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“Since school started, you’ve been… after me. As if you’re trying to make a point or something. Except I don’t know what it is,” I said.

Emma just looked at me a moment. “The point is that you’re a l—“

“No, this isn’t you. You wouldn’t do this,” I interrupted, feeling suddenly confident. I could see something, like a bubble around Emma’s head. I reached forward and before she could react, stuck my hand through and touched her cheek. As I touched her I felt a surge of warmth go down my arm and into her.

She staggered and fell backward. She looked stunned at first and then looked up at me with big eyes. “T-taylor? Oh my god, what have I done…” She buried her face in her hands.

I rushed over to her. “Emma? Are you ok now Emma? Tha— I don’t think that was you. I—I have a power now and…”

She looked up at me, tears running down her cheeks. “N-not me? B-but… you have a power now? Y-you’re a cape?”

I nodded uncertainly. “I think… I think I wiped away some kind of compulsion or something when I touched you. There was this bubble or film around your head and now its gone. And it…”

She latched her arms around me and hugged me tightly. Clung even. I found myself tearing up. “I—I’d missed you.”

“I—I think it’s going to be ok now,” she said.

After a moment I untangled myself from her embrace and just looked at her, the old Emma returned. It was like a dream. I felt myself smiling like I can’t even remember. The old Taylor too I guess.

“So I think my power maybe removes master effects? But who would have done that… and why?” I said and slapped my palm. “Sophia! It was her, wasn’t it?”

Emma shook her head slowly. “No, I don’t think that’s possible.”

I’m sure I looked as confused as I felt. “But it fits, I mean, it was right after she showed up right? And…” but Emma cut me off.

“No, uhm, we shouldn’t talk about this here. Why don’t you come by my place after school? If-if you still want to? I—even if I was under some kind of thing, I don’t get how you can forgive me?”

I hugged her again. “Oh Emma, it wasn’t you, “ I repeated, “so there’s nothing to forgive and of course I can come by your place after school.”

Emma stood up and brushed the dust from the hallway off.

“We should probably act as if we haven’t figured this out just yet. At least not until we can plan more. Someone might be watching you. If they did this to you once…” I said.

She nodded slowly. “That makes sense, so we’ll leave school separately and meet at my place at say, four?”

I nodded and smiled at her, my relief palpable. I can’t believe I have my friend back. Aaah, I just want to scream and dance, but hold it together Taylor.

The day passed slowly. Still, eventually school did let out and I headed home to drop off my things, then hopped on a bus toward Emma’s house.

When I arrived I rang the doorbell and Emma almost immediately answered the door, dragging me inside.

“C’mon, c’mon…” She hurried me up to her room. When we got there… it hadn’t changed much in the last year and a half. Less than I would have expected. There are some cape posters up though, which I found a bit surprising. One was Legend, and, ok, probably half the students with any interest whatsoever in boys had one of those on their walls. His unavailability probably increased his appeal. But the other was Narwhal, which was pretty shocking. And clearly not a PR approved image either, she had a snarl on her face and a forcefield bisecting a particularly tough looking villain.

“So I shouldn’t be telling you this, but you need to know. You have to promise to not say a word to anyone? Ok?”

I nodded. “Of course.”

“The reason I know that Sophia didn’t master me is that I know that she’s a cape and she doesn’t have powers like that.”

I looked at her stunned and after a moment I said “She’s a cape? What—who—how do you know that she just didn’t tell you everything she can do?”

She shook her head. “No that’s not how it works. Powers come in related sets. You don’t get random things. And she’s—ah, you really, really can’t tell anyone, but she’s Shadow Stalker. She can turn into like, this shadowy wraith form that’s insubstantial. It’s really cool, but has nothing to do with minds.”

“I guess that makes sense,” I agreed reluctantly.

“Oh! Taylor, we should tell her, she can help! She’s a ward. I bet she knows all about what to do when someone’s been mastered.”

I nodded again. “I guess that makes sense…”

Emma grinned excitedly at me. “No, this is perfect, you’ll see, she’s tough but she’s also pretty awesome. I think you’ll like her once you get to know her. I’ll just text her to come over…”