Chapter 10, Part 2
The door creaked open behind her, and Cassie turned to see Luke step onto the roof.
“Hey! Thought you might be up here.” He stopped a good distance from the edge of the roof where she perched. “Caleb is making pizza. Sam said he needed to supervise so I said I’d come look for you.”
“Ok, I’ll be down in a minute,” Cassie flashed a smile. Caleb could make a mean pizza, but that kid could blow up a kitchen if not supervised.
Luke turned to go, but hesitated. “You ok?”
Cassie looked down at the ground, three stories below. “I guess.” Her wings fluttered briefly as a stronger gust of wind swept across the roof. She retracted them to…wherever they went…with a heave and a shake of her shoulders, nearly falling off her perch in the process.
“Woah!” Luke yelped in concern as she wobbled. She gripped the edge to steady herself.
“I’m fine,” she reassured him, seeing a paleness on his dark face. “Are you?”
“Yeah, I just don’t like heights too much,” he replied, with a nervous grin.
“Well, we might have something in common then.”
“Really? You don’t like heights but you’re sitting on the edge of a roof?”
“Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I have wings so I have to get used to it if I ever figure out how to fly.”
“Can you really not?”
“Fly? I’ve only tried a couple of times. It didn’t go so well.”
“I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. It took Josh awhile to figure out how to regulate his speed. At least you got a cool power.”
“A cool power? Like healing with a touch isn’t cool?”
“More like freaking terrifying,” he muttered.
Cassie paused. Luke appeared to really believe that.
“How?” she asked.
“Never mind.” He turned to go.
“Hey,” she stopped him. “I don’t know if I ever thanked you for helping me in that ambulance.”
A half smile quirked across his face. “You’re welcome.” He paused for a long moment. “I only do it when I have to. Touch people with injuries, that is. I shouldn’t even be here. When I was eight I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. It was too late by the time they found it. I was literally dying in the hospital when I guess it kicked in. I made a “miraculous recovery” in two days. The doctors had no explanation for it. My parents were just too grateful to investigate why it had happened medically.
“Then a year later, my grandma was dying from heart failure. We went to visit her in the hospital. She wanted to hold my hand, called me her little angel. So I did, for a long time. She didn’t die. She made a full recovery. The doctors couldn’t explain why a 63 year old woman recovered from congestive heart failure.”
“Yeah. That’s why it’s terrifying. I mean, it’s literally the power over life and death. How do I make that decision? That’s up to God, right? Stuff like scratches or cuts, I’m ok with. But big wounds or diseases?” He shrugged. “And then what happens when people decide to send me somewhere like a battlefront or epidemic sites? What if I can’t save the people they want me to? I trust the people here not to ship me off like a freak, but what happens if they get replaced? What do you think guys like Amelli would do?” He shoved his hands in his pockets, looking down in embarrassment at his confession.
Cassie swung back onto the roof to stand.
“I guess I never would have thought about it like that,” she said.
“Well, I may have put too much thought into it,” he half laughed. “I really haven’t even told anyone else all that. I know I talk a lot, but just not about…myself, I guess.”
“I get how that is.”
They paused for a second.
“So, um…pizza?” Luke suggested. Cassie nodded and they headed back towards the stairwell.
“Do you have any other powers?” Cassie hesitantly asked.
“I can understand anything medical put in front of me,” Luke said. “At first I thought it was because I’d heard my parents talk about work a lot. Dad’s a doctor and mom’s a nurse, but then when I read an advanced research proposal and I knew whether or not it would work…I’ll be the first to admit, I kinda freaked.”
Luke’s chuckle was contagious and Cassie realized she hadn’t really laughed in a few days. Luke hopped down the last few stairs to the second floor before turning to the first floor stairwell.
“What about you?” he asked.
There were no feelings of mistrust or danger, no jittery feelings of needing to run. She followed his example, putting her hands on each railing and jumping down the last few steps.
“I’ve kind of discovered some new things in the last few days. Like when I was being chased by Amelli’s guys right before the accident. It was getting really dark and I’d flipped off my headlights, only to discover that I could still see like it was day.”
“That’s pretty sweet,” Luke said.
It was pretty cool, Cassie admitted to herself.
They stopped before the door to the main level.
“Hey, uh,” Luke leaned against the door. “You mind keeping all this…”
“Between us?” Cassie finished. Perfectly fine with me.
“Yeah, I don’t really bare my soul too often.” He winked. Cassie laughed.
“You got it. Just don’t tell anyone that I don’t like heights,” she said. Luke shoved the door open with another laugh.
“Maybe. How much pizza are you willing to bribe me with?”