Well, here's the continuation from the last chapter that picks up a couple hours after chapter 8 left off. This is a relatively long chapter with a lot of dialogue so I hope you are in a comfy spot! Haha. What will Melanie have to share with Dash? Read on to find out! Enjoy! :)
It was almost 7 and I was already standing outside Melanie's house. And I decided not to tell her that I technically already knew where she lived before she told me, but whatever, I just want answers.
Also, I think this is the first time I showed up early for something that wasn't sports or hero work related now that I think about it.
I think I was standing there spacing out longer than I thought when I heard, sounding like the most quiet yelling ever, "Psst! Hey!"
I whipped my head up and saw Melanie waving me to come through the gate, looking around to make sure no one was watching. I tilted my head but came toward the gate leading to her backyard that was surrounded by a really tall privacy fence.
Okay, I know we're trying to stay on the down low with this, but why is she being so weird about this?!
I rolled my eyes and walked in to see Melanie standing there and she was still whisper yelling at me, "I said to just come into the yard at 7!"
I put my hands up and just said, for whatever reason whisper yelling back, "Well… Sorry?"
I grunted before saying, finally going back to my normal voice, just fed up and still pissed about her giving me that low hit earlier and avoiding me for days, "Look, can we stop whispering already?! It's a total ghost town out here. No one's gonna hear squat."
I could see she was just as frustrated as me as she said, "Well… look, do you want to know anything or not?"
Well, at least she sounded like she was talking normal.
Also, I think this is the most we've ever talked and the most I've ever seen her talk period at all.
She didn't wait for me to respond as she just crossed her arms and just turned and walked around the corner of her house and I just kept following her.
I saw a fire going in this raised metal fire pit near a patio table and chairs that had a pad of paper and colored pencils on it.
"What's all this? Are we making s'mores and coloring or something?" I asked really confused, raising an eyebrow at her as she sat down at one of the 2 metal patio chairs at the matching table.
"The fire is to help cover anyone overhearing us and this is to help… explain." She said, putting her hand on the paper and finally looking at me again before motioning for me to sit in the seat across from her.
Explain… with colored pencils and paper? What?
I decided to just shrug and sit.
As long as she tells me what the heck's happening, I don't care.
I sat down at the table and I leaned forward and rested my elbows on the table, waiting for something to happen.
It was quiet for a really long time as I watched her lean away from me in her chair, looking more uncomfortable than what she did before this. Her eyes were shut as she let out a really long deep breath before opening her eyes and saying, glancing at me a little every now and then.
"Okay… um, first... I-I'm sorry, Dash. None of this was anything that I wanted to happen and I totally let it slip in the library yesterday with you and… I'm really, really sorry. But… this isn't something that's exactly easy for me to admit and nor did I ever want to reveal this outside of people who already knew. That's why I wanted to make sure we were alone and that my parents were out of the house tonight. I know they would think I was crazy for telling anyone. But, I know I'm caught now, since you already guessed from the obvious. But, yes... I have powers." She admitted, still looking REALLY uncomfortable.
Honestly, I was kinda surprised by her saying sorry to me after totally avoiding me and getting mad at me earlier.
It was quiet again before I started, trying to figure stuff out, "Yeah, but… what are they? How long have you had 'em? What was with the lights and feeling like?..."
"Look, stop! J-Just let me explain... okay?" She said, looking totally overwhelmed as she cut me off, putting her hands out in front of her. It threw me off as I put my hands up in front of me as I said, "Sorry…"
After that, it was probably the weirdest and most awkwardly silent moment of my life.
Well, it was until she took a deep breath and said, "Well, at first, I was never entirely sure what they were. Actually, who am I kidding? I still don't know exactly what they are? But, anyway, I started to notice them when I was about 4 or 5. It wasn't anything weird to me at first, but… I noticed whenever I was around other people, I got these feelings. Like anytime I looked at anyone I could know exactly what they felt and saw these different colored lights, like you call them, around everyone I saw. I don't know how else to explain it, but I thought it was normal. I thought everyone was like me. And anytime I did say something, my parents just treated it like it was just me being a cute little girl with a lot of imagination. Which only made me feel like I was normal even more. Then…"
She stopped for a second as she took a deep breath before she continued, "I didn't realize until I was 6 that something was different about me. One night, I remembered waking up from a nightmare and both my parents came in to check on me to see if I was okay since they heard me crying. Both of them touched me and… right when they touched me, I could feel my feelings almost extending from me. I had no idea what was going on until my parents both immediately let go of me and were both curled up on the floor crying, acting like I just was when I was scared from my nightmare. Since I had no idea what was happening and I was only a little kid, I got even more scared. It wasn't until my parents snapped out of it and realized that all those things they thought was in my imagination, were not imaginary."
She bit her lip as she stopped and let a deep breath, looking really nervous, "M-My parents never admitted it, saying I was a super or had powers or anything like that. Since supers were illegal and never talked about back then, I had no idea really what supers even were. Even as a kid, I almost took my parents telling me I was different as being a weirdo or crazy... or something. Especially since everyday before we left to go somewhere, all they told me was that I had to be careful around others since I was different. Different. That's the one word that kept floating around my head. And it confused me for months until I noticed something. Remember the colored lights you saw around both of us that I told you I can see on others without even touching them?"
I nodded, still taking stuff in.
How could I forget? That almost freaked me out more than me feeling like I was freaking out.
She took a handful of the colored pencils and started drawing on one of the sheets of paper. I tried to glance over more from where I was sitting to try and see what she was talking about.
But, then she slid over the paper at me.
I saw two stick figure people with colored lines around them. But, one of them had these zig-zag lines of colors around their body and the other one had more of a smooth outline of colors around them.
Then I saw a colored pencil Melanie was holding come in as she started using it like a pointer or something as she explained, "When I look at most people, like my parents, I see this. The colored lights I see around them are like this smooth glow of light that you'd see around a lightbulb. But, even as a kid I realized something, whenever I concentrated hard enough to see my lights when I looked at my hands or feet, I saw the lights around me looked nothing like everyone else's I've ever seen. Mine almost looked like what I could only think of as a campfire, but like a colorful campfire. The lights and colors around my body whipped around me like flames. But, I just added that to me being different. Until I went with my parents to my mom's side a little before Christmas. My parents told my other relatives that I was going through a phase where I didn't like hugging or touching people, but after that time they touched me and I made them cry and freak out… I was even scared so they also weren't wrong and my family just accepted that since I was still kinda little. At the time it was just me as the only grandchild so I didn't have any other kids around like cousins or anything so family gatherings were pretty quite anyway. My mom was the middle child of 3 and I have two uncles. My Uncle Peter was my mom's older brother and was about as normal a guy as you could find and was getting married in a couple months. So everyone was kind of making he and his fiancé the center of attention. And I decided to just go into the den where my grandma kept a whole bunch of toys for me to play with when I came over. I always noticed I felt a lot better when I was around less people or by myself but never thought much of it. Plus I liked being on my own a lot anyway at family stuff. It wasn't until my other uncle, my Uncle Simon, walked in to get a drink from the bar that was in the den that I noticed something I never paid attention to before. My Uncle Simon was a quiet lawyer and didn't have a family of his own. He was nice to me in his own way and would always send me birthday cards and stuff, but never really babysat me or spent much time with me outside family gatherings. Even at gatherings he was always really distant with everyone. My mom always just said he was shy and liked to be alone. But, right at that moment was when I started to see my Uncle wasn't shy or at least not just for the reasons I thought my mom said. I noticed something when I looked at my Uncle as he was pouring himself a drink."
She stopped and I leaned forward a little on reflex, trying to figure out where she was going with this as I asked, "What do you mean?"
Melanie bit her lip a little as she looked in another direction and started, "Well…"
11 years ago
A young 6 almost 7 year old Melanie Frickowski was sitting on the floor playing with a rolling wooden toy horse that looked old enough to have been an old toy her mom used to play with as a child. She had a look of child-like focus somehow mixed with boredom.
She kept rolling the horse on the floor in front of the unlit fireplace behind her as she kept her attention on the toy until her Uncle Simon walked into the room, readjusting the glasses on his face and giving Melanie a small smile before looking away and walking over to the bar cabinet in the corner of the room and pouring himself a glass of scotch.
Melanie was about to look back at her toy until she saw something right as she was about to glance away.
Around his body, she saw the colored lights around his body weren't like everyone else's she'd ever seen. In fact, they were vastly different, but also familiar to her for an entirely different reason. Mainly, that they were like hers.
The colors whipped around his body like a colored fire, but reflected completely different colors than those she'd seen on herself.
She was still completely surprised with her mouth agape in shock as she continued to observe the phenomenon as her uncle just took a sip from his tumbler before letting out a long sigh.
Right as he looked like he was about to turn to walk out of the room, Melanie's voice came back as she said, "U-Um, U-Uncle Simon?"
He stopped his tracks and whipped his head over at her as he turned, looking like he was taken out of deep thought as he responded, "Huh?... Oh, sorry Mel. Did you say something to me?"
The toy horse left her hand, long forgotten to her by now as she continued to contemplate to the best of her limited experience with conversation and her mentality due to her age, but she was trying to find the words.
She gulped and nervously wrung her hands together, opening and closing her mouth repeatedly as she hopelessly kept searching for a way for herself to ask her uncle the question she was aching to ask.
Her uncle even got a look of concern as he got slightly closer to her with a slight look of worry and confusion on his face as he took a knee and tilted his head at her and asked, sounding worried and perplexed to the nth degree, "Mel, are you okay?"
After a moment of silence and biting her lip, she shakily came out with, "U-Uncle S-simon? Are… are you different too?"
He tilted his head at his niece even more before she inquired, still entirely confused yet also still concerned, "Different? What do you mean?"
Melanie in her own way for a child her age looked beyond confused, frustrated, and terrified.
She herself had no idea what exactly she was really even trying to ask about. All she knew was she was different and didn't know how exactly to tell him.
After a moment of thinking, Melanie acted on child-like impulse as she reach forward quickly with her right hand and put it on top of her Uncle's hands that were resting on his knee.
He almost looked like he was going to jump back until he froze in position as he felt an alien sensation running through his body and he stared wide eyes at his niece as he felt the sensation coming from his niece's hand.
Her Uncle didn't react as violently as her parents did, but out of fear of scaring her uncle, she withdrew her hand and then retreated slightly, curling up into a sitting fetal position and looking like she was about to get in BIG trouble.
She looked back up at her Uncle, who to her surprise and total confusion, no longer looked freaked out.
Instead, he was smiling ear to ear and his eyes were wide in fascination and almost… pride at his niece.
During that time he came closer to her, looking as excited as a child opening gifts on Christmas morning.
"Mel, do you want to see what I can do that makes me different?" He whispered, still using the family nickname for her.
Melanie looked at her uncle in total shock and confusion before her mind started acting on its own as she started nodding.
She got confused for a second as she watched her uncle look toward the dark fireplace and get a slightly cocky smirk on his face as he tipped down his glasses on his nose before Melanie fell backward in surprise as she saw red lasers shoot out of her Uncle Simon's eyes at the fireplace and igniting the wood to a steady but cozy fireplace burn.
Right after that happened Melanie's grandma called out, hearing the commotion in the other room, "Simon, what's going on in there?"
Simon was quick to respond to his mother as he replied, trying to sound as even as possible, "Nothing Ma. Melanie said she was cold so I started the fire for her in here."
"Okay, well just make sure to put the screen in front of the fireplace to keep her from burning herself." They both heard Melanie's mom chime in.
"No problem Marie." Simon replied back just as smoothly to his sister.
Simon put his glasses back in place before getting up and grabbing his glass of scotch and glancing back at Melanie before putting a finger to his lips with a slight smile and giving her a wink, almost as a sign that they were going to keep showing each other they had powers a secret.
At least at the moment.
After hearing that whole story from Melanie just now, all I could thing of was one thing.
Laser eyes? The only person I knew kinda, other than Jack-Jack, with laser eyes was…
"Dash, I know you probably guessed, but… this was my uncle." She pushed this picture toward me and it was a picture from The Fallen Heroes article I remembered Dad kept in his office at home framed.
Once I was old enough, dad told me about what happened with Syndrome on Nomanisan Island and that many heroes were killed in Syndrome's experiments to create the most powerful Omnidroid robot that we took down in the city. But, mostly dad told me he found a body on the Island of one of the heroes he used to know from back in the day.
And I was looking at him in the picture right now.
"Dash, my Uncle Simon's full name was Simon Paladino, but you probably know him as Gazerbeam. I know I probably shouldn't have told you this, but he's… gone now. Anyway though, after that he eventually did tell my parents he knew about my powers… after I found out my parents knew that my uncle had powers the whole time and never told me. But, after that he spent time with me whenever he had the chance and tried to help me understand my powers, since he'd never seen anything like my powers before. I could never figure out if he was just spending time with me because of my powers or not. Not that I thought he didn't love me or care about me, but him finding out I had powers like he did definitely had a lot to do with it. But, honestly I hardly cared. It was just nice knowing I wasn't alone." Melanie explained, looking a little sad.
I didn't really know what to say as I rubbed the back of my neck before putting my hands togather and saying, "Sorry."
She gave me nod, knowing what I meant by saying sorry about her Uncle dying. Hey, I'm still figuring stuff out right now, but I still felt bad about her uncle not being around anymore.
I thought for a second until something hit me as I asked, "Wait, so, no one else had powers in your family?"
"Nope. Just my uncle and I. My uncle said my grandpa, who died when my mom and uncles were growing up, had powers to control water and died doing hero work, but his death was covered up by him dying in a car accident. But, my grandma Paladino is totally normal like my Uncle Peter and my mom. According to my uncle, he thinks that super powers must be a rarely expressed recessive trait that hardly ever shows up unless both parents have it in their genetic code. That's why supers are so rare to come across. It comes up more when both parents have powers and even less when only one parent has powers… and then there's my parents. Neither of them have powers, but both of them must have been carriers for the gene. And the odds of those genes even matching up should've been nonexistent. A literal one in a million chance. And I happened to be that nonexistent chance."
It was quiet as I took all that in. Even though this has been such a weird day. I couldn't shake it. "Man... this is so crazy." I said out loud, running a hand through my hair.
"I know, Its…" "This is awesome!" I said, standing up from my chair and feeling like I was going crazy but also totally into this.
"What?" I heard Melanie say, but I wasn't even paying attention as I kept talking out, "My whole life I thought I was alone and no other kids except for people in my family had powers. But now that I know you have powers too it…"
I whipped my head behind me at Melanie who looked like she was receding into herself with how hard she was crossing her arms right now.
I gave her the most confused look ever that I thought my head was going to completely go sideways.
"What sucks?" I asked, straight up and totally confused.
"My powers suck, Dash! I hate them! I hate them and I wish I never had them!" She lets out, totally losing it as I just locked up and stared at her.
And the rest will be save for part 2 of this chapter *awaiting virtual tomatoes and boo's to be dished out at me*. XD But for real, as a person who works in medicine and lover of all things superheroes. I was always fascinated by the Incredibles universe since super powered children are a topic that's heavily focused on. So, I was always fascinated by the prospect of how supers come into being. So I hope you enjoyed the spin on the genetics that I included here on how super powered people come into being through natural means, and my addition of Gazerbeam as Melanie's uncle! I just thought it would be a cool addition to show how other supers conducted themselves outside of hero work and how they had private lives with extended family like everyone else. Also, I just really wanted to explore younger supers a lot more and I thought the additions of characters like Nova and Melanie would be interesting to add more depth. But, it appears that Melanie has a lot more that she needs to share? Tune in next time for more in part 2! Thanks for taking the time to read and constructive comments are always appreciated. Hope you all are staying safe and healthy out there.
Stay Classy and safe everyone!'