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"Ashley is my bodyguard," said Judy, glancing back at her for a moment and getting a quick nod. "Ah was..." She licked her lips, then said, "When Ah came here, Ah was scared all the time - Ah had never been in a place where everyone looked so different, and acted so different, and where everybody had superpowers. If she hadn't pretended to be my sister and actually gotten me talking to people and joining clubs and things, Ah don't know if Ah ever would have been brave enough to talk to anybody," she admitted. "And that would have been awful." 

 

"I actually went to Claremont about ten years ago," added Ashley. "Didn't do the costumed hero thing, though," she said with a tight smile. "That made things easier." 

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"Well, I am glad you did," Pan agreed with Judy's statement. "It is much more fun to be a part of everything instead of locked away, is it not?" He looked over at Ashley. "Still, that explains a lot of things."

 

He seemed to think it over for a moment. "Are you sure that you are actually aging then, Ashley? You seem to have everyone here fooled."

 

And another thought struck him. "Danica already knows. Is there anybody else?"

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"Everyone here is very nice and very considerate," said Ashley with a small shrug. "People have enough of their own secrets that they don't go digging around into other people's." 

 

"Leroy knew," said Judy sadly, "and so does Mia. Ah was worried when he left, but he's a good boy, he's not going to tell. There were other people Ah've thought of telling..." She looked away, thoughts of Micah and Corinne in her head, then said, "But that's it. There are people here who it just wouldn't be safe to tell. Who just be too careless,  one way or another." She looked at Danica and impulsively hugged the tortoise-girl, her skin as usual fever-hot against Danica's. "That's why Ah'm just so grateful for having really good friends." 

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Danica hugged Judy back. "You don't have to worry about us, we're not going to tell anybody. I didn't even tell my parents, and I tell them just about everything!" She grinned over at Pan. "Ashley's like, almost as old as I am in real years, but she has to work hard to make herself look young. But she makes sure Judy doesn't get into any more trouble than anybody else around here gets into, or get into trouble because of who her dad is." 

 

That brought her attention back to Judy. "So you're going to have to go out campaigning and stuff this summer, right?" 

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Judy gave Danica a pained beauty-queen smile - that faded after a moment to a grimace. "Yes, well...when you're running on protecting family values, it's important to show you protect your family." She shot Ashley a look, getting a slight but encouraging nod from her bodyguard, and said softly, her voice almost a stutter, "not...not much family protection going on if you ask me, Ah mean, it's just Ashley 90% of the time." She bit her lip and looked away. 

 

"I have good genes," said Ashley with a shrug. "It helps that a lot of people have been ruined by all those TV shows where people my age were cast to play teenagers. Even so - people don't look closely at Claremont. Sometimes it's annoying but it's saved our bacon a bunch of times." 

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