A/N so this is a more recent story from SB. There was a bit of a fad of giving Taylor EB powers. I chose Behemoth. It's also the first appearance of Sammy Hendrickson who I plan on using more if I ever get around to it.

Andraste's Grace

At exactly 6:58 Taylor woke up. Well woke was probably the wrong word. She didn't really sleep anymore. Not since the accident. Mostly she read. Surfed the web. You never realize how much time you spend sleeping until you stop. Still Miss Hannah said it was important that she try from time to time. It helped to remind you that you're still human. Armsmaster grumbled when he over heard that.

Taylor giggled at the memory. He may be a veteran hero but the man was a grade-A grump. Emma said it gave him a brooding mystique. Sophia was less polite about it. The blush she had when Taylor said she preferred Sophia's brooding mystique was a sight to behold.

Taylor quickly pulled herself out of bed and stripped out of her PJ's. She used a quick blast of heat to clean the sweat off her skin rather than bother with a shower. Going over to her dresser she tried to decide on what to wear for the day.

Normally the teen didn't really care much about what she wore. Emma made sure she was at least in eyesight of the fashions of the day. Today was special though. It was the first day back from Winter Break. If Taylor didn't make at least a token effort to dress up Emma wouldn't let her hear the end of it.

The redhead had always been good with people, but high school was where she really took off. Taylor worried that she might have been changed by that attack two years ago. The teen knew how bad it could have gone. If Emma hadn't got that SOS call out to her...

Taylor shook her head. The young hero tried not to dwell on things. Even if she hadn't got there in time, a possibility given the responsibilities the Protectorate had for the hero known as Andraste, Sophia was there. The girl may be gruff and downright rude to strangers but she wouldn't have let Emma get hurt.

It was almost funny now. Emma would always joke how she set them up.

Taylor walked downstairs to make breakfast. What was she thinking about again?

Right Emma taking off in high school. Lord knows Emma always tried to get Taylor to hang with the whole group of girls. Gang? Gaggle? What ever they are. It's not like Taylor didn't like them. Though with all the back biting she overheard the hero wouldn't go as far to say she was fond. It's just between school, the Wards, and visiting mom, Taylor's free time seesawed between non-existent and a fun memory of days gone by.

Judging by the lack of heat from the coffee maker dad spent the night at the office. Taylor sighed. With all the layoffs at the docks you'd think he could take a break. The trouble was keeping the guys who could work from trying to get some extra on the side.

Taylor hoped that they'd get sometime on the weekend. It'd be nice to see him for more than 5 minutes. Maybe she'd introduce him to Sophia.

'Or not' Taylor thought back to the last time Sophia meet new people. Taylor lov...liked her a lot but her fellow hero was not a people person.

Grabbing some bread and eggs from the fridge she set about cooking. First was toast. Taking a slice in-between her palms she focused for a second. Letting the now golden brown piece of bread fall to the plate she did that three more times. The eggs were next. This was harder. Took weeks to get right. Tapping her finger to the side of the shell a crack formed. Then she poured the yoke out as it fell she pulsed a bit of heat into the air it past through. Flash fried.

Sitting at the table she tucked in. Taylor was a fast eater even if she wasn't hungry. Not that she got hungry much. She would after a few days, but ever since she got her powers eating seemed to be more a luxury than a necessity. The teen didn't even know if she could starve or if her powers would sustain her. She had met a few capes who could do that.

Glancing at the clock she saw the green numbers showing it was about 7:15. About time to get going. Hopefully the bus wouldn't be late again. She'd have her buffer if it was, but being stuck at the stop was never fun. Last time she had to sit and listen to a young Asian girl rant for the better part of ten minutes. The poor girl was likely not well so Taylor tried not to judge but man threatening to blow up the bus depot was a bit much.

Taking a seat at the stop she had to bemoan the lack of flying powers.

'Stupid Alexandria packages' Taylor pouted. Granted if she wanted she could jump half way across the city. Still, jumping and flying were two different things. Especially on the way down. Taylor learned that one the hard way. Hopefully that nice couple fixed up their roof.

XxXXxX

A short bus ride later Taylor hopped off the bus and headed to her locker. As she got there she saw Emma was seated on the floor next to her locker. The red seemed to be busily writing in a notebook, her textbook placed open next to her.

"You know it's a lot less stressful to do your homework ahead of time" Taylor joked placing her backpack into the locker.

"Shut up" Emma responded not looking up form her book.

"You know you had all break. You could have done it then" Taylor smirked closing the locker door.

"Blasphemy."

"Blasphemy? That's a big wor-" Taylor's response was cut off as a hand twirled her around and pressed her into the locker door. The startled girl gave a squeak before a pair of lips pressed against her's. Then the world got a bit fuzzy.

"Hey" Sophia smirked.

Taylor responded with a grin that totally wasn't goofy. No matter what anyone said.

"Gross. You guys do know other people are around?" Emma complained.

"Hey it's been a while since I last saw my girl." Sophia turned to face the red head.

"You patrolled together a week ago."

"Masks make the whole thing awkward." Sophia turned back to Taylor and shot her another grin "'Sides a girls got needs"

'come on brain. Say something clever.' Taylor thought

"Nghheh"

'fuck you brain'

"Mama's still got it"

"Yeah well you may have got 'it', but it's lucky these lockers are fireproof." Emma rose and gestured at Taylor's hands. Two blooms of red hot metal formed around them.

"Oh!" Taylor exclaimed moving away from the lockers and quickly drained the heat off them. She normally had much better control. With Sophia though...

"Damn girl. It's almost as bad as the time you nearly set my bed on fire." Sophia teased.

Emma's eyes widened as she looked at Sophia then back at Taylor

"Taylor!" Somehow her friend manged to sound impressed, surprised and incredulous in one word.

Taylor went scarlet.

"I-it's not what...We weren't...We've never...I'm still a a."

At this point the two girls walked of giggling. Taylor pouted and followed after them.

"You guys are mean"

"Oh trust me Taylor. You have no idea how mean we can get." Emma joked.

XxXXxX

Class, for the most part, was dull. Taylor wasn't really a scholar and given that she was already set on her career she had trouble caring. It's not like you could beat a villain with Geometry for pity's sake. The one highlight was current affairs where the teacher Mr Galdly, Mr G. to his face and Geeky Gladly everywhere else, gave them their big assignment for the year. A research paper about an event in the last 10 years that changed the world.

It being about capes were almost a given. Taylor could guess the ones everyone would go for. The formation of the Protectorate. Eidolon coming out of the closet. The appearance of The Atlantean and his conquest of the Pacific. The disappearance of Scion.

A twisted part of Taylor wanted to pick an event near to her heart. The defeat and death of the Slaughterhouse 9 at the hands of the new hero Andraste. She would love to see Gladly's face if she handed him her PRT report.

Lunch meant sitting with Sophia at the edge of Emma's group as her old friend made plans for mall trips and sleepovers and parties that 'of course you two can tag along'. Sophia never did. Taylor usually made her excuses and avoided them.

Emma alone was a lot of fun. Emma with a gaggle was a totally different person. Not one Taylor was sure she liked.

Lucky lunch was only an hour so Taylor day dreamed her way through the last of her classes. Leaving the building she meet back up with Sophia. Her girlfriend linked their arms as they walked.

"Where's Emma?" Taylor asked.

Sophia merely gestured behind them where the red head was chatting with a couple boys their age. Sophia rolled her eyes and asked:

"So which one do you think got to borrow Daddy's car this weekend?"

Before Taylor could respond a small pressure on her back alerted her to something being thrown at her. Turning around she saw a group of boys, E88 wannabes. They were laughing to themselves. One of them put his fingers to his lips and made a gesture with his tongue. This set them off laughing again.

"Fuckers!" Sophia growled moving to march over there. Taylor grabbed her arm. Sophia stopped knowing that she wouldn't be able to get free if Taylor didn't want her to.

"Don't. Don't bother."

"Fuck. After they try shit like that. Either one of us could fuck them up."

"It wouldn't fix anything. It wouldn't make them stop."

"Oh I know how to make them stop."

Taylor just shot her a pleading glace.

"Fine. Fuck it." Sophia took a deep breath, and Taylor let go of her arm. "You want to come over?"

"Can't, I got a meeting with Sammy about some changes to the chain mail part of my mask."

"That woman creeps me out." Sophia shuddered a little "After then?"

"I was going to see mom." Taylor's voice dropped a bit.

"O-oh" Sophia seemed on the verge of saying more but turned and looked down instead.

"I'll um see you tomorrow." Taylor finished awkwardly. Sophia nodded morosely.
XxXXxX

Taylor tried not to fidget while she sat in the PR director's office. The women had stepped out to grab the last part of Taylor's costume. Just after the teen hero was wondering if she could find a magazine the other woman entered the office. Samantha "Sammy" Hendrickson was in Taylor's mind almost unfairly pretty. With her long blond hair and expertly applied make-up she looked like she just walked off a magazine ad.

"OK let's try this on and see how it feels" The women held up a chain-mail veil. Taylor took it and attached in to her helmet. It felt much better then before when it felt like it was slipping down her nose.

"Wow it's great what did you do?"

"I added a new line of mail to the top." Sammy brushed her hair back over her shoulder "The dumb asses in the dressing room never account for growth when they make Ward's costumes."

"Well thanks." Taylor smiled. Sammy always had an unique way with words.

"I still wish I got this job before they put you together. It's so fucking old fashion"

Taylor bit back a sigh. She had hoped she escaped this conversation.

"I mean they dressed you up as a literal knight in shining armor. Who thought that looked cool? At least your girl had her god damn head on straight when she came up with her look."

Sammy sat at her desk and gave Taylor a look over. The teen shifted a bit. She admittedly had second thoughts when they first showed her the Andraste costume. The suit of armor was pure white and Taylor thought it would get in the way given she didn't need armor. After four years though it grew on her.

"You got to let me give you an image make over. You like K-9's costume, right? I did good work there."

"Her costume is just a SWAT uniform with the letters "K-9" on the back." Taylor stated flatly.

"Nah, she has way more fucking armor on her than that." Sammy laughed a little "Come on it'll be fun."

Taylor did sigh this time.

"I know I'll regret asking this, but what did you have in mind?"

"Well first I'd get you out of the boring ass white. Go with a blood red cloak, no fuck that I'd go with a trench coat. Then something black. Maybe some leather? No. OK um then maybe something more tactical. Then we got to get you a new name. Nobody knows who the fuck Andraste is."

"She was this Celtic goddess.."

"Like I said nobody gives a shit. You got to go with something like Bahamut. Now that would be fucking metal."

A knock at the door interrupted her.

"Umm Sammy it's Dauntless" A voice came from the other side of the door. "You said you wanted to meet."

"Get the hell out kid." Sammy muttered under her breath. " We'll finish this later."

Taylor decided to heed her advice. Nodding to Dauntless as she passed. The elder hero shot her a grin.

"Charlie, come in." Sammy's voice took on a tone Taylor had begun to associate with Emma when the red head was trying to get a date.

Taylor decided to move a bit faster.

XxXXxX

Taylor stepped off the bus in front of Brockton Bay general hospital. As she headed in she bumped right into Panacea.

Literally, as Taylor watched the healer fall right on her butt.

"ow" the other girl muttered.

"Oh god sorry. Here" Taylor helped Amy up. "You're not hurt are you?"

"Fine. It's noth-oh um hi" the brown haired girl stuttered noticing who had bumped into her for the first time.

"Hey" Taylor smiled. "Heading home?"

"Break actually." Amy sheepishly gestured with a pack of cigarettes. "You here to see your mom?"

"Yeah. Um has there been, um I mean has she" Taylor had learned it was easier to not get her hopes up if she didn't voice them. A look of sorrow flashed across Amy's face.

"No. Sorry. I'm not really in her room so her doctors would know more than me." The healer shrugged.

"Yeah." Taylor let out a sigh. She folded her arms around herself. "I hate this"

"hmm?"

"I hate this. Coming here. I know that's a shitty thing to say but I do. Seeing her like this." Taylor took a steadying breath to calm down. "I could have done something. If I hadn't been so scared, so stupid I could've done more. I know I could have. I was too weak."

"Hey don't beat yourself up. You just triggered. You did all you could. No one can save everyone. Not even you." Amy put her hand on the taller girl's shoulder "You not the weak one here. Trust me."

Taylor just nodded. She appreciated the sentiment, but Amy wasn't there she didn't know what Taylor knew. She didn't have to live with 'what if' hanging over her everyday.

"Look, um you better hurry if you want to make visiting hours."

"Right" Taylor headed past Amy. Behind her the healer gave her one long glance before going to find a place to sit.

Taylor took the elevator up to floor three. Entering room 308 she found her mother much the same as she had been since the accident. A little paler, a little thinner but had Taylor not known better she'd swear her mother was only sleeping.

"Hey mom." Taylor sat down and grabbed her mother's hand. "You wouldn't believe the day I had."

XxXXxX