I think I put this in my new bio on my profile, but I go by Awkward Jess now on most of my social media type things.
This story has been around since around 2014/2015, and I had started posting it on WattPad when I decided halfway through to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it. Now I've found myself wanting to go back to posting more on FictionPress after such a long break, so here I am!
I haven't written a summary yet, but here's some things to keep in mind while reading this story:
– While Athena was pretty heavy on the action, this story is not that.
– This story is written and plotted to feel like a TV show, so right now we're in season 1. This show is heavily focused on character interactions and character growth as they learn how to use their powers.
– As the seasons progress, so will the intensity. Especially once the main characters are able to go out into the field.
– Picture this story as being more like "let's go along for the ride while these teens learn how to use their powers and also just what the Club is for them."
If you're looking for a story that's more plot-driven and intense, check out the Athena re-write that will be getting posted soon.
With that being said, I'm really happy with where this story is going and I love all the characters a whole lot, and I'm excited for you to get to know them.
EDIT: Just mere hours after uploading the first episode and I already have a review! I'm honestly honored and SOOOO thankful that it was constructive. Obviously, I went right to work and did some revising and rewrote some scenes and so here's the already updated first episode.
Just to address some things that the review brought up that I think will be answered, just maybe not right away.
I wanted to keep the introduction of powers subtle at the start of this story to keep things from being in your face. (I did try and make some references a little more obvious now.)
As for some of the backstories behind powers, some of those are kind of dark, so I know that those characters might not have been ready to openly share that with the whole group right away. (I can't give everything away all at once!)
As for how heroes are seen in this society and how common/rare they are. This story takes place in the same universe as my other story, Athena, which has been getting rewritten and I should be posting some of that soon. You don't need to read that to understand this story, but basically having superpowers isn't that rare, and heroes are seen by the public as a good thing.
Idk if that guest reviewer will see this, but hopefully the 2 hours of edits were worth it to help make the opening episode of this story a little more cohesive and enjoyable!
Episode 1 "Move-in Day From Hell"
Maybe I should've asked my parents to help. It's move-in day at Lavonne, and I stupidly asked if just my older brother could help move me in. Well, not stupidly asked, because I had my reasons, but…
"Hey, Aaron. You're zoning out, bud. What room are you in?" Devon, my older brother nudges my shoulder. My family and I have a tough relationship with each other, mostly just because I'm very clearly the runt of the litter. "You got that letter about a last-minute room change, right?"
"Oh, yeah." I pull the letter out of my pocket and read off the room number. "I'm in room two-twenty-five, now. That's on the second floor." Devon lifts the majority of my luggage with ease and starts making his way over to the steps. Always showing off his strength. I shake my head as I pick up the remaining suitcase.
"Well then let's go." He marches onwards as I trail behind. As we're walking through the halls I wave to some friends I see and even stop for a bit to chat with one of my classmates, Calem Thorton, and I'm happy to find out that we have the same math class together. (Neither of us remembers the rest of our schedules to check the rest of the day.) I don't stick around too long, either, because Devon quickly makes it clear that he doesn't feel like waiting. We soon make it to my room and I notice that my roommate already moved their things in. I wonder who it is… After some quick snooping I'm happy to see that it's actually Calem.
Soon after, all my things are unpacked and Devon is on his way out. "Hey, little brother. If you ever need anything, you can always call me. Okay?"
"I know, Devon. I'll keep in touch with you." After all, he's the only one who doesn't go out of their way to point out my lack of strength. At least he can recognize that I've got my own aspirations that I'm working towards.
"Don't forget to keep mom and dad updated too, you know. They care about you, too." Of course Devon would say this. He's their ideal child. He didn't constantly hear about needing to be stronger.
"I'll see you guys at Thanksgiving."
I found the last minute room change really suspicious, especially the last part of the letter. Something about a meeting off of school campus after the first day of school? When I asked around to see if anyone else I knew got a last-minute room change, the answer seemed to be a resounding 'No'. Did this happen to anyone else?
"Hijo, we're leaving soon. Is there anything else you need?" My mom places a hand on my shoulder and I look between her and my dad. 'Esto es loco! Calem está creciendo tan rápido!' My mom's thoughts are strong enough that they jump into my head, and I know already I'm going to miss speaking Spanish with her while she's away.
"Mamá. Todo estará bien." I assure her, giving her a hug before turning to my dad to repeat the gesture. "I'll be back either way soon enough."
"I'm sure you will. The dogs will miss you so much." My dad points out jovially. 'As will we.'
I walk my parents out to their car and we exchange our final goodbyes before I head back into the dormitory housing. Now to try and figure out what's up with this room change.
"They still aren't listening?" I ask, frowning as Pam sits down beside me on the bench, all of my belongings still in her car. "What if my new roommate sucks and doesn't let the office know when I'm having a migraine?"
"Becca. We have to try and think positively. The woman in the office told me that some government official reached out to them about it, so there wasn't much they could do." I raise a brow at this. A government official? "You know, I'm sure you can crash in Taylor's room if you need to get away from whoever your roommate ends up being."
"Well, yeah. Taylor knows almost everything." I shrug, leaning against my mom's shoulder. I think the only thing she doesn't know about is the events of this past summer that literally changed my whole life. "The other issue is I have to miss day one of dance team auditions for this initial meeting. The team isn't going to be very happy to hear that." I've been dancing only since I was around ten, but it's the one thing that really puts me at ease. Put me in a dance studio, and it's like all my issues escape my mind.
"You can make the other days, I'm sure. You guys have a day for each of the grades and then callbacks, right? You'll be fine." Pam wraps her arms around me and gives me a reassuring hug. "Don't forget, you can always talk to Ms. Laurel if anything happens. And you know Marcus is always here for you too." Ah, Marcus. My brother, though not by blood. Although I did change my last name to match the rest of my current family. He's quite the eccentric guy. Of course, he and Taylor get along tremendously, so I get to see them both all the time.
"I know, Pam." I smile.
"And if you have any issues with any–uh… hot flashes, please let me know. I'm still trying to figure out what's been causing them." Memories of this past summer flash through my mind, but I quickly shove them away to avoid reliving the panic attacks I suffered. They're locked up… They can't get to me.
"Hopefully I start to get a little more control of it soon." I whisper, looking around in case anyone's listening. "It could be helpful." I don't want to start the school year off getting charged for arson.
"I agree." Pam lightly pushes me so I stand up, and she soon follows. "Let's go see how Marcus and Brian are doing, hmm?"
"Wait, so you got some letter saying you're having a last-minute room change? And you've got no roommate now?" I shrug as I look over at my best friend Sterling. "What even is the point of that?"
"You know, I have some ideas." I muse, loosely strumming at my guitar. "Oh! You know what I hope it is?" I quickly put my guitar down and teleport over to stand next to Sterling, feeling so thankful that I have at least one person who knows about my powers. "Maybe this is my letter finally calling me to get my superhero training."
Sterling's jaw drops and he jumps up out of his seat. "Damien, that would be sick! Maybe you'll finally get to meet Speedster and like out your dorky fantasy." Speedster is just one of many super-powered people in the world. Lots of scientists nowadays actually specialize in the study of superheroes, and just superpowers people, to see what causes the powers. Especially with how common having powers is quickly becoming.
"Holy shit, dude! That would be the best!" Hell, Speedster's been in New York for a few years now! I totally could! I quickly sober up when I think about what else this could mean for me. "But also, I think it would make my dad proud to know I'm helping others just like he did."
Sterling pats my shoulder, frowning with me. "You know, he's definitely so proud of you. If I were your dad, I'd be proud."
I still remember that day so vividly… I shake the memories from my mind and let out a sigh. "Well, that was the day that gave me my teleporting abilities, so I think of it as his last gift to me."
We both stand in a comfortable silence as we let this moment run its course.
Completely steering off track, I realize what else being back at school means. "Ah, shit. Do you think Becca's still going to want to be friends with me? I feel like I kinda got her freaked out at the end of last year."
Sterling lets out a sharp laugh before sitting back down. "We're not opening that can of worms until we need to. You gotta figure that out yourselves."
"And you've been practicing all summer for cheer tryouts, right?" Naomi raises a brow at me and our other friend Lindsey while we eat dinner in the cafeteria. "It's only the most important event of your lives."
"Of course I've been practicing." I nod, eager to please her. Well, when I wasn't trying to at least get some acknowledgment that I exist or figuring out why the heck I'm more in tune with the air moving around me all of the sudden. At least now I have some control of the air around me. If only there was a way I could figure out how to use it to help me in normal settings.
"Oh! Me too! I practiced every day!" Lindsey perks up, smiling. She's definitely a shooing' to get on the team since it's like all of her skill and ability just to exist at life has been put into how she can cheer. If only she had a couple brain cells.
"Good. We need more of our kind on the cheer team. There's a bunch of people that seem to think it's okay to… branch out." Naomi is careful with her words and makes sure to send a pointed look in my direction. I'm sure she thinks I'd be one of those people since I like to socialize with whoever. "Speaking of, I think there's an interest party tomorrow, so you both should attend. Wear something hot."
A party. Parties are good. I can get lost in the crowd at a party.
"Lauren, you can help me pick my outfit!" Lindsey squeals, practically jumping with energy. "I wish we were still roommates, though."
"Yeah, what is up with that shit?" Naomi cuts in, crossing her arms. "Why'd they switch your room, and who are you even with, now?"
"Actually, I have no idea." I shrug. "And I think I'm rooming with Rebecca Kingsley now?"
"Oh god, I hate that bitch." Naomi groans. "She's so moody and emotional. And she totally fakes being sick all the time." Hearing that Naomi thinks this way of my new roommate has me a little worried, but then I remember that Naomi has issues with a lot of people, so I'm sure Rebecca is just fine. "Plus, she's on dance team, which is definitely inferior to the cheer team." Oh yeah, and for some reason Naomi really wants the dance and cheer teams to have a rivalry, but most of the people on both teams are friends with each other.
"Well, I don't have to be friends with her just because I'm living with her." I point out, fully intending to still try and make friends.
It's now the first day of school, and so far rooming with Calem has been alright. We were never super close before, besides being in class friends, so this'll be interesting for sure. I wonder if he got the same letter that I did? It seemed decently confidential, so I don't bother asking him about it. We go to breakfast before the morning classes and Calem seems to be a bit jittery on the walk there. I wonder–
"You got the letter too." It's not a question. It's a statement. How did he…? "I suspect that at least two other students did as well, based on what I observed during move in, and I still can't figure out what we could be needed for. Or I guess more what we each have in common that would require us to be brought together."
"You know, you're really observant of the world around you." Wow. Way for me to state the obvious. I mentally knock myself on the head as we make our way into the food line.
"Well, it's pretty easy when the world is practically screaming at you." Calem mutters, half shrugging as he grabs a tray. "Speaking of, maybe that's–"
"Calem! Aaron!" Calem's best friend, Henry, calls out to the both of us. "First day of school! Let's all sit together." Calem looks to me for approval and before I can even say anything he agrees, moving forward in the line for food. What a weird day…
It's only the first day and I'm already dreading the upcoming school year. Heck, all I've done is skip breakfast to sleep in more and I already have a headache. I massage my temple as people start making their way into the classroom and I hear the dramatic thud of someone sitting down next to me. Oh shit. Not him again. I look over to my right and grinning at me is the one and only Damien Peters, stealing the seat that I was hoping Taylor could sit in. I mean, she could sit in front of me or at the other table beside me, but still. "Are we going to have all the same classes again?" I whine, but in a kind of good-natured way. Damien's been in the honors program with me since our freshman year, and we have done our fair share of projects together that now we're definitely at least friends, and he totally tries to take advantage of it all the time. And then there was the end of last year…
Like right now, he's reaching around me instead of in front of me to get a hold of my schedule. Fucker.
"Well, why not I check. I know you'd be devastated to not have me in your classes again this year." Of course, being him, he ends this statement with a wink before starting to read over my schedule. He's such a dork. I accidentally laugh, and that's all it takes for him to know I'm not actually frustrated with him. "Looks like we're study buddies again this year." Damien nudges me, his eyes sparkling with excitement. "Is Taylor in this class too?"
"She is. I was actually hoping she'd sit next to me." As I say this, Taylor walks in and looks thrown off by what she's seeing. Wow, Damien. You're really killing our mojo. "Hey, Taylor." I greet as she sits in the seat in front of me. Damien turns to his phone and suddenly Taylor is gesturing between Damien and I and grinning at me like a maniac. Oh god. I shake my head at her and mime gagging. Damien's just a mildly annoying/funny friend. I'm just going to ignore the fact that he told Sterling last year that he has a crush on me. She rolls her eyes at me before turning to Damien.
"Got any exciting plans for your birthday, Peters?" Taylor leans over to rest her arms on our table. "It's over the weekend, right?"
"Yeah, it's on Saturday." Damien looks up, locking his phone and putting it away. "I'm planning on going home so I can spend the day with my mom."
"I'm surprised you don't want to party it up with your friends here. You're quite the popular guy here." Taylor and Damien continue talking as I reach into my bag to grab a water bottle and some pain medication. Maybe this will help.
"Aw yes! All four of us again!" I glance over as I swallow my medication to see Damien's best friend, Sterling, taking the seat next to Taylor. He was also in our classes last year, so the four of us ended up forming a study group to get things done. As much as Sterling and Damien like to joke around, they're both pretty smart and actually get work done. "Study group again, anyone?"
"We might as well." I roll my eyes, trying to look disinterested even though they're actually pretty fun to be around. And at least I know any of them will help me if I get a migraine during the school day. "During lunch break again?" Since this is a boarding school, we get a longer lunch break and extra time between classes. It goes a bit later into the day, but I'm okay with that.
"Works for me." Damien shrugs.
Ms. Bolton, the teacher, stands up from her desk. "Alright, class, welcome back."
"So when does the party start?" I pull Naomi aside on the way to the cafeteria, hoping that the meeting I have won't interfere with me going. To be fair, I don't really see why it would.
"It starts at ten." Naomi sighs, looking across the cafeteria. "So hear me out. I know I have a thing going on with James, but I can't help but want to get with Damien." I raise a brow at her, not entirely sure if she's serious or not, but when I see her start to scowl, it gets me curious. "If only he wasn't friends with that bitch. I bet she pretends to have migraines just so he'll pay attention to her." She pouts for a moment more before getting a sinister glint in her eyes.
"Naomi, what are you thinking?" I look back over my shoulder and see Rebecca sitting with three other guys and a girl, and I'm a little confused why Naomi's directing her anger towards Rebecca who seems to be mostly keeping to herself.
"Oh, nothing." Naomi hums, grinning back at me. "I'm sure you're still too innocent to understand." I raise an eyebrow at Naomi and she rolls her eyes before leaning in to whisper. "Do you think she bribes him?"
I let out a groan and start walking off to grab a lunch tray. "I don't understand why it's so hard for you to believe they can just be friends because they like hanging out together." I can hear Naomi's cackles as she follows behind me.
"Oh, I'm sure that's what it actually is. Especially since she never goes to parties with him." It's odd to hear Naomi admit to something like this, considering how much Naomi dislikes Rebecca. To be fair, I think most of the hate comes from Naomi's vendetta against the dance team. "At least someone likes her."
I stop walking and turn back to see Mr. Z, the main gym teacher, jogging up to me. Here we go again… "What's up, Mr. Z?" I sigh, pulling out my phone to check the time.
"I just want to make sure you're signing up for football tryouts. To have a Steele on the team again would truly be an honor, and…" I stop listening as he continues to trail off and try not to let my disinterest show through. I'm not like my dad or my brother. Hell, I bet I barely have half the strength they do. I mean, at least Devon doesn't treat me like I'm– "I'll just go ahead and put your name down." What?
I hesitate for a moment before speaking. "What?" I start jogging to keep up with Mr. Z, but he seems to be in a rush now. "You never asked if I actually want to, you know?" I remind him, but he immediately scoffs at me.
"What do I even need to ask for? You're a Steele. Of course you want to." I stop following after he says that and my mind starts to go fuzzy.
"You're a Steele, Aaron! Don't try and tell me that's too heavy."
"C'mon, Aaron. We're Steeles! We're a sports family!"
I shake out my hands and furrow my brows as I try to push those memories out of my head and by the time I'm out of my mind again, Mr. Z is gone. I let out a groan before continuing my way to my last class for the day. Well this sucks…
It's only just starting to get dark as I pull out of the school parking lot, tapping the beat of the music on the steering wheel as I sing along to the radio. Hopefully this meeting is what I think it is. At least the building is close to the school. I see someone walking in the same direction and as I start to pass them I recognize it as Becca. I pull over and park, opening my passenger window so I can call out to her. "Hey, Becks!"
She jogs up to my door and nods at me. "Hey, Damien, what's up?" I don't know if it's the fact that we aren't surrounded by our friend group, or maybe because we hadn't seen each other all summer, but I find myself distracted by the way Becca's dark hair frames her pale face. I guess that crush from last year really is carrying over…
"I'm just driving over to a meeting I got invited to that's not too far from here." The letter said that this all is confidential, but I feel like that's a safe amount of information to give her. I notice her furrowing her eyebrows. "You alright?"
She quickly glances up and down the street before leaning further into my window. "Did you also get an unexpected room change?" I try to stop myself from literally dropping my jaw, but I'm almost too shocked not to. How did she…? Becca takes a step back and lets out a sigh. "I think I got the same letter you did."
"Holy shit." I lean back against my seat, staring blankly at my steering wheel for a second. So it's not just me… I look back over at Becca, feeling even more intrigued by her now than ever before. She has powers too, then. Holy–"I'll give you a ride. Also, I think I know what this meeting is for." Becca locks eyes with me and I can practically see the cogs turning in her head as she thinks it over. I don't annoy her that much, do I?
"Why not." She shrugs, pulling open the passenger door and sliding into the seat. "At least you have good taste in music."
I put the window back op and switch the car back into drive. "I think you mean that I have the best music taste." I tease, turning the stereo up a little louder. I almost miss it, but Becca definitely smiled and maybe laughed at that. This year's going to be good.
"So…" Becca turns to look at me in anticipation. "What do you think this meeting is for?"
"Well, you know how my dad died when I was twelve?" I cringe at myself, realizing how that's kind of a major downer. Oh well, that's how it happened. "No one would let me have my space, and I wanted to get away from everyone so badly that I just kind of… teleported." The car is completely silent (except for the music) for at least ten seconds before Becca even dares to just move.
She faces me and I glance over to see the pure, raw, emotion on her face. "My birth parents tracked me down this past summer." She whispers, her eyes glistening with tears threatening to fall. "I needed to find a way to get them to leave me alone that I just kind of… set the building on fire." She breathes in sharply before continuing. "N-not on purpose, but yeah. Fire."
I want to hug Becca so badly, but I also don't want to crash my car, so I opt to pat her leg comfortingly instead before speaking again. "I think we're going to be asked to join Club."
I punch in the code that was in the letter and the light on the screen turns green. "I guess this is the right place, huh, Aaron?" I look over my shoulder at him and he nods seeming oddly stoic. That's odd. This morning he actually seemed excited about the meeting… I don't try to pry, but Aaron's thoughts jump out at me.
'Whatever this is, I'm sure I still won't meet their expectations…' Aaron lets out a groan before nodding at the door. "Let's go and see what this all is about." He opens the door, walking through and holding it open for me. Damn, sounds like his family puts a lot of pressure on him…
I make sure to close the door behind me and then I finally take a second to take in the hallway we're in. The walls are filled with framed newspaper clippings and photographs similar to that of one of the many Hero Memorial Centers across the country. I take some steps closer and my thoughts are confirmed when I see that all of the clippings and photos are of different heroes that have been cataloged across the country. "Wow… this is insane!" I look further down the hallway and see a reception desk where an older man is sitting sipping a coffee and typing frantically at his computer monitor. "Aaron. Are we supposed to check in with him?"
Aaron looks down at the desk and shrugs. "I mean, I'd assume so? Looks like we have to go past him to get to the rest of the building." Aaron starts walking in that direction and I start to follow, stopping every few seconds to read the different headings.
"Athena & Speedster: Now on the East Coast"
"Scythe Locked Up, Thanks to Eden"
"Increasing Numbers of Super-Humans: What Does This Mean?"
I pull myself away from the clippings and jog up to Aaron. "Sorry! I was reading the papers." I see that Aaron was already chatting with the man at the desk and I nervously wave to him. "As you heard, I'm Calem." I hold a hand out to him and he gives it a firm shake.
"Nice to meet you, Calem." He smiles, "My name's Mr. Ferguson. I'm usually at headquarters, but I've been filling in for desk duty while our usual secretary is on maternity leave." Headquarters of… what? "You both were able to find us easily, right?"
Aaron nods, looking over at me. "It was a pretty straight shot from school, wasn't it? I didn't think it was too crazy."
"Yeah, I don't think we had any problems." I agree.
Mr. Ferguson smiles at that. "That's excellent news. Lucky for you both, two of the others are already here, so you can introduce yourselves while we wait for the last one." He stands up and starts leading us down the hallway that goes past the desk. This part of the hallway still has pictures, but not nearly as many and there are also a few doors and even another hallway that splits off to the side. Mr. Ferguson finally opens a door and gestures for us to enter. "Go ahead and make yourselves comfortable. Ms. Caldwell, who will be your supervisor, should be in soon. She wanted to greet everybody but something came up and she needed to attend to it before this meeting."
"Thank you." I start to walk in, and I can feel Aaron's apprehension rolling off him in waves. I see other students from our school sitting together on a couch in the room, so I motion Aaron to follow me in. "Let's go introduce ourselves." Aaron sighs before following me in.
"Were you two also invited to this shindig?" The boy calls, sitting with an air of confidence that I wish I could have. Is he from our grade?
"Yeah, and I think I know why. I'm just not one hundred percent sure yet." I walk over and sit on the chair across from them. "My name's Calem. This is my friend, Aaron." Aaron waves and takes the seat next to me. "We're sophomores."
"Nice! I'm Damien, and this is Becca." Damien reaches over and ruffles her hair and she quickly pushes his arms away.
"Oh my god, you're the worst!" She laughs, but she seems pretty reserved. At least currently. I'm sure she'll open up as we get to know her. She faces us. "Also, we're juniors. If you find Damien annoying, feel free to tell him to his face." Damien rolls his eyes and pulls his phone out.
"So… I think Mr. Ferguson said there's supposed to be one more person coming?" Aaron says slowly, taking in his surroundings as he says this. 'Man, for some big company they sure tried to make this room feel cozy.'
'Oh crap! Of course I'm the last one here!' This slightly more distant thought, that doesn't sound like Becca, jumps into my mind. "She's here." I ignore the confused looks of everyone else as I turn to look at the door, watching as it opens and a blonde girl walks in.
"How did you…" Damien whispers before sitting up a little more straight. "Oh shit, I get it now!" 'He's got telepathy!' I don't even bother to hide my reaction since he very clearly figured it out. But how?
"Get what? Calem literally only said two words." Becca raises an eyebrow at Damien before looking over at the newcomer. "Lauren‽" 'Oh fuck. Now I have one of Naomi's sheep following me.'
Lauren tenses up and awkwardly waves. "H-hey roomie." She greets, looking around the room. "Sorry, I'm the last one." She scurries over and takes the last available seat. 'Naomi can't find out about this…' "This must be annoying, but I don't think I've met you three?"
We quickly introduce ourselves and Becca quickly turns on Damien again. "Can you please explain what you got now?"
Damien gestures to me with a giant grin. "Calem here's got telepathy." A look of recognition immediately washes over Becca's face while Aaron and Lauren appear startled. "We're going to be part of Club for the Extraordinary!"
It's at that moment that a back door into the room opens and in walks a blonde woman who looks to be in her forties. We all get quiet as she walks over to us and pulls up a chair. "No need to get shy." She assures us, offering a hint of a smile. "I promise, this should be an exciting opportunity for you all." She starts handing out some different papers for us along with pens. "Now, these are just some confidentiality contracts basically just saying that everything you do in this building has to stay in this building."
"Please tell me this is Club." Damien whispers, practically bouncing in his seat and uncapping his pen with his teeth and getting a disgusted look from Becca.
"So this building here is the Upper New York location for the Club for the Extraordinary." As soon as she says that, Damien lets out a loud 'whoop' and fist pumps the air before holding his fist out to Becca, who rolls her eyes but raises her own fist to bump his anyways.
"I so called it!" He calls out, having way too much energy. I look around at the rest of the room, and I can see Aaron nervously tapping one of his legs–Making me notice that I'm doing the same–and Lauren starts biting her fingernails while Becca's picking at hers.
"Yes, I'm Ms. Caldwell, the trainer at this facility." As soon as she, Ms. Caldwell, says that, Damien falls back to lean against the couch and is just gaping in awe. "Mr. Ferguson, who was at the front desk, is actually the current head for the Teen Division in the North Eastern quadrant of Club."
"So… what is this Club for?" Becca asks, still seeming skeptical. Damien lightly whacks her arm.
"Becks, I told you!" Damien is actually completely serious in that moment, and even with how little I know of him I know I should find that shocking. "The Club is the government-funded program that helps superheroes get compensation for their work and makes sure that they have a safe space to train and get injuries treated and whatnot!"
'Oh fuck, I forgot Damien's a super dork when it comes to heroes and shit.' Becca sighs and rests her chin on her hand. "Oh my goodness. How ever could I forget?" She asks, carefully articulating every word.
"Do you not know what this means‽" Damien actually reaches over and grabs Becca's shoulders, retracting when he sees the way she tenses up. "Sorry…" He quickly mutters.
"Now, you might be skipping ahead a few steps, but you are in the right direction." Ms. Caldwell jumps back in. "The Club also has the Teen Division, which was set in place to help young people with developing powers have a safe space to learn how to use them correctly before they decide what career path they want to take."
"So, superheroes." I ask, scrunching up my face in concern.
Ms. Caldwell shakes her head. "That's absolutely not required. We just want to give a safe space for people to learn how to use their powers so that they don't feel lost." She then gestures to us all. "So I know some of you might've already shared, but just to be completely transparent, can you all share your powers?"
I don't even know the extent of what I can do yet… I start fidgeting with the hem of my shorts as I try to get rid of the anxious energy I'm feeling.
"I'll start." Damien shrugs, leaning forward and resting his arms on his knees. "I can teleport, currently just myself and for short distances, and I can turn invisible." I have a flashback to when we were in the car, and thinking about the trauma he experienced that gave him those powers breaks my heart. Hopefully that's not the case for everyone.
"That's so cool!" Calem exclaims. "So, I don't actually quite have telepathy like you thought. I can hear people's thoughts and sometimes I can move things with my mind."
Aaron shakes his head and sighs. "Well, I sound lame compared to those. I'm just kinda strong. My whole family is, actually."
"That's still cool!" Lauren insists. "I can control wind patterns a bit. I'm still working on it."
Oh wow, so she also has elemental powers. I snap back to reality when Damien rests his hand on my knee. Oh, it's my turn. I shove his hand away and try to ignore that everyone's looking at me. "I can create fire with my hands." I try to ignore the looks of shock I get from everyone. Powers aren't that uncommon nowadays, but I guess it's still really surprising.
"So as you all can see, you each bring something very special to this group. New students may join from surrounding schools as time passes, but for right now it's just you five." Ms. Caldwell stands up and motions for us to do so as well and starts to give us a tour of the facilities. There's a gym/fitness room with lots of unusual equipment, and there's someone training in there while we check it out, so that's pretty cool. There's a room with simulator technology that I didn't even know existed. There are rooms for heroes to stay in if they don't have a place to call home. All of it is really cool, honestly. "Now, I don't want to scare you all into thinking you have to go on to be a superhero. That's not what this program is here for. This program is here to help make sure you all know how to properly control your powers so that you can be safe."
"So we get to choose?" Calem lets out a sigh of relief.
"Of course." Ms. Caldwell then leads us back to the entrance. "So, make sure you read over at least the first page of the information packets. I know this is last minute, but if you can come in on Saturday at the same time I can assess your current abilities and provide you with more information regarding training and perhaps some bonding. Hopefully I'll see you there."
We all start walking out, and now that we're out of that space it feels weird to socialize. Lauren's making small talk with Aaron and Calem up ahead while Damien and I trail behind. I notice Damien looking over at me like he's trying to catch my attention, and the feeling of awkwardness starts to creep back in. Oh, man… this year's going to be awkward, isn't it…
"Becks… I was wondering if you'd want to go grab something to eat since we're free now?" Damien looks kinda nervous, but he also is bouncing a bit in excitement. Dang it, food sounds great right now. I look ahead to the rest of our team, and then I look back at Damien.
"Can we do pizza?"
I can hear the pounding of the music as I approach the abandoned warehouse where the party is. Lindsey is practically bouncing with excitement and starts dragging me in. "Our first high school party!" She cheers, twirling in her sparkly dress as we enter the main room. "Let's go find Naomi!"
I carefully jog to keep up with her, thanking my pre-planning for wearing thicker heels. "Lindsey, slow down!" I laugh, taking in the colorful lights and vibe of the room as we go through the dance floor. Finally, we reach Naomi and I notice she has James with her sitting on a couch. He's kind of an all brawn no brains kind of guy, and I have a hunch he'd be a bit nicer to people if Naomi wasn't his "girlfriend". "Naomi!"
She looks over at us and perks up. "Hey!" She jumps up and gives each of us a hug. "Drinks are in the coolers, but let's dance first!" I'm not too surprised to see how happy she is right now. Honestly, she probably is already tipsy and I just know that Naomi loves a good party. "I can introduce you to some of the other cheerleaders!"
The rest of the party is sort of a blur for me. Naomi introduces us to the rest of the cheer team like she said, but besides that everything seems to just be a normal high school party. Definitely fun, and I definitely plan on going to more of them. This is just the kind of thing I needed.
I look out at the sea of people in the cafeteria and let out a sigh. Maybe I should start eating in the library. I start making my way into the lunch line when I spot a familiar face. "Becca?" I call out, and the brunette turns around and waves back at me before quickly saying something to the friend she's with–a tall guy with dark blonde hair and fairly tan skin–and then they both walk over to me.
"Hey, Aaron. What's up?" I notice she's fidgeting with her hands and seems to be avoiding direct eye contact. Oh god, I hope I don't make her nervous.
"Nothing much. I'm just trying to decide where I want to eat my food." I groan. "Cafeterias were definitely a lot less annoying when I had more friends."
Becca frowns when I say this before sharing a quick look with her friend. Before she can even say anything he quickly interjects.
"You can always join our table, you know." He offers. "I'm Marcus, by the way. I'm her brother."
"Brother?" I blurt out before snapping my jaw shut. Uh… what? I look between the two of them and they don't even look like they could be cousins. Becca is short with dark hair, green eyes, and pale skin. The only thing that could maybe connect them is that they're both Caucasian. I'm about to speak again, but Marcus is quick to jump in.
"I know! How did Becks here get so lucky to have a brother as handsome as me?" Marcus winks, and I raise an eyebrow while Becca gags.
"Marcus! Why are you like this?" Becca throws her head back before grabbing a lunch tray, and we both follow suit. "I'm sure your friends would gladly welcome you back to their table."
"Now where's the fun in that? Lunch is my one chance to bond with you!" Marcus ruffles her hair. "Plus, you all need a chaperone."
"We do not."
I let out a laugh finally, wondering if this is how my brother and I would be if there wasn't the pressure to be stronger in my family. This is nice. "You two are hysterical."
"Thank you!" Marcus exclaims. "See, he gets it!"
"Ugh!" Becca storms ahead and walks up to another girl and they start chatting. Must be another one of the table mates. I quickly get my food and follow Marcus to the table. It's situated in the furthest corner of the cafeteria, and I quickly see another familiar face there.
"Aaron! Are you joining us?" Damien calls out, standing up in excitement. He then jostles his friend next to him, who also looks like he's African American like me, but maybe mixed. "Sterling, you got to meet him! He's so chill!"
Sterling looks up from his food and smiles. "What's up, man?"
"Not much." I shrug, sitting down next to Becca's brother and across from him. Damien is in between Sterling and Becca, but clearly he's trying to sit a little closer to her. Are they… together? I don't get time to think much further than that as another girl sits across from Becca.
"Okay, finally! I need to tell you how dance auditions went yesterday!" This girl quickly starts rattling off so fast I can barely comprehend what's going on, so I just turn back to my food and start eating. I may not be contributing much to the conversation, but I feel like I might have myself some new friends.
I let out a sigh as I fall back into one of the library chairs. Finally. I can study French in peace. I dig out my notes and carefully start going through everything. I can't believe we're starting French IV with a test almost immediately! I get through about half of the review notes we've taken so far when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look up and see this guy who I think I've shared class with before. What's his name again?
"We had math together last year, right?" He asks, standing up to his full height and combing his sandy blonde hair back with his fingers. "I'm Michael Pierce."
"I thought you looked familiar." I smile. "I'm Becca."
"I knew it!" He cheers softly. "Wow, you look like summer treated you right, because you're prettier than I remembered."
I try to hide the shock on my face, turning away a bit. "Thank you?" Oh god, I've gotten so used to Damien's awkward indirect flirting. How am I supposed to react when someone lays it on that thick‽ "Honestly, I feel like I look mostly the same." Also, summer most definitely didn't treat me right. Not with the way I got my powers.
"Oh, no. You definitely got prettier." He makes sure I see the wink. "So, I was wondering if you'd want to go on a date with me?"
Oh, fuck. I can practically feel the blood rushing to my face in embarrassment. Is the surrounding air getting hotter too? Shit. "I, uh, I barely even know you." I point out, avoiding eye contact entirely now.
Michael lets out a chuckle and sits in the chair next to me. "So a date sounds like the perfect opportunity to! Let's go at seven, okay? I'll meet you by the parking lot." He quickly gets up and starts walking away.
My jaw drops and I look around the room, wondering if anyone else witnessed what just happened to me. "I never said yes!" I quickly call out. If he seriously thinks that's the proper way to ask a girl out, he's messed up in the head.
"Your face said it for you!" He calls back, finally exiting.
I drop my highlighter and my book entirely before rubbing my forehead. Oh god, should I go just to turn him down? What if Damien finds ou–I cut that thought off right there, shaking my head as I groan. I may not think of Damien romantically, but I still deeply care about him as a friend and I don't want him getting hurt.
Well I'm fucked.
"Oh! Guess who was right about the letter." I grin at Sterling as we pass by another shop. Now, I know I signed that confidentiality thing, but Sterling already knew and I'm sure it's fine if I just don't tell him who else is in it.
"No way, that's insane! That's going to be so much fun!" Sterling and I decided to go downtown after school to check out what's new since we haven't been around since June. I invited Becca, but she had dance rehearsal and she said something else came up after that, but I totally get it. She's so hardworking. I let out a sigh and Sterling groans at me. "Oh come on!"
"What? What am I doing now?" I roll my eyes and turn to him.
"We both know what you're sighing about." Sterling lightly shoves my shoulder. "Look, everyone in our friend group knows about your feelings, so just be upfront and say you're sad Becca declined your invite."
"See, but that's not something major to even be discussing. I know I'll woo her eventually." I shrug, allowing myself to smile. "It just might take some time."
Sterling let's out a chuckle before pointing out a sign by the local coffee shop. "You could always serenade her at an open mic." Sterling opens the door and we both walk in. "Plus, doesn't she love coffee?"
"Actually, Sterling?" I turn to him once we're in line. "Uh… remember the end of last year?"
"Oh god, please don't start doubting yourself." He throws his head back.
"I'm just wondering if I should actually risk losing the great friendship me and her already have? This year's already starting awkward and I can tell she's being cautious while around me." I mean, if the way dinner went yesterday was anything to prove that. Becca looked so uncomfortable the whole time and it honestly really hurt to know that I was making her feel that way.
"Yeah, but it's not like your feelings started suddenly at the end of last year either. I feel like she would be straight up avoiding you if it came out of the blue." Sterling turns away from me to place his coffee order and then lets me do the same and we go find some tall seats. "Anyway, maybe you just gotta be a little more upfront? Nothing to scare her off, but let her know you appreciate her."
"The talent show." I blurt, the posters around the school popping into my head. "What if I sang to her then?"
"Well, make sure you at least build up to that or you might scare her off." Sterling shakes his head, letting out a laugh. "Oh! You know what would be hot? Ask her to teach you how to dance!"
If I was drinking something, I would've done a spit take. Holy fuck… I flashback to her recital at the end of last year and the confidence she exuded on stage. Just… oh damn… She was hot in those dances. Sterling snaps in my face and places my coffee in front of me. "Shit, was I that zoned out?"
"Oh yeah." Sterling laughs. "You should definitely ask her if that reaction was anything to go off of."
I definitely will.
I walk up to the list in the Gym after cheer tryout, keeping my fingers crossed. Lindsey trails behind me and it kind of stresses me out how confident she is about this. I mean, I guess that's a good thing at least. Better than being a nervous wreck like I am. As we approach the list, Naomi rushes up to us. "Holy shit, you guys. You'll never guess what I just heard!" There's this wicked glimmer in her eyes, and it makes me feel a little uneasy. "Guess who Pierce took out for dinner yesterday."
Lauren jumps up in excitement. "Oh! I heard about this! Um… was it Betsy?"
"No, you dumb shit." Naomi rolls her eyes. Lindsey shrugs and completely disregards the outright insult. "He took Becca out for dinner. I sincerely hope that girl can't live up to his low expectations because he's tossed so many girls to the dirt by now that he should come with a warning attached to his forehead."
"And… that's good?" I tread carefully. Becca's my roommate, and we had a chance to bond last night after she got back. She truthfully spent most of the night complaining about Michael, so she's probably safe.
"Oh, Lauren." Naomi sighs, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Sweet, innocent, Lauren… Becca doesn't keep up to date with all the dating drama! She's bound to fall right into Pierce's trap and it's going to be a shit show! This is the entertainment I live for!" I think she's maybe just excited because she doesn't have to do any dirty work. "I mean, to be fair, I don't think she'll actually fall for his bullshit. Especially with Damien always close by, but I'm so ready if she does!"
"Well, if that happened yesterday, then does anyone even know if it went well?" I point out, crossing my arms and raising a brow.
Another cheerleader who's walking by stops and turns to us. "Oh, you talking about Pierce? He told everyone he has her wrapped around his finger, but I overheard her ranting about him at lunch saying she never wants to speak to him again."
Naomi is practically glowing after hearing that and exchanges some quick thank you's with that cheerleader before turning to us. "Man, I didn't know that I'd love secondhand drama so much! I just get to witness it!"
"Well, as long as you're not directly involved." I let out a sigh and shake my head. "Becca's already on edge about me as a roommate and I know you don't like her, but I'm trying to be civil."
Naomi lets out a cackle and leads us over to the list.
We got in.
I walk in for lunch on Friday, and I'm relieved I finally can just sit down and eat again this week. Tutoring Tuesday through Thursday is really going to kick my butt this year. I take a look around, anxious about being late and not being able to find friends when I bump into Henry. "Oh, hey man!"
"Calem!" Henry holds a fist up and we do our handshake "I joined Aaron at his new lunch table yesterday, and those juniors and the senior are all so chill!"
I scrunch my face up in confusion. "Juniors and senior?" It takes me a second before it hits me. "Oh! Were Damien and Becca two of them?"
"Yeah!" Henry and I start walking into the lunch line and grab our trays. As we start getting our food, I look out to the tables and see Becca arguing with some dude I don't think I've ever seen before. I'm tempted for a moment to try and reach out to hear their thoughts, but then I see Damien jump in and he diffuses the situation and walks Becca away from the situation. Good.
Once we have our food and scan our IDs, we start heading in the direction of their table when some more distinct thoughts jump into my head.
'I hope Damien is handling things okay…'
'I wonder what songs we're doing this year?'
'Did I remember to ask for no mayo?'
"Hey, Aaron!" Henry calls out, taking the seat next to him.
I wave and Aaron sends me a smile. "Glad you could join today. Let me introduce you." Aaron turns to the rest of the people at the table. "This is Becca's brother, Marcus." Marcus waves, a look of intrigue washing over his face as he looks at me. "Over here is Taylor, Becca's best friend. Finally we have Sterling, Damien's best friend."
"Nice to meet you all. I'm Calem." I wave to everyone and they wave back.
"This friend group just keeps getting bigger! I'm going to need to get you all another chaperone!" Marcus jokes, leaning back and laughing. "Speaking of chaperoning, should someone go check on Damien and Becca? I know he said something about helping her cool down, but that was a few minutes ago."
Taylor shakes her head and waves a hand. "They're fine. Becca probably started complaining and is ranting Damien's poor ears off about Michael. I love Becca, but I don't know why Damien lets himself be the one she's always complaining about the world to! That's got to be exhausting."
Sterling let's out a laugh. 'Oh, Damien knows why he's doing that.' There's an oddly suggestive tone to that thought and I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. "As long as it doesn't turn into everyone complaining about everything, I think we're fine."
"I fucking never said yes! Oh, but 'my face said it all'? What does that even mean‽" I scream out in frustration, smacking myself in the forehead repeatedly. "Why, of all people, did he decide to try and scam me into a date? We straight-up never left the school, but he's still trying to convince everyone I like him. What's the deal with that!" I throw my hands down and slide against the wall until I'm sitting. "I was just trying to study but no, can't do that in peace in the library, can I?" I bang my head on my knees and try to push away the prickling at my eyes. "Just… why are people always out to get me?" That's when Damien suddenly decides to make his presence very known and kneels down in front of me, placing a hand on my shoulder and using the other to smooth my hair back.
"I know it probably sounds loaded right now, but I promise not everyone's out to get you." He assures me, his voice soft and I swear it cracks at the end. Is he okay? I look up at Damien and I feel emotions hit me right in the soul when I see the sincere look on his face. "If anything, he's probably jealous that he doesn't get to spend time with you. Anyone would be so lucky just to spend one hour with you. I… I know I feel lucky every time I get to call you my friend." I try and ignore the heat flooding to my cheeks, but I take note of the fact that Damien's cheeks seem flushed too.
"A-are you sure? I'm pretty sure I just talked your ear off for ten minutes just about how much of a dick Michael is." I reach a hand up to wipe under my cheeks, internally groaning when I find some wetness. Great.
Damien lets out a chuckle when I say this and shakes his head. "At least you're not complaining about me and how annoying I am." I have to laugh at that. He's not wrong. "So, uh… this is probably the worst possible time to ask this, but I honestly don't know when I'll work the confidence up again, but I was wondering if you could teach me how to dance?"
I raise a brow at Damien before resting my head on my knees. "You're somethin' else." I sigh before looking back up at him. "What the hell could you need that for?"
"One, to impress you." He winks, "Two, I think I'm going to try do some more music performances so I might as well try to become a double threat."
I ignore the feeling I get when he winks at me and consider what teaching him dance would be like. Ugh… Do I? "You know what… sure."
Damien immediately flusters and stutters incoherently for a solid ten seconds. Oh, wow. "I-uh, great!" He finally gets out, looking absolutely ecstatic. Oh shit. Why'd I say yes! He quickly stands up before offering me a hand and guiding me up. He opens his mouth to say something, but instead just gapes like a fish. I broke him, oh no.
"Let's go, lover boy." I tease, walking off back to the lunch table.
"Welcome back, everyone." Miss Caldwell greets, leading us into the training facility. "We're going to start things easy with assessing where your current abilities are at so that we can keep track of your progress."
I let out a sigh and shake my hands out. Or better yet my lack of ability. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Calem turn his head to me and I'm reminded that he can hear all our thoughts. Don't worry, Calem. He nods before turning back to Ms. Caldwell.
"To help us out today, Mr. Ferguson has stepped out of the front office. He worked as a hero out in Missouri for quite some time, so he's got a lot of great experience." Mr. Ferguson steps forward, and it's then that I notice he's kind of scarily built. I wonder what powers he has. "I also worked out in Rhode Island for some time before I decided that training was where my skills were best served." Two veteran heroes! That's crazy. "Now then. To get us started, let's have you all demonstrate where your abilities are currently. Any volunteers to go first?"
"Yes!" Damien's hand shoots up, and he has this giant grin plastered across his face. "I was born ready!" He jogs out to the middle of the floor and looks to Ms. Caldwell. "So, you just want us to demonstrate, right?"
"That's all for right now, yes. But please try and show us the full extent of what you can do. Don't play it safe." Ms. Caldwell gestures for him to go ahead, and in the blink of an eye, he vanishes. Even his clothes turn invisible.
"Holy…" I let my jaw drop, too shocked to put it into words.
"Just so there's no confusion, I'm currently standing in the same spot." Damien calls out before turning visible again. "I think I said the other day something about just turning myself invisible? I forgot that that extends to my clothes so I should be able to turn other things invisible one day too." Then he shakes out his arms and cracks his neck.
Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Ferguson each take notes on that and before Miss Caldwell can say anything, Damien disappears and reappears on the other side of the room. She nods in approval before writing some more notes. "That's a pretty far distance for little to no training." She observes.
"Yeah!" Damien pops up back next to her. "Once it happened the first time I started practicing whenever I got the chance. It actually took a long time to get it consistent."
"Good job. Anything else you need to show us?" Mr. Ferguson looks immensely proud, and I can feel a huge weight plop itself right onto my shoulders. How am I supposed to live up to that?
"That's all I got so far." Damien nods before jogging back to stand next to Becca, who's current expression is unreadable.
"Well, what you got is actually a lot more than I was expecting to see." Ms. Caldwell smiles before looking out to the rest of us. "So, I know it's probably a little nerve-wracking, but who wants to go next?"
Lauren looks around before cautiously taking a step forward and letting out a breath. "Let's see if this works today." She shrugs, but I can tell you that it does immediately because the air around her quickly starts moving enough to create a breeze indoors. It dies down just as soon as it starts, and while it wasn't much, Lauren looks ecstatic. "That's actually the most I've been able to do with static air! It's easier when the air already is traveling."
"That's very good." Ms. Caldwell assures her. "Speaking from personal experience, elemental powers are a lot harder to control since the elements are already constantly in action."
Becca groans before speaking up. "Since my powers are also elemental, should I just get this out of the way?" She doesn't wait too long for a response before raising her hands up in front of her and after a few moments of focus, a flame sparks and crackles into existence, eerily floating between her hands and even growing a bit as she continues the focus. That's when I notice the surrounding air starts to get warmer and I don't think it's just because of the flame. The flame quivers for a moment before bursting out of existence. "Ah, shit." She groans, and then she scrunches her face in frustration. "I mean shoot. That was pitiful."
"I… I thought it was great." Damien chimes in.
"Yeah, don't worry about impressing us." Ms. Caldwell adds. "We're just trying to see what your potential could be."
Calem looks around before raising his hand. "Uh… so how do I demonstrate my ability to read minds? Because I could tell you right now that Mr. Ferguson is trying to decide what to make for dinner and Damien is giving himself a mental pep talk."
Mr. Ferguson nods. "So, what do you think I should have?"
"I'd personally go with the quesadillas, but that's probably just my Mexican heritage speaking." Calem shrugs. "Also, chili's just not always my favorite."
Mr. Ferguson nods, looking impressed.
I let out a sigh realizing it's my turn. Here we go. I notice that Ms. Caldwell and Mr. Ferguson already put some weights out, and thankfully there's nothing too outrageous. I walk over and grab the three-hundred-pound weight and lift it above my head, struggling a little bit to balance. I carefully set it down before sighing and turning back to everyone. "You know, I'm actually considered the runt in my family…" I admit. "Everyone else can lift a ton with ease and then there's me."
Mr. Ferguson's expression drops and he walks up to me and rests a hand on my shoulder. "You know… I was the runt too." He tells me. "But I was also the one with the most drive because I had to work harder, and I was the only person in my family to make it all the way to becoming a hero."
My eyes go wide and I look out to everyone else and they all look impressed. "You mean, you all don't think I'm not strong enough?"
"Why would we think that?" Calem frowns. "I probably couldn't lift fifty pounds over my head."
It's then that it hits me pretty hard that maybe, just maybe, I didn't need to be the strongest after all.
I smile to Miss Caldwell and nod. "Let's try this hero thing."
So that was the first episode. If you didn't see above, I've already gone back and made some edits and added some things after receiving a constructive review from a guest. (Thank you so much, by the way!)
Please review if you feel so compelled! I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!
Who's your favorite character so far? Least favorite? What are your predictions for how the rest of this story goes?
Have a beautiful day and please stay safe!