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Bonfire with Vanity


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7:00 PM, December 2nd..

Amir al-Misri's beachfront mansion.


Nestled into the Northbank was the nameless mansion-slash-semi vacation location of Amir al-Misri.  For thanksgiving weekend he had loaned it to his daughter, Corinne Conrad, so she and her friends from school could have a beach bonfire party.  Something he was told that the kids in the Northeast part of the states (and Jersey!) did.  He had no first hand knowledge of such, but it was sort of the thing right?


Corinne didn't know any better herself, but figured a party might smooth things over with some people who had bad first interactions.  She also didn't assume, saying she had food and such, but people could bring what they want, if they wanted.  Right now, though, she was tending to the bonfire she had started, and make sure that there was nothing near it that could start a fire, and she had built a fire pit around it (with judicious use of power, as well as shaped the sand into benches around it).


She expected Hannah to show, maybe others.  She had opened the invitation to anyone she had classes with.  Even Jann, though it wasn't handed to him.  She... well there still issues there.  Wasn't there?


There were some event tents set up nearby to sort of make it a cozy affair to shield against inclement weather.  They had their own heaters in them, along with most amenities.

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Naomi Suleiman (alias the superheroic Waverider) had quietly arrived, as she normally did. She didn’t say anything (obviously), but instead simply sat down by the fire. She greeted Corrine with a wave. They hadn’t spoken very often after their first meeting. There was that whole…”hero” thing that loomed between them. Naomi didn’t expect people to put on tights and save the day, even if they had powers. There was nothing wrong with wanting a normal life without stopping robberies or braving burning buildings. She genuinely respected the decision either way it was made, even if she fell on the other side of it from Corrine. But text was frustratingly limited at conveying such subtlety. So, she just sat there and looked at the fire.

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Never one to refuse an invitation Alexander Lloydd had swung by one of the mini-marts between his home and the address he'd been given to pick up a bag or two of mega-mallows and a few multi-packs of full fat, Ice Cold Soda jostling merrily in the Storage of his bike.


It was nice to have somewhere to go for once, not that he ever let it stop him from just gearing up and getting on his bike to drive around but it always felt like he was taking a extended sojourn into nowhere that just set him back in gas money, so yeah, it made a nice change of pace to have somewhere to go and something to do.


Presenting his slightly crumpled invitation to the gate camera and parking up somewhere he felt fairly sure his beloved motorbike wouldn't get in anyone's way he took a brief moment to remove his helmet and gloves,and let the wind cool him back down before hoisting his multi-packs against his chest and grasping his marshmallow offerings firmly in the other hand and making his way towards the sound and smell of the crackling bonfire.


He wasn't much longer for Claremont, not only was he rapidly approaching graduation but at the same time his intrests had dwindled in continuing his studies there, instead only to eager to begin his apprenticeship at his fathers construction company and get back to one of his earliest interests in Ernest.


That said he had made friends there, real, true friends who he could and would be relying on for the rest of his life when the need arose and he saw nothing wrong with enjoying a little bit of quiet friendly downtime with them and another potentially close friend.


"Hey folks, sorry I'm a bit later than I said, thought I should stop off on the way and bring a little something." he says shaking the packaging a little for emphasis "Thanks for inviting me, by the way, Corinne." he added as he set his cargo down on the ground nearby a chair he intended to occupy "anyone want a soda or a marshmallow?"

Edited by Exaccus
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Corinne had been building something of a rep at school.  Given the shifts between her and Zenith.  That one time where she grew in size of a small building and smacked one of the Brohort down, that she seemed to put away more food that anyone else, and was the only one currently on campus who unabashedly, and unironically, wore a tutu around.  The willowy ex-Cali bohemian seemed to be everywhere, at once.


Which was not known to be a part of her powerset.  Though, random bits of artwork, some of which might be impossible on a technical level were things she had left around campus.  Mostly paintings, some sculptures.  And the knitting.  The knitting.


Though, she was affable, and had projected her intent that she was going to Julliard when don't and didn't see herself as a hero, even if it meant she played catch-up trying to recover points lost in the exchange.


As for everything, the house was largely closed up, though the garage was mostly empty for other students cars, and such.  She figured people would carpool, or like, fly... or something.


Right now those, she moved along the tiki torches, wearing a bit, heavy knit cream colored sweater, and a pair of black fleece leggings.  Though the tall blonde was without shoes despite the creeping chill.  A scarf around her head to keep her hair from her face.  Surprise was written on her face when she say Naomi.  She hadn't expected her here.  In all honestly, she wasn't sure anyone would be, but some had left ambiguous reactions that she wasn't expecting them to be here.  She lifted her hand to start to say hello to Naomi, before Alexander sort of came in on her, and she blinked those big blue eyes, and she stepped back on her heels as he approached her.  She smiled brightly, relaxing the severe expression she had normally.  "Hello Alex!  Oh!  Wait!"  She turned and pulled out her phone to tap on something, so the music system would start to play a song, while she turned to grin at him.

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Alexa tried to convince herself that what she was doing was all right.  There was a party happening which many of the Claremont students were going.  She had been invited!  It would be just like the movies.


Well, that is... if invited had meant casually breaking into someones phone and finding the email, then forwarding it to herself.  That was close enough.  Probably.  Maybe.  


She could hear the music coming from around the bend.  She was dressed properly, short dress, high heels, light makeup.  From her mirror, she could almost believe she was going to play a part in a teen drama.  Which effects would make that the best.  There would have to be a massive soundtrack, the shot would have to be claustrophobic with hundreds of extras pressing together dancing and making a mess of wherever they were.  She paused, was she an extra or a star?  That was a really good question.  The star would wear the dress she's wearing, but did she really want to stand out?  I mean, she was invited, kind of, sort of.  Still, a gem was not polished without effort nor was a person perfected without trials.  It was the sort of thing that her mother would say, which was the last person she wanted to be thinking about right now.  


"Be someone... ," she whispered and walked up to the small gathering smothering her fears and letting just a little of the joy of being at a party spill out.

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Naomi smiled and stood up. Her attire was simple as usual. Skirt, tights, blouse. Sensible shoes. Coat. And a small duffle bag. She didn’t have that instinctual reaction to music anymore, but she did appreciate a good beat. She approached Cori and Alex, writing on her notepad. [You reminded me.] She opened the bag, and the odor of fresh baked cookies wafted out. [Mom sends me cookies sometimes. These are oatmeal raisin.] She took them out and placed them on a table holding other sweet things. [I don’t know if anyone will like it, but Grandma sent me too much.] She pulled out another dish, emptying the bag. It was white, and jiggled a little as she put it down. [Payasam. Rice and milk pudding with cashews and raisins.] A moment, and then she wrote a little more. [I like raisins. They’re my favorite.]

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Hannah had been nervous, as always, but this was Corinne. She knew most of the people that were going to show up, so that was good, right? That and if she wanted to retreat, she was sure there was somewhere in the house she could go where nobody would bother her. If she needed to step away, she knew Corinne would understand. She was more comfortable, she reasoned, than she'd been before Claremont. Stronger, she felt. Wasn't sure if she was strong enough, but progress was progress.


Her outfit consisted of a loose, if stylish blouse and a pair of jeans. She was grateful for the more flattering clothes, too. Now that she wasn't wearing so many hand-me-downs she felt more comfortable. 


She gave Corinne a soft smile as she approached the fire quietly. She figured Corinne would say something when she would. Hannah was not one for bringing attention on herself. 

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"ooh that is a funky song there Corinne." he says bopping a little bit to the beat and the slightly askew lyrics "Makes me think of crazy river a little...not by the same guys is it? Not much of a ear for music." he explains before his attention is stolen by Naomi approaching with her notebook.


"oh sweet i love oatmeal and raisin, My ma's a big fan of the rocky road brownies so they tend to be the usual baked good." he responds after carefully reading Naomi's notes and gratefully accepts one one of the offered cookies "help yourself to a soda if you like Naomi and marshmallows too, when i heard there was Gonna be a bonfire i couldn't resist!" he says a little excitedly at he pops the cookie into his mouth and crunches it between his teeth.


with Alexa appearing on the scene he put his mouth over his face to prevent himself from instinctual greeting her and spraying cookie everywhere and instead opted to wave with his free hand and beckon her over as he thickly swallows his mouthful.


"Awful nice of you to invite the firsties, Corinne; Good stuff." he says in an almost whisper "Big Step in the right direction." he adds assuringly.

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Jann had of course heard of the invitation. It was hard not to, considering ow much it had spread around. He hadn’t been directly invited, one of the few people not to, from what he understood. Corinne had avoided him ever since he’d returned after his trip home. He didn’t entirely understand why, but he was not one to change the situation. If she did not want to interact, he had no reason to. It was her choice after all.


Still, many people he knew went. And most he knew from outside the school seemed to be busy, either at a concert he did not care for or spending time with newly acquired mates. So as he spent the entire day figuring out what he’d do in the evening, the options disappeared, until the party was the most reasonable one left. It was a spontaneous decision, seeing as how the other thing he’d planned fell through as he already was halfway there.


He could make a good impression, from what he knew about beach parties certain things were always welcome. So after getting back to the academy, and a quick detour to the store, he travelled onwards.


Jann just suddenly dropped out of the sky, as he was one to do. He kept his distance from the fire and gave Corinne a quick nod, before turning his attention elsewhere. He was dressed reasonably normal, a Claremont Varsity Vest and Cargo pants. And he was carrying multiple plastic bags, which he set down onto the ground. Closer inspection revealed fireworks in one, and cans and red cups, in bulk, in the other.


He’d also brought his notepad, and wrote his message down, for all to see while also saying it, as he approached Naomi. “Have brought various objects. “

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Alexa had just managed to get to the periphery of the party when Jann came falling out of the sky.  Now that is how to make an entrance, she thought to herself as she quietly infiltrated the edge of the party.  It wasn't really sneaking, it was more moving to edges and seeing what was going on.  She had assumed that she had succeeded until Alexander beckoned her over.  So much for her skills at covert operations.  Still, she had come to a party, which was a first for her, so she flashed him a toothy smile and walked over.  Her short red dress seemed a little out of place, but not scandalously so and she liked how it fit as she stepped up to him.  At least it was someone familiar that had called her out.


"Hello," she said.  "it's good to see you again.  I was... invited, so I'm really glad to be here."  Of course, she wasn't the best at lying and she hoped the flush on her cheeks was interpreted for anything else. 

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Corinne was not a terribly complicated person, ads far as her own self-image might be.  She liked dancing.  She liked food.  She liked music and art.  She would say she wasn't petty, unless you were Bombast (formerly Bombast) from the Brohort.  His point of view, and the Next Gen's, might be a bit biased, one upset that she turned into the size of a small skyscraper and told him 'f*** off' in no uncertain terms, the other seeing her as a spacey cadet bohemian who didn't fit quite their ideas.  Not that the former was unfriendly with her.  Or that wasn't trying to match the ideals they espoused, she simply wasn't fond of the prospect of being a hero.


It didn't help that her plans, her ideas, her dreams, and even her sense of self got uprooted hard.  Or how her powers played out.


However, there were few things she got from Amir (besides borrowing the house).  One, her height, though she now loomed over her father.  Even if slightly.  Secondly, she was a social animal despite some protestations if asked.  She thrived on a crowd.  She was getting on, and she was smiling, all big and bright as everyone showed up.  "Well thank you both!  Go ahead in the tent and put the food there!  Hi again Alexeses!"  And when Alexa indicated that she had been invited there was not a hint that Corinne thought else ways.


Now she did surge to her friend. and threw her arms around Hannah, and lifted her up in a big bear hug.  "Heeey!"  Swinging her around, and then setting her down, in a pirouette than ended with her high arabesque, bent at the waist, the other leg high and stretched out back.


Then Jann arrived, in a gust, and before she could say something he moved to where the other stuff.  All kinds of food and drinks, though no alcohol.  And nothing else, she didn't know anyone, and she didn't feel comfortable asking anyone for a hook up, the last thing she needed was something on her record or anything.  "So..."  She trailed off, and straightened, ".. if anyone wants anything to eat, I got regular and vegan options.  Though, I recommend you try the guac I made, but it's spicy, so be careful!"

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Nicole emerged from the garage looking a little harried though she had attempted to clean up for the party. She had a clean dress on and her hair was combed, but her pupils were dilated from caffeine and she moved erratically as if distracted. Her fingers twitched as if something was missing but they had not yet registered the loss. She yawned and rolled herself to the washroom, noting the things which caught her interests. Even in the beach portion of the estate, the rooms were filled with reminders of the wealth of the owner.


Paintings, books, electronics and gadgets. There was a painting by a Geraldine Newman and Nicole could imagine and appreciate how much effort it took to fill the life-sized canvas.


From all the voices she could hear to her left, more people were coming and mingling. It wasn't her greatest idea of the best night out but she'd made do with parties before and it she needed the distraction. She peeked through the open doorway and frowned slightly at the scene. She could match the faces with the names but that was different than engaging them in conversation all at once.


She went inside anyway and moved to get some coffee. Her hand grasped reflexively and found air instead of her phone. It's absence was annoying and she sighed in resignation. At least she still had coffee and Corinne's song was something good. If anything, Nicole could always trust her playlist.

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Well he wasn't as late as he thought apparently! all these people turning up after him...or maybe he was just the earliest late person? Not that it mattered.


Having had his little chat with Corinne and seeing her run off to greet Hannah he opted to go pick up a soda, maybe it would make people feel more comfortable about taking one of the packaging was opened and he was actually thirsty from his long ride in the brisk winter air and the crackling heat of the bonfire both.


Missing almost entirely the exchange between Jann and Corinne he turned back around to see her  announcing that she'd be bringing out the food as another person he didn't recognize arrived, it would be rather rude of him to not greet jann so he wandered over his way first.


"Yo, Jann!" he called  out as he made his way over "Its been a while buddy; Holding up ok?" he asked earnestly as he presented a unopened can of ice cold soda to his buddy before taking a swing from his own. "heard you headed home for a while, Everything cool there?"

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A few people Jann had not, or only barely, seen before were attending. While it would not be obvious to most people, it meant he did not let down his guard the way he usually would at social gatherings. He carried himself around the place with swift movements, always making sure his back was not turned towards any single person for too long. While there were some people he could trust, it would be too obvious what he was doing otherwise. Of course, Corinne had also mentioned food, including some, that, according to her, was “spicy”. It was a clear challenge, one that Jann would have to pick up on later.


He made his way across to Alex, and positioned himself in a way he was facing most of the group. “Have been continuing regular schedule, do not have much to add. Have any circumstances changed for you? Have brought various things one supposedly enjoys at these gatherings.  


There was no reason to talk about home right now. The less he had to deal with it, the better.

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"not really much up here either buddy." he says with a sigh "though no news is good news right?"  a rhetorical question all in all but still one he'd be curious to hear Jann's opinion on "glad to hear things are ok with you though."


"awful nice of you to bring some stuff bud, lemme tell you, its appreciated by anyone when they're hosting a thing like this, barbeques especially."spying over the objects jann had brought he felt himself smile as he caught sight of the fireworks. "aaah...now those bring back memories...of me exploding into pretty colours!" he says with a laugh "Oh hey you ever had roasted marshmallows before? I brought some with me and the soda of course." he began as he turned a little bit to observe the group.


"Its nice to see so much of claremont out and about together....im gonna miss this place when i graduate..." he adds softly, not wanting to steal any of the good cheer from the environment with his solemn statement "though we all gotta leave the nest sometime huh?" giving a gentle bump of his elbow to his avian friend, a gentle jest.

Edited by Exaccus
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[I will, too.] Naomi had shown that page to both Jann and Alex. [High school will be over soon. It’s sad.] She had one of Alex’s sodas, but not a cup. She sipped it softly. [The real world isn’t as accepting as Claremont. It’ll be harder.] She’d been really thinking about it. She’d applied to her chosen colleges already. She did have her dream of law school, after all. [But we can do it. Have you tried a cookie, Jann? My mom made them.]

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Fate of course was a cruel mistress.  Alexa had thought that Alexander had waved her over to say hi, but had immediately turned as she started over to speak with Corinne and Jann.  She stood near the food feeling very out of place and stranded in the middle of the party.  He must have been waving at someone else, she thought to herself as she tried to cover the social gaff by pretending to look over the snacks and food people had brought.  Which, she realized, was probably pretty rude of her to crash the party and not have brought anything along.  On the positive side, the music was good if unfamiliar to her and for the moment, she thought she would hover near the food and see what was going to happen.

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Hannah couldn't help but laugh as Corinne snatched her up. She was embarrassed, of course, and nervous, but Corinne's attitude and friendliness made her feel safer, even though she was out of school. She took a soda and gave a grateful nod before sipping it lightly. She tried to avoid huddling in on herself like she was wont to do at events like this. These were friends, or acquaintances. Everyone here was someone she knew. She resisted the urge to retreat, and just watched everyone talk and enjoy themselves.

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Alex felt the solemness of his imminent graduation turn from bitter to bittersweet in his mouth as he heard and read what his friends thought and felt about it, it was nice to know that things would carry on even if they changed, though that was in essence what life was all about really, wasn't it?


Scanning the crowd and spotting Alexa hovering near the food however brought him soberly back to reality "Oh dang sorry Alexa, totally lost track of you there come over here and meet some of my friends here." he says once again gesturing "grab yourself a soda." he adds sheepishly.


"got a bit distracted, Jann here is one of the guys from my year ya know? been away at his home, reccently just flew back in, sure you saw." he adds "this is naomi, we fought zombies together in the first year, boy was that messy huh?" he says directly too her "Was scrubbing my and showering for weeks before i got the smell out completely." he laughs as the memories flood back to him.


"hannah here, i don't have the pleasure of knowing to well i believe, which is something to rectify, pleasure to meet ya hannah." he says with a raise of his can in toast


"We got in a fight with a rival school one time, they crashed our prom, things uuh escalated pretty quickly." he adds "take my advice Alexa, this is the place you make the friends you'll be able to rely on for the rest of your life." he says solemnly "Don't be afraid to push a little when it comes to blockheads like me, I for one appreciate a reminder now and again."

Edited by Exaccus
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Alexa started to stammer a reply, "you are not a..." then she stopped, realizing that he was not being literal about it.  She gave Naomi a wide smile, expecting the speedster to blink off some where before she could react.  To Jann and Hannah, she waved, "hello.  It's very nice to meet..."  However, anything else she was going to say died on her lips as she looked at Jann's large wings.  While the students at Claremont were varied, they usually were mostly human looking and while Jann was close, his Wings and Talons definitely set him apart from many of them.  


More important, she was relieved. She had been starting to doubt her plan and not going with at least one other person had seemed to be more than a little mistake.  It was nice to be with someone she had already met, and meeting people was always good, no matter how different they were.  Listening to his stories her grin increased, "zombies and rival schools?  Sounds exciting, although I'm not sure I want to ever have my hands on something dead.  That just doesn't really seem right.  Do they really stagger and groan and eat brains?"

Edited by BlazingCoconut
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They all offered him food. Lots and lots of good food, something he could not pass up on. Then he remembered back to not too long ago. The pain, the weakness. All because he had gotten careless, a lesson to how weak he’d gotten from just one year. His master knew how to leave an impact. Before, Jann had known nothing else. It had been why Claremont had been difficult for him.


With a rare show of emotion (something even people who spent a lot of time around Jann only caught happening once every few weeks), he frowned, before declining. “Appreciate these offerings, but will have to decline. “ He, as always, made sure to write it down too.


He commented on Alex’s previous statement, having now returned to his stoic expression. “No news simply means the ones making them can keep quiet.” And with that, he wandered off, back towards where he’d originally arrived. “Will bring something. “


On the way there, he took a quick detour, moving over towards Corinne and Hannah. If she offered him food it was different. She had been clear in her intentions, and she had no need to rely on subterfuge. “Greetings, Hannah.” Then, he turned his attention towards Corinne. “You have mentioned spicy guac. Wish to test my fortitude against it, should that be possible. “

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Corinne didn't feel any solemness.  She didn't have to practice, and she was in the stupid doom room today.  So it was a good day, a lazy day.  Despite her dilettante appearance, derived from her various interests, she was only semi-flighty.




She switched her hug on Hannah, into platonic side hug, her long arm around her shoulders, and she canted her hips to bump against hers, in a silly sort of expression.  Corinne tended to near tackle Hannah most every time she saw her.  Almost, kinda, sorta.  It was more awkward in their room.


There was an indelicate cough, as she spoke loudly, clearly, to address the group here.  "So ground rules! Which I thought I put out, I guess it's fine if you drink, but if you do, you can't leave until tomorrow.  There is space in the house to crash, stuff if locked up, and if you wreck it, you get to deal with my father, I don't really know him so, I don't think I can puppy eye you out.  Also no smoking indoors, and if you get sick clean it up, or ask me to.  And be careful around the fire, we do have extinguishers, or you can run to the water, but I don't recommend that."


She gave Hannah's shoulder's a squeeze, before she let her go, Corinne's face getting a bit severe, as she moved towards Jann.  Tension staring to form between them, thick enough to be comparable to concrete.  And with Corinne being who she was, that could very much be a possibility.  She lifted an arm and pointed towards a bowl, that had chips around it.  "I made it myself, I roasted jalepenos and garlic to put in it."  The green stuff looking inviting in it's red bowl.  "There is a less spicy version there..."  She pointed to a blue bowl on the other side of food, and then she took a chip and moved to scoop some of the spicy up, and popped it into her mouth.

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Alex listens to the ground rules carefully, it was after all someones home they were in, well one of them anyway; it would've been rude to talk over her or ignore them especially when she was stood right infront of him.


"No Problem Corinne, I don't drink, well, not alcohol anyway." he adds hastily, forgetting that in his present company such a statement might be taken literally.


watches with bated breath, utterly drawn in by the tension, he knew them both moderately well, Jann personally, Corinne by reputation, what they could do ontop of that, or at least some of it anyway, he'd step in of course, for whatever that mattered if it did come to blows but thankfully it didn't and with a silent sigh he relaxes back.


"So Alexa, you were telling us you're from china originally right; What is it like there?" a brisk change of conversation perhaps  but not only did he feel a change of subject be good for the situation but he was in truth generally curious, having never been outside the states in his life "good opportunity to get to know each other a little bit if we ask some questions of each other  Right? don't be shy now."

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Alexa listened to the rules, which did not seem in line with anything she had ever seen in a movie, but perhaps there was cultural subtexts that she didn't understand.  Still, rules were something that she implicitly understood and frankly fit in with her worldview, which tended to absolutes, anyway.  Still there were more than a few scenes which flitted through her head from Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink along with American Pie that made her wonder if this really was an American teen party or not.  She'd have to do some research to find out.


"I think there is a lot that is different from here," she said.  "We are not supposed to see certain types of information that the government deems inappropriate.  It's nice not having to dodge censors and firewalls.  I think students work harder at home and we don't seem to focus as much time in making sure people are entertained.  I mean, there's social media and some stuff like that, but most of my um... friends... spend 5-6 hours a day doing school work even on Saturday and Sunday.  The party has done a very good job and things seem to keep getting better, so it's hard to complain too much.  I think I was one of the lucky ones who had a computer from when I was young."


She thought a little bit more about it.  "We have some good shows, but it's a lot of goofy reality stuff or dubbed things from Hollywood.  I kind of thought that this party would be more like the movies..."

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Jann didn’t say anything, instead opting just to nod. He went on to also take a chip and scoop up some of the spicy guac, doing his best afterwards to keep up his stoic expression. A thing that became more difficult as he remembered that he still hadn’t entirely readjusted to the flavour of food in Freedom City, one much stronger than what his home usually offered.


Afterwards, he went outside, returning inside with one of the bags he’d brought with him, and placing the various cans – anything from soda to beer – on a counter, putting the stack of red cups next to them. Adding onto that was a piece of paper ripped out of his notebook, Free to Take. I have also brought stronger, ask if interested – Jann


And with that, he returned back to Alex, listening into the conversation without adding much. He did not know what the two of them were talking about, but he did not have much to exchange with Corinne or Hannah at this point.

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