The Protectors- Part two of Chapter One

It took me a little while to come back to reality. I was only half listening to what Demitri was saying, let alone processing it. He quickly launched into another story about him and Ace's jam session the other day, while my focus was elsewhere. My mind reeled, trying to pay attention to all my surroundings. It was all so overwhelming. Hyper active senses could do that to a person.
"Callie, are you even listening to me?"
I glanced sideways at Demitri, whose concerned expression snapped me out of my trance.
"Sorry, just practicing," I replied.
I took a good look of the room around me. It was the middle of the day, and Demitri, Ace, Skye and I were stuck in school on another lousy day. Demitri and I shared the same Social Studies class, and the four of us were lucky enough to have lunch together. Time was dragging but, thankfully, this class was our last one til the bell rang for lunch. I took in all the scribbles of notes on the board, and continued with my notes lying abandoned on my desk.
"Practicing what? Invasion of the mind?" A voice whispered beside me.
I threw a pointed look at Demitri.
"Let's not have this conversation here," I said.
He sighed, and went back to his notebook.
"And just for the record, it's not 'invasion of the mind'," I added coolly. "It's called 'perspective'. It's not like I'm taking over anybody,"
His pencil paused, and I saw him stifle his laugh. I picked up my own utensil in triumph.
I'd always found myself to be a little different. No, it wasn't your typical, I-can-lick-my-elbow weird, or I'm-double-jointed different. It was the fact that I could experience what a person was feeling, or what their personal opinion about something was, by simply gently pushing into their mind. There was no possession, or mind controlling taking place, so I didn't find it all that bad. I'm not able to put thoughts into peoples heads either, or make them change their minds about something, as cool as that sounds. I can only see them for myself.
I first discovered my ability when I was in Kindergarten. It was parent/teacher conference time, and for some reason, my teacher was oddly hesitant to say something to my parents. So she shrugged it off, and went on to a new subject. I, however, was all too curious to find out what that topic of discussion was. I don't know how I did it, but the more I thought about it, the more clear it became.
She was fumbling over whether or not she should tell my parents that I wasn't the best socializer. I mean, I had a friendly conversation here and there, but I mainly kept to myself. I liked being that way. It made me calmer, and more attentive. My teacher didn't understand that, I guess. I was so focused on my side of the discussion that I pulled out of her thoughts and just stared at her blankly for the rest of the conference.
I didn't tell anyone, didn't want anyone to know. This was my difference, my something that made me special. Why waste your breath in telling someone, when all they'll do is check you in to the nearest mental institute? I all but went into my own little world. That was, until I met Alice.
I'd gone a year with my new uncovered abilities, trying it out every now and then, sometimes for fun. It also came in handy when I didn't understand an assignment, but I wasn't the biggest fan of homework to begin with. We were in the first grade when we met, sitting across from each other at a table both of us were seated at. She kept staring at me. I was about to enter her mind to see for myself what she wanted, but it didn't feel polite to intrude without her knowing.
"Do you wanna see something cool?" she suddenly asked me.
"Sure," I chirped, relived she was speaking her mind.
She moved her gaze to the picture I'd been coloring, then looked over at the crayons lying in the middle of the table. I stared, not knowing what she was doing.
"Look," she said, pointing to a purple crayon.
Slowly, almost as if someone was painting over it, it began to change it's color. It got lighter, then switched to a more blue tone. When she was satisfied with the shade of midnight blue she wanted, she beamed in my direction, where I sat dumbfounded.
"My name's Alice," she added, as if we had not just witnessed the most abnormal thing in the universe.
After school, I showed her my gifts, and we giggled and goofed around like little kids do. She found me amazingly interesting, asking me again and again to say aloud what she was thinking. We've been best friends ever since.
I silently chuckled at the memory. Demitri gave me a questioning look, but I shook my head.
"3..2...1...!" he chanted. As expected, the shrilling pitch of the bell rang, and we both jumped out of our seats and raced to the door.
"I'll meet you in line, Callie," he said, heading for his locker.
"Okay!" I called back to him.
When I reached my locker, I dumped all my books into it and grabbed my ipod. Slamming the door shut, I swiftly made my way down to the lunchroom to find Alice and Skye already at a table. Grabbing a seat next to Alice, I laughed at Demitri, who was already at the front of the line. The boy was quite the competitor.
"Hey, Alice," I said.
She looked up at me, her headphones still in her ears. "What did you just call me?"
"Sorry, Ace,"
"Mistake forgotten, Calantha," She smiled. Well, she got me back.
She didn't all together hate it when people used her real name, but she just thought that Ace had a better edge and meaning to it. She was a really 'artsy-fartsy' person, and she insisted that Ace had a better ring to her calling in life. No one minded; she was always creative with almost anything she could set her mind to.
The thing about being in high school is that you think that you're going to be all alone, and no one is going to understand you. For me, I didn't have to worry about it. Ace, Demitri, Skye and I all shared one thing in common-our differences from the rest of the world. We all had powers of our own, things we could do that a normal person could only dream of doing.
For instance, if you challenged Demitri to pretty much any game at all, he could kick your butt almost instantly. He'd always shrugged, saying it was just mere luck, but we all knew it was something more. He was special, like the rest of us. He could lift unbelievable heavy weights with ease, and was one of the most clever and smart students in our grade. His accuracy with every sport was dead-on perfect, his favorite being Archery. It's no surprise he loves Gym class.
Skye, on the other hand, was a lot gentler with her powers. She loved anything that had to do with volunteering, or interacting with animals. I'd always call her the 'light' of our little group, because she's the most positive person you'll ever meet.
Ace and I met Demitri and Skye during recess in the third grade. Only Ace and I knew each others secrets, and when Demitri challenged us to a relay race across the jungle gym, we thought we'd win easy peasy with our advantage.
Demitri was like lightning, speeding across the playground like a comet, stopping for no one. It was a partner race, and his team mate was a lot smaller and more fragile looking in contrast, but still followed right behind him. They won, and Ace and I smiled and laughed along with them. It wasn't until I saw Skye lying the grass that I noticed something was off. What was she doing? She pressed her hands to the Earth, and suddenly, a tiny, barely visible flower protruded from the soil. She grinned in triumph, but her smile faltered when she sensed me watching.
"I-I was just planting it. I-I didn't d-do anything," she stuttered when I came for a closer look.
"No," I objected. "You grew that flower yourself, out of nothing,"
She played with her hands. "Please don't tell anybody. I don't wanna be called a freak,"
I shook my head. "I won't. I'm actually kinda weird myself,"
"My name's Skye," she smiled hesitantly, her light blue eyes glistening a little. "The big guy's Demitri,"
"Can he make plants come shooting from the Earth too?!" The thought was incredible!
She let out a laugh. "No, it's just me. But he's like a Superhero or something; it's so cool!"
I let Skye and Demitri in on Ace and I's hidden talents, and it was like we were all connected that way. We all shared that same 'different' gene, if that's what you want to call it. We embraced it, and found other things we had in common. Once we even wondered if we were related, but judging from the extreme differences in our looks, it wasn't a likely possibility.
Skye was short beyond belief, had bright blue eyes, and white-blond hair. Demitri seemed like the exact opposite-tall, muscular. He had light brown hair, brown eyes, and a dorky smile he always flashed when he won a competition. Ace was always changing her appearance at will. She could even change the color schemes on her clothing, but her original hair color is dark brown. I have another power that never quite comes in handy. I have blond hair, a few shades darker than Skye's, and brown highlights-that change color depending on my mood. It usually just goes from blond when I'm being reckless, to brown when I'm feeling happy, and black when I'm sad. The colors come in only when I get angry, but if I concentrate enough, I can control the strands from changing whenever I get the urge to smack someone.
So there you have it; now you're in on our secret identities as well.
Okay...perhaps we're all extremely different.
"Aw, my pizza's cold!"
Again, I hadn't noticed Demitri's presence. He sat across from me, holding up his loaded pizza with a sour look on his face.
"Man, cold pizza is the best!" Ace objected.
"Give it here," Skye chimed in, holding out her hand.
As soon as she made contact with it, she closed her eyes and concentrated. Not only three seconds later, she opened them and gave it back to Demitri.
"Thank you," he said, and took a monstrous bite.
Since Skye is connected to the Earth, she can also control the weather and temperature as well. On some days when she's not feeling the best, clouds seem to naturally hover over the day, threatening to pour rain. When she's cheery, the sun is always shining. When it comes to temperature however, a simple touch and she can heat an object up, or do the opposite and cool it down. Example A, Demitri's pizza.
After the three of us got our lunches, we sat back down at our table to find Demitri finished.
"You gonna eat that?" he asked, pointing to my pizza.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I am," I said, chowing down.
"I'm so bored!" Ace blurted after a couple minutes. She got up and dumped her tray, but instead of piling it with the rest of them, she flipped hers over and ran her fingers over it. A trail of bright green appeared against the dark blue plastic where her fingers touched it. It was nothing new, she doodled over everything and anything when she'd lose interest in something. Before anyone could notice her creation, she swiped her hand across the green and replaced it back to its original color.
"I wish I could do that," Demitri stated. "That's awesome,"
"I try," Ace winked.
"So, what're we doing this weekend?" I asked. "Today's Friday,"
Of course I got jumbled answers all at once.
"Skateboarding!"
"Music store!"
"Hiking!"
"Geez, guys!" I complained. "One at a time!"
"Well, I got my bass guitar a few weeks ago, we could hang out and rock out," Ace suggested.
"Demitri?" I raised my brows.
"To the skate park!" he said loudly, automatically.
Carefully, cautiously, I entered Ace's mind first. Although she loved skateboarding, she wanted to learn some new skills, even though she caught on like gasoline on fire. She could always feel whenever I was intruding-she said she could tell by my eyes. It was like I was "far, far away in another dimension or something". I looked down at my pizza, still focusing, then pulled away to check Skye's. She was against the idea altogether. Skateboarding tore up the ground, and she didn't want to get dirty, since she was always wobbly on contraptions like bikes, and boards. Then I heard a new idea she had-
"I say we should go take a hike," she said.
"What do you mean, 'take a hike'?" Demitri defended. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm eating!"
"No, not now!" Skye laughed. "I meant this weekend. There's a new trail back in the woods that leads to this beautiful field that I wanted to check out. I want you guys to come with me,"
I guess our faces didn't show the right level of enthusiasm, because she added, "It'll be fun. You all need some love from the great outdoors,"
"Well, I like the idea," I said, hoping the other two would come along. "We can just sit and hang out for a while, then go back to someone's house later on,"
Ace glanced at me. "Nature's so boring,"
"Not when you can change the leaves to purple or blue it's not," I said, coming up with ideas as I went.
Her eyes lit up. "Maybe Skye can make it snow, then I can mess with it, and make colored pictures!"
"Or snow cones!" Demitri added.
"Oh, would you just eat already," I huffed, handing my entire tray over to him.
"Pig," Skye joked.
"I'm a growing boy," he said, his mouth stuffed.
"We can come up with other ideas once we get there," I said. "Who's all in for a hike this weekend?"
Demitri snorted. I took that as a yes.
Ace said, "Sure!"
Skye was all for it, and I smiled and said, "Sounds like a game plan,"
The rest of the day dragged on; I sluggishly moved through my remaining classes. I was never the one to pay attention when I wasn't up for it.
Which led me to thinking of this weekend. It would be fun...I think. Hiking would be enjoyable...maybe. We were all so different, but yet the same, that it was hard to come to a consensus sometimes. But Skye had insisted. I didn't want to let her down. As for my personal opinion on nature: I respected it, thought it was pretty, but altogether, I'm not fond of it. To add to that, I'm not much of a girly girl either- I just don't like the outdoor stuff.
That thought brought me back to Ace and Demitri's opinions. Demitri loves sports, but thought that nature could be boring most of the time. If Skye had mentioned rock climbing, that would've been a different story. Tomorrow we were hiking through the woods. Not much adventure in that, or so he thought.
Ace was similar; she loved action herself, but was expecting a more interesting activity for our Saturday. I would've agreed to that-I loved sleep overs at Ace's house. When I suggested we could, 'paint the fields', her eyes lit up with anticipation. We could just chill and listen to her MP3 player. That was fine with Ace.
Demitri would just have to be a big boy and suck it up.
The final bell of the day rang, shrill and annoying, and I rushed to my locker in a hurry. I grabbed my Social Studies and Math textbooks. Stupid finals.
To be honest, I wasn't afraid of my Social Studies final that much. The class completely drew me in. We are learning about Greece currently, and I felt super confident. I can't brag though; Ace's parents helped me trillions. Even though Ace has no Greek heritage (or any for that matter; none of us knew our biological parents), her adoptive sister, Lexis, had some Greek blood too. Ace's mother was all about cultures, and basically made their house look like absolute magic. I always learned something new every time I came over. Ace would roll her eyes, but the legends and stories she would tell were fascinating and astonishing.
How I sometimes wish they were true.
Right as I walked in the door to my house after school, the phone rang loudly. I dropped my backpack on the couch and ran to pick it up.
"Hello?"
"Callie? It's Skye." she said happily.
"Oh. Hey," I answered. "What's up?"
Her voice seemed to trail away for a second as she answered, "There's a storm coming in tomorrow. I don't think I can do anything about it either.."
"Oh." So much for fun this weekend. Skye can do a lot of things, controlling weather included, but if it was that serious I knew she wouldn't want to risk our safety by going anyway.
"But," she brightened up again. "I was thinking we could go tonight! A night hike! How cool is that?"
It did sound cool. It was March, so it wouldn't be that bad. Ace loved constellations, and Demitri would get a kick out of telling scary stories in the dark.
"Sure!" I replied.
"Good, 'cause I've already confirmed it with Ace and Demitri. We'll be over later tonight, okay? Around seven." I could her the excitement in her voice.
"Sounds good." I answered. I hung up and ran to my room. I was guessing I wouldn't have any luck finding my hiking boots, but I reluctantly opened my closet anyway. Random objects and various pieces of clothing spilled out, leaving me with no hope. I gathered it in heaps and crammed it successfully into my abandoned closet of surprises. I knew for a fact I wasn't wearing my coverse, my feet would ice blocks in seconds, I trudged into my parents room and grabbed the first pair I saw. On my way back to my room, however, an unfamiliar pair of boots sat underneath my bed.
"What the heck.." I wondered out loud, snagging them and I shoved my feet into them. They fit perfectly. "I just looked there."
My next mission- flashlight.
Another room in the house that could hold wonders, I went through every drawer in the kitchen. In the last one I tried, thankfully, I pulled out an old flashlight and quickly changed its batteries.
Checking the time, I picked up my pace a little more. I grabbed my entertainment for the night- mp3 player- and caught my reflection in the mirror on the wall.
Let tonight be a good one, I prayed silently.





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