“We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”
Lilly had made out of the lunch area like a bat out of hell which meant talking to her would be out of the question. So I made my way towards Chad. The guy was the quietest, most stoic person I’d ever met. How he and Dylan ever became best friends is beyond me. It’s like Chad was grumpy cat and Dylan was the one person who could get away with anything with him. Caleb probably could too, but he seemed to walk a in the middle between the two personalities.
“Hey Chad!” I called out, jogging up to him. “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
“I was planning on heading into the city for a bit since I don’t have anything to do at the hospital at the moment. Well why don’t you come hang out with me?”
“No. I have things to do.”
“But you just said-”
“I know what I said. I don’t know where I’m going, but I have things to do.”
“Really? I’d say you don’t want to go because you’re avoiding me,” I said, crossing my arms.
“Because I don’t want to talk to you and I don’t want to hang out with you.”
“Please tell me what I did to make you not like. I’ve tried to be nice to you whenever you’re around yet you treat me like I’m inferior to you, or that I’m not worth your time.”
“Why would you care about someone you just met?” He asked, sounding annoyed.
“How about because you always seem so lonely, you never speak, you never look like you’re having fun, and it doesn’t seem like you have many friends.”
“I have friends.”
“Okay, besides Caleb and Dylan, who are your other friends?”
“I don’t need anyone but Caleb and Dylan.”
“Everyone needs more than two friends.”
“Your friend Lilly has the same amount of friends back on Earth and she seems to be doing just fine.”
“Lilly has more than just two friends back on Earth! Why are you being such an ass to someone who’s trying to be a friend to you?”
“Because I told you, I don’t want to be friends with you,” he retorted. “Especially with a girl who trails me around like a puppy dog. It’s embarrassing.”
His words were like a slap in the face to me, not only because they hurt, but because they embarrassed me. A lump formed in my throat, something I swallowed down so I could briefly reply, “I’m sorry I’ve embarrassed you. Have a good day.”
With my arms tight across my chest, I made my way over to the hospital. I didn’t have any work but that didn’t mean none could be found. But halfway there, the tears started spilling down my cheeks. Chad’s words hurt more than I cared to admit. I had simply been trying to be friendly because he honestly seemed like he needed one, but that’d backfired so severely.
“Viv, you okay?” Caleb’s voice inquired. I looked up at him. “What happened?”
“Nothing, nothing, I just had a… sneezing fit,” I lied.
“Okay, well either you sneezed really hard about fifty times or you’re lying to me. Which one is it?”
“I don’t want Chad to get in trouble.”
“What did he say to you?” Caleb inquired immediately.
“I was trying to be friendly to him, just asking if he wanted to hang out with me, go walk around the city, and he told me no. I pushed him by asking why he was being so rude to me and he finally just said that it was embarrassing him to have me following him around like a puppy dog. I should’ve have pushed him like that. I should’ve let it go. It’s my fault.”
Caleb closed his eyes, letting out a big sigh. “I’ll talk to him. Listen, Chad’s not a warm, fluffy guy. He’s had a rough childhood that makes him stay far away from people, but that doesn’t excuse him for how he treated you. Go find Dylan. He’ll show you around the city and cheer you up. I have to get to my lab, have a new project to work on.”
“What about Lilly’s powers? Have you figured out what they are yet?”
“I’m always working on that. So far nothing has made itself known but I’m not going to let her be my first failure. I won’t stop working on that until I get it. If you see her, tell her I’m back in my lab if she wants to join me. It kind of feels weird being in my lab and not having her around asking questions,” he chuckled.
“She’s in her room I think.”
“Maybe I’ll stop by there and see if she wants to join me. Dylan should be in the kitchen. Just go on in there. Don’t let what Chad said bother you, okay?”
I nodded. “Thank you Caleb.”
“I’m always here to lend an ear when you need one. I’ll see you later!”
Chad happened to be on the elevator on the ride down to my lab. I cornered him, asking, “Why did I pass Vivienne crying in the hallway?”
“I don’t know,” Chad said, easily masking the lie.
“Really? So it has nothing to do with you telling her that it’s embarrassing having her follow you around like a puppy?”
“Why are you asking me why she’s crying when you already know the answer?”
“Because I want to know why you were a dick to her when all she’s done is try to be nice to you. Wait until Dylan finds out about this and you lie to him about it. You’re going to have to buy a new pair of pants again.”
“I lied to her. It’s not embarrassing and she doesn’t follow me around like a puppy. I told her that to get her to stay away from me.”
“Why? She’s just trying to be a friend, and if not a friend, at least friendly. I know her well enough to know she’s like that with everyone she meets.”
“You know why. You and Dylan are different but she’s good. I’m not. I’m poison.”
“Your brother’s poison, not you. You are not your power, Chad. Remember that. And before Dylan burns your pants on fire, you might want to apologize to Vivienne next time you see her.”
“Where’s your shadow?” Chad queried as we stepped off the elevator. He walked to my lab with me.
“Right there,” I replied, pointing to the black mass walking beside me.
“No, I mean that Snow girl. The one that actually does trail you like a puppy.”
“Lilly does not trail me like a puppy. She’s just very inquisitive and I typically have all the answers. I enjoy having her around. It’s nice to have someone that’s interested in what I do.”
“Are you sure she’s interested in what you do rather than you?”
“Positive. I still haven’t figured out her power yet. It’s driving me nuts. So in the meantime, I working on a project for Esmeralda.”
“One I’m doing so grudgingly.”
“Does it have to do with my brother?”
“Unfortunately. Come on, I’ll show you.”
The next two weeks went by slowly. Dylan had found out about Chad being mean to Vivienne and burned his pants off when Chad lied to him about hurting Viv’s feelings. Esmeralda came to visit me every day to talk about my progress on the project she gave me. The project was completed much faster than expected so the second part would be going underway as soon as possible. Lilly hadn’t been down to my lab in two weeks which made me begin to worry. When noon struck (which is three in the afternoon for us, not twelve like you earthlings), I decided to head up to Lilly’s room to see how she was doing. I knocked on her door, waiting impatiently for her to answer. She definitely wasn’t in training since I’d asked Iris beforehand.
To my amazement, Lilly opened the door. She stood there looking rather surprised by my presence.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Lilly asked, cocking her head.
“I wanted to come see how you were doing. You haven’t been in my lab for two weeks. I was getting worried. You feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I just haven’t been feeling well.”
“Do you have a cold? Do you need some medicine?”
“No, no, it’s okay. Thank you though.”
I stared at her, taking in her appearance. Although she didn’t appear sick, I wondered if she wasn’t feeling well for another reason. “What’s on your mind?”
“Everything, but that’s nothing new since I got here,” she replied, giving me a tired smile.
“Have you eaten today?”
Lilly nodded. “I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast.”
“What about lunch?”
“Not yet. I’m not hungry after training.”
“Okay, get dressed. I’m taking you out to lunch to eat an actual meal because you can’t run all day on cereal.”
“I appreciate the offer but I don’t want to go out to dinner. I’m not hungry right now.”
“So tell me what’s wrong so I can help, because I know that look and I know something’s bugging you.” She bit her lip, contemplating on whether or not to accept my offer. With a deep breath, she moved aside so I could come in. I took residence on the arm of her couch. “All right, spill.”
“I don’t know. It sounds stupid saying it out loud and it’s typically not like me to even care about this sort of thing because I’ve never had to,” Lilly said, running a hand through her hair.
“You’ve just been thrown into a different world and found out you were part of a massive prophecy. You’re probably not going to act your typical self for a while.”
“It was something Esmeralda and Dylan said in the meeting a couple weeks ago. She mentioned how everyone was taking an interest in me and Vivienne because of the prophecy. Then Dylan said they should get one of Viv’s many friends to come check on the plants because apparently there’s something wrong with the heating and it’s causing havoc on the plants but that’s beside the point. My point is that it got me thinking about who’s friends with us because of what we are, rather than who we are,” Lilly explained, turning shy at the end.
“You think people are befriending you and Vivienne because of your powers instead of your character?” I asked.
“That’s a more eloquent way of putting it… I don’t know, I just began thinking about it and my insecurity of being in a new place got the better of me, so I began distancing myself from people until I could clear my head. I’m also really missing home at the moment which isn’t helping. I’m an only child, I can handle being by myself, but with everything going on, it’s becoming a little overwhelming. I can’t talk to Vivienne because she’s always at the hospital. I love Dylan but I don’t know him well enough that I could spring this on him. Chad doesn’t like me. And then I’m always asking you questions and talking to you about my worries and I didn’t want to add this new problem to the list.”
“Lilly, you can come to me for anything and everything. That’s what friends are for first of all. Second of all, you’re here because of us so it’s our job to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Third, I swear to you that I’m not being nice to you because you’re part of the prophecy. I’m friends with you because you’re cool, you’re nice, and you’re the first recruit I’ve ever met that took an interest in what I do. I’ll admit, it felt good to have someone interested in what I do,” I said with a smile. “Can I ask you something?”
“Considering how many questions I’ve asked you, fire away.”
“Did you think I was being friends with you because you’re in the prophecy?”
“I considered everyone except Vivienne,” she confessed, glancing down at the ground. “But I had a hard time believing any of you were like that. People here seem a lot more honest and just… better than people on Earth do. Maybe that’s because of your history, I don’t know. But I don’t believe anymore that you were. I decided that pretty fast. Same with Dylan and Iris.”
“Chad could care less about me so I didn’t worry too much about him,” Lilly said with a small laugh. “I’m sorry for doubting you, Caleb. You gave me no reason to, all you’ve done is be kind to me.”
“Don’t worry about it. If I was in your position, I’d probably think the same at some point. I have an idea. It still involves lunch because I’m getting hungry, but it also includes me telling you about a high-priority project that might involve you coming with me to visit where this thing is going to.”
“What does the project involve?” Lilly inquired, sounding interested. She grabbed a drink out of the fridge and braced herself against the kitchen counter.
I walked over to Lilly, leaning on the counter myself to face her, and replied, “Have you ever met a murder?”