It had been Reed who noticed first.
It would have been pretty hard for him not to, considering it took less than a week after returning to Dalton for him to literally rip his bedroom door off its hinges.
“What the—“ Kurt had yelped, the scream dying in his throat as soon as he caught sight of Reed’s horrified expression.
“I—“ Reed stammered, his gaze flicking between his hand and the door. He was at a loss for words. The doorknob remained in his clenched fist, metal warping under his fingertips.
“DId you just…?” Kurt’s eyes met Reed’s, staring in horror, and Reed gulped.
“I’m sorry!” He dropped the doorknob all of a sudden, his hands shaking. “I’m—I—I don’t know what—“
“Hey,” Kurt replied softly, getting to his feet. “Hey, it’s…it’s okay…”
He crossed the room carefully, approaching with his arms outstretched. “It’s okay, Reed. Are you alright? Are you hurt?”
Reed shook his head rapidly. “No, I’m—I’m fine, I just…I don’t know what that was.”
The two boys stared at each other for a moment, when Kurt suddenly laughed.
“Where—where did that come from?”
Reed chuckled nervously. “I don’t know, I—“ He took a moment to compose himself, looking around his feet to assess the damage. The door had clattered to the floor, wood chips spattering their side of the hallway. A huge chunk was missing where the doorknob had been, and the knob itself now lay at Reed’s feet. Still approaching slowly, Kurt bent down to pick it up, eyes widening further as he noticed how the metal had warped.
“Um,” Reed stammered, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “I…should maybe go see the nurse?”
Other incidents followed. The twins, while chasing Wes around Windsor with their Nerf blasters, had been shocked and delighted to find an additional copy of each of them suddenly joining in the pursuit. They had backed Wes against the banister overlooking the common area, and he had surprised all five of them by lifting himself off the ground, backflipping gracefully over the railing and descending to the floor below. Four identical pairs of eyes had blinked rapidly at each other from above, and they had slowly lowered their blasters, recognizing that a serious conversation needed to be had.
That was how Charlie had found them: the twins seated on the couch opposite their doppelgängers, with Wes in an armchair hurriedly Googling things like “sudden acquisition of superpowers.”
“Please tell me you’re seeing this,” Charlie had remarked to Wes, who looked up sheepishly.
“They’re real,” he confirmed, and Charlie closed his eyes wearily.
“Why,” he started, his brows knitting together, “are there four of you?”
“We don’t know,” replied Ethan with a shrug.
“It just sort of happened,” added Ethan.
The doppelgängers didn’t speak, and it occurred to the others that perhaps they couldn’t.
“Can you make them go away?” suggested Wes, and when the twins exchanged a thoughtful glance, suddenly the multiples disappeared.
Charlie gaped. “I’ve lost it,” he announced. “I have officially—are we even sure you two are real?”
“I’m real,” Wes frowned. “And I saw them too, so.”
“Show him yours,” Evan said with a grin. Wes looked hesitant.
“I’m…not sure I could do it again.”
“Do what?” Charlie asked, although he didn’t sound like he really wanted to hear the answer.
“Fly,” Ethan replied anyway.
“Wes can fly now, apparently,” Evan explained. “Or…fall really slowly?”
“Isn’t that basically what flying is?”
“Alright,” Charlie interrupted before they could go off on a tangent. “You’re telling me you—you two can make duplicates of yourselves, and Wes can fly. Is that right?”
Evan and Ethan looked at each other, then nodded. “Yup.”
Despite having seen the duplicates with his own eyes, Charlie still wasn’t sure he believed them.
That is, until he did a full-body slide onto home plate at practice and walked away completely unscathed.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” the trainer had asked him, visibly perplexed by the lack of marks on his skin. He tried to appear unbothered as he waved her away, but he was well aware of how hard he’d hit the ground, and especially considering his still-healing injuries he knew he should have been more affected. He might have just chalked it up to dumb luck, but after his conversation with Wes and the twins, he was starting to wonder if there was more to it.
It was probably a stupid idea, testing it out like this. But he had to know.
His breath hitched as he carefully pressed the tip of the knife against his palm. He gasped in anticipation of the pain, was fully prepared to stop before he could actually draw blood. But he felt nothing. No pain, not even mild discomfort. Eyes widening, he drove the blade in further. Nothing. The blade didn’t even pierce his skin.
The voice over his shoulder made him jump. He hadn’t heard anyone approaching, but when he turned, he saw Dwight, eyes wide and hand reaching for his holy water sprayer.
“Dwight,” Charlie breathed. “Hey, buddy, um. This isn’t—“
“Put. The knife. Down.”
Charlie immediately raised his hands, moving as slowly as he could manage. He carefully set the knife on the counter, not breaking eye contact even as Dwight’s gaze flicked toward his hand.
“It’s okay,” he said carefully. “See, look? I’m not hurt. I was just trying something out.”
Dwight seemed to relax a little, but when he opened his mouth to speak, he was interrupted by a deafening clap of thunder.
“What—“ Charlie stammered, and Dwight instantly raised the spray bottle, clutching it with both hands.
“Are you possessed?” he hissed. “Are you a demon? Why are you trying to hurt yourself?”
“I’m not!” Charlie gasped out, still holding up his hands in surrender. “I’m not, I wasn’t—look, see, I’m not hurt! I was trying to see—”
Another clap of thunder sounded, and Charlie froze. Hadn’t it been sunny when he walked home?
“How are you doing that?” Dwight yelped, his voice shaking. Charlie swallowed hard.
“I’m not, Dwight,” he said carefully. “I think you are.”
Their group therapy session that week was unusual, to say the least.
“So…this is happening to everyone?” Reed said in disbelief, looking between the twins, Wes, and Charlie.
“I think so,” Charlie said. “Or at least a fair number of us.”
“The only resource I could find was a case study on metahumans.” Wes glanced nervously around the group, all gathered a half hour early so they could speak freely without their counselor hearing. “It was about a few people who suddenly developed…well, superpowers, basically. They sequenced their DNA and found a bunch of stuff not usually part of the human genome.”
“And that’s happening to us?” Justin said skeptically.
“These people all had their powers manifest after a traumatic event,” Wes explained.
Several members of the group exchanged glances. They certainly fit the bill.
“But why not all of us?” Blaine countered.
“Not everyone has the metahuman DNA,” Kurt pointed out. “Right? I mean, if it’s different from normal.”
“Yeah, if it was everyone, we’d have a lot more people developing superpowers after going through trauma,” Charlie agreed.
“We’d certainly know more about it,” added Justin.
“Why so many of us, then?” Blaine looked between them all. Reed, the twins, Wes, Dwight, and Charlie - over half the group had turned out to have these powers. “There’s no way sixty percent of the population is metahuman.”
“Maybe it’s got nothing to do with metahumans?” Justin suggested. “Maybe…I don’t know, it’s something to do with what happened to us, specifically?”
“Maybe we’ve been cursed,” Dwight whispered.
“Then why would only some of us have powers?” Charlie nodded to Blaine. “You haven’t had anything strange happen, right?”
Blaine shook his head. “Neither has Kurt,” he added.
“Maybe you just haven’t discovered them yet.”
All heads turned to look at Julian, who had spoken up for the first time all evening. Hiding behind dark sunglasses and swathed in a black hoodie, he all but disappeared into the background, a far cry from the way he usually commanded a room. Beside him, Logan sat just as unassumingly, hands folded in his lap. Neither looked like they particularly wanted to be here.
“That’s a good point,” Reed said after a pause. “I figured mine out pretty quickly, but Charlie, you said you only noticed a day ago?”
“Pretty much,” Charlie agreed. “I don’t know when it actually started. I didn’t notice until I got hurt.”
“And I definitely didn’t notice until I was thinking of jumping off the banister,” Wes piped up. “Hell, I’m still not sure how I did what I did. I can’t do it now.”
“I don’t think I can control mine, either,” Dwight said quietly. His hands clutched the talisman in his lap. “If it really is me doing it.”
“Julian,” Reed said carefully. “Is there something you can do?”
Julian didn’t answer. Wordlessly, he pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. He tossed it into the air, and Logan flinched. A chorus of gasps sounded from around the two of them as it burst into flames, extinguishing itself in a small heap of ash as it fell to the ground.
“I’m also immune to fire,” he said in a low voice. “Not sure when that started. Maybe in the art hall, I don’t know.”
Reed blinked. “Okay,” he said. “So that’s seven of us. So far.”
At that, Julian glanced over at Logan, raising an eyebrow. Logan gave him a wary look. “Do I have to?”
“We’ve all shared,” Julian said, the ghost of a smile crossing his face. Logan sighed, and with one last glance to the rest of the group, he spun around in his chair and tugged his hoodie up over his shoulders.
Folded against his back was a pair of white, feathered wings, which began to unfurl as soon as Logan’s shirt was removed.
“Holy shit,” breathed Kurt, and beside him, Reed’s mouth fell open. The others all stared, transfixed, as Logan’s wings stretched, spanning nearly as wide as Logan was tall. Once they’d all gotten to see, he tucked them back into themselves, carefully pulling his hoodie back down over them and turning around sheepishly.
“I can’t feel them,” he said by way of explanation. “But they’ve been there since I got home from the hospital.”
“Wow,” Blaine whispered.
“Okay, so that’s…” Charlie did a quick headcount, eyes lingering on Justin. “All but three. So far.”
“We haven’t heard from Micah, either,” Reed pointed out.
“True. So three or four left. I think…” He pursed his lips. “It’s probably safe to say that’s not a coincidence.”
“We’ve been cursed,” Dwight repeated. “I keep telling you—“
He stopped abruptly, eyes going wide as the door opposite him opened.
“Hello everyone,” their counselor greeted, and they all exchanged nervous glances across the circle. There was an unspoken message in each of their eyes: Don’t talk about it. Not with her.
“Hi, Dr. Marks,” Charlie greeted her, and she beamed at him as she pulled up a chair to join the circle.
“Glad to see you’re all here early,” she said casually, settling her clipboard on her lap and pulling out a pencil from behind her ear. “So. How has everyone’s week been?”