Sneaking out was ridiculous easy when you could teleport. Took the fun out of it. Sneaking back in while drunk, that was a bit more of a challenge.
Cameron must have done alright considering she woke up in her own bed, an empty bottle of orange juice sat on her bedside table. Right, she remembered pouring vodka into it last night. It was a bad habit from when she used to be more of a party girl, turning to alcohol whenever she couldn’t deal. How did regular people deal with finding out their father wasn’t dead and instead had abandoned them to join the fucking mob? Was there some kind of pamphlet for her to read or a how to guide online? He hadn’t even left her a fucking note, her mom had managed that much, making clear she was leaving and never coming back and doing so of her own free will.
She had so wanted to believe he was dead. It would have been better than knowing he had betrayed her, breaking the only promise she needed him to keep, and left like Mom did. Now he was back in Avocet, hunting Gladwell. She recognized his spirit the second it showed up. It was really hard to forget what it looked like when it still haunted her nightmares. That thing had been the bane of her existence when she had been a kid. A force of nature she couldn’t win against, could only avoid if she was lucky.
Seeing Gladwell carve it up like a turkey had been nice. Real nice.
Her phone buzzed and it didn’t stop despite her begging. It laid on the floor near her leather jacket, close to the window. She teleported it to her hand. Thank god for superpowers. Without them, she might have actually had to get out of bed. She hit accept and put it on speaker, too lazy to move it up to her ear. “For your sake, I really hope this is important,” she grumbled.
“I guess you’re not having a good morning. I just wanted to check up on you, see if you’re alright. I haven’t heard from you and I saw the news and you’re not at school.” Ah, Sarah, always the good one, always there.
“I’m fine,” she said. It was probably a good idea to leave out the part where Gladwell’s copy had hit her with those energy blasts of hers. “Just wasn’t up for school. Well, even less up for school than I usually am.”
“I have to go to class, talk to you later?” Cameron could hear the smile in her voice.
“Yep. I’ll text you or something. Annoy Mr. Mullet enough for the both of us.”
Sarah hung up and Cameron went back to curling up in her warm blanket, enjoying the moment. If only she could stay here for the rest of her life. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed from Sarah’s phone call to someone banging on her door but it didn’t feel like enough. “It’s not locked, you can come on in,” she shouted.
A girl walked in, light brown hair tied in a ponytail, dressed in a purple hoodie and jeans. She looked concerned when she saw Cameron still in bed. “Oh, are you okay? I know you got hurt yesterday.”
“Oh yeah, I’m fine.” As long as she didn’t apply pressure to her bandaged arm and shoulder. “I’m lazy is all.”
“Okay, um.” She brushed a few strands of hair out of her face. “I’m Kate, if you don’t remember. From the training session that got interrupted. I asked you if you wanted to hang out, sometime?”
That jogged Cameron’s memory. She did remember Kate, and remembered thinking it was weird how Kate wanted to hang out with her. “Yeah, course I remember. Gladwell didn’t hit me in the head,” Cameron said. “You came because you wanted to hang?” Kate nodded. Doing something other than wallowing sounded good. “I guess I’m free. Give me a few minutes.”
Kate smiled, the kind that lit up her whole face. “I’ll wait in the living room.” She practically skipped out of the room.
Cameron climbed out of bed and walked to her own private bathroom, one of the perks of finally being moved to the superhero floor. She brushed her teeth and combed her hair. Most of her clothes were a mess, tossed on the floor in the area around her closet. She would need to do laundry soon. She picked out some clean clothes, nothing fancy, a grey sweater and jeans and went to meet Kate in the living room.
“So, you wanted to hang,” Cameron said, as she plopped down on the couch beside Kate.
“Yeah, I thought it might be nice if we got to know each other. Since you’re on the team, and everything,” Kate said.
“And here I was, starting to think friendliness was a foreign concept here.” They hadn’t been mean but she didn’t exactly get a party or anything. Not that she wanted one but it would have been a nice gesture.
“But if I’m being honest, I have other reasons.”
Cameron smiled. Her instincts were right, it seemed. “Color me unsurprised. So? What is it?”
She stared down at the floor, avoiding eye contact. “Later. I don’t think now is the right time but I don’t want to start this with a lie, so. Yeah.”
“Hmm.” Trying to figure this out before Kate made the reveal would be a nice distraction from thinking about her dad being in town. “Okay. Whatever, I can wait.” She raised a finger and swung it back and forth, alternating between pointing at Kate and pointing at herself. “What, exactly do you mean by ‘this’? Or is that a secret too?”
Her eyes widened when she understood Cameron’s meaning. “Just the beginning of our friendship, that’s all,” Kate insisted with more force than necessary.
Didn’t look like she was lying. Cameron lowered her hand. “Easy there, I was just curious.”
“I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it but it’s definitely not what this is,” Kate said, flustered.
Cameron’s smile turned into a smirk. She hadn’t been expecting that strong of a reaction when she made the joke. “Right, so, in the spirit of friendship and since you were nice enough to answer my questions, I’ll answer any you have.”
“Favorite color?” Kate asked. She gave her a look, the kind that asked whether you were being serious or not. That question was so boring, kind of cliched, and pointless, really. What did it matter what your favorite color was? “Are you going to answer it or not?” Kate said, crossing her arms and met Cameron’s eyes.
“That explains the color of your costume, Point Blank.”
She leaned back into the couch. “Well, since you wasted your question on an easy one, it’s my turn.”
Kate gave her a questioning look. “I didn’t know we were taking turns.”
“We are now. So, my turn. What’s your deal, are you like Tom who is only kinda on the team? Trying to learn to control your powers from our resident specialist Agent Brown?”
Kate shook her head. “I control my abilities just fine. I’m an inventor, like Ionic, most inventors don’t have too much trouble controlling their powers, not like Tom does, anyway. I want to be on the team, really badly, but I haven’t managed to pass my exams, the ones that will let me go out into the field. Even if I do pass them, my mom would never let me do it, she’s overprotective.”
“Don’t think you can call it overprotective when you’re talking about throwing yourself into harm’s way.” She lightly touched her shoulder; the bandages were covered by her sweater. “It’s good that your mom cares. Most moms would, I bet.”
From the sympathetic look that crossed Kate’s face, Cameron knew she had read her file. Everyone had, no doubt. She never really knew how to deal with the looks, or the pity that always came with them.
“Well, um, my mom and I have a deal. She lets me come here and work for them, even practice for the tests. I just can’t, you know, fight crime if I do pass. It’s not so bad, my power lets me work on the sidelines pretty well,” Kate said.
“This is Avocet City, known for its inventors,” Cameron replied.
Back when the public was first becoming aware of superpowers, the first few inventors in America all lived in Avocet. It attracted a lot of attention at the time, some were even saying inventors would save mankind, level the playing field with their technology, and the people in charge decided to capitalize on it, get them to build something pretty to wow people. They did and people came rushing to see realistic holograms casually walking through the park. They started to add other crap after inventors appeared in other states and cities. UltimateTech Industries, the company responsible for making most of the standard equipment used by the SAA, had started out here, too.
“But they still keep you informed on what’s going on and stuff, right?” Cameron asked.
Cameron shrugged. “Just wondering if you knew whether they made any progress on the Gladwell search.”
“Last I heard they haven’t found anything yet. Which is not surprising, since you guys said she has some power that lets her avoid being detected by our sensors and she can become invisible. Maybe if we’re lucky you guys hurt her enough that she decided to give up and leave town.”
“In an ideal world, maybe. In this one? I doubt it,” Cameron said. “Kinda surprised Hayes hasn’t gotten me to help with the search. I’m the only one in town who can see pass her invisibility.”
“I think I remember Agent Brown telling Agent Hayes not to bother any of you guys for awhile, give you a chance to rest.” A phone beeped, too loud to ignore. Kate pulled hers out and swiped her thumb across the screen. Cameron realized she left her phone in her room.
“Oh, good timing I guess. It’s a status update. The reinforcements Agent Hayes requested are here and… they’re taking over. Agent Camelo is officially in charge while they look for Gladwell.”