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The Hurricane

Chapter Text

I ignored the thunder from the storm outside, and tried to concentrate on finishing my calculus. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and this storm had not been on the radar this morning, which had made me initially suspicious, but my homework was more important than some unexpected weather. If it was a problem, I would know once I turned my phone back on. My homework was almost done, I just needed to finish the last step on one problem. 

As I tucked the paper away in my bag, a particularly loud peel of thunder shook the house. I grabbed my phone and checked the local news stations Instagram. The first post was a headline that read “freak severe pop-up storm causing thousands in damage to office buildings and local mall.” and the caption said “check the link in our bio for updates and the radar.” I remembered that Christine and Jeremy were on a date at the mall today, so I clicked the link to  see what was happening.

There were blurry pictures of a telephone pole crashed through the main entrance to the mall and a massive tree blocking the entrance road to the mall, meaning that no first responders could get through. I glanced at my bag. My suit was right there. I could run to the mall and get there in 10 minutes, save all those people. The only problem would be that this wasn’t officially an Enhanced threat. Most people didn’t mind being saved from a super villain by a superhero, and in all fairness, most people didn’t mind being saved from a non-super villain either, but the police did. The police didn’t like when i helped when they could have instead, but right now, the police couldn’t help. I pulled my super suit out of my bag, put it on, and headed towards the mall.

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Technically, I’ve had some of my powers since birth. Within the first year of my life it was discovered that I healed much faster than average. By the time I was 2, I was in a kindergarten class. Although part of this was that I was born the day before the cutoff for our school district. 

My first real powers started to appear in the summer before the 7th grade, back when my father still had custody of me after the divorce. I had said, while watching either The Avengers or Captain America, that Chris Evans was hot. He then assumed that I was gay and sent me to a two week conversion therapy program. The premise was that they would show us images that we would either have a straight or a gay reaction to. If we had a gay reaction they would shock us (at least I think thats what it was, homophobic people are weird). As traumatic as that was, it could have been worse, because I never felt the shocks as painful. 

I felt the shocks, but they didn’t hurt. Once I realized this, I tried to control the shocks. I tried to push the electricity back to the person holding the cattle prod they used to shock us. I couldn’t do it for the first couple of days, but by the time I left, I didn't even need the cattle prod to shock someone. Not to mention, the whole thing didn’t work. I was still gay and I still thought Chris Evan was hot (although I’m pretty sure most straight guys do to).

After I got home, I emailed my mom and told her what had happened. This was just the information her attorney needed to get my mom full custody of me, and I’ve been living with her and her girlfriend ever since. 

My next power showed up over spring break in the eight grade. My mom’s girlfriend took us to florida where her brother lived. My uncle and his wife were nice, but their children were hell. I couldn’t blame them, the eldest of them, twins, were in the eight grade too. But I was three years younger than them. One day while we were swimming in their pool, the twins, decided that they were sick of my crap. They held me underwater for several minutes, and since I had almost no muscle at the time, I couldn’t break their grip. I struggled not to take a breath, but when I finally gave in, I found I could breath. At that point I relaxed, knowing that one of my mom’s would come check on us eventually.

 It was about 10 minutes since they had originally started to hold me under when their parents came out. Everyone was pissed at the twins and made sure I was ok. My mom’s girlfriend (my mamá) took me to the hospital, as she had seen a lot of “dry drownings” as a nurse. I was fine, of course, but grateful that I had an excuse to avoid my cousins for the rest of the trip. 

When we got back home, I started to wonder if I could control water like i could control electricity. It took a couple of weeks and many spilled cups of water, but eventually I could control the movement of water (after frozen came out, I had tried to control the temperature of the water, but all I could do was electrify the water). 

After that day, I decided to do something with my powers. I made my mom take me to Joanne’s and Microcenter to get some supplies and started making a suit. I developed a pretty good one. It had sensors all over the suit to tell me some diagnostic information about myself, but they were also used to tell the force of enemies punches, or the heat of an explosion. I also put in lenses in the mask that worked as glasses and had a screen in them so I could see information during a fight, instead of after it. I’ve added more features to it through the years, as I’ve had to make more suits as I’ve grown, but it's still pretty much the same suit my mothers helped me build in the 8th grade. 

The summer after 8th grade was when I first started using my powers. I would go to the city at night, we lived pretty close to staten island, so all I had to do was take the bus there and change into my suit on the other side of the ferry. At first I would stop muggings and small robberies, but eventually there was a massive fire in an apartment complex that was right by the river. It was the most water I had every tried to move at one time, but I put out the fire. And I also caused hundreds in property damage. While everyone in the building was grateful, the city was not. New york told me not to “help” in their city any more, so I focused on New Jersey more for the time being. Eventually, there was a massive fire in the center of the city, while we were visiting for a school trip. The cause was an Enhanced man who could shoot fire out of his hands, nicknamed the Pyro. I helped the city subdue him and didn’t cause much damage to anything more than a couple trees. The mayor was grateful and helped pass an agreement between the state of New York, the state of New Jersey and me, saying that I could use my powers only in events when the police can not help. I broke that many times, but each case was pretty reasonable. After defeating the Pyro, the Hurricane was the hero of New York city and North eastern New Jersey. 

The last power I have right now developed early this year. While Jeremy had the SQUIP and couldn’t see me, I felt invisible. After a few days of that feeling, people started to bump into me in the hallways when they could have easily avoided me. Eventually one of my teachers marked me absent during class. I noticed when I checked the online system at the end of her class and went to have her fix it. 

“Excuse me ma’am? You put me down as absent when I’ve been in your class for the full period”

Obviously she wasn’t going to believe that she had missed me, and looked like she was going to say I was lying, but I showed her my notes. 

“I promise I’ve been here the entire time ma’am”

“I’m sorry, I must not have seen you when I took attendance, I’ll fix it for you Michael.”

She smiled and I left her class. When I got home later, I was really weirded out. It was as if no one could see me. I understood why Jeremy couldn’t, but for all of these other people, I had no explanation. I wondered if I was actually invisible, as there was no reason for the entire school to hate me. I looked in the mirror, but I could see myself fine. Then I took a picture of myself, concentrating on the feeling of being invisible. When I looked at the picture, I wasn't there. I freaked out. In the past, I’ve always had a traumatic event associated with the powers I developed, but there was no near death experience with this one, not to mention, this power I seemed to have no control over. I spent several days trying to control when I went invisible, and I usually could, unless I got very upset.

--------------------------

    I was very upset. I could tell I was phasing in and out of being visible, but I had no way of stopping it. The storm was stationary over the mall and had hurricane force winds, knocking over multiple trees and blowing out windows on my run to the mall. From my listening to the police radio that was a part of my suit, it sounded like it was an Enhanced after all. And this particular Enhanced wanted to kill one person and “every one they loved”. At this point the storm was fucking with the signal of the police radio and I could only catch bits and pieces. But it sounded like they were after Chloe Valentine. The police had determined that her and five of her friends were in the mall. So not only were my friends in danger, but they had been hanging out without me. 

    I decided it was best not to think about that as I entered the mall. The main entrance had been f-ed up, but the entrance through JC penney was fine. I was wondering who the Enhanced was, as a lot of people hate chloe, but a very small number of people hated her that much. I guessed it was probably Madeline, and as I passed the food court, I saw that I was correct. She looked pissed, her hair was a mess and her eyes were glowing. She had brought down the glass roof covering the food court and was wreaking havoc. There were still several dozen people in the food court, but I saw Chloe, Brooke, Jenna, and Jake hiding inside the Chick-fil-a and I saw Jeremy, and Christine hiding under a table. So Rich was the only one who was loyal.

“Hey! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size!”

I cringed as the cliched words left my mouth. I needed to get her attention, and that seemed to get the job done, but Jesus. I tried to be like Andrew Garfield's spider-man while fighting, but usually ended up like Tom Holland’s. 

“The Hurricane, I was wondering when you’d show up!”

Now that I was doing more and getting in the news, people knew who I was, and knew what my powers were, which made things a little more complicated.

“I’ve always wondered, how well would you stand up to an actual hurricane”

The rain picked up and the wind increased, lightning strikes hit the roof, causing the few working lights left to go out.  I knew that this would take a lot of energy and that she couldn’t sustain it forever, so it would be best to get people out and wear her down. I also knew that she was inexperienced, and she is probably creating so much rain that she can’t see very well. As soon as I felt the rain was heavy enough, I ran and jumped through the Chick-fil-a window, leading my friends and a couple of others through the back door to the loading dock. I grabbed a heavy rock and propped open the door. 

“The police are over there,” I said, pointing in what I think was the right direction.

I ran back inside. Madeline was just filling the room with more and more rain. The water was about 2 inches deep and rising. She had stopped the lightning strikes, probably because they took more energy than rain, and didn’t really have a way to attack other than the wind. The rain still providing an ideal cover, I helped some of the people closest to the door hop over through the window and get outside. I kept doing this until I noticed the rain starting to lighten up. I could tell that this was exhausting her and that she’d probably start being smarter with the way she used her energy now. 

“Is that all you got? And just an FYI hurricanes don’t have lightning”

“Who gives a sh*t?”

She focused all her attention on me and started forcing wind and rain at me. The storm outside seemed to have stopped and she was putting all her energy on me. The people that hadn’t already gotten out started to move towards the door, and most of them made it, but then she started to attack with lightning again. This brought down more of the ceiling, and could also electrify the water, and while I’d fine, many of the people who hadn’t made it out yet would not be. That included Jeremy and Christine. She hadn’t actually hit the water with her lightning yet but she was getting close. I was freaking out again and had started to lose control of how visible I was. Rather than fighting it, I let myself go completely invisible. Madeline stopped the assault on me once she realized I wasn’t there any more. The invisibility was pretty new, so I don't think that she knew what had happened. 

“Hiding? What kind of a hero are you?” she laughed cruelly, “you may have let Chloe escape, but some of her friends are still here. I can still get my payback!”

She turned towards the remaining people and stepped on to a table. She seemed to have realized what lightning and rain water could do together. I stood next to her on the table, unseen. I realized that she had stepped up on the table because she probably couldn’t stand the electricity of a lightning strike. I waited. If I timed this right, I could lift the water right as she does her lightning strike. 

“Scared? Your hero’s gone and now your trapped in the perfect spot for me to kill you.”

Of course she would gloat. 

Jeremy wrapped his arms around Christine and cowered as Madeline raised her arms for her lightning strike. At that moment I concentrated on lifting the water above the people on the ground’s heads and to just the right height to submerge any part of Madeline. Her lightning strike hit the water just as I pulled it above Jeremy’s head. I watched as she electrocuted herself and passed out. I launched as much of the water as I could out of the building, and hopped off of the table. Since I was starting to calm down, it was easier to stay visible. I jumped through the window of some shake place and opened their door to the loading dock. Out of breath and exhausted I just sort of gestured to the door. Everyone seemed to be ok and followed my instructions without much thought. Everyone except Jeremy. Jeremy stared at him instead of leaving. 

“Who are you?”

I have a few choices. I could tell him the truth, but I have no reason to do that. I could lie and risk him hearing my voice. Or I could run away. 

Really, it wasn’t a hard decision. 

Chapter Text

I could barely stay awake long enough to shower once I got home. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. It was Thursday, so I still had to go to school tomorrow, and using my powers to move that much water was exhausting.  Realistically, I rarely have to use my powers constantly in a fight. I had to use them against the Pyro but that was the only fight where it was their powers against mine. Ever since, it’s been my mind against their powers. 

Considering I was the only Enhanced I knew that hadn’t been immediately arrested by the FBI, I was the only Enhanced who had serious experience  in a fight. It wasn’t hard to figure out. I was a pretty good fighter with my powers after a couple of fights, but I knew that wasn’t how I was gonna win fights. I started working out and took personal defense classes. Eventually, I picked up mixed martial arts. But what made me a real contender in any fight was my running. I’ve gotten pretty fast, and being an Enhanced gave me extra stamina. Running took much less energy than my powers and it was probably twice as effective. I could wear out my opponent and get spectators away from the area. Also, if I was ever completely outmatched in a fight, I could run away and make a plan. 

Mom knocked on my door to wake me up. It was 4:30 am. I would normally wake up at 5:00 to go for a run and shower before catching a ride with Jeremy or my mom. Clearly she wanted to talk. 

“Honey, are you okay?”

I opened the door. Relieved that she only wanted to make sure I wasn’t hurt. 

“Yeah I’m fine, mom”

“Well, I'm still gonna have Sofia make sure. Okay?”

“Yeah”

Mamá (Sofia) was a nurse, and every time a fight took serious effort or had sharp objects involved, she would check to make sure I didn’t get seriously injured. Although, at this point, any injuries I had sustained would have healed. She checks me over and (obviously) I was fine. 

“You look fine sweet pea. Just make sure you eat some more. Your suit said that your blood pressure looked low, and I bet that was your blood sugar.”

“Thanks mamá! I’ll eat more next time.”

I had passed out a few times when I first got my powers due to low blood glucose. I had then amped up how many carbs were in my diet, but I was also working on a wristband that would measure glucose in a fight so that my moms can look at it while I fight. My moms were my “guy in the chair” my Ned Leeds. If they were free during a fight they would monitor my vitals during a fight and help me figure out how to defeat particularly smart enemies. 

“I’m gonna go run now. See you guys later!”

I went back up stairs and changed into our old gym uniform. We didn’t have to take gym after sophomore year in our county, which was a blessing, because people would eventually question why quiet kid who sits in the back of the class is so ripped. I decided to pass the mall on my run to see what the situation was. The mall was completely surrounded by police tape. It looked worse from the outside than it did on the inside. Most of the roof was completely caved in and many of the office buildings around the mall had windows blown out. I slowed down for half a second when a police officer investigating the scene looked at me. 

“Keep moving kid! Nothing to see here”

Who did he think he was kidding? I muttered a “sorry sir” in reply and went back to my run. This was the most damage any super villain had caused since the Pyro in New York. And this was the closest to me and my friends any super villain had been. Luckily for me, Chloe didn’t consider me a friend, so Madeline would have no reason to come after me, but she could go after Jeremy. I finished my loop around the mall, deciding to get a slushie at seven eleven, when I realized that the FBI was not at the crime scene. I hoped that meant that they had incarcerated her. I kept going, getting my slushie and heading home to shower. Before I did, I checked my phone. 

I had no texts from my friends, which was probably because they were hanging out without me and didn’t want me figuring that out. But then I checked the news station’s Instagram page. The new headline that they had posted was “The Hurricane takes on unknown Enhanced. Police fail to apprehend the suspect after the Hurricane fleas the scene.” I was supposed to leave after defeating Enhanced individuals, allowing the police or feds to handle it on their own, and it seemed like the news station knew that. But now I was going to have to go to school with Madeline and sit next to her in home room. Without being able to tell anyone that she was the unknown Enhanced. 

I sighed, turning on the water. After my shower I texted Jeremy asking for a ride. Once I had finished getting ready I looked at my phone again, He had responded.

JH: no, sorry.

Me: that sucks. 

JH: I would but I already promised christine I’d give her a ride. I hope that's ok?

Me: yeah, it’s cool. See you at school!

I could sort of tell that he just didn’t want to talk to me. Christine lived literally across the street from the school. She never needed a ride. I’d just have to ask him about it later. I grabbed an apple for breakfast and walked to school. Madeline was in two of my classes. Homeroom and Advisory. Advisory was a class at the end of the day everyday, where we would sometimes get lessons about bullying, but mostly it was just a study hall. So I only had to deal with her for an hour without seeming sus. Probably doable. 

I got to school 10 minutes before the bell. My friends weren’t in their usual spot so I decided to just go to homeroom. Madeline was there before me. Her eyes were red as if she was crying. 

“Hey, are you OK?” 

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to engage with her immediately, but I felt bad for her. Earlier this year, Chloe had spread a rumor that Madeline was a few months pregnant. When Madeline failed to look pregnant, Chloe spread the rumor that she had gotten rid of the baby. The funny thing about the northeastern United States is that there are serious pockets of red-necked conservatives, and unfortunately for Madeline, we lived in one of those pockets. There were literally 10 students that weren’t white at our school and 20 students that weren’t Christian. But anyways, after Chloe spread that rumor, no one was willing to look at Madeline, and her rich grandparents heard it from Madeline’s cousin, who also goes here, and took Madeline out of their will. Her own parents had heard it, and now refused to pay for college. So I felt really bad for her. Still, murdering other humans isn’t a good thing. 

“I’m fine,” she sniffled, “I just heard that Chloe and a bunch of her friends were attacked  and almost killed at the mall, and I was kind of worried that you were there.”

B*tch. She was trying to tell me that my friends were hanging out without me. She clearly still wanted revenge on Chloe and assumed that I was the weak link in the group.

“Oh. well thanks for worrying about me, but between you and me, I try to avoid hanging out with Chloe as much as possible.”

She smiled

“So you knew they were there, without you ?”

She’s not even being subtle about it. 

“Yeah. honestly calc homework is more exciting than hanging out with Chloe, even if it’s in a group”

She laughed an incredibly exaggerated laugh, reaching out and touching my arm

“Oh my god! Your so funny!”

I had struggled with my sexuality for a long time, and for the past couple of months, I assumed I was bi. But at this moment, I knew that I was 100% gay.

I smiled at her, unsure of where to take this conversation when the bell rang and the teacher came in. saved by the bell.

The class passed quickly. We watched the morning announcements, and then watched a video about what to do if your ever in the area when an Enhanced attacked. The video included surveillance footage of the Pyro in New York and a few other superheroes in other places. The video had a few main points. 1) Escape if you can, 2) hide of you can’t escape, 3) cooperate if you can’t hide, and 4) listen to police or a superhero’s instructions if they get inside. This video was made for kids in LA so the superhero the Weatherman appeared in it frequently. I was the only superhero around New York City, but other places around the world have them too. The Weatherman controlled just rain and wind, so he was less powerful than Madeline, but he knew how to use his powers and he was who I studied when I first learned how to use mine. The video ended with the police chief of our town making statement about how we should concern ourselves with our safety first, and that will make everybody’s job a lot easier. 

The principal then came on the PA system to just say how the police are going to be investigating students at the school for their involvement in the attack on the mall, so the teachers should expect many of their students to be called out into the hallway. We started to get ready for our next period when Madeline turned to me.

“What’s your next class?”

I didn’t like where this was going, but I’m not the kind of guy to ignore someone.

“B/C, out in the calc trailer.”

“Oh my god! I have English in the trailer next door… walk me there?”

Walking her anywhere was the very last thing I wanted to do. 

“Sure”

She smiled.

The walk to calculus was hell, and since Jeremy was acting weird, I couldn’t trust that I had him to vent to. Madeline reached over and grabbed my hand as soon as we were out of the classroom, every time I shook her off she would grab my hand again. When we got outside she started talking again.

“So I just realized I don’t have your phone number. I should grab it in case I have questions about homework.”

“Homework from homeroom?”

“Or you know just questions about, like, things.”

I was silent for maybe three seconds before she spoke again

“Just give me your phone number!”

“I don’t have a phone.”

“Well, we could go out and get you one today after school!”

“I have work today after school.”

I did have work. My mom owned a salon, and part of it sold beauty care. So I would stock shelves, help people find things, and work as a cashier. And we got a lot of business too. While our town was mostly white, the surrounding towns were not, and most people (white or not) were uncomfortable if their nail tech was white. 

“Well where do you work? I could stop by?”

We had gotten to the ramp to the Math trailers.

“This is my class. Gotta go, bye!”

I tried to walk away, but she kissed me on the cheek before saying bye back and walking to English. I walked up the ramp and saw Mr. Taylor looking at me through the window. Like usual, I was the first one to his class. 

“Madeline, really?”

I shook my head. Mr. Taylor was friends with my mom, and he was one of the only teachers whose room I felt comfortable in. 

“Literally not at all. I feel violated.”

He laughed at that.

“She tried to sleep with me last year. So I could help her pass geometry.”

“I can’t imagine that worked out well for her.”

“No, she got suspended and an F for the year. That’s why Mrs. Ward started teaching the class. Because we had no female geometry teachers but she wasn’t allowed to be assigned to another male teacher.”

“Jesus. Madeline is completely Psycho.”

“Yeah.”

Other students started to come in, so I took my seat. Jeremy was one of the last students in and there were only a couple seats left open. One next to me in the back, or the one next to the weird kid, Nick, in the front. He sat next to Nick leaving the seat next to me open for Jenna to sit down in. Between the two classes of B/C calculus, there were only 17 juniors. The rest were all seniors. Me, Jenna, and Jeremy were the only ones I knew. 

The class went fine. We took notes for most of it and then were set free for the last half hour to do homework. I finished my homework with about 10 minutes left in class and looked at Jenna. She was on her phone so I figured she wouldn’t mind if I talked to her.

“Hey. Are you guys OK?

She looked up, startled.

“Yeah, we’re fine. Why wouldn’t we be?”

“Madeline said that you guys were at the mall yesterday. During the attack.”

“Oh… yeah. We were. Your not upset about that. Are you?”

“No. I just want to make sure y’all are good.”

So I was upset, but I had to look like a good friend and not some creep whose more upset about his friends hanging out without him then them almost dying. 

“OK. yeah, we’re all fine. Thanks for asking!”

She went back to texting. I didn’t really mean to see what she was doing but it just sort of happened.

She opened a group chat called “without Michael and Rich.” The group had previously been texting about how pissed “they” were gonna be when they found out. She texted, “guys Michael’s cool. He’s just worried about us. Madeline told him this morning.” I’m starting to get angry, so rather than act angry, I made a group chat between Me, Rich, and a fake email on I message and I named the chat “without Jeremy, Christine, Chloe, Jenna, Brooke, and Jake.”

Me: they have a group chat without us called “without Michael and Rich”

RG: so you did the pettiest thing you could imagine?

Me: They literally didn’t talk to us about almost dying yesterday because they didn’t want us to know they hung out without us

RG: they almost DIED? What?

Me: they were at the mall. Madeline told me.

RG: y r u talking to madeline?

Me: it was more her talking to me really. She looked upset in homeroom, so asked what was wrog

Me: *wrong

Me: that was a mistake

RG: yeah, clearly

RG: she only told you so that you’d be angry

Me: it sort of worked.

RG: she’s been acting weird all english.  I think something is up

Me: if she asks, I don’t have a phone

RG: lmao, what!!!

The bell rang as i got his last text. I told him I'd tell him at lunch and headed to my English class before Madeline could find me again. English went by quickly, and soon it was lunch.

Rich was sitting alone at the table when I got there. He looked up at me.

“Why can’t Madeline know you have a phone?”

I told him about how weird she was acting in homeroom and on the walk to calc. I also told him about what Mr. Taylor had told me. 

“Holy shit. Really? She’s flirting with you? Aren’t you gay?”

“I wasn’t sure until this morning!”

He laughed at that. Rich and I had become good friends while he was in the hospital. I was one of the first people he told he was Bi and he was the first person, other than Jeremy, that I talked to about my sexuality. He was great, probably my best friend other than Jeremy. And he was much smarter than I gave him credit for. 

The others showed up soon enough and acted a little awkward around me and rich. 

“So Madeline told me during English that you guys were at the mall yesterday. Are you guys OK?”

Rich used the same excuse I did to get them to stop ignoring me, and they seemed to accept it fine. Lunch was okay. Rich and I kept texting each other memes in the “group chat” U had made. Towards the end of lunch rich looked up behind me and his eyes got big.

I turned around.

“Hey Mikey! I thought you said you didn’t have a phone?”

I could hear Rich behind me struggling not to laugh. I had hoped that by sitting by Chloe Madeline wouldn’t come over here, but that didn’t seem to deter her at all. 

“Uh…” I froze barely able to think of a good lie, “this is an Ipod.”

“So you have Imessage?”

Sh*t. I was completely stuck. Jeremy and Jake had stopped their conversation to pay attention. I might be able to lie my way out of this, but it was going to be bad.

“I don’t have an email.”

I turned back around and saw Rich and Jeremy’s faces completely red from trying not to laugh at me. 

“Well I can make you one right now.” Madeline said sitting next to me.

I’m grasping at straws again.

“I’m not allowed to have one until I’m fifteen. And I’m fourteen, so maybe I'm a little young-”

“Fourteen? that’s kind of hot.”

I had literally no way out of this except to explain nicely that I was gay, and did not want to date her. Luckily, Chloe turned around and saw Madeline. 

“Your still allowed to go here? After getting pregnant?”

That got Madeline to leave me alone, but not before blowing a kiss to me. At that point, Jeremy, Jake, and Rich lost it.

“Jesus. You told me it was bad but I didn’t think it was that bad!”

“This. Has. Been. All. Morning!”

Chloe looked back up from her phone.

“That’s tragic”

Chapter Text

After lunch I had gone to AP Spanish. I’ve been speaking Spanish since I was a kid, so I did fine in that class. Then came advisory. It was the only class I had with Jeremy, Jake, and Rich, but it also had Madeline so I’d been dreading it. There was no lesson for today, so it was just study hall. We sat in the back and Madeline was in the front of the room. Chloe and Christine came over from Mr. Reyes’s advisory to be with their boyfriends. Madeline didn’t seem to bothered by Chloe being here. In fact, she went to the bathroom. Ms. Alexander turned on some music and sat at the front of the room, on her phone. 

Madeline came running back to the room.

“Ms. Alexander, there’s a fight in C hallway and no teachers are there to stop it!”

Half the class stood up to go look before Ms. Alexander screamed at us to sit down and then ran off to go help. After she got most of the way down the hallway, about a third of the class went to go look. 

Madeline came over to the tables we had been sitting at. She sat on my desk.

“Hey, don't you want to go watch the fight?”

“Uh, not really.”

“I think you should go watch the fight, babe.”

She sounded really irritated, like she wasn’t making a suggestion. Chloe gave her a look.

“Um… look, Madeline. I’ve tried to be nice today, but I’m not your boyfriend. So, if you could stop doing stuff like that I’d appreciate it.”

Chloe looked up.

“He’s right Madison. If you could leave my friend alone, that’d be great!”

F*ck. Chloe told Madeline, in the b*tchiest way possible, that we were friends. This won't end well for any of us.

“Fine” she said, walking away, “then I guess you’ll have to be a part of the collateral, Michael.”

She stepped on to a desk, raising her arms and blowing the door shut. I reached into my bag for my supersuit, realizing that I had left it on the floor of my bathroom. Jeremy pulled me under the desks as the windows broke and rain started to come in from the outside. The only other time I’d been present at the start of an attack was when the Pyro attacked New York. But then I had my supersuit and a chance to slip away from my class. Now I was completely defenseless. 

This time Madeline was smarter with her powers. She used the wind to pick up shards of glass from the windows. But she wasn’t hitting anyone with them yet. It’s like she was waiting for someone. I realized she was probably waiting for me, but I was in no position to help. I could turn invisible because then Jeremy would immediately know who I was, but I could just use my powers because it usually took physical motion to make them work. Usually.

I could try try to use my powers without moving. It would be difficult and take much more energy, I would probably pass out. I wrapped my arms around Jeremy’s neck and concentrated on the puddle of water she had started forming on the floor. I closed my eyes and imagined it forming a wave and pushing her off the desk. When I opened my eyes I saw that I had done nothing more than splash her feet. I had always been slightly worse with water than with electricity. Splashing her feet seemed to have gotten her attention though.

“The Hurricane, hiding again, I see. Whatever, now that you’re here, we can start!”

She used the wind to pick up the desks that we were hiding under and started to move the glass shards around too. Jeremy grabbed me and dragged me against a wall, standing in front of me to protect me from the glass in the air.

 I thought for a moment. I can’t create electricity, because that would give away my identity, but I could control her lightning if she chose to use it. So all I needed to do was aggravate her into using her. I kept splashing her with water. That didn’t seem to do much except confuse her. I started making the waves bigger. Until it got to the point where the desk she was standing on was wobbling so much she fell over. She was  pissed, but now she was standing in the inch of water she had made, and I knew she wasn’t looking to get electrocuted again. I doubted she would use lightning now.

“Thank god there’s no lightning this time, or we’d all be dead.”

Jake spoke quietly like it wasn’t intended for anyone to hear. Chloe laughed at that. 

“I bet she can’t do it. I bet last time it was an accident and that all this slut can do is make it rain and sleep with geometry teachers.”

She must have seen that I was trying to make her angry, right? No human being can be that sh*tty of a person. No matter, it seemed to be working.

Madeline stepped up on to another desk and raised her hands. I stared at the window, ready for the lightning strike to come through. I concentrate intensely on the stream of current bending right before it hits the water, hitting Madeline and nothing else. As she caused the lightning strike, she aimed most of the glass shards at Chloe, them hitting her as the lightning hit Madeline. 

It honestly looked like a scene in a movie. Chloe gasped and fell to the floor at the same time Madeline did. Someone screamed and a whole bunch of people ran over to check on on Chloe. Most of the half of the class that’d been hiding opened the door to go find Ms. Alexander.  Jeremy and I stayed against the wall for a moment, my arms still around his neck. 

“Thanks.” I whispered as I let go of him. 

For a second, the only sound in the room was Chloe’s labored breathing. Then, multiple teachers, administrators, and police officers came running into the room. We’re all moved outside and many of us had to receive first aid, while Chloe was rushed to the hospital. I felt a little bad for her, but since it seemed like she’d be fine, I mostly felt like she deserved it. Which was a pretty crappy thing for me to think. 

I sat down on the curb next to Jeremy. We were mostly fine, but we both had shallow cuts on our arms, his being worse than mine because he was in front of me. 

“Hey, you okay?” he asked softly, a concerned look on his face.

“Yeah, why do you ask?”

“You just seemed frozen. Normally you’re the one thinking in an emergency…”

“I don’t know… It just sort of freaked me out how Madeline was acting all day, and then she turned around and try to kill us. That messed me up.”

He sighed.

“I get it. Well not really, but I could understand feeling that way.”

I laughed and rested my head against his shoulder. It felt nice to talk to Jeremy. We were still friends, but after the SQUIP things were slightly different. We ignored it for  a while, but now, in January, i could tell we were both sick of pretending. Maybe it was that he had a girlfriend or that we just had more friends now and were both busier, but either way I lived for moments when Jeremy and I act like we did before the SQUIP. 

The administration called our parents to come get us, having sent the rest of the kids home a few minutes early on the busses. My mom arrived within 5 minutes, having been home to take me to work with her anyways. I said bye to Jeremy and got in the passenger seat. As we drove away I caught a glimpse of Christine's face. She looked pretty pissed off.

 

Chapter Text

My mom started asking me questions as soon as we left the school. 

“What happened? How did you knock her out? Does everyone know your the Hurricane now? Are you OK? When did you realize you left your suit at home?”

“I’m alright mom, I don’t think anyone realized I was using my powers. I just hid behind Jeremy and tried to be as subtle as possible about what I was doing.”

She looked at me, and the band-aids on my arms. 

“Your sure you’re OK?”

“Yeah, the cuts have probably already healed. I’m fine, just tired.” 

I yawned, curling up in my seat. The rest of the ride home passed in relative silence. I got out of the car and almost tripped on the front step because of how tired I was. My mom helped me inside, looking a little concerned. She handed me a juice box.

“Drink this, go shower, and then get some sleep, chiquito.”

“But don’t I have work?”

“I called in, Jayda’s got us both covered.”

I put the straw in the box and stumbled up the stairs. I hoped this would be the last night that I was falling asleep in the shower for a while. When I finished, I could barely stay awake to pull some boxers on, and then passed out in bed. 

I got about 3 hours of sleep before the doorbell woke me up. I heard my mom answer the door.

“Hey Jeremy! Michael's upstairs, probably asleep, but go on up.”

I heard him start coming up the stairs and I rushed to pull on sweatpants and I stuffed my suit into my closet. He knocked on the door just as I was pulling on my hoodie.

“Hey Jer!”

He handed me one of the two slushies he’d been carrying and sat on the bed. Even though the SQUIP had happened two months ago, he hadn’t been to my house since. 

“Your room is different.”

“It’s clean now.”

He gave me a look.

“You rearranged things.”

“Yeah, a little”

I sat down on the bed next to him. Things got awkward too quickly with him. I felt like it was partially my fault. I hadn’t really thought about my sexuality much until after Rich came out. But once he did, I started wondering. I had always known I was into guys, but I didn’t know to what extent. For the past two months, I assumed I was bi, but the past few weeks Rich had been helping me determine that I was probably gay. The whole Madeline mess really confirmed it for me. But what made me realize I was into guys in the first place (other than Chris Evans) was Jeremy. And once I put it into words that I had a crush on him, I was totally helpless. 

I cleared my throat.

“So what’s up dude? Why’d you come over?”

“You seemed out of it at school and I just wanted to make sure you’re really OK.” 

He might act a little different than before the SQUIP. But he was still the same person, and still lied to me just as poorly.

“Haha, but no. Why are you here?”

“Um…”

He clearly didn’t expect to be caught. I just looked at him expectantly.

“Christine broke up with me and I wanted a distraction.”

I tried not to look too happy. But he pretty much knew that I thought he and Christine weren’t a good couple. 

“I’m nothing if not distracting, we can go play video games if you want.”

I stood up, ready to go down stairs to the basement. But he looked up at me.

“Actually I just wanted to talk…. Or more, cuddle.”

I made a surprise “hm” noise. One good thing about post-SQUIP Jer was that he was rarely afraid to ask for what he wants.

“You know, like we used to in elementary school. And I don’t really have anyone else to go to for physical affection.”

My brain was screaming “this is a bad idea Michael. Cuddling with your crush is a bad idea. A very BAD idea.” but it was Jeremy’s idea, not mine. So, what harm could it do?
    “Yeah, I totally get it!”

For being a super genius, I was pretty stupid sometimes.

I set my slushie on my desk and sat back down next to Jeremy. We sat there awkwardly for a second until Jeremy sat his drink down on my bedside table and wrapped his arms around me. Eventually, we ended up in, like, a spooning position. I was on Instagram looking at memes and Jeremy was watching over my shoulder, occasionally giving a small laugh at a funny meme.

I must have dozed off, because I woke up to Jeremy responding to a text from my mom. She had asked a question to him, so it was fair for him to respond to it, but still a little weird.

“What are you doing?” 

“Sorry, did I wake you up? Your mom asked if I was gonna stay the night so I figured it be ok if I responded.”

“Yeah, it’s cool”

I practically slurred my words. I had never been that tired before in my life. I rolled over in Jeremy’s arms so that my face was against his chest. I nuzzled against him and closed my eyes again.

“Hey, are you still tired? Go back to sleep, sleepy head.”

I smiled at the nickname and wrapped my arms around his neck, just like I’d done earlier today. He put my phone down and put one of his hands through my hair. I think he said something, but I was too asleep to hear it. 

It was 2:00 when I woke up again. I heard Jeremy whimper softly. 

“Jer?”

A loud crack of thunder came from outside. I sat up and turned the lamp on my bedside table on. 

“Hey, you’re okay Jer-bear.”

Had I been attacked by someone who could control lightning and wanted to kill me, while I had no powers, I would be scared of thunder. If it had happened twice, I would be absolutely terrified. So Jeremy was handling it well, all things considered.

“I’m sorry. I’m fine now. I just wasn’t expecting thunder”
    “It’s okay, Jer. you don’t have to apologize.”

We were both sitting up now. I reached over and hugged him, whispering reassurance. We stayed that way for a couple minutes until Jeremy gently pushed me away.  

“Thanks. I didn’t think there was supposed to be a storm tonight.”

“I can check the radar, if you you want?”

He nodded and I pulled my phone out from where he had put it under my pillow. The radar showed the blue and purple mass steadily moving in for the past several hours. 

“Just a regular storm, not some crazy Enhanced person.”

He smiled, and then furrowed his eyebrows. After a few seconds, he stood up and opened the curtain, revealing the snowstorm outside. 

I was ecstatic. Snow was one of my favorite things in the world, and one of the only things I loved more than snow was thundersnow. Jeremy smiled and sat back down on the bed.

“Thanks for not hating me.”

“What?”

“Thanks for not hating me. After the SQUIP. You could’ve hated me, should’ve hated me, honestly, but you didn’t, so thanks.”

“Of course, Jer-bear.”

I looked at him. After the SQUIP, he had seemed so confident, like he always knew what he wanted, but now he seemed so insecure, and scared.

“For real Jer-bear, it’s fine.”

We sat there for a while, eventually shifting back to the position we had woken up in. There was another crack of thunder and Jeremy tightened his arms around me, but he seemed a lot more comfortable now.

Chapter Text

I woke up tangled in his arms and legs. He was hugging me like a koala, and as cute as it was, I was completely trapped until he woke up. I didn’t mind too much, I could see the still falling snow through the window and I could smell waffles from down stairs. 

Jeremy stirred, pulling himself away from me, muttering a small “sorry”. I rolled out of bed, guessing that Jeremy would probably be a while before he actually woke up. I grabbed our half empty cups and walked to the kitchen, pouring them down the sink. Looking out the window, I saw how much snow had fallen. 

“Holy sh*t!”

Both my mothers looked up from the waffle iron. 

“Sorry.”

Mamá laughed,

“How’s Jeremy? I hadn’t seen for a while before yesterday.”

“He’s fine, just busy with his girlfriend.”

In the past, I would tell my mothers everything. Lately, it’s been harder to that. I told them that Jeremy and I had had a fight, and that we weren’t each others only friends , but I didn’t tell them anything about the SQUIP. No one had believed anyone else when they said anything about it, so I figured my mothers probably would be the same. 

I should probably tell them about the SQUIP. I had been wondering since I heard about it, how would it affect an Enhanced person. At this point I thought that it probably wasn’t a completely autonomous AI, and that someone was giving it goals to achieve. If that person could gain access to an Enhanced, they could control them.

“Oh! How’s that relationship going?”

“Actually, they broke up.”

The waffle iron beeped and they turned their attention back to it. I opened the refrigerator to get juice. I hadn’t eaten much yesterday, and was feeling the consequences now.  Mamá said something about how she had to go to work, but she would be home in time for their date. I didn’t really hear because I had stopped listening to watch the snow.

It was sort of childish, my obsession with snow. I hated the cold, but not snow. I think I love it so much because I get overwhelmed easily, and snow was quiet, soft, and plain white. Boring. Snow was boring by nature. Sure, playing in the snow or getting out of school was fun, but snow was simple. My life had been nothing but complicated lately, and the simplicity of snow was refreshing. 

I was shaken out of my thoughts by Jeremy coming down stairs. 

“Wow, there’s like 3 feet of snow outside!”

“Michael said the same thing.”

“Effectively,” I grunted, taking a sip of my juice. 

My mom laughed. 

“Eat some of these waffles, we don’t want them to go to waste.”

My mom handed Jeremy a plate and my mamá kissed me on the cheek before both of them headed out to their car. Jeremy and I ate in a comfortable silence, the only noise being the meteorologist on TV and the wind outside. 

“You feeling better?”

Those were the most popular words of the past 24 hours it seemed. I had said and heard them more times than I could count. I felt bad for asking them again, but I needed to be sure.

“Not really, but I’m getting there.”

I smiled and opened my mouth to say something when Jeremy’s phone rang.

“It’s my dad, I should probably answer.”

He walked to the other room. I stood up and started washing the dishes. I was glad that Jeremy and I had other friends now, but I felt like I was often lower priority to Jeremy than the others. We still hung out, but this was the first time Jeremy had sought me out since the SQUIP, and even when we did hang out, he was always getting distracted by texts and calls from people. Obviously I couldn’t blame him for talking to his dad, but he was always acting like this. 

“Hey, I gotta go home. My dad needs me. Sorry”

Jeremy poked his head in. 

“It’s chi-cool.”

I caught myself before saying chill. When talking to Rich in the hospital, he had mentioned that hearing the words chill freaked him out. He said it had to do with the SQUIP, but didn’t elaborate past that. So I played it safe with that word around anyone who had a SQUIP.  

I walked Jeremy to the door. He pulled his shoes on and took a step towards the door, but turned around and pulled me into a hug. 

“Thanks again.”

I nodded into the hug. As nice as cuddling last night was, a deliberate hug while we were both fully awake felt amazing. 

“I love you,” he whispered very quietly as he pulled away.

I was frozen for half a second. Before this year, we would say I love you all the time. Sometime this summer we had stopped. I couldn’t figure out why he stopped, but after I said it to him a couple times and he didn’t respond, I decided not to bother. Hearing him say it again felt better than the hug did. 

By the time I had processed what had happened, he was most of the way out the door. 

“Love you too, Jer!”

He smiled as he closed the door behind him. 

-------------------------- Jeremy’s Point of View --------------------------

    I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked home. The sidewalks were blocked, but the road had salt put on it yesterday, so it was clear and only a little slippery to walk on. I had missed spending time alone with Michael. Christine was a great girlfriend, but she was insecure sometimes. Her usually angelic and cute behavior became a little aggressive when Michael was around. I couldn’t really blame her. I had told her that I had had a crush on him, and that it was gone now, but still, what girl wanted to hear about how her boyfriend was into someone else. 

    She had broken up with me because I had paid more attention to Michael than her yesterday (She also said she wasn’t that into me anymore, which seemed like a better reason to break up with someone, but she really focused on this Michael thing). I had paid more attention to Michael, but that was because he didn’t seem okay. He didn’t react when Madeline closed the door, other than to look in his backpack, and once she had started actually using her powers, he seemed worse. Christine had hidden behind the teachers desk, but Michael just sat there, holding on to me. I was really concerned about him, and I was also concerned about Christine, but she hadn’t seemed to have lost all self-preservation instinct.

    I waded through the snow up my driveway. My dad handing me a shovel as I reached the top. 

“Thank you for hurrying. I didn’t prepare, so we have to go to the grocery store today.”    

Since the SQUIP, my dad and I went to the grocery store every Saturday. It was sort of random, but an easy way to spend time together, and something that we couldn’t forget to do. 

We got started shoveling the driveway and the snow mostly stopped falling. 

“How’s Michael?”

“Good. He’s OK. Sort of freaked out from yesterday, but otherwise fine.”

“And Christine?”

“She’s also fine. Broke up with me yesterday.”

“Oh, OK.”

Most of our conversations ended this awkwardly, but at least he was trying. 

We finished shoveling the driveway pretty quickly, considering how much snow had fallen. But the snow was bulky snow. The kind that gets your hope for school being canceled for the next week but only achieves a two hour delay. 

I ran inside to change into some clean and dry clothes. As uncomfortable as our conversations could get, I still enjoyed talking to my dad. 

By the time I had finished getting ready, he was sitting in the passenger seat, keys in his hands.

“You’re making me drive?”

“You could use the practice, you haven’t driven in months.”

I sighed, putting the keys in the ignition. I hadn’t driven since Halloween, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to drive in snow, but I wasn’t going to deliberately start an argument with my dad. 

I pulled the car out of the garage and started the drive. I was very out of practice, but even so, I only broke the law a few times getting there. I pulled into a parking spot and looked at my dad. 

“I’ll drive home, if that’s OK with you.”

So maybe I was really out of practice.

We got home later with a week's worth of groceries and a cleanly paved road. We unpacked and then dad got a call from a coworker. They worked at a company that produced tracked Enhanced sightings and grouped them as either superheroes or supervillains. I think they were trying to predict areas, and eventually specific people, that were at risk for an attack.

“Jeremy, turn on the news.”

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a plant controlling Enhanced robbing a garden store in Philadelphia. From the shaky camera in the helicopter, I could see a massive vine of poison ivy on the roof and wrapped around the building. As the helicopter got closer, I saw that the vine had many people tangled in it, keeping them from escaping. The reporter covering the scene said that the army was on their way, and would be there in the next 15 minutes. Dad and I watched in terrified interest. The army arrived and then the camera cut out, returning to the anchors in the studio.

Philadelphia was an hour and a half away from where lived, so too far for the Hurricane to help, but close enough to be freaked out. After about 10 minutes, the footage went back to the store, showing people being cut down from the poison ivy vine. The reporter said that the Enhanced individual had escaped, taking a shipment of mislabeled dangerous plants with them. The shipment included poison oak and sumac trees, giant hogweed, and cow parsnip, among other plants. 

“These plants aren’t dangerous enough to kill anyone, but they can cause painful skin reactions that are hard to get rid of. So, if you folks see any suspicious looking person with a bunch of plants that have small white flowers or bunches of three leaves, call the cops.”

The anchor was clearly disturbed, but spoke like they knew what they were talking about. I made a mental note to look up pictures of what those plants looked like, but with all the stuff happening closer than Philadelphia, I doubted I would remember.

Chapter Text

-------------------------- MIchael’s Point of View --------------------------

My moms got home around 5-ish. They had both had slow days, with all the snow, so they had heard the news about the robbery in Philadelphia, and they were worried about me because of it. 

“We can cancel our date and stay home if you like?”

“I’m fine, it was ninety minutes away. It didn’t affect me in any way.”

“I know, mijo. I just want you to be safe.”

“Mom, I’m fine. Don’t be late for y’all’s date.”

They left me 20 dollars for pizza and went to some semi-fancy restaurant. Once I got my pizza, I looked more into the Enhanced. The unknown person had stolen a shipment that was meant to contain simple flowers and trees, but instead contained poisonous plants. Technically, these plants could only cause uncomfortable rashes, unless someone was really allergic,  I didn’t know how that would be affected by the Enhanced’s use of them. I found a page that had pictures and descriptions of the symptoms of the plants the news story said. However, the news stations didn’t seem to be releasing a list of all of the plants in that shipment, which concerned me. 

I tried to find the interview that they had done live with one of the workers, but it wasn’t online anywhere. I eventually found a video from a spectator that was near the interview as it was happening. It was hard to hear, but I could make out most of what he was saying. 

“The dude comes in, and goes straight to where we had a couple Venus fly traps, he put them in his cart. We have a couple plants in the nightshade family for sale, and he picked those up too. He grabbed a small hedge and a bunch of seeds for things. I think he grabbed pepper seeds, melon seeds, and some squash seeds, but he wasn’t suspicious and I didn't pay him much attention, so I don’t really know what he grabbed. Then, he grabbed a tomato plant and started pushing his cart towards the employee exit to the loading dock. I tried to stop him, but that was when he took a clump of something from his pocket, and then the whole room was surrounded by a vine.”

I paused the video. I doubted that the man was gonna say much more about what plants he had gotten. Venus fly traps would obviously be dangerous if they were as big as the poison ivy vine had been. The nightshade family is dangerous if eaten, but most of the plants were fine to touch, which confused me.  The hedges were probably just to act as a fence to prevent people from escaping.The leaves of a tomato plant weren’t good to eat, but the rest of the plant was fine, and the entire thing was safe to touch. I was completely lost and had no clue what this guy was planning to do with these plants, other than that he was planning a big attack. He easily held fifty people hostage with a vine of poison ivy. I could only imagine what he could do with all those plants.

What really interested me was the seeds. If he grew massive peppers, he could cause extreme pain and serious swelling, depending on what kind he had grabbed. I figured he was probably planning on using the squash and melons as weapons. Just sort of hitting people with them, I guess. I could imagine they would hurt. If I had to fight this guy, I could probably just zap the plants and let him wear himself out.

Deciding that it wasn’t worth worrying about, I turned on the discovery channel. There was an episode of some survival show, and then some documentary about bananas. The dude in the survival show was in some forest in Maine for a few days. He was looking for food when he turned the camera onto some tree.

“At the base of this tree, we can see some poison ivy. You can tell it’s poison ivy because of how the leaves are grouped in threes. As the old saying goes ‘leaves of three, leave it be!’ But poison ivy isn’t the only toxicodendron around though. This tree is poison sumac. You can tell by the tiny white berries and the double row of leaves. In late spring and summer these trees have the green color of the trees around them, but in autumn they turn red. If the berries on the tree are red, then it’s probably a non-poisonous sumac tree.”

The show ended with him being picked up by a helicopter and then the documentary played. It talked about how panama disease destroyed the popular type of bananas, the kind that candy tastes like, the Gros Michel banana, and so it was replaced with the more panama resistant Cavendish banana. The Cavendish that we eat don’t have seeds, so to make more trees, part of the tree had to be replanted. This makes all the bananas we’ve eaten since the 70’s genetically identical. The narrator then mentioned how all the Cavendish bananas being identical puts the entire banana industry at risk for panama disease. Many efforts had been made to make them resistant, but one group had a different approach. This group was trying to grow bananas in colder areas where panama disease can’t thrive. 

They were growing bananas this way by grafting them onto a similar plant that thrives in cold weather. It was a popular technique, grafting plants that needed to grow in certain areas on to plants that thrived in that area. The example used by the show was how tomato plants are often grafted onto nightshade plants. The documentary showed how these people were doing their research and showed their research facility. It was pretty clear that what they were trying to do was bull, but I kept watching for a while anyways.

Then it hit me.

If tomato plants could be grafted onto nightshade, then nightshade could be grafted onto tomato plants. I figured that this dude was probably trying to make some deadly combination of the other plants he had grabbed. While most grafting didn’t work in such a way that the plants absorbed characteristics of the other (which is why the banana plan was bullsh*t), this dude’s powers might let him mutate plants in that way. 

Just because the plants are mutated to be deadly, doesn’t mean they’re resistant to electricity. My original plan should still work fine. 

My moms were still out at 10, so I decided to go to bed instead of waiting for them. My mom had to work tomorrow, but mamá didn’t, so she could talk to me tomorrow. 

Mamá woke me up at around 10. 

“Buenos dias, mijo. I wanted to talk to you. Do you want to get breakfast out?”

I said yes, of course, and started to get ready. Mamá and I would often get breakfast out on weekends, but her asking to talk was weird. We would talk anyways, so it had to be serious if she specifically mentioned it. It was probably fine, maybe even good news, but I prepared myself for the worst anyway. 

We didn’t go to the usual diner, instead she drove into the city, which was really weird and a long way to go for just breakfast. She parked in a parking garage under a hotel and hopped out. 

“I heard this place has amazing brunch. so I figure we could try it out.”

“Sounds good.”

The restaurant was really good, it was a bistro in the lobby of the hotel. The food was reasonably priced too. We talked about a bunch of things, but none of them seemed important enough to have been mentioned specifically.

“Mamá, what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Right. I have an appointment at the Tiffany’s down the street for 1 today. I was going to buy your mother an engagement ring, but I wanted to ask for your permission first.”

“Of course you have my permission, mamá!”

I was excited and relieved. They were practically already married, but i think they both wanted an actual wedding. I was starting to get worried that she was going to break up with my mom. 

“I don’t think I’m dressed for Tiffany’s, though. Aren’t they fancy?”

I think Tiffany’s is an expensive jewelry brand. I don’t wear much jewelry so I have no clue.

“You have clothes on. That’s about the only dress code they have for customers.”

We both laughed and finished our meal. It was about 12:30 when we finished so we walked towards the store. The store was on 57th and 5th and we were on 52nd and 7th, so it was a bit of a walk. When we got to the store a man in a suit approached us. 

“Do you two need any help today?”

“We have an appointment.”

He checked us in to their system and called another man over. For such an exciting thing it was pretty uneventful. We looked at some rings that were my mom’s size and compared some to my skin tone. Eventually we found one that we knew mom would love. It was only 7 thousand, which is reasonable for an engagement ring. We set up a payment plan and left. We got back home around 4, way before my mom would get home, and mamá went upstairs to hide the ring in a drawer. She made dinner reservations at mom’s favorite restaurant for two weeks from now and that was it. Pretty boring and simple. 

Even though it was boring and simple, it completely distracted me from the new Enhanced.

Chapter Text

Everyone was back to normal on Monday. Classes near where the attack was were moved to the library so that they could fix the window. Other than that, no one seemed to do anything about a student attacking other students in school. The administration’s lack of interest let everyone do what they loved to do, gossip. 

The 8 of us were the main focus for most of it. Chloe was in the hospital for a few more days, so people were going easy on her. The rest of us were getting some serious sh*t. Of course Jeremy and Christine’s break up was the biggest thing people talked about. Neither one of them seemed that upset about it, which made it much more interesting to people. I heard people say that Christine broke up with him because she was in love with Madeline, or that Jeremy was in love with Madeline, or that Jeremy was gay. The most popular reason for their break up was that Jeremy was cheating on her, with me. I had at least six people ask me about it before I even got to homeroom. 

Another thing people wanted to talk about was Jake. They said that Madeline was trying to kill him and that he used Chloe as a human shield, or that he kept harassing Madeline. According to the word on the street, Rich had escaped before the fight started with Brooke and Jenna, Christine had almost died during the fight, Jake tried to kill Chloe multiple times, Jeremy and I started dating over the weekend, and the Hurricane had to be one of us because no one saw him come in through the window. 

That was the only bit of gossip I was interested in. People really liked the idea that Jake was the Hurricane, but people believed almost all of us could be it. Almost all because absolutely no one thought I could be any kind of superhero. They said I was too quiet, too small, didn’t have enough muscle, and was too mean a person to be an Enhanced. The last one got on my nerves, but it was probably best not to say anything in case someone actually guessed the truth. 

By the time I sat down at lunch, I was exhausted. We had a sub in physics, so the entire class just talked the whole time. In APUSH we just worked on our midterm project, which was a group project, so i had to answer questions from my groupmates the entire time. Not like they would do the work anyway. And between the classroom and the cafeteria, I got stopped by 9 different people asking if Jeremy and I were dating. So when Jenna sat down, I was pissed.

“Did you f*cking start this?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Everyone believes it. They wouldn’t do that unless it came from you.”

“I might have helped it along.”

She smiled, coyly. 

I sighed. 

Sometimes Jeremy’s friends could be great. They were fiercely loyal to each other. They chose to be friends with Rich after the SQUIP, because rich was their friend. I was not their friend. I was friends with Rich and Jeremy. That let me sit at their table. I was acquaintances with them and nothing more. I had never really played into Chloe’s game of people acting the way she wanted them to, so she had always disliked me for that. I never intentionally disrespected her, but I wasn’t kneeling at her feet everywhere she went like Jake was. 

This could sometimes make me public enemy number one in her, and her friends eyes. There were only a few people she liked less than me. One was Madeline, probably because she would date Jake when Jake and her broke up. Another was Dustin Kropp, this was probably because he sold her “pot” that was actually oregano freshman year. Weirdly enough, Chloe didn’t like Jenna very much either. Jenna was always kissing up to Chloe and never spreading negative gossip about her, but Chloe still treated her like crap. But Jenna was useful, and it would be hard to have Jenna spread negative gossip about Jenna. So Jenna was still Chloe’s friend, even if she didn’t like her very much. 

Jeremy shook me out of my head by sitting down next to me. The rest of the table had filled in and Jenna was talking to Brook and Christine. Rich was looking at me, a little concerned.

“You alright?”

“Yeah.”

He pulled out his phone and started typing.

RG: no ur not

Me: I swear. I’m fine

RG: ur not. ill fukin ask jermy

Me: I’m fine

“Jeremy,” Rich started, “do you think Michael’s actually OK?”

“Yeah, probably.”

I looked at him. He was tired and clearly annoyed and he was clearly not listening.

RG: ur not fine, but he’s less fine

Me: leave him alone. He’s probably tired of all the gossip

RG: it happens to all of us, he’ll get over it

Me: it can get bad, especially if Jenna is spreading it

Me: just look at Madeline

RG: jeremy is pretty different than mads was. 

I thought about that for a moment. Were we much different than Madeline was? I was an Enhanced, like she was, but I fought against her and she tried to hurt mostly innocent people. I had been bullied by Chloe, and I definitely thought about using my powers on her, but I never did. Had I had my life ruined by Chloe, it’s hard to say whether I would still be a superhero. 

Jeremy on the other hand, would never have to make that decision. He had no powers, like 99% of the population. He was never going to be able to kill someone across the room with a storm, or electrocuting them, or drowning them, or strangling them with a plant. He was just gonna have to do it the old fashioned way, which was much less impulsive. 

Rich and Jake started talking about something due for one of their classes and I zoned back out. Was Jeremy really upset about the gossip, or was it something else? I know it sounds paranoid, but who can I really trust. Was Jeremy an Enhanced and had never told me? I had never told him, so it’d be fair for him to not tell me. Maybe he was the plant pirate and was feeling a little guilty about planning to kill us all. Maybe he was cheating on Christine and that was the real reason they broke up. Maybe he knew I was the hurricane and was angry at me for not telling him. Maybe-

Jeremy grabbed my hand and dragged me away from the table. The bell had rang a couple seconds ago and everyone had started to leave. 

“Come on, both our classes are in the library today.”

He let go of my hand and slipped into the crowd. We sat in the back of the library after signing in. He stilled looked tired and annoyed, but he seemed better. We sat doing homework for a while, but then a few people kept walking back, looking at us. It was obvious what they were doing, and I was getting annoyed. 

“Bathroom?” He whispered.

I nodded. He asked to go and I waited a few minutes before asking to go as well. The teachers didn’t really care, so I brought my backpack. No one ever used the bathrooms on the first floor, so no one would walk in on us. He was sitting on the counter with the sinks when I walked in. He smiled and pulled me into a hug.

“You OK, Jer?”

“No. I wish that everything I did didn’t immediately become gossip. I wish I had time to process things before other people processed them for me.”

“I get that. I feel like I’m being watched by everyone all the time. I sort of miss being a loser.” 

“Yeah.”

The bell rang and we went back to the library for Advisory. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday passed without much issue. Jeremy and I decided to sit in the Library at lunch, instead of in the cafeteria. This made the gossip worse, but at least we didn’t have to hear more of it during lunch. Chloe came back on Thursday, and when I passed her in the hallway she looked pissed. It felt like the status quo had been restored.

On Friday, things got more interesting. Rich and Brooke came to sit with us at lunch. I had never held a private conversation with Brooke, and I don’t think Jeremy had since they broke up, but she turned out to be a lot nicer than I had imagined. On Saturday, we all hung out at pinkberry for a while. We drove by the mall to see the progress made on rebuilding it. They had improved it quickly, and most of the mall other than the food court would be re-opening on Wednesday.

  By Monday, everybody had moved on from Jeremy and was talking about Jake and Chloe’s break up. Apparently she had publicly made fun of him for dating a psycho Enhanced. He had accused her privately of pushing Madeline unnecessarily far and was just being rude. She made a twelve part rant on Snapchat and then he broke up with her Monday morning. In front of half the junior class.

Jake sat with us at lunch. It was pretty awkward. I had at least spoken to Jake before, which helped keep a conversation going, but he didn’t talk about much other than sports. It was sort of like Jake had had a SQUIP for years, and now that he was finally without one, he was just repeating its last couple instructions. But Jeremy and Rich embraced the chance to be themselves again, and I knew Jake would eventually too.

We were what everyone was talking about, but this time it was more admiration than speculation. It was like in Mean Girls, when Cady and Janis took down Reginia. Everyone loved Jake, no matter what he did, even if that included breaking up with Chloe. For once, everyone shunned Chloe. It felt great.

Chapter Text

Tuesday afternoon brought down my good mood. After two days of feeling unstoppable, there was some bad news. The truck that had been stolen with the plants was found crashed on the side of a small road about 15 miles south of Middleborough. Only, the plants weren’t in it. 15 miles was a way to close to comfort. I had this feeling in the back of my mind that he knew where I lived. Maybe not who I was, but the area that I lived in.

On Wednesday morning the principal announced that we would be practicing a new drill. It was just like a lockdown drill, but a different alarm would play over the PA system, letting us know that it was an Enhanced and not a shooter. We practiced in our homeroom class, making our second period 30 minutes shorter in the process.  In advisory (which was in the library), Ms. Alexander projected the words “Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Giant Hogweed, and Cow Parsnip.”

“Can anyone tell me what these 5 plants have in common?”

A purposefully annoying kid, Liam, raised his hand. 

“They all have poison in their name?”

Ms. Alexander ignored him. Another kid raised her hand.

“The plant guy has them?”

“Yes but that's not what I’m looking for.”

This went on for a while. Certain people had some very wild guesses and several people had scientific answers. I was shocked. I guess I was the only one who had done any research into this guy last week. Eventually, Dustin Kropp came up with the right answer. 

“They’re all poisonous to the touch.”

Dustin was far from an ‘A’ student, and wasn’t someone to freak out about an enhanced attack, so it was a little weird that he knew, but he had probably been in boy scouts or something. 

The rest of the lesson was about identifying these plants and what the symptoms and treatments after exposure were. I only paid attention in case I had to administer first aid to anyone after an attack from this dude.

Jeremy gave me a ride home, which he hadn’t done in a while. It wasn’t very far so I usually didn’t mind walking after school, but it had started to rain, so Jeremy offered. The first few minutes getting out of the parking lot were silent, but once we got out of the way of the buses, we started to talk.

“I feel like I haven’t talked to your alone since last Thursday.”

We had, but only for very short periods of time.

“Yeah.”

“So um… What's going on in your life?”

“Mamá is going to propose to mom on Friday, they have a date.”

“Cool.”

As I’ve stated before, a lot of our conversations are really awkward.

“So dad has to work late on friday and I didn’t want to have to be home alone with all that's happening in the news, so I was wondering if you could come over?”

“That’d be great.”

He pulled into my driveway.

“See you tomorrow, Mikey.”

“See you!”

I hopped out and ran inside.

I had planned on going to the site of the crash to see if I could find any lead on this guys Identity, but the rain would have washed away any footprints and most of the plants he stole all grew normally in this area. The most frustrating part about being a superhero was that things happened while you had other things to do. 

One thing that was weird was that the school had only prepped us on the 5 plants that were mentioned on the news, they didn’t do anything with the plants that the guy in the interview had mentioned. I tried to find the video I watched the other day, but it was gone. It didn’t make sense for the police to want to hide that knowledge from people, as it would only make their job harder. 

The only thing that made sense was that this dude was working with someone else. It would be hard to hide all the plants in one place, imagine if your weird neighbor suddenly had a whole bunch of poisonous plants in his yard, so he was probably housing them with multiple people. And someone much more tech-savvy and on top of things was probably taking down videos off of youtube and other sites, marking them as copyright or something. It was even possible that there was a memory controlling Enhanced with him. A few had been seen and almost all enhanced organizations had someone who could do that. 

My phone buzzed in my hand, pulling me out of my thoughts.

It was the group chat.

BL: does anyone else remember the interview the one worker from the plant store did when they were robbed? 

BL: i cant find it anywhere

Me: I remember it, but I cant find a video

BL: do you remember what plants he mentioned?

Me: Venus Fly Traps, Plants in the Nightshade family (including Tomatoes), a Hedge, Pepper seeds, Melon seeds, and Squash seeds. Probably other stuff too

JD: how did u remember that?

RG: he totally has photographic memory

Me: that's not a thing

RG: nerd

BL: thx Mike

I hated when people called me Mike, but I didn’t want to start something or have Rich teasing me over it. The only person who calls me Mike is my dad, and he isn’t a good person. 

JH: don't call him mik

JH: it michael

BL: ok jermy

JH: don't @ me brooklin

I put my phone down and got started on homework. I hoped that the Enhanced would wait until after this week to attack. I really wanted to hang out with Jeremy alone on a day where we’re not in school or exhausted. 

I was just finishing when my phone buzzed again.

BL: HOLY SHI*T TURN ON THE NEWS

BL: THE PLANT DUDE ATTACKED A SECURITY GUARD

The Enhanced had used tomato vines to trap an officer against the side of the building he had been guarding. The building was a Biology lab that studied exotic plants. A spokesperson for the facility said that he had stolen fertilizer and nothing else. This lab was well known for studying manchineel trees, which were incredibly deadly. For him to steal only fertilizer meant that he was a huge amateur, which was doubtful considering what he’s already done, or had a plan.

The tomato vines were also weird. He could have used poison ivy and been more effective in securing the guard, but he chose to use the harmless tomato vine. That could have meant that his plan was even more intricate and thought out, but I felt like it meant he had empathy. 

The enhanced was described as a young white male with brown hair and brown eyes. The security cameras had blurry video of him breaking in. He looked familiar, but the video was too blurry to see anything and the description fit every white guy ever. 

RG: weird

JD: the description sounds like Jer

RG: jermy has blu eyes

BL: gay

RG: bi

JH: gross

JH: y would i be plant dude @jake

JD: white people are crazy

Me: they really are

BL: :(

RG: :(

JH: :(

The news switched to a different story and I turned the TV off. My moms were going to be home soon, so I started to make dinner. I felt uncomfortable. The lab was very close to the school, only about a half mile away. This meant that this dude was in the area. It was strange for two enhanced attacks to take place in the same area right after the other, especially if that area was in New Jersey. 

The next day at school, everyone was too anxious to do anything. It was like the day before a big snowstorm, no one was getting anything done and most of the teachers just gave us packets to work on. There was another lesson for advisory. It was the difference between an Enhanced assaulter and an Enhanced terrorist. 

Enhanced assaulters are people who get angry and upset and lose control of their powers. Attacking, injuring, and possibly killing others in the process. They usually aren’t planning their attacks for more than a couple hours and usually only try to hurt one person. That’s the kind of Enhanced madeline was. Enhanced terrorism was more about hurting lots of people. They will usually plan for many days, have more than one enhanced involved, and may use a combination of their powers and other weapons to hurt people. That’s the kind of Enhanced the Pyro was, and the kind of Enhanced Poison Ivy dude seemed to be. 

90% of Enhanced attacks were not premeditated. They were usually caused by bullying and did not involve much police investigation. The Enhanced individual involved would be sent to a special prison in nevada and went through a rehabilitation program. Many of these attacks could be stopped without the help of an Enhanced hero. Enhanced terrorists have never been stopped without the help of another Enhanced. 

The school also introduced some new rules. No one was allowed to go to the bathroom alone, they must bring a buddy of the same gender. The class room doors had to remain locked and closed at all times except for passing period. After school activities must have one teacher for every fifteen kids and anyone not with a teacher will be removed from the building. The janitors and teachers would now receive harsh penalties if they failed to lock all supply closets. The school also gained two more police officers to help the one we already had. 

By the end of the day friday, everyone was on high alert. We had another advisory lesson about how to incapacitate an Enhanced attacker. This was a really bad idea on their part, because now the attackers could incapacitate me, but it was helpful for anyone who wasn't a superhero. 

Jeremy gave me a ride home and gave me some time to pack my stuff. I said goodbye to my mothers and got back in his car. 

It was nice. We talked for a while, ordered pizza, and played Apocalypse of the Damned. 

“Want to watch a movie?”

“Sure. what’s new on HBO.”

We’d seen most of the good movies on Netflix, so we usually watched them on HBO.

“Love, Simon is available.”

We had both wanted to see it when it first came out, but that was before the SQUIP and neither of us wanted to be labled as gay. That wasn’t a problem now, though.

“Sounds good.”

He kept glancing at me throughout the movie. It was getting late and I was getting tired, so I rested my head against his shoulder, which made him temporarily stiffen and then relax. A couple of minutes later he put his arm around my shoulder. I sat there, enjoying the feeling until I felt him turn to look at me.

“Hmm?”

I turned my head to meet his eyes. He had a strange look on his face

“Can I kiss you?” 

His voice was barely more than a whisper. I nodded, not wanting to move much or say something and ruin the moment. He connected our lips.

It was a soft kiss. Sweet and tender. I had never kissed anyone before and Jeremy knew that. He was gentle as he pulled away.

“Ok?”

I nodded, catching my breath. 

He pulled me back in. I followed his lead as he deepened the kiss. He pulled me into his lap, biting my bottom lip. He started running his hands under my shirt. 

He pushed me off of him as his dad opened the front door. 

“Jeremy, I’m home. Oh, hi Michael.”

“Hi Mr. Heere.” 

I tried to sound like I wasn’t making out with his son a few seconds ago. He spoke to Jeremy for a second and then went upstairs. 

“Sorry.”

“Your fine.”

“I didn’t want him to see, because then he’d never let you come over unless he was home.”

“I get it.”

I was still a little shocked and out of breath. We were silent, listening to the wind outside for a while. 

“Is this, like, a one time thing, or …”

He looked at me. 

“It’s not just a one time thing. I don’t know if you want to call it dating, though. I don’t really want to tell anyone.” 

I wasn’t offended. We were both annoyed with everything being public as soon as it happened to us. It would be nice for people not to know.

“So like a secret relationship?”

“yeah.”

Chapter Text

On Sunday night, the fertilizer the Enhanced had stolen was found in the woods behind our school. It wouldn't have been suspicious except for the fact it was on specific plants, including those of the same species that he stole. If the town had calmed down at all over the weekend, it was pushed back into high alert. 

This was good, because it meant that Jeremy and I were not constantly being watched for gossip. This was also bad because the whole town was constantly suspicious of everyone, even though there was a public description of the guy. It was probably fair, we didn't know who he was working with, but what wasn’t fair was the prejudice.

When the Enhanced first became public knowledge, a lot of people were afraid and said that we weren’t humans. That we were a threat. That we should be destroyed. After a while, this fear mostly went away except for in the craziest of people's minds. But after every terrorist attack, there were periods were everyone was afraid again.

 It was similar to homophobia. There were camps and “therapy” that supposedly helped get rid of powers in kids and people were kicked out of their houses for being enhanced. It was a legal defense if you killed or injured someone after finding out they were an Enhanced. But it was mostly socially acceptable for people to be an Enhanced. 

It wasn’t fair, but it was probably natural that this fear existed. Imagine if a bunch of gay people stormed the white house and a bunch of other gay people had to stop them. Imagine if this was frequent. You probably wouldn’t be able to differentiate between the heroes and the villians, and would probably be suspicious of all gay people. Of course, this has never happened, so homophobia is not natural. 

It was sort of funny to watch. People were saying horrible things about the Enhanced, which concerned me, but no one had ever found out my identity before so I wasn’t worried. but people kept finding things online on how to identify an Enhanced. The most popular way was to have someone smile. Supposedly, no Enhanced has ever had dimples. I had two, so it was complete bull, but it was fun to watch. 

It was concerning to see what people would try. One wikihow article said that making a cut down the person’s face would tell you if they were an Enhanced or not. If it healed overnight, they were an Enhanced, if it didn’t or it had scared, they were normal. It was based on the myth that all of the Enhanced had super healing and that we didn’t scar. Most of us had super healing, but many didn’t and all of us could scar. I had scars on my wrists and legs to prove it. 

I should probably mention, the scars on my legs were from the Pyro, not from what the scars on my wrists were from. 

At lunch Brooke seemed a little on edge, even more so than everyone else.

“Is something bothering you Brooke?”

“People are awful. Someone tried to cut that weird kid nick. Like tried to slice open his cheek. They were only stopped because they used an actual knife instead of scissors or something.”

“Jesus,” Jake started, “he’s a little weird but he’s not a terrorist.”

“I know.”

I tried not to think about how Jake said terrorist instead of Enhanced. The rest of lunch we didn’t talk much. 

There was an assembly for advisory. The whole school was going to be there, which meant they couldn’t take attendance. Jeremy and I slipped into the bathroom while the rest of our classmates headed to the auditorium.

We were barely out of sight of the doorway when Jeremy gave me a small kiss. 

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

He pulled me in for another kiss, one that I cut short by pulling away.

“I’m not making out with you in a school bathroom.”

He pouted, and I gave him a kiss on the cheek. 

“Are you sure?”

I started to answer when we heard screams from the auditorium. There was the sound of a singular gun shot and then lots more screams. This was probably the Enhanced, the gunshot was probably the officer firing and him being taken out by the Enhanced. 

“Holy sh*t!”

“Maybe we’ll be OK if we wait it out in here.”

“Maybe.”

We hid in cabinets under the sink. I was worried, we could too easily be cornered in here and it was likely that I would have to use my powers to get us out. There were footsteps out in the hallway. 

I heard a distinctly female and familiar voice say “check in there.” but I couldn’t figure out who was speaking. Peeking through the keyhole, I saw a person come in. I tried to get a good look at their face, but they had a mask on. He looked in all of the stalls and then called “all clear” to the women outside. 

They started talking to each other right outside the door. 

“We need to find the two boys, they’re the only ones who could ruin our plan right now.”

“This school is huge, by the time we find where they’re hiding right now, they’ll probably have already escaped.”

“They were in the Library before the assembly, that means they’re between there and the auditorium. They probably don’t even know what has happened yet.”

I heard the footsteps fade. 

I stepped out from under the sink, Jeremy followed my lead.

“What should we do?”

Jeremy was starting to freak out. I pulled my phone out of my pocket before they came back.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“I’m at Middleborough High School. I heard a shot fired in the auditorium. The whole schools at an assembly, I think it’s the Enhanced terrorist from the news.”

“Ok. Police are on their way to the school now. Where are you in the school?”

“I’m in the bathroom on the first floor, by the library.”

“Okay, what’s your name?

”I heard footsteps approaching the bathroom again. 

“Jeremy Heere.”

Jeremy gave me a confused look as I hung up.

“You must have missed something. Go look again, I’ll check the closets by the auditorium.” 

One set of footsteps walked away. I couldn’t tell what the man was doing, other than the fact that he was standing outside of the door. He took a loud deep breath and stepped into the bathroom,seeing us almost immediately after he did. 

“There you two are!”

He raised his arms, a clear sign he was about to use his powers. I recognized the birthmark on his wrist. This guy was an Enhanced I had fought before. He could create poison and acid. I had never learned his name, but he was only a few years older than me. 

I raised my hand towards the sink, bursting the pipes. He sprayed some sort of acid at me and I met it with a wall of water. Jeremy hid behind me, which was going to make this a lot easier. He started taking steps toward us, eventually he stopped spraying acid. 

He started to step through the shield I had made with the water bringing his arms up to spray more acid. I brought down the light above our heads, electrocuting him through the water. He fell to the ground, limp. I hoped I hadn’t killed him and I turned around to make sure Jeremy was OK. 

His eyes were wide.

“You’re… you're him. You’re the hurricane. Holy sh*t.”

The small stutter he gave meant that he was caught off guard. He rarely stuttered after the SQUIP. I hoped he wasn’t mad at me. 

“I’ll explain later, but right now, I need you to stay here and wait for the police. They should be here any minute. OK?”

He nodded, eyes still wide. I smiled and kissed him on the cheek. I climbed on top of the sink and pushed one of the ceiling tiles up, climbing above it into the dead space. Our school had about 2 feet between the ceiling of the  first floor and the supports for the floor of the second, and the tiles were strong enough to support someone's weight. This was intended for repairmen to fix electrical and plumbing up there easily, but it also made it easy for students to crawl around up there. 

I changed into my suit, not wanting to have to stay invisible or quietly use my powers for another fight. I eventually crawled my way over to the auditorium. I peeked down through a hole in one of the tiles.

There were poison ivy vines in all of the isles between the rows of seats, and up against the door, if my wikipedia research was correct, were poison sumac trees, completely preventing any exit. Many more plants were on the stage, holding teachers and administration hostage. I could see the school police officers knocked out with bits of squash and watermelon around them. I crawled backwards, towards the ceiling above the control booth. Popping out another ceiling tile, I dropped to the floor of the booth. 

I seemed to have gone unnoticed by whoever was controlling the plants. Mr. Reyes, who must have been controlling the projector for the assembly, was wrapped in poison ivy and collapsed on the ground. I debated my options. I couldn’t see the guy who was controlling the plants, which meant he was either backstage or below the booth. I doubted he was backstage because that would mean he couldn’t see his hostages. I could go down the stairs and place myself at a disadvantage by announcing my location. I could make the sprinklers go off and confuse him, but then the sap from the poisonous plants would go everywhere, and there were already more than 50 faculty who were exposed to it. I decided that I should probably stick with my original plan of zapping the plants, which probably would only hurt a few bystanders.

I heard sirens pull up in front of the school, meaning that I should set my plan in motion now. I turned on all the lights, both on the stage and in the house. This could be done from up here, or backstage, so he would probably move out from below the booth to check both locations. 

“Who did that?”

I could hear him take a couple of steps, and I ducked behind the wall in the booth. He took more steps and I poked my head back up. He was moving towards the stage. I would give away my location pretty quickly once I started to use my powers, so I let him walk a bit. I concentrated on the electricity in the ceiling. I would have to shock all the plants I could at one time if I wanted to prevent the most people from getting injured. I focused on the poison ivy and poison sumac along the walls, doors, and next to the chairs. 

The police got kicked down the front door of the school loudly, causing the Enhanced to turn around. 

“Fuck”

This was the first time I got a good look at him. It was Dustin Kropp. I felt a little bad. He was mostly a nice guy. Sure he did weed and sometimes got in fights, but he was kind to people who were kind to him, and when some people at the school needed prescription medicine, like antibiotics, he would get it for them. I wondered if Chloe had been bullying him the past few months, and if that pushed him into insanity.

But then I remembered the women in the hall and the escaped convict. He had probably been recruited into a terrorist organization. They probably had a target at the school that they wanted to get rid of. 

 I shocked the plants right as the police started to open the doors. The plants wilted and burned in place, crumbling to dust as the police pushed the doors wide open. They saw Dustin and pointed their weapons at him. He controlled some of the plants that were behind him on the stage, lashing them out to try and hit the closest officer. I shocked those plants, drawing his attention to me. Something started to move from behind the curtain on the stage, and he shot some poison ivy vines at me. The control booth didn’t actually have glass in the window, which meant that I was wide open to get hit. I shocked the vines as they got close, trying to pace myself so that I didn’t run out of energy. 

The curtain on the stage started to move again. Some of the police officers were evacuating the students, while the others had begun firing at Dustin. He pulled some squash plants from behind the stage to block the bullets. I hopped down from the control booth and into the house. The last few students ran through the doors behind the police officers. The now available police officers shot at Dustin some more. 

Dustin raised his arms, and the thing behind the curtain rose up. It shot out too quickly for me to see what it was, but it knocked down two police officers. It shot out from behind the curtain again, slower this time. 

It was multiple massive venus fly traps on a very thick vine. It seemed like there were tomatoes on the vine, so it was probably the tomato vines he had stolen. The jaws of the plant seemed much sturdier than a normal sized plant and they were dripping with something black. As one of the heads of the plant got close to me, I could make out that it smelled very slightly sweet. Another one of the heads lashed out at a police officer, leaving him on the floor screaming in pain. The substance on its jaw seemed like nightshade, based on the officer’s reaction.

I decided that this fight had to end before someone innocent got killed, even if ending the fight meant seriously injuring some of the people in the room. I zapped the venus fly trap monster, but it barely affected it. I usually chose not to directly shock someone, as it would be a more direct and powerful shock, but Dustin was too dangerous. Concentrating hard on the electricity flowing to the spotlights, and on Dustin. 

I could feel his heart stop. Humans were controlled by electrical signals, so if I paid close attention, I could sense and control those signals. I had never done much with this knowledge, but it hurt now. I had never killed anyone before, and I had hoped I would never have too, but I had very few alternate options.

The room was silent, everyone staring at either the collapsed plant hydra or Dustin’s limp form on the stage. I turned and left the auditorium. I could hear the police officers and newly freed administration talking. I hopped up onto some lockers in the hall to get back into the ceiling, and to change back into my civilian clothes.

The students were all spread out in front of the school when I came out. I slipped into the group, no one even noticing that I had been missing before. The poison controlling enhanced was in a police car, he had woken up as the police arrived and was promptly arrested. Dustin was being taken to a hospital, but it was doubtful that he would live. Jeremy had a police officer talking to him, but was quickly let go. They must have been taking his account of what had happened. 

I heard police officers speaking about how the boy was absolutely going to die. They didn’t blame the Hurricane, because they themselves were under orders to kill if necessary. I walked away to meet Jeremy.

The school and the police were in no position to make us go through any sort of processing, so they told us to get home however we normally would and let us go. 

Jeremy and I walked silently to his car. He pulled out of the parking lot and took us straight back to his house. His dad was home and was a little concerned, but Jeremy hadn’t actually been in the auditorium, and I said I was one of the first people out after the police arrived, so he stopped worrying. 

Jeremy and I went up to his room. I sat silently on the bed, looking at him. 

“You said you’d explain, so, explain!”