Chapter 21Mature

Chapter 21

“We’re here,” Logan says as she pulls into the parking lot. Looking out the window, I see we’ll have to walk across the vacant park, over a fence, and across a hundred yards of bare grass until we get to the treeline. We get out of the car and I let Tiffany and Logan walk ahead of Sarah and me, still thinking about what Tiffany told us. I still have hope for us, but….very little. Things seem very bad for us right now, depending on how you look at it, and the best I can hope for is that we both live through this.

I wonder what Sarah thinks about it. Is she worried for us? Scared? Does she think it’s cool? It’s definitely not cool. I do not want to combine bodies with Logan. No thank you. I like my body.

We walk through the park and, upon watching Tiffany and Logan easily scale the ten foot fence, I realize Sarah is not going to be able to do that. Not because she’s human, but because she’s not athletic at all, and she’s very clumsy. I’m going to have to help her.

“Do you want me to boost you to the top and you can wait for me up there?” I ask, looking at her as she stares up at the fence.

She shakes her head. “I want to do it.”

I squint at her. “Are you sure?” I’m not sure why she feels the need to try it, but if she wants to I’m not gonna deny her the right.

“Yes,” she says. She continues to stare up at the fence and I can’t help but smile to myself. This should be good. Logan and Tiffany already jumped to the ground on the other side and are waiting for us. I cross my arms and step back, covering my mouth so Sarah won’t notice me smiling.

She steps forward, puts her hands through some of the holes in the fence, and then begins to climb. She makes it a couple steps up before falling back to the ground. I restrain my laughter and let her try again. And again. The next time she makes it a little further up, but that means when she falls again she can’t catch herself and she lands on her back.

She gets back up again. I walk forward until I’m standing next to her, one hand resting on the fence as I prepare myself to climb it. “Are you sure you don’t want any help?” I ask.

She sighs, blowing her hair out of her face and sticking her bottom lip out. I bite my own to keep from smiling. “Just climb it,” she says. Wait for me at the top.”

I turn back to the fence and within a few seconds I climb the fence, stopping at the top to look back down at Sarah. She’s staring back at me with her hands on her hips, waiting stubbornly.

I wave at her with my hands. “Climb up some and I’ll pull you up.”

“Can you guys hurry up?” Logan asks, to my right. Neither of us respond, but I hear her talking to Tiffany. Or rather, Tiffany talking to her. “Are they always like this?” I hear her ask.

I ignore them and focus on Sarah, who has now started pulling herself gradually up the fence. As soon as she’s within arm’s reach, I stretch down and grab her wrists with both hands. I easily pull her up and her eyes widen as she realizes she’s not touching the fence at all. Her feet kick in the air, but I try to ignore it. I set her on the top of the fence in front of me, her eyes sending daggers at me.

“You okay?” I ask. She nods, and before she can argue with me, I grab her wrists again and pull her off the other side.I hold on and slowly lower her as far down as I can reach, which is kind of hard considering she won’t stop kicking and trying to pull herself back up.

“Whoa, whoa, what are you doing!” she yells, like a scared little kid.

“I’m gonna let you go, okay? Land on your feet.”

“NO! No, pull me back up!”

“I’m gonna let go.”

“Julia, don’t you dare let go of me. She stops moving and glares up at me, an urgent look in her eyes. I feel tempted to just drop her but I hang on so she doesn’t hurt herself. I don’t want to pull her up either though. If she’d just calm down this would be easier.

“You’re, like, three feet from the ground, Sarah. Catch yourself.”

“That’s three feet too many. I’m gonna break a leg.” Oh, good grief, not this again.

“I’m gonna let go of you in the count of three, okay? Three-”

“I thought you said you were counting to three.” I stare at her. “Seriously?”

“Well, make up your mind. I don’t have all day.” Oh, so now she’s in a hurry. I should let go of her and see what says to me then.

But I don’t. I sigh, closing my eyes and reminding myself why I put up with her. “Fine. I’m counting down from three. Happy?” I let go of her and, surprisingly, she manages to land on her feet. Took her long enough. When we come back, she is getting on my back because I am not doing this again.

I spin my legs around and hop off the fence, landing on my feet next to her. She gives me a dirty look but I ignore it.

“Are you two done yet?” Logan asks, sounding annoyed.

“Yeah,” I say, then look at Tiffany. “Lead the way, Master T.”

“Don’t call me that,” Tiffany says, walking away. Sarah laughs and I realize that that’s the first time I’ve acted like the old me in a while. Seems like forever. Sarah and Parker always bring out the joking, childish side of me. Which is why I need them now more than ever.

For the most part we walk in silence, at least until Logan falls into step beside me. “I need to talk to you. Alone. You think Sarah can go talk to Tiffany so she can’t hear us?”

I don’t bother asking why she wants to talk, because there are so many reasons it could be, and I want to talk to her anyway. Instead, I turn to Sarah on my right and whisper, “Do you think you can go distract Tiffany so we can talk?”

Sarah looks at me. “Distract her how? And why?”

“Just talk her ear off. And I’ll tell you later.” Sarah, like the good friend she is, doesn’t question me any further, and speeds up to catch up with Tiffany. I hope Tiffany didn’t hear us talking, but if she did I’m sure she can understand why. Once I hear Sarah start babbling about something or another, I look back at Logan. “What is it?”

I study her movements closely, thinking about how she felt in the woods that day. With the gun up to her head. If I had to guess, that’s probably what she’s going to ask me about. Her memories.

“What did you see? When your head starting hurting and you-you started seeing things. What exactly did you see?” Logan asks, proving me right.

I glance at Sarah and Tiffany, making sure their still talking before I say anything. I get why Logan doesn’t want anyone to know about her memories. Who knows what they would think of her if they did.

“I saw-no, I experienced everything you did and felt when you woke up to find the bodies. The people you killed-I saw them all. And I-I did and felt everything you did that day at the cabin. With..with Diana and everything. And I also saw you with Milton in your jeep calling Elijah’s phone, but you already knew that.” Now that I’m thinking about it, I only really woke up two times as Logan during the memories. The other times I was just there, already standing up. I guess Logan blacked out twice, and the other times she just came to her senses, but it was too late.

Logan’s face seems to pale, and she looks freaked out. I hurry to add more, trying to comfort her.

“No, Logan, don’t worry about it. I’m not going to tell anyone. . . And now you have someone who knows exactly how you feel, exactly how you felt. You have someone to share that with. I. . .I’m so sorry, Logan. I get how you felt in the woods that day. I get why. What I saw..I get it now. It was terrifying and..and I’ve never felt such hopelessness in my life as I did in that memory. But now you have me. We can get through this. Both of us. And I think I have an idea about what to do on Sunday and what to do about Marcus.”

“What is it? Wait, no. No, never mind. Tell me when we’re alone somewhere.”

After that it only takes a few minutes until we get to where Tiffany was taking us, and once we do, we immediately get started, with Sarah watching from the side. It’s just a small clearing she led us to, but far it’s far enough away that no one should get hurt.

“Okay, so I want to work on your control first of all. I know you probably want to learn how to fight, and learn more about your abilities, but learning control is the most important. All right, um...” Tiffany says, thinking, “how about we do this one at a time. Who wants to go first?”

Logan and I look at each other, and I consider going first, but she beats me to it. “What am I doing?”

“I want you to try to shift on your own. Like, right now,” Tiffany says. Great, I think, when she gets to me I’m not going to be able to do anything. That, or I’ll not be able to control myself or some crap.

“Um..okay,” Logan says, shifting uncomfortably. “How do I do it?”

“I’m not giving you any help. I just want to see you try first, and then I’ll tell you what you did wrong.”

I can see Logan clench and unclench her jaw, and she closes her eyes for a moment before opening them again. “I’m probably not going to be able to control myself.”

“That’s fine,” Tiffany says. “Just go for it.”

Then Logan stops moving completely. She closes her eyes, and relaxes her muscles. She stays like that for a long time, in nothing but silence, and I begin to think that this isn’t going to work. But eventually, after what seems like half an hour, she opens her eyes. And they’re glowing. Bright, neon green.

I look down at her hands and find that her claws have come out, and she keeps moving her fingers around like she’s hyper or nervous. Other than her fingers, she hasn’t moved at all. Just looks between us, at Sarah, Tiffany, me. Her muscles are no longer relaxed; she seems tensed up. You can feel it in the air, and it rubs off on the rest of us. What’s she going to do?

“Logan,” Tiffany says cautiously, stepping forward. I hear a growl rising from the back of Logan’s throat. She keeps her eyes on Tiffany. I don’t know what I should do. Should I say something? Should I try to to touch her? Is she going to attack Tiffany? Instead I stand there, dumbfounded with my mouth gaping open.

“Logan,” Tiffany repeats, sticking her hand in the air in front of her carefully. “Breathe. You’re fine. We all know that you don’t really want to hurt anybody. Focus on slowing your heart rate.” No response from Logan. She stops growling. We stand completely motionless, each of us on edge. “Logan?” Tiffany says quietly.

I can hear her breathing from where I stand, along with the wind rustling the leaves off trees that haven’t fallen yet, and along with the flapping wings of birds passing by above us. I think she’ll be okay. She hasn’t done anything yet. Maybe she’s getting control over it.

As soon as that thought crosses my mind, Logan turns and runs the opposite direction, back where we came from. Tiffany takes off after her, saying, “Catch her,” as she passes by me. I completely forget about the fact that we brought Sarah with us, and I take off sprinting after the two of them, leaving Sarah behind.

I need to catch her. I have to catch her. It’s my job. If she makes it to town and it ends up hurting someone...that could be the last straw for her. I remember how she felt, how she feels. I won’t let that happen to her, or let anyone else get hurt. I have to catch her. I will catch her.

I get faster and faster as I fly through the trees, and, eventually, I realize that I’m going so fast that I’m passing Tiffany. I can see Logan up ahead, maybe twenty feet away, and I push myself harder. Tiffany looks shocked when I pass her, but I keep going. I have to catch her.

Something about the feeling of running right now..I don’t know, it just makes me feel so connected to nature, if that makes any sense. All I can hear is the sound of my own heartbeat, my feet hitting the ground, the wind blowing past me and through the trees. It feels like this is where I’m supposed to be. This is where I’m meant to be.

I get within ten feet of Logan when I notice my hands. Or, more specifically, my claws. I must have shifted at some point, not sure when. But it feels good, and it doesn’t feel like-like I’m going to try to hurt someone. Up ahead I see that we’re about to go back into town, to the park where we came from.

I’m the only one who can stop her. It’s my job to catch her. I have to go faster. We’re getting close now.

I gradually pull myself closer, close enough I jump on her as soon as we burst free from woods, into the open field. I tackle her to the ground and she lands on her stomach, but somehow twists underneath me and suddenly I’m looking at her face. Her eyes glow at me and she bares her teeth at me. She roars at me, the same sound I made with Marcus in my living room. Like a lion.

I don’t know what it is, but something rises up inside me and I feel the need to do it back, to do it louder. So I open my mouth and roar back, louder and stronger than hers. Much.

She stops roaring at me and for a split second she looks scared. The next time she blinks her eyes are back to being blue. I stop roaring at her, breathing heavily. I see my claws still sticking out of my hands on her shoulders and I pull myself back, startled by myself. I let it get too far, I let it get too far. God, what if I had hurt her? Or someone else for that matter?

I get to my feet as I hear Tiffany come up behind me. “Are you both okay?”

I look at Logan on the ground, who stares back up at me and nods, then I glance back at Logan. “We’re fine.” My breathing has slowed down and my claws go back into my hands. When my vision returns to normal I assume the rest of me goes back as well.

I stick my hand out and help Logan off the ground. Upon further inspection, I see that there’s someone in the park. Whoever it is is standing up, facing our direction. They must’ve heard us roaring. Well, she must’ve heard us roaring, considering there’s only one person there and she has long hair, so I assume that she’s a girl, although it could be a guy. She, or he, doesn’t look like a kid either way. And she’s still staring at us.

“Let’s go,” Tiffany says. Looking at her, I find that she’s staring at the girl too. Tiffany tugs on Logan’s arm. “Let’s go. Look.” She points out the girl, a good hundred yards away from us, and then Logan starts moving.

“We can talk when we get back,” Tiffany tell us, moving toward the trees.

We follow Tiffany back into woods and as soon as she reaches the treeline we take off at a jog, heading back to the clearing we came from.

At this point I finally remember that we left Sarah at the clearing. I hope she didn’t try following us or anything; hopefully she’s still there.

I don’t know how long it takes us but we eventually make it back there, and relief floods over me when I see Sarah lying on the ground, hands clasped over her stomach. When she hears us coming she puts her hands on the ground and leans up, glaring at us. “That took a while. Everything okay?”

I stop running once I see her and walk the rest of the way. “Everything’s fine. Sorry about that.”

Sarah pushes herself off the ground and starts wiping herself off. “Don’t worry about it, you just had me worried. Please don’t run off like that again.”

“Sorry, you guys,” Logan says sheepishly, staring at the ground as she kick a rock around. “I didn’t mean to do that. I told you I couldn’t control it. It’s my fault.”

“You did fine, Logan,” says Tiffany. “I’ll tell you what you did wrong after Julia tries it out. Don’t blame yourself for it. Nobody got hurt.”

Logan nods and I can only hope that she believes what Tiffany told her. We made her shift, it wasn’t her fault. Hopefully she doesn’t blame herself.

I realize I’ve been staring off while Tiffany was saying something to me and I blink, hard, trying to make myself wake up. “Did you hear me?” she asks.

I shake my head. “Sorry, what’d you say?”

“I said if everyone’s ready we can go ahead and get back to it. No sense wasting precious time. Are you ready?”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry. Let’s do it.”

“Okay. You’re gonna do the same as Logan. Just try to shift to a werewolf and then shift back.” I must have a look on my face because she adds, “Don’t worry, we’ll catch you, too, if something happens.”

Yeah, but I’m faster than everyone here, I think. I don't say that aloud though. Instead I just nod and close my eyes, focusing. At first I start by thinking about something that’ll get my emotions up, but then I realize that that’s probably not the best idea. If I shift because of my emotions, then I probably won’t be able to control them, and therefore, myself. I need to focus on something else that’ll make me shift. Something I can control.

I imagine my eyes glowing, my ears and teeth elongating, my claws coming out. I imagine opening my eyes and having everything look different, like a dog’s eyesight. My heart picks up a little, but enough. I listen to the trees, the birds, the wind, and I feel relaxed. Like earlier, I feel as if this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. In the wild, in nature. It feels so right, I feel so...connected. And it excites me. I want to shift over, I want to feel that exhilarating feeling of running at top speed through the woods. I want to shift over. It feels good. Natural, even.

My heart rate has accelerated enough now that I can shift. I feel tingling in my hands and when I open my eyes, it’s exactly how I imagined it would be. Some of the colors change, and it’s like I’m looking through something that makes it harder to see. Foggy-like. The sun hasn’t set yet, but I imagine when it does, this form of vision will be quite helpful.

“Good, Julia,” Tiffany says. She speaks softly, being cautious like she was with Logan. But unlike Logan, I feel in control. Well, I kind of feel like running, and I’m also craving meat, but that may be because I’m hungry.

My mouth draws into a smile, and I feel actually happy for the first time today. Not because something’s funny, not because I’m with someone else who makes me happy. Because I did something that makes me happy. I finally did something right.

Tiffany seems to catch on to the fact that I’m in control, backing off a little. “You got this?”

I quickly nod, then close my eyes again. All I have to do is shift back. I don’t have any of the doubts I had earlier. Some kind of confidence has come over me and I believe I can do this. I mean, I shifted over without a hitch, right? I’ve gone back and forth a couple times now and I haven’t killed anyone. Well, besides Marshall. And I did want to kill Marcus. And that other dude in the warehouse. But that’s besides the point. I got this. At least I think so.

I imagine my body going back to normal: claws, teeth, and ears retracting. That my vision returns to normal. What really motivates me is my friends and family. They’re probably the only reason I want to go back. Otherwise I might just stay out here forever.

Sarah, Parker, Elijah, my mom. Most of all, Logan. She needs me here.

I reopen my eyes and everything’s back to normal. I did it. And I think I’ve found what’ll keep me from losing control, what’ll keep me rooted in reality.

“That was great!” Sarah squeals. “Did you get it figured out?”

I smile, nodding, a warm feeling flooding over me. “I think so.”

“Okay, so how come I turn into a rabid dog when I try to shift but she does it perfectly?” Logan says, sounding agitated.

I open my mouth, about to answer, but Tiffany beats me to it. “Don’t compare yourself to her. It’s rare that anyone learns this stuff this fast, but since it’s necessary for you two, you’re gonna have to. We’ve yet to see how she handles getting angry, or how she’ll be on the full moon. But for now, it looks like she has a handle on it.

“I think what you two did differently is how you approached yourself to it. Did you use your emotions to shift, or did you do it some other way, like raising your heart rate?”

“I…” Logan starts, then stops herself, closing her mouth. “I used my emotions. I got angry.” Tiffany looks at me expectantly. “I raised my heartbeat,” I answer.

“There you have it,” Tiffany says, looking at Logan again. “You have to control your emotions, don’t let your emotions control you. It gets easier as time goes on, so don’t overthink it. One day you’ll be able to shift back and forth without even thinking about it.” Tiffany seems to make a face after she says that, like she’s confused by what she said. Like she didn’t believe it. Which part did she not believe?

“Yeah,” Logan scoffs, not noticing Tiffany’s expression. I feel bad for Logan, but I’m also really happy that I’ve made it a step forward, a step closer to being able to take care of Marcus.

“Do you guys want to keep practicing this or do you want to work on fighting and we can get back to this later?”

I look to Logan, leaving it up to her. “Later,” she says.

“Okay,” Tiffany says, then goes on to tell us we’ll be learning normal human fighting techniques before anything else. First: self-defense, in a normal way. Second: offensive fighting, also in a normal way. Third: self-defense, but this time against moves being performed by a werewolf. Last: we’ll be in the offensive, this time with modified versions of normal fighting moves, suited for our abilities. I’m kind of excited.

Tiffany asks Sarah to watch her doing the offensive moves that way we can work two at at time. Tiffany shows both Logan and I some self-defense moves, then separates us, me with her, Logan with Sarah. I can’t say that I do good, but I don’t do bad. Logan, however, seems to be doing great. Although she might have a harder time if she was with Tiffany instead of Sarah.

“Sarah, just hit me. It’s not going to hurt me,” I hear Logan saying.

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Sarah returns, but I hear some kind of physical contact so I assume she must’ve hit her somewhere.

And then I’m suddenly on the dirt and grass, my head colliding with the ground. “Ahh,” I groan, rubbing my head and pushing myself off the ground.

I get to my feet, Tiffany watching me. “Pay attention. You can’t get distracted. Let’s do it again.” We go at it again. And again. And again. And again. Until I eventually pick up on all the moves she’s shown me. Logan picked up on all of them a long time ago. It’s taken me an hour to learn these simple moves. I guess she’s better at fighting, and I’m better at shifting.

Then she shows us some basic offensive moves, and we work on that. After however long it takes us to pick up on that, Tiffany pairs us together so we can fight each other.

I do a good job of defending myself, but Logan is strangely good at fighting. She not only uses the moves Tiffany taught us, but she also mixes her own moves in with it, so it’s hard to know what to expect, though I don’t do too bad. I only get hit in the stomach four times, and the face twice. I get knocked to the ground once.

By this time, the sun has set and it’s dark outside, but we continue to work until Tiffany stops us. And even then, she’s just stopping us to tell me I need to do more offense and less defense. So I try to be more aggressive, and I do land a couple hits on Logan, surprising her.

“You guys, it’s getting late, I’m gonna have to leave soon,” Sarah says. We stop fighting and I turn to her. “Do you need a ride?”

“No, I’m just gonna walk from here. It’ll probably take thirty minutes or so.” She grabs her bag off the ground and flops it onto her back, taking several steps to the direction we came from.

“Well, wait a second, Sarah,” I say. “Do you have some way of getting in contact with us since we lost our phones in the wreck in case something happens? I don’t want you to get hurt or anything.”

“Here,” Tiffany says from behind me. She walks around to Sarah and asks for her phone. She presses a lot of buttons then hands the phone back to Sarah. “That’s my number. If you need something call me.”

Tiffany has a cell phone? How does a homeless girl have a cell phone? Logan looks at me, her expression as confused as I feel. Sarah waves goodbye, distracting me, and I shake off the thought. Maybe it’s a work phone or something, because I’m sure she has to have a job to have been able to survive by herself. But what kind of job could a seventeen year old possibly have that would require a work phone?

We fight a little while longer, but at this point we’ve practically perfected all the moves Tiffany showed us. Tiffany stops us, once more, and asks me to try shifting again and see if I can still do it.

I go through the same steps as before, and I shift to and from without a hitch, even faster than before. Now it’s Logan’s turn, and after that, we’ll leave, considering how late it is.

We stand closer to Logan and keep a close eye on her, not wanting her to get as far as the last time if it comes to that. A couple minutes later, she opens her eyes, and they’re glowing like before.

She’s breathing really heavy, her chest visibly going up and down as she inhales and exhales. “Guys, I..I don’t know if I can’t control this. I feel like I’m going to black out.”

“No, you’re not. You’re fine, Logan. Focus on your breathing and keeping your heart rate under control. Nothing else.” Logan closes her eyes again, shaking and hyperventilating still. Then she reopens them, and her eyes are still the same.

“I can’t shift back, I can’t do it!” she wails, obviously under distress.

Something in me pushes me to reach and grab her arm. I feel strangely calm, and I know she can do this just like I did. She has to. And I’m trying to send that to her through my touch, though that’s not going to work. But I do it anyway, hoping against logic I can help her.

She stops breathing and shaking, looking down at my hand on her arm, then back at my eyes. She reaches out with her left arm, the one I’m not touching, and grabs my right hand. She laces her fingers through mine and closes her eyes, as I do mine. I try to send her warm, happy thoughts. Try giving her strength and peace of mind through our touch, which sounds completely insane, but I try anyway; she reached out for my hand for a reason.

Suddenly I hear a sigh of relief, and I open my eyes at the same time Logan lets go of my hand. I let both of my arms fall upon seeing that she’s managed to shift back.

I study her but she only looks at me and smiles, and out of the corner of my eyes I see Tiffany opening her mouth to say something. I glance at her expectantly but before she can say anything her phone goes off in her pocket, a series of high pitched beeping noises in the rhythm of jazz music. Sounds like elevator music.

She closes her mouth, pulls her phone out of her pocket, a nice phone, and answers. “Hello?” A pause. “What?” Another pause. “Where?...Okay, we’re on our way. Don’t go anywhere.” She hangs up and puts the phone back in her pocket.

“What’s going on?” I ask. “Is it Sarah?”

Tiffany nods. “Grab your stuff, we’re leaving. She says someone’s hurt and bleeding at the park and she needs our help. She sounded freaked out so I guess it’s pretty bad.” She grabs her bag off the ground, puts it on her back, and takes off running toward the park, Logan and I chasing after her.

Running through the woods, I notice how cold it’s gotten. My nose is running and the tips of my fingers hurt. We’ve been moving so much that I haven’t noticed the temperature drop.

It seems like only a few minutes until we break through the trees, me now in the lead and sprinting toward the park. Sarah’s on the opposite side of the fence, inside the park. She’s near the entrance and I assume she had to walk around the fence instead of climb it, considering the events from earlier.

I make it to the fence and jump on it from several feet away, landing halfway up and throwing myself over the top. I land on my feet on the other side and continue running. I can see Sarah on her knees hovering over someone lying on the ground.

I race between two swings, and past a few slides and a merry-go-round all within a few seconds. I hear the fence rattle behind me at the same time I get to Sarah, presumably Logan and Tiffany just now reaching the fence.

“Sarah! Sarah! What happened? Who-” I stop once I recognize the girl on the ground. Rachel, from school. She’s in my grade and has been to the same school as me for years, but we never really got along when we were younger. Now we just ignore each other, hanging out with our own groups of people.

Her stomach seems to be...slashed open, I guess you could say. She’s bleeding. A lot. She’s unconscious, with her long hazel hair thrown across her neck. This is bad.

“You can help her, right?” Sarah whimpers. She has tears in her eyes and she’s looking at me hopefully.

I want to tell her yes, but seeing how bad her injuries are and with the fact that I can’t heal people, I don’t know if she’s going to make it. A better question is what happened? This doesn’t look like it was done by a knife. It looks like claw marks, and I’m well aware of what those look like by now.

“I don’t know, Sarah,” I say. I bite back the urge to throw up and force myself to pull Rachel’s torn, blood-soaked shirt up, revealing the wound even more. Sarah gasps and I turn to look for Tiffany. She, followed by Logan, reaches us as soon as I look.

“Can you heal her?” I ask, looking at Tiffany. She stares down at Rachel lying flat on her back. Tiffany shakes her head while saying, “I don’t know. I’ve had to use my powers several times recently. I don’t know if I have enough strength to heal her. But I’ll try.”

She gets down on her knees beside me and I scoot over a little to make room for her. She gently places her hands over Rachel’s torn-open stomach, her eyes clenched shut. We wait silent and hopeful, but the longer we wait for something to happen the less likely it seems. The muscles in Tiffany’s arms tense up, but eventually she pulls her arms back.

“There’s nothing I can do for her. The best we can do is take her pain until...until it’s over. It’s-It’s too late for her.”

“No,” I say, tears streaming down her face. “There’s gotta be something we can do. There’s gotta be..” I trail off as I see the look on her face. There is nothing we can do. We got here too late.

My internal voice, which was previously screaming at me to run, or to turn and throw-up everything in my stomach,or to cover my eyes, goes silent. I know what I have to do. I grab Rachel’s hand from the ground, going to ask Tiffany how to take her pain, but as soon as I touch her skin sharp pains shoot up my arm and I can’t move, can’t speak. It goes up my arms, down my chest, and into my abdomen, the same place that Rachel’s wounds are. Dear god! Oh, god, god, god! 

The pain is unbearable, but I don’t let it go. I can’t let go. My body starts shaking and I numbly hear myself cry out as I start leaning to the side. My vision dims around the edges and I feel as if I’m going to black out.

Just as fast as it came, the pain is gone, and I lie gasping on the ground, my whole body trembling and drenched with sweat.

“That’s enough,” Tiffany’s voice says. My vision clears and I sit up slowly, fully realizing I was crying. I feel kind of embarrassed about it, but no one looks like they care about that. “You did all you could.”

I look down at Rachel, figuring I’d see her chest no longer moving, but am surprised when it is. In fact, she seems to be doing better than before, but I’m sure her time is almost up. Nothing left to do but wait. God, her parents, her parents, they’ll be heartbroken. She’s so young, how did-how did this happen? Who did this?

Suddenly I can’t hold it back anymore and I spin around, gagging at the ground but there’s nothing to throw up. I don’t think I can look at her anymore. Just like all those bodies I saw in Logan’s memories, just like Diana. Oh, go-

“Oh my god,” Tiffany says. “What..that-that’s not possible. Julia.” She tugs on my shoulder. “Julia, look at this.”

“I can’t look at her anymore,” I say, panting. My eyes are clenched shut as I try to force the image out of my head.

“No, Julia, look,” Sarah says softly. Something in her voice makes me do as they say, already knowing what I’ll see. But when I turn around, it’s not what I expected. Rachel’s’s...healing. On its own. It hasn’t completely healed when I see it, but not ten seconds later and all signs of her being hurt are gone. The blood is still on her stomach, the ground, and her clothes, but it’s no longer coming out of her. She’s completely fine, and her complexion seems to be regaining some of its color.

“What-what’s happening?” I say, not really expecting an answer.

Rachel’s fingers begin to twitch and everyone watches, stunned. Sarah whispers her name. “Rachel?”

Silence. Her fingers stop moving, and I start to worry something happened. Suddenly she shoots up so quick she almost cracks me in the head with hers. She’s alive. She somehow healed herself, and she’s alive.

The End

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