"So, this is it," I said, incapable of hiding my smile. I turned to look at Elena, wondering why the hell she looked so nonchalant.
I was finally doing it, leaving. But I expected some tears. Where's the love, the affection? The tearful promises, however false they may be? Elena nodded, looking around the entrance of the airport, hands in her pockets. Also, I knew the hit out on my life was fake, but what was with the lack of any and all concern?
I narrowed my eyes at her, trying a different tack. "Aren't you gonna miss me at all? This isn't goodbye, but-" If I didn't sell this, I wouldn't leave with my life.
Elena's phone beeped and I stopped, watching as she immediately retrieved it.
"Okay," I said, trying to act casual. "Nice, so my flight leaves in-"
"Oh, shit, we've got a situation," Elena said suddenly, cutting me off. "C'mon, we gotta go."
"Lenie, I can't my flight leaves in-"
She turned her adorable blue eyes at me, silently pleading. "Three hours, we'll be finished by then, I promise! Taxi!" Elena wrenched open the yellow door, looking up to stare at me. "Are you coming or what? I promise I'll keep you safe!"
My brain screamed no! "Ugh, okay, fine! Three hours, Lenie, three hours-" But I was already moving, stowing my luggage in the back and entering the cab.
"I love you, we'll fix this, don't worry." Elena beamed at me, rattling off an unfamiliar address to the driver.
"Okay, what's going on?" I asked, hoping that I didn't just jeopardise my one chance of leaving. The hit was fake, but Price had to make it look real, and he had warned me that his super-powered assassin wouldn't hesitate to kill me.
"I can't tell you right now," Elena widened her eyes, meaningfully glancing at the driver.
"The man's barely following the speed limit, Elena, I don't think he's interested in our conversation!" I whispered back at her, grinning awkwardly at the driver when he glanced into the rearview mirror. "Elena!"
"I'll tell you when we get there, relax." Elena craned her neck, staring out the windows.
I rolled my eyes exasperatedly, throwing myself back on the seat. Relaxing was impossible right now. There was a super-powered killer waiting to tear me in half, and I was going back to the people I was supposed to be escaping from!
The ride was uncomfortably quiet, everyone doing their level best to avoid any and all noise. Every shuffle, sniffle, or cough earned quizzical looks from one of the other people in the cab.
When I couldn't bear it anymore I broke the silence, looking at Elena. "Okay, Lenie, about earlier, I really just wanted to say goodbye properly-"
"We're here," Elena informed me, seemingly getting out of the cab before it even stopped.
"Okay, good talk," I muttered, handing the driver some cash. "Now will you tell me why we are here? I'm kind of meant to be on the run?" My blood ran cold when I considered the possibility that they knew.
"We've got him," Elena said, looking intently at me.
"Got who?" I asked, feeling trepidation now. Oh no, oh no, no, no!
"Carmichael, he's gonna lead us to the big boss, and then you don't have to leave," Elena replied, smiling as my heart skipped a beat.
Ordinarily, I would melt when that smile made its appearance. Today, I wanted to drag my hands down my face. "What?" When, how, why? That explained why Elena was so normal today, that explained why the hell these guys hadn't bothered seeing me for the last few days.
They'd been hatching a kidnapping plot! And any, freaking second now, Carmichael would inform them that there was no hit out on me, no bounty, nobody trying to actually kill me.
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.
"Relax, I promise, we'll get him this time, and you won't have to leave." Elena kissed me lightly on the lips, smiling widely. Oh, I hate those dimples and those ridiculously, adorably, intoxicating blue eyes.
Literally, every word that came out of her mouth made me want to curl up and die. This is what I got for trying to escape.
Flashing a quick smile, I followed Elena inside, furiously trying to figure out a way to get out of this. I could run right now, but Elena could find me anywhere in this city, and she knew all my aliases.
I could kill Elena, but then Jerry would find me and figure it out. I could try and kill Sidney, but Sidney was basically immortal.
I took a deep breath as Elena approached a large red door. That settled it, I would have to kill Carmichael. Even if he hadn't already talked, he was a normal human, and Jerry and Sidney would make him talk.
Elena pushed open the door, and a horror scene greeted me. Carmichael tied up, Jerry holding a drill gun, and Sidney loudly narrating a WikiHow article on torture.
I felt faint, even without there being any blood. Holy crap, this was the reason I wanted to run. When we started out, we were a group of loveable, sarcastic, wholesome teen superheroes. Very quickly, everyone adopted a Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games, meets Girl With the Dragon Tattoo vibe and before I knew it, we were doing things that made me wake up screaming at night.
This? The game with the drill gun was nothing. Four teenagers with superpowers were terrorizing this city, and the only man that could stop us was the Big Boss, a.k.a. Jeremy Price, Sr. I had made a deal with Mr Price to escape, and I handed over a lot of information on my teammates.
I gulped when I made eye contact with Carmichael, who smiled viciously. He knew, and he would probably tell them. He hated me, and this was just as good a way to tear this merry band of psychopaths apart. "Guys, what's going on? We said goodbye two hours ago, you miss me already?"
Jerry set down the drill gun, and Sidney mercifully stopped talking about femurs and important arteries.
Jerry grinned at me, "Roxie! You're gonna love your new present! May I present to you, David Carmichael!"
I smiled and slipped into the role. Hell, I was the violent one in the group. "Present looks a little less dead than I would like. Wait, are you going to use the drill gun on-" Carmichael raised a taunting eyebrow at me, and I stared him down, wordlessly begging him to keep his duct-taped mouth shut.
"It's not for him, we just need information first. We need to get this guy to call off the hit on you." Sidney said, smiling, even though he never smiled.
I almost burst into laughter. Last week, Sidney stuffed someone into a wood-chipper, and he was pretending to be the sane, rational member of this group?
Elena knelt down next to Carmichael, grinning as she pulled the duct tape from his mouth. "What's it gonna be? You gonna tell us where your boss is, or do we have to start breaking stuff?"
I swallowed, feeling nauseated. I was wrong. I wasn't the violent one in the group anymore, all of them had changed. Elena never used to make threats, she couldn't stomach them.
What the hell have I done?
This was all going to our heads, and all I wanted to do was escape. Run far, far, far away and start over.
Carmichael smiled, and that evil, dead look in his eyes told me everything I needed to know.
I backed away, my heart pounding. "Guys, he's not going to give anything away, saying goodbye sucks but I need to-"
"You aren't saying goodbye yet, don't give up on our family so soon," Jerry said, and buried in his overly friendly tone was that streak of cruelty. The streak everyone had heard and dismissed since kindergarten.
I wanted to yell that we weren't a family. "Okay, I need to say this," I spoke wildly, trying to head for the door without making it obvious. "I love you guys, and I'm gonna-"
"Where is your boss?" Elena asked Carmichael, her voice deadly quiet. When he didn't answer, Elena hit him across the face. Hard. I flinched, shocked into silence. Elena had once cried all night because her powers weren't enough to save a kid from breaking his arm.
She'd stayed in the hospital room, flying over pizzas, signing his cast for days.
Who was this girl? When did the horrors of the city twist her into this-
"I'll tell you something, you little monster." Carmichael spat out some blood. "Right this second, my boss is at the Pentagon."
"The Pentagon?" Sidney repeated, and I closed my eyes, unable to bear this tension.
"Yep, he knows your weaknesses, and right this second, he's probably discussing military options. To blow you guys out of the sky." Carmichael continued, way more comfortable in the face of death than he should be.
"We don't have weaknesses, I mean apart from the standard being ripped in half or being blown up, y'know, standard stuff." Jerry snorted, his feet dangling off the end of the table. He lounged back, using the drill gun to gesture. "Maybe we need to convince this man that we'd like the truth."
Oh, we had weaknesses. Price and Carmichael had tested a range of stuff out on me: radiation, knives, certain metals, crystals, poisons. They found it then, the thing that cracked the code. We were all allergic to a genetically modified plant.
The particulars didn't bother me, I had been overjoyed to know that something could kill us, hurt us, stop whatever train wreck this was. I cracked my knuckles, ready to snap Carmichael's neck.
Carmichael laughed suddenly, and I felt compelled to watch this car pile up happen. "We found something, and we had a little birdie help us out. One of you came to my boss and spilled everything. In a matter of hours, a plane is going to bomb this city and every city within 100 kilometres of this one with a certain powder. You aren't going to-"
Elena slammed Carmichael's head into the wall, knocking him out.
"What do you think, Roxie?" Jerry looked at me expectantly, lazily handing Elena the drill gun.
I was floored, and I blinked at him. Did he suspect me?
"We could probably take the Pentagon, right?" Jerry scratched his head with the end of the drill gun, grinning obscenely. I vaguely remembered a time girls cheered and cried when they saw him fly over.
What? "Uh," I started, mouth dry.
"We can definitely take the Pentagon. We have super strength, super speed, flight, and so many other fun tricks!" Elena answered, cracking her neck.
My gaze whipped to Sidney as he spoke up. "I'm more worried about the informant."
Oh my, they didn't even need my permission anymore to commit acts of violence. They were talking about the military of the United States of America, and this was...
I shook myself out of my daze to hear what they said next.
"-please, I'm not worried about any informant." Jerry declared, waving a hand.
"We all know it's Roxie." Elena shrugged, and my blood froze in my veins as they all turned to look at me.
"That's not-" I protested, my voice hoarse.
"You know Roxie, you've been trying to say goodbye all day. We've been so inconsiderate, but we needed time." Jerry's voice was soft, and he smiled as he looked at me.
"Guys, it is not me!" I stammered, my heart thudding in my neck, my ears, my head.
"We needed time to decide what we were going to do with you," Sidney said, his face neutral. "Family is so messy!"
Elena was in front of me in an instant, and I swung to hit her, but she blocked, leaning to whisper into my ear. Her hand curled around my neck, and I felt paralyzed, still weak from the stupid plant Price had tested on me.
"Goodbye Roxie, I will miss you."
I screamed as I felt the drill gun press into my chest.