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Avenger Assembled

An Evening of Blood and Thunder

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The Ashton Family Drive-In dated back to when the new bedroom community had been an isolated crossroads several miles from busy Freedom City. Where many drive-ins had failed around the nation, this one had survived thanks to Freedom City's love of nostalgia and frequent patronage by superheroes. Jack was still very far from Ashton when he went to pick up Taylor, though, having borrowed one of the new cars he had access to in order to pick her up. With the mirrors turned just the right way, she was unlikely to notice that only one occupant of the car cast any reflection.

He was there at her curb in the new Subaru just in time for their date, heading upstairs in an FCU shirt and jeans that made him look more like a TA than a gritty vigilante. Or the king of Freedom City's vampires. He'd left his cellphone in the glove box for this particular date. When he reached her door, he paused a moment before knocking.

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Taylor was running late, of course. Although she looked more than presentable in the fitted boot cut jeans and off the shoulder cap sleeved blouse, the sleek black hair had hurridly been twisted up in a clip and was still damp from the shower. She flashed him a dimpled smile and explained, "Sorry, it'll just take me a second to slip on some shoes. I should have known that a last minute trip to the store was a bad idea. Something always comes up."

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"Believe me," said Jack with a half-smile, "I know the feeling. And shoes would be good," he agreed. "Hopefully neither of us are going to be flying anywhere this evening." He took just a step into the apartment, leaning against the doorframe as he watched Taylor dig out her clothes. It was a nice view, and one he could appreciate unreservedly after feeding earlier. If her apartment wasn't much like his own new nearly immaculate new place, well..."Nice place," he complimented her. "I moved recently myself, so I'm more appreciative of a good place to live."

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Taylor found the pair of ballet-style slippers she'd been looking for and slipped her feet into them. She cast a glance around the admittidly spartan apartment and gave a little shrug, "This close to the university, you take what you can get. This place was a lucky find last year. I found roommates were a little too problematic for my schedule."

Taylor plucked her keys out of a bowl of odds and ends near the door and tucked them into her jean pocket. She smiled up at him and gestured for him to procede her out so she could lock the door. "Nice shirt."

Nice lots of other things but that would have been a bit forward after all.

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"Thanks," he said with a smile. "Whatever else has happened, I know how to show local pride. You look pretty good yourself." Despite the obvious temptation, he did no more than hold her hand as they headed downstairs together. There'd be plenty of time for that later. "So we're watching Agents of AEGIS and Harry Potter tonight. Looks to be quite a double-feature." He grinned at her. "If you don't mind watching a movie about your specialty that's inaccurate, that is."

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"Nope, doesn't bother me a bit. I grew up watching Indiana Jones and then developed a fondness for schlock horror in high school. Fantastic misapplication of magic doesn't bother me a bit," She grinned as she buckled herself in out of habit. Two doctors for parents, after all.

"Plus, the whole sports on broom thing is fantastic. Sadly, we can never get enough mystics together in Freedom City to give it a go." She teased.

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"Aw, so I won't get to see you and the Master Mage riding on broomsticks and kicking a soccer?" asked Jack with a grin as he buckled himself up. "Too bad. I'd even have brought my camera phone for that." Jack navigated with the skill of a long-time resident of the city, pulling them easily out of Riverside and up onto the interstate that would take them out to Ashton. "You'll like this theater," he promised her. "It got pretty sleazy back in the 80s and early 90s, but now it's almost a family place."

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"I'm afraid not. Besides, it would end up as a blood bath in the end. All mages cheat. Its a fact. Comes from the whole bending reality to your will thing."

She wiggled her fingers 'mystically' with a low laugh, "I'm intrigued, I have to say. The only drive-ins I know about were in movies themselves. Those always seem to end with attack of the wolfman though."

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"Not much risk of that tonight, I think," said Jack cheerfully. He could attest to that for a certainty, having played a major role in helping drive a pack of werewolves out of Freedom City a few years earlier. Infected were one thing, but these guys had been a weird genetic subspecies. Creepy bastards they'd been, breeding with a captive human population and attracting super-powered attention to the supernatural community by blowing up factories. Shaking aside the memory, he said, "The food's not great, but I know that's not a big issue for you. The rest of it, though, is very nice." He grinned. "I just hope I can keep intriguing you the whole evening long."

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Taylor's face flickered guiltily for a moment and she twisted in her seat to look up at him, "I hope you don't feel like you have to plan around that. I can eat, I just don't most of the time."

She knew she'd mentioned to him that she found the whole social meal thing awkward before. It was true, and she didn't regret confiding in him but Taylor hoped he wasn't going out of his way to make her comfortable.

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"I can live without drive-in food," said Jack with a shrug. "You know how physical my side of the work is. I didn't get this way by eating a lot of greasy food." He turned to her with a smile and added, "Not that I'm harshing on people who eat for fun, by the way. I'm actually more than a little envious of people who can sit down to a pizza or corn dogs without guilt. But I'm all right with that." He gave her a reassuring look. "Any quirks you have are fine with me, Taylor. I've got plenty myself."

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She watched his expression while he spoke, her dark eyes still troubled. Once he'd finished, Taylor relaxed back into her seat, relieved.

"We'll the more contact I have with other people who spend their free time in capes and spandex, the more I find we're all a quirky lot. Some of it I wish I had known when this all started. Could have saved myself some heartache" She touched the back of his hand with just a brush of her fingertips, her voice softening as she added. "Thanks."

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He turned his hand, touching her fingers as she touched him. "It's not like it is in the movies," Jack agreed. "Or like when Captain Thunder catches your car when you drive off a bridge in those PSAs." He shot a look Taylor's way as they went, the interior of the car oddly bright thanks to the big lights over the highway. "Who's the strangest person you've met in the business?" he asked her. "At least, that you're comfortable talking about. You don't have to name names if it's someone I know," he added with a grin.

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"The two of us excluded from that, I'll assume," she shot back a teasing look before she considered the question. It was actually tough to figure that out between all of the dimensional travelling and then all of the characters that seemed to make Freedom City their home, "Let's see, for world view? I'm going to have to go with Ace Danger. Did I tell you he showed up at my apartment and dragged me off to shop? In Paris, I might add. He's a nice man, but unique. If we're talking about who gives me the willies? Doctor Archevielle. No contest there."

Taylor repressed a slight shudder at the way all of her mystical senses had crawled the first time she'd met the famous scientist. Shaking it off with a roll of her shoulders, she tilted her head up at him, "What about you?"

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"Moira," said Jack in an immediate reply, glad he didn't blush much these days. "I wasn't exactly an atheist before that. Personal reasons. But to actually meet a god, to touch her and fight alongside her, it..." He shook his head. "It opened my eyes to a lot of things, spiritually. And personally. She's quite a lady." That was certainly one area of conversation he wanted to avoid, though, so he quickly turned the tables as they pulled off at the Ashton exit. "I'm not a big fan of Dr. Archeville," he admitted. "A little too probing for my tastes in friends."

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Taylor watched the rapid shift of expressions on his face as he spoke about Divine. Her expression flattened slightly, but not out of jealousy and she glanced away. Moira was a difficult subject. Technically, the woman didn't belong here. Less so, even than Grim. As Phantom, she really should drag her back off to the Hellinistic pantheon. She was also a team-mate. Which really left Taylor in a quandry. One which she was hoping to continue to let slide as she silently prayed that Divine didn't start setting herself up as a goddess on earth.

She watched the surrounding environs outside the window, "I don't know the doctor well at all. All I know is he makes every mystical sense I have go completely beserk. I've never felt anything like it. Creeps me out, frankly."

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"Mm. That's strange. Do you get pings like that from everyone who's heavily into super-science?" he hazarded an ignorant guess. He wasn't at all sure that was the case, though, and so didn't offer too strong an opinion. "In any event, we'll stay away from him tonight. The worst we'll have to deal with will be the machinations of UMBRA in the movies." Agents of AEGIS was a live-action remake of a popular 80s cartoon about the uniformed super-agents who battled the machinations of UMBRA, a movie that promised a lot of entertainment and very little else. Jack paid as they pulled in, adjusting his car radio to match the frequency of the drive-in's broadcast. "You know there are only two of these in New Jersey?" he commented as they found a parking spot with a decent view of the screen.

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"No, almost never when it comes to scientists. I only have a vague feel for magic things. More like a chill on my spine when I'm around anything magical. It's more accute when there's anything that's affecting the dimensional veils. Both of them go off around the doctor. Its strange." And disconcerting.

Taylor glanced up at the screen and settled into her seet a little more comfortably. One of the few advantages of her height was there was always plenty of leg room in the car, at least. She glanced up and shook her head, "No, honestly, I didn't even know we still had those two. We never did the drive-in thing when I was a kid. You do you know you've totally jinxed us, though."

She grinned over at him and pointed out, "A healthy background of shlock horror has proven to me that you never say things like 'The worst we'll have to deal with is...' It's practically inviting some psycho in a halloween mask."

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"I am a psycho in a Halloween mask," Jack teased. "In my off-hours, anyway. And I came prepared. Avenger's in the trunk," he said, cocking his thumb back that way. "I've recently had occasion to be very glad I have a secret identity, so I'm extra-careful about adventures with a naked face." As the previews started, lauding the theater and its many attractions, Jack stretched, his arm coming down on the back of Taylor's seat. "You can tilt this back if you want; it goes back pretty far. Nice new car."

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"You're not a psycho in a halloween mask. You're a psycho in a hockey mask. Totally different franchise." She teased in response. While the previews played, Taylor adjusted the seat slightly at his suggestion before she pillowed her head on his arm and crossed her legs at the ankles. She slanted a smile at him, "Always be prepared, right? Fortunately, my costume shows up with a gesture. It's very handy. I won't say its the most useful spell I learned but its definately a favorite."

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"So what is your most useful spell?" asked Jack with a smile, enjoying the warmth of her body as he leaned against her and the sight of the pulse in her neck as he studied her. Easy on Jack, easy on. You're here for a good time. "I'm pretty impressed by the way you suck people into your cloak like that. Having your own pocket dimension is a pretty handy trick. Do you need your cloak on to use it?"

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Taylor shifted a little so that she could look at him easier and laced her fingers together over her stomach. She chuckled and shook her head a little, "No, I don't need the cloak. I actually don't have to talk or gesture like most mystically empowered, either. It's all just smoke and mirrors."

She hesitated, obviously chosing her words carefully, "The cloak's not the gateway to the void. I am. Despite all appearances sometimes, I'm completely human. I just don't have a home dimension anymore. I'm a little out of synch with everything and with the ripple in space that creates, I can store things there. It's handy. The most useful spell though... the eldritch blast." She tilted her chin up to give him a lopsided smile, "I use that the most. After that, definately teleportation."

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"A woman who likes explosions..." Impulsively, Jack reached down and stroked the side of her face. "A woman after my own heart. Though my personal brand of action is more hand-to-hand." He demonstrated that by laying his other hand on her shoulder, his arms long enough to go almost all the way around her shoulders when they were leaning together like this. "Out of synch or not, I'm certainly glad you're here." He squeezed her shoulder. "You certainly seem very real to me."

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She leaned into the touch on his cheek with a contented murmer. There was a definate advantage to this whole drive-in movie aspect, a certain quiet intimacy to closed car and no need to worry about bothering other people with your conversation. Taylor cuddled into the embrace before she spoke up again, her voice soft in the confines of the car, "Well, we all do need to stick to our strengths. You could stomp me into the ground in a hand to hand fight. If of course, you could get your hands on me."

The slightly challenging, flirty smile was back on her lips, easily visible in the dimmed car, "As for being here, there's no place I'd rather be."

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"Well, fighting would spoil an already lovely evening. But would it bother you if I put my hands on you anyway?" he asked her, cocking his head with a teasing smile on his lips. "Because I have to say, I really enjoy the way your skin feels, and the way you smile when I touch you." He stroked her cheek, running his fingers lightly through her hair as his hand came down onto her neck. Thump-thump. "I'd like to see more of that."

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