Differences 8-IV

Here Are the Test Results.

“You are a horrible person,” Sabi said when I opened the door. “Seriously. You are objectively the worst.”

For the first time in a while, it’d hadn’t snowed overnight, and the late morning sun had already melted the frost away. It did me good to see some green, even if it was just the evergreens.

I’d slept like a log, like two logs, even, so before the doorbell had rung I had been happily snoring the day away. Although I’m sure I’d appreciate not wasting an entire day later, in that moment I was tired and groggy and really hating my past self.

“Good morning to you too,” I mumbled through a yawn, stepping back and opening the door. She immediately bustled past me, obviously relieved to be indoors. Judging from the way she'd wrapped herself up, pretty much every inch of skin covered in something, she hadn’t quite gotten over that last big bit of agoraphobia. I was impressed that she’d made it all the way over here, and worried that she’d hurt her own progress in doing so. It came in flares and bursts for her: sometimes, it’d be like nothing was wrong at all, then the next she’d be refusing to even look out the window. It always took a few days to come back from the worst ones, and she usually spent them indoors. I wasn’t sure if the fact that she’d walked all the way here three days after a bad one was a good thing or not.

She removed her soggy boots and left them on the doorstep, then closed the door and leant back against it, sighing. After a second, she began slowly shedding her layers, removing her coat and then the multiple scarves . “God, that's nice.” I’d turned the heat up a little higher than normal, primarily because my parents weren’t around to stop me. Eventually, she was left with just jeans, a long-sleeved tee and, oddly enough, a thin pair of black gloves. She caught me staring, and frowned up at me.

“Oh, like you’re one to talk,” she replied to the unspoken question. I was still in my pajamas, which may or may not have been pastel blue with fluffy pink and white clouds.

In my defense, they were very comfy.

“So what’s up?” she asked, folding her arms over her chest. “It better be good, I woke up early on a day off for this.”

“Have you eaten?” I asked instead of responding.

“Uh… no, but I don’t see how that’s relevant?”

I pushed off the wall and moved towards the kitchen. “Well, I haven’t either, so I’m gonna make eggs. You want eggs?”

“Umm, sure?” She followed me warily. “Hanners, what is this-”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh,” I said, pushing one finger towards her without looking back. “Shh. Eggs, then explanations. Heh. Eggsplanations.”

I shambled into the kitchen and began bustling around, grabbing eggs and a frying pan and milk and salt and butter and pepper and probably some other stuff too, I dunno. Sabi came in behind me and sat on one of the stools behind the bench. “Hannah, you’re making me a little worried here. Are you… okay?”

I threw the ingredients into the pan in some combination or another, not really paying attention. “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. Kinda tired, though.”

“I can tell; you just put half a stick of butter into your eggs.”

I squinted down at the pan. “Huh. So I have.”

“Also, you’re making them in a saucepan.”

 “Huh,” I repeated. “So I am.”

“Should you really be around hot things right now?”

“Look, I know you’re worried, but I have spent an entire lifetime in my own presence. I’ve learned to handle it.”

She laughed at that. “You know I was talking about the pan, you dunderhead.”

“Ooh, dunderhead. Someone’s breaking out the big guns,” I mocked, pushing the eggs back and forth with a spatula. They were starting to vaguely bear some resemblance to edible food now. They were also very, very yellow.

“Says Little-Miss-Gosh-Darn-It,” she shot back.

I sniffed. “Swearing is vulgar and unnecessary. Insults are the best way to show someone you love them. You lazy, drug-addled twat.”

She leant back, a hand propped to her chest. “Ms. Kingsford, you wound me. You… nasty… person, you.”

I dropped the eggs onto two plates. “That,” I said, striding around the counter and plopping onto the stool next to her, “was quite possibly the worst retort ever. Of all time.”

“Shush, you.” She tried a bite of the eggs. “Buttery. I don’t know what I was expecting.”

“I know what I was expecting, and it was for someone to eat their free eggs without complaining.”

“Actually, I was expecting eggs with milk and butter. Not butter with milk and eggs.”

I shoved another spoonful into my mouth. “Mwll, I mrkk mt.”

“That’s just because you’ve conditioned yourself into believing that it’s good. It’s like Stockholm syndrome, but with eggs.”

“How dare you!” I gasped, sweeping the plate behind me as if to protect it. “Sure, he did some bad things, but Eggerton is a good man underneath it all. He cares about me, Sabi. He cares.”

She burst out laughing, and I did too. It was nice, to be able to just laugh.

I bumped my shoulder against hers. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

We finished our eggs in silence. I’ve always thought that’s the measure of friendship; not how you act when there are things to say, but being comfortable when there aren’t. The food, if you can call it that, had helped bring me back to the land of the living, and by the time I was cleaning the dishes, I was at something approximating my usual levels of energy.

“So,” Sabah said as I cleaned. “I believe the promise was eggs, and then eggsplanation – explanation, dammit, now you’ve got me doing it.”

“That was the deal,” I agreed. “But I’m gonna need to lead with a question. Like I said, hero stuff. What do you know about a group called the Outliers?”

My back was to her, so I didn’t get to see her reaction, but it took a second for her to reply. “Uhmm, not much? Illegal vigilantes, dubious morality? And I only know that much because I’ve spent way too much time reading about this stuff.”

“Right,” I said, turning to face her. “Well, that’s not very helpful. Gotta say, I’m disappointed, Sabi. What’ll happen to your nerd cred?”

“I’m sure I’ll survive.” Her tone was jovial, but her face was tense, creased lines in her olive skin. “Hannah, seriously, why are you asking me this stuff?”

“We-ell,” I said, stepping away from the counter and beginning to walk around the bar again, “it’s possible it may have become immediately relevant to me.”

“Hannah,” she snapped, and I glanced at her. She seemed genuinely stressed out. “Enough shit,” and I recoiled, because she didn’t swear around me. Ever. “What. Is. Going. On.”

I sighed, then activated my power, took one step away, and turned it off. The clone disappeared into smoke, and I became visible again, giving the impression I’d just taken teleported. It was maybe not the most accurate example of my power, but it got the point across.

Her eyes widened. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” I said sheepishly. “Like, immediately relevant.”