HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 3

“Sorry, didn’t mean to snoop,” she said. “Just saw your door was open and thought I’d say hi. So, uh, hi. I’m Nila.”

“Fred.” The music changed to something Frederica recognized; aggressive power metal with near-operatic vocals. “Is that Dragonfire?”

“Yep. It’s their new single. You a fan?”

“I’m not much into metal,” Frederica said. “I met the band once, though. They played at my half-sister’s wedding a few years ago. Her wife used to date their bassist.”

Nila’s jaw dropped.

“You’re blowing my mind right now.” She mimed a cranial explosion. “I wish my sister was that cool.”

Frederica sighed.

“Yeah, I’m pretty lucky,” she said half-heartedly.

She climbed out of bed and finished unpacking the box by hand. She found an anime figurine Genesis, Angela’s wife, gave her for Christmas a couple years back. She placed it next to her computer.

“So what else can you do besides moving stuff with your mind?” Nila asked.

“Lots of things.” Frederica stared at her laptop until it turned itself on. “When I make eye contact with someone, I absorb their thoughts and feelings, and also their powers, if they have any. It’s almost like a part of me becomes that person.”

“That sounds disorienting,” Nila said. “Though it must be nice not having to wonder what people really think about you.”

Frederica laughed a little more bitterly than she intended.

“That’s the worst part, actually,” she said. “You get comfortable around someone, you think you know where you stand, and then you let down your guard. You take a little peek. Then things get awkward.” Her phone buzzed; text from Tommy Ikeda. “Speak of the devil.”

“Boyfriend?” Nila asked, glancing over Frederica’s shoulder.

“No,” Frederica said. “I don’t know. Sort of? We’ve been friends for years but only recently tried to take things any further. Now I can barely bring myself to text him.”