Breathing heavily, Cyrus barely felt his footsteps meet the ground. Normally, he wouldn’t feel so winded, but then again, the person he was chasing wasn’t normal either.
Shrill laughter filled his ears. “You’re not going to catch me, Cy.”
He bit his lip, suppressing a smile. He was gaining on her. But she didn’t know that. He pumped his arms faster, and when he was only a couple meters behind, he lunged. He managed to grasp her ankle.
She fell, shrieking, her hands stopping herself just in time to avoid a broken nose. Then she rolled over to face Cyrus.
He scowled at her, hand still gripping her ankle. “Give me back my phone, Aimee.”
The last of her laughter bubbled out of her as she handed him his phone. Cyrus couldn’t help but notice her flushed cheeks, the sunlight illuminating the golden-brown hair chopped at her shoulders, and her parted lips, making way for the sound of pure joy.
He blinked, tearing himself away from her as he stood up. “Why did you do that?”
“Because it was fun.” Although he was glaring at her, Aimee could see the spark of amusement beaming at her from his deep, chocolate-brown eyes.
Cyrus couldn’t stop his lips from quirking up to form a small smile. “Come on, we’re going to be late.”
Shaking her head, she jumped to her feet. “Okay, let’s go, slowpoke.”
Cyrus huffed, slinging his backpack over a shoulder. “Really? You have to have the last word?”
“Always,” she replied cheekily as they strolled inside Piedmont High to their first class.
Before they could enter the world of mathematics, a shout stopped them in their tracks. “Cyrus! Aimee!” Simultaneously, they turned to face Piedmont’s track coach, Mr. Johnson. “Hey kids! I saw the both of ya running around earlier. You two are fast! Fastest I’ve ever seen, that is. We could use both of ya on the team. What do ya say?”
Aimee exchanged a few silent words with Cyrus before responding. “Mr. Johnson, although we greatly appreciate the offer, we have to decline.”
“But why? You two have talent! Talent that can take you far if you take the right path.”
“Mr. Johnson, we wish we could, but we’re super busy,” replied Cyrus firmly, dragging Aimee by the elbow into the classroom before his heated face could reveal itself.
Aimee raised an eyebrow at him. “What was that about?”
“Nothing,” he muttered, sitting them down next to each other.
“Cyrus,” she said in warning.
He hated when she used his full name. Rapidly, he spun to face her. “He approached me a couple days ago, okay? I feel bad turning him down a second time.”
“What caught his attention the first time?”
Cyrus swore his ears turned red. “Archie ran out, and I chased him all the way to school. I got kind of frustrated, so I used my powers. Just a little bit, I swear.”
Silence stretched between them. Finally, Aimee asked quietly, “Did you catch him?”
She turned to him with a half smile. “Archie, of course.”
Cyrus let out a breath of relief, chuckling softly. “Of course.”
Clapping echoed throughout the room, startling both of them. “Alright, class! Let’s get mathy!”
Cyrus was laboring through his math homework and wolfing down his tuna sandwich when it happened.
The scream caused Aimee to sit up next to him, still drowsy from her daily nap. “What happened?” she yawned, rubbing her eyes.
Cyrus stood up, abandoning his math and sandwich, and shook her shoulder urgently. “I don’t think it sounded good.”
Aimee was up in a flash, drowsiness suddenly gone. “Let’s go.”
“But our identities—”
“Cy!” She snapped her fingers in front of his face for good measure. “Someone needs our help.”
“Right, let’s go.”
When they arrived at the scene, they found Lydia with her foot stuck under fallen table, hungry flames surrounding her. Quickly, they entered the blazing science lab and lifted the heavy wooden desk, allowing Lydia to crawl out and exit the room.
“How did you guys do that?” Lydia asked them as soon as they got out of the classroom.
“The table was easier to lift up with two people,” Aimee lied. “Are you okay?”
“Besides a broken ankle, I think I’m fine,” she responded, briefly touching her ankle, wincing as she did. Her eyes widened as they surveyed the scene. “What happened?”
“Wait, you mean you don’t know?” Cyrus exclaimed.
The fire department and the principal chose that moment to discover the three of them sitting and coughing outside the laboratory. “What happened?” the principal thundered.
“Principal Mathers, Lydia needs—”
“Lydia needs medical attention!” Aimee yelled.
The principal was furious for a second, his bald head looking like a balloon about to pop, then he eased up a bit and waved the firefighters over. “Oh dear, it certainly looks like she had a nasty fall. Take her to the hospital, will ya?”
The firefighters looked at each other confused. “Um, sir, we have to put out the fire.”
“How many people do you need to handle a hose? One! This girl is hurt, can’t you see? Now go make yourselves useful!” the principal roared.
“Yes, sir, of course!” They gently picked up Lydia and carried her away.
Principal Mathers directed his fury to Cyrus and Aimee. “Is this your dirty work? Did you two imbeciles start this fire?”
“No, sir. We were doing a science experiment, and we accidentally put the wrong chemicals in our beaker and—” Aimee started. She was the better liar of the two of them.
“That’s it! I’ve heard enough!” The principal glared at them. “Your mess, you clean. I expect it to be spotless by tomorrow morning.” He strutted off, muttering about ridiculous children.
“Did you have to say it was us again? Now we have to clean this mess,” Cyrus groaned, gesturing to the shattered beakers, spilled chemicals, and overturned chairs. “They even left us with the fire this time.”
“Oh, quit whining, Cy. You know this is the only way we can investigate. Come on! Help me with this hose. You lift, I aim.” She lifted the front end of the hose.
Grumbling, Cyrus hefted another part of the hose farther back. As soon as they extinguished the inferno, he asked, “Darklings?”
“This has them written all over it. Also, the science table was attached to the floor. No offense to Lydia, but I don’t think she lifted it.” Aimee stepped carefully around glass shards and pools of acid. “But why here?”
“Do you think they figured out who we are and are out to get us?” Cyrus grimaced.
“I don’t think so. Look!” She pointed at one of the cabinets. “Isn’t something missing?”
“You’re right! The cyanide bottle! Wait, I’m the nerd here. How did you know there was something missing?”
Aimee rolled her eyes. “Ms. Gretchen made me document our chemistry supplies during detention. So boring. But I would never admit that to her.”
“There are claw marks,” Cyrus stated. “About a quarter of an inch deep. Definitely Darklings. If they took cyanide, then that’s not a good sign. That means they have a plan, which means that something bad is going to happen and—”
“Hey,” Aimee said, gripping both of his shoulders. “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to stop them. You and me. Together.”
Cyrus took a deep breath before responding. “Always.”
To be continued…
Click here for Part Two!