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Claremont Academy

10:30 am, August 28th, 2019

Weather: Sunny, 77 F, Wind E 15-20 mph


The visitor's parking lot was packed. A sea of people bustled amidst vehicles and toward open, shining gates. Belongings, often with grunts of effort, were loaded onto carts. Laughter echoed from caravans trickling through the main entrance and the Quad. Hand-drawn signs pointed the way, each adorned with student messages. In time, the shadows of the twin dormitories provided respite to travelers.


Staff and peer counselors dotted the trail, assisting overwhelmed students on their journey. Vice-Principal Dugan was the first new face to arrivals. Her table near the gates kicked off the journey. Mr. Marquez wheeled the circuit and kept visitors on course. Mr Kuzkin and Ms. Harcourt paced about the Kord and Carter dorms, respectively. Their task, to organize the move-in, appeared to have some success. At the very least, weary travelers could partake of cold refreshments and treats outside the main doors.


While outside was organized chaos, the dorm halls were like herding cats. A din permeated the air. Dozens of students, parents, and guardians wandered in search of rooms. Boxes and bags transformed the hallways into obstacle courses. The excitement of new memories and old friends contrasted with worried hugs and goodbyes. If nothing else, the dorms were places of beginnings and endings.


What are you doing this beautiful day? Moving into the dorm? Helping new students?


Edited by Dariusprime
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At first, it sounded to the people in the dorm like the electronic dance music was coming from a P.A. system. But it grew noticeably louder when Ben Wang walked around the corner into the hallway. His hands were both full, carrying a double-stack of large plastic tubs. His shirt was lined on both sides with a series of metal-grommeted holes trailing under his arms to his waist, and four tentacles, in the same shade of brown as his skin, were poking out through some of the holes. Two of the tentacles each carried a portable speaker. Despite their size, just a few inches, the speakers were surprisingly powerful. He wore a smartwatch on his left wrist, which vibrated and flashed its notification light along with the music, as did the smartphone in his pocket. While his tentacles swayed back and forth and his head nodded in time to the music, he danced (badly) in a series of circles down the halls, spreading his movement more or less evenly between the floor, each wall, and the ceiling. He mostly seemed oblivious to the people around him, but as he passed by each person, the two free tentacles would momentarily take up the burden of his stack of plastic tubs, freeing up his hands to make a double "finger guns" gesture at them with an accompanying smile, whether he was upside-down at the time or not.


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Ashley and Judy Smith had already finished moving in - come to think of it, they'd been moved in before the beginning of day one last year too. Now they were sitting together on a bench outside the dorm halls. Judy was dressed up for the occasion in an outfit that wasn't terribly practical but was a lot of fun - a bright floral maxidress with a dark green color scheme. She fanned herself occasionally, though she couldn't feel the heat, the pattern on the fan matching the dress. This was going to be a tough day, so she'd made sure to dress up and damn the consequences - wasn't like she was going to sweat anyway. 


Ashley was sweating in her leather jacket and denim jeans, not that she was going to show it too much. She scanned the scene as students arrived, keeping an eye out both for new faces and for old ones. Some of the former she'd heard about already, some she was just going to find out about herself. All right, gotta get back in the mood. What did Watchdog do this summer? Nothing I did, that's for damn sure. 

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Forever Boy


Pan was moved in already. Ready to go and everything. It wasn't like he had anywhere else to live during the summer, aside from the trip to the Carribean, which had been quite exciting, so of course he was ready? Dressed in a pair of dark red shorts and a light green dress shirt with a loose white tie, he had been floating around outside, eagerly helping new students, pointing out directions, carrying things for those that needed help and shooting double finger guns back at the guy with the way too many arms as he passed him. Now that guy seemed like fun, he would have to find him again later.


Now outside, he was flitting around, seeing what else he could to do help when he spotted Ashley and Judy sitting on a bench. "Judy! Ashley!" he called out from across the field, quickly flying over to join. "How was your summer? Did anything exciting happen? Any adventures?" 

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"Classified," growled Watchdog from behind her dark sunglasses. She'd already found the secret that nobody at Claremont liked pushing enough to dig deeply if you were just unpleasant to them. 


"Oh don't be that way," said Judy, smiling at Pan. He was a very pretty boy, even if she was reasonably sure he didn't like girls. That would have made her uneasy a year earlier, but Claremont had taught her demons weren't in gay people - they were in old books, other dimensions, and lurking inside some superhumans. "Our summer was full of adventure, let me tell you. Ah actually...tried to do some things with my powers," she said, pushing the words out as if she half-expected to be judged for them, "and that was fun. And Ah learned how to knit!" She snapped her fan open again. "Ah got this at a thrift store where we were, Ah think it's real pretty. Have you seen Leroy?" she asked. 

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Pan stuck his tongue at Ashley as he floated by her upside down. "Now, now, no need for that. I am sure that you missed me just as much as I missed you, Watchpup!" He was teasing, of course. And he made sure to stay well out of Ashley's reach while he did so, remaining so while he turned to Judy again.


He still had some suspicions that there was something more to Ashley than she said. That whole thing with the Nicholson children and the dreamworld still felt recent, even if it had been more than half a year ago. He had not done much about it, but he had at least promised himself that he would try to keep an eye out for Ashley. He didn't think she was up to anything bad, but, he was eternally curious.


"That is amazing Judy, I am truly happy for you! And that is a pretty fan!" To hear about her actually using her powers? Now that was something, was it not? And knitting! And the fan! Having returned to an upright position, sitting in mid-air before the sisters, he could only shrug about Leroy. "Sadly, I have yet to spot our Dragon Prince, but if I do, I will tell him you are looking." He snapped his fingers, just remembering something. "I wonder if there will be any changes in the squads. New students, and all that." 


He made sure to still stay out of range of Ashley, just to be on the safe side.

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"Ah heard there are some interesting new people," agreed Judy. She flicked her fan closed, then open again, then folded it up and put it away in her purse - coming out after a few moments with a half-finished white cloth. She crossed her legs, looked up at Pan, and began knitting again. "So where did you go for summer?" she asked Pan. "Back home to your dimension?" she hazarded. "We couldn't exactly go back where we came from," she said tightly, "on account of the Grue and everything." 


Pan had the distinct feeling he was being eyed behind Ashley's sunglasses, but then she leaned back and artfully looked away.

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A small teenager emerged from the crowd. He was so short comparably that he seemed to appear out of nowhere. Unlike those alongside him, he was alone, and shuffled long with his head down. Trailing between him was a half-loaded cart with an electric guitar on top. Along with cargo shorts and once-white sneakers, the young man was wearing bulky headphones and a straw cowboy hat. A Neurosis t-shirt looked like the only relatively new item.


He stopped at the bifurcation of the sidewalk and gazed at each dorm in turn. Then he looked at an open binder in one hand. Then back up at the buildings. After a minute or so, he approached one of the dorms. Up close his eyes were darkly circled, and his round baby face was creased with worry. He flinched at every loud noise. For that matter, anytime someone used an electronic device.


He just sort of lingered there near the entrance. His eyes darted around, taking in the people and surroundings. He avoided eye contact. Calling his posture stiff or withdrawn was an understatement. Perhaps realizing his position, he made way for others and ended up by the water cooler. His mood brightened as he snagged a cup of ice water.

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Lulu had really appreciated all the guidance she'd received when she was a newbie to Claremont, so she was one of the first to volunteer to help this year's students. So she'd spent most of the morning providing directions, using her mental projections to create floating interactive maps and other visual aids to help the students find their rooms. It was fun, she got to show off a bit and meet new people, three things she enjoyed. Ever since she moved in with the Harrows her sense of style had become more and more sophisticated, but on a day like today she dressed for comfort in a pair of pink Nikes, pink and gray sweats and a Claremont baseball cap, as well as a pair of big sunglasses. Her hair was pulled through the back of her cap in a ponytail, and she bounced on the balls of her feet, eager to dart to whomever looked a bit lost. A clipboard was clutched firmly to her chest.


Heading inside to refill her water bottle, she spotted a sheepish looking young man by the water cooler whom she didn't recognize, so she sidled up to him and waved. "Hi, ah'm Lulu; ah'm part of the welcomin' committee." She looked down at her clipboard. "And you are...?"

Edited by Heritage
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Nick jumped at Lulu's introduction and shrank away. After a moment's hesitation, he seemed to relax a bit and returned the wave. The accompanying small smile didn't reach his eyes. He didn't reply, opening his mouth only to close it with a clack of teeth. So he waited.


Fidgeting with his cup, he pointed to his name on the clipboard as she passed it.


Nicholas E. Brown, 16, Junior; Assigned roommate: Claude Jergens, Kord Room 210; Notes: American Sign Language.


His face softened at reading, upside down even, the entry. After looking down in thought, he sat down his cup and gestured, "Cannot talk." His ASL technique was awkward and slow, but intelligible to those familiar. A shrug followed before he retrieved his cup.



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Coming down the same hall as Ben Wang, though from the opposite direction, was four adults and one teen.  The teen -- in jeans & a Claremont shirt -- was Davyd “Dayv” Palahniuk (aka Horrorshow), technically a returning student, though he'd joined Claremont in late April and so was still new to much of it. Immediately behind him were a bearded man and woman with short hair (presumably his parents), the former in bell bottoms & a tie-dyed tee, the latter in simple jeans & white tee.  Behind them were a man in a sunglasses and a tracksuit, brown with white stripes, and an elderly woman in a long green skirt, white shirt with red flowers embroidered on it, and a yellow kerchief on her head.


"... so I think my room's down this hall, and-"


"And just what kind of education are you going to be getting here, hrm?"


"Kateryna, we went over this, he's learning how to use his abilities."


"Yeah, yeah, but what about useful skills?  Job skills?  What kind of career can he train for here?"




Edited by Dr Archeville
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Claude dismounted from his scooter after parking in the student section of the Claremont lot and took his helmet off. Looks like I owe Selena one for suggestin' I get a student parking passthe Bostonian thought to himself after surveying the the crowd in the visitors section of the parking lot from behind his aviators as he secured his scooter and helmet with a lock. The weather was forecast to be relatively mild today (plus he did peek at the historical data, just in case), so Claude had elected to wear his usual attire of work boots, cargo pants, suspenders, and a well worn rock concert shirt covered with his racing jacket hanging loosely open. 


The teen watched bemused at families press-ganged into acting as Sherpas, overburdened with an excess of crap their kids probably didn't need. Juvie was good for some things, he mused privately to himself as he shouldered the single army surplus duffel bag that contained most of his belongings barring some things left at his sisters' apartment in Riverside. Claude leisurely strolled along as he passed families, students, and faculty as he navigated towards the Kord dormitory with help from the colorful signage that was near omnipresent everywhere he looked. Still, he was thankful for his sunglasses for allowing him to covertly surveil as he moved through the packed campus. A few interesting people caught his eye, namely the trio by the bench and especially the kid in a straw cowboy hat who was doing a serviceable impression of a deer in the headlights when confronted by a pretty young thing with a clipboard. Welp, found my roomie.


By mutual agreement Claude had been been ordered by Doc T and she of basilisk gaze, Headmistress Summers, to not use the repository for information on any student. Or provide information unless otherwise ordered. They had at least gave him quick dossier of his future roommate, Nick Brown, along with the permission from the Keepers to reveal his status to him. Made things much easier for him not having to explain things like why he smelled like ocean spray and gunpowder or why he was dressed like an extra from an age of sail movie at 3 AM in the morning. Miss Summers had also informed of Nicks' communication issues and had personally placed Claude with Nick since he could use the repository to learn ASL and teach it if need be. Claude moved over to the pair as Nick pointed at the clipboard and signed at the guide. 


"He just signed that he's mute." He said with an easygoing smile to the girl before addressing the pair with a lazy two finger salute with his unoccupied hand. "Yo! I'm Claude Jergens." 

Edited by Semi-Autogyro
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The redheaded telepath hadn't meant to spook the newbie, but she suspected some past trauma might have made him extra-jumpy.  The arrival of another new student proved helpful as well. "Oh, okay," she said with a nod as she put a check next to Nicholas' name; her accent placed her origins well South of the Mason-Dixon line. She turned back to the first student. "But you hear fine, right? And do you prefer Nicholas or Nick?" 


After noting his preference, she scanned down her clipboard until she found Claude's name, and put a check next to it as well. "Well, good mornin' to you, Claude; ah gotcha riiiight here." Then she looked at both of them and smiled, a big warm one. "So, just to reiterate, ah'm Lulu Beaumont. I'm a junior here at Claremont, and part of the welcomin' committee. Now I know y'all probably think you're a bunch of weirdos, but let me tell you, there's always someone weirder here at Claremont! It'll be tough at first; you might miss your home or your family, and there's a whole lotta strangeness under one roof, but you do get used to it."


Suddenly, she paused her spiel to look thoughtfully at Nicholas and bite her lower lip. "Uh, speakin' of strangeness...ah'm actually a telepath? And if you ever want, ah'd be happy to facilitate any sort of communication-" She drew a line in the air between her forehead and the silent teen's with two fingers. "Just so you know it's an option, okay? You just let me know."

Edited by Heritage
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Truth be known, Nick had a dossier on his roommate as well. Although the term was a bit generous. Ms. Summers had been cagey about the particulars. Primarily, it expounded on Claude having "special circumstances", and directed Nick to communicate with him sooner rather than later. For an inquisitive soul, that wasn't much to go on. Still if he had learned one thing about Claremont, the place was full of secrets. More concretely, Claude knew ASL. Which probably had something to do with the pairing. 


Thus his face lit up at the older teenager's arrival. He waved to Claude before turning to Lulu. He gave a thumbs up to her first question and shrugged at the second. As she started her speech, his eyes drifted around the area. He seemed to be listening, judging from his posture and face further relaxing. He even nodded at a couple of people in passing, and waved at the trio chatting by the bench. The efforts looked a little wooden, but probably meant he was giving it the old college try.


Lulu's change of tone drew his attention. The expression on his face was priceless: a mix of slack-jawed confusion and awe. He mouthed the word 'telepath'. Which elicited a noticeable tremor through the nearby window glass and ripples through the water cups. His mouth snapped shut, and he looked around with wide eyes.


With no obvious damage, he turned to his cart and dug through a backpack. Tablet and stylus in hand, he wrote out, "Good to meet you, Lulu, Claude. I am willing if you would like to please, thanks," and turned the screen toward them.


A handshake was offered to Lulu and Claude in turn. About halfway through shaking Claude's hand, his eyes drifted toward the dorm doors and the sound of dance music.

Edited by Dariusprime
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Pan was pretty sure that Ashley was eyeing him, at least he had a distinct feeling that he was, but then again, he had pushed for a reaction himself, so who was he to complain?


"Oh, yes, I saw someone with multiple arms crawling all over the hallway!" He clapped his hands at the thought, almost tilting his floating position. "No progress on finding a path that leads back home, even if more and more people from Neverworld seems to show up here." He held his hands up, signalling defeat. "But, I visited the Carribean with Lulu, Davyd, Adam and Veronica." He leaned in closer and whispered in an exaggeratedly secretive manner. "Did you know that there is something called catamaran ships? Veronica brought us to a huge one!" He was positively giddy at the memory of the Horizon.


 But something that Judy had mentioned piqued his interest, and with a bit of concern, he had to ask: "The Grue are a kind of aliens, are they not? What did they do?"

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"Invaded. Conquered. Took the Dawg, came here," sneered Watchdog. 


"But lots of Grue are actually nice," said Judy brightly, "Ah hear a couple are even superheroes now." 


Ashley made a skeptical noise, but offered no further commentary as Judy went on, "But we don't really like to talk about where we're from, because it's too dangerous," she said with great feeling. She sighed. "The Caribbean sounds awfully nice. Ah haven't gone any further south than Tampa and that was...seven years ago now. How big was the ship?" 

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Adam was a far cry from the skittish, self-conscious young man he had been this time last year. He walked taller, took longer strides, and generally exuded more confidence. He hadn't joined the welcoming committee, but he was going to volunteer to help take bags to rooms. He had already loaded his stuff into his room and was swinging back.


His face lit up when he saw Lulu, and he walked up. He stood, patiently, and winked subtly at his girlfriend. When there was a moment of silence, he motioned to the bags.


"Hey Lulu." He nodded to her, breaking out into a grin. "Hi, I'm Adam. Do you guys need help with anything? I'm just lending my services a...bit." He spotted the tentacled boy in the hall, blinked, and continued. "If not, no worries, I'm just gonna mingle."

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Judging by the quirk of his lips, Claude was very amused his future roomies reaction to the pretty telepath with the southern accent. He adjusted his duffel bag on his shoulder as he accepted Nicks' handshake, giving the quiet teen a hearty one in return.  The Bostonian did not miss the new arrival moving up beside their guide or the body language he displayed as he joined their little group. Ah. Enter the boyfriend. 


"Ey. I'm Claude. He's Nick." Claude jacked his thumb over his unoccupied shoulder to point at his roommate. 


 "Nah, thanks though. Only needed one bag for everythin'. You need anythin' there pally?"  Claude said as he turned to face Nick so he could read either the tablet or signs of his response.  

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Pan blinked a few times as he stared at Ashley. Had he somehow completely missed an alien invasion? How did he even miss that? He was about to ask more, he wanted to know more, but Judy's quick responses about the Grue maybe not being so bad made it kind of confusing, to be quite honest. Was this a new thing? Was it not? He didn't pay the most attention to everything that happened in the world at once, but maybe he should start?


He opened his mouth and was about to ask something when Judy said that they didn't like to talk about where they were from. He closed his mouth again, and nodded, his usual smile quickly returning. "Well, then I shall ask no further, as long as you are safe." 


He could He made a little flourish with his right hand, holding it palm up as an image of the Horizon appeared in his hand, quickly growing until it was about half the height of Pan, with small images of Veronica, Lulu, Davyd, Adam and Pan appearing on it, merrily sailing around on the otherwise stationary ship. "About this big! And yes, it was very nice. Reminded me of home, in a way."

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Nick joined Adam at blinking at the tentacled boy. He waved weakly before turning back to the group. He'd been listening. In fact that seemed to be a quickly noticeable habit. No matter how zoned off he seemed, he was still aware of them. Analyzing.


Up he looked at Adam, the over one foot height difference rather striking. He offered him the same handshake offered the others. But he didn't bother looking disappointed. Whatever enthusiasm he exhibited earlier was gone by the time he faced them. His face was the same uncomfortable neutral from which he started.


That wasn't anyone's fault really. His initial surprise had been as much from Lulu coming up beside him as anything else. Yes, a part of him was flustered at talking with a pretty girl. Pretty standard geeky teenager response, he mused, if a bit embarrassing. Moreover though, she seemed like a genuinely kind person, and Nick wanted friends like that. Perhaps in time.


Breaking off his musings, Nick nodded to Adam and Claude's offers of assistance. Without fanfare, he hefted up the guitar and amplifier and shuffled inside. All that remained were a large plastic tub and a backpack.

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A green Volkswagen Beetle fell out of thin air into an open spot, a young man in black and gold robes falling on top of it with a whump and a strangled yelp.


Two suitcases fell out of the air a second later, only to stop and slide to a more gentle rest at an irritated sweep of the boy's hand.


"What a disaster," he muttered, golden eyes glaring briefly up at the empty sky above him, "but at least I got back before..." he stopped dead, sliding off the car as he caught sight of Judy and Ashley already entering the grounds. Stamping a sandal back onto his foot, he swept the two suitcases onto his head and flew across the parking lot, landing deftly beside Pan. Setting the load down he swept the tangled curling hair out of his face and smiled quickly around the little circle. "Hello! Leroy here, so good to be back among my valiant comrades of Blue Squad!"


"Judy." He looked at the shorter girl earnestly "You are radiant even in your wrath. I need to tell you something. Do you have a moment?" He glanced at Ashley "Commander, would you mind terribly if Judy and I spoke in private?"

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Pan distinctly saw Ashley go for something at her belt at Leroy's sudden arrival, not the first sudden hand movement he'd seen from Ashley when startled. But when the moment passed, she raised her hands and said, "...all right, long as you don't go-" 


"..._no_." Judy was on her feet now, looking up at Leroy fearlessly despite their relative bulks. "Leroy Remilikun Ransom-Conte!" she declared with such volume that Ashley actually jumped, shooting an involuntary glance backwards at the open windows of the dorm behind them. "You may be a silver-tongued devil but you will not talk your way out of this with your sweet and honeyed words!" 


Ashley was not at all sure that described Leroy accurately but Judy seemed to mean it as she said, "You cannot just walk back into mah life like you have not been ignoring me for the length of an entire summer!" She poked him in the chest, on a roll enough that she missed the way her eyes were in fact distinctly beginning to glow with a faint, silvery phosphorescence. "Now Ah do not know if you were simply running around with some dragon princess back on that awful homeworld of yours, but you had better have yourself one hell of a good excuse before Ah ever let you whisper sweet words to me again!" 

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Micah had come back on-campus earlier in the day, once again packing fairly light, though mostly because he had had a couple of small boxes of stuff shipped ahead of time to save traveling room. He'd gotten half-unpacked when Pan had texted him to "go get some fresh air my good friend!", and he'd decided to follow that advice. He'd opted for a light jog around the campus, and then a stroll around the dorm building that let him wave greetings without talking. It really was a beautiful day...


And then he rounded a corner. First he saw Pan, and he smiled and started to wave at his roommate. He saw Ashley, and while his smile didn't wilt, it did weaken a bit; she still intimidated him. Even, or especially, when she was near Judy (which was all the time). The he saw Judy, and he started to smile a bit more!


Then Leroy was there and Judy was yelling. That was the point when Micah froze, assuming that right now, the agitated young woman's vision was based on movement. If he stayed perfectly still, maybe he would escape notice, and thus any bleed-over wrath. That had to work, right?

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Oh, Leroy was here too! And Micah too! Pan was still amazed at the smart phones, and all they could do. So much knowledge, in the palm of your hand! He was about to say something to Ashley when Judy made it quite clear that she was quite upset with her paramour! The ship he had conjured vanished in the blink of an eye as Judy began yelling.


Now, Judy was powerful when she dared to use her powers, that much was true, but Pan was quite sure that this was the first time he had actually seen the younger of the sisters furious. Somehow, the sight and the sound and the fury were just frightening. Without even thinking about it, Pan had moved away, floating over near Ashley, not really caring that he was within reach now. 


"I... do not suppose the two lovebirds have had a good summer?" he ventured.

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Leroy winced at the totally unfamiliar volume and intensity of Judy's brief tirade. Of the pair her boyfriend was usually the loud, blustering one. At her final question he swallowed hard, stood himself squarely and met her gaze. 


"N-no. I do not have one. Communication equipment was readily available and many people in the Skies would have happily helped me across the gap. But, there is a reason."


Looking 'round the little circle and at the passing students and parents, Leroy lowered his voice. "Since I returned home, mother started talking about how I should get married, presumably so my wife can kill anyone else who attempts to kidnap me..." Catching sight of Micah he impatiently motioned the weather-controller closer "Thunder, now is not the time for hangdog skulking."


"For the last months," he resumed with a grimace, "I have been going to absurd parties hosted by my terrible cousins who keep heads and the cousins who make up religions. As well, I have been trying and largely failing to make my mother understand I do not wish to wed. I am younger than she was when she was packed off to her horrible first husband, but she refused to listen until I started talking you up, Dee."


He took a long breath, despite not needing to breathe at all "So now she only agreed to let me come back so long as I promised to date nobody else, and invited you back to Earth-2 so you both can meet."


He smiled, almost shyly "And I was not making an idle comment, you really do look lovely in green." His smiled died "Judy, if you would rather never see me again for this, but say so and I shall obey. You have many sorrows and sources of pain, for me to add to them is monstrous. I truly wish for you to be happy, but if I am an obstacle to that..."


"Judy, if you will give me another chance, I will not fail you."

Edited by Ari
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