Talk about loaded questions, and not one I could lie about either. Haley could tell when I was lying by smelling my reactions and hearing my heart speed up.
Izzy, I knew, had a sense of hearing that could substitute for sight, and not just sight—X-Ray vision. I couldn’t lie. I also couldn’t tell the truth. This was Daniel’s relationship. He should talk about it with her.
As I thought about it, my heart sped up. Haley gave me a sidelong glance, and frowned.
I said, “He’s talked about you. I can’t say much about it since he told me in confidence, but yes.”
That was pretty much the ideal response. She couldn’t demand I tell her what he’d said. Well, not politely anyhow.
She exhaled, giving me a look I couldn’t place. “I hope you can say something. We’ve been spending time together since fall. I’ve got the feeling he wants to be more than friends, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.”
“You should talk to him,” I said.
Her shoulders slumped a little. “He has to know already.”
I nodded. “I’m sure he does, but it’s complicated. I know he likes you.”
She nodded, but then stopped, finally saying, “But why hasn’t he said anything?”
I opened my mouth, started to reply and stopped, and then did it again, looking her in the face and saying, “I don’t know.
Not waiting for Izzy to reply, Haley said, “Talk to him. I think it can work.”
Izzy eyes went from Haley to me, and back. “Does everyone know about this?”
Haley shook her head. “I overheard, but I’m the only one, and I wasn’t trying to listen.”
From the tension in Izzy’s body, it seemed more likely that she was worrying about it, but she said, “I understand how that happens.”
Then she sighed. “Here they come.”
Haley muttered, “Oh, shit.”
I hadn’t been paying attention, but now that the fight was over, people were beginning to overcome their fear of being burned to death by lasers, or crushed by falling alien machinery.
A few cars had started to move on our side of the highway. Somehow, despite destroying eight alien robots, and not paying any special attention to where they landed, we hadn’t managed to block the highway.
That was a good thing. It meant people could go about their business, and most of them were. Unfortunately, the ones who weren’t were coming for us.
That probably makes it sound more ominous than it actually was. At first, we only had to worry about two high school girls with their hands in their pockets, stepping through the field with its knee high, brown grass, and clumps of old snow. Brief clouds appeared in front of their mouths as they talked.
Then a guy joined them. He wore a black overcoat, and pointed his iPhone at us, talking nonstop with the girls.
A thirty-something man in jeans and a puffy, green winter coat led a boy and a girl, neither of them older than seven, toward us.
That wasn’t all of them by any stretch. At least twenty people were outside their cars and standing in the field. Worse, most of them had cameras.
Izzy pulled away from us. “I need to leave.”
“We’ll be fine,” Haley said. “Go.”
Before I could argue, she’d lifted off, slowly at first, but then so quickly I couldn’t follow her with my eyes.
Almost at the same time, I realized I could hear sirens in the distance.
I’d been hoping to ask her to carry one of the alien machines back to HQ, and then leave.
All I managed to do was say, “Oh,” as she disappeared.
“I wanted her to grab one,” I told Haley.
Haley watched a crowd gather next to the robot she’d ripped apart. “Sorry. I didn’t know. We could tie one to the roof of the van.”
I shook my head, and by extension the Rocket suit’s helmet. “Too big. We’d stand out too much—except maybe during deer season.”
Her fangs and claws had been absorbed back into her body. Haley crossed her arms, saying, “I hate hunting.”
Then she looked up at me and asked, “Are you tired? I’m sore.”
“A little. I’m glad you’re only sore.” I glanced around at the growing crowd. None of them had quite managed to get up the nerve to walk toward us.
Haley touched my armor, tracing a long line down my chest that the suit hadn’t had enough material to repair fully. “They never touched me,” she said. “How far down did you get?”
“Around seventeen percent.”
Her eyes widened. “Seventeen percent?”
We were both lucky it hadn’t gone longer.
We started walking toward the van, making it to the doors before someone shouted, “Can I have your autograph?”
I only signed one (on the back of an ATM receipt) before stepping inside.
I got out of my armor after turning the windows reflective, and drove away after Haley changed.
The police knocked on the doors in the meantime, but we ignored them. They didn’t block us from leaving.
As we rolled down the highway, the van repaired itself, filling in the laser scoring on its sides and roof. The Rocket suit did the same in the back. By the time we’d get back to Grand Lake, both would look undamaged, and I’d pull into an alley somewhere, and have the van change color and license plate numbers.
That wouldn’t happen for more than an hour though. Only ten minutes after the fight, Vaughn called. I put him through on the van’s speakers.
“Hey guys, I’m too late, right?”
Haley’s face showed a flash of annoyance, and then she laughed.
“Not a problem,” I said. “How much weight do you think you could blow into the air, and carry home? Two tons?”
Vaughn hesitated. “Um… That might be doable. Why?”
I told him.