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Claremont Academy, Freedom City

3PM, February 14th, 2020


The being came from the stars, far beyond Earth. Travelling on the interstaller waves and cosmic light, it soared towards the Earth, beyond Jupiter, past Mars, a line of invisble light going past the Moon. If anyone tracked it, if anyone could even keep up with the ray of light as it headed towards the Earth, it would become clear that it was heading towards one particular academy in one particular city.


The weather was nice. Sunny, slightly warm for February, a few clouds on an otherwise clear sky. Classes had ended early for once, something about someone having gotten to the PA systems, and it had sounded very much like Headmistress Summers announcing that classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Before anyone figured otherwise, the chaos was too great, and the teachers decided to just let the students have the day. Everyone was young and in love at some point, after all.


Which was just what the being was after. A place full of young, brave, beautiful heroes. What better place to find someone worthy of its full, undivided, cosmic love?

Edited by RocketLord
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Valentine's Day had not been one of Micah's favorite holidays....basically ever. When he was really young, it was just weird. When he started to notice girls, it became truly awkward. He'd had a few fleeting crushes in his day. Nothing serious. Now, though....


Now he found his heart still yearning for a girl who barely noticed him, engaged to a prince from another world who wouldn't know hardship if it hit him in the face. Some guys had all the luck.


'What would you say if you were sitting here with me, Dad? What do I do?'


As he sat there on the rooftop he'd come to enjoy as his little hideaway, Micah picked up his guitar and strummed it a couple of times. Satisfied with his instrument's state, he began to play a tune and sing under his breath. 


"I try my best to hide this lowdown' feelin', I try make believe there's nothing wrong..."

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Elizabeth walked out of the classroom building with her phone out and a frown so deep that snow-white eyebrows were threatening to overtake her nose. Two cancelled dates - not one, but two, on Valentine's Day, all while she'd been in class. Two! More than one, which was more than zero, which was less than acceptable. What were they going to do instead?


Probably date each other, actually. She stopped mid-step on that, checking the timestamps on the text messages. That was kind of adorable, and she'd hoped that they would, but she'd also hoped that she'd get at least a couple fun dates out of them before setting them up, and now they'd jumped ahead of the script and that wouldn't do at all and she was going to be mad about it because she had every right to, darn it, and so there.


So she wore her frown and hummed a cheery tune and tried to figure out what she was going to do with her day now that she couldn't have fun casual dates or play matchmaker.

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"Aw, don't be so down, sweetie." Micah didn't notice someone coming, it was almost like she was just suddenly there. She was maybe a year or two older than him, with long dark hair tied into a pair of long braids that reached past her shoulders. The woman looked like she might even be Cherokee. She wore worn blue jeans, with holes at the knees, a tight tan jacket that did little to hide her form. She smiled widely, leaning down over Micah to get a good look at his guitar. A pair of aviator's goggles hang from around her neck, and if Micah got a look from behind her, he would see a large image of a classic Supermarine Spitfire from World War 2. 


"You're too good lookin' to be feelin' this down, how about playin' somethin' a bit happier? Got any favorites?"


Micah might not have noticed anything, the woman was just suddenly there. Elizabeth, on the other hand, had managed to look up just in time to see a quick flash as a ray of light struck down from the sky and reached the roof Micah was sitting on.

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Micah was actually dumbstruck for several moments, his singing trailing off as his hands went limp on the guitar. He stared at the amazing young woman in front of him, and he just blinked for several long moments.




It took him almost another minute to be more articulate than that, but he was able to finally stop his impression of a fish. 


"Yeah! I've, uh, yeah. Hang on."


His hands adjusted on his instrument, and he started playing a much more lively tune. His voice rang out again, not full volume, but definitely louder, and a bit more upbeat.


"Once upon a time not so long ago, Tommy used to work on the docks..."


Inside his mind, a part of Micah was restless. Something felt wrong. But most of him felt so right, because finally a girl was really paying attention to him! Down below, Elizabeth would notice that the sky seemed to become even brighter and clearer than before. However, a strange breeze was picking up, just a bit. For now, it barely moved the leaves on the ground, few that they may be. But the direction didn't seem quite natural...

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Well, that had promise, and even more as she got closer to the building. Mystery lights and music seemed like entertainment, or at the very least, mischief; she was fairly certain that students weren't supposed to great shows of power quite that flashy, since you never knew who would be looking across the bay at the school. The whole Krampus situation had been a heck of a thing, after all, and the teachers put a lot of value on a low profile.


She tapped a sneaker's toe against the ground as she judged distance, squared her shoulders, and stepped forward, flickering from the ground to the rooftop's edge in as graceful a motion as she could manage. She didn't get to flex her teleportation much; she really ought to spend more time with it in the gym, and resolved to do so as she tried to fix her balance.


"Aha! You are going to be in so much trouble if you can't...convince...?" She trailed off, accusatory finger deflating as she looked at the...pilot? "I have no idea who you are. Friend of yours, Micah?"

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"Aw, that's great!" she said, listening to Micah playing and singing, before she started singing along. Her voice seemed captivating, beautiful, a perfect match for Micah's, it seemed. Leaning in close, she placed a hand on his shoulder as she sang. Her hand felt warm, as she lightly caressed Micah.


She stopped singing, but didn't pull away from Micah, when Elizabeth appeared. She smiled at Elizabeth and shook her head. "Oh, hello. Nice to meet you." Her grip on Micah tightened, just slightly. "I'm Alice. We were just having som fun, I hope that's alright?" 

Edited by RocketLord
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Micah smiled at Her, and continued to play, singing softly. She was really something. It felt like he was sitting on a cloud right now, and he ought to know! 


He heard Elizabeth walk out and say something, bot for several moments, he didn't seem to acknowledge her. Then Alice stopped singing and greeted her. Micah blinked, noticed his fellow student, and slowed his playing while his singing trailed off. He turned and gave Elizabeth a big, beaming smile.


"Hey there Elizabeth! Yeah, me and Alice were just enjoyin' the weather and the music."


He laughed and blushed a bit, since both were at least somewhat under his control.


"We weren't botherin' you, were we?"

His accent was definitely more pronounced than usual, as limited as his interactions with Elizabeth might be on a day-to-day basis. 

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"Uh huh...." Elizabeth was having a hard time deciding where or not this was going to be the fun kind of meddling. She'd at least hoped for some good gossip, but not all gossip was good.


"It wasn't a bother!" she said, suddenly cheerful. She flashed a concerningly-convincing toothy grin at the both of them, one after the other. "Besides, you're on a rooftop! Anybody who doesn't like it can go inside, you know? Half the dorm rooms have speakers in them, and I bet they could all drown you out if they had a problem. Does, um," she said, gesturing back and forth with a casual finger, "does Judy know about Alice? 'cos I'm absolutely in favor of positive drama and people figuring out their own relationship boundaries and all, but she doesn't seem the type."

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Alice's grip on Micah tightened. Just a little bit, not nearly enough to hurt, or anything, but enough that he could feel it. "Who's Judy?" she asked, rather bluntly. She still sounded calm, but there was a slight edge to her voice. Not that Micah was very likely to notice it. "Why would you want drama, anyway? Wouldn't it be better to just have some fun?"


Her grip on Micah remained tight, but her voice quickly losing the edge at the questions about drama and fun. She reached forward with her free hand and started gentlyy brushing Micah's hair.

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Micah smiled and nodded at the mention of people going inside from the music. He seemed less tense than most any time Elizabeth had seen him. 


"You're right! It's a free country, and if they can't appreciate good music, then that's on the-"


And then she asked about Judy, and his hands froze mid-chord on the guitar. For a split second, his eyes seemed...confused. The breeze Elizabeth had felt, the refreshing touch of wind that brought life and relief, stopped. 


"Why would I need to tell Judy about me and Alice hanging out? Judy's just a friend, Elizabeth."


He looked at Alice when he "defined the relationship" there.


"She and Leroy basically got engaged at the beginning of the year. What business is it of hers who I hang out with? Who I sing with? She was trying to set me up with Mia not that long ago!"


The air felt damp, and the sky was getting just a bit dark.


"Way I see it, it's pretty clear where she stands. Not her business where I stand..."


He turned to look at Alice's hand on his shoulder, and reached up to lay one of his on hers, giving her a weak smile.


"Hey, it's okay, relax. Like I said, Judy's just a friend. That's been made clear loads of times. Nothin' else. Just take a breath, it's okay."


He stiffened as she started to literally stroke her hand through his hair. His eyes widened a bit. Elizabeth could probably pick up that while he was definitely not mad at the contact, he was surprised by it. He was a teenage boy receiving thorough attention from a pretty girl, but perhaps he was a bit surprised at how...rapid...that affection was. 

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"Well, I'm convinced!" said Elizabeth, after waiting for a beat, and in a tone that implied she could do with some convincing. "Sorry about that! I've been busy, maybe I'm working off old rumors. And drama can be fun!"


She swept her arms out, two people spinning together out of nothing around her - each was more the impression of a person than an actual person, a moving stained-glass storybook character that glowed and danced on its own inner light. A prince spun a princess in a music-less dance, delicately, barely touching. "It's what makes for great stories, you know? The drama, the dance, the kiss...!"


The prince dipped his dancing partner low, and they both dissolved before they could quite bring their lips together. Elizabeth looked entirely too satisfied. "It's the best," she sighed. "And I do love a good story! How did you two meet?"

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Alice kept slowly brushing Micah's hair, but her eyes stayed on Elizabeth as she talked and danced. "Yes... it would make for a good story," she agreed, her tone sounding a bit uncertain. Micah had of course just met Alice, but it felt like he had always known her, did it not?


She seemed distant for a brief second, then tugged on Micah's arm. "Come on, Micah, we should get going, right? I'm sure you can show me around this entire wonderful place, right? I want to see everything here." 

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Micah sighed then shrugged.


"You didn't mean anything by it. I know rumor mills can get nasty, not your fault. Not entirely sure whether I agree about 'drama' but I get the sense we mean different things by it."


His playing slowed a bit as they continued to talk. His gaze unfocused for just a moment before he answered.


"Well, you know how it is around here. You start playing music and eventually someone comes around who appreciates it. Alice and I are still getting to know each other. That's half the fun, right?"


He seemed to ask both Alice and Elizabeth that question, a soft smile on his face. At the wonderful young lady's request for a tour, he shrugged, stopped playing, and began to pack up his guitar.


"Sure. We can look around campus, there's some neat stuff here. Then maybe go grab a bite or a sip or somethin'.


He stood and picked up his cased guitar by the carrying strap.


"You mind if we swing by my room and drop off my guitar? I know you like my pickin' but it's a bit heavy to do too much walkin' with."

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Inside, Elizabeth was screaming. A flash of light and second later Micah's dreamy-eyes at some strange girl nobody had ever heard of. That was normal, and fine, and almost certainly not some kind of crazy magic or mind control or...people making weird smitten choices on Valentine's Day. Would she have done better if a cute pilot had appeared out of nowhere and ran their fingers through her hair? Was that a chance worth taking with all the weird stuff they all saw all the time? Was it...pranks?


She probably shouldn't interfere in fun pranks. She definitely shouldn't interfere in new love. She definitely should interfere for danger. She...could interfere if this pilot girl was a troublemaker, and maybe get back in the staff's good graces after the thing with the spaghetti?


"There is some pretty great stuff on campus," she confirmed, grinning and sticking her hands in her pockets. She wore the shameless expression of someone who was inviting themselves to a party. "Do you know anyone else here? They could put in a good word for you with Micah!"

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"Nope, I'm all new here, first day at Claremont! And besides, why would I need the good word of anyone else, right?" Alice beamed, still staying close to Micah, a hand running down his arm from his shoulder until she interlocked their fingers, holding on tight to his hand. 


There was somthing in the way she looked at Elizabeth. Something just slightly off about it, a bit of cold in her eyes that did not match the warmth in her voice. "Why do you think I would need that? Don't you think I'm good enough for Micah?" The warmth was all gone from her voice for a second.


Then almost instantly, the warmth returned as she turned back to Micah. He probably wouldn't even notice the change. "Aw, are you sure you can't keep it? It sounds so good when you play!" She let Micah take the lead, going where he wanted to.

Edited by RocketLord
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"I mean, I guess my character speaks for itself? I can appreciate wanting to verify someone's character, in principle. It's a nasty world out there."


Micah shrugged; he clearly wasn't really offended by the suggestion. He frowned at the byplay between the girls, clearly not catching everything.


"...Is this, like, a Girl Talk thing? Do I need to step out for 5 and y'all hash it out?"


The dope's serious. He sighed as he leaned down to finish packing up his guitar.


"I appreciate the praise of my playing. Just don't want to hand..carry...huh. That's weird. I thought I left the strap in the room. I guess I'll just rig this up, hang on."

He tilted his head in confusion as he pulled out a carrying strap, still oblivious to the full extent of the byplay going on next to him. He closed and latched the case, then connected the heavy-duty strap to it. It took him a moment to get the whole thing slung over his back. 


"How about the campus gardens? There's some weird plants that look nifty there."

Girls liked flowers and plants, right?

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Elizabeth held her hands up, as if warding Alice off. She was smiling, still, and she even laughed a little for all that she took a half-step back. "Relax!" she said. "It's okay. I'm not trying to attack you or anything. But everyone wants more friends, right? Even the people who say they don't want more friends, want more friends. If you're new to the school, then the more people you know the better-off you'll be, I say."


She flashed that grin again, wagging a finger in the air. "Besides. Even if you are good enough for Micah, it can only be better if his friends know it too, right?" Or they could help Elizabeth figure out if the new girl was crazy. "No girl talk here, it's not like I have a stake to defend. I think the gardens sound lovely, though - I think you'll like them, Alice. Shall we?"

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Elizabeth could feel the complete lack of any warmth in Alice's glare, but slowly, it warmed up. "Yes. Maybe it would be good to meet more of Micah's friends." Her intonation was quite clear and deliberate, even if her eyes had grown warm again.


"That sound wonderful, Micah," Alice responded, moving in close close enough to brush up against his free hand, grabbing on to his free hand with her own. "I just love flowers, and anything out of the ordinary." She sent Elizabeth another quick look, maybe just to keep an eye on her. "Come, show me where it is, then maybe we can go meet some of your friends after."


With Elizabeth taking half a step back, she would stumble somewhat. There was a small hole in the roof, a bit of it chipped away. It couldn't be more than 1 by 1 foot, not something big. Heat was coming off it, though it was rapidly cooling.

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In the garden 


It was cold, but Ashley had her jacket - a warm fleece number where she could sink her hands into the pockets, and leather gloves on while she was at it. Judy was dressed rather less seasonably, in jeans (that were maybe a little snug, if she was honest) with dirt stains in the knees and a long-sleeved workshirt - but of course she didn't need the cold. "Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we will come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves..." Judy walked around the camellia bushes with a cheerful smile on her face, carefully trimming the topiaries down into the roughly hemispherical shape they were supposed to have. "There, that looks pretty good, don't you think?" 


"Seems fine," offered Ashley, leaning on the rake that she could use as a melee (or even ranged) weapon if her bodyguard duties called for them. "I think between this and the bush lilies, they'll actually have a flower garden for Valentine's this year." 

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Micah was just busy enough adjusting his case's strap over his chest that he missed the subtle tones in Alice's words. He finished up and turned to Alice with a big, dopey smile on his face.


"Alright, let's go!"


He didn't snub Elizabeth, but Alice drew all of his attention for several moments, as they made their way to the door to the stairwell. It wouldn't take them long to arrive at the garden.



The door to the gardens swung open, and Micah walked in with an unfamiliar girl holding his hand. The young man was smiling as he talked, and had his guitar in its case and strapped to his back.


"-so then she said..."


He stopped mid-story as he registered that they weren't alone. His eyes went from Alice, to Ashley, to Judy, and made one more circuit like that. Ashely's training meant she saw what happened next as Micah processed the current situation. His pupils dilated slightly, his posture unconsciously shifted, and a few beads of sweat rolled down his face. A quick burst of wind slipped into the room, and the door slammed shut behind the two new arrivals.


"Uh. Hi...ladies."

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Ashley was already thinking ahead to her plans for the evening - so she let Judy greet Micah and his friend. 


"Hey Micah!" she said cheerfully. "We're just doing a little winter gardening." Hands on her hips, she looked at her word with a prideful smile. "Who's your friend?" 


Despite herself, Ashley looked over that way - and frowned. "That you, Davyd?" she hazarded. 

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"This is Alice," said Elizabeth from behind the new lovebirds; she was smiling, but the air above her briefly lit up with three neon interrobangs while Alice's attention was elsewhere. "She's new, apparently! Just showed up, so we're showing her around and maybe having her meet new people." Who could help Elizabeth figure out if she was crazy. "We thought the gardens would be a good place to start!"


Pre-occupied or not, she did at least stop to peer around at the garden, stepping around to cast grey eyes across the pair's hard work. "And we were right!" she said, suddenly distracted. "You've done some nice work!"

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Alice had been laughing and walking, hanging on to Micah's every word, but fell completely silent the moment they entered the garden and she spotted Judy and Ashley.


"You must be Judy." There was a certain dominance, an air of superiority to her voice. "Elizabeth thought you'd want to know about me and Micah, not that I have any idea why."


She looked at Micah, then back to Judy again. "Tell me, why would you be interested in what I do with my Micah? It seemed important to Elizabeth, at least."

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Judy shot Alice a hard look and said, "Well bless your heart, you must be new around here." She smiled munificently, as if she was going to take her pearly white teeth to Alice's throat. "And just how long have you two known each other, exactly?" she asked Micah, still smiling as she approached the two of them. "Ah don't think Ah've ever heard you mention an Alice." 


Hanging back and off to one side, Ashley leaned on her rake and gave Alice a hard stare, paging through the Rolodex in her mind, thinking about the danger signal Elizabeth had flashed them all earlier. She slipped one hand negligently into her right pocket, producing an audible click. "Boy has a new girl, that's all, Judy. Nothing you need to worry about." She looked at Judy, Judy looked at her, and Judy stepped back - but didn't stop fixing her gaze on Alice. "Elizabeth, can you stay here and help Judy?" 

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