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Electra

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It had already been a very long day for Erin by the time she got off the plane, and the most difficult part hadn't even started yet. She'd taken the redeye out of Seattle at 8pm, standing with bleary-eyed commuters and vacationers still smelling of Memorial Day barbecue smoke as they all shuffled together through security. She supposed that it was a mark of Dr. Franklin's confidence in her that he'd let her travel coach this time, a sign of his faith that she could be squashed in with other people for seven hours of flight without losing her composure. And she'd done all right for herself, hadn't she? She'd read her magazines, looked out the window at the acres of lights below, eaten the wasabi peas she'd brought along, much to the disgust of her seatmate. The late-night plane was less crowded, at least, and most of the people spent most of their time sleeping. It would've been nice to have a discman or an iPod or something to distract her, but she wasn't going to cry about it. She'd be too busy for distractions soon, anyway. She picked up a midnight snack during the stopover in Cincinnati, some horrible thing that was masquerading as chili, but she ate it anyway, too pragmatic to waste food. By the time she'd crossed three time zones and touched down at eight in the morning in Freedom City, she wasn't exactly sure how long she'd been traveling. But she was very glad to be back on the ground.

 

She ignored the announcements about baggage claim as they touched down, since everything she owned was in the duffle bag at her feet. She was traveling light, but at least she wasn't going to lose her luggage. With her bag slung over her shoulder, Erin made her way down the ramp to the terminal with everyone else, pausing as she disembarked. What was she supposed to be looking for now? She herself looked just like any number of high school or college travelers, her short hair rumpled from the trip, blue blouse and khakis a bit wrinkled, her face a little confused. Nothing about her suggested anything out of the ordinary, so how was anyone supposed to find her? She wished she'd double-checked all this ahead of time, but it was too late now. Nervously she looked around, automatically inventorying who was nearby, who was in reach and could hurt her, and what threats might be coming from every direction. With a frown, she shook it all off. This was an airport, and everything was fine. She just needed to find her ride.

Edited by Electra

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Mike piled out of the SUV and stood to his full height scanning over the crowds head looking for someone matching the rough description Alex's mom had been provided for a few moments before Alex batted at him with her homemade sign, with glitterpaint none the less, insiting that he use his height and hold it up where it could be seen over the crush.

He glanced down at the proffered sign and with resolved sigh took it from his more diminuative friend. "Fine," he grumbled "but if I get craft herpes its your fault." His token protest taken care of he held aloft the sign in question.

Once held aloft it was clear that the intended target could not miss it, she might turn and run, but she would certainly take note of it. Alex had decorated the middling sized posterboard with a border of glitter butterflies 'Because its more friendly, and welcoming." she had noted with a smile, accross the center in crisp block letters progressing through the rainbow of markers she had available was writen ERIN WHITE. Its angst ridden bearer not withstanding it was a rather festive sight.

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It took Erin only a moment to see the sign, which was admittedly very difficult to miss. Someone had obviously spent a lot of time, and perhaps an entire tube of glitter, in making it. She hefted her bag onto her shoulder and began to cut through the crowd in the direction of the group with the sign. As she approached, she studied their faces carefully. Finding them strangers, she gave them a friendly, if cautious smile. "Hi," she said, looking from Mike to Alex. "I'm Erin. Are you from the school?"

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Alex tumbled out of the car in Mike's wake, not unlike a slightly over eager puppy. Slightly breathless, she still gave the girl a beaming smile, "Sort of. It's our first day too! I'm Alex, and this is Mike. My mom's name is Rebecca, by the way. Can I help with your bags?"

She was bright and bushy tailed for an early morning but Alex had always been a morning person, even when not filled with the butterflies of a new school. She'd dressed with much more care than Mike, albeit in pegged, straight leg jeans and ajarring color combination of bright blue button down open over a green long sleeve t-shirt, trimmed in red.

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Mike dropped the sign to his side as Erin greeted them. "Yea, we're all new to this too." He confirmed as he dropped back into his traditional slouch. His plain jeans and black t-shirt had been spared the inevitable fall of glitter but his large overcoat had not been so lucky and its color was perfect contrast for the myraid particles to shine against.

He offered one large hand to take her bag with a questioning "Traveling light?" as he noted her lack of other baggage. "Some of us could take a lesson in that." he added with asmirk and a nod in Alexs direction.

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"This is it," Erin confirmed with a shrug and a smile, keeping hold of her bag. "I've got it, it's not heavy. I appreciate you all coming out to get me. Are you from around here, then, or did you get here a few days early?" Even while talking, she kept an eye on everything around them, just to be sure she knew what was happening in all directions.

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"Freedom City, born and bred, both of us. We're actually both from the same street in Hanover - its a suburb here. Mike and I have known each other for all our lives practically." Alex fell into step with the other girl, talking cheerfully and gesturing with both hands as she walked.

She had flicked an amused glance up at the boy at his teasing and shrugged at his teasing good naturedly.

"So if you have questions, feel free to ask. We'll do our best to answer them. Did you have a good flight?"

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Mike fell in step behind the girls as they made the trip to the waiting car. "It was twelve hour redeye I don't know that that ever qualifies as a good flight. The way I see it we're lucky she's still ambulatory." Mike said with a wry grin.

"I'm sure you'll get the hang of the city pretty quickly its really not too hard once you get over expecting all the landmarks to be on the same stretch of ten blocks like in the movies." Mike explained before falling silent once more.

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"It was fine," Erin told Alex, falling into step with her as they headed towards the exit of the busy airport. At this time of day, more people were going than coming, which had them working against the tide a little as they walked. "I don't need very much sleep," she added to Mike, "and the plane was quiet, so it wasn't too bad. But I'm very glad for a chance to stretch my legs." She was quiet for a moment, contemplating her next words. "I'm actually pretty familiar with the layout of Freedom City," she admitted at last. "At least to navigate around in it. But it's the city life that I know is going to be hard to get used to. What about the two of you, do you like living here where it's so busy?"

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Alex gave a slightly uncomfortable shrug of her shoulders before her sunny smile returned, "Ah, truth be told we don't get out in the city as much as we'd like. Well," she amended, "We do now, but we were in a 'voluntary program' for the last decade or so, not Freedom Elementry, and it wasn't very big. Our street is pretty quiet. I don't mind crowds so much anymore, personally."

She glanced up at Mike, slightly questioning before she began searching for the station wagon at the curbside. After closing her eyes for a moment, Alex nodded to herself, "Mom'll be by in a moment. She's making the loop around now."

Satisfied they were in the right place, she stuffed her hands in her pockets and turned her attention back to her companions.

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Mike visibly stiffened at the mention of the 'voluntary program' and peered grimly out from beneath furrowed brow with an attempt at stoic silence.

"I guess you get used to the crowds and its not all so busy like this," he gestured at the airport throngs for emphasis "I don't go out a whole lot actually." He shifted nervously clearly uncomfortable with offering further explanation but unsure how to change the subject. Instead he kinda trailed of with a frown and peered out looking for their incoming ride leaving an awkward silence like only Mike could and avoided eye contact with his companions.

As Mrs. Albright pulled up to the curb he quickly popped the back open for Erin to stow her bag glad to have a distraction.

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"I know how that goes," Erin replied, trying to ease the awkwardness her question had created. "I don't go out very much either. Hope the school has some fun stuff to do on evenings and weekends, or we might end up pretty bored." She smiled to show that was a joke, then hastily but carefully stowed her bag in the trunk. "Did you folks eat breakfast already? All they gave us on the plane was boxes of orange juice and little teeny granola bars." She wasn't exactly hungry, but food was generally a safe topic, especially with people her own age.

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Alex gave her a lopsided grin as she shooed Mike to the front seat with handflapping gestures, "I can't imagine being bored at Claremont but then I always have liked school. I know, I'm a minority.I hope you don't mind sharing the backseat with me, but Mike moans and groans like you wouldn't believe if he has to fold himself into the backseat."

She crawled into the back seat as her mother smiled her greetings at the new arrival. An older version of Alex, clearly, although with greying blonde hair as opposed to her daughter's strawberry blonde and with a fit, athletic build that Alex did not share. She gave that harried, yet oddly maternal smile, that all mother's seem to manage while trying to mauever a car filled with teenagers.

"Hello, Erin, right? I'm sure we can grab a quick bite to eat. These kids are always hungry, especially Mike. We're convinced that his secondary super-powers are a constant appetite."

"-And teen angst," Alex teased Mike, before adding, "Anything sound good? We can hit fast food as long as no one mentions it to Mrs. Harris."

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Mike smiled at the mention of food and his stomach rumbled its agreement with the idea. He shut the back of the car and allowed himself to be shooed into the more spacious front seat though his head still nearly touched the roof of the car.

He glanced over his shoulder as the girls settled into the back and replied "I'm good with anywhere I can get meat, moms back on that gluten free vegan kick, if I never see another lentil it'll be to soon." He was clearly trying in his awkward teen way to make up for his earlier silence but was stuggling again for a topic.

"So have you lived in Seatle your whole life then?" He offered weakly.

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"Um, sort of," Erin replied awkwardly. "I, well, traveled a lot for the last couple years. And it wasn't exactly this Seattle. I'm from a universe close to this one," she explained, the words coming out too fast, a little jumbled. "The Seattle I grew up in was a lot like this one, but... but some things were different. Um, if I remember right, there's a lot of fast food places near the airport, up by that cluster of hotels. Just a Burger King would be fine with me, if everyone's okay with that."

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With no complaint from the rest of the car, Mrs. Albright guided the car out of the winding airport roads and towards the nearest cluster of hotels.

Alex blinked and gave Erin her full attention, "Oh, wow. That must be jarring. I read a book on interdimensional physics once - fascinating, really! - but the culture shock is a little rough from what I understand. To grossly oversimplify matters." Alex halted herself before she could segway into the esoteric realm of 'this book I read that one time', and tried to politely divert herself back onto matters less intrusive, "Sorry. Uhm. Burger King is just fine with me. I like the little cinnimon things."

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"A few burgers with proccesed cheese sounds good to me." Mike said his stomach murmuring agreement, "I only had a smoothie and handfull of granola this morning." He explained "Overslept." He added with a shrug.

"Oh hey its still early I can get some of those sausage biscut dealies." Mike exclaimed with a bit more enthusiasm than normaly woudl be warrented by such. "Well one good thing about this being a boarding school the food should be pretty good." He commented.

Obviously Mike had not done his research into dormatory dining. Or perhaps escaping the craved dietary restrictions of his mother would make it an improvement. Either way he settled back into his seat seeming quite satisfied with the prospect.

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Erin's discomfort eased when neither of her companions seemed inclined to press her on her background, and the prospect of fast food cheered everyone up. The drivethru was packed with morning traffic, so they parked and went into the comparatively empty dining room. Erin ordered her food and carefully counted out the money to pay for it, handling bills and coins not like they were alien, but like they weren't second nature, either. "I don't know very much about the school," she told Alex and Mike as they settled at the table. "Just that it's a good place for people with, hmm, special education needs. I guess it's got a really good reputation?"

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"Well..." Alex sucked in a breath, ignoring Mike's groan, as she launched into an impromptu histoy lesson, obviously warming to her subject. Mike had obviously already heard all of this before if his prolonged sighs were any indication.

"The school itself has been around for absolute ages. Originally, it wasn't co-ed, of course, but Claremont was destroyed - like much of the city - during the invasion. After it was wrecked, the current headmaster bought it and turned it into this super elite academy." Alex's eyes sparkled and she waved her hands vaguely as she continued to rattle off factoids, "It's invite only - super private - and though there are certainly 'better' schools, I would theorize that its equiped to deal with a more unique student body than most."

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Mike watched Alex launch into lecture mode with a slight grimace and sat nodding while she put forth her theories on the school while wolfing down the small pile of breakfast sandwich's in front of him.

As Alex paused to breath he quickly swallowed and interject "Long story short we probbably don't know alot more than you." He waved off Alex's inevitable disagreement and continued "I hadn't heard of the place till we were recruited, not that I really paid much attention to schools or anything but its not like its a well publicized place."

He took a quick sip off his drink before adding "The invite came at a rather fortuitous time for us we had just, uhm, finished up at our last school and were looking for a place to go." Mike glanced at Alex as if to confirm he wasn't saying too much, "It must not be too expensive my dad din't flip out about it or anything."

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Erin ate as she listened, dipping her hash browns one by one into her plastic cup of ketchup before popping them in her mouth. She took a sip of her soda to clear her throat. "There must be financial aid available," she speculated. "I've got no money, and my parents here couldn't afford to send another kid to private school. But as far as I know, it didn't even come up when I applied. Maybe they expect us all to become generous alumni when we're all famous superheroes or something." She shrugged. "I guess we'll find out when we get there. I've never lived in a dorm before, I think it's going to be kind of strange. No privacy, you know?"

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Alex nodded her agreement, having bolted her food once Mike picked up the conversational thread, "It'll be wierd. I mean, they have to have some sort of way to change rooms if you're completely incompatible with your roommate, right? Or if they, you know, can't stand you?"

Alex said it nonchalantly but her wide eyes were worried and she twisted her napkin. This was her biggest concern with the new school as sharing living quarters with an antagonistic roommate would be hard for a psychic, to say the least.

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"Mmm hmm." Mike agreed through a mouthfull of food before he swallowed.

He glanced over at Alex with a smile "Don't worry so much Alex I can down right bearable when I need too. I won't be that much of a burden on my roomy." He said it in a light tone but it was still clear that he understood her concerns and was trying in his clumsy way to assuage them.

Mike popped the last bite of his meal into his mouth and swallowed almost without chewing. Even for a boy of his size he could certainly pack it away. "I dunno I guess there isn't much privacy but the campus is big I'm sure its not too hard to find a corner to get away from people." He offerd a weak smile with his commentary as hiding out may be his preffered M.O. it wasn't really the norm.

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Finished with her hash browns, Erin tucked into her croissanwich, eating unhurriedly and savoring each bite before swallowing. Her gaze flicked around the room as she ate, going from her companions to the doors to their fellow diners and back again. "I kind of hope I get a roommate who doesn't sleep much, or who isn't bothered by having a lamp on," she decided. "I only sleep every few days, so it could get a little weird. But like you said, there will hopefully be some places to get away on campus. Now that I think about it, I might have been there once, just for an afternoon. If it's like I remember, it's a big place with tons of rooms. Really easy to get lost there if you aren't paying attention." She smiled a little. "Guess that's why we need the orientation."

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"Maybe we'll have to fill out a questionnare. We can hardly be the only kids that have certain, uhm, peculiarities about our space, right?" Alex wrinkled her nose at Erin, looking much relieved at the the others opinions.

"I hope we have some flexibility in our class choices," she added as an aside, "They'll also probably give us the rules and all that. I don't think there's a uniform, though."

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