miggy: (Default)
miggy ([personal profile] miggy) wrote2011-09-08 11:33 am

Fic: "Special" (Chapter 3/?)

Title: Special
Character(s): Ensemble. Seriously. It covers pretty much everyone, plus some Marvel Universe characters.
Rating: R across everything, to be safe.
Word Count: 6000
Spoilers: Through S2
Full-Series Warnings: Violence, potential character death, and other elements common to comics
Summary: Being a part of something special makes you special. (Also, having superpowers.)
Notes: Oh man, Santana POV is fun to write. (It will be making many more appearances during this story.) And just as a heads-up for what's coming: the next chapter has a serious test of someone's powers, the one after that is very How Do I Shot Web? across the group, then it's time for some low-key character and relationship moments, and then it's time to kick a little ass. I want to get to the ass-kicking, trust me, but I also want to lay foundations first.

All she'd been doing was a quick stir-fry, Santana thought as she watched the firefighters save her house. She'd made the dish dozens of times. She could do it on autopilot. She had done it on autopilot; she'd let her mind wander in favor of her plans for the summer and for her life. Until the kitchen caught fire around her in a sudden explosion, she'd barely paid attention to her food.

"It's those gas burners," she heard her mom say yet again. She'd never trusted the gas line going into the kitchen. She wanted electric; she said it was safer.

"It wasn't the stove!" her dad replied. "You keep harping on that thing. You never wanted me to get it."

"Just because you watch Top Chef, you think we have to go buy a 'professional stovetop'...."

Santana was silently grateful that they weren't blaming her. Even if it was her fault, she had no idea what she'd done or how to explain it.


She jumped at the unexpected voice not a foot away from her ear. "Jesus Christ," she said. She could feel her heart racing in her chest. "Where did you come from?"

Kurt blinked at her. "My car, right over there," he said and gestured toward the hulking figure parked across the road. She could just make out a couple of figures within it. That wasn't what she meant; he'd snuck up out of absolute nowhere and surprised her, but Santana didn't care enough to argue. Kurt looked both ways, dropped his voice low, and whispered, "We know what happened."

She sucked in a breath and hoped no one was paying attention to them. "What do you mean, 'you know?'"

Kurt looked around cautiously again before leaning in close enough that she could feel his breath on her ear. Normally she would have shoved him away, but at that moment she wanted to know what he would whisper. "Puck ripped a tree in half. Finn reads minds. We know you accidentally caused the fire."

Santana jerked back and felt her heart speed again. He held up a finger to his lips, which should have been a dead giveaway to the people around them that something major was happening, but everyone ignored their discussion. She swallowed, forced her breathing to steady, and leaned back in. "What?"

"We don't know why it's happening, but we know it is happening." He shook his head when she gestured at him. "No, nothing for me. They just asked me to come get you, because your dad would recognize Puck and Finn is kind of awful at any sort of stealth."

"Come get me?" Santana repeated. "Um, my house just caught on fire."

"So you probably don't want to stay there tonight," Kurt countered softly, "and instead want to talk to all the other people trying to figure out what's going on?"

Damn. That made sense. If this was really happening to the others then she did want to talk to them, and her house was all smoky and wet and gross. "Dad," Santana said at full volume, and the man paid her some real attention. "My, um... friend?" Kurt looked amused. Oh, like he'd never used creative vocabulary around parents. "He heard the sirens and swung by, and he thought I could stay with him tonight while the insurance people look things over."

"He?" her father repeated dubiously, but that reluctance faded when he actually turned to look at Kurt. The boy had on a typically flamboyant jacket of suede, embroidery, and buckles, and somehow managed to wear it in May without dying of heat stroke. "Ah," he finished dryly and seemed to decide that nothing untoward would possibly happen with that boy. Santana held back her eyeroll. Yeah, Daddy; if you only knew. "And you are?"

"Kurt Hummel," Kurt said and extended his hand. "We have a guest room she could stay in tonight. I'm in Glee with her and would love to help out."

Pile it on a little thicker, Hummel, Santana groused as she was placed in his oh-so-caring hands. She was then herded toward his car and away from her parents' concern. "Spill," she said once they were away from the crowd.

"Like I said," Kurt replied as he opened the door for her and gestured at Puck inside. "Ripped apart a tree."

"Hey," Puck said with a loose wave.

"Reads people's minds," Kurt continued as he pointed toward the shotgun seat.

"Me having brain powers is not funny, and I'm getting sick of people thinking that it is," Finn snapped. Santana tried to fight back a smirk. A quick glance toward her burnt house did wonders for dampening her mood, and she climbed in next to Puck with a solemn expression.

"Where to now?" Finn asked as they set into motion.

"Hello?" Santana said when the boys started talking about going to see Mike. "Still wanting answers here. What's going on?"

"There seems to be a rash of superpowers popping up among the members of New Directions," Kurt replied. "We used to have a hypothesis that it had to do with Coach Beiste exposing her players to chemical enhancers, but, um, now you might all be mutants again."

Finn made a pained noise.

"Mutants?" Santana demanded. "To hell with that! I am not a mutant! I'm not going to grow... blue fur! Or a tail!"

Finn's noises continued and he gestured back at her like she'd proven a point.

Puck gawked at everyone inside the car, but then directed his question to Kurt. "Wait. Those are possibilities?"

"Why am I in charge?" Kurt asked plaintively. "Okay, while we're driving to Mike's, tell me everything that happened to you today." He cut Finn off at the first mention of toast. "Correction: tell me everything strange that happened to you today."

"Like when I bent my locker?" Puck asked. "Okay, uh... I just pushed it closed like always. And it got this big dent in it."

This was so weird, Santana thought as Puck rambled on about how great he'd felt during practice. Sure, superpowers were normal, if uncommon, but they didn't just randomly spring up in a bunch of kids in the middle of Ohio. If—God forbid—mutation was to blame, then they wouldn't all turn in the space of a single day. But they hadn't gone through any of the typical causes, unless Mr. Schue was secretly a mad scientist and they were all his experiments.

"What if Mr. Schue is a secret mad scientist?" Finn asked Kurt worriedly. "And we're all his experiments?"

"Stay out of my brain, Hudson," Santana said.

"You know," Puck said before the argument could develop, "I bent my locker right after Artie did... whatever that was to us. You know, when he tried not to look suspicious."

"Artie did something to you?" Kurt asked as they accelerated through a yellow light.

"Yeah," Puck said. "Yeah, he did. To me... and Finn... and Mike." He met Finn's eyes and they both looked suddenly convinced. "That's totally it. Artie turned us into freaks. It's like he waited years to get revenge for all those times when we filled his bag with sand and threw it at him!"

"No," Kurt said dryly. "That was me. You filled his with mud. Finn said you didn't mind splattering him, but didn't want to knock him out of his chair. I learned to stop carrying electronics after my iPod turned into a prop from The Mummy Returns."

"Oh." Puck hesitated. "Are you sure?"

"I want out of this car," Santana said and began unbuckling her seatbelt. Kurt snapped at her to put it back on, and although she hated herself a little, she followed orders. "But if Artie gave you powers, then, uh, how did I turn my stir-fry into a massive fireball?"

"Maybe he did it to you, too?" Finn theorized. He asked Puck, "You're talking about the neck thing, right?" Puck nodded and Finn frowned in thought.

"Neck thing?" Santana asked with dark suspicion. She was still bitter over losing that perfect skinny iced mocha to the school linoleum tiles. "Wait. Are you telling me that it was Artie who made me feel like—"

"Like something exploded inside your neck," Puck confirmed.

The Navigator slammed to a dead stop in the road. Santana impacted her seat belt so hard that it knocked the wind out of her. Dizzily, she thought that it was a good thing she'd been forced to put it back on. Cars behind them honked and then drove past them on both sides. "What the hell, Kurt?" Santana asked with a groan as she rubbed her breastbone. The hit from the seat belt would leave a bruise.

He was staring straight ahead. Except for his chest heaving with deep, almost panicked breaths, he wasn't moving. "Kurt?" Finn asked carefully. "You okay?"

"You felt like... something exploded inside your neck?" he asked in a tiny voice.

Puck caught on first. "Ha!" he said, and pointed at Kurt as he mocked him. "You had it happen, too!"

Kurt shot past "panicked breathing" and into "hyperventilating" as he realized he was probably part of their little freaky superpowers club. Finn looked nervously between the group, then leaned over and said with false cheer, "Hey, it's okay! Remember? You promised me everything would work out. This is no big deal. Everything's going to be fine. Right?"

"I lied, Finn!" Kurt wailed. "We're going to get locked up!"

"You lied," Finn repeated. His smile fell away. "But... you said it was all going to be okay."

"That was before I knew I had them!"

"Shouldn't we be driving before the cops come to move us?" Puck wondered as he looked through the window. They were still motionless in the middle of the road. Long skidmarks scarred the asphalt behind them.

Maybe, if Santana focused very hard, she would be able to set herself on fire again. At this point it seemed like the better option.

* * *

When it was determined that Kurt was too panicked to drive, Santana ordered him out of his seat and took over from there. She flicked her gaze between the mirrors and squinted at the sight behind her. Puck had started off mocking Kurt's troubled state, but then it was like something tugged at his newly gooey heartstrings and he actually seemed concerned.

Ugh. Puck caring about Kurt; dating Lauren had totally neutered him.

"I really think I should drive," Finn said yet again as she rounded a turn.

"I didn't have to wait for my license for a year because I slammed into a mailman on my learner's permit. How about you?" She smirked when Finn didn't argue, and they stayed silent until he finally pointed to a house and told her to pull over. "Come on," Santana decided when Puck was still busy trying to cheer up Kurt. "We'll go talk to him."

They had to wait on an answer when they hit the doorbell, but she supposed Artie took a while to get there. "So," she began as they stood on the porch. "What's it like to read people's minds?"

Finn's brow furrowed slightly. "Weird. It's kind of echo-y, I guess. And it sounds like your voices, but I know I'm not really hearing you. What's it feel like to set things on fire?"


"Makes sense," Finn allowed as the door finally opened.

Artie grinned at them. "Oh my God, you guys. Do I ever have news for you."

"Ours is probably bigger," Santana said thinly, and managed to hold onto her smile for a few seconds longer. Then it fell away and she lunged forward to grab his ugly sweater vest inside her clenched fists. "You turned us into superpowered freaks, you asshole!"

"Oh," Artie said after a long, careful moment of consideration. "Uh, that was pretty much my news, too." Finn blinked at him, but made no move to separate the two as Artie continued, "Look! I can make this stuff out of nowhere! It's great."

Santana finally let him go as he retrieved something from his pocket and waved it in front of her nose. "What the hell's this?" she demanded as she snatched the object out of the air and studied it.

"I'm not sure," Artie admitted. "It's either a mind control device or a homing signal for bees. But I made it in twenty minutes out of a broken graphing calculator. I just knew how!" Her anger finally seemed to penetrate his joy and he tilted his head to the side. "So something happened to you?"

"When you did that thing to our necks," Santana grumbled, "you turned Puck into the Hulk, me into the Human Torch, and Finn into that bald mutant telepath guy." She saw Artie's lips twitch at the last bit and admitted, "Yeah, that part is pretty funny."

Finn glared at them and grabbed the mind-control/bee signal away from her.

"That's kind of cool," Artie decided. "You're welcome?"

"I set my house on fire an hour ago!" Santana said and shoved him. "And Puck ripped a tree apart!"

He rolled a few inches before he managed to stop. "Oh," Artie said and paled. "I guess I didn't consider that they could be dangerous." He shifted uncomfortably. His lips moved with silent consideration as he presumably ran through the worst-case scenarios. Santana joined him in that. She could picture family members being set on fire, rather than a kitchen counter. Siblings being ripped apart instead of trees. Artie finally admitted, "Um, I kind of did the neck thing to everyone in New Directions except for Sam and Lauren. Maybe we should go grab them before someone else gets... surprised?"

"Bingo," Santana said. She considered the numbers, and to everyone's surprise announced she would ride with Artie in his van while the other boys stayed in Kurt's car. It served as a convenient excuse to get away from Noah Puckerman: Annoying Softie, Kurt Hummel: Annoying Panic, and Finn Hudson: Annoying Everything, and they seemed to be in at least a temporary truce over the Brittany issue. "So, are we going to the Hummel house when we're all together?"

"Hummel? We live there, too," Finn protested.

Santana repeated, "So, are we going to the Hummel house?" and ignored Finn's wounded look.

"I've got a better idea," Artie slowly said, and they agreed on it before splitting up. He jotted down a quick note to his parents, closed the front door, and then reappeared inside the opening garage. "I'm sorry about your house," he said once he and Santana were inside his van. "Is it okay?"

"Mostly, yeah," she shrugged, and then smirked at the sight through her window. "It looks like that thing you made is for bees." Finn was frantically batting them away and diving for the car.

Artie laughed, but then sobered and said, "This could be big. Really big, you know?"

"Yeah." She eyed him disdainfully. "I mean, of all people, I'm willingly spending time with you. That's at least Fake Rapture Prophecy-level, if not 2012 Mayan Apocalypse-level."

"Thanks," he said after a long pause. "I think."

She shrugged again and directed him to Quinn's.

Between her, Brittany, and Tina, Santana became quite practiced with an explanation of "Artie gave us superpowers because he's a moron, you have to come with us before you accidentally destroy your house, yes, I know this is stupid." And then there they were, parking at their safest bet for a group meeting undisturbed by parents: the Berry residence.

She really hoped Rachel had stocked back up on alcohol.

* * *

"Are you sure her dads are gone?" Santana asked as their group stood on Rachel's doorstep.

"They're antiquing in Chicago," Kurt said. He saw Santana turn to stare at him and blinked owlishly back. "What?"

Gay as a box of glitter-covered dicks, she just managed not to say as she pushed the doorbell again and held it down. As the doorbell chimed incessantly inside the house, she allowed herself to feel a little proud for biting down on that response. She was growing as a person, or whatever shit Oprah would pull out. The door finally opened. Though she could see Rachel ready to complain about the held-down doorball, Santana pushed past her. "Move, Smurfette."

"Wait, I'm confused," Rachel said as she watched the majority of New Directions file into her house. "Is there a practice? While I am all for the idea of group summer practice sessions, I've been doing posture exercises all afternoon and haven't warmed up my voice. I would have appreciated a little warning."

Mercedes closed the door behind her, and only then asked, "Have you blown anything up?"

Rachel blinked. "Not that I'm aware of?"

The questions came rapidly from everyone there. Most of the group hadn't yet discovered any superpowers and so their imaginations were left free to wander. Between them they'd reviewed many of the biggest names while wondering if they might get the same abilities.

"Moved things with your mind?"

"Turned invisible?"

"Shot spikes out of your hands?"

"Glooped out spiderwebs?"

"Controlled the weather?"



"Leapt tall buildings in a single bound?"

Puck, annoyed, cut off everyone's suggestions to turn toward Finn. "That's Superman, dude. Be serious."

"I don't understand what's going on," Rachel said with a nervous laugh. "Why are you all talking about superheroes?"

"Not superheroes," Tina said. "Just superpowers." She paused. "Wait. We could be superheroes! Oh my God, this is so awesome!"

"We're all going to get locked up," Kurt said pathetically and went off to sulk against the wall.

"Did your neck feel like it exploded today?" Santana asked, annoyed at the continuing digressions. When Rachel nodded, she clapped her hands sharply together. "Congrats! You're a freak like us, welcome to the club, I set my house on fire earlier."

"What?" Rachel asked. Her eyes were huge, and only grew larger as she heard the summarized story of what Artie had done.

"It's like I pulled the magical sword from the stone and gathered everyone together to be heroes!" Artie's eyes sparkled. "I'm King Arthur."

"Wasn't his name 'Wart' in that Disney movie?" Santana wondered. "Can we call you that?" An annoying, thin whine finally grew too irksome to ignore and she stormed over to Kurt. He looked up at her approach and continued whining.

"What if I turn blue?" Kurt asked. "Or purple? And not a nice amethyst, but some hideous puce? That's it. That's what's going to happen. We're going to get locked up and experimented on and I'm going to turn puce."

"Do they really lock up mutants?" Mike asked with clear concern.

"I really do not want to be dealing with this," Quinn muttered.

"Wait, so are we for sure mutants after all?" Finn asked.

"Oh my god, shut up," Santana said. She gripped Rachel's forearm. "We need one hundred percent privacy. Can we use your basement?" At the nod, she led everyone down there. Puck carried Artie's chair single-handedly down the stairs and looked exceedingly pleased with himself for it. Santana rolled her eyes. "Puck, stop flexing. Kurt, stop whining. Rachel, make us some snacks." They all eyed her. "What?"

As everyone began to argue, Finn stood up in the middle of their circle and gestured until people paid him attention. "Guys. Guys! We need to focus. Who here has pinned down a power?" He raised his hand and only Santana, Puck, and Artie followed suit. Finn looked disappointed. "Oh. Well, that wasn't very helpful. We knew all those."

Rachel cleared her throat. "Excuse me, and I don't mean to overrule your leadership efforts, Finn, but what? This really sounds all too preposterous to believe."

"I seriously, actually burnt down my house," Santana snapped. "That preposterous enough for you?"

"Technically," Kurt said as he looked up from fretting over their futures, "the firemen stopped it well before that. And yes, Rachel, it's true. All four of them have displayed sudden superpowers. Santana's was just used that one time, but I know Artie and Puck said they've been testing theirs out. They seem to be reliable enough. Finn and I certainly tested until we were positive that he was reading my mind."

After a moment, Finn glared at seemingly the entire room. "Okay, are we done with the joke about me and brain powers, now?"

"Sorry," Tina and Mercedes mumbled.

"I just turned a pillow into a goldfish," Brittany announced.

Everyone hesitated, looked like they were debating whether or not to acknowledge her, and then turned in reluctant unison. "What?" Quinn asked.

Brittany moved and gestured at the floor behind her. Sure enough, a goldfish was flopping and gasping against the rug. Rachel yelped and leapt for it, then vanished in search of water. After watching her leave, Brittany turned back to face the group. "I don't think I've done that before, so I guess that might be my power."

"I'm really not sure how to respond," Mike said.

Mercedes squinted at Artie suspiciously. "You gave Brittany power over goldfish?"

Finn piped up. "Maybe he gave her power over pillows."

"To be totally accurate," Artie said, "I hit a big button labeled 'off.' I think I just woke up whatever was already there."

With great amounts of huffing and gesturing, Rachel returned. "Well, that poor fish is in my glass next to the sink, and seems to be doing fine. Brittany, how could you do that to such a helpless creature?"

"I honestly don't know," Brittany said.

"If you're up," Santana asked Rachel as she stretched languorously against the floor, "you mind getting me a drink? It's stuffy down here. It must be the horrible decorating scheme."

Rachel bit back a reply as her hostess manners seemed to kick in. She forced a broad, tight smile at everyone. "Would anyone else like something?" She began listening, soon gave up, and said she would just bring down what was available before vanishing again.

Santana realized that Kurt had passed on a drink and turned to him with a frown. "Wait. How in the hell are you not sweating and not thirsty?" He looked confused, and so she let out an annoyed noise, flopped over to better face him, and pointed at the jacket he had on over a light sweater. It was far more clothing than anyone else was wearing on an uncharacteristically warm day. "What's with the coat, Robert Peary?"

"I'm not wearing a coat," Kurt said immediately, but followed her finger down when she kept pointing. "Oh my god!" He stared at the suede jacket she'd noticed earlier, barely even breathing as he did, and then jerked his head up and glared at Artie furiously. "This is from the Versace Spring 2012 collection."

"Okay?" Artie deadpanned.

"You gave me powers over clothes?" Kurt asked in rapidly mounting outrage. "Seriously? You can't just turn me into a freak who’s Washington’s number one punching bag, I also have to be a freak who's like some amped-up cartoon joke version of me?"

"Again, technically, I don't think I gave anyone superpowers," Artie said. He held one finger in the air as he lectured. "I think I just woke things up."

"Well, that's just wonderful," Kurt mourned as he pulled his knees to his chest and sank upon them. Mercedes looked uncertainly at everyone, and then scooted across the floor to comfort him. "Puck rips apart trees. Finn reads minds. I summon ready-to-wear. I...." He cut off abruptly, sat up, and patted his chest. "I'm not wearing a coat."

"Awesome, Kurt's gone crazy," Santana said.

He glared at her. "Mercedes, feel my arm." When she did, reacted with surprise, and then kept squeezing his forearm in various places, he nodded to her. "Right? You can see the coat, but it's not actually there. It's... it's an illusion. I don't have power over clothes, I have power over illusions! Oh thank God,” Kurt said and sagged with relief. "If my life's over, at least it's ending for something less stupid."

"That explains why you popped up out of nowhere!" Santana realized. "Like some freaky ninja. And you didn't let the cops see us looking all suspicious! I have to admit, that's kind of cool." She saw some people's confusion over the mention of emergency workers and reminded them, "Remember, accidentally almost burnt down my house? I make fire. Whoosh. Artie, Puck, tell them yours, since we know that Finn's the telepath." That was still funny; Finn glared at her when she smirked. Yeah, she'd get mileage out of that one.

"Like Kurt said," Puck began, "I ripped apart a tree. And you all saw me carry Artie down the stairs, but I think I can do a lot more than that. I'm just kind of buff and fast and awesome. For all I know I've got freaky fighting powers, too. I love it. Thanks, Artie."

Artie gave him a thumbs-up, and then said, "I make things. I don't even know what I'm making sometimes, but I'm a techie genius all of a sudden. Oh my god. Oh my god, I'm Tony Stark! I'm going to be a billionaire!" he added and actually started giggling.

"Guys!" Finn said with annoyance when bedlam erupted anew, but Rachel pressed a cold drink into his hand and he visibly lost his train of thought. "Uh, right, whatever," he said when she announced her plans to find a large vase for her new goldfish.

"It's my new goldfish," Brittany said.

"It was my pillow," Rachel said. "And don't you have a cat?"

"Yes, that's why I want the goldfish."

Rachel narrowed her eyes. "Do not let her move from here until I've taken the fish to a safe location," she ordered Puck before vanishing again.

"We need a system," Finn groaned as he looked at the total chaos around him. "Okay. Everyone who hasn't figured out a power, line up. Maybe we can test you out."

* * *

"Rawr!" Tina said as she made claws with her fingers and gestured at a cardboard cutout. She held that position for a few seconds, and then drew back and shook her head. "Nothing's happening."

"That's okay!" Finn said and jotted something down in the Hello Kitty notebook he'd found laying around the room. "We'll figure out what you do." He saw the protest—or heard it in his mind, possibly—and smiled as he cut her off. "Look at how many of us got powers after we had the neck explosions. You've gotta have 'em, too." That reassured her and she went to the back of the line.

Santana and Kurt, as two who'd already identified their abilities, were leaning against the wall. She was bored. He'd returned to being morose and annoying. "So, who is that a cutout of?"

Kurt looked up. "Helen Hayes."

That name meant nothing to her. "Why does Rachel have a cardboard cutout of her that's wearing a necklace made of gold star stickers?"

"Because she has an EGOT."

"Oh." That meant nothing to her, either. "Why is someone selling cardboard cutouts of Helen Hayes?"

"Rachel had the set custom-made."

She hesitated. "Go back to moping."

He did.

Now Mercedes was up to bat and seemed to be having as little success as Tina. She tried to ignore the suggestion behind her for as long as she could, but eventually she relented, curled her hands, and shouted, "Rawr!" A two-dimensional Helen Hayes stared implacably back at her. "I feel stupid, Finn. This is stupid."

"I think we should develop a checklist of all likely potential powers," Rachel said. "And test everyone for all of them, rather than stopping when we find one. After all, many superheroes have multiple powers. And Puck has mentioned that he's both fast and strong."

"It's true," Puck said. "I do rock."

"Or we could just throw things at people and see what happens," Santana suggested as she hurled her empty Coke can at Mercedes. It rebounded off a glimmering force field and everyone shouted in surprised delight.

"Wait," Mercedes laughed. "Was that me? Did I seriously just do that?"

"Invisible Woman!" Artie shouted, but followed it up more quietly with a note as to Iron Man's obvious superiority.

"Does that mean I can go invisible?" Mercedes asked. "That'd be kinda cool." She closed her eyes and focused, but her eyebrows furrowed and she clenched her fists without any success. "Come on...." she whispered as her hands suddenly started glowing. Everyone shouted again and, startled, she let the energy vanish.

"Whoa," Kurt said. He rolled his eyes when Mercedes giggled at him and told him to throw something else, and obligingly pitched another empty can.

"Awesome!" Finn said and made notes in his book. "So Mercedes can put up a bubble shield thingie and do... something with her hands that might be an attack, if she can figure out how to use it." That caught Rachel's attention. She hurried over to him, got up on her toes, and whispered something to Finn. He blinked. "Oh. Yeah. If people are going to start using attacks, then we'd probably better go outside so we don't blow up your house."

"Good idea," Santana said with uncharacteristic sincerity.

"It's still light outside," Quinn said condescendingly. "Were you planning to have all the neighbors rate our efforts, or just leave them alone to call the cops?"

Finn looked momentarily annoyed, but then frowned and scratched his head. "She's right. We've gotta do this later tonight. Maybe... head out of town, go into some fields or something?"

"Phone tag!" Tina announced and everyone whipped out their cell phones to establish alibis.

Santana tapped her hands against the floor and waited. She, after all, had already been excused from her house for the night. It was time for everyone else to catch up. As Kurt was the nearest phone conversation, his was the one she heard. It didn't seem to be going well. "Rachel's just having an end of the year party for New Directions, so Finn and I were hoping... yes, it was at her party where he got drunk. No, he's not here. No, we haven't started drinking! I mean, we're not going to drink and...." Kurt grimaced. "Okay. Dinner in twenty minutes. Got it."

"Smooth," Finn drawled. "Okay, uh, we'll sneak out and meet you guys at eleven?" He rattled off an intersection outside of town, which Santana vaguely recognized as being near farmland. Those who had successfully lied to their parents gave him an immediate thumbs-up; those who would have to sneak out waged a short mental war before they nodded.

For the people who had successfully pulled off the ruse, their attention quickly returned to their powers. "Hit my hand," Mercedes said as she held up her palm. Tina's fist rebounded off it and they both giggled. "Puck! Hit my hand! No, I'm serious, do it!" Though he clearly pulled his punch, it too rebounded and Mercedes crowed with delight.

"Maybe I'll figure out how to develop nuclear fusion," Artie said hopefully. "Or sex robots." Rachel made a face at him. "They're both inventions that would make me a lot of money," he explained like she'd entirely missed the point.

Others, like Quinn and Mike, looked concerned about what that night might uncover for them. And then there was Illusion Boy, wallowing in his last few minutes before he and Finn had to head home and try to cover when Finn inevitably slipped up and said something stupid. Plus, Kurt could apparently make himself appear to be wearing anything in the world, and he was wearing a strap and buckle spectacular? One day she was going to ask him why half his wardrobe was made up of bondage gear. She really was.

"Why are you so freaking down on this?" Puck wondered as he sat down next to Kurt. "This is great! I really am like Captain America or something. I could be... I don't know. Captain Ohio." Puck grinned suddenly. "Captain Israel."

"Haven't you paid any attention to how mutants get treated?" Kurt asked.

"Uh. Not really. I just like it when that guy with the eyebeams is on the news. He's really good at blowing shit up. Besides, we don't know we're mutants." Puck shrugged. That annoying softy expression was coming back over him; Santana shuddered. "And so what if we are? The X-Men kick ass. So can we."

"Oh, it's fine for you," Kurt grumbled. "And you." He gestured at Santana and she frowned at him. Don't pull her into your weepfest. "But you can only have so many checkmarks against you before the world figures that, well, you're just not worth caring about. I've learned very well that I'm already balancing right on that line. And you all got useful powers. I got powers for... hiding. Running away. Not being myself. These stupid powers couldn't wait to come out until I was around a town that doesn't judge me just for existing?"

"Well, you've come out," Santana smirked. "Maybe they took it as a sign."

"Yeah, I already made that 'mutant equals gay' comparison to Finn. Kind of obvious."

"Oh." Santana hesitated when her insult died on the runway, frowned, and then walked away without excusing herself. Whatever. Puck was actually trying to cheer Kurt up again, and even if that made her brain hurt to see, at least it would keep Kurt quiet.

Now that Santana paid more attention, she could tell that Quinn was also saying many of the same things as Kurt. Mike and Brittany looked increasingly concerned as she talked about old laws requiring mutants to register themselves. They might be facing not only fear from using their powers, but real, serious government attention simply for being themselves. That was so unfair, Santana grumbled as she sought out a full can of something to drink. If they'd only dunked their heads in vats of radioactive waste, Washington wouldn't care. Well, for all they knew, the school was built over a Superfund site and mutagenic toxins had been slowly leeching into them for years. It was something to hope for.

"We've really gotta go," Finn eventually decided. "We'll see you at the field at eleven, right?" He waited for everyone's answer, and then he and Kurt walked toward the stairs.

"Wait!" Santana said as she remembered something from the night's events. "Um, so... where am I staying? I mean, my dad thinks I'm with you, but I kinda sorta doubt you want to drag me over to your adorable family dinner."

Kurt and Finn exchanged glances, considered that, and then Kurt looked back. "Rachel doesn't have any parents around tonight to be concerned with. You could stay with her."

"That... makes sense," Rachel said reluctantly. Santana gave her a wavering smile. Forcing her lips into that shape gave her something to focus on besides how much she wanted to barf. With a deep breath, Rachel added, "And of course you can stay here tonight, Santana. I'm sure the accident at your house was very traumatic."

"Thanks," Santana said with just as much reluctance. Each word felt like it was being torn out of her. "That'll work."


On the upside, maybe she could accidentally set their house on fire, too.

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