Chapter 8

United

"So you're superslanic," Jake said, sitting on the curb.

"Mmhm, had my powers since I was born," Miley answered, sitting with him.

"So which one is which? They looked color coded," Jake asked curiously.

"When you saw red, it was me using strength, blue is speed, green is agility, and turquoise was sense," Miley explained.

"That's so cool! You could be a superhero, Miley," Jake exclaimed.

"No, I can't, Jake. Just me using my powers could be dangerous. I can't put a target on my family's back and yours because of them," Miley interrupted him, looking at him and grabbing his shoulders, "Which is why you can't tell anyone that I have powers, okay?"

Jake nodded, taken aback by her behavior.

"Cross your heart?" Miley asked.

"Cross my heart."

"Good," Miley let go of him, looking him over.

"How do you feel?" she asked him.

"Like roadkill. Everything hurts," Jake muttered, rubbing his face.

Miley nodded, before bringing her hand over to a cut on his forehead.

"Can I touch you?" she asked.

"Umm, sure?" Jake answered, confused.

Miley scooted closer to him, and began stroking her thumb across the cut gently. Jake saw what looked like turquoise energy lifting off her hands as she did this. Her irises also glowed turquoise as well as she focused. The site of the cut felt warm and tingly, like water was flowing around it just below the skin.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"You'll see," Miley answered, still stroking the cut with her thumb.

She stopped and moved her hands to her lap as her hands stopped glowing.

"Feel your forehead now," she said.

Jake obeyed, and felt it.

The cut was gone. No blood, no scabbing, no evidence it was even there.

"What did you do?" Jake asked.

"I healed you a little bit, I hope that's okay, I can stop if-" Miley stammered as her cheeks flushed red.

"No, no, it's fine. Thanks," Jake said, "You don't have to apologize for that."

"Oh. Thank you," Miley said, "Want me to heal you a little more?"

"That would be nice, thanks," Jake answered.

Miley timidly put both hands on his left shoulder as they glowed again. The same feeling from before trickled through his body slowly.

"Does this happen a lot?" Miley asked him.

"A lot more than I'd like it to," Jake said, looking at the sidewalk.

"Does the school do anything?"

"No, it's 'out of their jurisdiction', but they don't do anything about it at school either," Jake explained bitterly.

"That's rough," Miley said, before realizing something.

"When I walked up, I noticed that you didn't really fight back. Why?" she asked.

"What's the point? They always win, and nothing gets done, so why fight at all? It's pointless," Jake muttered.

Miley listened to him intently, before speaking again.

"Do you feel hopeless?" she asked.

"Yeah, kinda," Jake said, looking at her.

Miley nodded. She understood that feeling as well. It ate away at her everyday.

Suddenly, something clicked in her mind.

"Maybe they don't have to win all the time," she said.

Jake raised an eyebrow.

"Huh?"

"I could train you to fight. I'm good at it, so I should be able to teach you, if that's okay with you," Miley blushed, playing with her hair.

"Yeah. That's great actually!" Jake answered, "What would you teach me?"

"The same fighting styles I use," Miley said.

"So what you just did?" Jake asked.

Miley nodded.

"So when do we start?" Jake asked her.

"Is Saturday good?" she suggested.

"Umm, yeah! I have nothing to do that day," Jake answered.

"Then I think we have a plan," Miley said, taking her hands off his shoulder as they stopped glowing.

"That should heal most of your injuries. Sorry I couldn't heal it all," Miley apologized.

"It's fine, you did your best. My mom would freak out if I came home the way I did," Jake said as he laughed a little.

Miley smiled and got up.

"Wanna walk home?" she asked, extending her hand toward him.

Jake looked up at her and accepted her hand, and they began walking down the street.

They walked in silence, before Miley spoke again.

"Hey Jake. Can I ask you for something?" Miley asked him quietly.

"Yeah, you can."

"If I teach you how to fight, can you teach me Spanish?"

Jake stopped and looked at her.

"Hmm, why?" he questioned her.

"I don't know, just..." Miley started, before speaking again.

"Being Mexican in California and not knowing Spanish feels weird, you know?" she finished, blushing.

"Oh. Yeah, I understand that. So it's like a trade then?"

"Mmhm, if you want to," Miley answered.

"Okay," Jake said.

"Really?" Miley asked, sounding somewhat surprised. Jake swore he could see her eyes light up.

"Yeah, really," he answered.

"Thank you," Miley said, smiling at him.

"Anytime," Jake said, before looking right. His house stood in front of them, dwarfing the two kids.

"This is my stop," he said, walking up the small steps.

"Will you be okay?" Miley called after him.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. But my dad's probably gonna be like this."

Jake cleared his throat before imitating his dad.

"Why didn't you beat his ass, mijo?" Jake said in a deep accented voice, earning a laugh from Miley. Not a giggle, a laugh.

And somehow, it felt ten times warmer hearing that than her giggles.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Jake. Bye," Miley said, walking across the street.

"Bye, Miley," Jake responded, opening the door to his house.

"There you are, where were-" Emi started saying, before looking at Jake's face.

"Oh my God, Mama!" she shouted up the stairs while hustling Jake to the kitchen. She got out the first aid kit, dabbing a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol.

"How bad did they get you, you look awful," Emi said, placing the cotton ball on one of Jake's cuts. He hissed at the slight sting before answering.

"Ethan and his friends followed me home and I ran, so they beat me up even worse," Jake responded.

"Again?" Emi sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"My goodness," Jake's mom sighed as she walked into the kitchen with Jake's dad.

"Hola, Mama," Jake greeted her, waving.

"Emi, what happened?" Jake's dad asked, switching to Spanish.

Emi explained back to them in Spanish while still tending to Jake.

His mom sighed, looking him over and examining his body.

"Did you punch him in the face?" his dad asked, causing his mom to glare up at him.

"I did," Jake answered, smiling slightly at him, "Gave him a nosebleed."

Jake's dad smiled and put a hand on his shoulder.

"That's my boy," he said in English.

As everyone else fussed over him, Jake could only think of one thing.

"I can finally learn to fight back."

Miley

"Dad! I'm home!" Miley shouted as she entered the house.

"Hi, Miley! How was school?" her father asked, coming into the living room.

"Better," Miley answered.

"What'd you learn?"

"We're learned about elements and alloys, stuff like that. Easy so far," Miley explained.

"Ah. Maybe you'll be a scientist at Ultainum instead of a superhero," her dad teased.

"I could be both, can I?" Miley countered, placing her hands on her hips.

"You could," her dad laughed, "Anything else happen?"

"Umm," Miley looked down at her shoes.

"Miley, is something wrong?" her dad asked her, concerned.

"Well-"

"Anyone here?" Miley heard her mom ask as she opened the door.

"Hi, honey," Miley's dad greeted her.

"Hi, Mommy," Miley added as she waved to her.

"Hey, how was school?" Miley's mom asked her.

Miley opened her mouth, but her dad cut her off.

"She was actually just telling me that," he said, looking at her as she stared holes into the ground.

"Miley, look at me," her dad said. She obeyed, looking up at him.

"What happened at school?"

"We were playing dodgeball in gym class, and..." Miley started.

"And?"

"I accidentally used my powers," Miley said, almost silently.

"What? Can you speak up?" Miley's mom asked.

"I accidentally used my powers," Miley said louder.

"Miley! What have we told you about that?" her mom questioned.

"Do you know how dangerous it is?" her dad added.

"It felt like I couldn't turn them off, and I felt really stressed!" Miley defended herself.

Her mom sighed, before looking at her.

"Walk us through the process of your powers switching on, Miley," she asked.

Miley gathered her thoughts before speaking.

"It felt really strange, like I was getting scared, but that was weird, since it's dodgeball. But as they started running at me, it felt like the soldiers were attacking me again, and time started slowing down. I felt like I had to end the situation fast," Miley explained.

"Ah. So it felt like you had no control over it."

"Mmhm, my brain was just shouting "Run, run" at me," Miley said.

Her mom nodded solemnly.

"Trauma can do twisted things to the human mind," her dad said, placing a hand on her shoulder, "We're working on getting you some help, okay?

"They felt more like a curse," Miley said, looking at them both.

"What does?" her mom asked, gently grabbing her hand.

"My powers, they feel like a curse," Miley answered bitterly, "All they do is put everyone else in danger."

"Miley, don't say that. Don't ever," her mom said firmly, looking into her eyes, "Remember when you were out on the tree branch yesterday night?"

Miley nodded.

"And what did I tell you?"

"I'll be able to use my powers one day," Miley responded.

"Can I add to that promise?" her mom asked.

"Go ahead."

"I promise one day, you won't have to run anymore," her mom said, smiling at her.

"Okay, Mommy," Miley answered, hugging her.

"Good. Now go do your homework. Call us if you need help, okay?"

"Okay," Miley said as she started up the stairs. Then, she remembered something.

"Hey guys, where are the padded gloves and the punching bag?" she hollered to them.

"In the closet by your room, why?" her dad asked.

"No reason," she lied, opening the closet door. She saw a container of padded fingerless gloves on the floor and opened it.

She found a purple and black pair and tried them on.

"These will work," she thought, clenching her fists before looking at the black punching bag.

"And so will you."

Jake

"Bye, Mom," Jake called to his parents as he opened the garage to pull his bike out. As he lugged it out onto the driveway and began riding, he wondered how training would go. Would he tap out? Would he get knocked out?

"But then again," he thought, "Spending time with a new friend doesn't seem like a bad way to spend my Saturday."

He pulled up to the park and locked his bike before walking down the trail to the same spot as before. The nervousness was creeping up again, but he ignored it.

He heard a soft splash as he got to the bridge, and he saw Miley, sitting on a large rock, swaying her feet in the water. Her shoes were by the tree, with her socks shoved into them.

He looked by her shoes and saw a punching bag tied to the tree with jump ropes, a small bag, and two pairs of padded gloves, one purple, and one red.

"Hmm," he thought, walking over the bridge and down below to Miley's level.

"Hey," he greeted her, causing her to look in his direction.

"Oh, hey!" she answered, smiling at him as she hopped off the rock. She walked over to the pairs of gloves, tossing the red pair to Jake, before putting on the purple ones.

"Are you ready?" she asked.

"Ready," Jake said.

"Okay. Let's get started."