Chapter Six

The fortnight of early Spring had decided not to extend itself, so the walk from Wendyís, where theyíd parked the car, to the cinema was a cold one. The dark sky had clouded over, and the odd flake of snow drifted lazily down, melting before it hit the ground.

"It doesnít snow in April at home," Susy said wistfully. "At least," she amended, "not very often."

"Youíre complaining?"

"Yes, actually. This country doesnít seem to be able to sort itself out. Warmth in March, snow in April," she sighed with mock despair.

"Thatís a very sweeping generalisation."

"Yeah, and all generalisations are false."

"Heh. But at least we can rely on our weathermen and donít talk about it all the time."

"All right. But how was dear old Michael Fish supposed to know we were going to catch the edge of a hurricane? Never happened before. Anyway, snow is for January, and maybe February, so that when you look out of the window and see the back garden covered with a white blanket you just want to run and make snow angels, and do roly-polyís and cartwheels. It looks so thick and welcoming, even if it is freezing."

"Well, I never seen that." He looked uncomfortable.

{Change the subject,} she thought. {This is obviously not a good move.}

{Youíre supposed to be cheering her up. Get a grip.} He mentally punched himself. {Think of something else to talk about.}

"What do you think of the new Marilyn Manson CD?" he said quickly.

She shrugged ."Itís all right. Just more blokes in makeup yelling into microphones. Whatís new?"

"What do you mean?!? Whatís NEW?!? Heís the voice of a generation! A whole new morality!"

"Not really," Susanne replied calmly. "I mean, weíve had Sepultura do that already. He just infuriates the Christian right with his views on abortion, and his ĎOh yeah, I worship the devilí crap."

"You have got to be kidding, chica! Crap?"

"I went to their Blackpool gig. It wasnít exactly impressive. He looked like a prat if you ask me."

Angelo stuck his hands in his pockets and said nothing.

"Alice Cooper plays golf," Susy said.

After the film, they walked back through town.

Passing a bar, Angelo suddenly said, "Do you mind if we go in here, chica?"

Susy looked at him. "Even in England Iím not old enough to drink, Angelo. Not that that ever stopped me, of course," she added with a wry smile.

"Not for a drink," he said, shifting from foot to foot. "For a..." It was ridiculous; a normal bodily function, but he couldnít say it.

"For a piss?" she suggested.

"Well, if youíre going to be crude about it." He looked at his feet.

"Iím sorry," she grinned. "Yeah, Iíll manage."

He left her by the bar, so she bought some peanuts to avoid looking completely stupid.

A man on her left looked at her broken arm and whispered something to another man with him, but she just casually turned her back and ignored him.

So long as Angelo hurried up, she didnít care.

Suddenly someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around calmly to face him.

Up close, he stank. He looked rough and mean, and, to be honest, scary. But she held her ground.

"You know, girl," he breathed in her face, "hanginí wití muties ainít safe. You could get hurt. But," he laughed over his shoulder to the other man, "looks like you know that already."

She looked him straight in the eye, unblinking. "Really."

"Yeah, all muties hate humans. You musta seen some oí the stuff they done on the news. We know how dangerous they are, aní we gonna hunt them down. So girl, keep away from that mutie scum so we donít accidentally hurt you while we doiní it." There was a subtle, but threatening emphasis on the word "accidentally".

Susy had never been one for standing threats. And she was definitely fed up of attitudes like his.

Breathing in, composing herself, she said, "I donít think thatís going to happen, do you?"

She touched him lightly on the stomach with her fingertips, but it was enough.Channelling all her power, which she usually used only for flight, into such a small area meant that she could suspend the effects of gravity and lift him into the air for some time. Which is what she did.

He was scared.

After all, if a sixteen-year-old girl lifting up a sixteen stone man was not normal, then holding him over her head on two fingers was downright bizarre.

No-one in the room moved, waiting to see what she would do.

She did nothing, just held him up as a silent challenge to all about her.

After a while she could sense the natives becoming restless, and she herself was beginning to feel weaker, running out of energy. But before it came to anything, the door to the menís room slowly opened, and Angelo came out. The tension in the room triggered his instincts almost before seeing Susy there, and instantly his skin shot from his hands and the man went crashing through the ceiling.

Angelo grabbed Susy and yanked her out of the bar and into the street. As soon as she could, she pulled away from his grasp, and looked at him with eyes full of betrayal.

"Letís go," he said shortly.

The car journey back to the school was silent. She would not look at him, but stared through her window the entire time.

He kept his eyes on the road, but his mind was elsewhere.

She slammed the door of the car, and turned on him.

"What the FUCK did you think you were doing?"

"What? I was just making sure they werenít a threat, chica."

"Donít fucking patronise me! They werenít a threat, I had the whole fucking situation under control! I was just going to let the guy down, and walk out, WITH MY DIGNITY INTACT! As it was, you HURT him, maybe killed him, and in their minds, weíre just a couple more dangerous mutants. I CAN FIGHT MY OWN BATTLES, ALL RIGHT?"

She turned to leave.

Angelo wasnít going to let this rest.

"How do you know they werenít a threat?" he yelled after her. "What would have happened when you put the guy down? They could have done to you exactly what they did in England."

Her face turned pale. "I could have handled it," she said quietly. "I would have flown away."

She let herself in through the back door, went to the kitchen and threw up in the sink.

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