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It took some doing, but if there was a student unaware of the end of the year party at the new AEON building, it wasn't for lack of trying. Now, while some students had... concerns over Alex being the entire decorating committee, when they arrived at the large ballroom near the top of the luxury building, those doubters were pleasantly surprised.

 

The entire room was decked out in creams and dark blues, gold serving as the accent. It was both a nod to the school colors and an elegant color scheme for the high quality linens. There was a dance floor, of course, and a dj set up in the corner along with a small stage. In another corner, a photographer was set up to do professional photos.

 

It was staffed with AEON personnell who had been gently coached to look the other way at any sudden displays of power. Alex had been over seeing the set up for much of the day, but she did vanish to her office to change and reappear shortly before the doors were scheduled to open. As tasteful as the ballroom was, it was no surprise that Alex was a bright spot of color in a dress that started in a butter yellow color at the neckline and slowly deepened to a deep red at the fluttering hem around her ankles. She was standing in the center of the dancefloor, looking up at the net of balloons attached to the vaulted ceiling, making certain that it wouldn't drop away early.

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As the decorating work finished up Mike stepped out the back and in a flash streaked across the city to his room at Claremont where his Tux awaited. It had been no mean feat to track down one that was well fitted in the first place. If he had been a more forward thinking type he might have bought instead of rented but somehow he still hadn't really processed that he would have many uses for one beyond tonight. With a burst of superhuman speed he traded out his faded jeans and t shirt for the fine suit and with a quick hand fixed his hair before launching himself back towards the venue arriving back in less than a minute to meet Alex on the dance floor corsage in hand as he approached with a wide smile.

"I think everyone will be suitably impressed." he said jovially as he pulled the delicate bundle of flowers from ifs container and offered to pin it for her.

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"Oh, that's not important. I just hope everyone has fun," Alex said with a bright smile as she turned around to face Mike and held still for him to pin the delicate flowers to her dress. When he was done, Alex smoothed her hands over the lapels of his jacket before adjusting his tie and beaming at him, "Don't you look handsome! You're going to dance with me tonight, aren't you?"

Alex tucked her arm through his as they strolled to the door as students started to trickle in.

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Alex's position as one-woman decorating committee caused some apprehension on account of her personal style ("the 16-year-old who acts like she's 40 and dresses like she's 8"), but certainly not on account of the workload, at least for those in the know. Zoe buzzed around the hall, blinking in and out of sight, seeming to teleport back and forth across the room, sometimes appearing to stand on the walls and ceiling as she dragged and taped and pinned and straightened banners and ribbons and bows, all at Alex's silent psychic direction.

"BOOM! OK, you guys cool here? Razor. I gotta go get ready." Like Mike, Zoe's return to the Claremont dorms took place practically with the snap of her fingers. The other girls in the bathroom on her floor had grown accustomed to the subtle signs of her passing, particularly the sounds of a shower, then a sink, turning immediately on and off which heralded her hygiene rituals.

No doubt to everyone's surprise, Zoe had let Alex talk her into something downright traditional when they went dress-shopping. It was mostly to appease Alex, since this whole event was her baby, but Zoe got kind of a strange thrill out of the novelty of looking halfway "sophisticated" for once. They'd chosen a strapless, floor-length silk gown with a lace-up back. She'd even caved in to Alex's suggestion of "Anything but black, please." She had to admit, the royal blue really brought out her eyes, and contrasted well against her fiery orange-red hair.

Of course, she'd made certain alterations to it, in order to "make it her own." After all, there was a difference between "appeasement" and "surrender." The giant white iron-on skull-&-crossbones had gone on surprisingly quickly, but pulling out half of the jewels lining the top and replacing them with tiny silver skull studs had taken her the better part of a day, even with her great speed. It would probably have taken a "normal" girl a week. Zoe had chosen a strapless gown specifically because it left room for her trademark spiked choker, and her wrists were likewise adorned (although she'd pried out a few of the spikes on her left bracelet to make room for the corsage).

Zoe wished she'd been able to get Alex to help her with her hair, but Alex had enough to do on-site. And besides, Eddie seemed to have looked forward to "picking her up and taking her to prom," which he couldn't have very well done if she'd already been there. She was fast enough to zoom there and back, but such a run would almost certainly flush all of Alex's hard work down the toilet anyway. So she did her best to fly solo, and didn't do half badly if she did say so herself. She bundled up most of her flaming tresses into a messy undone-bun, leaving a few locks loose here and there to frame her face, while the bulk of hair was raised far enough out of the way to show off her bare back, spiked choker, and her dangly silver Grim Reaper earrings.

She'd assumed that with super-speed at her command, she'd finish getting ready with plenty of time to spare before her date's arrival. But in practice, all that speed just gave her more time to tinker, reconsider, and then tinker some more. So she'd just barely put the finishing touches on her ensemble (which had cost her over two month's wages altogether) when Eddie finally came to pick her up.

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When Zoe had told Eddie she wasn't wearing all black to the prom, he'd had to work very hard to keep his jaw from hitting the floor. As it was, this proved a pleasant surprise for him. He'd wanted to pick something to match her dress, but with all black that would have been hard to do. After shopping around, Eddie finally found a navy blue vested tuxedo that would match the dress that Zoe had picked out.

Eddie decided to take his time getting ready for the formal. Which meant actually doing something with his hair. Instead of letting it lay sloppily across his head like he normally did, he decided to ensure that it was pushed up in all the wrong directions. Surprising, it came out quite well.

The tuxedo went on next, complete with traditional shirt, pants, and jacket. Instead of a long tie, Eddie picked out a bow tie to match his vest. He eventually turned out looking very dapper. He allowed himself to indulge only in one spot: The pirate-like cuff links.

On his way out the door of his parent's house, he grabbed the car keys, and then set his sights on Claremont. A few minutes later, a sonic blue Mustang Cobra purred it's way into the school parking lot. Eddie extracted himself from the driver's seat, and leaned up against the side of the car, waiting for his date.

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Zoe leaned out the window of her dormroom. "Hey Eddie! I'll be right down!" And she meant right down, as she grabbed her shoes and her purse off the bed, hiked up her dress, crouched down on the windowsill, and jumped. Her feet hit the brick wall below her running, and she quickly darted down the side of the building like she was jogging down a sidewalk. Once she'd hit actual ground, she brushed off the soles of her feet, slipped her heels on, and actuall walked over to the car, slow enough for Eddie to see for a change.

"Damn, Ozan." She looked him up and down. "You look downright classy today. I'm impressed." She brought her arms up and slowly turned around. "Whatta ya think? Do I clean up nice or what?" Then she took a double-take at the car. "Hey, it matches! Awesome...Waitasec..." She grabbed her PDA out of her purse, held it in front of the car for a moment, then blinked. "...Whoa. Isn't that like a $100,000 sports car?" She ran one hand along the hood. "How in the farking fark did you get your hands on this?"

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"The car matching your dress is kind of the point." Eddie was all smiles. "And you look absolutely stunning, baby."

Eddie stood up away from the car, and leaned in to kiss Zoe who was now about his height thanks to the heels. He pulled open the passenger side door and held it for her. "I don't get to BE classy very often, so I figured I go with it, just for tonight."

"Oh it's only about eighty grand, I'm sure. And as it turns out, James was able to hook me up," Eddie explained, "He's a great guy, isn't he?"

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"The car matching your dress is kind of the point." Eddie was all smiles. "And you look absolutely stunning, baby."

Zoe grinned, wrapped her arms around Eddie's neck, and kissed him on the lips. "Thanks, Babe."

"I don't get to BE classy very often, so I figured I go with it, just for tonight."

"It looks good on you. A lot better than I thought it would, honestly."

"And as it turns out, James was able to hook me up. He's a great guy, isn't he?"

Zoe went a little paler and stared like a deer in headlights for a moment, then shook her head and recovered her smile. "Yeah, James is awesome. He's a really great friend to you. Try to remember that, no matter what happens...Anyway! We're off!" She gave the top of the Mustang a slap. "Let's see what this thing can do!"

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James stood on the bridge, staring at the main screen and the scene of Earth rotating slowly on it. He was dressed to the nines, decked out in a perfect tux. He wore it as naturally as any set of comfortable clothing and he knew how good he looked in it. Yet he was still hesitating on whether to go to the prom or not. Yeah, he had promised Alex he would go tonight. Then later the same night, he'd apparently lost his brain and did something stupid. There were mitigating circumstances, but that didn't necessarily excuse anything.

Despite Phantom starting to get back into things, James was still covering most of the Mission. But her being back did give him more time yet he hadn't returned to campus just yet. Between those couple days and the talks he'd had with Phantom, he was still a little off balance and had chosen to go over his plans again and again. He couldn't afford to be wrong. A small part of him just didn't want to see a certain couple together; his imagination was making it bad enough when he allowed it to enter his mind at all.

He sighed, realizing he was procrastinating. Steeling himself up, he smoothed his expression, sliding into a cheery mask as he'd done a thousand times before. He was going to go and spend some time with his friends and just grin and bear the downside. He checked the time, noting that people would have started to arrive already. "Ok 'Seph. One to beam down." The targeting beam surrounded him with a white light and he vanished from his ship.

A moment later, directly in the open doors of the place, the light appeared as he beamed down. As it faded, James stood there in the center adjusting his cufflinks. He did have to make an entrance of course. He looked over at grinned at Alex and Mike. "Good evening. You two make a perfect couple, as always," he said with a smile, greeting them both. "Tonight you look particularly dazzling of course."

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She gave the top of the Mustang a slap. "Let's see what this thing can do!"

"Yea! Let's do it!" Eddie responded. He pulled the passenger side door open to let Zoe in, then went around to the driver's side himself. It took a few moments for her earlier statement to sink in, and it gave him pause when he went to open the door.

Zoe went a little paler and stared like a deer in headlights for a moment, then shook her head and recovered her smile. "Yeah, James is awesome. He's a really great friend to you. Try to remember that, no matter what happens...Anyway! We're off!"

Pulling the door open and swinging into the seat, Eddie turned to Zoe, "Wait a sec, James isn't in some kind of trouble, is he? Oh whatever, forget it. I'm sure he would have let me know if anything was really wrong. After all, he's the one who taught me how to drive this thing." Eddie rested his hand on the stick shift in the center console. "And truth be told, I really don't want to worry about it. James can take care of himself, and I really just want to enjoy tonight, with you." Eddie's smile was like solid gold. It was clear that he didn't have a care in the world. Everything in his life was fitting together piece by jigsaw sized piece from the concert bookings for his summer tour coming up, right on down to Zoe.

Eddie had been learning to drive stick for the past week or so. He wasn't an expert, but he knew a few of the tricks, including how to drop the clutch. He fired up the engine, and the radio (by simply pointing a finger at it). As it turned out, $80,000 sports cars came with really good sound systems.

Eddie placed his foot on the clutch and shifted the car into first gear. "Fasten your seat belt!" The radio began playing:

[groove]21708316[/groove]

"tlk tlk tlk tlk..." went the cymbals. With his foot still on the clutch, Eddie pressed down on the gas. The V8 engine revved powerfully. "tlk tlk tlk tlk Bow!..." At the first guitar chord, Eddie pulled his foot of the clutch, slamming the car into gear. "...Bana bow, bana bow!" The tires squealed as they spun on the pavement, burning rubber. "De deedle deedly deedle de!" At the first guitar riff, the blue 2010 Mustang Shelby GT Turbo Cobra tore out of the parking lot.

"I'm Back In Black!..."

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Mike smiled warmly to James as he approached, "Hey James good to see you it's been awhile." he said with a laugh "You even manage to look comfortable in yours, impressive." he joked as he tugged at the slightly too tight collar of his own tux. He looked down to Alex with a wide smile and agreed with James, "She really does doesn't she." he murmured with a happy smile.

After a moment he looked back to James, "So do my eyes deceive me? Is James Prophet dateless?"

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"He was talking to both of us," Alex protested laughingly, blushing fit to match her dress but she unwound herself from Mike's arms to quickly step out and offer James an easy hug, "Ignore Mike, you look great and I, for one, am glad to not have to share you with arm candy of the week. You'll dance with me, won't you, James?"

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James chuckled at Mike. "Practice makes perfect big guy. Wear them more and you'll be fine in no time. But yeah, I'm stag tonight. I'm still 'on call' almost full time so-to-speak," he said with a smile. He wasn't sure if Alex or even Erin had filled Mike in on his 'job' now but it could wait even if they hadn't. "It's starting to improve over the last couple days but I'm still pretty busy." He returned Alex's hug with a smile. "Indeed I was. You both look good." He nodded at the telepath. "I'd love to Alex. But I think your dance card will be full tonight," he said, nodding towards Mike with a grin.

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"We'll see about that." Mike said with a grin, not at all sure that he'd ever be comfortable in a tux. At James commentary on Alexs dance card being full it was mikes turn to blush but the hulking teen smiled and clapped his friend on the shoulder, "I'm sure we can make room for one." he said and added with a laugh, "It's not like you're gonna steal her away your not that kinda guy." he joked easily.

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"Oh, Mike," the petite redhead rounded on her boyfriend to poke his rock hard stomach with one slender finger pointedly, "I'm not some prize to be taken away. That is such a neanderthal statement to make. Free will, free choice and all that ring a bell?"

She smiled up at him and patted the place she'd just poked, "Please tell me that some of that has stuck for you..."

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Zoe grinned mischieviously. She ran her fingers through Eddie's hair as he drove, then dug her fingers into his scalp. "I got an idea. Let's live a little!" She slapped her other palm down on the dashboard, and pushed.

Eddie felt fireworks go off behind his eyes and that familiar sensation of momentary nausea ripple through him, just like the first time Zoe had bent the laws of physics around him. The road and lights and cars in front of and around him seemed to blur and stretch, then everything in the world seemed to stand still.

The car's tires wailed like a banshee as they left a trail of burnt rubber on the asphalt behind them. Zoe jerked the steering wheel to the right, sending the Mustang veering onto the sidewalk, and then into the building beyond. Except instead of crashing into the building, the Mustang ran up the side of the wall, racing perpendicular to the street but still driving along as if it were on the actual ground.

"ROADS?!" Zoe screamed and laughed as the Mustang tore through the city, pressing Eddie back into his seat yet, oddly enough, leaving no thunderous booms or shattered glass in its wake. "WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE DON'T NEED ROADS!!!"

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[groove]21718763[/groove]

"Wooohoohooooooo!"

As the next song started up, Eddie felt like his veins were on fire. He'd always loved driving to this song, but this? This was something totally different. The next two and a half minutes or so was just a blur of clutch, gas, handbrake, up shift, brake, clutch, downshift, up shift. Eddie wasn't even sure he was following his own actions. He was using all of his concentration to keep his eyes on the roads and the car on the ... Well, everything else.

They drove on the sides of buildings and roof of tunnels. The must have crossed Freedom City at least for or five times, and Eddie could have sworn that the even passed through California at one point.

But as the final words of the song came to a close they were back in the city, screeching to a halt in the parking lot of the AEON building where Prom was held. "Hooo man. THAT was amazing!" Eddie smiled at Zoe with his big bright top-of-the-world smile.

He stepped out of the car, and tossed the keys to a nearby Valet. "Fill'er up with Premium, if you could. I think I remember it hitting "E" when we crossed the border back from Mexico."

Eddie opened the passenger door for Zoe, "Shall we?"

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Mike smiled down at his girlfriend, "Hey I gotta be a seventeen year old boy part of the time right?" He teased with a wide smile before looking back to James, "Well I'm really glad you could pull yourself away from everything to make it out." he said warmly. "Wonder when everyone else is getting ..." He trailed off as he heard the car screech to a stop outside and looked through the walls to see Eddie and Zoe step out, "Well looks like Eddie and Zoe made it."

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At that juncture, there was a distinctive feminine ululation from outside, followed by Mark's "Wa-hi-hi-hoi!" as Zarana, daughter of Zartan the king of the Lost World, swung through the window of the dance hall, the two of them landing neatly inside, Mark carried in Zarana's arms as she dropped the retractable line she'd deployed from the roof and set them both down by the punch bowl. Mark, who'd been looking very depressed when his friends last saw him, looked at Zarana and said, "Okay, fine, that was freaking awesome!"

She grabbed him by his rented tux, kissed him on the lips and said, "You're welcome. Now get me some punch, Lucas!"

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Eve's stomach was knotted with anxiety and nervousness. It wasn't that she was unused to dances or social functions, far from it. As a daughter of old, old money, a descendant of Kings, Eve was frequently exposed to numerous social functions. But those were never among people she considered her peers. And that's what made this terrifying.

The limo pulled up to prom location, and Eve allowed herself to be impressed as she took in what she could through the dark tinted windows. It wasn't because of the building, but the girl, or rather the woman that owned it. She didn't know Alex, though she caught her news broadcast when she revealed who she was to the world and thought her at once incredibly brave and incredibly foolish. The Martel's learned their lesson hundreds of years ago about revealing their abilities to the general population, though admittedly that was a different time. Either way, Eve silently wished Alex the best of luck.

The white gloved chauffer opened the door, and Eve glanced to her left and offered a faint smile to her cousin Faith. Stepping from the limo first, the brightly lit porte-cochère made the diamonds making up her choker dazzle while the deep carmine silk of her strapless gown spilled to the ground, just lightly caressing the surface. Eve smiled and inclined her head to the chauffer before moving off.

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James smiled at Mike and nodded. "It's starting to ease up. I'll be around more when it does. But for you guys, I'm willing to take a break." He looked over as Mark and his date swung in through the window, shaking his head with a grin. "Looks like Mark is ready to blow off steam and do some relaxing. About time too," he said with a smile, despite not being able to be there for his friend. He nodded with a smile to Eve as she walked in. --"Evening Eve"-- he thought and said by way of greeting.

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The vintage 1940s limousine cut an impressive figure as it pulled up outside the AEON building to discharge its passengers. Erin had enjoyed the ride immensely, even though it had seemed better not to try taking the long, long car for a spin herself. It was nice to have people staring at her for positive reasons for once. She even remembered to take the chauffeur's gloved hand and let him help her out of the car like she was a celebrity stepping onto the red carpet. She was wearing the same dress she had to the PADLOC gala, the long, scoop-necked red dress accentuating her muscular body without making her look overblown, and the matching red heels bringing her nearly eye to eye with her date. Rhinestone combs glittered in her hair, matching a simple necklace and earrings.

There wasn't much of anyone to see their fashionable arrival, mostly a valet and a couple security guards, but it was still fun. She waited for Trevor to get out, then took his arm as they headed to the very top floor of Alex's skyscraper. "This place is amazing," Erin murmured as they rode up the spacious elevator. "I was here earlier to help out with the decorations, and it's just huge. It's hard to believe it's all Alex's, and that it's all brand new. She really works fast when she sets her mind to something."

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Following Erin out of the limo, Trevor gave the chauffeur a familiar nod before turning to look up at the skyscraper. "Impressive that she runs all this," he agreed softly. Trevor had opted to wear crimson tie that had been fashioned from the same fabric as his date's dress, a solitary spot of vibrant colour atop a black silk dress shirt. His suit, tailored exactingly to his lean form, was similarly dark, matching his ever present fedora. Somehow the young man's calm composure managed to prevent the look from coming across as ostentatious, and it seemed apropos to attend the event for young metahumans in his family colours, so to speak.

He offered his arm to Erin, and the pair made their way inside. "Been looking forward to tonight," he admitted as the elevator carried them upward. The sentiment was apparently genuine, even if his stoic demeanor made any excitement difficult to perceive. The carefully neutral expression couldn't help but give way to a small smile any time he looked at the auburn haired young woman, however.

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Alex smiled her greeting to the psychic cousins as they arrived and winced a little at the usual Zarana cry. She turned briefly to one of the white jacketed waiters to quietly say, "You can shut that window now. Thank you."

She released Mike's arm to head over to give Erin a hug and smile brightly at her date, "Good timing. Zoe just got here as well so they'll be up as soon as they're done with the valet. You could hear the stereo practically from up here. You look lovely! Its very nice to meet you for real, Trevor. I'm Alex."

The last was probably unnecessary but she didn't say it with any artifice.

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Mike followed Alex up to the new arrivals with a smile looking only mildly uncomfortable in the monkey suit he had squeezed into for the occasion. "Glad you made it." he said to Erin and Trevor, "Quite the set of wheels man." he added as he offered Trevor his hand. The several thousand feet to the lobby was like a few dozen to the average persons sight. He glanced around with a wide smile, "Looks like the gangs all here."

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