Chapter Seven

Two Days Later

Chamber laughed, in his mind, at the scene before him in the kitchen. Susanne, her dyed pink hair scraped back into a messy bun and her jumper sleeve pushed up to the elbow of her unbroken arm, was standing at the sink hand-washing some clothes.

//Susy?//

She started as the word entered her head, and then turned to look at him. She looked exhausted.

"Hi." Her smile was forced.

He leaned against the door frame, and watched her return to her work.

//Wouldnít you rather sweep out the chimneys?// he said.

"I needed to think," she retorted. "Washing happens to be therapeutic, actually."

He became serious. //Whatís wrong?//

She sighed. "Everything and nothing. Iíd probably be feeling this crap even if...if..." she paused. {Tell him. Go on. This is the perfect moment. No.} "Even if I hadnít been so bitchy to Angelo," she finished.

//What was it about?// He hadnít been able to find out from Ange.

"Just a little thing. I over-reacted to his over-reaction to something I could have handled by myself," she said. "Stupid, isnít it?"

//I sípose. Aní youíre still not talking?//

"No."

//Do you want to?//

She didnít reply, but Jonothon could feel her desperate affirmation. He began to feel intrusive himself, so he just said, //Well, if you ever need to talk...//

Her smile was small, but genuine. "Thanks."

He left her to it, and walked out into the garden, where he spotted Angelo. He was going to be late for his study date with Paige, but right now, this was more important.

"Amigo!" Angelo called him over. "Como estas?"

//Muy bien, gracias, but weíve got to talk.//

"Yeah? How so?"

//Is it me, or is Susy acting really weird?//

"Other than not talking to me?"

//Have you talked to her?//

"No."

//Well then. What díyou expect? But yes, other than that.//

"I donít know. What do you mean?"

//I just caught her washing her clothes. She said it was therapeutic. Why would she need therapeutic?//

"Jonothon, chico, you have got to realise, she is not like other girls. What she does is her own business."

//Angelo, mate, she is just like other girls. She is trying to make us notice thereís something wrong by acting different. You obviously havenít known enough of them.//

"Iíve Ďknowní plenty of girls," he said with a grin. "How about you?"

//That wasnít what I meant, but if youíre asking, the answer is Ďenoughí.//

Angelo laughed. "Ever diplomatic, I see."

//Yeah, well. So, whatís wrong with Susy?//

"How am I supposed to know? Youíre the telepath."

//I donít read minds.// Jono sounded impatient.

"She hasnít said anything about anything to me, all right?"

//Sure, okay.// He started to walk away. //If Paige asks, Iím just getting my books.//

"Adios."

Angelo sat down on the grass in the shade of a tree, and pulled out his cigarettes. He needed to think. He ran through the basic questions in his head.

{Who? Susy. What? Acting weird. Where? Well, here. When? A couple of days? No, she started being tense and jumpy about a month ago. And she hasnít danced lately. That could just be because she doesnít feel like it. I mean, sheís got a broken arm, for Godís sake. But on the other hand, I havenít even seen her walk on air recently. She used to do that all the time. She doesn't use her powers for anything, not even picking stuff up, which would be useful with her arm like that. Why would she stop using her powers?} He sighed. He wasnít getting anywhere.

Then something occurred to him.

{Like Nina. Nina stopped wrapping metal bars round peopleís heads when she got pregnant. But then, she was getting beaten up herself. Stupid mistake, sleeping with another gangís homie. But otherwise, she was acting very like Suse. Dios, the silly girlís gone and got herself pregnant.}

Another thought occurred to him.

{Oh, Dios, sheís been raped! How could I have not seen this? No wonder sheís so fucking jumpy!} He breathed in the curling smoke from his cigarette, trying to calm himself down, to get his mind around it. {What the fuck am I going to do? Sheís been carrying this secret with her ever since she got here, her headís gotta be completely screwed. Ms Frost? I donít know, sheís not the most understanding of people, but Sean would go ape. Maybe I should make sure, first.}

He was about to get up and find her, when she found him. She balanced the washing basket on her hip with her usable hand as she walked towards him, then put it on the ground below the washing line that stretched between two of the trees near him. He watched her struggling with a t-shirt and some pegs for a moment, before going over to help her.

"Get rid of that," she said, smiling and flicking at the cigarette hanging from his lips. He was standing opposite her, the other side of the line.

He shrugged, dropped it, and ground it out with his heel. Outwardly calm, he was inwardly frantic, trying to come up with a good way of finding out what he wanted to. Finally he decided not to bother with a good way, but just to skirt round it and watch her reaction.

"Youíve been acting like a right liíl madre recently, chica, washing clothes, dusting, tidying, sweeping, vacuuming. Whatís up?"

The smile dropped straight off her face. {What the hell? He canít...? No. Of course he doesnít. Stop being so BLOODY paranoid.} "N-nothing. Iím fine, really."

{Shit. There it is. I have got to talk to Jonothon.} He nodded at her. "Well, itís just that it canít be easy, with your arm how it is."

"Yeah, well, Iím managing."

"So you donít mind if I let go of this?" he grinned.

"Well, I wouldnít mind, but itís your shirt."

"Oh, okay then, Iíll stay."

He helped her until she had finished, then, together, they walked back into the school building. They talked of harmless things, such as the essays neither had finished on ĎTeleportation and Spatial Displacementí, and whether or not the promised ĎFine Artí class was actually ever going to happen.

Eventually, Angelo managed to get away and went in search of his friend.

Jonothon was, as he had said he would be, studying with Paige in the library. If studying is staring into each otherís eyes and forgetting to finish sentences, that is.

Paige was the first to notice Angeloís entrance, and immediately asked him what was up.

"Is it that obvious?"

"Well, yeah, when your face ainít straight aní yíainít doing nothiní about it, it is."

Angelo went a slightly pinker shade of grey, and pulled himself together.

"If you donít mind, Paige, I just want to have a word with Jono."

"Go ahead," she said, not moving an inch.

"Alone, gracias?"

She smiled, in a very Ďyeah, right,í kind of way. "Unless this is about my surprise birthday party, I think I oughta be allowed to know. And, unless you guys have suddenly decided to be really organised and do stuff six months in advance, I guess it ainít, so spill."

He thought for a moment.

"What if it was about a Ďmaleí problem?"

"Youíd be talkiní to Jono about it? Youíre not the type. Ah can tell this is important, Ange, but I can keep a secret."

"Okay," he finally conceded, "but I donít think this can be secret for long."

After a pause he continued. "Susyís pregnant. She was raped."

Jonoís face blanched. //I shouldíve known. Why didnít I see that?//

Paige held a calm countenance, as she replied, "Because sheís good at hiding her thoughts. Not her emotions, but her reasons."

"What do you mean?"

"I knew," she said quietly.

It was Angeloís turn to be shocked.

"What? You knew? Why didnít you tell anyone?"

"Because she asked me not to. She had her reasons, but I guess sheís changed her mind if she told you?"

"She didnít tell me."

Paige raised an eyebrow.

"So youíre a detective now, as well as an all-around good guy. Well, I guess itís too late to go back now, so what are you intending to do with this information?"

Jono interrupted. //Tell Ms Frost.// The statement was short and forceful.

"I thought about that," Angelo said. "Sheís not exactly a counsellor. She might do more harm than good."

//She knows how to cope with emotional trauma.//

"What do you mean?"

//Just tell her.//

Paige shrugged. "Ah suppose itís better than just leaviní it how it is."

"Iím still not sure..."

"If you donít do it, I will. Howís that for ya?"

"Yeah." He sighed. "Thank you so much for your vote of confidence."


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