It was time to train.
Collin brought Alden to the underground gymnasium by a different entrance. This one was a secret door in the wall of a storm cellar, hidden behind shelves of canned food and water. He'd wished Delia had been holding onto his hand as he took another long stairway down to another locked door.
This door opened into the medical examination room he had seen before.
"We'll skip the physical, since you had one just a month ago. Go ahead and enter the gym."
Alden opened the door. The gym was no longer empty. It had a plethora of equipment and playthings.
"What we rescued you from," Collin began, "was a place where they were testing the effects of certain minerals, compounds, and chemicals on the development of children. Most of them died because they could not mentally or physically handle their dosage. What I found in your blood was a spike of a compound I've never seen before. I don't know what it is, nor do I know what it does. It had never surfaced on any of our previous blood tests prior to the moment you needed to heal, which is quite strange."
"What are you trying to say, Collin?"
"We've gotta figure this crap out together, kid," Collin smiled. "So, let's start by process of elimination. We know you heal, but are you extraordinarily strong? Let's lift some weights."
They started with bench pressing lighter weights. He bench press up to one-hundred-twenty pounds, but that was his limit. Impressive in the fact that he did not lift weights regularly, but Collin could bench press more.
Then they tried speed on a treadmill. He was winded at ten miles per hour. A six minute mile was also impressive, but still nothing an average human being who trained hard could not accomplish.
After studying how he jumped, held his breath, and reflexed to various things, they were stumped and decided to call it a day.
They would regroup tomorrow.
Delia snuck out of the house and found Alden's window. His lights were off, but she knew he was awake. She tapped on the glass.
She tapped again, and the window was lifted open.
"What are you up to, Delia?" He asked and ran a hand over his face.
"I heard training wasn't going so great, so I thought maybe you were nocturnal and we should try night training." She shined a light in his face, "I brought a flashlight."
He snatched the flashlight from her hands and turned it off.
"You came over here and woke me up to make fun of me? That's just awesome. Go back home."
She ignored him and climbed through the window, landing noisily on his bed. He instinctively grabbed her and wrapped his arms tightly around her to hold her still.
"You're going to wake up Lu," he said, but his heart was pounding and so was hers.
"Let me go," she said uncomfortably, and he did.
She stood up, her father's warnings running through her head. Alden was stronger than she remembered him being. When had she not been able to wriggle her way out of his grasp? When had she ever had to ask him to let go because she couldn't even budge an inch?
"Come on," she said and opened his door as quietly as possible.
They snuck down the hallway and to the closet. She pressed her hand to the panel to open the secret door before they even had a chance to rediscover how cramped that closet was. Once the door shut behind them, she switched the flashlight on. The stairway was not nearly as scary or long when illuminated. They found the next door and entered the gymnasium.
"So, what did you have planned, coach?"
"I dunno, what were you and my dad doing earlier?" She asked and turned her flashlight back off.
"Essentially, I was just working out with a few to discovering my limits."
"That sounds boring. Of course you didn't get any results."
She sat on a bench. I slid an inch or so with her movement, knocking into a storage locker full of weights and exercise equipment. Alden barely registered that it had tipped open as it fell towards her before he jumped in between the danger and her. The force of his jump seemed to throw the locker and its contents to the other side of the gym, slamming against the wall opposite them and shattering the window of the examination room.
"Oh look, it worked," she started to laugh.
He had wrapped his arms around her and pulled her off the bench when he jumped to save her. They were on the floor, breathing heavy from the excitement, and she was laughing at almost dying.
"You're absolutely insane," he told her.
"Yes, but now we know you're telekinetic," she smiled and laid her head back on the concrete floor.
He turned, loosening his arm from around her waist, and laid his head back as well.
"Thanks for saving me," she said. "Why didn't they bolt that bench in place?"
That's when he began to laugh.
She turned on her side to watch him laugh. He was often so serious, taking the world into his shoulders. Taking care of her.
"Alden, I don't know what's going to happen," she admitted. "I don't want the fact that you're different to change our friendship, to take you away."
"Why would it take me away?" He was watching her eyes, trying to figure out what she was thinking. "I'm right here. You're still my best friend."
"Would you be mad if..." She couldn't finish her sentence.
He just waited for her to speak. She'd get mad if he interrupted or asked a question.
"Would it be weird if I told you I like you?"
That wasn't the question he was expecting.
"What's weird about liking your friend?" He asked.
He was a complete idiot.
"I mean, I like you more than that," she expounded.
He just stared up at her, trying to register her words and make sense of them.
"Good lord," she sighed and leaned over him to give him a quick kiss on his lips.
She quickly got up and ran out of the gym through the examination room to the other exit. He just kept laying there, piecing together what had just happened.