To wake up and find yourself lying inside a wheelbarrow is always a disconcerting thing. Certainly it was for Emma, who panicked, flailed around and fell out the side. Lydia and Anna, who had been carrying the wheelbarrow between them, stopped.
“So,” Anna said, “you’re awake.”
Emma met her eyes. They were as implacable as a brick wall. She shrunk back, trying to disappear into the air. Memories of earlier came flooding back to her. What the hell had she done? She’d been angry, she remembered that much. She did stupid things when she was angry.
“You…” she scrambled to her feet.
“Heard everything,” Anna said, “yeah, I guess I did.”
“I don’t know what it is with you,” Anna interrupted her. She looked over at Lydia, who remained silent and unable to meet Emma’s gaze, “why you have to hurt everyone you come into contact with. Do you enjoy it? Is that what does it for you? Needless pain?”
“No I just,” Emma raised her hands in protest, “I just…”
She couldn’t think of anything to say. For a few seconds Anna just stared at her, then she gestured to Lydia.
“What about that hot-chocolate then? Hopefully Alexis has found out how to get the machine to work.”
Lydia nodded and followed Anna towards the house. It was only then that Emma realised she was in Anna’s garden. Moving through the french windows at the back of the house Anna turned and gave her a cold look. Emma suddenly found herself running towards them, desperate to say something, anything. Then all her energy left her and she sunk to the ground, exhausted.
Thoughts, words, pictures and shapes rushed through Emma’s mind as she lay there, staring up at the sky. Thoughts of fire, words of fire, shapes that twisted and crackled and spat. Without warning her hands ignited and the grass around her sizzled and left off steam. It started to rain. Water stung Emma’s eyes as she lay there, and slowly her fires went out.
Sitting up, she looked down at her hands. Normal, human hands. Just normal, human hands.
“Lydia forgives you,” Emma looked up and saw Anna walking over to her, “so does Alexis.”
Sitting down next to Emma, Anna didn’t look at her.
“I don’t though,” she said quietly, “they thought I’d be angry at them, for goodness sake. As if I’d defend my girlfriend even if she was some kind of freaky murderer. What is wrong with you Emma? I was trying to make this work, then you just went and messed it all up.”
Neither of them spoke for a few seconds. Then Emma said something quietly, under her breath.
“What?” Anna looked at her, voice loaded with accusation.
“I said,” Emma repeated more loudly, “do you think I asked to be like this?”
Now it was Anna’s turn to be tongue-tied.
“I don’t want to hurt people,” Emma said, so quietly her words were almost lost to the patter of the rain, “I’ve never wanted to hurt people. But I do. My uncle has a burn down the side of his face from when I was a baby. He says he doesn’t mind but he’s never looked at me the same since. Do you know how it is to be feared? To be hated? You treat me like I’m some kind of enigma to be decoded now that you know I’m super-human, but you don’t know anything. You don’t know how hard it is to keep it in, to bottle it up, to stop myself from hurting someone so badly they never recover.”
Emma saw that Anna was about to say something. She raised a finger and placed it onto Anna’s lips, and shook her head.
“I know what I did earlier was wrong, and I’m sorry, I really am,” she murmured, “it’s just… I was angry, so angry. Lydia nearly revealed to someone what I was. I don’t want to be that, Anna. Not in front of the whole school. I don’t want to be hated and feared. I don’t want people to cross the street to avoid me. So I did the only thing I knew, I flipped my lid and threatened to kill somebody. Do you see how it happens? How the cycle repeats itself?”
Anna just stared at her, then she leaned over slowly and put an arm on Emma’s shoulder. Emma couldn’t look at her, she didn’t want to look at her.
“What you did was stupid,” said Anna after a while, “but everyone does stupid things. I’m sorry, I’ve done some stupid things too.”
Emma nodded slowly. She felt Anna put her head on her shoulder gently.
“We can’t do this,” she said after a while.
“This,” Emma murmured, “we can’t do it. I hurt everyone I come into contact with, Anna. Don’t you see that? Because I try to stop it, and it never works. It’s just a circle of pain that gets worse and worse and worse. I can’t do this to you.”
A pause. Then Anna reached up and pulled Emma’s head round to face her.
“Don’t be a moron,” she said.
“I’m not,” Emma frowned, suddenly a little annoyed.
“Yes you are,” Anna replied, “you think I can’t tell when you’re being a moron? Well, you are. So stop, moron. Just because you could hurt me doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I love skiing, that’s kind of dangerous. I love rock climbing, that’s pretty dangerous. I love biscuits, they’re super dangerous. Dangerous is cute.”
Emma looked at her.
“You really think that?” She said.
“Of course I do,” Anna nodded, “moron.”
Emma laughed. Then Anna leaned forward and they kissed. It lasted for a good minute or so.
“So you forgive me?” Emma said, pulling away.
“Not entirely,” Anna said.
“What do I have to do?” Emma raised and eyebrow.
“You need to give something back,” Anna said, “you need to join your weird little group. You need to go fight some crime. You need to let all that crazy angry stuff out. You need to be dangerous, for me. Got it?”
She extended her hand, Emma shook it.