Daniela was doing her best to keep her mouth closed but the more she saw of the school the more her jaw seemed to drop. It was beautiful. She looked towards the other girl who was approaching and immediately shut her mouth and stood straight.
Aya, still unsteady, vision still difficult to focus, braced herself against the wall as she saw the figure in front of her. It was a girl. Maybe around her age. Aya didn’t recognize her.“...Hi,”
came her soft voice, almost timid.
Daniela forced herself to make eye contact and tried to smile, but she was still nervous about this whole situation. “H-Hello.” She said quietly. She mentally slapped herself. You need to at least introduce yourself.
She admonished herself.
“M-My name is Daniela.” She said quietly.“I’m Aya,”
she said out of reflex. There was something… surreal about all of this. Aya was still reeling from her… experience. What was she even supposed to call it? The fight, using her power for so long, the monster… She felt unmoored, like she was placed in a harbor when she was certain she still should’ve been caught in a storm out at sea. Another wave of dizziness came over her. Aya’s fingers curled against the wall holding her up. “Ummm…”
She didn’t know what to say. Eventually politeness won out over the need to find some sort of shelter. “Are… are you new?”
Daniela seemed to flinch slightly. “You might say that...I was hiding out in the snack shed.” She muttered as she looked down at the floor. “I-I was hiding. I-I think the authorities might be looking for me...T-There was an incident in New York a while back. I didn’t know it was a school. I just wanted somewhere to spend the night.” She motioned towards Una. “S-She found me.”
Aya tried very hard to focus on Daniela as her head swam. Her muscles ached where she’d pulled the needles out just minutes ago.
She clung to the name she knew.“Uná,”
she said, almost to herself. “She’s… she’s ok.”
Images of the night before flashed in her mind. She looked back up to the taller girl. “The ahh… the school will take you in if you have nowhere to go and you’re a…” Mutant
Daniela’s expression became a mix of relief and concern. “I appreciate that.” She said quietly. “I-I tried to go home...they yelled and screamed at me...called me a murderer.” She shook her head for a moment to clear the images of charred bodies from her mind. “If I may ask...where exactly am I?”
Aya’s focus pulled inward, fighting to stay conscious, stay upright, stay present. Daniela’s voice became distorted white noise as Aya squeezed her eyes shut. She stood in that hallway, bare feet against the cold tile floor, dress rumpled, skin too pale and eyes sunken in.
Daniela’s question some how drifted through the fog.“Ashford Academy,”
Aya managed to say. “I’m sorry, I think I… excuse me. I think I need to go lay down.”
As Aya answered the question Daniela had posed to her, she suddenly noticed the condition that this woman was in. She didn’t look the best.
“Uh...I-I think you might want to go see a doctor or something.” She said quietly. “Is...Is there a nurse here or something?” She asked Aya quietly as she more carefully examined Aya.
Aya shook her head and immediately regretted it.“I just came from there,”
she answered. “I’ll just… go to my room.”
Aya managed to push herself up from the wall, though she was still unsteady. Then, because her manners required it, “It was nice meeting you, Daniela.”
Daniela couldn’t help but feel something was very wrong with this woman. She could see Aya was unsteady and obviously ill in some way. “Listen...I know I don’t have any right to say this...but I think you might need assistance getting to your room. W-Why don’t you let me help you make sure you get there. I’ll walk you there.”
Aya automatically opened her mouth to politely decline, but then another wave hit her. A hand came up to her head, her eyes scrunching shut. She nodded.“My room is…”
At the moment, Aya couldn’t quite remember. But if they started walking, she was sure it’d come back… hopefully. “Close. Thank you.”
Daniela nodded and waved at Una as she put Aya’s arm over her shoulder to support her. She was praying to whoever was listening that she didn’t blast this poor woman with a jolt of electricity or something by accident. “There you go…” She said quietly as she managed to get Aya mostly supported. She wouldn’t fall over or anything.
“W-Which way are the dormitories?” She asked carefully. “We’re bound to run into someone who knows which room is yours.”“No, I can find it,”
Aya said, trying to hold onto whatever was left of her dignity. “The dorms are…”
it took her an embarrassing amount of time to remember. “Down this hall, then second left.”
As the two walked, Aya tried to find some way to fill the silence. This poor girl… it was her first day, she was clearly nervous, and now she had to deal with Aya being… Aya.“So…”
she eventually tried, “how did you find the school?”
Daniela was doing her best to keep Aya supported but it was somewhat difficult due to the height difference. “I-I was running from the authorities last night and I jumped the fence. I just wanted someplace with a roof so I could get some sleep without the fear of getting rained on. She paused for a moment as a sudden somewhat frightening thought came to mind. What if they thought she was a criminal with that last comment?!
“Listen...I-I’m not a criminal or anything.” She said quietly. “I-I just didn’t know what to do after New York.” As the two approached the dormitories she began looking for the correct door.
Aya only listened, letting the soft sound of Daniela’s voice guide her back to some sense of stability. That she’d been running was… concerning. But then, Aya supposed she wasn’t really in a position to judge.“It should be the fourth door on the right,”
Aya said. Then, after a moment, “The students here… it’s common to have a history, I think,”
she murmured. “The… abilities. No one tells you what to do with them or how to control them when they start.”
Kainoa’s scared voice drifted through her mind, still painful. “I don’t think this school judges you for the mistakes you’ve made.”
It was like Aya was realizing the truth of it as she said it. Something small and tight loosened in her chest just a bit.
Daniela was a bit relieved to hear that hopefully she wouldn’t be judged for what had happened. A wave of guilt rose up in her chest though as she thought of the four people who had died because of her mutation activating. Granted, one of them had most likely been about to kill her but still...the idea that four people had lost their lives and that one of them had been one of her best friends still hurt her badly.
She saw the door that would lead to Aya’s room and opened it as she helped her into her room. “Here...I don’t know which bed is yours but I really think you should lay down.” She said quietly as she helped Aya towards one of the beds. Truth be told, Daniela had no idea what to do after this. Was she supposed to report to one of the staff? Was she supposed to just wait for someone to come and talk to her? She felt very lost.
The relief that reverberated through Aya’s body at seeing her little twin bed came as a surprise. It was familiar. Safe. Somewhere along the way, Aya had begun to think of this room as her’s — the school was becoming home. She let Daniela help her lay down, wincing as her muscles shook to try and control her fall. “You should find a teacher — Professor Everose, or Ashford, the headmaster. They won’t turn you away.”
Aya remembered when she’d first arrived at the school — how she’d gone to Professor Everose’s office to try and cancel her enrollment. She idly wondered about the poor nurse and if she’d found Aya’s cot in the medical wing empty yet, machines still beeping alarms. “Thank you for helping me,”
she said to Daniela.
Aya wondered at her confusing, chaotic, painful time at the Ashford Academy. Last night had been terrifying, she remembered that much. But after a lifetime of feeling like an outsider, even if her powers still scared her, she couldn’t remember another time when she’d felt like she’d belonged somewhere. “I hope you give the school a chance.”
Daniela smiled faintly down at the woman and turned around as a faint frown replaced the smile. “Anywhere is better than life I left behind.” She said quietly enough to herself that Aya couldn’t hear. She could still remember the screaming and angry yelling when she had gone home. The hatred in her adopted parent’s voices, the horrible things that had been said.
“Sleep well.” She said to Aya as she left the room. A moment after she left she had a sudden realization: She had no idea where any of the staff were.
The realization was making her nervous and a small spark of unwanted electricity erupted from her finger and she hurriedly shoved her hands in her pocket as she looked around for someone who could help her.