“I’m not sure what power juice has to do with anything.”
Keith tilted his head, and said, “You know, the whole thing where power juice became illegal, making us all technically criminals? Plus, you remember Logan at our prom. He was a total druggie, and then he got into power juice and tried to eat the school.”
I shook my head. “Not an issue. I don’t have any powers, and it wasn’t illegal back then. All this amounts to is secret identities. To continue to have one, I have to keep mine secret. I haven’t told anyone who I am who hasn’t figured it out first. You didn’t figure it out, so I could avoid telling you.”
Keith nodded, straightening his back, and unclenching his fists. “I think I get that. You don’t stay secret if you tell people. That’s not an option for us.”
I looked him over, and then I thought of Zoey. “Oh. Right. I can see where Zoey’d have a hard time blending in.”
Keith glanced back toward Zoey, and then back to me. “It’s not so bad during the day, but at night it’s impossible to mistake her for someone without powers. It was the same for her mom. Of course, I’ve never met her mom. She died a few years back. She was fighting the Grey Giant.”
At that moment my brain made a few connections–light powers to Grey Giant to…
“Her mom was Lightweaver?” The name escaped my mouth as I noticed Zoey leaving the group behind us and moving in our direction.
Keith gave a start. “Wow. You know everybody’s names. I never understood how you knew them so well before.”
I shrugged. “I did play with the children and grandchildren of a lot of my grandfather’s friends, but honestly, your average capewatcher knows about as many names as I do. Mostly though, he doesn’t know them personally. You should meet my roommate from last year. He knows everybody–including a few things most capes don’t.”
Of course, Jeremy also believed in a pile of conspiracy theories that made pretty much zero sense. Only knowing my secret had pulled him out of that orbit.
It made me wonder if our secrets made things worse for society as a whole. On some level normal people had to notice that they weren’t being let in on the whole truth.
Did that make it our fault if they replaced our lies with even more bizarre lies of their own?
Zoey’s voice broke into my thoughts. She’d taken Keith’s hand, and said, “I hated them for a long time after my Mom died.”
“Yeah?” Keith’s voice quavered as he asked the question.
Zoey picked up a piece of spanakopita from the table, and ate it. “They never left us alone.”
Her arm’s movement left golden lines in the air. “We didn’t live in a compound, but our neighborhood was mostly capes. When my mom died people camped out on our lawn. Some of them even waited outside my school to tell my brothers and I how they grieved with us.”
She shook her head. “They didn’t grieve with us. They didn’t know us, or her. For them it was all codenames and costumes and fights on television.”
As she stopped, I realized that Haley joined us too–and not just her. Gifford, Hunter, Adam, Camille, and Courtney had all crowded around us.
That was a good thing. It meant that Zoey’s glow might be better hidden.
“It sounds awful,” Haley said. She stood next to me.
Zoey folded her arms across her chest. “It was, but most of them left after a few days.”
For a moment she didn’t say anything, but then she burst out with, “I’m awful. Now you all think I’m some kind of drama queen.”
“No,” Haley said, “if you want to talk about it, you should.”
“I think I’ll save it for our group therapy sessions.”
Keith raised an eyebrow. “Do we have group therapy sessions?”
Nodding, Haley said, “They start next week.”
“What a waste,” Gifford muttered.
Zoey opened her mouth as if she were about to say something, but she didn’t.
Courtney said, “The way I heard it, it’s a way to get people to start thinking about why they’re doing this. I think it might be more focused on working with PTSD for people who fought against the aliens this spring.”
“What you get out of it depends on what you bring into it,” Adam broke in from the edges of the group. “Trust me on this one.”
“Hey,” Camille had turned away from the group, and was looking out the windows toward the crowd and the band below us. “We’re at a club. Let’s go downstairs.”
It didn’t take long before the group followed her.
* * *
I didn’t like dancing. Haley did. Don’t get me wrong. I liked some things about dancing. The slower dances gave Haley and I excuses to hold each other, but that only barely compensated for feeling awkward for three hours.
Knowing that, it’s not surprising that I was looking around the crowded building.
It’s equally unsurprising that I noticed a man off to the edges of the dance floor taking pictures of the crowd.