I got on my stationary bike, and ignored Sean. I didn’t have anything to say to him.
As the woman in scrubs taped sensors to my arm and chest, and after she’d explained to me what I had to do, I turned to Jenny. “I saw Brooke before I met my adviser. I don’t know where she is now.”
From the row of bikes behind me, Brooke said, “Back here.”
I turned toward her voice and saw her. “Hi. I didn’t notice you.”
She looked just like she had last spring—tanned with long, curly hair. Based on looks, I’d pegged her as good looking, but not necessarily smart. I’d been wrong. When we’d been captured by Syndicate L, she’d been the one who organized us to escape.
Then I said, “Is your hair different?”
Jenny laughed while Brooke said, “Yes, now that I’m dating Alex my hair grows faster. I was dyeing it blond, but my roots kept on showing so I gave up.”
That explained it. Her hair was still blond. It just wasn’t as blond.
“Less talking, more pedaling,” the woman monitoring us said.
“Troublemaker,” Jenny said, but she knew me well enough to know exactly how much of a troublemaker I wasn’t.
“Yeah,” I said, and pedaled.
On my other side, Sean kept on pedaling, and didn’t say a word.
It was so different from high school. If I’d known her in high school, I’d never have spoken to Brooke. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have spoken to very many people there. We wouldn’t have had much in common.
Because of my grandfather, I knew people here anyway, and even the people I didn’t know had good impressions of the Rocket—both past and present versions.
Except for my senior year, high school had been pretty lonely. When I considered the number of times people tried to kill or kidnap me last year, it seemed strange to think that socially at least, it had been the best year of high school—even including the time Sean and his friends tried to beat me up.
Hey, Daniel broke into my thoughts telepathically. I’d watch out for Sean. He’s angry at you.
What does he think I’ve done now?
It’s not what you’ve done, and really I don’t think it’s even you. He was a big deal in your high school, right?
So he’s here, and nobody knows him, but lots of people know and like you—
And he’s always seen himself as popular, and me as, well… not. I finished Daniel’s thought for him.
Yeah. Plus you’re dating his ex-girlfriend, who’s friends with his sister, who he’s angry at for being friends with his half-sister, because she proves that his late father cheated on his mom.
Crap. I’m starring in a soap opera. Or possibly an episode of Jerry Springer.
Except unlike Jerry Springer, the violence here is real. Nick, I get brief prescient visions of him attacking you. Make sure you don’t end up alone with him.
I’m not planning to. Wait, is he thinking about attacking me right now?
No. He’s not intending to hurt you at all. Think “crimes of passion.” He’s feeling angry, grieving, insecure, and out of place. If you’re nearby, he might lash out.
OK. I’ll stay away from him. I was planning to anyway.
So after that, you know what happened? Nothing much. They tested how much I could lift, ran me through an obstacle course, tested how well I sprinted and a few other things too. A few hours later I was done.
That night around 2am, I found myself awake. I couldn’t put all the blame on Daniel, but first of all, he snored. Second, we’d been friends as long as we’d been alive, constantly talking to each other through his telepathy. The upshot of that? Not only did he snore, but sometimes I could feel his dreams while he slept, if he slept nearby.
In this case, nearby meant across the room in my own bed. I didn’t know what sort of dreams he was having, but I woke up with my heart racing, and feeling panicky. Thirty minutes later, I still hadn’t managed to fall asleep.
I pulled on jeans and a t-shirt, and grabbed a book. I’d been reading Iain M. Banks’ Player of Games. Reading it in the lobby might help me calm down.
I didn’t even make it to the lobby.
The floor’s vending machine stood next to the elevator, and Sean stood in front of the vending machine. To be fair to him, he wasn’t stealing pop. With magnetic powers he could have.
I should also say that despite what Daniel thought, Sean didn’t start out being hostile.
He pulled a can of pop out of the vending machine and said, “So, what’re you doing up?”
It wasn’t friendly either, but it could have been worse.
“I couldn’t sleep.” I didn’t want to explain that I’d had Daniel’s nightmare.