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Cyroa

Just like old times (IC)

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James needed a break. Seriously. This schedule he’d been keeping lately was getting a bit much. Besides being ‘on-call’ 24/7 for the Guardian bit which was always busy since Phantom was still enjoying motherhood (and he couldn’t blame her for taking the time; she deserved it), he was on call for Young Freedom (which had been pretty quiet lately), the same for the Midnighters (which was never really a quiet thing). On top of that he was spending what little time was left learning about his new ship, what it could do and about 'Seph. He needed a break. Several really. He settled for short intermissions/breaks.

As it was, he felt bad enough that he hadn't spent much time with Erin lately. Besides the occasional call for her help beating the tar out of some dimensional issue, he hadn't seen her. The few times he had popped over to school lately, she hadn't been around. Apparently he just kept missing her which sucked in its own way. But after what had happened with Mark's dad and the whole altered reality thing, he wasn't willing to just let it slide due to his insane life. Admittedly, it had taken him a while to get here, but still...

She wasn't in the lounge, she wasn't in the simulations, so all that was left was the gym before he had 'Seph try and find her. His demon enchanced smelling would recognize her scent anywhere though and lead him to her. He walked into the gym, leaning against the door jam and just watched for a few moments.

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Erin was working on agility tonight, as was quickly apparent, High above the gym floor, she swung from the trapeze bars and caught onto the thick pipes running just below the ceiling, swinging and flipping as though engaged in a chase with an imaginary enemy. There was a ropes course up there that she made incidental use of as well, grabbing onto anything that came to hand as she maneuvered her way around the room with great speed and grace. It wasn't until she stopped for a quick breather that she spotted James at all.

Grinning, she let go of the rope she was holding and dropped the thirty feet to the ground, landing neatly with an echoing slap of shoe rubber. "Hey, long time no see," she told him, heading to the warm up benches for a clean towel. "They must be keeping you busy."

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James chuckled. "They meaning the magical/dimensional problem of the moment or they meaning one of the two groups I'm part of?," he said with a chuckle. "But yeah...it's always something. I just can't catch a break some days I guess. No emergency today though," he said holding up his hands as he walked over. "Figured I'd take a little break to see how you're doing. It's been a while after all and I've really missed hanging out with you. That and I wanted to make sure you were ok after that stuff with Mark's dad. Sorry I didn't get here sooner. Things have been...well, busy and odd as usual I guess."

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"I'm doing okay," Erin told him with a shrug, wiping her face and neck. She'd been at it for more than an hour, which was enough for even her to break a healthy sweat. "Maybe better than some, I mean, I didn't get any extra memories of a second life or weird stuff like that. I think Eve's had kind of a tough time, but she's getting better." Erin frowned, leaning against a pommel horse. "Mark's taking it really hard, of course. I've never seen him like this before. He's never really had anything bad happen to him, I guess, and now this."

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James nodded. "Yeah, she has. I talked to her a little bit ago. She's had it hard for a long time, this just made it like rubbing salt in an open cut." He shrugged. "Took her out to relax and loosen up. She certainly needs it." He sighed. "I want to help Mark but he needs some time to adapt. Having his world view come crashing down isn't exactly the easiest thing to accept," he said sadly. "I'll have to check on him in a couple days. See if there isn't something I can do to help."

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Erin nodded. "Alex and I talked to him when he finally came back to school, but I'm sure talking to a guy would help too. You might have to start it, though. It's kind of weird, but I think he thinks we're going to be bored or mad or something if he tries to tell us about his problems. I guess because he's not used to having them." She tossed the towel aside and took a drink of water, watching him. "How are you doing since we got back? Besides being busy, I mean. You got a weird doubled-life too."

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He nodded. "Did it help him you think? I'll track him down, definitely." He looked back, meeting her eyes. "That's all fine. My life's weird enough that I adjust pretty easily and I don't recall all that much anyway. Though oddly, enough, I've had a little extra stuff to keep me busy and drive that home." He shrugged one shoulder. He'd planned on keeping this a secret a while longer but this was Erin. "You remember that ship we were one briefly? My/his ship? Well, it's here. Along with this rather nice and perky AI too. What little free time I've had is trying to figure that one out," he said with a wry smile.

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That got a surprised look out of Erin. "Wait a second, that huge spaceship with all the monitors and the flashy lights? It followed you home? How is that even possible? Everything else changed back like it was supposed to. All of us, our stuff, all the people." She looked up towards the ceiling as though she'd magically catch a glimpse of a ship in orbit. "Do you think it means that things might not be changed back as much as we thought they were?"

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He nodded. "Yep. It's up there. And I think it's a unique occurrence. Apparently 'I' made it to be able to be a stable point in case of reality and temporal quakes or something. When things changed back, the ship's stabilizers or whatever kept it from being affected by the temporal ripple. It was quite a surprise when she beamed me up like a day later. Apparently its got some impressive sensors too. Didn't even get a warning. I took the tour right after that. It's a big ship, he said with a shrug.

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"Weird," Erin said. "I guess maybe it's like me, it stays the same when everything else changes, or remembers when everyone else forgets, something like that. But it came after you, like on its own initiative?" she asked , hopping up to sit on the pommel horse. "Or is there a crew on there that came along too? That would be really weird," she mused. "Probably worse than going from our world to theirs, coming from that world to here."

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He nodded. "Yeah, I think it is. The sensors on that thing could tell you I guess." He shook his head a little. "Uh, no. There's actually an AI. She's called Persephone. She runs the whole thing, has a small army of robots to do the work. She seems to have adjusted pretty fast; certainly smarter than I am," he said with a chuckle. "There's no one else up there though. Just me. Well, besides the menagerie that is. Still, think she's kind of lonely a lot. Kind of one reason I've been up there a lot. I need to get the Interceptors' computer number at some point," he said as an afterthought.

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"So you have a giant spaceship, a sentient computer to run it, and a menagerie up there?" Erin asked, caught between amusement and astonishment. "That's... well, I guess it explains what's been keeping you so busy, for sure. But what are you going to do with it? I mean, do you actually need a giant spaceship full of animals, now that the world isn't a crazy figment of Mark's dad's imagination?"

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James just chuckled. "Yeah. Freaking weird. It actually the smallest of the things keeping me busy lately. But it does eat up what little time I've had lately," he said, shrugging one shoulder. "Need? Seriously doubt I need all of that at the moment. Might have a few ideas how to use it but will have to see. 'Sides, it isn't like I can't _not_ take them you know?" He looked her over. "So you're ok though? What have you been up to lately? I've missed you the few times I manage to check in down here."

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"I haven't really been off campus that much," Erin told him. "Took a couple solo patrols, went out with Trevor and busted some criminals, but not too much else. Maybe you caught me on nights when I was actually sleeping?" she suggested with a half-smile. "Ended up tangling with that zombie one more time, but he got away with his head. I don't really know if that means I'm improving or losing my touch. It was hassling a new hero in town, trying to scare her with a bunch of skeletons because she dared walk into a cemetery at night or something." She shook her head, then brightened a little. "But Alex is wrapping up work on setting up her company, so she's been around more lately, and Mike too. The whole gang back on campus, at least for a little bit longer."

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He nodded a little. "Maybe that was it," he said with a shrug. "DH bothering you again? I really need to have a talk with him I think," he muttered. He did smile at her though at that comment. "You've been improving for a while now. Nice to see you're noticing it though. Who's the new hero? And I'm guessing you helped get her settled and out of there?" He nodded and looked wistful. "Man, I haven't seen Alex and Mike in...geez, I don't even know how long." He looked at her steadily. "I might not be around much but I'm here if you guys need me. Call and I'll make time. No matter what, no matter when," he said seriously. "'Sides, my crazy schedule has got to slow down at some point," he said hopefully.

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"Her name's Lady Winter, I don't know much about her except that she just moved from Russia. I took her to Alex, Alex is a sucker for hard luck cases." Erin grinned. "She got her set up with a place to live till she can find her feet, keep her from having to spend the nights in a graveyard anymore. And I know you're around if we need you," she told him, equally seriously, "but don't you have enough to do lately? You're doing more work than any three superheroes could keep up with. How long are you going to try and keep up this pace?"

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James nods, pondering a second. "I wonder if she knows Atlas," he said half to himself. He shrugged given that it was not too likely. Just the same, he'd have to ask the big guy at some point. "'Least she's settled in."

He shrugged one shoulder. He probably shouldn't mention some recent ideas at this point given that question. "I'll keep it going as long as I have to. Just like you would or Mark or Alex or any of the other guys. I spent the first however-many years just having fun and blowing off caring. And I'm not trying to make up for it. But you know what I'm doing now. It's not something that I can just quite or walk away from. It's vital., important And I actually feel like its a job I was meant to. It's just been a bit rough having to completely cover for Phantom. But it has been a little easier lately as I've learned more. She'll be back eventually and then I'll have time to spare," he said with a cocky smile. He was tired, sure. But so far he was handling it alright. "She's been doing this job herself for a few years. I can't really begrudge her a few months off despite me being the rookie of the team. I can suck up exhaustion for a little while without complaint. Part I'm sorry for is not being around much for you and the others." He'd grown up quite a lot in the last half years, most of which he had to thank his friends for.

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"I can understand about working hard," Erin told him. "But as you yourself have told me a few times, there's a difference between working hard and working yourself into the ground. You never seem to have any free time anymore, or any fun. That's not a good way to set yourself up for a long and successful career." She paused for a second. "Are you sure this doesn't have anything to do with trying to make up for what happened last November?"

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He grinned at her using his own words. "Nah. It's just temporary. I've had a couple nights off here and there, just not as much as I'd like. It won't last forever, just till Phantom gets back on her feet and up to speed. And, honestly, its been a bit busy dimensionally speaking what with problems and research and whatnot. It'll slow down I'm sure." He paused a long moment in thought. "No, not really. I don't really feel a lot of guilt anyway. Least, not about that anyway."

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"Long as you're sure," Erin told him. "So, you free tonight?" she asked with a grin. "I haven't had a good Mario Kart tournament in awhile. I think the Wii is getting dusty in there, what with people going home for summer. I bet your reflexes have gotten really slow though, I might have to handicap you a few cartlengths..."

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James nodded with a smile. "Even if I wasn't free, I'm making time now. Games it is." He laughed. "I don't think so. I'm fairly certain all the fighting and stuff has kept them limber. They might not be video-game level awesomeness, but they aren't that rusty. I'll still take the spotting me some distance though," he said with a wry grin. She had certainly come a long way since those first few days. "Last one there sets the games up!" Even as he finished speaking, he vanished to reappear sitting on the couch with a big smile on his face. James had little trouble with cheating obviously.

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