I felt my heart race as I stared at him: Teal eyes the same color as the shirt he wore that day. Black hair, long but not to his shoulders. A strong build, could probably pummel me in a second if I gave him the chance. I moved in front of him, forced him to stop.
So he stopped. Our eyes met. The corner of his mouth curled upward, just a touch.
Then his half-smile turned into a full-blown grin. “Glad to see you’re doing better,” he said.
I clenched my fist and punched him without thinking–but my hand fell through the air and he tapped my shoulder instead of falling to the floor.
I whirled around and stumbled backward. How’d the hell he do that?
“I’m fast,” he said, with a curt nod. “It’s why I got you out of trouble the last time, and how I’ve kept you out of trouble this time. Think a bit before attacking your next target, okay?” He chuckled. “You don’t seem to have much success when you do that, do you?”
He didn’t wait for my reply and kept going down the hall anyways. I must’ve blinked or something, because I never saw him turn around to start walking away.
My fury quickly turned to curiosity, as much as I wished it didn’t. Something that the geeks had said about people with real powers stuck with me and I wondered if maybe they were right–not about me, anyways, but about this guy. How could I be angry with someone superhuman? It’d be a daft comparison, like trying to say a feather’s as heavy as a brick.
I ran after him and hoped he didn’t go super-speed on me again (though I wasn’t really sure it was super-speed after all: whenever I’d seen him, or in his case, not seen him move, he’d gone in a circle, not in a straight line). I grabbed his shoulder like he’d grabbed mine and he spun around and pushed me back before I could blink.
He grinned again, his black hair moving slightly from the leftover inertia of his twirl.
“Trying again, I see?”
I suppressed my anger for half a second, long enough to spit out an apology. He raised his eyebrows, giving me enough intrigue to keep talking safely. Luckily, even with his apparent disapproval, my anger had sufficiently subsided to let me think clearly again.
“What are you?”
His face stayed stoic but his eyes betrayed amusement. “Human, male, a future physicist perhaps?” He shook his head. “I don’t get your question.”
I puffed out a lungful of air halfway between a sardonic snort and a last laugh. “Really?” I said. “You moved circles around Fondlebrain and you can’t seem to stand still now, and you’re telling me you’re, what, no different than I am?”
He shrugged, “Pretty much,” and extended a hand. “Pace Vaughn. Friends call me Pacey.”
I shook his hand tentatively. “Keith,” I said, but didn’t afford him any further honor. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” he said and took his hand back. It’d been warm, perhaps unusually so, and his grip was deadly strong. I suddenly felt weak standing next to him.
Pace glanced at his watch and then back at me. “I’ve got to work, so I can’t stay and chat today. That alright?” His question sounded more like a statement and I kept silent. “In any case, it was nice to finally meet you, Keith.” He started moving, but this time he began walking backwards instead of super-speeding away. “If you really want to get an idea of what I’m about, why don’t you stop by the Underground tomorrow afternoon?”
With another step, he circled around the corner and was gone. I felt the sudden urge to dash after him, ask him more, but I knew even if I did, he wouldn’t be there anyways. Instead I just stood there dumbfounded for a few minutes, wishing I was still angry, not confused. Wishing I was furious, not fascinated. Wishing I could just punch him and not feel anything afterward.
PART 7: The Underground