Click Here for Part One!
Aimee hated Wednesdays. They were at the dead center of the week -- too far into the week to ride off her high from the weekend, but also too far from the end of the week to look forward to the next one.
Cyrus scurried next to her, arms wrapped around his binder and math textbook as they headed to chemistry. “What do you think the Darklings are planning? Do you think they’ll strike today? What if they strike today? What should we do? How—”
“Calm down! It’s going to be fine.” Honestly, she didn’t know if it was going to be fine. But she couldn’t tell Cyrus because he would definitely freak out.
“Do you think Ms. Gretchen knows about yesterday?” he whispered to her.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll be fine,” she responded as they entered the classroom. Sure enough, Ms. Gretchen didn’t spare them a single glance. The classroom was tidied up from yesterday’s incident due to their efforts. Hopefully, she didn’t notice, Aimee thought.
“Cyrus Ilken?” called Ms. Gretchen.
“Here!” He rushed to his seat.
She rattled off a few more names before reaching Aimee Sanders’.
“Here,” Aimee replied, taking her seat next to Cyrus and raising a hand lazily.
Ms. Gretchen pulled her reading glasses down and narrowed her eyes at Aimee in a way that made her want to shrink into her seat. But she refused to cower. The physical stature of her teacher wasn’t particularly intimidating: a short and stout elderly lady with bony fingers and thinned hair. Her eyes were a different story though. Flinty eyes the color of a resilient jade that bore into a student’s very soul.
Students held their breath. Aimee’s animosity for the chemistry teacher was well known. Beside her, Cyrus shifted in his seat, creating an uncomfortable creaking noise. Finally, Ms. Gretchen simply stated, “You forgot to put the hydrogen peroxide back into the fridge yesterday.”
Aimee sighed exasperatedly, but not before internally letting out a breath of relief.
After finishing attendance, Ms. Gretchen explained the lab experiment to the class. As Cyrus went to gather the materials, Aimee sat at the lab table, contemplating. She was worried about the Darkling situation. Her thoughts echoed all the points that Cyrus had mentioned earlier: what their plan was, when they would strike, and most importantly, what she and Cyrus would do in response. Sure, Piedmont had survived a few Darkling rampages, but the Darklings had never taken anything from the school. Something new could mean something bad.
She wondered if things would be different if her parents were still here. They would know what to do, for sure. The Hazelton couple was known for being legendary Darkling hunters; they taught Aimee all the tips and tricks she knew about Darklings. She had often grown envious of her parents’ reputation; not only because they were famous but also because their fame would take their attention off Aimee at times.
Nevertheless, she loved them, and it was devastating when they disappeared. It hurt even worse when she discovered that her only living relative, her paternal grandmother, refused to take her in. After transferring through six foster homes, she realized that no one wanted a bitter, rebellious seven-year-old girl. She had tried to change; she really did. But she could never escape the stinging rejections she had faced. Finally, the Sander couple agreed to take her in, and unlike other parents, they were extremely patient. She grew to love them as parents, and the ache in her heart eased a bit.
“Hey.” Cyrus waved a hand in front of her face. “What’s wrong?”
Aimee sat up straighter. “Nothing.”
“Something’s definitely wrong. You have your thinking face on,” he pointed out while setting up the lab.
“What’s wrong with thinking?”
“You’re usually not this quiet. Especially in this class. Don’t you have more complaints about Ms. Gretchen?”
The corner of her mouth twitched. She knew he was trying to make her feel better. There was no use arguing with Cyrus on this one; it was almost infuriating how well he knew her. Almost. Rolling her eyes, she said, “Let’s just get on with the stupid lab.”
Cyrus grinned, knowing that this was one of the few times he had bested her.
A familiar spark of rebellion lit up inside her. “Enjoy it while it lasts. You know very well that this rarely happens.”
His grin widened as he poured some water into a beaker. “I know.”
Ding-dong! The sudden sound of the doorbell startled Aimee from her nap. She had fallen asleep on her math homework. She heard the front door open and quiet shuffle downstairs. It’s probably just a package, she thought
Just as she was about to resume her nap, her mom called, “Aimee! Cyrus is here!”
At the mention of his name, she shot up. It didn’t take long for her to get downstairs. She was met with the sight of a flushed Cyrus, who was leaning against the front door, and the amused expression of her mom.
“I’ll go get some water for you Cyrus.” Her mom headed to the kitchen, but not before throwing Aimee a knowing smile.
Aimee rolled her eyes in response, then faced Cyrus. “What’s up, Cy?”
“Robbery downtown near the pizzeria. I think it’s Darklings. Well, I guess it’s not a robbery since they don’t take things, but you know what I mean.” His words came out rushed, one tumbling after the other like a freight train.
“So let’s go.” Aimee grabbed his hand and was about to drag him out the door when her mom returned with two glasses of water.
Her mom’s eyes strayed to their connected hands, and she smirked.
Aimee immediately let go of his hand like it was on fire, blushing fiercely, and mumbled, “Let’s go.”
Cyrus opened his mouth to say something but then decided against it and gave Aimee’s mom a brief nod before trailing after Aimee. When he caught up, he asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Cy, can we just focus on our job?” Aimee blew out a breath exasperatedly.
He considered her for a moment. “Okay. Just—you can talk to me, you know.”
“I know.” She meant to say it in an irritated manner as if she had it a thousand times already, but it came out soft and unsure. As usual, she recovered with celerity. “We’ve wasted too much time. We have to go now!”
“Wait!” Cyrus grabbed her hand and held up their suits in the other.“Remember?”
“Oh, right. Speed change!” They raced to opposite sides of her house, changed into their respective outfits, then sprinted downtown.
To be continued…