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The moment Terry opened the door and saw them, Dewey saw flashes of emotions on her face, one after another - surprise, suspicion, amusement, and then alarm. It seemed like only a moment ago she was sighing, "Can't you change out of your converses, Dewey, jeez! If you can at least not look like a jerk, that would make up for acting like one." And now they were back, too soon, and all wrong. Terry's eyes went from his face to his dirtied and ripped clothing, then slid over to shivering Whitney, clutching her bare brown arms, and then to the drops of blood on her pale pink dress.
Terry glared at Dewey. "What did you do?" she demanded.
All of a sudden, the night grew late and quiet. Terry had her arms folded as she leaned agaisnt the kitchen counters - behind her was an packet of rice, various jars of seasoning and a small pile a vegetables, ignored. Dewey sat beside Whitney, holding her hand under the kitchen table. That seemed to comfort her.
"Wow." Terry said eventually. She sighed and rubbed her hand over her eyes. She still wore her work blouse and suit pants, her brown hair tied up into a neat ponytail. "That is pretty unbelievable. Not exactly broad daylight but doesn't make much of a difference, there were loads of witnesses. To go and crash a school ball, superpowers blazing, what for? Why would they - that's... weird. Even for..."
She trailed off, but Dewey knew what she meant. It was rare to catch supers using their powers in public except to save someone, but this was an attack, and not by supers. Were they robot-like drones, or some kind of monster? Dewey didn't even know what they were after
Terry cleared her throat. Dewey jolted out of his thoughts and looked at Whitney, who was staring at the hand she had resting on the table. At least she wasn't shaking anymore. He couldn't help but think how pretty she looked, even with that hint of worry on her face. Her thick, dark hair had a little yellow leaf clinging to it, but he couldn't bring himself to pick it out. He just wanted to look at her.
"Dewey," Terry said in her warning voice.
"Oh - sorry Whitney, this is my big sister Te - Amy. Amy Bignose." he muttered. Terry simply gave him an icy smile, but a second later his hair was soaking wet. He scowled at her, but really he was annoyed at himself for forgetting why he shouldn't taunt someone who could stop time.
"So, you're Whitney!" she said brightly. Whitney nodded, her lips pressed nervously together. "We've heard so much about -"
"Whitney, did you want a drink?" Dewey said loudly, holding back the urge to fill his older sister with shockwaves. "Or did you just want water?" Terry grinned broadly.
"Water's fine." Whitney said quietly, raising her eyes to give him that gentle smile that always made whatever day it was the best day of the week.
Terry moved forward to sit down so Dewey could get past her and said "So, to get this straight, you both used your powers in public. Both of you. Right?"
Dewey and Whitney looked grimly at each other.
"So how're you gonna deal with going back to school?"
Finally, Whitney cleared her throat, taking the glass of water from Dewey, who slumped back in his chair beside her. "I'm not sure. I was worried about that too at first until I realised I have a bigger problem. My family. They will hear about it, somehow. I'm worried about going back home."
Terry stared at her for a moment. Dewey saw her eyes flick at him and knew she shared his thought - if she was afraid to go home, she probably didn't have any supers for relatives. "Who is there in your family, Whitney? Who do you live with?"
"Well, there's my two sisters, my Dad..." Then she added hastily, like it was an aftert thought, "And my Ma, of course."
"Are your sisters older or younger?"
Dewey smiled. He could imagine her being the babied by her family. "Right, and... what's their general opinion of supers?" Terry said, and when Dewey heard the caution in her voice, he looked over at Whitney; she was huddled together with that naive, perplexed look on her face, her body rigid as if she'd break into pieces if touched.
"It's not like that. They already know about my powers." Whitney said, speaking in that soft voice that Dewey found so enchanting "It's just... um..."
Dewey hadn't realised Whitney was so upset until she wiped her tears away. He didn't even realise she had tears on her face until she moved her arm to wipe them. By the time his sluggish brain had caught up with all of her actions, the moment had passed and he felt like a dolt for just sitting there and watching his date cry.
"The first time I ever used my powers, I hurt somebody. I promised - not just to them but to myself - that I'd never use my power again, and I broke that promise. I'm ashamed of myself." Whitney dropped her eyes to her lap and murmured at a volume they could barely hear, "I don't break my promises."
Terry watched her for a long moment, her face filled with concern and worry - more concern than she'd ever seemed to have for Dewey. But he knew that Whitney's vulnerability seemed to have that protective effect on people. He'd been trapped by that spell aaages ago.
"You kinda had to." he said gently, praying he could actually say something to make her feel better. He'd never been good at pep talks. "And nobody got hurt this time."
Now Whitney turned that frightened look on him. "But then they'll ask, 'Why did you take the risk?' Or they'll ask if I've been secretly practising to control them better. I don't know how to face them!"
"Why did you do it?" Terry wondered. Whitney was taken aback by her question.
"They were about to crush Dewey!"
Terry made her eyebrows do that 'Oh?' thing and gave Dewey the most patronising, all-knowing smile that ever existed, making him to red with annoyance and embarrassment.
"You might want to mention that, if they ask. If they ask." She stood up, the backs of her knees pushing the chair back. "Somehow, I think they'll care about you enough to understand. And if they don't, you're always welcome here." Whitney smiled gratefully at her, making Terry chuckle. "No, seriously. We get all sorts in here, supers, I mean. We're like a damn supers hotel. But I promise you'll be perfectly safe. Nobody beats my Plus One superpower, trust me on that."
Dewey began loudly, "I seem to remember when Dwayne -"
"Come on Whitney." Terry said kindly to the girl, and in that space of time, Dewey suddenly found baked beans dripping off of his head. He spotted an opened and empty tin of Heinz by the water jug that wasn't there before. Cupping his hands and wiping them off, he made a noise of disgust and had to ball his fists to not throw something at Terry, in case it hit Whitney. "We'll get you some new clothes, and here's my phone if you want to call someone you trust and tell them where you are. You can sleep in the guest room. It's in a part of the house where boys aren't allowed." she shot a stern look back at Dewey that said 'Don't let me catch you bugging this poor girl!'
Seemed like everybody knew he had a habit of messing things up.
When Terry came back to the kitchen twenty minutes later, Dewey had a cup of mixed custard and jam ready, but she must've stopped time by reflex, because suddenly it was hitting the floor instead of her, and she was sitting on the table.
"You can clean that off the carpet tomorrow." she said curtly. Then she clapped her hands and exclaimed, "So, that's Whitney! She's super cute."
Dewey gave her a dark look, "Yeah, yeah, who told you?"
"Who else? Moron. I mean, Marcus." she grinned.
Dewey rolled his eyes. "That weasel."
"What did you expect? More fool you, Dougie." Terry laughed. "It's so cute that she saved you. It's a shame you made her ruin her dress, hopefully you won't ruin her life too. Maybe the Dewey Curse is true after all, Dougie."
"School. You goin' back?"
"Do I have a choice?
His sister laughed, "Well I'm glad you asked! Because I want you to be fully aware that if you think I'm giving up my cosy little life here because of your stupid mistake, little bro, you got another thing coming. I'm working my butt off at work to prove that I earned my promotion. Made ya bed, gotta lay in it, kid."
Dewey said nothing. He could only thin about how that school ball might be his first and last ever. He thought about what it must've looked like to a hall full of students to see the popular class joker suddenly make bursts of electricity stream from his hands, and wearing a suit and tie too. He didn't think he'd mind going back to school. He didn't care about praise and he didn't care about ridicule. He only cared about things going back to the way they were, for Whitney. But there wasn't gonna be much chance of that happening unless Duke actually felt like erasing the minds of.... man, how many students were even there? Duke would pass out before he could do them all. But forget it, man, it wasn't a possibility. Duke wouldn't even do one.
Getting up, Dewey threw his suit jacket over his shoulder and edge around the table for the door.
"You are a terrible sister."
Terry laughed and mock-bowed. "Thank you."
"Your welcome. Don't have kids."
He was almost out the door before her face contorted with outrage. "Hey! You little jerk!"
He just about missed the packet of rice she threw at his head. When he was in his room, he wondered why she didn't stop time to make sure it hit him.
27 January 2014.
If posted, Author's Notes will be HERE.