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“Don’t walk away,” he says, his voice tight, his eyes squeezed shut like he already knows I’m going to. Like he can’t bear to see it happen. “Please,” he whispers, tormented. “Don’t walk away from this.”

“I-I wish,” I tell him, shaking violently now, “I wish I d-didn’t have to. I wish I could love you less.”

And I hear him call after me as I bolt down the corridor. I hear him shouting my name but I’m running, running away, running past the huge crowd gathered outside the dining hall, watching, listening to everything. I’m running to hide even though I know it will be impossible.

I will have to see him every single day.

Wanting him from a million miles away.

And I remember Kenji’s words, his demands for me to wake up and stop crying and make a change, and I realize fulfilling my new promises might take a little longer than I expected.

Because I can’t think of anything I’d rather do right now than find a dark corner and cry.


Kenji finds me first.

He’s standing in the middle of my training room. Looking around like he’s never seen the place before, even though I’m sure that can’t be true. I still don’t know exactly what he does, but it’s at least become clear to me that Kenji is one of the most important people at Omega Point. He’s always on the move. Always busy. No one—except for me, and only lately—really sees him for more than a few moments at a time.

It’s almost as if he spends the majority of his days … invisible.

“So,” he says, nodding his head slowly, taking his time walking around the room with his hands clasped behind his back. “That was one hell of a show back there. That’s the kind of entertainment we never really get underground.”


I’m draped in it. Painted in it. Buried in it.

“I mean, I just have to say—that last line? ‘I wish I could love you less’? That was genius. Really, really nice. I think Winston actually shed a tear—”


“I’m serious!” he says to me, offended. “That was, I don’t know. It was kind of beautiful. I had no idea you guys were so intense.”

I pull my knees up to my chest, burrow deeper into the corner of this room, bury my face in my arms. “No offense, but I really don’t want to t-talk to you right now, okay?”

“Nope. Not okay,” he says. “You and me, we have work to do.”


“Come on,” he says. “Get. Up.” He grabs my elbow, tugging me to my feet as I try to take a swipe at him.

I wipe angrily at my cheeks, scrub at the stains my tears left behind. “I’m not in the mood for your jokes, Kenji. Please just go away. Leave me alone.”

“No one,” he says, “is joking.” Kenji picks up one of the bricks stacked against the wall. “And the world isn’t going to stop waging war against itself just because you broke up with your boyfriend.”

I stare at him, fists shaking, wanting to scream.

He doesn’t seem concerned. “So what do you do in here?” he asks. “You just sit around trying to … what?” He weighs the brick in his hand. “Break this stuff?”

I give up, defeated. Fold myself onto the floor.

“I don’t know,” I tell him. I sniff away the last of my tears. Try to wipe my nose. “Castle kept telling me to ‘focus’ and ‘harness my Energy.’” I use air quotes to illustrate my point. “But all I know about myself is that I can break things—I don’t know why it happens. So I don’t know how he expects me to replicate what I’ve already done. I had no idea what I was doing then, and I don’t know what I’m doing now, either. Nothing’s changed.”

“Hold up,” Kenji says, dropping the brick back onto the stack before falling on the mats across from me. He splays out on the ground, body stretched out, arms folded behind his head as he stares up at the ceiling. “What are we talking about again? What events are you supposed to be replicating?”

I lie back against the mats, too; mimic Kenji’s position. Our heads are only a few inches apart. “Remember? The concrete I broke back in Warner’s psycho room. The metal door I attacked when I was looking for A-Adam.” My voice catches and I have to squeeze my eyes shut to quell the pain.

I can’t even say his name right now.

Kenji grunts. I feel him nodding his head on the mats. “All right. Well, what Castle told me is that he thinks there’s more to you than just the touching thing. That maybe you also have this weird superhuman strength or something.” A pause. “That sound about right to you?”

“I guess.”

“So what happened?” he asks, tilting his head back to get a good look at me. “When you went all psycho-monster on everything? Do you remember if there was a trigger?”

I shake my head. “I don’t really know. When it happens, it’s like—it’s like I really am completely out of my mind,” I tell him. “Something changes in my head and it makes me … it makes me crazy. Like, really, legitimately insane.” I glance over at him but his face betrays no emotion. He just blinks, waiting for me to finish. So I take a deep breath and continue. “It’s like I can’t think straight. I’m just so paralyzed by the adrenaline and I can’t stop it; I can’t control it. Once that crazy feeling takes over, it needs an outlet. I have to touch something. I have to release it.”

Kenji props himself up on one elbow. Looks at me. “So what gets you all crazy, though?” he asks. “What were you feeling? Does it only happen when you’re really pissed off?”

I take a second to think about it before I say, “No. Not always.” I hesitate. “The first time,” I tell him, my voice a little unsteady, “I wanted to kill Warner because of what he made me do to that little kid. I was so devastated. I was angry—I was really angry—but I was also … so sad.” I trail off. “And then when I was looking for Adam?” Deep breaths. “I was desperate. Really desperate. I had to save him.”

“And what about when you went all Superman on me? Slamming me into the wall like that?”

“I was scared.”

“And then? In the research labs?”

“Angry,” I whisper, my eyes unfocused as I stare up at the ceiling, remembering the rage of that day. “I was angrier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I never even knew I could feel that way. To be so mad. And I felt guilty,” I add, so quietly. “Guilty for being the reason why Adam was in there at all.”

Kenji takes a deep, long breath. Pulls himself up into a sitting position and leans against the wall. He says nothing.

“What are you thinking …?” I ask, shifting to sit up and join him.

“I don’t know,” Kenji finally says. “But it’s obvious that all of these incidents were the result of really intense emotions. Makes me think the whole system must be pretty straightforward.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like there has to be some kind of trigger involved,” he says. “Like, when you lose control, your body goes into automatic self-protect mode, you know?”


Kenji turns so he’s facing me. Crosses his legs underneath him. Leans back on his hands. “Like, listen. When I first found out I could do this invisible thing? I mean, it was an accident. I was nine years old. Scared out of my mind. Fast-forward through all the shitty details and my point is this: I needed a place to hide and couldn’t find one. But I was so freaked out that my body, like, automatically did it for me. I just disappeared into the wall. Blended or whatever.” He laughs. “Tripped me the hell out, because I didn’t realize what’d happened for a good ten minutes. And then I didn’t know how to turn myself back to normal. It was crazy. I actually thought I was dead for a couple of days.”

“No way,” I gasp.


“That’s crazy.”

“That’s what I said.”

“So … so, what? You think my body taps into its defense mode when I freak out?”

“Pretty much.”

“Okay.” I think. “Well, how am I supposed to tap into my defense mode? How did you figure yours out?”

He shrugs. “Once I realized I wasn’t some kind of ghost and I wasn’t hallucinating, it actually became kind of cool. I was a kid, you know? I was excited, like I could tie on a cape and kill bad guys or something. I liked it. And it became this part of me that I could access whenever I wanted. But,” he adds, “it wasn’t until I really started training that I learned how to control and maintain it for long periods of time. That took a lot of work. A lot of focus.”

“A lot of work.”

“Yeah—I mean, all of this takes a lot of work to figure out. But once I accepted it as a part of me, it became easier to manage.”

“Well,” I say, leaning back again, blowing out an exasperated breath, “I’ve already accepted it. But it definitely hasn’t made things easier.”

Kenji laughs out loud. “My ass you’ve accepted it. You haven’t accepted anything.”

“I’ve been like this my entire life, Kenji—I’m pretty sure I’ve accepted it—”

“No.” He cuts me off. “Hell no. You hate being in your own skin. You can’t stand it. That’s not called acceptance. That’s called—I don’t know—the opposite of acceptance. You,” he says, pointing a finger at me, “you are the opposite of acceptance.”

“What are you trying to say?” I shoot back. “That I have to like being this way?” I don’t give him a chance to respond before I say, “You have no idea what it’s like to be stuck in my skin—to be trapped in my body, afraid to breathe too close to anything with a beating heart. If you did, you’d never ask me to be happy to live like this.”

“Come on, Juliette—I’m just saying—”

“No. Let me make this clear for you, Kenji. I kill people. I kill them. That’s what my ‘special’ power is. I don’t blend into backgrounds or move things with my mind or have really stretchy arms. You touch me for too long and you die. Try living like that for seventeen years and then tell me how easy it is to accept myself.”

I taste too much bitterness on my tongue.

It’s new for me.

“Listen,” he says, his voice noticeably softer. “I’m not trying to judge, okay? I’m just trying to point out that because you don’t want it, you might subconsciously be sabotaging your efforts to figure it out.” He puts his hands up in mock defeat. “Just my two cents. I mean, obviously you’ve got some crazy powers going on. You touch people and bam, done. But then you can crush through walls and shit, too? I mean, hell, I’d want to learn how to do that, are you kidding me? That would be insane.”