Reid, Susan and Ben sighed in unison at the sound of the yell from the bedrooms. They were sitting in the dining room enjoying lunch together after a long morning in the lab. Crystal marched out to the kitchen and confronted Johnny who had sheepishly turned back to the food he was cooking.
“Johnny! How dare you set a video camera up in my room! You’re such a pig!” Crystal said, brandishing a small video camera in her hands.
Johnny simply shrugged his shoulder, “It was for research, I don’t believe the counter on the security tapes.”
“Oh yeah, I’m SURE that’s what it’s for” Crystal replied rolling her eyes.
“Don’t flatter yourself Blondie, I could care less what you look like under those clothes” Johnny cracked back.
The trio of adults at the table sighed again. “Here we go again” Ben said, picking up a newspaper. Sure enough the two younger adults immediately started bickering like an old married couple.
“-and just because I don’t go sleeping with half of the city doesn’t mean I’m boring or undesirable!”
“If you’re so desirable then why haven’t you gone on a date over a week? What happened, boyfriend dump you?”
“So you’re keeping tabs on me now? Nothing better to do, Human Flashlight?” Crystal made a good dig at Johnny’s superhero name; a torch was another name for flashlight.
Johnny immediately fired up. Literally. He threw a flame at Crystal, “Cold-hearted!”
Crystal’s mouth opened in shock and outrage as she quickly doused the ball of flame with her hand. She threw a ball of water back at Johnny.
“ENOUGH!” Susan threw an invisible shield between the two. Crystal and Johnny both stopped mid-fight and looked at her.
Susan threw her arms up and gestured to the kitchen, “Look what you did!” Scorch marks and frost covered the kitchen. Crystal, with the help of Reid, was now able to create massive balls of water and could create ice.
“Sorry Su, I’ll clean it up” Crystal said immediately.
“Thank you, and Johnny will help you” Susan replied.
“Oh no, I can handle it my-“
“No,” Susan said cutting her off, “Johnny is helping you. Maybe working together will make you guys learn to appreciate each other.”
“Fat chance” Johnny said under his breath.
Susan ignored him and walked out of the room. A few hours later while sitting in his room, reading a comic book, Johnny remembered something. He waited until the adults had left for errands and Crystal was in her room, to go check on his idea. He quietly snuck back to the security post and rewound the tapes to a specific night. His eyes grew wide as the tapes confirmed his suspicion of how the fire alarm really went off.
Within moments he was knocking on Crystal’s door. “Hey Crys, open up” Johnny said.
“Go away Johnny, I’m not in the mood to deal with you right now” Was her reply through the door.
Johnny sighed, so this was how it was going to be. He gathered every ounce of pride he had and apologized, “I’m sorry for putting that video camera in your room, it was a pig-headed, stupid thing to do”
After a few moments, Crystal’s door cracked open, her blonde head and bright blue eyes looked out from her room. She scanned the hallway quickly, probably making sure it wasn’t a practical joke, and then stepped out of her room. This movement brought Johnny and Crystal so close, their bodies were almost touching. The two realized this at the same moment and each took a step back.
“So was that everything Johnny?” Crystal asked. She looked at Johnny confused; they never apologized.
Johnny ran and nervous hand through his hair, “Actually, uhm Crys, I wanted to talk to you about the night of the ‘fire’” He said putting fire in air quotations. “
Yesss?” Crystal prodded.
“Well, I went back and looked at the tapes from that night. When the fire alarm went off, you weren’t in your bedroom. You were in the hallway by the elevator.” Johnny said nervously, unsure what Crystal would do with this news. Her reaction surprised him. Instead of becoming angry and yelling at him for spying on her, she hung her head down and covered her face in her hands. “Crys?”
Crystal looked up at Johnny with tear-filled eyes. “What actually happened? There was no room on the tape left and I couldn’t find the one after it” Johnny asked.
She didn’t speak another word and Crystal made her way back into her bedroom. Johnny was expecting her to lock herself in there but instead she reemerged a few moments later carrying a tiny black tape.
She handed it to Johnny, “Here. You watch it, I can’t.”
Johnny put the tape on a coffee table and looked at Crystal again, “What happened?”
“That night, my boyfriend was dropping me off from out date. He asked to come inside with me but I declined. T-then he got really angry with me and shoved me up against a wall. He was so strong, I couldn’t break free. We can’t use our powers on normal humans so I couldn’t do anything to help myself. H-he lifted me up by my throat and was yelling at me. I was kicking and screaming but no one heard me. I reached towards anything that would help me and I found the fire alarm trigger on the wall. After I pulled it, he ran. I-I was so embarrassed. I lied and stole the tape so you guys wouldn’t find out what happened.” Crystal finished her story through her sobs.
She buried her face in her hands once again. Johnny immediately felt a pull to comfort her and he wrapped her tightly in his arms. He heard movement by the front door and saw Reid, Susan, and Ben appear from behind a wall. The looks on their faces told Johnny that they had heard everything.
“Oh honey” Susan said coming up to Crystal. Johnny unwrapped his arms and Susan led Crystal to the kitchen to make her a cup of hot tea.
“Wow” Ben said running a hand over his bald head, “Poor kid”
“Poor kid is right,” Reid agreed, “But also brave not to use her powers against him.”
“Brave?! That was stupid! He could have hurt her! She could have choked to death!” Johnny exclaimed.
“I know Johnny, but if she used her powers, everyone in the city would know she had them and people would start coming after her. She’s not ready to fight yet” Reid replied.
Before Johnny could answer, Reid picked up the tape from the table and walked into the security room. Ben and Johnny followed close after him. The tape was worse than hearing it. The men watched as Crystal’s boyfriend took her by her throat and lifted her off the ground, how she reached and reached for the fire alarm and finally pulled it. The Crystal in the video fell to the ground as her boyfriend released her and put a hand to her neck as she watched the man run away. When she saw that he was gone, she too ran away into the penthouse.
“She should have bruises on her neck...possibly some defense wounds…it was only about a week ago” Reid said muttering to himself. He led the other men to the kitchen where Susan and Crystal were talking.
“So you haven’t heard from him since?” Susan was asking.
Crystal shook her head, “No. I was surprised, when we were dating he was always asking to hang out and would triple text me sometimes”
“Uhm, triple text? What does that mean?” Reid asked, joining them at the table.
“It’s when a person sends three messages in a row, usually because the other person hasn’t answered” Johnny replied for Crystal, “It also sends me the message that the girl is clingy or needy” He looked at Crystal expecting her to disagree but to his surprise she nodded her head.
“So Crystal, did he leave any marks on you?” Reid asked. In response, Crystal undid her high-necked sweater so everyone could see her neck. Purple marks ran their way around her neck like a sick necklace.
Reid sucked in sharply, “I feel terrible; why didn’t I notice them before?”
“It’s OK Reid, I covered them with makeup and made sure to wear high-necked clothing or scarves to cover it up. Not your fault” Crystal answered quickly.
“Are you feeling better sweetie?” Susan asked gently.
Crystal nodded again, “Yes I am, thank you. I feel much better now that I told you. I think I’m angry more than anything”
At this, Reid tapped a pen to his chin thoughtfully. “Hey Crys,” He said excitedly, “Whenever you’re fighting with Johnny do you feel your powers intensify?”
Crystal cocked her head to the side for a moment, thinking. Her eyes lit up as she replied, “Yes! Yes they do. And I think the past week my powers have been getting stronger, maybe because of what happened?”
Reid nodded his head, “That’s exactly what I think” He looked at Susan and a silent exchange went between them. They both stood up and looked at the group.
“We’re all going on a short vacation”