Veronica couldn't focus and she was in a bad mood. The memories of the things that had happened in the last days made her irritable and interrupted her breathing practice. She decided it would be a waste of time trying to practice in that moment. Enrique had told her that it was better to practice when one felt quiet. She decided to pick some wood since it was her turn that day. She checked around and only got out when she was sure Carlos was around.
- Why do I have to hide like a criminal?- she said and passed by where Cynthia and Yeny were doing watch. Yeny was appearing and disappearing.
- You have dominated it already?- she asked and Yeny smiled widely. Yeny had discovered some days ago that she could become invisible. At the beginning she had panicked thinking she had lost her arm but now she seemed to have total control over it.
- Yeah- Yeny explained with a wide grin- I just have to send the energy to the part I want to disappear and wish to do it.
- Don't say it as if anyone could do it- said Cynthia who seemed to have tried doing the same. I suppose it depends on each person. You going for a walk, Veronica?
- Yes- she said feeling the necessity of going somewhere else- I need fresh air and I'll collect wood so I'll kill two birds with a stone. Where are Carlos and Enrique?
She asked as if it was just simple curiosity, but the truth was she felt worried.
- Enrique is doing watch not far from here- said Yeny looking at how her hand disappeared- Carlos said he was going to have a walk so he must be around or maybe he's with Enrique.
- I see- said Veronica trying to mantain a calm and collected expression- maybe I'll join them, then.
The truth, though, was that she had lost the eagerness to go for a walk and just started to collect wood for a while in order not to look suspicious. She felt very angry about the current situation and sometimes she felt she was the only one who gave it the importance and seriousness that deserved it.
-I've never seen so much careless and immature attitude-said Veronica to herself thinking at how happy and excited Yeny and Cynthia were playing with their powers- since they can use powers, why don't they think in ways to use it to take us out of this place?
She knew her attitude wasn't helpful either but she couldn't help it. She felt frustrated since even when she had been practicing the breathing technique of Enrique she hadn't discovered any power besides the increase in strength and speed.
- At least I'm better than Carlos- she thought feeling a little better- otherwise I'd be really ashamed.
She saw Carlos and felt a lump in her throat. She moved very fast and hid behind a tree before he could notice her. Carlos disappeared after a while and she sighed.
- Well, that helped- said Veronica thinking about how fast she was now- I'd love to see the faces of my brother if he saw my speed.
She decided she had enough wood and she returned to the camp. She placed the wood and she entered her tent swiftly when she heard Carlos again. When she saw Carlos' shadow passing she hold her breathe. When he went away she felt a great relief and let herself fall on her sleeping bag.
-Why did that have to happen?- said Veronica remembering that day.
The day after the wolves attacked, they had decided to move. They had a meeting where all of them exchanged information. Enrique told them about the strange energy in the air and the breathing technique that everyone started to practice. She had laughed at the faces of all of them when he showed his physical abilities. Yeny said she had felt she could nullify the gravity of an object but she wasn't sure how to do so yet. They had already see Cynthia's healing in action and she really considered this ability the most useful of all.
- It's good to have a doctor- had said Carlos with a smile while receiving another from Cynthia.
They decided to follow the river since Enrique had said that was the fastest way to find people. They knew the direction thanks to the compass Enrique had. She had been really impressed at the amazing survival skills of Enrique. She really thought that without him all would really be a chaos. This also combined with his powers. He was able to see very far (Enrique had said he had discovered this ability when he saw the wolves coming). Thanks to this power, they could avoid dangerous places and animals. All this made Enrique the most valuable person in the group.
- Are you sure those creatures aren't around?- she would ask Enrique every time and even after he said that he was watching she couldn't let go that horrible feeling of being hunted.
Everyday they collected fruit and water and camped. Enrique would go and hunt since he was by far the strongest and fast person. They got used to this routine after a while and one could say that they were becoming proficient to this lifestyle. This was what made Veronica angry since no one hated more routine as her, but she had no other choice but to accept it. Her only vent was, even if she didn't like, Carlos. If Enrique was the most valuable person in the group then Carlos would be the most useless and sometimes she would think that if Carlos wasn't here, things would be easier. He not only was careless but lately he had been showing changes of mood and he had seen him talking to himself in a very scary way. She was like a kid and this got on Veronica's nerves, also she had to accept that she knew that he would never reply to her in a bad way and that she could just mend everything with a simple smile afterwards. She felt so stressed and desperate that she needed a way out to relieve this tension and not explode. All of the things mentioned made Carlos the perfect yet miserable victim of her mistreating even if afterwards she would feel terrible.
- I can't stop myself- she had thought feeling horrible and knowing that she was making an excuse.
One morning, she saw Carlos coming with a stack of wood. She saw the quantity he was grabbing and couldn't help feeling angry at him. Veronica was well aware that Carlos was the one who put the most effort in the breathing techniques and she had even seen him practicing in any free moment he had, but for some reason he was the one who had advanced the least. He was the weakest of the group including her but she knew it was not due to lack of effort or motivation. She knew it was not his fault. However, she just thought that it was a good opportunity to vent her anger on someone so she walked to him with a cold attitude.
- Is that all you have after going so much time. You should…
But for Veronica's surprise Carlos just passed for her side as if she were not there. He had ignored her. She was astonished. Normally he would fight the feeling of replying and stop himself until he finally smiled and continued his way. This was totally strange and new. Veronica followed him and stood in front of him making him stop.
- What?-asked Veronica very offended for his silence- are you deaf? Or do you want to tell me something?
- No…- said Carlos who looked very relaxed and yet very distant. It was a tone she had not heard from him in a long time- it's just a have things to do so if you excuse me…
And he went away without saying more. Veronica was left behind totally confused and shocked. She couldn't stop thinking in this the rest of the day.
- It's obvious- she thought- everybody has a limit and I think I finally found Carlos' one.
Carlos' attitude didn't change in the next days. Veronica hated to be ignored but she had to admit she felt curious for the sudden change in his attitude. Even if he was angry, it was not like him to react like this. She tested him by getting closer to Enrique and even walking with him holding his arm to bother Carlos and see any reaction. Carlos made an uncomfortable face but he seemed to quickly recover from this returning to an uninterested behavior. As the days passed, the situation made Veronica more and more uncomfortable. She decided to recover Carlos.
- "I don't like that attitude"- she had thought while looking at him for 50th time- "it makes me feel that I have no control."
She felt like all the things that made all her situation at least normal were collapsing and if she lost the control, she would turn insane. She wouldn't allow that to happen. They were now in another part of the forest and as Enrique had pointed out, they were in a different section. The trees and bushes were not so thick and wild and was now more accessible. They felt they were finding a way out and he said that maybe they'll find civilization soon.
-I'm tired- said Cynthia- can we rest please?
-I think the same- said Yeny who was trying to disappeared her hand. It had become a kind of tick in her.
Since the moment she had discovered she had been practicing and many times she had appeared suddenly to scare Cynthia and Carlos while laughing at them. She had tried to scare Enrique but he couldn't be surprised due to his power. She hadn't tried to scare Veronica since those days she had been very angry and she knew it was not a good time. However, this made her feel out of the group and didn't make her happy.
They stopped and set the camp. Enrique protected the zone creating small swamps (another power recently discovered). Veronica decided it was the moment and she got near Carlos who was finishing to fasten the tents.
-Ehm… Carlos?- said using her softest and cutest voice. Carlos looked at her a little surprised- could you help me to gather wood?
For a moment, Veronica was afraid he would say no, but he stood up and said "let's go" with a normal tone. They walked together while grabbing some branches but Carlos didn't open the conversation as he would usually do. Veronica started to talk about nothing particularly important but she realized Carlos was opening little by little. In a moment they started to talk about the powers.
-Don't you think it's unfair that all have those powers except for us?- she asked. She really felt jealous of Cynthia, Yenny and Enrique. Especially because from the moment they had started practicing the breathing techniques it looked as if their powers had increased more and more.
-Yeah, I think the same- said Carlos nodding- all my life I've dreamed with super powers… and when they are real… I don't have any… But at least you have increased your physical abilities. I mean, You are stronger and faster than me… I'm the one who really is the useless.
She felt a bit of guilt and pity for him. She felt horrible for thinking those things about Carlos and more for being unable to deny these facts. Veronica changed the topic to make him feel a little better. They talked about the powers they would like to have and how they would use it against their teachers. After a while, the mood was definitely better.
- My brother would love this scenery- said Carlos with a smile- he loves this kind of trips.
- You miss your family a lot, right?- she said with a sad tone.
- Don't you?- asked Carlos who seemed to notice something- they must be really worried for you right now.
- I'm sure they're more worried about the problems I'm causing to them than for my safety. I can imagine the sermon once I return and I already see my brother and sisters mocking at me- said she and a dark aura surrounded her.
- You're kidding, right?- said Carlos looking at her with a surprised expression. She just smiled- I mean… even if they are cold, I supposed they really cared about you.
- I wish that were the case. You know? We're 4 children. My older brother and sister finished the college already and they are both successful professionals…- she laughed sadly- so as you can guess my parents have high expectations in me.
She didn't know why she was telling this to Carlos but he inspired her confidence and for any reason she felt she could say all this to him. And she needed to let all of that go or she would explode.
-Since I was at school it's been like this… I have to be the first student because "your brother" was it. Or you have to be part of certain club because "your sister" had been there… and then… you have to be a good model for your little sister…-she sighed trying to calm down. Carlos didn't say a thing which Veronica thanked a lot- haha, my father is a piece of work. It's never enough for him… no matter how much I succeed, he only have mean words for me… never a "good work" or a "that's my girl"… nothing. I don't know what the hell he wants from me.
-What about your mother?- asked Carlos. Veronica realize he was listening and that he was interested so she continued.
-She says nothing-Veronica replied still with that sarcastic and cold voice- she is just a weak woman who fakes knowing nothing. She plays the role of the supportive and perfect wife who always agrees to all he says or decides… anyone would say they are a strong couple but I'd say it's more the habit than the love…-she relaxed a little like noticing she had said too much- don't misunderstand me… I love them but…
She didn't know how to continue. She couldn't say he hated her parents but she didn't feel a lot of love either. It was confusing for her who just was a 15 year old girl after all. Carlos thought for a minute before speaking.
-I think it's normal… You don't like to be the shadow of your siblings- said Carlos and Veronica looked at him impressed. It was exactly what she was thinking. Was he reading her mind?- I understand you. I think it's cruel to compare the children to each other. After all, you're you and they are them. And for me… you're great as you are.
Carlos' words penetrated Veronica and a great feeling of relief raised in her chest. She was afraid of him thinking she was childish or pampered, but he understood her. This was the reason she definitely had to have him as a friend and ally.
-I wouldn't say they're bad either- said Carlos choosing each word very carefully- maybe your father only knows that way to motivate you. Maybe he was treated the same when he was a child so he doesn't know another way. I only know that I haven't met any father that wants bad for his children. I'm sure he just wants to push you because he knows you can reach further.
Veronica stopped and looked at Carlos as if he were a strange. In this moment he looked older than a boy who was 14 years old and his eyes seemed to look further than she would ever reach. This wasn't the first time that he had looked like this either. Many times they had talked and she had noticed he was different than the regular boys. He was sharp and quick thinking who sometimes seemed to know more than he showed.
- "Who are you, Carlos? What kind of person are you?" - she wondered in her mind- "How is it possible that sometimes you behave like a fool but also like now you are able to show such maturity and wisdom?"
Maybe it was for that reason she had included him in her group. He was "interesting" enough and even if sometimes he made foolish comments he was now an important part of the group and her life. She didn't like the silent that had surrounded them.
-Well, Carlos- she said after a pondering the things she had to say- I've noticed you've been acting cold and distant towards to me… And I understand- said she before he could say a word- lately I've been mistreating you and for that... I'm sorry.
- It's ok- he said still maintaining that look that seemed to be reading Veronica completely- I know how tense and stressed you've been. I don't blame you for looking for a relieve. I just ask you not to repeat it again.
Carlos smiled. Veronica once again was surprised for his insight. She felt nervous for some reason. It was as if this Carlos could control her very easily. She needed to retake the control again. She detected something else he was not saying.
- Is there something else?- asked Veronica and Carlos flushed and denied it. She smiled knowing she had the upper hand again- I know you, Carlos and I know there's something else. You can tell me.
- It's nothing- said Carlos stepping back totally red. Veronica took his arm and looked directly at his eyes.
-Come on, Carlos- she repeated- tell me…
Carlos' face seemed to relax and his eyes got lost as if he was in trance. Veronica noticed a part of her energy abandoning her and she knew that he would be completely honest now (even she didn't know how).
-You really don't know?- said Carlos looking at her with such intensity that Veronica felt surrounded by flames- or is it that you don't WANT to know?
The change in his demeanor caught her by surprise and she quickly let go his arm as if they were dangerous. She didn't know why but she had the urge to run. However, she needed to listen to what he had to say.
-Stop using riddles and tell me what is bothering you- demanded Veronica who felt uncomfortable and exasperate for the words and gazing from Carlos. He sighed.
-it's obvious I'm in love with you- said Carlos getting close to her and Veronica was amazed for the easiness he had told those words- I like you very much, Veronica. Since the first moment I saw you, you captured my heart and wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. This time together had only fed that feeling that is like a fire that can't be contained in my chest. You ask me if something bothers me? Yes, your indifference bothers me. Your affection to others more than to me. It bothers me that you ignore my signs of love and that you abuse of my feelings pretending that you don't notice them… I just want you to love me the same way I do!
A thunder wouldn't have the same effect in Veronica that Carlos' words. She couldn't stop looking at him when he was talking as if a magnet had locked her eyes. When he finished saying the last words, she looked at the ground. She felt completely confused and lost and she started walking around trying to calm down. She was really tired. She touched her head and wished to return the camp to sleep for a week.
- WHAT THE…?- she heard and there was Carlos completely red and desperate. His face showed confusion and shame as if he had just realized all he had said. Their eyes made contact and they both looked down. He seemed to wish being swallowed by the ground. Now it was him he started to walk in circles.
- Carlos?- said Veronica. He stopped immediately and showed his back.
- Listen…-he replied nervously not daring to look at her- I don't know why I told you all that… I just felt I had to and I couldn't stop… I…-he buffed with desperation.
- So… all what you said wasn't true?- asked Veronica hoping Carlos would say it was just a joke so they could pretend nothing had happened. There was a long silence, a few times it looked as if he was going to talk but every time something had him stop.
- E… even…if I don't know why I said it that way…-he turned around trembling and spoke really nervously. He was as red as a tomato but his eyes shined with honesty and a passion only boys who love for the first time can express- but what I said it's true… I… I like you.
Veronica recognized his bravery and sincerity. There he was standing in front of her, totally prepared to receive the answer whatever it was without the slight wish to run away. It was just like a warrior prepared to face the last fight of his life directly and decisively.
- "You'll never stop surprising me"- she thought and for a minute she really wanted to feel other thing that wasn't friendship for such brave boy.
Even if Carlos didn't know the reason he had spoken, Veronica had a suspicion. However, now it wasn't the time for that. She had to leave her curiosity for later to deal with this problem before it become more serious. She looked Carlos who waited patiently like a convicted waiting for his sentence.
-Carlos- she started choosing her words very carefully- I have to say that I feel really honored and I'm very happy that you have those feelings towards me. You're a nice, sensitive and honest boy. Any girl would feel happy that someone like you wants to be with her…
Carlos changed his expression. From impatient and worried he turned to a resignation attitude. Veronica noticed he knew what she was going to say next so it was useless make it longer. Time for the kill.
-I'm sorry Carlos- she said feeling really sorry for him but it was better to be honest- But I see you as a friend and nothing else. I'm afraid that its like that and I don't think it would change.
-Is there anyone else?-asked Carlos looking at the ground while clenching his fist.
Veronica felt her ears burning. She turned nervous and looked to other side wondering how a person could change so fast. Carlos was just taking the control over and over again.
-No…- she said trying to be as convincing as she could- there's no one. It's just that I prefer to be alone for the moment. I'm sorry… I hope you're not angry and that we can continue being friends.
Carlos sighed and moved his head like thinking "I tried" and smiled. He had been defeated but he had fought to the end.
-Of course we are friends- he had said but his voice betrayed him and Veronica knew that he was very hurt.
After some moment of silence, they returned to the camp in silence and they haven't talked since then. Veronica felt uncomfortable and avoided Carlos. Many could say this was a childish behavior, but she was sure that anyone who had passed for that situation would understand her.
-I just don't want to see him for the moment- she thought while she lied down. She tried to think in other things. She had realized that Carlos had declared to her because of her power- Is it Hipnosis?
She was not sure if it was only for making others say the truth or to force them to do things. To confirm it, she had made some experiments on Enrique, Cynthia and Yenny the previous days. She had ordered them to do things, at the beginning simple, and to her surprise they obeyed. She tried harder like "act like a duck." Cynthia had done so and after a few minutes she was really ashamed wondering why she had done that. Veronica got lost in the possibilities.
-With this…- she thought letting her imagination go high- nobody could oppose to me.
Dark and terrible thoughts appeared in her mind. Absolute power. She smiled. Maybe Cynthia, Yenny and Enrique had more abilities but with this power I can rule them. She laughed evilly and she started to roll over in a hysterical happiness. But then…
- Sigh* I'm not like that- she thought immediately knowing that her morals would stop her from doing something too cruel- to force others to do things they don't want… it's not correct, right?
She sat thinking that sometimes it was an obstacle to be good sometimes. She just was not the bad enough. Anyway, the effect only lasted for less than a minute so it wasn't that she could have total control of anyone.
- Ok- she said resolutely and she made a promise with herself- I won't use this ability unless it's absolutely necessary.
She looked at her watch. The numbers were almost perceptible which meant the battery was at its limit. It was late. She hasn't noticed the time while remembering so many things. She left the tent at full speed making sure nobody was around but she hit something. When she looked up she found face to face to Carlos.
- Are you ok?- asked he giving his hand to help her.
- Yes, yes, I'm fine! very fine!- replied Veronica standing up without grabbing the hand. She laughed nervously. Carlos sighed.
- Listen- Carlos said and his glance turned patient and calm- I don't want our friendship to get changed. Ok? I don't want you to avoid me.
-I'm not avoiding you- said Veronica showing a nervous smile. Here he was again Carlos being so discerning? Carlos smiled slightly.
-During the last days you have change direction every time I got near- said Carlos counting with his finger- you don't look at me, you haven't talked to me even for say hello… do I continue?
Veronica said nothing. She had no reply. She felt really stunned. Was this the Carlos she knew?
-I understand your reaction after my…-Carlos looked like finding a proper name- sudden and strange declaration… which I still don't know why I did.
However, the look he gave her in that moment clearly showed that he had already guessed the real reason.
- Nobody must know about this ability of mine- thought Veronica really nervous- at least not everyone…
-What I mean is… I want the things back to what they were before- said Carlos smiling without going farther into her power- I want us to be friends again and just let's pretend that didn't happen.
Veronica was now more than impressed. This Carlos was really interesting. He thought that she knew him well but it seemed there were more things about him. She smiled. She really was acting as a child.
-I don't know what you're talking about- said Veronica smiling- we've never stop being friends, silly.
She hit him playfully and held his arm. They walked together and laughed for a while. Then they got separated and Veronica advanced for the forest until a clearing and saw Enrique sat down in a rock from where he was doing watch.
-Hi- he said smiling nervously when he saw her coming- how are you?
-Good, thank you- she replied before jumping to where Enrique was- sorry, I couldn't come before since I met with Carlos.
-Did you make the things up with him?- the boy asked with a tone that showed his concerned
-Yes- said she smiling radiantly- everything is fine now.
- I'm glad- said Enrique looking the clearing. Veronica placed her hands on Enrique's shoulders.
-You care a lot for him- said Veronica embracing him for behind- you're a good friend.
Enrique shrugged his shoulders saying "You think so?"
-Yes, you are- said Veronica whispering to his ear- but now you are jealous.
Enrique didn't reply and just smiled. Veronica sat next to him hugging him and putting her head on his shoulder.
-Do you love me?- asked Veronica flushing while remembering Carlos' confession. Enrique looked at her.
-Yes… a lot…-said he nervously after a moment but his eyes showed determintion.
-Me too- said Veronica and they kissed shortly but tenderly.