Part 13 – Shooting the Messenger.

“Hey come on!” Emma threw her arms wide, “what am I doing wrong? Just tell me what I’m doing wrong and I’ll try to change.”

There was no reply. Anna had already turned the corner and vanished. Emma watched the spot where she’d been, her breath short and angry. Spinning around she kicked a bin in frustration. The urge to just let her hands burst into flame and wrap them around someone’s neck was overwhelming. Emma marshalled herself. She had to keep calm, keep cool. She was the coolest, she could do it. She did it every day for goodness sake!

“Hey Emma!”

She turned. Lee was walking up to her, his hand raised in greeting. Behind him scuttled Lydia, holding her jaw in place. It already looked as though it was healing, though the disastrous fight had been only two days ago.

“What are you doing here?” Emma hissed when Lee neared, “Why can’t you get the message? I do not want to be your friend. I do not want anything to do with you. Any of you.”

Lee smiled at her infuriatingly and shook his head.

“Listen,” he said, “let’s just keep it cool, huh? Lydia here just wants to talk to you. I have been pulled in as… a translator. She needs someone to be able to predict what she’s going to say if she wants to be able to communicate.”

“Mmf,” Lydia concurred, her jaw flapping about oddly. Lee looked at her askance.

“Careful,” he said, “you don’t want to damage that.”

Lydia nodded sheepishly and lifted her hand to hold the bone back in place. Emma groaned.

“Look,” she said, “I don’t have time for this. You may not have gathered it but I’m going through some relationship troubles at the moment, the last thing I need is people seeing that I’m hanging out with you weirdos.”

“Oh,” Lee’s eyebrows shot up and he nodded enthusiastically, “don’t worry. That was exactly what Lydia wanted to talk to you about!”

The lizard glared at him and let go of her jaw in order to make a series of impassioned ‘mmfs.’ Lee watched her for a few seconds, confused, then the light of full comprehension dawned in his eyes.

“Maybe not…” he said, suddenly aware that the cat was out of the bag, “exactly that. But you know… that sort of thing. In that kind of area.”

“Wait,” there was amusement in Emma’s voice, she looked at Lydia, then at Lee, incredulous, “is she trying to ask me out?”

More mmfs and arm waving. Lee shook his head wildly and raised his hands.

“Whoa! No no no, that is not what is happening at all.”

Emma wasn’t really listening to him.

“Of course… it all makes sense now. The sudden change of mind about joining the team… it was because I was part of it wasn’t it? You seriously thought that you’d have a chance with me?”

There was a long, awkward pause. Lydia was staring at Emma, her arms hanging by her sides, her jawbone hanging out at and angle. Then she looked over at Lee. For a seconds he just nodded and looked understanding. Then his eyebrows shot up to the top of his head. Then, without even an ‘mmph’ of goodbye, Lydia stormed off down the street. Emma watched her go, stunned.

“What was that about?” She looked over at Lee. He shrugged.

“It’s quite complex,” he said, “the mind speaks in a whole different language to the body, and it’s not exactly always easy to turn it into something that other humans can understand. From what I can gather Lydia definitely didn’t have a crush on you.”

“What?” Emma leaned forward, “but what about all the odd stares? The fact that she joined your team of losers only after she saw me, what’s that all about?”

“That may be because,” Lee was evidently a little hesitant, “well it may possibly because in a way she… and these are definitely her words not mine, so don’t hold me to this. I suppose you could, actually she did say in most vehement terms – uh – as I was saying I think it’s possible that she, rather than having fallen in love with you actually…”

“Just spit it out.”

“She hates your guts.”

“Okay,” said Emma after a pause, her eyes widening, “I’ll admit that’s new.”

“She’s known that you’re super-human for a long time,” Lee explained, “I think -this bit wasn’t clear- but I think she can smell it on you with some kind of lizard sense. I don’t know. Anyway, she’s always known and it’s always made her really angry. Angry that you can hide it and she can’t, angry that you’re popular and she isn’t, angry that you’re beautiful and she’s not.”

There was a sickening silence. Emma’s heart plummeted like a stone.

“Her words not mine,” Lee raised his hands and grinned, seeing Emma’s expression, “don’t shoot the messenger and all that. Or don’t burn his face off… something along those lines. Anyway the whole ‘Lydia secretly hates you thing’ isn’t exactly what we wanted to talk to you about it was just me… massively messing up and you totally getting the wrong end of the stick that -uh- meant this things didn’t go so great. Listen, what we really came here to say… the fight was… nasty. We all got pretty badly beaten up. If you need help, well, we’re here. We want to help you. We want to be your friends.”

Emma had sunk down during the conversation and was sitting on a wall, looking up at Lee. For the briefest of seconds a weary and sardonic smile flickered across her face.

“Okay,” she said, after a while, “The team, is it…”

“Still together?” Lee shrugged, “Francis has been trying to get into contact with Adelaide but she’s not answering her phone. But if we ever do reform and do some more crime fighting…”

“I could maybe help you,” Emma nodded, then she glared at Lee, “but nobody will know it’s me right?”

“Right,” Lee’s face broke out in a radiant grin and he turned to go. “By the way,” he said over his shoulder, “I don’t think it would work between you and Lydia anyway. I don’t think you’re really her type.”

“You don’t think I’m really her type,” said Emma.

“No,” Lee shook his head, oblivious to the sarcasm, “I reckon her type probably has scales.”

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