Another day of school had ended, and Aster was ready to go home. Unfortunately, the school apparently wasn't. Aster wasn't really sure why a bus would be late to the lot to take the students back, but it wasn't the first time. The weather wasn't really getting cold yet, so it didn't really matter, aside from the school parking lot not being especially stimulating. Her friends had different buses which managed to come on time, so they had already left. As dull as asphalt was, Aster was trying to keep her mind on it, instead of wandering off again.
Aster looked up to see Holly walking over. She rode some other bus, but maybe hers was also running late? Aster didn't see it in the lot, but... Well, she wouldn't, either way. But the crowd didn't seem like two buses' worth of people stuck idling around.
"Hello, Holly. You didn't miss your bus, did you?"
"Oh, no. I just usually walk home. Most of the year, anyways."
"So something held you up inside, then?"
"Right in one. So, running late aside, would now be a good time to talk? Since you didn't really want to do it in between classes."
"Sure, now is as good a time as any. Well, unless the bus finally decides to show up now, anyways."
"There's always something. Now, if I might, I think I have a solution that can cut this particular knot."
"Is that so?"
"Would you want to go for a walk? Most of the way to that spot we met is on my way, anyways."
Aster glanced around. She wasn't sure why she did, really, as nothing in the parking lot had any bearing on that idea. She wasn't sure how to think about Holly, or exactly how she felt. But that was probably a reason to actually talk with her again. And it would be a waste to not at least try to make another friend. She fished her phone out of her pocket, and looked at the clock for a moment. Then she started texting her parents she was going to walk home with a friend, so not to worry if the bus went by without her.
"Alright, sure. Let's go for a walk."
Holly grinned and then started off. Aster followed after her, going a little faster than she usually walked as they headed out of the lot and off the school grounds. A minute or two passed before either of them actually said anything.
"Okay, no dice thinking of a great way to put this. I just wanted to apologize again. I'd apologize to Diana too, but... Well, weird thing to explain, and probably not much fun to hear about."
"Oh. Like I said, I accepted your apology. And for what it's worth, Diana would probably tell you're forgiven if you apologized out of the blue."
"Good to know. Still, that would be silly. Anyways, wrong foot addressed, onto where we got off on the right one. I wanted to say I'd like to experiment with powers again. You know, if you ever feel like it."
"It was pretty interesting. I think we did the most obvious experiments already, but I do still have some more questions."
"I do too. We'll probably have to think of a better way to organize that than bumping into each other at night, though."
"Heh, good point. We'll have to think of some time to get together."
"Aw, you mean we aren't going to do it right now?"
Holly turned around, cupping her hands in front of herself. A little ball of stark white light floated above them. Aster shook her head, but smiled.
"Sorry to disappoint. I still don't really want to use my power publicly, even though you caught me using it in public and it was hardly a disaster."
"Oh, alright then. Though, I am curious why that is? You don't have to answer if you don't want to, of course."
"Right. I don't really want to talk about it."
"Okay, got it. Topic dropped. Sorry to pry."
"No, it's fine, just..."
Aster sighed. She was glad Holly was so willing to drop it, this time. After their first encounter, it was probably too much to expect her to not ask probing questions out of curiosity, but that was okay if she could drop it. She was sort of used to that kind of curiosity from Emily already, anyways. Setting the last conversation aside, though... Maybe it waas a question she should actually answer. She did want to tell it to someone, though obviously she wasn't going to bother Lily with it right now. Besides, the cat was already out of the bag. Would it be terrible to tell Holly why it was in there?
After the silence stretched on for a few long moments, Holly turned around to keep on walking. Aster felt pretty embarrassed about that, as she started walking again with her. The little ball of light had been left floating where Holly had made it to begin with, and Aster glanced back to see it had disappeared when she wasn't looking.
"Actually, I can say why. It's a pretty stupid reason, anyways."
"Oh, is it? You didn't strike me as the stupid type, honestly."
"Thanks, I guess. But nobody's immune to having feelings that don't really make sense."
"I suppose not! I'm certainly no exception, hahah."
"Right. Anyways, I've been trying to keep it a secret because I feel guilty about it."
Holly turned around again, this time without stopping, just walking backwards. She had one eyebrow raised up, and the expression almost made Aster regret deciding to tell her.
"Why guilty, of all feelings? Is it bound up with how you got the power?"
"Oh, no. Not what you're thinking, anyways. Nothing terrible happened. Nothing bad at all. And my power is so harmless, figuratively invisible even if it's literally the opposite. It's just cool, if anything. It doesn't really seem fair."
"Oh, I get it now."
"Yeah. That is a pretty stupid reason to feel guilty."
Aster couldn't help but laugh a little. Holly grinned, then finally turned back around to actually look where she was going.
"You shouldn't feel guilty for your good luck. You shouldn't feel guilty for others' bad luck, either. It's luck. Nobody's at fault for it, that's pretty much what the idea of it is. It's out of our control. Reality is cruel and uncaring at best, or else it has a sick sense of humor."
"I don't think I can really agree with that kind of outlook. Or that it would make me feel any better if I did."
"Sure, sure. Although that sentiment isn't supposed to make you feel better. It doesn't make me feel better."
"Uh-huh. Why share it with me, then?"
"Because I think it's an encouragement to go and do what makes you feel better, yourself. Like, you know, you don't need permission. Life can suck, and it's unfair, so take the chances and advantages you can. I do what I want to do, when I want to. I fuck up sometimes, you've already seen that, but I think I'm basically alright."
"So your advice is... be selfish?"
"...Kinda? That's one way to do it, but obviously it's got problems. You can still care about other people, and try to be fair personally. Just don't get hung up when life decides not to. What I'm trying to say here is if you're hiding it because you feel bad for other people... is it actually helping them to hide it? Would it hurt them to show it? Because if those are both 'no', I don't see the point."
"Yeah, I guess. I'll think about that."
Aster was quiet for a few moments, before a thought bubbled to the surface. That was weird. Not what Holly said, though it wasn't a familiar perspective. But...
"And, okay, forgive me, but did you really just have a whole little speech ready like that?"
"Hahah, I may have been saving it in my back pocket. It helps that I'm fond of the sound of my own voice. But the important thing is it is something to think about, and I managed to give it to you."
"Thank you for that, by the way."
"Of course! Honestly I'm just glad you're willing to listen. I'd like to talk more often, and... generally hang out, really."
"Oh. You mean you want to be friends?"
"Hahah, yeah. I just didn't have a cool way of saying that. Maybe there isn't one."
"Perhaps not. Not everything is about sounding cool, you know."
"But, yeah. I don't have a cool way of saying it either, but I would like to try being friends, too. The walk-and-talk isn't a bad start. Even if we're, well, not getting anywhere fast, literally speaking."
Aster looked around. They really had not gone very far from the school at all. Holly laughed, and picked up her pace. About half a minute later, Aster saw her bus drive down the road past them.