We all stare blankly at Rin.
Or rather Leo and I do.
Roan looks thoughtful.
This isn’t a surprise for the modern day Sherlock.
“Does this mean Alex is one of us too?” Leo grumbles.
I elbow him.
“What Leo means is…”
What do I say?
I stand gaping like a goldfish, trying to form the multitude of words in my brain into something that will sound sympathetic or comforting.
“How did this happen, Rin?” Roan asks softly.
The way he says her name, so familiar, friendly…and she doesn’t shy from him. Not like she does from me and, hair and black eyes aside, I don’t look nearly as threatening as Mr. Moody, six foot three.
There was something going on there.
She wipes her eyes and shifts so she’s sitting rather than crumpled on the floor.
“I told you, it was Alex. I’ve never been able to use fire when I was away from people on my own. Then Alex showed up the Body Snatcher-”
“Call me my name not my title.” Leo barks. “And he did not show me up! He-”
“Leo.” I hiss.
He hmphs and Rin clears her throat.
“Anyway Alex channelled Leo and I thought, maybe that’s my Quirk? So later I tried it with Evie and then all this water just streamed out of my hands. I was panicking so much I couldn’t stop it and…” She swallows thickly. “They realised what I was. A Channeller. An Outsider.”
Leo sneers. “You don’t have to sound so upset about it.”
She shoots him a look.
“Leo, she’s just lost her friends. The whole school thinks we’re psychopaths with inch thick criminal records. How would you like to feel forced to befriend people like that?”
He gives me a smile.“What you mean after shunning us for years?” He sticks his bottom lip out and raises his eyebrow as if seriously contemplating this. “Pretty awkward to be honest.”
I ignore him.
“Rin, how did you get here in this first place?” Roan asks, still in that soothing, quiet voice.
I didn’t get that voice when I was new.
And I hadn’t shunned him for years.
“I lived round the corner and when I was….” She frowns.
“Twelve,” Roan says. “You joined here in year eight.”
Leo and I share a look.
“Yeah, twelve. Well I was out in town, looking round the market and I was standing next to Sasha. Obviously I didn’t know it at the time though. Well it had been winter and I was cold. I’d rubbed my hands together and they’d gotten really hot and started sparking. Sasha had grabbed my hands and told me not to do that in public. I’d just stared at her like an idiot. She brought me back here, we got a shared room and we have been…we were friends ever since. As we were rarely apart, I could always create fire.”
Roan rests his hand on hers and gives her a sweet smile.
It looks so foreign to me I expect him to peel off the mask he put on while Rin was talking.
I smile and hold out my hand for her, partly so Roan will have to release hers and partly because I’m getting a crick in my neck from looking down at her.
She looks at it as though it’s green, scaly and each fingertip has a snake head ready to strike her.
My smile becomes tighter on my face.
“You know I wasn’t joking before. We’ve never purposefully hurt anyone-”
“Rose.” Leo coughs under his breath.
“Well okay I’ve hurt people, but never seriously. I can list the people I’ve zapped on one hand. Roan hates using his gift and Leo… well he’s an arrogant little boy at times but he never hurts people.”
My hand twitches and suddenly I’m flipping myself off. I shake my hand out of the spasm and shoot Leo a look.
“You’ve just proven my point, genius.”
“Anyway, you’re either one of us, or you’re an Outsider to the Outsiders.” I get rid of the fake smile and show my indifference.
It would be nice to have another girl in the group, but I don’t particularly care for this judgemental girl who already seems to have won Roan’s heart.
She glances at each of us, glaring at Leo, warily taking me in and gazing at Roan.
It’s Roan she looks at when she nods and takes my hand.
I haul her up and give her another smile, hoping she’ll stop looking at me with so much suspicion.
“One of us. One of us.” Leo chants, zombie-like, not helping in the slightest.
But she’s not paying attention because Roan is giving her one of his rare and blinding smiles that it took me so long to get out of him.
Leo and I share a look.
This girl is going to be trouble.