HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 64

The door to the bedroom was ajar. Angela crept across the room and peered inside. The curtains were drawn and Genesis was laying facedown on an unmade bed with a large pair of headphones over her ears.

“Genesis,” Angela said. No reply. “Genesis!”

Genesis jumped and rolled over, yanking the headphones off. She scrambled out of bed and marched toward Angela.

“The hell do you think you’re doing?” Genesis snapped. “You can’t just break into my house!”

She grabbed Angela by the arm and started to lead her out of the room. Angela pulled her arm free and held Genesis’s face in her hands. Their eyes met.

The mask melted away. Angela saw the hurt behind every smile. The constant pressure to appear cool and carefree. The struggle to get out of bed every morning. And the desperate need to keep anyone from finding out what was going on inside her head.

“Genesis,” Angela said, “I—”

“Stop,” Genesis said, turning away. “Don’t say another word. I don’t care what you saw. I’m not weak and I don’t need your pity.”

“I know you aren’t,” Angela said. “A weak person wouldn’t be able to deal with all this on her own like you’ve been. A weak person would’ve hidden in her apartment for years and only ever come out for groceries… or when she needed someone to fix her computer.”

Genesis turned back and said, “That’s not what I—”

“But I’m here now,” Angela said. “And I’m not going anywhere. Whether you like it or not, you aren’t alone.”

Genesis was silent for a moment. Angela reached out and pulled her friend close. A sob escaped Genesis’s lips, shuddering through her entire body. She buried her face in Angela’s chest.

Then the floodgates opened.

Angela didn’t say anything, just gently stroked the back of Genesis’s head. Eventually Genesis stopped crying and Angela guided her to the bed. They sat together on the edge for a while, fingers interlocked, Genesis’s head on Angela’s shoulder.