Freak Like Me

(Johnny Smith helps a woman with some amazing powers of her own, and discovers she has a past connection with his best friend. Bruce/OC eventually. Slight AU. All characters belong to appropriate parties, except Angela 'Angie' Bartlett, who is my very own, and other minor characters.)

'You live your life in the songs you hear on the rock 'n' roll radio, And when a young girl doesn't have any friends, that's a really nice place to go. Folks hoping you'd turn out cool, but they had to take you out of school- You're a little 'touched', you know...Angie baby...' -Helen Reddy, 'Angie Baby'

CHAPTER 1: A MISUNDERSTANDING

Cleaves Mills, April 3rd, 2002

The young woman who had just ordered coffee was attracting a lot of curious stares in the small diner.

Not because she looked different to the other customers in any way, but because she was a stranger, and strangers in a small town like Cleaves Mills were always going to attract curious stares. And, unbeknownst to the dozen or so people present, Angie Bartlett was 'stranger' than most.

"Have you got relatives here, honey?" The waitress, plump and probably somewhere in her fifties, looked kind, but was nonetheless obviously determined to find out what the woman's business here was.

Angie smiled politely, but wished the waitress would just leave her alone; she'd only come here for coffee, not the Spanish Inquisition. "I'm just passing through, to be honest." She replied, hoping this would be sufficient.

"Oh." The older woman seemed disappointed by this answer, but then brightened slightly, and told her, "Well, Cleaves Mills is a nice town-hope you enjoy your visit."

"Thank you." Angie's response was sincere; Cleaves Mills DID seem like a nice town, and under ordinary circumstances, she would be glad to stick around for a while. It seemed like a perfectly sleepy, mundane, picture-postcard little town, where everybody knew each other and nothing exciting ever happened. Her kind of town. But she couldn't stay. She could never STAY anywhere.

When she'd finished her coffee, she paid the waitress, said goodbye, then walked to the door, blinking slightly at the sunlight gleaming through the glass pane, then stepped aside when a shadow fell against the door and someone entered from the other side.

A tall, blond, good-looking guy, leaning on a cane, smiled at her, and took a couple of steps back, holding the door open for her. "Ladies first." He quipped.

Angie could feel herself blushing-she wasn't used to guys talking to her, if she was honest. But this one looked like a nice person, so she shyly smiled her thanks, and left quickly, her hand barely brushing his arm as she passed him.

Angie walked down the street, oblivious, as Johnny Smith was flung headlong into a vision:

He found himself standing in a small, dingy room, where the woman he'd just seen was pressed up against a wall, cowering in terror. Standing only feet away from her was a man, tall and muscular, with severely cropped dark hair, pointing a gun at her.

"Please, David." She begged, holding out her hands in supplication. "Please don't do this."

"You screwed with me, Angie." The man called David told her calmly. "And nobody does that to me."

Johnny flinched as the gun went off, and Angie slumped to the floor dead, blood pouring from her chest...

Johnny gasped, rubbing a handacross his eyes as he was snapped back to the present, then turned quickly to see the woman, Angie, still walking calmly down the street, with probably not the slightest idea as to the fate that awaited her.

That MIGHT await her, he reminded himself. You can change the future, remember? Well, he wasn't going to change anything if he didn't catch up to her-he was going to have to take a raincheck on that coffee and Danish.

For now, anyway.

"Miss!"

Angie heard the male voice calling after her, but kept moving, certain that it wasn't her attention he was trying to get.

"Miss, wait!"

Still Angie ignored him, though she now felt the first flutterings of fear. She hadn't done anything wrong, she was sure of it. Not THIS time.

"Angie!"

She stopped, fear turning quickly to building panic when she heard her name. Slowly, reluctantly, she turned, to see the man from the diner hurrying towards her, and frowned, confused. She didn't remember ever laying eyes on this guy before today-so how did he know her name?

"Yes?" She forced herself to be polite, while reminding herself not to freak out. Not yet, anyway. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

The blond man shook his head. He seemed embarrassed now. "No." He admitted quietly. '"My name is John Smith, I..."

"John Smith?"

Was this guy for REAL?

"Yes." He seemed to be getting slightly impatient now, and despite her determination not to panic, this situation was making her VERY uneasy. What the Hell did this guy want?

"Listen, Angie, you're in trouble-or, you're gonna be in trouble. Very soon."

"Okay, who the HELL are you?" Anger wasn't exactly the ideal emotion for Angie to be indulging in, but she couldn't help it. And to think, she'd presumed this guy was 'nice'.

"Please, I'm not trying to scare you." He sounded desperate now. And completely sincere. Angie was thrown again-she couldn't figure this guy out. "I'm a psychic, I want to help you. Do you know someone named David?"

The fact that this John Smith had just proclaimed himself a psychic didn't even register with Angie. She wasn't supposed to panic, or get in any kind of emotional state, because, well...bad things happened when she did. And unfortunately for him, he had said EXACTLY the thing to set her off.

She recoiled from him, desperately trying to keep her mind in order, but the mere mention of David... Johnny knew now that he had gone about this all wrong; Angie looked angry and terrified. But it wasn't just that.

The air had grown thick, as if with electricity-it was as if the whole atmosphere had been altered in some way. "Did he send you?" Angie shouted. She could feel control slipping from her grasp, but if this guy had anything to do with David, he probably deserved everything that happened to him.

Johnny was trying to protest his innocence, but he could feel something like a harsh wind whipping up around them. T he weird thing was, it seemed to be JUST around them. He was suddenly afraid himself-what was going on? He was so busy concentrating on Angie, that he didn't have time to avoid the tree that fell on him, knocking him unconscious.

Angie staggered back in shock, as people rushed over to the fallen man, trying to lift the tree off of him. One woman turned her accusatory glare on Angie. "What happened?" She demanded.

She'd done it again, she realized with numb horror. She had hurt someone else without really meaning to. For all he knew, this guy really HAD been on the level-but she wasn't sticking around to find out.

Turning on her heels, Angie turned tail and fled, all the while telling herself that Cleaves Mills was one place she would NOT be paying a return visit to...

(Next, Angie is persuaded to pay Johnny a visit, and the truth is revealed. Please R&R!)