I awoke with a groan, my head pounded like nothing I had ever experienced. Bottles clinked and fell as I shifted position in an attempt to go back to sleep. It was no use, the pain behind my eyes wouldn't allow it. I sat up with an even louder groan and cracked my eyes to get a look at where I was at. Luckily it was still predawn, not quite light enough out to cause any problems.
Never again. There was no way I was letting Dennis drag me out to one of Dean's house parties ever again. The lounge I had passed out in was trashed, empty bottles and garbage strewn everywhere. A couple of the other couches were occupied by still asleep people. Others who hadn't made it through the night, or didn't have rides, I presumed. For all that he was willing to break form to throw a wild party (probably at Vicky's urging), he would never let anybody drive away drunk.
I did my best to ignore my throbbing head, but it wouldn't be put off. Water. Dad always warned me that if I was ever going to drink, always make sure to drink lots of water. It was a bit late for that, but I figured better late than never. I moved as carefully as I could through the room, trying my best not to wake the others.
The rest of the house was in much the same state as I moved through the halls and down the stairs. I almost felt bad that Dean was going to have to deal with all this mess, until I realised I was probably going to get roped into helping. I let out another groan, louder now that nobody was around; it really was just that kind of morning. At least if we cleared out everybody who wasn't a ward first my power would make things much easier.
I was just passing through the main living room when something outside caught my eye through the glass doors. Or someone, I should say. There was a girl floating in the pool. That might not have been unusual by itself, except through the dim light I could see she was face down. And she wasn't moving. With a curse, I threw myself out of the backdoors in a rush and dived into the pool.
The cool water was a shock against my skin, but I couldn't let that stop me. I pushed through a spike in my headache to swim over and wrap my arms around the girl. My stomach plummeted as I felt the cool and clammy skin press against my own. There was nothing for it, all I could do was push us over to the rim. She was dead weight as I pulled her up onto the tiled ground, and my gut told me that was literal. Piggot was going to freak when she heard about this.
I pulled myself onto my knees next to her, and tried to remember the first aide training all Wards recieved. Right, pulse? No pulse. Clear the airway. I reached up to pull the curtain of hair away from her face and gaped in shock. I had been in panic mode since I first saw her floating in the pool, I hadn't really stopped to register any of her physical features. Now all I could do was stare at her face. Piggot was so going to freak.
My own dead face stared up at me from the ground, and I desperately wished I could remember anything from last night. Had anybody seen me use my power? How did she—I—end up in the pool? Fuck, what was I going to do? There was no way I could be seen with my own dead body, or even just leave and let people assume I was dead. Not unless I wanted to get transferred out of Brockton Bay. I'm sure Piggot would love an excuse to send me to a containment zone.
There was nothing for it, I had to hide the body. I could tell Dean and figure out what to do with it afterwards. I gripped it under the arms and started dragging it towards the side of the house, where I knew there was a utility shed. If nothing else I guess it was good to know that my duplicates did not disappear if they died.
I made it about half the length of the pool before a noise from the house made me freeze. Slowly up, I met eyes with a shocked looking girl. My brain distantly registered that she was cute. Brown hair kinda frizzy from the night before, a little mousy, but cute overall. Those thoughts vanished as her eyes slowly drifted down to the body in my arms, and the shock turned to fury. "This isn't what it looks like," I said, but it sounded weak even to my ears.
She stomped her way towards me, and all I could do was stand there. A quick shove from her made me drop my body and stumble backwards, catching myself from going straight into the pool. She placed a hand on the body, and then closed her eyes as a pained look passed over her face. It only lasted a few seconds before she lunged at me.
Instantly it felt like everything from my neck down had pins and needles. I tried to back off from the girl, but a sense of dread filled me when my body refused to move. She loomed over me, eyes narrowed. "What are you," she hissed, "some kind of changer? stranger?"
"I think I'm classified as a master, technically." It was a weak joke, admittedly, and it didn't go over well if the blank look on the girl's face was anything to go by. "And a striker. They talked about a trump rating too? I'm not sure what ended up happening with that." I was rambling, but really there wasn't much else I could do. She had me completely at her mercy. Well, actually, not completely. Even with whatever she had done to the rest of my body, it was simple to mentally activate my power.
A new taylor pulled herself backwards out of me. "Whoa, your power is insane! There is so much going on the surface of my skin," I said with my second body. The girl gaped at both of me. Her eyes flicked back and forth, and then down at the dead one.
"Who are you?" she asked incredulously.
"Uhhh, I'm pretty sure that's against the rules. Besides, I haven't picked out a cape name," I admitted. "And anyways, who are you? And could you stop whatever you're doing to me?"
She jerked back as if burned, and I regained control over my original body. That was a bit of a relief; I'd already unexpectedly learned what happened to my duplicates if they died before I could reabsorb them, I wasn't eager to find out what would happen if the original died while I had dupes up.
"I'm Panacea. What the hell is going on." She gave me a pointed look.
I lit up. "Oh! Amy! It's nice to meet you, Vicky's always talking about you when she's around."
"Right. Charmed." she muttered with a glance down at the body. Oh, Yeah.
"Honestly I have no clue how this happened, I must have made her at some point last night. Where did she even get a swimsuit?" Amy just rubbed at her face in lieu of a response.
I started playing with Amy's power through my second body, only to pause in confusion after a minute. "Wait I thought you were just a healer? Your power is so much more than that, what—"
Her hands clamped down over my mouth. "Shut up! That's a secret, you can't tell anybody!" she half pleaded and half demanded with me.
"You could do so much more with this though?" Trying to cover my mouth didn't really work well when I had two. Amy looked frustrated though, so I held my hands up in a placating gesture.
Before either of us could say more, a loud crash from the house brought us back to the present. "Shit. I really need to figure out what to do with this," I gestured to the body, "before someone comes out and sees it. Well, someone else. I really don't want to be unmasked before they even announce me as a Ward."
With a huff and sounding a bit reluctant, Amy gestured off to the side of the patio. "Quick, drag it over here. Vicky would kill me if she heard I didn't help."
I dragged the body over to where she indicated, next to a drain. She knelt down next to it, and placed both hands on the body. Nothing happened for a few minutes, and I was just about to ask what was going on, when all at once the body broke down into a sludge. "Holy shit." We both watched as it poured into the drain, leaving behind only the swimsuit. "That's scary cool."
I thought maybe she looked pleased at the comment, but all she did was huff again and shove the swimsuit into my hands before dragging me back towards the house. I tossed it into some bushes as we passed by; hopefully whoever it belonged to would find it. Eventually.
Apparently we took care of that right in time, because it looked like everybody was starting to wake up as sunlight poured in through the windows. I glanced down at our still joined hands before locking eyes with Amy. She yanked hers away with a blush.
"Not a word of this to anybody!" she whispered angrily. A voice called out at us before I could ask her which part she meant, or if she just meant the entire morning.
"Amy! Oh great, you met Taylor!" Vicky floated over, casting a curious look at the two of us, perky as ever. And I knew for a fact she drank more than me last night. Stupid brutes, no fair. "Isn't she great? She's friends with Carlos and all them." Just in case it wasn't super obvious she meant the Wards, she threw in an over exaggerated wink.
I let her chatter wash over us, and blew out a puff of air. That was way more than I had ever planned on dealing with post house party. And as the pain in my head was kindly reminding me, I never did get that glass of water. I was so going to get Dennis back for dragging me out here. Though maybe it wasn't all that bad, I thought as I let my eyes drift over Amy.