Jack tossed and turned in his bed, sleeping fretfully. He turned to his left, only to roll onto his back a few seconds later. Sighing, he propped himself on his pillow and abandoned all attempts or trying to sleep. He wanted to yell at the Sandman, or whoever it is that makes people fall asleep, and ask why he couldn’t fall asleep, but he already knew the answer.
His mom wasn’t a yeller or a screamer. She didn’t hit, and she didn’t throw things. No, when she got mad, she went silent. Her jaw would start to clench, and then stop. Her voice would become… what? Taut, Jack decided. Her voice would become taut. And when she spoke? She didn’t need to dish out threats of groundings; what was left unspoken could be read in the tone of her voice, promising that if he wasn’t on his best behavior for the next month, bad things would happen.
But that wasn’t what was keeping Jack from sleeping. It was her eyes. The way they bored into him when he told his her what he did while ditching, full of anger. The disappointment, the sadness in them… it all went to make him feel like he failed her. These thoughts kept him up for the next few minutes, after which he got up and traveled downstairs to try to exhaust himself building something. It didn’t matter what he built, just as long as it kept him from thinking too much.
Jack turned the light to the basement on and walked up to the entrance of his workshop, stopping when he saw the lock on it. A chain wrapped around both of the door handles and secured with a padlock, preventing him from entering without asking for the key to the lock or breaking in. Deciding he wasn’t about to go do something his parents obviously didn’t want him to do, not when he just got in trouble for something much worse, he turned back and walked up the stairs to his room. With any luck, it wouldn’t be too long before sleep took him.
Jack’s mom gave him a few stern words about him needing to come home right after his detention finished on the late bus before she left, but she didn’t have that angry look in her eyes as much when she looked at him, so he felt a bit better. At school, however, it was a different story. All of the kids seemed to be giving him dirty looks and twice he managed to lose hold of his books. Many of the kids sported bruises, while others had some scratches on their arms.
“Scary, isn’t it?” Max rested his arm on Jack’s shoulder. “If they didn’t fix those generators in time, who knows what might have happened?”
“Guess we’re just lucky,” He looked around at all the minor injuries and could easily imagine them being something more major. “Very lucky.”
“Why are the other students looking at us so…” Anya struggled to come up with the right word. “So angrily?”
“Might have something to do with us almost putting the school in the ground, but that’s just me,” Max replied sarcastically.
She nodded her understanding. “They are upset that we endangered their lives. But surely they know that it was an accident that caused it, do they not?”
Jack sighed. “No, they’re probably aware that it was an accident and hate us all the more for it.”
Anya opened her mouth only to close it again, a befuddled expression covering her face. This continued a few more times before she finally said, “People are strange.”
“Especially us,” Max butted in. “I mean, we’ve got a hero, a villain and a…” He looked at Anya. “What are you going to be?”
“I want to help people,” She supplied. “Like at natural disasters, or war zones.”
“So we got a villain, a hero and a support person. The other students?” Max gestured to the students walking through the hallways with a sweep of his hands. “They all tend to stick with members of their own class. Heros with heros, villains with villains, and others with others.”
A group of tanks walked by and shoved Max aside, laughing as they left. “They also tend to stick with people with similar powers,” Max continued as he brushed himself off. “We’ve got an illusionist, a technopath, and a light manipulator.”
Max slung his arms over both of their shoulders and started walking down the hallway. “What I’m trying to say is that we will always be different from the other supers, and we’ll always end up getting the short end of the stick. And there’s nothing we can do about it but grin and bear it.”