Panting slightly from the rapid ascent, Lorraine stood at the top of the fire escape ladder and looked out over the flat roof. The dingy, gravel area was scattered with AC units, satellite dishes, antennas and other rusting, unidentifiable junk. And there was her quarry.
Elizabeth squatted on the edge of the rooftop staring down at Jama and Mitch on the street six stories below. She'd vanished from the scene and Lorraine had only caught a flash of movement on the side of the building, followed by an embarrassing few moments at the bottom of the ladder.
"You have got to teach me how you move like that."
"Easy. I just stop pretending to be human."
Lorraine rolled her eyes as she clambered the last few rungs to the roof.
"You so need to drop the 'I'm an alien' 'tude, Liz." It was an old argument, and one that was sometimes taken a little too seriously.
With the quickness of a camera shutter clicking, Elizabeth's demeanor changed. She slumped bonelessly, sliding back and down the parapet to lie on her back on the roof, with her legs against the low wall and her feet sticking up. She studied her mud-caked boots as she spoke.
"I don't get it. They spend so much time trying to hurt each other by hurting themselves. Is that really love?"
She tilted her head back to focus on Lorraine.
"Sorry about the ice cream, 'Raine."
"'S'all right—Cadbury enjoyed it." Lorraine gingerly picked a spot on the gravel, attempting to avoid the worst of the tar and oil-slicked rainwater. She shrugged and grinned, "I didn't have any spoons, anyway."
Elizabeth snorted a chuckle. Any further comment was interrupted by a low chime.
It was Lorraine's comm. A glance told Lorraine it was from her dad, and the subject said it all. Sister Contingency Active—Final Confirmation.
"Liz!" She'd never liked squealing, but there were times it was appropriate.
"Dad did it! Elaine's throwing you out was the final straw and Dad's confirmed with the legal-eagles—you can legally diss the bitch and we'll really be sisters!"
Elizabeth continued staring at the sky as she considered the news. It must be another one of Dad's schemes, she thought. Despite it all, her dad had never given up on her. Since her... transformation, at every point in her life so far, she'd found allies and support, placed there by Nathan Carpenter to make sure his daughter had the chance to grow and learn to be... what?
Her dad had told her he believed she had a destiny, that her condition carried a responsibility to use these powers and abilities she wielded for good.
She'd always thought that idea to be the tritest, stupidest thing she'd ever heard, like something out of some comic book, but when coming from Nathan Carpenter's mouth, those words were imbued with such meaning and purpose that she had no choice but to believe.
Elizabeth turned her head to look at Lorraine and smiled wistfully.
Swinging her legs back, she did a lazy backflip and regained her feet. Her face now broke into a wide grin full of mischief.
"I'm still getting the top bunk, though, brat. Race you to the street."
And she was off.