Part 41 – Lizard Beats Fire.

Emma sat on the bench, leaning against the wall. She smiled to herself. Man, it was good to get away from those weirdos. Their… stuff… had evidently been rubbing off on her. It was good to have herself back.

“Hey,” Rick sat down next to her, “what’s up?”

“Nothing,” she replied, “which is the good part.”

He glanced over at her sharply.

“I mean what have you been doing?” He asked, shifting his position a little awkwardly, “I haven’t seen you in ages.

“Oh, huh,” Emma nodded, “yeah. Uh… well. I was -uh- just, you know, not feeling it.”

“Right,” Rick extended the vowel and narrowed his eyes, “not feeling… what?”

Emma’s blissful calm was slowly vanishing. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She was supposed to just slip seamlessly into her flipping social life. Rick wasn’t supposed to question things. She furrowed her brow.

“I broke up with Anna,” she said, “I was dealing with that.”

“Oh yeah,” Rick seemed satisfied. Emma smirked to herself. She’d always been able to read him like a book. Rick had a crush on her, that much she knew. Anna had been a thorn in his side since they’d started dating. Introducing a little hope was sure to make him forget anything else. Time to shoot the bird down.

“I’m back with her now though,” she shifted her position casually, “so all’s good, right?”

“Right,” Rick’s face fell. He was hilarious, like a dog she could order about as she chose.

They sat together for a while, watching the rest of the school pass, coming from or heading to the canteen. The rest of their crowd of friends were late. It irritated Emma, especially since Rick was neither interesting nor funny, but she could wait. It had been a while since she’d seen Anna.

“Hey look,” Rick snorted, “it’s lizard face.”

Looking up Emma saw Lydia walking past them in the midst of the crowd. She was glancing around, searching for something. Emma froze. She tried to shrink into her clothes, become invisible. It was too late. Lydia had begun to push through the throng towards them, stretching her arm out. Next to her Emma noticed Rick stiffen. Joke as he might, she knew Lydia creeped the hell out of him.

“Emma!” Lydia reached them, “We need to talk.”

For a second Emma didn’t know what to stay. She felt a throbbing in her temple, thumping over and over again in her head. A cold sweat ran down her neck. She resettled herself in her seat, sat straighter.

“I’m sorry,” she said coldly, keeping her voice calm, “have we met?”

Lydia paused, a look of dismay flickering across her features. Then she shook her head and blinked.

“What?” The usual stutter crept into her voice, “O-of course w-we’ve met, right?”

Rick stood up, folded his arms and frowned, he looked at Emma with a questioning eye.

“She’s joking, right?”

“Yeah,” Emma nodded and stood up too. Without thinking her hands became fists. No, she struggled to stop the anger that beat inside her chest, “but for some reason, I’m not laughing. What the hell are you doing lizard-face?”

For a moment, Lydia looked as though she was about to burst into tears. Rick stepped over to her, reached out and shoved her. Not hard, just on the shoulder. But Lydia froze. Her eyes flickered shut. When they opened, her pupils had shrunk to tiny, thin slits. She looked up at Emma and her tongue flickered out of her mouth, tasting the air.

“Lizard-face,” it wasn’t a question, “how dare you.”

“You heard,” Rick said, leaning close, “lizard face. Get lost.”

Lydia opened her mouth. Wide. So wide Rick jumped back with a little yelp of fright.

“Yooou caaan taaalk,” she gurgled with anger, glaring at Emma, her voice no longer human, “Wiiith yooour stuuupid friiiends. Dooo theeey knooow? Dooo theeey? Thaaat yooour aaas suuuper-huuuman aaas III aaam?”

There was a deadly silence. Rick looked back at Emma. She couldn’t meet his eyes and stared fixedly at the ground. Her voice, when it came, was hoarse.

“Get away from here,” she said, “take your lies and get away from me.”

She raised a fist. Rather than recoiling Lydia cocked her head and a monstrous grin slipped onto her face. She leaned in close.

“What are you going to do,” she hissed, her mouth tight, “burn me? Right here in the middle of the school grounds. Just try it.”

Emma curled her lip. She turned and motioned to Rick.

“Let’s go,” she muttered. They walked away, melting into the crowd. Lydia watched them go. Her heart had suddenly started to beat faster. She should have felt triumphant. She didn’t. She felt terrified. The look Emma had given her before they went… it was a look of pure rage, undiluted and perfect.

“Hey,” Emma reached out as she hurried away and tapped Rick’s shoulder, “you don’t seriously believe her do you?”

“What?” Rick smiled, “No. No. No.”

There was something in his voice, something like fear, that suggested he was lying. He turned and looked away, his face clouding.

“Look,” he murmured, “I better go. Got chemistry.”

He hurried off. Emma waited till he was out of sight. Then she broke off from the crowd and flitted off down a corridor leading to the art rooms. She stopped, looked around, made sure no one was looking. Then she screamed.

It was a quiet scream, a scream not of fear, but fury. The fury that had been waiting within her to get out for years. Her hands exploded in flame. She glared down at the embers.

Why? Why the hell did it have to be like this? Why did she have to be like this? She shoved her hands into her pockets, forcing the flames away with her mind. Stay calm, stay calm. She didn’t have to be this way. She could be different. There was only one thing stopping her.

“Freaks,” she said to herself, walking back out into the crowd, “stupid freaks. I’m going to kill them.”

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