brian looked down at her arm. "If half your powers are working, then why is your arm still bleeding?"
Jan smiled broadly at the question. "Because I want it to."
"I'm slowing my healing down. Its like everybody else's right now. I've never really had a scab before... Well not for very long, and I think it'll be cool to try and let this cut heal like a normal person's cut would."
Brian twisted his mouth. "You're weird."
The police caught up to Jan while she and Brian were standing near the front desk away from the crowd of people. Most of the people were near the back of the building giving their statements. A few people had finished and had passed Jan to tell her what a wonderful thing she had done, or how amazing she had been. Jan just accepted their praise and waited. She knew she'd have to give a statement, and now it was time. The police did shoo Brian away, and Jan was there with two officers. It had taken some convincing by the people in the gym to get the cops to understand what had really happened to Jim. At first glance, they had thought that the people had ganged him and beaten him like that, but every single person had said that one girl had beaten Jim. She had done it by herself, and she had sort of started out taking it easy on him.
The two cops had expected something from listening to the people's stories, but they hadn't expected the woman who had beaten a grown man to be the same tall girl the had seen when they had first come in. Jan didn't try to play up anything she had done. She just told her story, and for once she didn't have to leave anything out. She hadn't used any of her powers, so she wouldn't have to keep track of what she had omitted. It was sort of refreshing for once. After giving her statement, Jan met with her class. All the woman were so proud of their teacher that they were ready to pop. It made them feel better to know that all the stuff Jan had been teaching them wasn't crap. It would work in the real world. They might not ever get as good as she, but there was hope.
Teri and Jaimee had left with the police, and the rest of the class agreed to take the rest of the week off. They would start fresh next Tuesday. Jan and Brian were making their way to her car when Jan saw Mary and her son Timmy getting into her car. Timmy was still dragging, but he had a huge smile on his face. Timmy had seen parts of Jan and Jim's fight. The little kid had gushed about Jan to the cops. He talked about her like she was a super hero, but Jan knew that there was nothing super about what she had done. Timmy wouldn't hear any of it. Despite his fatigue, he had jumped around shadow boxing a blow by blow display for the police when they'd asked what he had seen. Jan would have gone over to the car, but she was getting tired. She waved at Timmy. The little kid waved back so hard that she feared that he would break his arm.
"You're the best, Jan!", the kid yelled out the window.
Jan shook her head. "Bye, Timmy."
Jan was in a hurry to tell her friends. She dropped Brian at Emory, and pulled her car into her parking space. She turned off the ignition, and looked down at the bandage. More blood had soaked into it while she wasn't paying attention. She smiled broadly. It was still bleeding. She could feel the calm inside her, and she was controlling it. She could feel her healing power trying to burst through to close that wound, but she wouldn't let it.
Jan snatched her bag and started up the stairs, taking four at a time. She unlocked the door and came in quickly. The foyer area opened directly to the living room, but it was empty. The place seemed very still. Jan could hear activity in the kitchen, and she could hear some music coming from Alisha's room, but no one was to be seen. Jan inhaled to call out. She wanted to tell them about the fight and more importantly about her cut, but she remembered. She couldn't say anything. Melissa was in the kitchen cooking, and she didn't know anything about special abilities at all. Jan got very frustrated right then, and her enthusiasm waned. She closed the door behind her and went to her room. She needed a shower.
Sara didn't even hear Jan come in. She was still asleep. After Armen had dropped her off, he had waited there at the apartment watching tv on their plasma screen television for about an hour or so, before he had caught the train and bus back to campus. Sara had been asleep the entire time. She had only awoken long enough to walk up the stairs and then on to her bedroom. It was a strange feeling for her as she finally woke up and sat up on her bed. She hadn't been physically tired at all, but using her telepathic powers to their limits had taken a lot out of her. She would have to be careful to pace herself next time. She stretched her arms out and got out of bed. Her body felt fully rested, but she was more concerned with her ability. Sara stretched her mind out a little, and felt no resistance at all. She wasn't 100 percent, but she was close enough for her to feel normal. She changed clothes and sat down to check her e-mail.
Just as Sara was opening her first message, the front door to the apartment opened quickly. Avery, Sara's cousin from New Orleans, burst into the room like a little whirlwind. "Whoo Hooo!", he shouted and threw his briefcase on the sofa. Melissa, his fiancee, rushed into the living room from the kitchen.
"Guess what! Guess who just broke a huge case today? You remember that civil case in Clayton County? Well it turns out that it was just the tip of the iceberg. It turned into a major money laundering and corruption case. We're talking about federal indictments and the whole nine yards. Not only is the firm's client going to get back her measly eight grand, she's probably going to get 120 acres of prime real estate in the exchange too!" He swept Melissa off her feet and twirled her in a circle. He kissed her quickly and then again longer. He stared at her face. He was happy that she was there to share in his joy. He put her down and looked towards the middle of the room.
Alisha and Sara had come out of their rooms to see what the noise was about. Avery saw Sara and his face brightened all over again. He was like a little leaguer who had hit the winning home run.
"Don't stay over there sleepy face", he called out to his cousin and opened his arms. Sara came over towards him and he hugged her tightly enough to make her grunt. "Oh, I damned near forgot. Avery Vaughan is now a licensed attorney in the state of Georgia, and I have been assigned this case by the senior partner himself!"
"That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!" Avery finally put her down. He had been down for the last couple of months, but all that was swept away now. He was so happy that he couldn't contain it. Jan missed most of the initial jubilation. She didn't come out of the shower until just before dinner was served, and Jan was not going to miss dinner. She loved food, especially good food, and Melissa could cook. The conversation at the table was lively. Avery kept the group laughing. This was the side of him that Sara had hoped to see more of. This was the cousin that she knew. Avery was at his witty best. Even Alisha got into it, and she was usually the first one to make lawyer jokes, even though Jan's mother was a lawyer too. Jan was happy for Avery too. He was a good guy, and he deserved for something to break his way. As much as she wanted to tell her story, she wouldn't step on Avery's toes. This was his conversation. She would have time to tell Sara and Alisha later.
It turned out that the time would come soon. Avery had too much energy to stay in the apartment. He took Melissa out to a movie. That left Sara, Alisha, and Jan home by themselves. The three of them were in their rooms, but their doors were close enough that it was possible to have a normal conversation with each other by just leaving the doors open. Jan was reading a text for class while she started telling what had happened to her. She tried to not sound too boastful, but she had beaten the stuffing out of a guy without her super strength. "You know I thought about it. I learned to fight without being able to control my extra strength. I learned all these techniques because my power used to be so random. I had gotten a little spoiled after I learned how to control my powers."
Alisha laughed. "Its not too hard to get spoiled when you can usually beat up 100 guys at once."
"Hey, does anybody want to see my cut? Its all red and angry looking."
"Aw Jan, that's gross. Nobody wants to see your cut", Sara drawled in her unmistakable accent.
"You're just squeamish!"
"Really?", Sara sat up in her office chair.
"Yeah." Jan laughed and put her feet up on her desk.
"Why is it that Jan gets all the action?", Alisha asked. "First she gets the robbery thing and then some crazy guy goes into the gym. I go around town and all I get is the random oddball hitting on me, but hell, Jan gets that too, with all the action on top of that."
"I'm just lucky I guess." Jan turned the page in the book just as it floated out of her hands. Sara had extended her mind into Jan's room and she held the book just out of her friend's reach. It was one of her favorite gags. "What's this for?"
"Its for the squeamish comment", Sara called back.
"Sara, some of us have real classes", Jan began. "Not all of us take underwater basket weaving, and history of television." Alisha got a chuckle out of that.
The book lifted higher in the air and started towards the hall. "Just for that..." The book continued down the hall with Jan reaching out for it. It got to the living room and went all the way to the high ceiling. Jan sighed as her book bumped against the twelve foot high ceiling.
"Would you bring my book back", Jan asked. She looked over her shoulder and saw that Sara had come into the room.
"No, you gotta go get it."
Sara knew that Jan couldn't use her strength right now, and without
it she couldn't jump that high. Without her powers Jan could dunk a
basket ball easily, but a couple of quick hops proved that the book was
just a little out of her reach. Jan was about to beg when Alisha came
in. Their buxom friend stood at the entrance leaning against the wall.
The smirk on her face, made Jan's face turn red from embarrassment. She
had just beaten
the crap out of a guy to save a student, but now she couldn't get her
book. Jan searched within herself once again, to find her fire. She
wanted to find her strength just for an instant, but it was nowhere
inside of her. She could only feel the source of her healing power. She
looked up at the book floating just out of her reach. She hadn't
need her powers earlier today, and she didn't need them now. Jan
jumped to her right a little instead of straight up and used the arm of
the sofa as a spingboard. She jumped high enough to almost hit
her head on the ceiling. She snatched her book and tucked it as
she came down. She was already smiling before her feet hit the
Alisha clapped. "I guess since you can't rip steel in half
right now, Jan, you actually have to use your brain."
"Who needs super strength anyway?", Jan asked with a grin.
"Super powers are overrated."
"Oh yeah?", Sara said.
Jan was about to head back to her room when she felt the unmistakable touch of Sara's power all over her body. Jan rose higher and higher until she was touching the ceiling with the book still under her arm.
"So what do you think about that?", Sara asked with a mischievous grin.
Jan shrugged her shoulders. "I don't think anything about it. You can't hold me up here forever. Eventually, you'll go to sleep, and I'll proceed to pummel you after that."
Alisha laughed and stood up straight. "I can make you both fly." Alisha's eyes narrowed a bit and the entire room disappeared, and they were all floating in a sunny blue sky with no land in sight.
"Ok", Jan began. "This is creepy."
Alisha added a breeze to the illusion. Sara and Jan felt their hair being whipped across their faces. They smiled and marveled at how real Alisha made it feel. They could even feel the sun warming one side of their face. This was one of the reasons that the three of them had chose to live together. This was the way it was supposed to be. Each of them free to explore their abilities and test them, and live freely. While she was busy adding details to her illusion, like a flock of geese, Alisha didn't hear a key enter the lock of the front door.
Avery and Melissa opened the door into the apartment and walked inside quickly without looking up. When they did, their hearts nearly stopped. There was no room. They were looking at a bright sunny blue sky complete with clouds and birds, and when they looked down they saw nothing, but more sky. They were floating.
"Oh my God!", Alisha exclaimed and the illusion went away instantly. The room and the furniture came back, but Jan was still floating near the ceiling.
Sara's eyes went wide in her head, and she lost her concentration. Jan dropped from the high ceiling to the floor. She landed with a loud thud.
Melissa had thrown her arms around Avery in fright. There was a very long and very awkward period of silence.
"What's going on here?", Avery asked after finding his voice. "Did you do this, Sara. I mean I knew that you could, you know... do certain things, but..."
Sara stepped forward. "I think y'all should sit down. We just got a little carried away, and we didn't hear you coming." The three of them looked at each other. They all felt more than a little embarrassed. "We never meant for you to see any of that."
Avery lead a very shaken Melissa to the couch. Seeing her like this was making him angry. "Someone needs to tell me what's going on!", he demanded. All the good emotions from earlier in the night were gone.
Sara sat down across from them. "Melissa, I know Avery told you that I was sort of gifted telepathically right?"
Melissa managed to nod, but both her hands clutched Avery's arm tightly.
"Well, he didn't tell you to what extent." Sara went on to explain more of what she could do.
Avery was just getting more angry. "That doesn't explain the sky and all that!"
"That was me", Alisha said quickly and raised her hand. "I made that illusion. That's what I do. I just didn't want you guys to see it."
"Well, we did." Avery turned and look up at Jan. "You've been very quiet. So you're part of this too?"
Jan nodded. "My powers aren't really as visual as Alisha's or Sara's. Usually, I'm stronger than a normal person, and I can.. Well here look." Jan pulled off the bandage around her left forearm. She had been itching to show her cut off anyway, but not like this. She used the gauze inside the wrap to wipe away the antiseptic and dried blood so they could see the wound. Melissa frowned and Avery wondered what the hell this was about, but their mouths fell open when they saw the cut start to close. The irritation and redness disappeared, and the skin began to cover the hole, but not before they saw Jan's muscle beneath begin to knit and heal. In just a few moments, the cut was completely gone. Jan wiped the area again, and only a little antiseptic residue remained. There wasn't even a trace of a cut. "I hate you all had to see this. The three of us figured that we could keep our powers a secret, but I guess we couldn't."
"Yes, you could have!", Melissa blurted out. "This is just too much. Telepaths! Telekinetics! Illusions! I don't know anything about any of this stuff. This is some weird comic book, science fiction stuff! You guys are a bunch of... of freaks!!"
Sara's anger came quickly, and it was hot. She jumped up from her seat. Her fists were clutched tightly as she looked down at Melissa and Avery. The muscles in her forearms and in her jaw flexed as she stood there.
"That's the last time I'll hear that word", she said in a voice barely above a whisper. "We opened our home to you when you needed it with no questions asked. This is who we are." Sara took a deep breath and mentally counted to ten. "We've been trying to hide a part of who we are just to make you more comfortable, but we didn't have to. And Avery, I'm disappointed with you. I thought you would be more open minded." Sara sighed and started towards her room before she stopped. "As far as I'm concerned, you are both welcome to stay as long as you want, if you think you can live with us, but if not..." Sara walked out of the room and soon Jan and Alisha followed.
Melissa and Avery stayed in the living room. "I can't stay here, Avery! These girls are... I don't know what they are, but they aren't normal people. They are mutants or something", Melissa said rapid fire. "I always knew that there was something different about those girls."
Avery was quiet.
"We have to go to a hotel until we find out own place. I'll just pack up the main stuff we need, we'll send someone to get the rest of our things later. These girls need some help. No, the public needs some help. We'll call the authorities once we get away from here."
"No", Avery uttered softly. "We aren't calling anybody." He looked at Melissa. He was more sure of himself. He took his fiancee's hand. "Have you ever felt more welcomed in all your life? When we asked to live with them, they didn't bat an eye. I don't replay loyalty with a snake bite. Think about it Melissa."
She did think about it. "Avery, this isn't a movie. People, real people, can't do stuff like that, and you want me to act like it's just normal? How can I do that?"
"So you're telling me that you've gotten along with those girls for all this time, and now all of the sudden you can't stand to be around them?"
"I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that people can't do the things those girls can. There has to be some reason they have these abilities, Avery! Its not natural!"
"Melissa, you're talking about my cousin. Sara's my own flesh and blood, and she's been using her power to talk to me since she was six or seven. There's not a more natural thing in the world than Sara using her abilities. She's gotten stronger over the years? So what!"
"I can't believe you!", Melissa yelled, but Avery only partially heard her.
"Like I said, you're talking about my cousin. I carried her in my arms when Aunt Constance, her mother, was buried. I went with Uncle William to buy her horse, Winston. I bought her first saddle, and I gave her the first riding lesson. I encouraged her to sing at church when she was a little girl. When her stepmom died, Sara and I spoke everyday. I'd get tossed in the gutter before I did anything against her. And those other girls have good hearts."
"How do you know that?", Melissa asked. "They have powers that people aren't supposed to have!"
"Because of the way we've been treated. And they have feelings like everybody else."
Melissa pulled her hand from Avery's. "I love you, and I understand what you're saying, but-", she shook her head and frowned. "Avery, I just wish I had never seen what I saw. Because I don't think I can get over it." She turned away from Avery and went to their bedroom. She pulled out a suitcase, and started packing clothes.
Avery came in and sat down at the foot of the bed. "This is a lot fallin on our heads in a short time. Why don't we give it a night, Baby? We can sleep on it, and our heads might be a little clearer in the morning."
Melissa huffed and threw down the shorts that she was folding. "I don't know, Avery. I just feel scared. I mean those girls are dangerous, and you expect me to sleep after what I saw."
"Melissa, I can understand being a little rattled, but being scared? Come on? In a weird way, this is probably the safest apartment in Greater Atlanta." He smiled, but Melissa didn't return it in kind.
"I don't care."
Avery stood up and walked behind his fiancee. "Give it one night, for me, please. Then we can figure out our next move. I just don't want to run away."
She exhaled slowly and turned around. "I don't want to stay, but I will. Only one night! Do you hear me?"
Avery kissed Melissa gently. "Loud and clear." He started towards the door.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to go talk to them, Melissa. They aren't robots." Avery walked out of his room and down the hall.
Alisha was in the middle of explaining to Jan and Sara that she refused to make apologies for who she was or what she could do, when there was a knock at the door. "Come in"
Avery walked in slowly and saw a frown spread across Sara's face. That made his heart sink. He was used to Sara always being happy to see him. "I'm sorry for how Melissa acted towards you all. You already know that she's a good person, but these powers have thrown her for a loop. Hell, they've thrown me for a loop. I don't even know if I've soaked it in yet."
"Then why aren't you in your room getting ready to leave too?", a still angry Sara asked.
"Look, I don't know about all these powers, and I didn't even know this stuff existed, but as far as I'm concerned, you're all still the same people. Its going to take some getting used to, and I have a ton a questions, but now that the initial shock is wearing off, I can be a little more open minded."
"What about Melissa?"
"She's another story. She agreed to sleep on it, but I don't think she's going to change her mind. This really has her spooked."
Avery stayed a little while longer, but then he went back to his room. Melissa was in the bed. She had taken two pain relievers for the head ache. She laid down in the bed next to Avery thinking that there was no way she could fall asleep, not with what she knew now, but she did fall asleep. Instead it was Avery who lay in the bed staring at the ceiling. Ideas floated in his head, and his feelings ran the gamut. Finally he couldn't take it anymore. He got out of bed and went down the hall. He knocked softly on Sara's door then opened it.
"I thought you were going to sleep on it?", Sara asked with one side of her face still on her pillow. She turned her head and looked at the clock. The big green numbers read 1:27 am.
"I couldn't sleep." Avery sat down in the chair next to the bed.
Sara propped herself up by her elbows. "Avery, I really am sorry that this happened. We'd been working so hard to make sure it didn't."
"I know you did, Sara. Its not your fault. Melissa said more than once that she wishes that she had never seen what she saw." Avery's face brightened as he finished his sentence. He sat up straight in the chair and snapped his fingers. For the first time all night, it felt like there was wind in his sails. "That's it! Sara, can you make her forget what happened tonight?"
Sara shook her head slowly. "No, its too ingrained in her mind now. I'm not sure that I would even if I could. I mean that's one of the things that she's afraid of. I would be using my power to manipulate her life. I don't have a right to do that."
"Don't give me that, Sara! We all manipulate people in our lives. I manipulate juries at every trial. I'm good at it, and if I had your power I'd use it to manipulate them even more. Its not bad, its just using our talents and abilities to the fullest. The playing field is never level."
Sara still refused.
"Look, this is going to come to a head eventually, and I'm afraid of what might happen. I can't lose Melissa. This is going to cause a rift that can't be fixed, Sara. Don't you see its already happened." Avery stood up and ran his fingers through his loose curly blond hair. "So there's nothing that you can do? All the abilities you talked about, and you can't do anything?"
"I didn't say there was nothing that I could do. I just said that I couldn't make her forget."
"Well do what you can, please, Sara, I'm begging you. I can't have this rift in the family. Not now, not ever!"
Sara sighed as she watched tears form in her cousin's eyes. He fell to his knees. Sara felt ashamed to have let it go this far. She couldn't understand why she was being so high and mighty. Sure she was trying to use her powers responsibly, but this was stupid. She had her favorite cousin, her rock, on his knees breaking down because she was refusing to do something that she could do. She rolled out of bed, and helped Avery to his feet.
"I'm going to take care of it. Is she asleep?"
"Yes, she is." He hesitated. "This isn't dangerous is it?"
Sara smiled and looked up at him. "Yeah, it could be, but not when I do it. I learned from the best." Sara took a chair and put it close to the bed. She folded her hands in her lap and closed her eyes. Avery stood at the doorway in the semi-darkness watching. He heard Melissa draw in a long breath in her sleep, and then she started breathing in exactly the same rhythm as Sara. Sara's eyes stayed closed and her body barely moved for more than half an hour. Then she exhaled and opened her eyes. She looked really tired, and some of her hair was stuck to her sweaty forehead. She had to use the back of the chair to steady herself as she rose from the seat. Avery rushed over to help her. Sara had exerted herself again, and she knew that she probably shouldn't have, but it needed to be done.
"It should be okay now", Sara began in a weary voice. She went on to explain what she he had done, and what he was going to have to do the next morning when Melissa woke up.
The sun was streaming in through the windows when Melissa opened her eyes. She rolled over and saw Avery shirtless in the bathroom. He had just finished shaving. Melissa usually woke up before him, but for some reason he had beaten her. She threw off the covers and went into the bathroom. She stretched on her tip toes to touch her face to Avery's freshly shaven cheek before she turned and kissed him gently.
"Good morning", she greeted her fiancee.
"Mornin, Baby. You seem chipper this mornin."
Melissa looked at herself in the mirror. "I know, I feel great and really rested."
Avery tried to not let it show, but his heart was racing in his chest. He was so nervous that he couldn't even put the top on the bottle of aftershave he held in his hand.
"You were sleeping so deep that you slept right through the alarm."
"Yeah", she said absently. "It must have been that dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was flying. No, I wasn't alone. You were there with me."
Avery had to put the bottle down without the cap on it because he was afraid that he would drop it. He walked behind Melissa and encircled her. His bare chest was pressed against her back and his chin rested lightly on the top of her head. "Was it like this?", he asked as he looked at her reflection in the mirror.
Melissa shook her head. "Not at all. Sara, Jan, and Alisha were there too, and I remember in the dream that I hated it. You see Superman and Lois flying, and she was all smiles. Nope, flying sucks." She sighed and turned around to face him. "Let's go out tonight."
Avery looked deeply in Melissa's beautiful brown eyes and answered, "Any place you want to go."
Avery finished dressing and caught Sara as she was stepping out the front door. Her eyes still looked tired, but that was from lack of sleep. "Hey, it worked."
Sara gave her cousin an 'of course it did' look. "We'll try to be more careful next time."
"No need", Avery said as they started out the door. "I think Melissa needs to know about you girls. She needs to know the truth, but it needs to be presented in a way that she can understand."
"Its your call. Avery, but I don't think regular people will ever really be able to understand people like us."
Avery took Sara by the shoulder and kissed her on the forehead. "Just have faith. Isn't that what you told me?"
Sara smiled up at him. "Yeah, I'll try."
"That's all any of us can ever do."
more coming soon!!!
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3
Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
There are plenty of others where this story came
from. Please check out the bookshelf for all the past chapters of
Power and Fury and my other series.
comments encouraged: firstname.lastname@example.org