”WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOUR HAND? ” Stephanie shrieked as she held Anas hands.

”Forget her hands, what happened to your wrists? ” Mike asked equally alarmed. Then, with a serious gaze he stared into her eyes. ”Are you okay? You know you can talk to me about anything right? Is college getting to you that bad? ” He whispered.

”Were you kidnapped? ” Tony exclaimed, face pale. ”Allen called me and said you didn come back to the apartment until late in the afternoon yesterday and you looked awful, I was about to go see you but you messaged me and I couldn leave, I was so **ing scared- there were so many scenarios- ” ”Yeah yeah yeah, Indiana Jones its MY turn to freak out. ” Tiffany pushed past the group and grabbed Anas hands. ”Allen said you were with some woman.. ” Tony trailed off. Suddenly Tiffanys demeanor changed. ”Oh ho ho! ” Ana immediately blanched. ”No- NO! It was NOT like that! ” Ana shrieked.

”Was she the one that did this to you? ” Mike asked, concerned.

Ana shook her head, taking her hands back from Tiffany, looking down at and rubbing her wrists. Ana had managed to hide her wrists under her jacket when she came in, but the number of customers, and Sally, constantly asking her if she was okay called for a staff meeting, along with Tiffany who was worried as she hadn heard from Ana either, towards the end of the night when there were very few customers who weren paying them any mind.

It had been two days since Ana had gotten her new power, and she was back at the diner again. Despite Megumi telling her to wait the final third day, Ana had grown bored and stir crazy in her apartment and came back to work but skipped school yet again, not wanting to be too stressed as she tried to get sed to her old life again. Her wrists were swollen and puffy, and she had multiple burns and bruises along her arms from her power activating in the middle of the night when she was trying to sleep, nearly setting her bedsheets on fire and causing her to sleep on her bathroom floor for the rest of the night. Ana had decided to stick to her decision of not telling anyone about her new power, even if at the moment they all thought the worst had happened to her, now just wasn the time, and she still barley had a well enough grip around it herself to really involve anyone other than Megumi at the moment.

Speaking of Megumi, she had come to visit Anas apartment on the second day to check on her and subtly ask for her decision, to which Ana told her that she wanted to get a hang on this new power before she felt confident giving Megumi a full answer.

Megumi agreed that this was perhaps the best idea as she was still in her early transformation stages, the two of them exchanging numbers and agreeing to meet up when Ana had healed enough. Ana shuddered as Megumi flatly told her that Zalic made the other newly transformed supers train with their power on the first day and many of them suffered horrific injuries that couldn be reversed, however they all pulled through in the end so Zalic wasn concerned about their wellbeing.

”Hello! Earth to Ana! ” Tiffany shouted, startling Ana out of her thoughts.

”Huh? ” She asked the group of concerned people around her. ”Cmon guys give her a break.. ” Mike mumbled. Tony was string at Ana with his lips pursed, clearly deep in thought as well, before sighing and looking down at the counter before he looked back up at her again.

”If you aren ready to tell us what happened then thats fine- ” He started. ”Wait what? ” Stephanie exclaimed. ”The hell it is- ” Tiffany sneered, but Tony ignored them, looking Ana dead in the eyes as he continued. ”Just promise us you
e okay, and let us know if theres anything we can do to help. ” Ana felt herself smile at him as she nodded. ”Sure, ” She said, then looked down at her wrists, which were alarming her as they were steadily heating up. She looked back up at Tony and tried to feign a look of nonchalance, but the immediate panic on his face told her she hadn done a very good job of that.

”Uhm.. ” She continued awkwardly looking around. ”I could really use some ice at the moment. ” She smiled shakily at them. Stephanie huffed, but rushed back into the kitchen, Mike following her as she did so. Anas attention was then grabbed by Tiffany, who aggressively entered her line of sight.

”But the second you are ready to talk about this we are one hundred percent discussing it. Clear? ” Tiffany said, a stern look on her face. Ana gulped but nodded, which seemed to satisfy Tiffany at the moment as she went back to her seat at the counter and sipped her alcoholic smoothie.

Ana caught Tony staring at her wrists with a furrowed brow, and awkwardly rubbed them until he noticed she was staring at him. Before the two could say anything, Stephanie burst out of the kitchen holding a Ziplock baggie full of ice covered with a clean washcloth, followed by Mike who gave her a mango smoothie.

Ana happily accepted both of them, sipping the smoothie and setting it on the counter before she put the washcloth on her wrist, alternating between the left and right ones as the temperature slowly decreased, much to Anas relief.

”You should take the rest of the evening off Ana, its slow now and you really shouldn be working like this. ” Tony said at last.

”What? Pfft, Im fine! ” Ana scoffed, going to toss her hand in exaggeration but given what happened to her the other night, she decided just to keep her hand under the towel and smile. ”Yeah, thats why you look like you
e about to shit bricks. ” Stephanie said flatly, making Mike wince at the crudeness in her tone.

”Seriously Ana, Tonys right, you disappeared for three days and come back still clearly injured and don wanna talk to anybody about what happened and won get help for any of this pain?! We
e worried enough, please just take some time off. ” Tiffany said in a tone that made Ana feel incredibly guilty. She very rarely used her concerned mother hen tone, but when she did, Ana found herself unable to continue fighting her.

Ana sighed. ”Okay, Ill take the night off. But Im telling you its not as bad as you think. Im fine. ” Ana said firmly to an audience who didn even bother to hide they didn believe her. Ana glared at them for a few minutes before sighing again and dropping her head. ”Ill go change.. ” She told them all gloomily.

”Thats the spirit! Hurry up, well have dinner. ” Tiffany told her, making Ana give her a small smile.

Ana walked to the bathroom hearing the promises of dinner being cooked for them by Stephanie chuckling as she heard her loudly protested her services being offered without her approval. Ana walked just out of the line of sight for anyone who was sitting at the counter and stopped dead in her tracks at the storage room.

She sucked in a breath as she stared at it. She had avoided it for the most part when she came into work today, heeding Megumis advice that people who were confronted with the area they were transformed in usually had panic attacks or breakdowns, so Ana did whatever possible to steer clear of this area, even changing before she got to work, which was something she never liked to do, and asking Sally to get everything from the backroom. Luckily Sally didn think anything of it, presumably blaming her off behavior on her injury and didn ask Ana any questions aside from if she was okay.

The air around Ana grew cold as she reached out to the door, her hands trembling and her knees shaking as all of her senses and instincts screamed at her to run away, that this was a bad idea and dozens of people could get hurt if she lost control.

But for some reason, something kept drawing her closer to the door.

She had to see what was inside the room, she had so many unanswered questions, and while she didn think the room would be able to answer them, for some reason she just needed to go inside. She had to, something was drawing her there. A bodiless force that just wouldn go away, and all she had to do was to open-

”Ana! ”

Ana snapped out of her trance and turned around. Tiffany was standing at the corner that cut off the line of sight between the counter and the side rooms, illuminated by one of the neon signs hanging overhead, looking incredibly concerned. ”Yes? ” She asked her, suddenly breathless.

”Are you okay? Ive been calling you.. Why are you just staring at that door? ” Tiffany asked.

Ana swallowed, her throat felt suddenly dry and parched. She turned to the door and stared at it for a brief second, the pull she felt earlier had disappeared along with her trance. ”Ana? ” Tiffany asked again, much softer this time. Ana turned to face her, her mind still running with excuses and explanations. Tiffany took a soft step towards her.

”Is there something in that room? ” She asked her quietly yet seriously.

Ana stared at her for a few minutes, her mind suddenly blank. Tiffany straightened her back with the same look of concern before Ana finally came back to the present. ”No! ” She exclaimed; a smile plastered on her face. ”There is nothing in that room at all! I just.. ” Ana trailed off, an apprehensive Tiffany raising her eyebrows as a gesture for her to continue.

”Thought I forgot something. ” Ana finished off lamely, fiddling her hands together as she spoke unconvincingly.

”Right.. ” Tiffany nodded. ”Well, you forgot your bag under the counter and Tony asked me to give it to you.. ” She said slowly as she held up Anas backpack. The design looked like something you would see on the floor of a neon bowling alley. Ana took the bag and smiled at Tiffany, who still had the same apprehensive look on her face.

Tiffany studied her for a moment.

”Are you sure you
e okay? ” She asked Ana. Ana nodded quickly. ”Fine, just.. the accident just got me off my rhythm, thats all. ” Ana smiled at her again. ”If you say so.. ” Tiffany trailed off. Ana took this as her cue to go change, and dashed off into the bathroom leaving Tiffany alone to silently glance at the staff only door before shrugging off Anas weird behavior and walking back to the counter.

Ana had stayed with Tiffany in the diner until closing.

She didn wanna say it, but she just had to know what was in that back room. The feeling she got was unexplainable, mystical even, its all she could really think about. She tried to slip away into the back while the rest of the staff were cleaning up but was immediately dragged away by Tiffany who kept telling her she needed to take a break and calling her a workaholic.

She kept pulling away and making excuses as Tiffany pulled her further and further away from the door, not paying any attention to her list of excuses about why she needed to go into the back room.

”Somebody else can do it! You
e injured! ” Tiffany exclaimed as Ana attempted to pull away from her a final time, ultimately giving in with a hiss as Tiffanys tough grip burned her swollen wrists. ”See! ” Tiffany yelled, exasperated. ”Your wrists are swollen to the size of **ing scrunchies and you can take a break for longer than ten minutes! The diner will still be here when you recover! ”

The two of them had managed throughout Anas struggling to get into the parking lot. Ana felt her eyes sting with tears as she clenched her teeth in a harsh hiss as her wrists began throbbing and burning, making Anas chest feel hollow as she staggered in her spot, hunched over holding her hands on her stomach.

”Ana? Ana are you okay?! ” Tiffany shouted, but Ana wasn able to hear her.

Ana squeezed her eyes shut as she felt her wrists heat up sending white hot flashes of pain through her body. She squinted up to where she saw Tiffany shouting and trying to walk towards her, along with Tony and Mike rushing out of the dinner towards her as well.

”No, ” She grunted out. ”Get back.. ”

”Ana please we
e trying to help you! ” Tiffany pleaded. She saw Tony and Mikes pale faces in the low moonlight as she felt her wrists heat up more. She forced her other eye open and began quickly looking around for a way out of the parking lot.

She vaguely knew that there was a passage behind the building that was next to the dinner. She looked around and saw the opening, then, without another second of hesitation, dashed into the alley way despite the loud shouts and protests from Tiffany, Mike, and Tony.

She darted behind a small tree, running behind the building quickly as she saw her wrists begin to glow a bright purple. Her wrists began to burn her skin and she heard a soft hum grow louder and louder with every step she took towards the building. With a quick fluid motion, she threw her hands out in front of her like she were holding a hot potato, her vision black from pain and the darkness behind the building.

The low hum turned into a loud whine, then a deafening bang and a loud cats hiss that echoed along the back buildings.

Ana began heaving heavily as she grew nauseous, staggering against the wall of the alleyway before doubling over and vomiting just barely a foot in front of her.

”Ana? ”

”ANA!

She blearily looked up and saw a soft purple glow fade into the darkness as she heard the sound of footsteps patting against the concrete.

”Ana- Ana! Are you okay? What was that noise? ” She heard Tiffany frantically yell behind her as she approached. ”That sounded like a gunshot.. ” She heard Mikes trembling voice approaching.

”Ana, ” She heard Tonys breathless voice get closer to her than the others. ”Ana, ” He repeated, putting a large hand on her back as he crouched next to her. She looked over at him, hot tears streaming down her face. ”We should call an ambulance.. ” Mikes voice carried over. ”Are you okay? ” Tony asked her softly. Ana nodded, closing her eyes and taking in multiple deep breaths as she slowly stood back upright against the wall.

”Im fine.. Really. ” Ana wheezed out.

”Youve been saying that all night Ana! ” Tiffany pleaded. Ana shuddered as the waves of hot panic from earlier had faded and she was left with the feeling of gross cold sweat. ”No.. I.. ” Ana turned around to see the pale faces of Tiffany and Mike who were wide eyed and shaking. ”Im not okay.. ” She told them, her mind going back to the loud bang that had just happened moments before. She knew that bang had come from one of her rings. The others probably thought the worst but she knew it was something that they could never imagine. She felt another wave crash over her along with the cold sweat, the fact that that ring couldve blasted out of her wrist at any time, it couldve hurt anyone, gone anywhere.. Ana looked up at her best friend. It couldve hit Tiffany..

”I- I just want to go home and lay down. ”

”No way- we
e taking you to a hospital- ” Tiffany said charging towards her. ”No! Its not that bad, Im telling you! I know whats wrong, its not as bad as you might think. I- I talked to someone whos had a similar thing happen to them, this should just blow over, I swear, I know its bad now, but I will be fine. ”

Tiffany leveled her with a hard stare.

”Please. ” Ana pleaded with her. Tiffany shifted on her feet, and Ana could see her façade breaking. ”Fine. ” She caved through gritted teeth. She pointed a finger at Ana. ”But if this gets any worse and I mean ANY worse.. You
e going to a doctor, I will drag you by your hair if I have to and don use money as an excuse I know your parents are **ing loaded you WILL go if this doesn clear up! ”

Ana gave her a weak smile. ”Thank you. ” She said, then hung her head, another wave hitting her, this time drowsiness, she slugged against Tony who was still by her side, her eyes growing heavy as he slowly guided her out of the alley.

”Ill take you home, Ana. ” Tony said softly to her as she slipped further. ”And Im going with you, ” She heard Tiffanys voice on her other side. ”I don trust that you
e taking care of yourself enough. ”

Ana murmured something, and got some sort of a response, but before she could process what either of those were, she felt herself plunge into darkness.

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