“Hey, Adelaide! Think fast!”
Adelaide turned, ducked a punch from Francis and swept her arm up into his chest. It passed through and she rolled with it, coming up on the other side and turning, arm snapping around to catch him in a headlock. She caught a glimpse of his face, suddenly grinning, then her legs came out from under her. Twisting her body as she fell she saw Lee standing a little way off, his face screwed up in concentration.
“Hey,” she rolled out, “no fair!”
“Yeah,” Francis moved in and went to punch her as she got to her feet. She caught his arm and flipped him into the ground, “but who says we have to play fair?”
“We’re a team right?” Lee said, advancing slowly, “in that fight there was five against two, and that should have given us an advantage. It didn’t, why not?”
“I don’t know,” Adelaide ran forward. Lee didn’t even bother to dodge her punch as Francis leapt through her and grabbed her fist in his hands, spinning her around with his momentum and sending her stumbling away.
“We each fought separately, right?” Francis said, “as though it were our own individual battles. Lee and I have been thinking that this just might be the missing ingredient. So we decided to work on some combo moves.”
He jumped and Lee grunted with effort, pushing Francis through the air so that he fell down right on top of Adelaide. She side-stepped and her elbow caught Francis in the cheek.
“You didn’t tell me you had the power to make everything sound really geeky Francis,” Adelaide smiled at him, “do your abilities never end?”
He growled and charged. Adelaide went to meet him head on with a haymaker, put her hand crashed into empty air like it was a brick wall. Francis slammed into her and they both fell, tumbling onto the grass in a heap.
Francis stood up triumphantly and punched the air.
“Hah!” He said, breathless, “That was uh-may-zing!”
“Amazing is not the word,” said Adelaide from the floor, “cheating is more like it.”
“Ah,” he shrugged, “you just can’t take defeat.”
Getting to her feet Adelaide brushed blades of grass from her clothes.
“I’ve got to admit,” she said after a while, “that was pretty impressive. You’re probably right, we’ve never really worked as a team yet. Come to think of it… ‘combo moves’ sound like a pretty good idea. You two really had something going there.”
“Mm hmm,” Lee nodded, “problem of course being…”
“Lydia, yup,” Adelaide sighed, “I haven’t seen her since then, I reckon she isn’t even coming in to school.”
“Uh,” Francis groaned, “yeah. I don’t know who the hell that Alexis kid thinks he is but he just made a bad situation a hundred times worse.”
“At least our most reluctant member has agreed to play ball,” Adelaide put her head to one side, “where is she by the way?”
“She’s coming,” Lee looked around, “Francis gave her a call.”
“You two getting along now?”
“She’s failed to annoy me for the last forty-eight hours,” he muttered, “but that’s mostly because I pretty much haven’t seen her in the last forty-eight hours. But sure, we’ll get by. Provided we keep communication to a minimum.”
“Cool,” Adelaide grinned, “Lee… Combo move!”
Francis’ eyes widened as Adelaide swept towards him and grabbed him around the midriff. She twisted and threw him, and Lee’s mind spun him through the air. He smashed into the ground, a tangled heap.
“Dammit Lee!” He shouted.
“How did you know I was reading your mind?” Lee looked at Adelaide curiously.
“I guessed,” she shrugged, “plus you grinned like an idiot after I outlined the plan.”
Francis, getting to his feet, rolled his eyes and walked over to them.
“Okay,” he said, “rally round. We can find Lydia, we can convince her that Alexis is a moron and that she shouldn’t listen to him. Then we can get back to fighting crime with our new, sweet combo moves.”
“I can’t believe I’m in a team with a guy who says ‘new, sweet combo moves,'” Adelaide said.
“Fine,” said Francis, “but check this!”
He jumped up into the air and then dropped towards the floor. As he did so he stuck his legs out and Lee spun him around, knocking Adelaide off her feet. As she fell she stuck out her hands and somersaulted over onto her feet.
Francis hopped up and moved towards her. She punched him but her hand passed through, then Lee’s fist came through his head and cracked her on the skull.
“Ouch,” she winced, “fine. You’ve made your point. You’re pretty good at this.”
“Damn right we are,” he folded his arms.
“I’m doing all the work,” Lee whispered.
They went and sat down on a little grassy hillock, catching their breath. Adelaide looked at the other two. Francis looked bruised and pleased with himself. Lee looked laid-back.
“Hey guys,” came a voice from behind them. They looked up. Heading towards them across the grass came a figure in a hoody.
“Oh hey,” Lee waved.
Emma sat down next to them and pulled down her hood. She ignited a hand and raised an eyebrow at them.
“So, what have you idiots been doing without me? Beating each other up I shouldn’t wonder. Need a hand Francis? ‘Cause I bet I can do a number on you.”
Francis scowled but said nothing. Without warning there came a thump from behind them. Emma, who was sitting down so that she could see the path that snaked through the park, froze. Adelaide turned around in the heavy, clinging silence that followed in order to see what was behind them.
Sprawled on the grass behind them was Alexis. Evidently he had fallen out of a thick clump of foliage that stood next to the path. He stared up at them, wide-eyed.
“Hi,” he said.
“What are you doing here?” Adelaide asked.
“I was…” Alexis thought about it, “spying on you. With Anna. My friend. She just… ran off. I don’t know why. Kind of threw me off balance.”
All eyes turned to Emma.
“Dammit,” she said quietly.