Gaining Strength

 “Whoa!” Menjie jumped to the side, barely missing the lamp that flew across the room. “We’re throwing things now?”

Trydan shrugged as he picked up a name plate from one of the teller stations. “What? You’re the one getting in the way.”

“Because you’re trying to rob a bank.” She watched as the name plate flew her way but fell short. “You seem more frustrated than usual. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” he growled. He formed a ball of lightning in his hands only to let out a startled yelp when it zapped him instead.

“Well, that’s obvious.” She crossed her arms. “Your powers are still shorting out. It’s been, what? Two weeks?”

He let out a huff, blowing a lock of red hair off his forehead. “Yeah. And I don’t know how to fix it!”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“What good would that have done!?” He grabbed a chair and hurled it at her.

She easily dodged it. “Why are you trying to rob the bank anyways? I thought we had a deal.”

“No. I agreed to help you deal with Strazak. I never agreed to stop doing the things that I love.”

She rolled her eyes. Oh brother.

He turned to the large safe and pressed his hand against the security panel, only to jump back and let out a low hiss as his powers shorted out, delivering a sharp zap to his hand.

Her arms dropped to her sides, a concerned look taking over her face. “Trydan, are you okay?”

“Why do you do that!?”

“Why do I do what?”

“Care about people!” He spun around to face her. “I’m a criminal for crying out loud! You shouldn’t be concerned about me! I’m a really bad guy!”

Menjie couldn’t help but laugh. “If you say so.”

He let out an aggravated huff. “May I please rob the bank?”

“What?”

He pointed to the safe. “Can I please rob the bank?”

“No.”

“Oh, come on!” He threw his hands into the air. “You should have pity on me! My powers aren’t working! C’mon Menjie, help a fella out.”

She shook her head, an amused smile stuck on her face. “No.”

His shoulders slumped. “Fine. I’ll see you later.” Then he shuffled past her and walked out the door.

She stared after him, her amusement slowly turning to concern. Oh, Trydan…

~*~*~*~

“How did it go?” Smokey asked as Dylan stormed into the house.

He shot her a glare. “As if you don’t already know.” He pointed to her television which was paused on a not so flattering picture of himself being electrocuted. “What is going on!? Electricity has never had an effect on me. I’ve traveled through wires, for crying out loud! I basically eat electricity for breakfast! So why is it shocking me?”

Smokey let out a long, thoughtful hum. “Well, I have a theory.”

He pressed his lips together as he waited. And waited. And waited. After nearly three full minutes, he threw his hands into the air. “Well, are you going to tell me!?”

She let out a long laugh. “What!? No, of course not! You’ve got to figure that out for yourself.”

“Seriously?”

“Honey, I can’t give you all the answers to life.”

He raised an unamused eyebrow. “How about a hint?”

“Nope.”

He looked from her to her TV and back again. “How far into the future did you look?”

“Twenty-five years.”

“And?”

“You were fine.”

“Well thanks for that.” He started towards his room but stopped as his phone vibrated in his pocket.

He hadn’t even pulled it out before his Aunt called, “It’s Gwen! She wants to know if you wanna go over and study. You should. Your history teacher is giving you a pop quiz on chapter seven tomorrow.”

He rolled his eyes. “So you’ll tell me that but you won’t tell me what’s wrong with my powers.”

“Of course. Me telling you about the pop quiz is cheating. Me telling you about your powers would be helping.” She wiggled a finger at him as she shook her head. “And you know me, Darling. I don’t help.”

He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yeah, I know. I’ll see you later.”

“Curfew is eleven o’ clock!” she yelled as he walked out the door.

“And you’re grounded if you come back before that,” he finished with her. “I know.”

~*~*~*~

Gwen stared at the ceiling of her bedroom.

She had been picking her brain apart trying to think of some reason for Trydan’s powers to be acting up the way they were, but she couldn’t come up with a single solution.

Maybe when he got frozen in that block of ice it froze some of the electrical cells and they died. But if that’s true then that means… he’ll never have his full powers back. He’ll be like this forever.

She covered her eyes and sighed. “He’ll be miserable.”

“Is everything okay?” Julia asked as she entered her daughter’s room. “You were really quiet when you came back.”

“Yeah, it’s just…” She pushed herself up into a sitting position, allowing her mom to sit down on the bed beside her. “I’m worried about Trydan. He tried to rob a bank before it was dark out, and his powers are still acting up. It’s been two weeks and every time he tries to use them, he ends up getting hurt himself.”

“And this is a problem?”

“Mom!”

Julia shrugged. “The thing is, Honey, he’s been using his powers for wrong-doing for years. I mean, how old were you when you fought him the first time?”

“Um… seven.”

“See?” She sucked in a deep breath and let out in a rush. “His actions were bound to catch up with him.”

“But Mom, Trydan isn’t a bad guy. He’s actually really sweet and he’s never hurt anyone. He’s just… misguided.” She stared down at her hands. “I just don’t like seeing him get hurt. It really scared me when he got stuck in that ice. And he did that to protect me, Mama. He didn’t have his powers but he still pushed me out of the way.” Her hands clenched into fists. “If he hadn’t done that, it may have been my powers going haywire. Or… I may not have come out of that ice.”

She missed the concerned look that passed her mother’s features.

Gwen naturally cares for people, Julia thought. But this seems like something more… Something stronger. She shook her head. No no no. That isn’t possible/

She reached out and gently laid a hand on Gwen’s head. “You just keep doing what’s right and be careful. Everything will work out.” Her eyes jumped to somewhere behind Gwen and a smile pulled across her face. “I’m going to go put together some snacks.” With that, she got up and left.

Gwen stared after her, confused for a moment, before she looked over her shoulder to see what had caught her mother’s attention.

Through the glass of her balcony doors she could see Dylan, standing on the outer edge of her balcony, hanging onto the railing.

He waved a hand at her, a bright smile on his face.

She couldn’t help but smile as she pushed to her feet and made her way outside. “What on earth are you doing?”

He nodded to the backpack hanging from his shoulders. “You wanted to study, right?”

“I meant, what are you doing hanging from my balcony?” She leaned over the railing, looking towards the ground. “How did you even get up here?”

“Oh, I climbed the…” He cut himself off with a frown as he looked down at the twenty foot drop. “I used a ladder.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Where’s the ladder?”

“In…” He looked around, as if trying to find an answer written in the empty air. “My… pocket?” He finished lamely.

Gwen burst into laughter. “Okay, fine. Why didn’t you come through the front door?”

“I’m not ready for the talk with your dad yet. And besides.” He grinned. “We’re studying Shakespeare. This seemed like the appropriate way to make an entrance.”

She leaned against the railing beside him and chuckled. “So you’re Romeo now?”

“If you insist. And I do believe that this is the part where Romeo gets his kiss.”

Without thinking, she reached out and gave his shoulder a shove, dislodging him from his place on the ledge, causing him to slip and lose his grip on the railing.

With a gasp, she reached out, barely managing to grab a hold of the front of his hoodie, and yanked him back upright.

He let out a surprised gasp as he latched onto the railing, his eyes wide. “You know,” he said as he attempted to regain his breath. “I think you actually owe me a kiss for that one.”

She rolled her eyes. “Get on this side of the railing before you kill yourself.”

“Or you kill me.” He stepped over the rail. “Oh! I also brought snacks!” He announced, holding a brown paper bag in the air.

Her eyebrows lurched when she caught sight of the swirling logo. “That bakery is crazy expensive! And you’ve got a full bag!?”

He shrugged, an impish grin crawling across his face. “They like me.”

She led the way into her room, where they found themselves a spot on the rug in the middle of her floor. “Where should we start?”

“Um… how about chapter seven?” He flashed her a wide grin. “Mr. Brock has been very interested in it lately.”

“We started studying it two days ago.”

“Which means it's the perfect time for a pop quiz, right?”

She stared at him for a long moment before she shrugged. “I guess so.” She watched as he pulled his textbook from his backpack and couldn’t help but notice that he looked tired. Really, really tired. “Dylan, you didn’t have to come. It would have been totally fine if you’d said no.”

He smiled. “I know. But I wanted to.”

“But you look exhausted.”

“I guess I am.” He shrugged. “It’s been a long couple of weeks and there’s some family drama going on at home. That’s why I decided to come. You somehow make everything better.”

She felt heat creeping up into her cheeks and quickly looked down at her own book. “That’s why I wanted you to come over. There’s just so much going on and…” She peeked up at him from under her bangs. “Everything always seems easier when you’re around.”

He let out a quiet laugh. “Then I guess that makes us the perfect pair, huh?”

“Absolutely.”

Dylan smiled and turned the pages to chapter seven. At least there’s one part of my life that is normal.

They both jumped as a loud crash sounded from outside, followed by a loud shout.

“Where is he!?”

Before either of them could move, her father ran into the room, grabbed each of them by an arm and pulled them to their feet.

“We need to take cover!” Mark said as he dragged them towards the door. “There’s a man outside who is smashing through buildings with his hands! I don’t know who he’s looking for, but it’s not safe to be up this high!”

“Smashing through buildings?” Dylan gasped as he tried to regain his footing. “Like he’s super strong?”

“I guess.” Once they reached the ground floor, Mark pushed him into a closet. “You hide here.”

Dylan stopped the door from closing with his hand. “What about Gwen?”

The man raised an eyebrow. “This may be a desperate situation, but do you really think I’d lock my daughter in a closet with you?”

Dylan threw his hands into the air, as if the man had pulled a gun on him. “Never mind! I didn’t mean-”

“I know.”

With that, the door swung closed.

Mark laughed quietly as he pulled Gwen to the living room. “Did you see his face? He thought I was about to shoot him.”

Gwen shook her head. “Dad, that was mean!”

“I’m your father, I’m allowed to terrorize your boyfriend.” He released her arm and nodded towards the door. “Find out who he’s looking for before he tears down the whole town. I’ve already got the police evacuating the area.”

“Daddy!” Maisey called from where she was staring out the window. “There’s a big man at the door!”

“Maisey! Get away from there!” Gwen ran across the room and grabbed the five year old, moments before the front door flew off its hinges.

“Is the mayor here?” the big man shouted as he stomped into the house. “You need to find someone for me!”

Mark frowned, moving between the man and his family. “Who?”

“I don’t know his name but he lied to me.”

“How am I supposed to find him if I don’t know who he is?”

“Figure it out.” The man pointed towards the door. “Now, you and your family had best come on outside real calm and quiet like, or I’ll bring down this whole house.”

Mark held his hands up. “Okay. Don’t do anything hasty.”

Gwen swallowed a cringe as she followed her family outside. How am I going to get away!?

“Now, I suggest you call your little news people and make a public announcement,” the man declared. “And tell that man that he has-”

“You talk too much!” Trydan called as he dropped down to the street. “Here I thought you’d be the strong silent type.” He tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Sterk. Let’s call you Sterk.”

Gwen had to resist the urge to face palm. Why does he have to name them?

“You!” the man shouted, pointing a large finger at him. “That man wanted me to find you!”

Trydan’s eyebrows lurched. “Really? Isn’t that interesting. Then I think I know who you’re looking for. So, why don’t we leave these nice people alone and I’ll take you to him.”

Sterk let out a loud, hard laugh. “Do you think I’m an idiot? I won’t fall for that trap! These are my insurance!”

Before anyone could react, he spun around and grabbed Gwen’s arm, yanking her forward. In the space of a heartbeat, Trydan’s hand grabbed onto the man’s wrist. His eyes glowed as he glared the man down.

“Let. Her. Go,” he growled through clenched teeth.

Gwen could only stare.

She had never seen such a murderous look on the boy’s face before.

Sterk snorted. “Shock me. I dare you.”

Trydan hesitated, knowing the chances of him actually zapping the man instead of himself were slim to none.

“That’s what I thought. I heard that your powers were acting up.” He released Gwen in favor of grabbing the front of the boy’s suit. “You’re basically useless right now. But it’s real sweet of you to try.”

Trydan tried to zap him, but as assumed, the shock didn’t make it past his fingertips and instead sent a jolt through his own body, which only made Sterk laugh harder.

Gwen started to run forward, intent on helping him, but her mother grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back, shaking her head.

“But, Mama-”

“No, Gwen. We can’t risk anyone learning of your powers,” Julia hissed.

Gwen desperately stared at the boy who was trying to free himself from the strong man’s grip. He’ll hurt him. Trydan doesn’t have any powers right now! Sterk could kill him!

She looked down at her hands, a determined scowl settling over her face. It’s only a problem if someone actually sees me use them… right?

“Your attempts are adorable,” Sterk snarled as he took a step towards the street. “But you will soon find that they are- gah!” He let out a shout of shock as the ground beneath his right foot disappeared. He lunged forward, throwing the boy from his hands as he crashed to the ground.

Trydan bounced across the rough ground before he skid to a stop.

Julia shot a look at her daughter, to which she just responded with an innocent shrug.

“What are you doing?” her father hissed, moving to her side.

“He can’t use his powers,” she responded under her breath. “He is literally risking his life to protect us right now. I’m not going to let him do it alone.”

He looked around at the crowd that was starting to gather due to the commotion and let out a deep breath. “Fine, but be careful.” He moved so that he was partially blocking her from the crowd, her mother doing the same on the other side.

Best parents in the world! She started to form another portal between her hands when Sterk spun to face them and she had to quickly snuff it out.

“Now, where were-”

Trydan jumped up onto the man’s back, wrapping his arms around his neck. “Leave them alone!”

With little effort, Sterk ripped him off and threw him into a nearby building.

Gwen’s hands flew over her mouth as he crashed into the brick wall and fell to the ground. He let out a pained groan but got back to his feet.

Why won’t he stay down!?

She tried to form a portal to temporarily trap the man, but he was facing them again. And once again, Trydan launched himself at the man, only to be swatted away as if he were nothing more than a fly.

He slammed into a light pole with such force that it swayed to the side before he fell to the sidewalk below.

~*~*~*~

Everything hurt. He knew if he were a normal human, he would be covered in bruises and every bone in his body would probably be broken.

But, luckily for him, his skin and bones were a bit more resilient. Unfortunately… That didn’t mean he couldn’t feel the pain.

His chest heaved with excursion as he pushed himself back up, his eyes glued on the man who was heading for the Mayor and his family.

Gwen… Can’t let him get… to Gwen.

He sucked in a deep breath and ran at the man, knowing very well how it would end.

Sterk spun around, grabbed him by the front of his shirt, and slammed him into the ground. He heard someone yell his name as the pavement cracked beneath him.

“You’re really starting to get on my nerves, boy,” Sterk growled. “You may want to back off.” With a swift swing of his arm, he threw him back into the light pole, knocking it over.

Trydan winced as the light smashed into the hard pavement and shattered, scattering millions of pieces across the ground.

He tried to get up again but found that he couldn’t.

Everything was starting to look hazy and the world was spinning.

Get up. You have to… you have to protect…

He opened his eyes when he heard someone yell his name and saw Gwen running to him.

She dropped to her knees at his side, her green eyes wide with panic. “Trydan! Trydan, can you hear me? Oh…” She reached out and gently took his face in her hands. “Please stay down. Please, he’ll kill you.”

He shook his head and made a move to get up. “Have to… Sterk…”

“No no no.” She tried to push him back down. “You need to stop.”

“Can’t.”

“You have to!”

Sterk’s booming laugh echoed through the air as he slowly made his way towards the two teens. “Oh this is precious. So much for a knight in shining armor. It looks like the Princess is the one doing the saving.”

Gwen felt something jolt inside of her, turning her panic into anger.

There’s only one person who is allowed to call me Princess…

She started to stand, but Trydan grabbed her arm.

“Don’t,” he gasped. “You can’t…”

She sent him a small smile. “I’ll be okay.” She pried her arm out of his grip and turned to face the man, a deep glare settling over her face.

“What do you want?” she demanded. “You said you were looking for someone. Why don’t you tell me why.”

“He lied to me!”

From the corner of her eye, she could see her parents frantically shaking their heads. Warning her to be careful and not to use her powers.“Did he? Or are you just assuming that because you assume that everyone lies to you?”

Sterk let out a long, low growl. “You know, for a little girl, you’ve got an awfully big mouth.”

Trydan looked around, desperately trying to find something he could use. Something he could give to Gwen so she could at least defend herself, when his gaze landed on the broken light.

Amid the broken glass, splintered wood and plastic was also a large puddle from the previous night’s rain. The wires from the light were hanging hazardously into the water, sizzling and popping.

The wires are shorting out… because of the water. He looked down at his hands. If you put an electronic in water it shorts out… what if my powers are shorting out because the electricity keeps running into water?

He sucked in a deep breath and placed his hand against the ground.

Separate the elements. Only use ice.

He almost laughed when the pavement beneath his hand froze. It worked! I have ice powers! But how… He shook away the thought as he pushed himself to his knees. No time for that now. I’ve got to deal with this menace first!

“Gwen!” he shouted, “Run!”

She immediately jumped out of the way as a wave of ice flew from his hands, hitting Sterk full on and freezing him from his feet to his chest. Her mouth dropped open as she spun around to look at the boy who was panting as he stood.

His breath came out foggy and shining with time crystals and his eyes were that light, icy blue.

He has ice powers!? When did he get ice powers!

“Gwen!” That time, it was her parents shouting. “Run! Run!”

She gave a small nod before she took off, knowing that she needed to escape before she could save them.

With a grunt, Sterk broke the ice surrounding him, his face becoming red with rage. “Since when could you do that?!”

Tydan shrugged weakly. “I dunno. Since two seconds ago.” A small smirk tugged at the corner of his lips as eyes flashed to their vibrant, glowing blue and a ball of electricity formed in his hand. “And guess what? I know what was wrong with my powers.”

Sterk laughed. “You may have gotten a hold of your powers, but you’re still too weak and tired to fight me for long.”

“Then I guess it’s my turn!” Menjie called as she dropped down to the street. “I think you’ve beat up my partner quite enough for one evening.”

Trydan sent her a weak smile. “Took you long enough.”

She laid a hand gently on his shoulder. “I’ve got this. Sit down.”

He shook his head. “I’m not sitting down until this jerk is finished. It’s personal this time.”

She knew it was useless to argue with him and turned back to face their opponent. “Who are you looking for? What did he do?” He opened his mouth to answer but she cut him off. “If you say he lied to you one more time I will drop you into the ocean. Now, tell us how he lied. What did he lie about?”

“That’s none of your business!” He ran at him, both fists ready to strike.

Menjie shoved Trydan out of the way and leapt into the air, gracefully flipping over the man’s head. She swung her feet around, catching him right beneath the skull, and sending him crashing into the earth.

Once her feet touched back down, she crossed her arms. “Once more. How did he lie to you?”

Sterk huffed, his eyes nearly black with anger. “He said he could help me!” He swung at her, but she easily moved out of the way, her enhanced agility making his large movements look slow and sloppy.

“How? How did he say he could help you?”

“He said he could help me get a job! And get my family back!”

Everything went deathly quiet as his answer echoed through the air. Menjie’s anger quickly died out as she looked at the panting man.

“What did he do instead?”

The man’s shoulders shook as his hands clenched into fists at his sides. “He… he… He turned me into a monster!” He grabbed a large truck and hurled it into the air.

Menjie watched in terror as it spun, heading straight for the crowd of onlookers who had started to scream and run. “Trydan!”

The boy responded immediately, shooting out a sheet of ice that rose towards the sky like a wall. The truck smashed into the barrier with a deafening crash and clattered to the street, leaving everyone unharmed.

She let out a short breath of relief, but it was short lived when Trydan’s voice shouted, “Menjie!”

She spun around in just enough time to see Sterk’s standing above her, both fists coming down like a set of twin sledge hammers.

Her breath caught as, once again, a tall figure  moved between her and the attacker. She saw his hands spark to life and shoot a bolt of electricity into the man, jolting him backwards.

As Sterk flailed towards the ground, one of his massive hands caught Trydan’s shoulder, sending him flying across the hard, rough pavement.

“No!” Menjie ran to her fallen partner, her heart pounding. “Why do you keep doing this!?” She leaned over his limp body, tears streaming down her face. “Please stop protecting me! I can’t… I can’t keep watching you get hurt!”

His eyes slowly cracked open as he looked up at her, the smallest hint of a smile coming to his face. “Not a chance… Princess,” he managed to whisper before his eyes fell back closed.

Anger came surging back as she spun to face the big man, who was starting to get back up. She ran across the short distance and, in one swift move, grabbed his shoulder and slammed him back into the ground.

She took little note of the cracks that spread out through the pavement, nor the surprised gasps from the crowd.

Sterk tried to push her off and get up, but he couldn’t move beneath the force she was using to hold him down.

“No one made you into a monster!” she snapped. “You did that to yourself! No one made you bust through buildings! No one made you attack people! No one made you hurt my partner! Now, unless you want to experience what you’ve been handing out, I suggest you tell me what’s going on and you tell me now!”

For a moment, she thought he was going to try and fight back, but he finally let out a deep sigh and relaxed beneath her hold.

“The day the comet crashed… my wife was on the phone so she got affected. She developed these powers and she hated them. She said they made her feel like a creep.” He sucked in a deep, rugged breath. “About a year ago, the stress got to her and she disappeared. I’ve been trying to find her but have had no luck. Then, about a week ago, this man contacted me telling me he could help me find her! He said he had some sort of software that could locate her!”

Menjie carefully released him and moved back, allowing him to sit up. “And?”

“He told me to get into this… this machine. Something about DNA or something. But instead, it did this.” He threw his hands into the air. “It gave me these powers! Powers I didn’t want! And then, he just dropped me here, saying something or another about you two, and disappeared!” He ran a hand down his face. “I panicked and I got angry and…” He looked around at the surrounding damage, his entire demeanor crumbling. “I didn’t mean to do any of this! I never wanted to hurt anyone! I was just… I was…”

“Scared.” She sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I think I know who you met, but I can’t tell you how to find him.”

Sterk looked up at her shocked. “You do?”

She nodded. “We call him Strazak. And I have a feeling you were a test subject and he had no way or intention of finding your wife.” She reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder. “But we might be able to. I can’t promise anything, but if you talk to that man over there,” She pointed towards her father, “he has all sorts of connections and we might at least be able to get a lead.”

Mark nervously walked forward and gave a confirming nod. “I can’t promise anything other than that I will do all I can.”

Sterk gave a slow nod, the small hint of a smile coming to his face. “Thank you. And I’m sorry.”

As the crowd began to clear and the Mayor led Sterk away, Menjie turned in search of her partner, but wasn’t too surprised when she found him missing. I hope he’s okay.

~*~*~*~

“Oh, what a day!” Gwen groaned as she fell back onto her bed.

After the initial panic had died down, she had run inside to find Dylan still standing in the closet.

After agreeing that there was no way they’d be able to calm down enough to study, he had left to go home.

“It certainly is going on my list of top five most crazy days,” her mother commented as she entered the room. “I was really concerned there for a moment.” She frowned as she leaned against the door jam. “Why do you suppose Trydan kept fighting back?”

“I don’t know.” Gwen sat up, sending the woman a tense smile. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t. But chances are, the world would know that I have powers.”

Julia nodded. “Maybe… Maybe I’ve judged him too quickly.” She turned to leave and called over her shoulder. “But he’s still a thief and deserves some of what he gets!”

Gwen chuckled. “Eh, baby steps.” She stood to follow but stopped when movement on her balcony caught her attention.

Her eyebrows lurched when she recognized the boy leaning against the railing, giving her a slow, casual wave.

“Trydan? What are you doing here?” she asked as she stepped outside, giving him a once over. “Are you okay?”

He smiled brightly. “I’m just fine. Just needed a few minutes to recharge. Literally.” He let out a small laugh. “I just wanted to pop in and check on you. What happened earlier was pretty terrifying.”

She let out a deep breath of air and nodded. “It was. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life.” She moved to lean against the railing beside him. “Thank you for protecting my family. And me.”

“Anytime.”

They fell into a comfortable silence for several long seconds before she slowly asked the question that had been plaguing her mind for the past few hours.

“Why did you keep getting back up?”

He looked at her, confused. “What?”

“Why did you keep getting back up? Even when it was obvious you couldn’t win… why didn’t you stay down?”

She had never seen him look as bewildered as he did in that moment.

“Because you were in danger,” he answered simply, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

She tore her gaze away from him and let out a small laugh as she pushed off the railing to head back to her room. “Oh. Because that’s what heroes do, right?”

He chuckled. “Right.” He turned, bracing his hands against the rail, ready to jump away into the night. “Well, I just wanted to make sure that you… and your family, were alright.”

“We are. Thanks to you.” She looked over her shoulder at him with a soft smile. “Thank you, Trydan.”

He gave a small nod. “You’re welcome, Gwen.”

She watched as he hopped up onto the banister and gritted her teeth. “Wait.”

She ran the six feet that were between them and bounced up onto her toes, aiming to plant a kiss on his cheek.

But, her voice and her sudden movements made him turn to see what she needed, and a second later, her lips pressed against his.

She froze, her eyes blowing wide as her brain screamed for her to jump back. But, in the space of a heartbeat, the thoughts were pushed far from her mind when she realized that he was kissing her back.

His hand gently moved to her face as he leaned in just a bit more before pulling away. His eyes glowed in the darkness as he looked down at her.

Ever so slowly, he moved away. “Have a good night, Princess,” he whispered before he jumped away.

Gwen stumbled backwards, her hands flying to cover her cheeks. What just happened!?

~*~*~*~

Dylan whistled as he strolled into his house, not at all surprised to find his aunt sitting in front of her television.

She looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. “Are you proud of yourself?”

He couldn’t stop the silly grin that crossed his face. “As a matter of fact.” When she continued to stare at him, he laughed. “What? She is my girlfriend.”

“She’s whose girlfriend?” she retorted.

“Mine.”

“Who?”

“Aunt Smokey!”

She held her hands up. “I know that she’s your girlfriend, Dylan. But I have to ask, was it Dylan that kissed her?”

He froze mid-step, his eyes widening in horror. “Oh no.”

Smokey burst into a cackling laughter. “Oh yes.”

He dropped his face into his hands. “No no no! What did I do!?”

“Well, to be fair, she kissed you.”

“By accident! It was my fault!” He looked back at the door. “Should I go back?”

“Why? To kiss her again?”

“Aunt Smokey!”

She stood up. “It’s too late to do anything about that now. What I want to know is… your powers. You figured it out.”

He nodded. “I have ice powers now. How?”

“Because when Frysta froze you you absorbed that power.” She stroked her chin thoughtfully. “What I find interesting though is that that little Menjie was able to hold that great big Sterk down. Almost like she had super strength of her own.” She sent him a smug smile as she turned to head down the hall to her room. “Interesting, don’t you think?”

Trydan stared after her, his mind running in circles.

I have ice powers now on top of my electricity. Menjie was stronger than Sterk! But how!? And why is this all coming out now? Is this normal? Did Menjie even notice?

What is going on!?

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