Yolande sat in the school secretary’s office, waiting to be called in by the school headmaster. She did her best to ignore Valerie who was sitting on the other side of the room, holding her bloodied nose in a bloody mess of tissues. She was good at giving attitude and mocking her accent, but she’d never been into fights the way Yolande had.
After an eternity, the door to the principal’s office opened and he stepped out only a step.
“Yolande Robinson?” He called, disapproval clear in his voice.
“I’m here.” She answered.
She got up and they went inside, closing the door behind them. Her grandmother Yvonne was already sitting there. The black octogenarian Haitian lady had always been her primary caregiver, although her parents were around and well, they had never truly been there; Yolande was nothing but an accident for her career oriented parents.
She sat down on the chair next to her grandmother and slouched down.
“I assume you understand why you’ve been summoned to my office.” The headmaster began. “This is the third time this year alone that you’ve gotten into a fight on school grounds and hurt another pupil.”
“She deserved it, she was being a racist cunt.”
Her grandmother glared at her.
“Normally, this would be ground for permanent expulsion but the board is swaying my hand due to your father’s very generous contribution to this school. This time and this time only, you’ll instead be suspended for a period of ten school days, the next time I see you in my office, we will have no choice but expel you.
Of course we can’t simply let we stay at home, you would probably see that as vacation. You’ll have to write a two page letter of apology and enough homework to keep you busy will be assigned, which your grandmother has agreed to pick up tomorrow. In the meantime you aren’t allowed on school property. Is that clear?”
“Yes.” Yolande grumbled.
“Alright you can go.”
She and her grandmother left, walking quietly to the car.
“Your father has been told what happened. He said he’ll be there tonight.” Yvonne said as her granddaughter settled in the passenger’s seat.
Holidays and the times when she was in trouble were the only time her parents came into her life and gave her any attention, otherwise they were happy throwing money her way and pretending it was enough.
“Baby, what’s going on with you?”
“Nothing...” Yolande answered, she knew her grandmother wouldn’t understand if she told her...
The rest of the drive home was completely quiet and once home Yolande simply sat on the sofa until her father arrived hours later, looking absolutely furious.
“I just spent the last three hours negotiating with that girl’s family to get them to not to press charges against you.”
‘“Whatever.” She answered, it wasn’t like her parents couldn’t afford bribing Valerie’s family.
“Since it seems you need to think about the consequences of your actions; you’ll spend the next two weeks in your room. Give me your electronics.” She didn’t resist. “And tonight, you’re going to bed without dinner.”
“Fine, I’m not hungry anyway.” She walked to her room.
“I’m not done young lady.”
“I don’t care!” She snapped at him, slamming the door to her room behind herself.
She crashed down on the bed. Just outside her door, she could hear her father and grandmother talking about her, her father was more angry than concerned about his daughter. The argument continued for a while until her father stormed out, driving away in his car and back to his and his wife’s condo.
“Yol?” Yvonne asked, opening the door just a bit. “Are you hungry?” She asked in defiance of her son’s orders.
Her grandmother came into the room and sat on her bed.
“What’s going on with you? I can see you’ve been hurting for the past month. Is it because of your friend Kylie? She hasn’t been here for a while, did you two fight?”
Yolande didn’t bother correcting her grandmother’s misuse of pronouns. She knew that she wouldn’t get it anyway.
“I don’t want to talk about it…”
Her grandmother sighed and gave her a hug before leaving her alone without another word. Yolande stayed in bed for some time, just feeling numb. She heard her grandmother leave and she stirred from her torpor.
She had to get out. Her powers awakened and she made herself pass through space. She reappeared on the other side of town in the newly developed sector of town and walked up to one of the copy and pasted duplex, knocking on the right side door. After a moment, a middle aged italian man opened the door.
“Hey…” Yolande said. “I’m sorry to bother you, Lorenzo… I know it’s getting late...”
“You know you’re welcome here anytime you need Yolande.”
“Any words on Ky?”
Her heart sank, it had been over a month.
“I see…” She answered after a moment.
“Would you like to come in? There’s a pie in the oven, It’ll be ready in fifteen minutes.”
She hesitated before finally nodding and he led her inside of his home, going into the kitchen where his wife Isabelle and remaining foster child Raphael were talking. As they saw Yolande, Isabelle got up and gave her a hug.
Of everyone in her life, on Ky’s fosters knew about their relationship, Yolande had never worked out the strength or motivation to tell her parents or her grandmother. She knew they wouldn’t approve.
“Do you mind if I go in Ky’s room?”
She sat down on Ky’s bed, it still had the crazy quilt she’d made for them as a birthday gift. She lied down, her face buried in the pillow. She’d hoped to smell Ky, but all that remained was the the faded aroma of laundry detergent.
After a few minutes, Lorenzo came in holding a pair of plates with pie. He set down a portion for her on the bedside dresser. Yolande dug into it without appetite.
“You must hate me… It’s all my fault.” Yolande said after a moment of silence.
“I don’t blame you Yolande. I’m sure you both had your reasons for what you and Ky did. And I know that meeting you was the best thing that ever happened to Ky, you made them so much happier. If we really did hate you, we would have told the police about your identity.”
“Thank you.” She said, her voice shaky. “I should go back, I’m not supposed to be out.”
“Alright. Come back anytime you need, our home is your home.”
He picked up her plate and leftover and walked out of the room. She didn’t bother hiding, instead teleporting away right then and there.
Seeing Ky’s family hadn’t helped her, it had only freshened her wounds and feeling of loss. She knew how to quiet them...
Yolande reappeared in an alleyway just across where she wanted to go. She hadn’t been there in months, ever since she had promised Ky that she would stop, but it didn’t matter; Ky wasn’t there for her anymore.
She walked up to the liquor store, she knew the owner, he secretly sold to minors, but found the doors closed. She was too late, it was closed for the night.
That didn’t stop her.
She teleported herself inside and she opened the first bottle she could get her hand onto, not caring what it was. She brought it to her lips and cheap whiskey came pouring down her throat like water. Soon enough, the warm buzz of alcohol filled her body; numbing her pain just like it had so many times before.
She wasn’t sure how long she stayed, just drinking and pacing around the store, but the door opened, a policeman coming in and facing her.
“Police, on the ground!”
She could have easily left, even drunk using her ability was child’s play, it already offered her safe destinations but she ignored it. She didn’t care enough to run away; she had nothing to run back to… She weakly stumbled to her feet and let the bottle drop, hitting the ground and spilling what little remained inside of it.
“I said on the ground!” The officer shouted, raising his weapon in her direction, his finger remaining on the trigger guard.
“Just chill for fuck’s sake.” She said, awkwardly lowering herself.
Before the officer could cuff her, an arm appeared out of the wall, grabbing onto the his weapon and ripping it out of his hand. Another appeared and dragged him to the wall, holding him there, elbow at his throat.
“This is officer Swanson, I need--” He didn’t finish his sentence as Vertebrae leaped right in front of him hissing. He froze at the sight of the protean girl, her bladed tail point rose to his cheek, tracing the skin.
“Quiet.” She snarled at him and ripped his radio off, crushing it to pieces before turning her head toward Yolande.
Vertebrae grabbed Yolande and carried her away, somewhere along the way, she drifted into unconsciousness.
Yolande woke up in a bed at the Rogues’ crash space. It wasn’t much, just two rooms in the basement of an old condemned cannery set up as an improvised hideout and supervillain base.
“She’s awake.” Vertebrae said in her perpetually raspy voice. She was laying down on a mattress opposite that of Yol. Of the rogues, she was the only one who called the crash space home as like so many like her, she didn’t have a family anymore.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Limb asked. “You’re lucky we were monitoring dispatches and got you out in time.”
“I didn’t ask you to save me.” She said, getting to a sitting position. Her head was buzzing and her mouth felt dry, she knew the all too familiar sign of being hungover.
“Did you want to be arrested and sent to jail?”
“If you hadn’t maybe I would now be with Ky… Thanks for ruining that.”
“You’re not the only one who’s lost a friend. I lost one of my best friends when Pat got arrested, am I doing stupidly suicidal things? No. Do you know why? Because I know Pat wouldn’t want me to.”
“Oh my god, just shut up already. I don’t care.” Yol answered, crashing back down and hiding her face under the pillow. Once her head stopped buzzing, she got up and teleported herself back home.
She opened her drawer, under the pile of undies was an envelope, she opened it and let the flash drive fall into her palm, holding it tight. It held the only clue she had about Ky’s location; hidden behind an unbreakable encryption...
Limb’s words came back to mind.
Ky wouldn’t want her to sacrifice herself for their sake...