Chapter 15- Awkward

The first thing I was aware of after I pulled my lips away from Mark s was the fact that we were, in fact, in another room.

That sort of gave me mixed feelings. I mean, for one, I was glad Mark had gone on and teleported us despite the fact that I d interrupted him without warning, but for another, I had kind of secretly hoped that when I kissed him, he would ve gotten too distracted by the feel of my lips on his, that he d lose his complete train of thought and forgot what he was supposed to be doing.

But that wasn t the point.

The point was, had this worked?

I looked down at us- me and Mark that is- and gasped.

Because it had. I mean, I don t know how long it would last seeing as how, though I was still pressed closely up against Mark, our lips were no longer touching, but at least it had worked.

Mark seemed to be more shocked than I was.

Carrie he whispered, when he also looked down at us and saw well, nothing. Nothing except floor and carpet, and the pile of dirty socks where Mark had inconveniently teleported us too.

I tell you, a pile of dirty socks isn t exactly my first idea of a hot make out spot.

But Mark didn t seem to mind. About the socks, I mean. he was still gasping, and whispering my name, as if that was going to change anything. Besides, that wasn t what mattered right now.

What mattered was finding Sarah.

But she wasn t in this room, either.

We checked, but the only person here was a passed out guy, who d fallen asleep on the unmade bed with a bottle of beer in his hand.

I pulled away from Mark to check for Sarah in the bathroom and when I came back- after finding nothing but more dirty socks strewn across the floor- I could see Mark again.

And myself, apparently.

He walked over to me. Guess it wears off, huh? he asked.

Yeah, I said, all quickly like I didn t really care, because honestly, I was still feeling sort of weird about having just kissed him like that, no explanation. I mean, I m sure he got the point of it now, but still. I was never usually that forward.

Let s check the other rooms, alright? he said. And then he pulled me in his arms again and kissed me.

And this time it was longer, too. This time he really kissed me, his lips moving back and forth across mine.

It took me awhile to catch my breath when he pulled away, but when I did, I saw that Sarah wasn t in this room either.

And this room wasn t as lonely as the other had been, either. Instead, on the queen sized bed, a couple, whose faces I couldn t really see, was well, pretty busy making out on top of the covers.

I know, gross right?

I m pretty sure Mark thought so too, cause he just grabbed me real fast and kissed me quickly, only a quick peck on the lips, so we d get out of there as fast as possible.

It occurred to me, as we materialized in the room next door, that there hadn t really been reason for him to kiss me again, seeing how we had both remained invisible, but hey, I m not complaining.

He didn t kiss me again when we left that room and into the hallway, though, just letting us slowly materialize when he pulled away from me.

When I could see him, again, he wasn t looking at me. He was looking out the window.

I don t know what that meant. I don t know if it was a good sign or a bad sign. I mean, I m not good at reading boys.

But before I could freak myself out or practically die with impatience, Mark just said. There she is.

And then I looked down to where he was pointing out the window, and sure enough, there was Sarah, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the house. All alone.

I sighed, and I rushed down the stairs, not bothering to check if Mark was following or not.

Sarah, I said, as I walked up from behind her and sat next to her on the sidewalk.

She had her head pressed up against her knees, and her arms were wound tightly around her legs.

Are you okay? I asked nervously, not entirely sure if I d found her in time.

Sarah just shook her head with a small movement.

Oh my gosh, what happened? Did something happen at the party?

No, she mumbled into her legs. The party was stupid. I ditched Dave a long time ago.

Oh, I sighed, relieved. And then I looked back down at her. Then what s wrong?

She didn t say anything, she just sniffled, her body shaking back and forth.

And then I knew something was really wrong because Sarah didn t cry. Ever. She hadn t cried the time we d been turning in our English essays and I d accidentally stapled her finger instead of her paper. She d just winced, raised her non bloody hand, and asked to go to the nurse. She didn t cry after any bad dates. She didn t even cry when her boyfriend of two years had stood her up at our eighth grade dance. She d just taken a deep breath and turned the night around by dancing with every cute boy in sight, including the ones with girlfriends.

In all the time I d known her, I d only seen her cry once, when her dog, Skittles died the day before summer break started in freshman year.

But now she was crying. I mean, she was trying to hide it, but I knew.

Sarah, I whispered. What s wrong? Tell me, please.

Sarah raised her head to look up at me. Her mascara was stained, and she was no longer wearing any lip gloss. Jack, she said. It s Jack.

Jack? What happened with Jack?

Nothing, she said, very quietly. I told him that I that I loved him, and he just said okay and that he had to think about things.

Oh. Oh, Sarah, I m so sorry. I felt really bad then. I mean, I d been ignoring Sarah for so long, and okay, maybe not on purpose, but I was her best friend. I should have known. I should have been there after he d turned her down.

I should have helped her then. I m sorry, I said again, because I really didn t know what else to say.

She just shook her head at me. I was so stupid, she said, and her words slurred a little. I want to go home.

And that s when I realized she d been drinking, something she never did.

I sighed, really upset with myself now that I d let this happen. Wait right here for me, okay? I ll go get Mark and we ll go home.

So I headed back inside the house, but there was no need to, since Mark had been standing at the door, watching us from afar.

I think Sarah wants to go home, I told him, not really meeting his eyes.

Sure, he said. And then he looked back toward her. She was kneeling against the sidewalk in an awkward position and I grimaced when I realized she was throwing up.

How about you go in the back with her? he said. I ll drive, and you just, you know, make sure she doesn t puke all over her car. If you want

Sure, that s fine, I said. I mean, yeah, I had a weak stomach, but I owed Sarah enough that it didn t matter right now.

So Mark and I went over to get Sarah, stopping to get a bucket from inside the house, and then he climbed into the front seat of her car as we climbed into the back, and drove her home.

Neither of her parents was home, luckily, and since she d already fallen asleep, we hoped the throwing up was over. It s not like she d gotten that drunk anyways. After I dropped her off in her room I went over to the passenger seat of the Volkswagen, where Mark was waiting for me.

Now what? I said.

I should go get my car, he said. He held me again, and despite the fact that he d been doing it a lot lately, I couldn t help it when my heart rate picked up and my breathing hitched as he touched me.

But he didn t seem to notice. He just landed us in his car, him still in the driver s seat, and then he drove me home.

Hey, thanks, I said, after a few minutes of silence. You know, for helping me find Sarah.

No problem, he said, looking straight out at the road. Was she alright?

Well, no. But it wasn t about the party.

Oh, he said. He was obviously curious, but luckily, he let it go. Will your sister be mad?

Naomi? Why would she be mad?

I thought you were supposed to be doing her a favor or something.

Oh, right. I d forgotten completely about that. Well, this was sort of an emergency

Yeah, he said. And then we didn t speak after that.

We pulled up to my house, and I sighed with relief that Naomi s car wasn t in the driveway. At least I got a few more hours before she d barge into my room demanding why I would take off like that.

Gosh, talk about high maintenance.

Okay, I said. Well, I ll see you later.

So I started to climb out of the car, and yeah, okay, I ll admit it, I was taking my sweet time, hoping that Mark would call me back for some reason, to, I don t know, kiss me again or something.

But he didn t. I climbed all the way out of the car and he didn t say anything.

I sighed, and was about to slam the door closed, but then he said, Hey, Carrie?

And so I stuck my head back in the car, a little too eagerly maybe, but hey, I couldn t help myself.

Just so you know, he said, all slowly and in his soft voice. It s okay that you did that.

Did what? I said, sort of distracted by the way his eyes looked with all the headboard lights reflecting off of them. Like little sparks of blue and red were mixed in there with all the green.

You know, he said, and his voice was even quieter then. Kissed me.

Oh, I said. And then I don t know why, I guess I was a little too nervous, but I went, Well, yeah, it worked right?

He smiled a little. Yeah, it did.

Yeah, it was necessary, so God, why couldn t I shut up?

Mark smiled again. Yeah. I ll se you later, Carrie.

Bye, I said. And then, tossing one last look at his brilliant eyes, I stepped away from his car and shut the door.

It was a long night, that night. Kissing Mark was all I could think about. It was all I could dream about. And I didn t usually have dreams like that. About kissing boys, I mean. I think even my subconscious knew not to get carried away with fantasies that would never happen.

But this had happened. And I had liked it. A lot. Too much, maybe.

But whatever. I mean, I didn t even know if it would ever happen again. And, okay, so it was really convenient, the fact that Mark and I could share our powers like this, and it could definitely help us out on a lot of stuff, but I mean I didn t just want to keep kissing Mark for that reason.

For work, I mean. if I was going to kiss Mark again, I sort of wanted it to be because he wanted to. Not because he had to. But that wasn t very likely to happen. So I tried to put it all in the back of my head, which, I ll admit, wasn t easy, and focus on stuff that really mattered, like finding my dad and being there for Sarah with all this stuff about Jack.

Stupid Jack.

I hadn t talked to him in ages either, but I mean, how could he do this? Okay, okay, I know I was being unfair, but I couldn t help myself. The girl had poured out her heart to him and he d just gone, Okay, let me think about things ? I mean, come on.

I did see him, when I got to the school the next morning, and although Sarah had called me earlier to tell me she wasn t going to be coming due to her illness- aka, hangover- I couldn t help him shooting him a mean glare.

And since Jack s not slow or anything, he seemed to immediately understand where that had come from and he just frowned and sighed, looking away.

I was kind of lonely that day. And not cause Mark ditched me or anything, cause he didn t. He still sat loyally by my side in the morning and during lunch, but we didn t really talk much. Just business, really. A few, So, what should we do next about your dad? things, and Man, I wish those girls had been power holders - these all from Mark, of course. But other than that, it was kind of silent between us for most of the day.

It was awkward I guess, but there was really nothing I could do to change that.

After school, as I d been heading back to get my bike just in case Mark had decided not to come over tonight, or drive me, I d seen Jack.

And not alone either. No, he was talking to Lila.

And not just talking, but I m pretty sure they were flirting. At least she was. That was obvious by the way she was laughing, putting her hand on his chest time and time again. I was practically ready to march over there and kill her, but then Mark appeared next to me.

He didn t usually use his power at school, so that kind of startled me and I jumped back a few feet.

Sorry, he said. Didn t mean to scare you.

I just shrugged. It s alright, I said.

And then, after a few moments of awkwardness, he said simply, I found something.

I raised my eyebrows. I wanted to go, What, like a treasure? all sarcastically but for some reason it just felt weird to joke with Mark, with the way things were all awkward between us. So I just said, What?

And then he swallowed. He looked at me for a long time, and then went, I think we may have found your dad.

I almost tripped over my bike.

What? Please tell me you re not joking, Mark.

I m not joking, he said, very seriously. Mr. Keys had been doing a lot of research on Houston and Seattle and he did find some, you know, paranormal activity and stuff. Mostly in Seattle. He tracked most of them down, and there is one guy, with a name very similar as the one your dad had, who s about his same age.

What does he look like? I asked. I was trying not to get my hopes up or anything but already my heart was beating faster than ever and my palms were slicked with sweat.

Gustav couldn t find a picture. But from the descriptions he found, it could be. He emphasized the word could a little too much.

But I didn t care. Because at least we had someone. At least there was more of a possibility now.

Oh my god, I said, still in shock.

Carrie, he said, and I knew he was going to start with his little lectures about how I shouldn t get my hopes up. And really, I just did not want to hear them right now.

Can we go see Mr. Keys? I said, and it felt like the first time I d ever been the one to suggest it.

Mark nodded. Sure. Then he reached over for my bike and towed it to his car.

Jack and Lila were gone by then and I crossed my fingers that they hadn t left together. That was the last thing Sarah needed right now.

Sarah I should be going over to her house. That s what I d been planning to do a soon as school let out. But my dad. We may have found him! I sighed, I d get back to Sarah, just as soon as I finished with this.

Mark drove us to the museum, not as fast as I d wanted to go, but then, I wasn t a very good driver- I still barely had my permit- so it wasn t like I could offer to take the wheel instead. And it wasn t like he would let me drive his fancy car at sixty miles an hour anyway.

So I just slumped in the passenger seat, tapping my foot anxiously on the floor the whole way- which I m sure annoyed Mark, seeing as how I saw him roll his eyes at me more than once- until we finally pulled up to the museum.

I practically burst into Mr. Keys office, completely ignoring the receptionist who warned me not to, twice, when she saw me eyeing the door.

Mark and I sat down, and after Mr. Keys assured the receptionist who d followed us in that it was alright, I looked right at him and said, Who is he?

Mr. Keys sighed. He pulled out a manila folder which couldn t really be described as anything other than a file for this mysterious stranger and handed it over to me.

I opened it and sure enough, there were no pictures, but there were plenty of descriptions, and fingerprints, and other stuff like that. Well, Mr. Keys would ve certainly made a good stalker.

Or investigator, or whatever it is he supposedly was.

Anyway, the guy s name was Hank Davis, and according to his file he was single and living in a moderate looking two bedroom apartment. He wasn t a lawyer, but more some sort of executive for a big company that dealt with all sorts of lawsuits.

Hey, close enough, right?

It was really starting to all look good, I mean, despite the fact that supposedly before coming to Seattle he d lived in New York, somewhere where I was positive my father had never been, and had left behind a family of five siblings, but hey, people can lie about that, right?

So after I finished looking through all these documents- and apparently that took me awhile cause when I looked back up Mr. Keys and Mark were drinking coffee and getting into another one of their little debates about some power holders from decades ago- I smiled, and said, This could be him.

Could be, Mark reminded me.

I rolled my eyes. He was such a pessimist.

Well, Carrie, if you really think so, Mr. Keys said. I could go check him out.

What do you mean you could go?

Yes. To Seattle. Surely you don t think I m going to let you two go to a city that dangerous.

Hey, aren t we supposed to be some sort of superheroes? I m pretty sure we can handle Seattle.

Mr. Keys chuckled. I don t think so. I know both your parents and there is no way I am going to betray their trust by allowing you two to head out to Seattle alone.

Betray their trust? I said angrily. My mom doesn t even freaking know I m here. How is that betraying her trust?

But he just shook his head at me. Not going to happen, he said. And don t even think of trying to teleport her over there, Mark. I m going to warn your father about this so he doesn t let you out of his sight.

Mark snorted. Yeah, right. Like I m going to take her.

Well that was mean. but whatever, I didn t need Mark. I could take myself.

Okay, total lie. I was basically screwed. Apparently I had no choice but to wait for Mr. Keys to get over to Seattle and track my possible dad down.

I folded my arms angrily.

It wasn t long after that we left seeing as how, after that horrible betrayal from Mark and Mr. Keys, I wasn t exactly in the mood for superhero talk.

I stormed out of there when Mark agreed we should go, but he caught up with me quickly.

Don t be mad, he told me, trying to hold my gaze.

But I just kept my arms crossed angrily and wouldn t look at him.

He sighed and brought me back to my room.

Well, fine. It s not like I couldn t be just as angry here. I marched over to sit on my bed.

He followed me. He didn t say anything for a couple minutes, just letting me fume in silence and then finally, after a long while, he sighed.

I ll help you, he said, just like that.

I looked over at him. My anger had sort of died down by then, but it would come right back if he was trying to mess with me.

I ll take you to Seattle, alright? he said. He looked at me, and I couldn t help but see the sincerity in his eyes.

Why? I said.

He shrugged. Because I know this is important to you. And I agree with you, we can handle Seattle. I mean, if Gustav expects us to be the saviors of this town, he s got to have a little faith in us.

All true, of course. But still, just because he wanted to take me didn t mean he could. What about your dad? Isn t Mr. Keys still going to warn him?

Probably, Mark said. But he can t keep me on lockdown forever. And he can t follow me around at school. He sighed. I guess he s going to be pretty angry at me after tomorrow, but it s not like he didn t do quite some things behind his parents backs.

What are you saying? That we should go during school?

Mark nodded. That s exactly what I m saying. There s no other time. And besides, I thought you were fond of skipping. He winked at me.

I smiled. Okay. Let s do it.

Yeah, he agreed. Let s do it.

Then he got up and said, I d better go home and get some stuff ready. We need money, and maps and stuff. We don t want to get lost in a city that big, after all.

Right, I said. Thanks, Mark.

No problem, he said. He grinned at me, and it was just like before. Just like before all the awkwardness. See you tomorrow.

And then he disappeared.