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Electra

Postgame Analysis

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August 3

The room was half-dark when Alex stepped in, with the fluorescent overheads off and the desk lamp pointed towards Erin's bunk. Often at this hour, Erin was out and about, but tonight was a little bit different. Erin didn't precisely feel responsible for Alex, but she did want to make sure that everything had gone all right. She'd advocated going on the date, and if Mark had screwed it up and hurt Alex's feelings or worse, he would have to answer for that. Erin was a firm believer that determination and the cause of justice was more than a match for luck any day. Besides, whatever their personal differences at the moment, she knew Mike would help her on this one.

One look at Alex's face as she came in, though, and Erin suspected that Mark probably wasn't going to need a beatdown today. "So, how'd it go?" she asked, smiling a little bit herself. "Did you have a good time?"

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"I had the best evening," Alex enthused as she kicked off her shoes and sank down on her desk chair. She was trying to buckle her emotions back down but every so often there would be this giddy burst of contentment into the room as her sheilding slipped. "We went and strolled around the museum, had dinner. And he kissed me on the way back to the car. It was lovely!"

She wriggled her toes in the nylons, her smile impish, "He even walked me back to the door. It was sweet. We're going to the movies this weekend."

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Erin set aside her textbook and rolled onto her side, giving the conversation her full attention. The little bubbles of projected emotion were kind of weird, but she wasn't going to say no to a little extra happiness, especially when Alex was so happy. "Sounds like a good time. So... is he a good kisser?" Her interest was purely academic, but it would be nice to know if she was right in her assessment.

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Alex blushed, her nose and cheeks turning pink. She tried to give the matter serious thought but her attempts kept dissolving into giggles, "I think so! It was my first kiss, so, I have no basis of comparison but it made me feel all bubbly."

She spread her hands out, palms up, "He was a total gentleman for the evening."

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"If it works, it works," Erin replied with a grin. Alex's happiness really was contagious tonight, and it was good to know that she'd had the promised good time. It was also good to know that Mark wasn't secretly a jerk who needed a beating, because that wouldn't be good for trying to build up good teamwork. "And if you're going to the movies, you could get a lot of chances to build up from that first one. How'd the dress work?"

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"And he brought me roses," Alex added, gesturing to the blooms on her desk corner with another blushing smile, "The dress was great. I felt all grown up."

She stood with a laugh and moved to the closet to change while she talked at Erin over her shoulder, "But I'm glad to have more casual stuff for the movie. Nylons are itchy."

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"Yeah, I thought you said you weren't gonna wear them. They looked good with the dress, though." Erin rolled to her back on the bunk while Alex changed, looking up at the wood slats and metal bedsprings. "Two dates does make it more of a, you know, a thing than one date," she pointed out. "After two dates, if you don't break up, you're going out. Which isn't bad, if you're happy. You ready for that?"

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Dressed in comfy pjs and a light top, Alex sank down to her usual spot on the floor to chat up at her roommate, her expression thoughtful, "I thought about that, but I think I'm okay with that. I like him, he's funny and sweet. He's cute. I respect him as a person."

She reached up to un clip her hair and run fingers through it, "I'm happy to let it run its course and I think I'm okay with seeing what happens. I'm not any more certain that we'd be compatible in the long term but I'm trying not to analyze every angle."

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"Good idea," Erin agreed. "And even if Mike is in your ten year plan, there's no point in letting him get too comfortable about it. He should have to work and wonder at least a little, or where's the challenge?" She smiled up into the dimness. "You going to be officially dating-dating now, or keeping it quiet?" Not that there were any secrets in a peer group this size, anyway.

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Alex let out another chuckle as she finished fluffing her hair out from the curls she'd put into it. "I'm going to let the ten year plan work itself out, I think. Honestly, I think Mark needs someone more like you when he grows up than me. Mark'll need someone to ground him. He won't look at the bad side of things unless someone makes him. I'm far more likely to just, you know, do that for someone than try and push them to do things themselves."

Alex gave a little shrug of her shoulders and smiled easily, "But, like I said, people change. Things change. I'm just happy to let things be for once. Oh, and to answer your question, I don't think its a secret. That'd be weird. "

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Erin let out a surprised burst of laughter at that suggestion. "Me? Yeah right. I'd throttle him maybe three days into a relationship for being too cheerful when I'm in a bad mood. I think you're right about his attitude, but I don't think I could get, you know, close to a guy who doesn't believe anything very bad can happen to him or anybody." She shrugged, the movement a horizontal one since she was still laying in bed. "You're more laid back about that sort of thing than I am, so he's a lot more your type, short term or long term." With a snort, she added. "Who knows, maybe with another ten years of therapy, I'd finally be well-adjusted enough to date anyone, even Mark."

She sat up, ducking her head to avoid cracking it on Alex's bunk. "I'm glad you had a good time, though. You've practically got little happy thought balloons floating off you. That's what a first date should be like, I think."

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"I dunno if its so much that he doesn't believe bad things can't happen, so much as he has to believe good things can happen. He's going to take it the hardest of us all, you know, when someone can't be saved," Alex mused aloud, her hazel eyes darkening with concern as she followed the trail of thought aloud, "Sometimes I get the feeling that his powers work because he believes so whole heartedly. I'm not sure how reliable his luck would be if he doubted his ability to alter it."

Alex shook off the too somber bent of her thoughts with another little laugh, "Its cuz I'm projecting my mood a bit. It was an awesome and wonderful first date. Everything went just right."

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"I don't think powers can work that way, even luck," Erin countered. "I think he has to lose sometime. If he wants to be the leader on this new team thing, he's gotta be able to make plans and backup plans and stuff. Why would he do that if he never loses or screws up? If there's anything they've been trying to beat into us here, it's that powers can't do everything. He can't just grow up thinking things are always going to work out exactly how he wants them to. Even superheroes aren't that lucky."

Sliding off the bed, Erin sat cross-legged on the floor across from Alex. "But like I said, ten year plans are way too long range. You don't need to make yourself responsible for seeing he turns out right, just because you like kissing him." She glanced over at the alarm clock on Alex's desk. She should be in the gym right now, but she didn't want to go. "You tired?" she asked Alex instead. "We could play a game."

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"Oh, no. I agree he has to lose sometimes. I just think its going to be hard on him when it happens. I also think any crisis of faith may mess with his powers, too. But he'll come out stronger for it. After all, you can't truely believe in yourself until you've proven you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off after an utter failure."

After that bit of volunteered wisdom, Alex disolved into another cheery smile, "Sure! I love games."

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Erin laughed. "No, really? I never would've guessed that," she teased. Alex's proclivities meant that they already had a small pile of board games that had been liberated from the common room over the course of the summer. Erin crawled over to look through them. "Want to play Life?" she suggested. "You can name your little blue peg Mark, and jam him into the spinner to get the number you want."

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Alex let out a peal of laughter and agreed readily to the game. "Let's play life but I don't wanna be me for it! I already spend too much time planning out my future. Lets each pick one of our friends to try and play as. Like, I'll pick one for you and you pick one for me and then we'll try and see who can do the best. Like, James starts with way more money. Stuff like that!"

Alex started to set up the board as she chattered at her friend happily.

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"Hmm..." Erin took the tray of play money, dealing it out as she thought about it. "Okay, you're Mike," she decided. "You can go double the number of tiles on your turn if you want, because you can fly, but if anything bad happens to you, you skip a turn. And if the bad thing that happens is skipping a turn, you have to skip another turn. And... hmm.... you can have free Life Insurance, because you're basically indestructible. Like that?" she asked, pushing a pile of money and insurance to Alex.

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"Okay!" Alex agreed readily, accepting her piles of starting goods. She thought carefully before pronouncing, "Okay. You're Mark. You can ignore bad stuff that happens to you but only if you make an inspiring speech about it. That, and you can't go to college as you've got to go straight into super heroing. Does that sound fair?"

Alex stuck her little blue peg into the purple car as there wasn't a black car in the box and set it by the start.

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"Inspiring speeches?" Erin asked skeptically as she chose the blue car, popping a pink peg into the driver's seat. "All right, but if I have to do that, then you have to fold your arms and look sullen while you're missing your turns. And I may have to play Mark, but I'm still driving." She got out a blue peg as well, sticking it in the third row passenger seat. "I would say I should get all my insurances for free, but that's pretty lopsided. Maybe Mike can have a "Change into a swimsuit" move that gets him extra salary from photo shoots." She laughed at Alex's face. "Sure he's annoying sometimes, but he looks good."

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Alex gave her a lopsided grin, "Do you want sullen or do you want bad poetry? I have years of bad poem memories that my super-brain won't let me forget."

She blushed but didn't deny her best friend's good looks. Although she did point out, "Well, either of them could take a 'pose for the paparazzi' move for quick cash but you have to lose a turn from the shame of it all."

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"That's not fair, I don't actually think Mark has any shame," Erin pointed out, giving the spinner a twirl. "He'd lose a turn because he wouldn't stop posing till they actually turned the lights out on him. And sullen looks will be enough, I think. I do want to be able to eventually work with Mike without snickering at him. And part of that means having some tiny morsel of respect for his tortured soul."

She slid her car forward along the path, avoiding the college loop and heading for the first Payday. "Superheroes get crappy pay here, too. Sorry Mark, guess you're going to have to shake that blue peg booty when taxes come due."

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Alex giggled, "I'm pretty sure once Mike's out of this phase, he's gonna totally regret writing all that stuff down. A lot. I hope to be able to use it to tease him for years and years."

Zipping her car along, Alex headed for college, hoping to get the 'law' career as she spun the spinner. "I think superheroes either make billions and billions ore end up scraping by unless they retire. We'll all just have to sponge off James through college. Too bad we didn't have a third person to play him. I think you're right about Mark's posing though." Alex giggled again, "Did you see that speedo at my birthday!?"

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"Thoroughly," Erin replied, her tongue in her cheek. "It does go on the list of reasons to date him, even if only for the right now. With the way the guys around here look, I feel underdressed even when we're all wearing the same uniform." She spun the wheel again. "That's good though, makes it easier to blend into the back of the group. I don't think James would be a good piece for the game, sure he'd start with twice the money, but he could get pulled off the board at any time..." She pursed her lips suddenly, looking like she'd said something she hadn't mean to say. "I mean, with his family and all, they sort of control what he does, even though he acts like a rebel."

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Alex glanced up at her friend curiously, both brows lifting in silent question but she didn't push the matter as clearly there was some secret that Erin didn't just want to blurt out, "I suppose that's true. I mean, hopefully his folks wouldn't pull him out of life all together right?"

She gave her roommate a little grin and reached down to spin the spinner once more with an enthusiastic twist.

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"We could put Chris on the board," Erin suggested, changing the subject as she took her turn and gave herself a paycheck. "One blue peg and five pink pegs, but every few spins, one of the pink pegs gets the driver's seat and he moves to a totally random place on the board. "Or Darian, he could drive two cars stacked up on top of each other and poke the spinner while it was moving to stop it. But he couldn't get married, he's too young." She was biting her tongue over the thoughtless comment about James, but at least she didn't know anyone else's secrets.

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