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In This Darkest Closet, Tryin' to Figure It Out

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"Kirk!" Andrew cries, and nearly spins him around while pulling him into a dark corner. "Hide me!"

Kirk looks into Andrew's panicked face and has to fight himself to keep from rolling his eyes. Dude, you've got super-speed. Use it.

But Andrew would lose precious seconds to shock and he clearly needs help, so Kirk says, "This way."

He heads for a broom closet—one he's used for a makeout sesh or two—and shoves Andrew in ahead of him. "Oh my gosh, thank you," Andrew says, relaxing. He doesn't turn on the light—too dangerous. There's a little light coming in from the bottom of the door. "I'm in a group project with Cassie, and my part was due today. If she finds out I'm not done—"

The door opens. "Aha!" Cassie stands there with a smug look. "I knew I saw the edge of a running shoe disappear in here." Before the two boys can react, she steps in, closes the door and locks it with a firm twist of the deadbolt. "Run from me now, Clements."

"Now, Cassie," Andrew says, holding up his hands, "let me explain…"

"Is it finished?"

"Well, no, but—"

"Then there's nothing to explain." She balls her fists. "It's due tomorrow, Andrew! How am I supposed to get the final part finished if your part isn't done?"

Andrew opens his mouth, and Kirk can see the wheels spinning. Maybe he's got to get a book from the library in the next town over. Maybe he's planning to speed his way through the last part and get it to her before dark. Who knows? But then the wheels screech to a halt. "I don't know. I'm sorry."

He looks so dejected that Cassie's frown softens. "It's okay, Andrew. I just wish you hadn't lied about it. We could have figured something out."

There's the problem solved. "Well, then, you kids can work this out between you. I'm going to head out. Got a couple things to take care of before my date tonight…" Kirk reaches for the deadbolt to flip it open and twists. It doesn't turn.

He tries again.

"Oh, for crying out loud…" He pulls on it as hard as he can.

Nothing.

"Guys," he says with a sigh. "I think the deadbolt is stuck."

"What?" Cassie pushes past him and jiggles it back and forth, then tries the knob as well. "Oh no. We have to get out of here! The project—!"

"My date," Kirk adds.

"—will never get finished in time if we're stuck in here until the janitor comes in!" She jiggles it some more and then slams her shoulder against it for good measure.

It stays firmly shut.

"Andrew," Kirk says, knowing that his best friend could have them out of here in a second, "I think you should try the door."

"Why?" he asks. Kirk's gotta hand it to him, he looks completely puzzled. "If you two couldn't get it open, why do you think I can?"

"Let's just call it a feeling." He tries to keep the sarcasm out of his voice, and succeeds, but man, is it rough.

"Okay, I'll give it a go." He slides between Kirk and Cassie and grunts as he gives the deadbolt a turn.

Nothing happens.

This is ridiculous. The guy can bench press a transport truck and he's pretending to be weak for their benefit. "Oh, for Pete's sake, Clements. Put your back into it!"

Andrew groans with effort. But the door won't budge. "Sorry, guys. I think we're stuck here."

What the heck? Kirk knows for a fact that Andrew could have, and has, hidden his powers by making things look like luck, or a fluke, or just the right technique. But he's still playacting. Why? Kirk has got to find out.

But before he can pull Andrew aside, Cassie takes a turn at the door again. "Hey!" she shouts, pounding at the door. "Hey! Anyone! We're trapped! Someone get help!" She listens at the doorway, then starts up the shouting again.

Kirk takes his chance. Pulling Andrew over by the sleeve, he whispers, "Hey, buddy. What's really going on here?"

"What do you mean? I thought it was pretty obvious. We're stuck." Andrew really has that innocent lamb act down cold.

Kirk sighs. When he first saw Andrew use his powers he was sure he was seeing things. After all, how could Andrew lift the back end of a car by himself to get a skateboard that rolled under it, or zip into the house and back with a cold pop in half a second flat? How could he float up to the roof to retrieve a frisbee without using a ladder? He'd snuck away from behind the tree where he'd pressed himself flat and took a long nap.

But then he started watching Andrew closely, and he realized it was all real. He just hadn't gotten around to telling Andrew yet. At first, it was because he was a little pissed off that Andrew never told him. Then, it was funny to watch him pretend otherwise, while sneakily using his powers. Now it's turned the corner to annoying.

"Clements. Cut it out. I know."

Andrew's face gets tight, but he laughs nervously. "Know that we're stuck? Duh, that's why I said it was obvious."

"No, doofus, I know about the…" He makes a few gestures with his fingers to show floating, speeding and strength. "...the secret."

Andrew's eyes go wide and his mouth opens and closes a couple of times. "You…?"

Cassie suddenly stops pounding, letting out a huge huff of frustration. "I think everyone already went home." She turns toward them, folding her arms across her chest. "What are you two whispering about, anyway?"

"Uhh…" Andrew says. "We, um, well…"

I think I broke him. "Just discussing contingency plans," Kirk tells her.

"And?"

"We're working on it," Kirk says, giving Andrew a pointed look.

She gives them a grimace. "Well, you let me know." She pats down her pockets and pulls out a small notepad and pen, triumphantly. "I'm going to use this to send a message." She sits cross-legged beside the door and begins to write furiously.

Andrew's looking a little less freaked out now. He swallows and asks quietly, "When'd you find out?"

"A couple months ago. Look, we can talk all about this some other time. Right now, it doesn't matter. Why don't you want to get out of here?"

Andrew glances over at Cassie then drops his eyes to his feet. "I didn't want you guys to find out."

Kirk smacks Andrew on the arm. "That's a load of crap. I've seen you use your powers pretending to do something else a dozen times. There's something else."

"No, there isn't." He glances at Cassie again. She hasn't given any indication that she can hear their whispers.

Oh, wow, Kirk can't believe he didn't see it before. "You're sweet on Cassie, aren't you?"

Andrew's face contorts through a bunch of different emotions before it drops in defeat. "Is it that obvious?"

"Now it is. What were you hoping? That she'd have pity on an adorable loser?" Kirk shakes his head. "Gonna let you know right now—girls aren't into that."

He lets out a breath. "I know. I just thought, if we worked together rather than separately on the project, she'd start to see me as more—"

"More than a pretty face?" Kirk teases.

This time Andrew smacks him. "You know what I mean."

Sheesh. The guy has amazing powers and he's stumbling over asking out a girl? "Just ask her, man. I know you've asked girls out before."

Andrew spends a quiet moment, looking like he's steeling himself. Then he glances over the cleaning products on the shelves and grabs a bottle, seemingly at random. "Hey, Cassie," he says loudly, "get back. I'm gonna try something."

It's toilet bowl cleaner. What does Andrew think he's gonna do with that? He squirts the cleaner at the deadbolt and into the crack between the doorknob and the frame.

"You gonna clean it?" Kirk asks. Cassie's raising an eyebrow skeptically.

"I saw this on MacGyver once," Andrew explains. But Kirk knows the truth. He's covering for what he's really going to do—break open the door with super-strength. He grabs a pair of rubber gloves and a rag and then grasps the door handle and pushes…

Bam! The door practically flies open, banging against the wall and cracking the tile behind it.

"Whoa!" Kirk says, impressed despite himself. "That actually worked!"

Cassie is examining the lock. The bolt is broken in half and the knob is basically a crushed mess. "Toilet bowl cleaner… did this?"

"Yeah, um, " Andrew says, rubbing at the back of his head. "I didn't think it would actually work, but…"

"Watching too much TV is good for something, eh?" Kirk claps Andrew on the back. Then he claps his own hands together and rubs them. "Time for me to get going for my date—and before someone blames this on me!"

As he's walking away, he hears Andrew asking, "Now that we're out… do you think you could help me finish my part? I could help you with the final part, too…"

Attaboy, Clements.