"Like this?" Jinx blinked at Peter and his hair turned a bright, hot pink with blue strips zigzagging across the sides. Bennie burst out laughing.
"Yes, like that," Peter said, "Now change it back, please? My mom will freak if she sees this!"
"Maybe later," Jinx said over her shoulder. Rachel buried herself under the cloud of bees to hide her face, reddening with suppressed laughter.
"You still alive in there?" Bennie said to Rachel. "You haven't told me how you got here, or what your Night Name is, or how much Sarah knows about all this."
"Reyna," Rachel said as the bees cleared from her face, "My Night Name is Reyna. It means Queen, like the bee queen? You know?"
"I got hit by the lightning not long after you did but no one saw, in my family at least," Rachel said. "One of the Guardians was there when I woke up and she came home with me and told my family what was going on. We wouldn't have believed her if you hadn't just been hit by blue lightning yourself, but everything she said was true so I got to start training. She helped me figure myself out with the insects before I came to Pelanca and met Fleta and Jinx and Peter."
"Does Sarah know about all this, about me?" Bennie said, feeling guilty. She always figured at some point she would reveal her secret to her best friend, but the time had never been right, between the blindness and the skirmishes and trying to figure out things on her own.
"She does, but don't worry she isn't mad you haven't told her," Rachel said. "She guessed you weren't ready."
"I did plan to," Bennie said. "And now I definitely will."
"Can you come over tonight after training? We could all talk about it when she wakes up. She tries not to show it but she's super jealous we are superheroes. I hope the lightning comes for her sometime too."
"That'd be super cool," Bennie said. "I mean the three of us being superheroes, the spending the night part I can't. You know my mom."
"Oh yeah," Sean said as Rachel nodded. "How bad was your mom's reaction to you training here instead of the school?"
One look at Bennie's face told Sean everything. "Perce isn't going to be happy you haven't talked to her. I thought you said you'd handle it."
"And I will!" Bennie said, then changed the subject quickly. "So how do you like Pelanca, and Guardian training?" she asked Rachel.
"It's amazing, and my classmates are all pretty cool."
"You say that now!" Peter said. "When I tried to pull my charming man with a diamond role on her she loosed a swarm of mosquitoes on me. I'll never be able to donate blood due to the risk that I have malaria now."
"Seriously, Petes. Not a single one of those mosquitoes bit you. I'm not that cruel."
"Just like to use that as my excuse to avoid donating blood. I hate needles!"
"And Peter doesn't like to mention that his Night Name is Mason, so I will for him!" Rachel said. Peter groaned.
"I like the name Mason, I really do," he said, "But my brother and my cousin and one of my friends all have that name so you give it to me and I can't think of who I am!"
"Someone needs their head looked at," Fleta the Centaur said, smiling.
"You see? You see Sean?" Peter said in mock distress, "I told you the nonstop picking on me only got worse when Rachel showed up!"
"You need another guy in your group," Sean grinned. "Bennie gave Gem a fair bit of relief when she showed up. And speaking of, Bennie, we better get going to our own training!"
Sean and Bennie made their goodbyes and headed toward Perce's.
"Nice bunch of people," Bennie said to Sean.
"Yeah," Sean said, watching a Leweline swoop overhead. "I think Peter likes you."
"Yeah, right," Bennie said, and knocked on Perce's door. Perce opened, and smiled when he saw them.
"Y'all are a little late!" He said, stepping out to meet them and locking the door behind him. "Gem's waiting for us down in the park near HQ so we'll head straight there. Have trouble convincing your Mom to let you come, Bennie?"
Bennie blinked guiltily. She had promised Perce she would talk to her mom about training in Pelanca first, and if she said no, bring him in as backup. But there never seemed to be a good time, when her mom wasn't on edge, to bring it up.
"Bennie," Perce said. "Please tell me your mom knows you're here."
"I haven't had a moment to talk to her about it," Bennie said.
"Bennie!" Perce ran his hands through his hair, tousling it even more than usual. "You can't just come here without letting her know! It was one thing when we had the emergencies after your attack and we had to improvise, but not on a regular basis. What do you think she'll do if she shows up at the school, where we previously agreed to meet, and finds we've gone off somewhere else, in the middle of the night? Do you have any idea how much trouble she could get us into, and when I say "us" I don't just mean you getting grounded. I mean Sean too. He is nineteen."
Sean shifted uncomfortably. Apparently the thought that walking around in the middle of the night with an underage girl would look suspicious, at best, to outsiders had never crossed his mind. Bennie hung her head.
"I didn't even think about that, Perce," Bennie said. "I don't think she'd do that, though. I mean, how could she stop me from telling them she knew I was out?"
"She's a lawyer," Perce said. "Do you really want to test her on this? And what story would you come up with? It's not like you can just tell the police about the Guardians. That's not the kind of trouble you want to find yourself in, either."
Bennie said nothing to that. She wondered what happened to Guardians who spoke to freely about their world, if anyone ever did.
"I really meant to tell her, and I will," Bennie finally said. "But I really haven't had the right moment."
"Find it soon," Perce said firmly. "Because until you do you can't come train, and your training is essential to you right now."
"What about tonight?" Bennie said, panicking. She couldn't believe Perce would send her home and leave her vulnerable indefinitely.
"We're going to go get Gem and we'll all go together," Perce said. "Once you have your mom's permission we'll pick up where you left off."
YOU ARE READING
A Winner of the Pearson Prize for Fiction, 2010! Benjamina James was like any other fifteen-year-old until one day a bolt of blue lightning struck her on the soccer field. She soon finds she has strange abilities including shooting fire and lightnin...