Chapter 8

Chapter 8

A Chapter by Emi

Chapter 8

 


The next few days passed quietly with Kelli keeping her distance. During this time Zach learned not to get upset when Gwen came in with fresh bruises. Kate had made fun of him for worrying about something so small compared to her healed burns. He thought of mentioning how he had been equally concerned by them, but anticipated nothing helpful coming from admitting that to her. He wasn’t really annoyed by Kate, she had ample cause to be protective. One thing that did bother him was the little time he had with Gwen. Since she had to work, school was in essence his only chance to see her. So when her day off rolled around Zach was elated and rushed to meet her after the last bell. She stood just outside the gates waiting for him. Once he joined her Gwen told him she had to do her grocery shopping first. Afterward they could do whatever they wanted for the remainder of the evening. Zach didn’t mind, it was time together away from school so he didn’t care where they went. She held onto his hand as they walked to the supermarket near her building, talking the entire way. It was obvious Gwen wasn’t used to talking about her life, but little by little she opened up to him. Things like her favourite colour which was baby blue, but she had a spot in her heart for yellow. She enjoyed watching medical dramas on her quiet days and cartoons when she needed to wind down. She was afraid of centipedes and their many legs, but found spiders to be kind of charming. She had two younger sisters, one thirteen, the other nine, but they lived with her parents so she hadn’t seen them for a while. Once they reached the store Zach walked next to her as she navigated the aisles and collected her items. This was clearly her usual stop, whenever they passed a staff member he or she would greet them joyfully, then point out anything on sale. They chatted briefly with the lady in the checkout line as she rang up Gwen’s purchases leaving with several bags in hand.
A short walk later they arrived at Gwen’s apartment building and ran into Pinky in the foyer. She seemed thrilled to find him there, helping Gwen with her bags. Gwen steered Zach quickly toward the elevators, she knew Pink would be unable to hold her tongue. She laughed with embarrassment and relief as the door slid shut leaving Pinky in the lobby. They entered her apartment and began putting the groceries away together. It turned out Gwen only locked the door when she went to bed just in case her neighbours needed her help. He couldn’t avoid thinking maybe Kate was right about Gwen’s trusting nature, but on the other hand she appeared to be well loved here. It was probably unlikely that anyone would steal from her. When they finished Gwen turned to him with a huge smile on her face.

“So what do you want to do now?” she asked.

Zach smiled back, “There is something we could try.”


Zach opened the tinted glass door and a wave of techno music washed over them.
“It’s nothing special, but I thought you might like it, lots of lights,” he said showing her inside.
Gwen was surprised, they had entered a roller skating rink full of people of all ages. There was a concession stand near the door and skate rentals in the back corner. Music boomed over giant speakers by the disk jockey’s booth and, as Zach had said, several coloured lights hung from the ceiling decorating the floor.

“Pretty,” she said over the noise. “Though I should warn you I’m not a strong skater.”

“That’s okay,” he said relieved his idea was successful. “I’ll help you.”

She held onto his fingers as he led her to the rental booth where they switched out their shoes for skates. The room was carpeted so Gwen had no trouble walking toward the rink, once on it however . . .

“Ah!”

“Gotcha.”

Zach caught her as the diminutive amount of balance she possessed on wheels vanished.

“You okay?” he asked helping her straighten.

“Yes,” she giggled. “I told you I was bad.”

“Don’t worry about that,” he said holding her hands. “Just follow me.”

She did better than she had anticipated, the step, step, slide Zach showed her was simple and at least kept her from falling. When he decided she had mastered the basics he taught her to push off with her instep, switching from one foot to the other. It was much faster this way, but offered less stability so Gwen had a harder time staying on her feet. Despite Zach’s grip she still managed to fall, several times. He never lost his cool, every time she hit the ground they would both laugh, then he would lift her up. After nearly an hour of going around in circles he figured it was time for a break and they left the floor. Her elbows, knees and buttocks stung, but she didn’t tell Zach for fear that he might think she was complaining.

“You’re a fast learner,” he said handing her a water.

“Thanks,” she said taking a long drink, she hadn’t realized her throat was so parched.

“Just the same, I’m glad I never tried to get a job with a fifties style drive in,” she said cheerfully.

As Zach laughed she tried to discreetly rub a sore patch on her elbow, but unfortunately he noticed.

“Are you hurt?” he asked concerned.

“Oh, no, just some dry skin,” she lied.

Before he could say anything else the DJ’s voice called out over the loud speakers.

“All right everybody clear the floor, this round’s couples only.”

Gwen’s eyes widened with pleasure at the thought, Zach looked at her with a cocked eyebrow as if to say ‘Well?’ She put down her water and took his hand. They stepped onto the floor as a softer techno beat began to play. This time she had far less trouble, perhaps because there were fewer people trying to whiz past. She even helped others who fell near them. Zach realized long ago that’s the kind of person she was and another reason he found her so attractive. He moved behind her, wrapped his arms around her middle and pushed her around the rink. She enjoyed his embrace, but he could feel the tension in her body. It seemed she was in more pain than she claimed so when the song ended they left the floor.

“Should we call it a day?” he asked gently.

Gwen stared up at him with large, grateful eyes.

“Sure,” she said casually.

Zach grinned as they walked to the rental area and retrieved their shoes.


When they left the building the sun was just beginning to set, painting the sky with vibrant reds and golds. Gwen loved evening colours and held Zach close enough for their hips to touch as they walked down the street. The region was blissfully quiet, normal life seemed like a distant memory until a strange screech hit them. Shocked, they stopped a few meters away from a four way intersection. There it was again, a kind of metallic grind . . . no . . . no it was compacting metal, like when you crunch an empty pop can. Zach looked at Gwen, who stood very still taking deep breaths, then cocked an eyebrow and gazed at her watch.

“Huh, Steel’s out early,” she commented calmly.

“Steal?” Zach asked puzzled.

“Two Es,” she corrected. “I better check this out.”

She hurried across the road with Zach right behind her.

“Gwen . . .”

“Stay hidden,” she instructed. “I don’t want to risk him going after you.”

Gwen glanced around the corner to confirm this was the place, then turned back to Zach. Her intense stare wordlessly reinforcing her orders, before she continued toward the noise. It was Steel all right, that oversized hoodie he was wearing covered his face. His aura was not as easy to hide, nor was the trash can he was condensing into a ball in midair. She came as close to him as she dared before speaking.

“Bad day, Steel?”

He spun so quickly his hood fell, revealing his thin face and goth black hair.

“Don’t you ever take a break?” he asked darkly.

“Sorry, not in my vocabulary,” she said light-heartedly.

Steel growled and the aluminum ball shot at her, she deflected it with ease.

“Was that really necessary?” she asked disapprovingly.

“Most people would take that as a hint to get lost,” he retorted.

“Yes, but if I was like most people I wouldn’t be here talking to you in the first place,” she informed him.

Aggravated, Steel opened his right arm brusquely, immediately another garbage can rose into the air and crumpled into a ball. Gwen destroyed it with a rapid swing of her hand as it flew toward her.

“Come on Steel don’t be like that, talk to me,” she said steadily.

“I’ve got nothing to say to a peppy little doll like you!” he roared.

Gwen was taken aback, it had been awhile since anyone commented on her personality. The doll comment was new, of course, she wasn’t about to let it get to her.

“I’m a lightbearer, I’ve always been perky, but that doesn’t mean my life is perfect,” she said seriously only to receive a sarcastic snort.

“Do you still live with your parents?” she asked toughly.

Steel stared at her confused, “What?”

“We’re about the same age, tell me do you still live with them?”

“Why?” he asked suspiciously. “Don’t you?”

Gwen shook her head slowly.

“They kicked me out when I was fourteen, didn’t want to be associated with a Hex,” she replied frankly.

He couldn’t think of anything to say to that so she continued.

“I go to school and I work to pay my bills and tuition. Plus, I’m out every night dealing with out of control Hexes so don’t you dare assume I’m some pampered princess.”

Steel looked away with his hands jammed in his pockets.

“I didn’t ask for your life story,” he said unsympathetically.

Gwen let his attitude slide, this was nothing new.

“You’re right,” she said lightly. “Obviously talking is the last thing you’re willing to do so if fighting is what you want, then fight me.”

Steel’s eyes leapt to her in shock.

“You?” he said dumbfounded.

“What’s wrong, afraid of a little red head?” she joked, fully aware he wouldn’t see the humour.

“Fine, you asked for it lightbearer!” he growled.

This time he commanded three trash balls to attack, she demolished them all with one shot sending garbage into the road. He called upon another three plus a street sign and fired them at her. She had no problem dealing with them and was careful not to damage anything else. Gwen could sense him fuming, as his anger grew his popcorn-y scent changed, smelling like the popcorn had been cooked too long and now was slightly singed, but she asked for this she couldn’t back away now.

“You’re running out of cans,” she noted. “Ready to try words?”

No sooner had the question left her mouth, then she knew it was a mistake. The human voice should not be capable of the sound he uttered. He held his arms out and though his powers weren’t visual Gwen was sure he was controlling something heavier than the trash cans.

“Save it!” he bellowed.

He had lost control completely she couldn’t risk turning her back on him and immediately focused on her hearing to search the area. The tiny metal scrape she noticed came from behind her, it was faint, but still gave her a sinking feeling. She kept her eyes on him, interpreting his stance. For a moment he didn’t budge, then slightly twitched his right hand. Gwen dropped to the ground as a manhole cover flew over her head. Steel yelled with shock as it charged toward him and she shot upright. With a powerful and carefully placed beam she struck the cover, forcing it off course, missing him by inches. All he could do was stare, panting heavily from the panic while the cover hit the road several lengths away. She sighed with relief and smiled at him.

“You need to work on your handling,” she advised. “Cast iron isn’t the kind of thing you want to take head on.”

Steel gaped at her, unsure of what to say.

“Why?” he whispered.

She chuckled softly at his astonishment.

“I only fight when I have no choice,” she said. “There was no reason to give you a concussion or worse, especially since all I was trying to do was get you to talk.”

She paused to take in his surprise.

“I’m very good at reading people, whether you believe me or not I think I understand your situation. Since I don’t deal with you often, acting like a criminal can’t be your intention, which tells me this is your way of blowing off steam. Speak up if I’m wrong about this.”

He didn’t make a sound.

“Now, I’m guessing this part, but I’d say the steam is emotional otherwise you wouldn’t have attacked me for trying to speak to you. You’re parents don’t know about you, do they?”

Steel blinked at her several times before answering, “You put mortal detectives to shame.”

Gwen laughed.

“It’s just experience, doesn’t matter if you are human or Hex,” she said. “Are you afraid to tell them?”

He didn’t reply and kept his eyes averted.

“Hey,” she said tapping him on the chin so he would look at her. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, I’ve seen plenty of people spiral into bitterness over their parents’ reactions. I was fortunate, I had a best friend who stood by me, connections that got me an apartment in a safe neighbourhood and a job. Recently I’ve added a boyfriend to the list and couldn’t be happier.”

“He a Normal?” Steel asked.

Gwen winced.

“Please don’t use that term,” she said. “We’re all ready set apart as Hexes, calling everyone else Normals will only make the rift larger.”

“That would be a yes,” he smirked.

She sighed and changed the subject.

“There are only two things you need to ask yourself. Whether what your parents think is important to you and are you prepared for the answer you receive,” she told him.

“Easy for you to say,” he mumbled. “You had support.”

“So do you,” she replied brightly. “I have all those connections for a reason, you need help come to me first. Most days of the week I work at Antonio’s after school, but if you can’t get there stand under a street lamp at night. The light particles should relay your message to me, and try not to feel so down. Look, my powers won’t help me much in a future career unless the electricity goes out and they need a very large flashlight. You, on the other hand, can control metal, you could work with cars, construction, even rescue. The jaws of life have nothing on you.”

Steel laughed at the thought.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked smiling softly.

“Honestly, because I dream of a time when it won’t matter what you are and this is my way of making that fantasy a reality,” she replied shrugging cheerfully.

Steel was speechless which made Gwen happy, this was a good sign.

“I need to go, I’m sure there are other people who want to pound on me tonight,” she said casually. “Could you put the cover back please, if someone runs over that hole it’ll wreck their suspension?”

“Sure,” he said simply.

She was heading back the way she came, when a thought occurred to her and she glanced back at him.

“By the way,” she added. “I’m Gwen.”

“Dustin,” he said quietly.

No lamps were lit yet, so with an encouraging smile Gwen vanished in the fading sunlight and reappeared behind Zach.

“All done,” she chirped.

He jumped and spun to face her looking relieved.

Before he could say anything she took hold of his hands and said, “Let’s go home.”






© 2014 Emi


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Reviews

Nice chapter again!

Posted 9 Years Ago


nice chapter. Be careful about switching perspectives in the middle of a chapter. You can stay with the same character and still make your point.

Posted 11 Years Ago


drama!!!!i could just eat it up!!

Posted 11 Years Ago



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Added on May 10, 2010
Last Updated on January 23, 2014
Tags: Urban Fantasy, Superpowers, Romance


Author

Emi
Emi

Windsor, Canada



About
I've been writing since I was thirteen, it started with poetry since it was the only way for me to express my feelings at the time but since then I've moved into novels. I've been working hard on .. more..

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