Yo, you wanna hit us? We can hit back
If you talk that talk, you got's to live that.
This is self defense
Shahin had gotten her shopping trip. It had taken some coaxing, some cajoling, and the support of Carter, Kendra (given some practice, the mouse would have teeth. It would be interesting to watch - and possibly help - with that practice over the next four years), and, unexpectedly, Caity, but they had gotten a group together to peruse the stores of Houston.
Taro had volunteered to come along, much to Shahin’s surprise, but the nervous lip-bitten look Kai gave him suggested a reason. Eris, muttering something about art supplies, rounded out their trip.
“It’s almost like being normal,” Caity joked, as they trooped along the street. “I mean, I think?” She shrugged self-deprecatingly. “I think Kennie and Rennie are the only ones who might know what that’s like.”
“Most of us at least grew up normal,” Carter reproached her. “Things change, though. We change.”
“Speak for yourself,” Shahin laughed. “I think ‘most’ is vastly overstating the case.”
“Maybe,” Taro said. “Regardless, we can at least pretend.”
Shahin, who had never seen the point in pretending, stayed quiet on that point. There was a yarn-and-crafts store up ahead, and she had baby clothes to create. “Grey,” she mused aloud. “Not lavender, if it’s a boy.”
“Making something for him?” Carter asked, glad of the change in subject.
She smiled at him, a bit amused. “From the feel of things, if I start knitting now, I should be able to have enough gifts to go around by June.” Having friends to knit for was a pleasant novelty. Having pregnant friends to knit for was a slightly less pleasant novelty. “But first, yes. For mine.”
“I suppose trying to keep up with everyone would keep you busy, there.”
She chuckled. “Even with just my friends, yeah. Speaking of keeping up with…” She gestured ahead, where Caity and Kendra were nearly out of sight.
“Yeah, they’re kind of enthusiastic, huh?” Carter, Taro, and Eris sped up the pace a bit with her.
“I don’t blame them,” Shahin admitted. “It’s like being let off the leash… oh. Hrmm.” Three guys in their late teens had rounded a corner and encountered Caity and Kendra.
“Hrmm?” Carter glanced that direction again. “It’s Caity and Kennie, they should still be able to talk to regular people without an issue.” His brow furrowed, though, as one of the guys made a grab at Kendra. “Maybe not. Let’s get up there and hear what’s going on.”
“Let’s,” Shahin agreed grimly.
“…come on, pretty, just a drink. Your friend can come along…”
“She said no,” Caity snapped, interposing herself between Kendra and the older boy. “Now shove off, okay?”
“I don’t think I like your tone,” the boy growled, clamping his hand down on Caity’s shoulder.
“Don’t break any bones, please,” Shahin murmured to Taro, as the four of them hurried to intercept.
“I don’t think I like yours,” Caity retorted, not showing any signs of pain. “Kennie, get out of here.”
The mousy little girl seemed frozen in place, however.
“Naw, I got a better idea,” one of the other boys said. A flash of metal leapt from his pocket to his hand, dancing under the dim streetlight. “Hand over the wallets and we’ll let you go.”
“Not many broken bones,” Shahin corrected, wondering if he’d listen.
“That,” Caity informed them levelly, “is a supremely stupid idea.”
Shahin had to hand it to the girl; she didn’t flinch as one tough held her and the second menaced her with the knife and opened his mouth to speak again.
He didn’t get the chance. A gust of wind blasted past Shahin, rocking her on her heels, and the knife-wielder’s jaw snapped back as a blue streak shot past him before resolving itself back into Carter.
“Shit,” she murmured, hurrying to the other Fifth Cohorts. She hadn’t thought it would be Carter that would be the problem.
It wasn’t, as it turned out; the thugs hadn’t seen him move like that, and now the knife-wielder and the silent partner were turning their attention to him cautiously, apparently thinking he’d simply surprised them.
“Hey, man, this isn’t your business,” the first said, grabbing Caity more solidly to restrain her, despite her efforts to push him away.
“Actually,” Shahin answered coolly, “what happens to our friends is always our problem. Let her go.”
“Oh, look at little miss freak show,” he taunted. “Step the fuck back, or she’s gonna have a bad day.”
She giggled, amused at the pretense of an insult, hoping Carter would do something while she had the asshole distracted.
It seemed that despite his initial bravado, however, he was a bit flustered by the prospect of an actual fight, cautiously watching his circling adversaries. Taro, on the other hand...
“This is your last chance to go home with all your teeth,” he said, stepping forward, around Shahin.
There was their muscle when they needed it.
“I’d let them go now, if I were you,” Shahin warned the thugs sweetly.
“You think I’m afraid of some Asian kid?” he scoffed. Taro continued advancing and the ruffian took a one-armed swing at him, still holding Caity. His look of disdain turned to surprise and then dismay as Taro caught his fist and held it extended. The thug released Caity to grab his wrist with his other hand, trying to pull it back, but to no avail. Taro slowly tilted his head, expression still deadpan, and a series of faint pops crackled forth as their would-be assailant cried out.
“The human hand has a lot of bones,” Shahin murmured, both taunting the jerk and reminding Taro. She held out a hand for Caity. “You okay?”
“Peachy,” Caity said dryly as she took Shahin’s hand.
“Whoa, whoa, okay, lemme go man,” the thug said as Taro lifted him off the ground by his hand, apparently having no difficulty holding him from a single outstretched arm.
“T’, put him down now, please,” Shahin murmured. “We don’t want to attract undue attention.”
Just then, the boy managed to gather himself enough to kick Taro in the chest. He coughed, turned, and whipped his arm around as he released his hold, flinging his assailant back into the alley. The flight was halted some fifty feet away by a brick wall, which the unfortunate flopped off of to the ground.
Shahin winced, and looked at his friends. “We’re done here,” she suggested to them.
They seemed to be having that thought already; at some point Carter had apparently managed to take away the butterfly knife, and it now spun in his hand as a solid blur, emitting a faint whine. With one last glance at each other, they fled the scene, abandoning their fallen companion.
Shahin glanced at him. “How bad did you hurt him?” she asked Taro.
“I don’t know,” he replied, sounding miffed that she was even asking. “The fucker kicked me!”
She glanced at the rest of the group. “Kennie? You okay?”
“Y-yeah? I’m fine?”
Someone in their group could heal, couldn’t they? She looked around at the upperclassmen while she offered the mousey girl a hand.
Carter was looking at the knife in his hand, folded and closed now, as if unsure what to do with it. Taro was busy brushing himself off. That left Eris.
“Body?” she murmured hopefully. “Minimize the obvious damage?”
She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “I could do that,” she allowed. “But why?”
“Police attention would do badly for us, if Taro hurt him more than, say, he ought to have been able to.”
“Well, he deserves it, handling Caity like that.”
“She’s got a point,” Taro nodded vaguely; he could just as easily be supporting either of them. For all Shahin knew, he was just making noises.
“Of course he does. But the police attention would get us all in trouble.”
“Mmf. You have a point,” Eris finally ceded. She muttered under her breath for a moment. “There.”
“Wait, that’s it?,” Caity asked her. “From all the way over here?”
“I’m just that good,” she smirked. “Didn’t you want to go shopping?”
“Well, yeah... wow, though, that’s really impressive. You’ll show me how you do that?,” Caity asked hopefully.
“I can try,” she allowed. “They’re my best words, is all.”
“I can’t really do Body at all, actually,” Caity shrugged cheerfully. “But maybe the concept applies across a broader platform? I mean, I can really only Work things that are right in front of me, right now, even when I’m doing my best stuff.”
“Practice,” Eris answered darkly. “Lots and lots of practice.” Then she shrugged, as if pushing it off her shoulders. “Right now, though, I want paint. Lots and lots of paint.”
“Paint, right.” Carter returned to them, pocketing the knife. “Yeah. And maybe we don’t have to mention this when we get back to the teachers?”
“I don’t think they need to know,” Shahin nodded. Looking around at the rest of their group, she could see they were all in agreement. “Let’s get on with that shopping.”
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