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Making Friends

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It was Breakdown's second day in the city. He had spent the entire first day helping his parents move stuff into their new home. (They sure were glad he could teleport now that he had powers! Otherwise they would have had to hire a mover. And wouldn't you know it, they would not let him hear the end of it!) Eddie loved his parents, but sometimes he couldn't stand them either. By the end of the day, he had to get out of the house. He had left after dinner (take out) and walked to Claremont (where he would be going to school in the fall). No one had been around, but he had assumed that it was simply because it had been getting late. He had left soon after sunset and gone back home.

He had decided he would try again today.

He just hoped he would run into somebody...

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Campus was a little more active first thing on a Friday morning, even when classes weren't officially in session. He entered the campus from the back corner near the athletic field, and spotted a person at work doing something under a tree nearby. Coming closer, the figure became clear as a teenage girl, clad in a blue Claremont gym coverall. She was sparring with what looked like a large metal ball hanging from a tree. She seemed to be pulling her punches, trying to barely touch with each hit.

As Breakdown came closer, he attracted her attention. She looked over, simultaneously losing focus and hitting the target rather harder than she'd intended. With a loud metallic *clong!* the ball and rope hurtled away, wrapping around the branch a dozen times. The girl gave it an annoyed look before looking back at the new guy. "Hi," she said, somewhat diffidently.

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Eddie stopped dead in his tracks for a second when the girl slugged the training ball. His eyes widened and he was taken aback. His experiences with those with super powers were not very developed. He had been the only one in his town back home.

Recovering his composure he stepped forward again. He dialed down the volume on his iPOD with his left hand (not bothering to remove the headphones from his head), "You pack quite a punch. I'm Eddie," said the boy in the jeans and the green "Dispatch" t-shirt, extending his hand, "I'm new here." He smiled.

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She took a few steps forward and extended her hand as well, shaking his with a grip that was firm, but not painful. Her hand was surprisingly smooth and soft for someone who'd just beaten the heck out of a big metal ball without even meaning to. "I'm Erin," she said. "I'm new too. Did you just get here today?" Erin gave him an up and down assessing look, sizing him up without seeming to mind if she was a little rude about it.

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"Yea, my family moved in a few days ago," Eddie told her, as she found out there was not much of the boy to 'size up'. Eddie didn't mind her looking him up and down. He didn't have anything to hide, and if this is what other "Super-Heroes" did, he had to get used to it sooner or later.

"I don't start classes until fall, so I'm not considered a student, so I can't even board here yet. I'm guessing you live here though?" ha asked without looking at her. His eyes were wandering elsewhere. He gazed out across the athletic fields to see if there were other students around. He absolutely had to meet as many people as possible while he could.

"Tones of Home" by Blues Traveler shuffled up on his iPOD as he finished talking. It wasn't straight jazz, but the influence was definitely there. It helped relieve some of the tension he was feeling, and his relaxation seemed to flow visibly outward.

Eddie looked back at the girl and smiled again, "It's nice to meet you."

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"Yeah," Erin said, automatically following his gaze to the athletic fields. There was a morning pickup game of Ultimate Frisbee going on, but not much else. "Some people live here year-round. The food's not bad," she offered, "and they host activities and field trips, things like that. If you go to the main office, they'll give you maps and a tour and all that sort of stuff. "Your family is here too?" she asked. "Are they superheroes?"

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"Oh alright, I'll have to check out those tours," he lied. There was just something about being told where to go and when that he just didn't like. "But maybe later..."

Eddie leaned back and cushioned himself on the air as Erin threw some more questions at him. He barely even noticed when he began to float off the ground. The music had relaxed him so much he even put his hands behind his head and leaned back.

"My parents? No way. Not an extraordinary bone in their bodes. Though from the way they fawn over me, you can probably tell they would kill for some sort of super powers. But then, wouldn't every body? If you need to get back to training or something, don't let me keep you. I'm just here to hang out and make some new friends..." he said, floating off to the side and calling up the rest of the Blind Melon album on his iPOD

Eddie could tell from the fact that no one else was around, that this girl was pretty serious about her training. The fact that she had been pulling her punches had really puzzled him, however. It looked like the weight she had been training with was meant to build strength and striking power rather than finesse. She should probably be training with a speed bag or something instead... Eddie thought, but he knew it was far from his place to say something about it when he had just met the girl. He was sure she had her reasons, and maybe if he was lucky he would find out. But he was not one to pry. He simply floated nearby and watched...

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Alex was running late to meet her room-mate. As usual, she'd gotten so caught up talking to one of the campus's summer teachers that she'd lost all track of time. Which explained why the petite red-head was jogging pell-mell towards Erin and her new companion now. With her hair pulled back in to a high pony-tail, it had the effect of making her features even more prominent with wide hazel eyes dominanting her face. Today she'd chosen a pumpkin-orange long-sleeve t-shirt to go with her pegged jeans. That alone wouldn't have been quite so bad if it hadn't been paired with an open blue-checked button-down and sparkly green barrettes.

Clutching her books to her chest, she was already appologizing before she took note of Eddie, "Erin, I'm so sorry! I lost track of time and-" She paused to take in Eddie and once she realized that she'd never met him before, she quickly shifted her books to one arm with a brief struggle and thrust out her hand with a beaming smile, "Hi, I'm Alex!"

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"Hey, Alex, I'm Eddie," He said as he lightly touched down next to her and shook her hand, smiling.

My first real day around campus, and I've already met two girls. I like this place already! He thought.

"Sounds like you know Erin already. I just met her, I'm new in town."

Eddie could feel it happening again. Every single time he met someone, he tried to get as much information out of the way they looked as he possibly could. He couldn't help it, and he didn't try to do it, it just happened. Her big eyes was the first thing he noticed. It was still morning, but she was incredibly wide eyed, an incredibly enthusiastic person? Her clothes were the next thing he saw, and after looking at them, he didn't know how he had missed them the first time. The combination of the orange and blue shirts clashed so hard that they almost hurt his eyes. No fashion sense, maybe? No, not with a pony tail like that. She probably just doesn't care enough about what others thing to bother putting that much effort into the way she dresses. She mentioned being late, and she holds her books in front of her, no time for a backpack? Is she always this frazzled?

None of the questions actually came out of his mouth, though. They never did... "It's nice to meet you!"

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Mike closed the thick tome of summer reading he'd been assigned and sighed. He liked reading but man this stuff was dense. He tossed the book and his everpresent composition book cum journal into his back pack and headed out to see what Alex and Erin were up too.

He knocked on thier door and wiated then again for about five minutes before deciding they had probably headed out somewhere. Alex usually tried to drag him with them if they left campus so he strode out into the too bright sun looking for them. He could have just asked Alex where she was over the link they shared but that never seemed to occur to him in these situations.

After a bit of searching he got word that Alex had been seen rushing in the directon of the athletic fields and headed that direction. He cought sight of the trio throught he trees and headed over to see what was going on. Mike shuffled into the clearing and sought a shady spot as he squinted in the early morning sun. "Hey guys," he said as he slouched against the tree. He shook his head lightly at Alexs outfit and peered out from under his bangs at the unknown kid. He lazily raised one meaty paw and issued a somewhat feeble "Hey, I'm Mike."

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"Eddie," He supplied, returning the wave.

Seems they are all friends, he thought, I'm getting to know people pretty quickly, this is pretty good. Alright, so Mike, what can you tell me about yourself without saying anything... Shaggy hair, shaggier than mine. I know how little I care about most of my appearance, so maybe he shares that view. He gave me a less than formal greeting, and from the way he ran up and attacked the grass next to that tree, he seems pretty laid back. It also shows he is comfortable around these two, Eddie gave a quick glance at the two girls, and it also shows that he is a pretty laid back person with all things considered. But those are only surface details, he carries a bag, maybe if he opens it I can find out more...

"Its nice to meet you," Eddie continued.

"Do you guys like music?" He asked, an eager smile playing across his lips.

"I can't wait to find out what people in this town listen to. It's also really going to help my business if I can get that off the ground."

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Alex released the new kid's hand and took a step towards Mike, silently holding her stack of books out for him to take. They'd been friends so long that something would have been wierd if she hadn't just handed the heavy books to him. If the smile she'd turned on Eddie had been bright, the one she gave Mike was dazzling. "Guess what, I passed the entrance for the advanced language labs! I'm so sorry I was late, Erin. I just lost track of time talking to the teacher. I'm thinking Russian?"

Her voice lilted up at the at the end, turning a statement into a question, before she replied to Eddie, hands now free, as she announced cheerfully, "Who doesn't like music? I have it on good authority that my taste is awful.."

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Eddie was a little confused at some parts of the conversation. Clearly he had some catching up to do. I guess she is taking summer classes? Eddie thought, That means she lives on campus as well as Erin. She's awfully friendly with Mike, more-so than Erin, maybe. I wonder if there is a history there? What was the advanced languages lab? Sometimes I wish I could read minds...

The second part of the conversation was thankfully directed at him. "Congratulations, I guess. I don't really know whats going on though...Who told you that you had bad taste in music? That's impossible... Bad music doesn't exist. Unless it's country, that is." He said the last part under his breath, not wanting to offend, just in case.

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Erin hung back a little during the initial spurt of conversation from the new arrivals, letting it flow around her till things quieted for a moment. She gave Mike the same sort of half-wave he gave her, still not quite sure how to act around Alex's taciturn best friend. "That's okay," she told Alex in response to her apology. "I was just practicing, and getting acquainted with the new guy. He doesn't live here yet, but he will in the fall, I guess?" She made it a question, directing it towards Eddie. With a half smile, she asked, "So, since you seem to be a flier, would you mind untangling my ball?"

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"Hmm?" Eddie responded to the request. "Oh yea, sure, I guess. Hold that thought, Alex. I'll be right back, I've got to get the cat's ball out of the tree, as it were." Eddie smiled, making the jest all in fun. Eddie dumped his bag on the ground, then let himself calm down from the excitement of meeting so many new people all at once. He gave himself up to the music once again, and floated up towards the tree limb. He wrapped his legs around the tree limb and hung upside down. He drew his iPOD out of his pocket and began fiddling with the dial.

As the next song rolled over, the other could see Eddie start shaking his head up and down to the music, obviously listening to rock and roll. After a moment, the other three could actually hear the music, even though Erin was aware that the music on his iPOD had been turned down quite low so that he could hear them through the headphones. It was clear that the music was not coming from the headphones. It wasn't Eddie's voice either... It was the unmistakable wail of Axl Rose...

"I'm on the night train!

Bottoms up!

I'm on the night train!

Fill my cup!

I'm on the night train!

Ready to crash and burn!"

Suddenly, Eddie pulled his arm back and gave the metal ball a heavy-handed swat which sent it uncoiling around the tree branch quite rapidly. It eventually swung down right into Erin's hands.

Eddie grabbed the branch with his hands, release with his legs, and swung off of it. He hit the ground, stood, and gave his head a triumphant shake. He removed the headphones from his head and instantly the music shut off.

Looking around at the three astonished looking faces around him, Eddie's eyes got wide. "Oh god... I didn't just...Play music for you, did I?" He winced. "I'm sorry, I try not to do that, but sometimes I just get carried away...Damnit! Every friggen time I meet someone new I screw something up!" He grumbled as he bent to pick up his bag...

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Alex reacted to his embarrassment quickly and reached out to put a hand on his arm, "Oh, please don't feel bad. All of us have a learning curve with our powers."

She shrugged her thin shoulders in a quick gesture as she removed her hand with a smile, "Audio projection's a nifty talent, anyhow."

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"Sometimes the learning curve is steeper than others," Erin added ruefully, smoothing out the dent in the heavy steel with her fingers. "Thanks for getting it down for me. So you have music powers?" She let go of the ball, letting it swing on the end of its thick tether. It would be useless to try and train now, with so many distractions, and possibly dangerous besides.

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Mike took Alexs books wothout a thought and cracked open his bag to toss them in on top of his journal and the big annotated collection of greek tragedies. He then quickly zipped it closed and slung it back on his shoulder effortlessly. Mike didn't really ever show off his strength but was rather bad at hiding it in casual situations.

Mike took in the whole scene rather stoicly. He stared in confusion at the other boys discomfort for a moment before speaking "Uuhh yea man, I don't think ketting slip a little tune is big deal. Am I missing something here?" Mike was uncertain if his music had some other effect that he had missed or been immune too. 'ALEX WHATS HE SO UPSET ABOUT' He thought across the link they shared.

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They are not like my parents, or the people from home. Eddie thought, astonished, It used to be wierd, but I guess they just consider it par for the course...

He smiled at Alex's comforting words, "You think so? Thanks. It's good to know that I'm not the only one that isn't perfect at this yet." Turning to Mike he said, "My parents think it's weird or embarrassing to just start blasting music when other people are around. That and depending on what I'm listening to it might not be appropriate. I'm just glad it wasn't the next track on that CD that I was listening to for instance..."

Eddie thought for a second, he had almost missed those clues... Those books in Mike's bag seem pretty big. I guess he is a pretty big reader. It doesn't seem like he has any trouble with the weight though...And Alex seems to be the supportive one... and from Erin's response, it would seem that she's not entirely in control of her powers either. That's probably why she's using such a heavy ball. She's not working on hitting it hard, she's working on NOT hitting it hard. I wonder why though... Realizing that he had been looking at the girls for a little too long while he was lost in thought, Eddie shook his head clear.

"That's not all I can do either, check this out." Eddie took a step back, and looked up into the air. He tilted his head to the side, "Nope..." tilted it the other way, "Nope" turned around and tried a different direction, "There we go!"

A voice that was not Eddie's filled the air again.

"...for ticket information, call the ticket booth for KWSX radio at 555-2468..."

"I can get the radio, too!" Eddie said, whirling around, grinning like a kid in a candy store.

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Alex tilted her head at Mike, and her much softer mental tone whispered across their bond, He's the new kid here at the school and it sounds like his powers are relatively new. He just doesn't want to be, y'know, the wierd kid..

As she'd taken the time to reply to Mike's question, it took her a few moments to reorient and then give a delighted smile, "Audio reception, too, neat! Bet you'll be a hit at school dances. We're actually all pretty new ourselves. The three of us started the same day right 'round Memorial Day, tho' Mike and I have been friends for ages. There are dorms here and Erin's my roommate. Mike's alone in his room but that'll probably change with the school year. We're all in the co-ed dorm this summer."

At the end of that exhaustive yet informative data dump, Alex paused to draw breath and gesture in the vague direction of the dormitory.

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Well that certainly helped explain things quite a bit! Now I know why these three are such good friends. Eddie thought, relieved.

"School dances, huh?" Eddie began,

Now we are getting somewhere, he thought

"I actually happen to be a professional DJ on top of all that other stuff. Speakers, and everything, self contained. Not to mention that I can scratch a mean record if you give me a table...

Having friends is key in this business, He mused, If I can get these three to start talking about me, maybe I can make some big money in this city. It's certainly a lot bigger than my last home...

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Erin didn't seem terribly enthused about music or school dances, but she tried to be polite. "You could volunteer to help out," she suggested to Eddie. "The teachers are always saying how we're supposed to use our powers for the greater good. Are you coming to Claremont to learn how to be a superhero?" she asked. That seemed to be why most people were here, but not necessarily everyone. "And be a DJ in your secret identity or something?"

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Mike nodded in agreement, "Yea, I'm sure they'd love to shanghai you into working the dances whenever they happen." he said quietly. 'Seems a bit young o be a pro but what do I know, heck at least he has some marketable skill unless I fidn some demo company trying to cut corners on sledghammers I sure as heck don' have any.' He thought.

Mike looked up after being somewhat lost in his own thoughts for a moment. "So you use your powers and stuff to DJ?" Mike asked.

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"Well, yea," Eddie responded, "Being a pretty good dancer and singer doesn't hurt much either. Just as long as you're able to put on a show, you know?"

"Huh, I guess I never thought about actually being a hero," He said, turning to Erin, "I just started coming here because its something my parents are making me do. And I don't like being made to do things, but sometimes you just can't help it. I suppose it's not a bad Idea, though. And then I could just make money on the side doing DJ stuff like you said. I guess you guys won't tell anyone who I am if I ever start to put on a costume and run around town like a crazy person, right?" Eddie joked, winking.

I think I really am going to like it in this city. Eddie thought, Maybe it's not so bad that we moved here after all. There are plenty of opportunities.

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Alex tucked her hands behind her back, smiling cheerily as the conversation bubbled up around her. With the hiccups smoothed out, she was content to let other people carry the conversation.

"I'm sure there are school dances. Except for the range of classes, we're as normal a boarding school as can be all things considering." She volunteered, "And a part of it certainly is the teachers trying to help you decide how best to use all your gifts. An' not just the supernatural ones. It's a really neat place!"

Alex enthused about the school cheerfully, "Plus in addition to all the teachers, older students serve as RA's and mentors. And then if they can't find someone within the school that's got a similar power set, they use contacts with hero community.."

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