chapter twelve

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   "You're her, aren't you?"

   I let out a hum in response as I look up.

   "The Multi. I saw your powers, you were a Red and Blue," the redheaded boy states, causing all eyes to be directed to me. "How did you slip through the camp's radar?"

"Don't worry about it. It's not that big of a deal," I sigh, brushing it off.

I notice as Liam watches the interaction between the boy and I carefully. His eyes flickering to him and me over and over again, as if he were waiting for something to happen.

"You can do everything? I mean, you're all of the colors . . . but rolled into one?" Another boy asks, trying to choose his words as he does so. "Do you realize how much power that is?" He directs the rhetorical question to the girl next to him. "You could do whatever you wanted. The Slip Kid barely has anything on you."

   "It's not that big of a deal," I dismiss it. "I light a few things on fire and move stuff with my head like you guys."

   "And control electricity, and can control people's minds, and you're super smart," the girl in their group speaks up for the first time, giving a shrug. "I've heard about you more than once. Word gets around fairly quickly all things considered."

   "When can we have a pee break? We've been driving for a while now." Chubs was eager to stop, already glancing out the windows for somewhere safe.

   "I told you to go before we left. Besides, we finally got a location for this place, and we're close. We can't stop now." I lean farther back into the passenger's seat, bringing my legs up and crossing them. I glance back, seeing his discomfort before looking to Liam who shrugs. "Fine. Five more minutes, then we'll find somewhere to stop."

The aforementioned five minutes go by quickly and we find ourselves soon parked underneath a bridge with an eager Chubs jumping out of the van to go find a safe space to pee in the woods.

I watch as Ruby walks a bit farther forward, looking down the road. We'd passed the Salem, Virginia sign a while ago. This was her home, but now she was being hesitant.

"Ruby?" I gain her attention. "Are you sure you want to do this? There's no harm in staying with us."

"I miss them. My parents . . . I don't even know if they'll remember me, though," she reveals. "I need to go home. I can't run anymore."

I nod lowly, understanding what she meant. She turns around and walks back to us as Chubs emerges from the woods and meets us at the front of the van.

I let out a sigh, giving the girl a once-over. I still believed Ruby didn't tell us the truth about who she was, but I also believed that she wasn't a threat. I open my arms and pull her into a hug. "Don't be afraid to come and say hi. I'm sure you'll be able to find us," I chuckle as she returns the embrace. "Good luck . . . and be safe." I pull away and send her a smile as I lean onto hood of the van.

This time, Zu quickly engulfs Ruby into a hug that she returns without thinking. The two got along well, which was another reason I didn't mind the latter continuing to tag along with us.

The two let the contact linger for a moment before Zu stepped away reluctantly.

Liam crosses his arms over his chest, smirking lightly. "Don't take any candy from strangers," he joked.

"Thank you," Ruby said after a moment, sincerity in her tone. "All of you." She glanced to me and Chubs before smiling to Zu. She let out a breath, readying herself to leave before turning on her heel and walking away.

Zu settled herself between Liam and I, allowing both of us to put an arm over her small shoulders. I looked up to him, noticing his blue eyes were already scanning over my face. "Do you think she'll be okay?" I asked quietly, furrowing my eyebrows a bit. An unsettled feeling in my stomach was growing, making me want reassurance.

He gave me a small smile. "I hope so."

The sun gleamed down on the field as I waded through the tall grass.

My hand was firmly grasping a small keychain as I approached the girl in front of me.

Despite their uncertainty to do so, I convinced the small group to follow Ruby, just to make sure she got home okay. Once we had done so, I'd only seen her running down the street after throwing the small souvenir in the driveway of her home—or at least, what used to be her home.

"You dropped this," I said, gaining her attention. She turned to face me, making me notice the small streaks of dried tears on her face. I held it up, dangling it from my hand.

She shook her head quickly. "I don't want it."

"Ruby . . ." I trailed off, letting out a sigh. "What—what is it?"

She wiped her cheeks carefully before taking the object from my hand. "It was a birthday present," she began. "From my dad. It was the last thing he gave me," she choked out. "It's used to make me feel like I wasn't alone."

"Hey, no. You're not alone. You've got me, Zu, Liam, Chubs . . . we're all here for you. We've got each other." I shrug lightly, trying to make her feel better. "That's—that's kind of like a family, right?"

Another tear fell down her cheek. I reached out and enveloped the girl in another hug that she quickly returned. I could tell that Ruby had hid this part of her for a long time; she needed to get it out and cry, it was good for her. I rub her back comfortingly, pulling away after a few moments.

"C'mon, Ruby Daly. We get back to the van and maybe Zu will give you a Twinkie."

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