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Gizmo

Midnight In Her Eyes IC

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After the city wide epidemic of rampaging zombies had abruptly come to a halt, Trevor had wanted to speak with Erin immediately, concern for how she was handling the severe trauma competing with guilt for prioritizing the his mission over her well being. He was fairly sure she understood his reasons, but even after taking out some aggression on the undead hordes, or perhaps because of it, logic was still taking a backseat in his thought processes. Unfortunately, her single-minded insistence on scouring all of Freedom personally to ensure the threat was ended forced him to wait. His endurance simply couldn't match Erin's, and after the evening's exertions and having forgone sleep for the better part of a week, he was in no condition to keep up with her.

Days passed, and urgency slowly turned to awkwardness as the time continued to elapse. The dark haired young man finally steeled himself against his own angst, unwilling to let the issue fester to be brought up at a later, unknown and likely inopportune moment. Wearing his matte black jacket unbuckled over a light brown shirt despite the autumn chill, Trevor headed outside, a pair of covered travel mugs in hand, the brim of his fedora pulled down over the oval lenses of his sunglasses.

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It wasn't easy to find Erin today, she wasn't in any of her usual haunts, and nobody had seen her in a few hours. Finally he ran into Oliver, who although he was a bit cool and didn't purr and rub up against Trevor's legs like usual, apparently took pity on him. The cat led him to the emergency stairs to the roof of the dorm, then left him to his own devices, apparently trusting that the young engineer would get the message.

Erin was sitting on top of the HVAC assembly at the center of the roof, a high vantage point that let her keep an eye out not only over the campus, but of the surrounding area beyond the wall as well. She had her books stacked up beside her, but was just sitting for now, looking out over the city around them. She looked really tired, which for Erin meant she was probably pulling an all-weeker, rather than an all-nighter. As soon as his feet hit the gravel roof, she turned sharply to look at him, then smiled. "Hey stranger."

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Trevor gave Oliver a grateful nod as the cat padded away, unsure as always of just how much the orange tabby was able to understand. Ignoring a final stab of concern that he hadn't given Erin sufficient space yet, he continued on to the roof. At the young woman's greeting, he offered a small smile of his own. "Hey." Continuing forward, he crouched, folding his legs beneath him to sit next to her and set one of the travel mugs down near her knee. There was a long moment of silence before he continued. "...so. How are you doing?" Trevor's voice was quiet, but his inflection made it clear it wasn't idle smalltalk.

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Erin looked at him, then out over the grounds again. She suspected he wouldn't take a generic "okay" for an answer, for all he wasn't the type to pry. "Getting better," she told him instead, which was sort of true. "I didn't even get detention, and that's a minor miracle." She'd been doing tons of time in Marquez's office, between the trip to Anti-Earth and the zombie thing, but when he'd seen how shaken she was after the invasion, he hadn't assigned punishment on top of that. "How are you doing? How's your grandpa?"

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"He's fine. Nothing got close to the manor that the auto defenses couldn't handle." Trevor used taking a sip from his steaming mug as an excuse to trail off for a moment. Placing his free hand on the back of his neck, he cleared his throat self-consciously. "Wanted to give you your space. Well. Not 'wanted', obviously, I mean- You know what I mean." Suppressing a grimace, he joined her in looking out over the campus from their vantage point.

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"I was kind of freaking out," Erin acknowledged, trying to sound matter-of-fact about it. "It's okay, I needed some time to, you know, pull myself together again." She ran a hand over her hair and tugged on the ends, shoving aside the confused tangle of embarrassment and loneliness that had been underlying zombie paranoia for the last few days. Eventually she would work through the stupider emotions, but until then, she didn't really want to show them off. "Like I said, getting better now. I checked all over the city, and nobody's seen any zombies for days. Even Dead Head is laying pretty low, though apparently he's still around somewhere. I guess we did all right."

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"Guess so," Trevor agreed, his naturally subdued tone masking some of the lack of conviction. Looking down at the stainless steel lid of his mug for a moment before continuing. "Listen, before, in the Manor. I'm sorry. I should have.." The young man's jaw worked silently for a moment, opening and closing as he tried to finish the sentence. "Don't know. Something different." Even with his inexpressive face largely hidden behind hat brim and sunglasses, his body language was miserable, lean shoulders slumping.

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"You did the right thing," Erin replied quietly, keeping her eyes trained on the campus below. "We both know it. It was... it was a bad moment for me, and I shouldn't have asked you to stay. I know it wasn't fair. Your first priority is protecting the city and the people, and that's the heroic way to be, right?" The words sounded almost rehearsed, as though she'd worked on them ahead of time. "I just... I was so afraid," she admitted, then subsided, taking a long drink from her own cup. The caffeine didn't touch the weariness, but it was something to do with her hands.

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"Doesn't feel like the right thing," Trevor responded with surprising vehemence, his body language turning even more withdrawn. The tall youth shifted his weight as though to stand up, but evidently reconsidered, settling for setting his mug down on the roof beside him. "Should've been able to do both," he insisted, placing one hand over the bridge of his nose as his mouth compressed into a fine, twisted line. "Figured something- I-" There was an audible grinding of teeth as he struggled. "You shouldn't ever have to feel that way."

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The corners of Erin's mouth turned up in a humorless smile. "Well, sometimes life sucks," she pointed out. Cradling her coffee in both hands, she looked over at him, not sure what to do with him or for him now. She was trying really hard to be adult about this, but it didn't seem to be working. Telling him the rest, that she'd felt hurt that he cared more about strangers than about her in that moment, that was hardly going to help, and it would be embarrassing, too. She was supposed to be a hero herself, wasn't she? "Heroes have to do the right thing even if it sucks, even if it hurts," she said aloud. "There's not really anything we can do about that. And I don't know what you could've done differently anyway, even looking back at it."

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Trevor was quiet for a long moment, covering one fist with his other hand and resting them under his nose. "Remember when I told you how my grandfather kept fighting, kept making the right choices even when the heroes with powers gave up?" he asked finally, his voice soft enough that without her enhanced hearing Erin would have had to strain to make out the words. "Always thought, if you did that, it wouldn't matter what anyone else said or did or thought, because you'd know." He couldn't even look in her direction as he admitted, "Feel like I don't know anything anymore."

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Erin put down her coffee before she dented the cup on accident, massaging the bridge of her nose with her fingertips as she tried to think. "You didn't do anything wrong, Trev," she said again, hoping to find some words that would help. "I don't want you to feel bad because you're a better hero than I am, cause that's just stupid. Maybe I was kind of upset, maybe I had to take a couple of days to think about it, but that's nothing to do with you. Dr. Marquez is always telling me that even if I can't control anything else, I can control my own feelings and reactions, and he's right. I already said I should't have asked you to not go. I don't know what else I can say."

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Trevor finally looked over at Erin, his expression startled. "What? That's crap," he retorted immediately, the blunt words spilling forth before he could rethink them. "You can't honestly-- Erin, you've single-handedly taken down innumerous villains, stopped multiple incursions from other dimensions and other planets-- I watched you go toe-to-toe with Superior, for God's sake." The young man's body language practically unfolded outward, going from withdrawn to animated, as he punctuated his points with expressive hand gestures. "When we were overrun with the one thing you had every right imaginable to be terrified of, you were out there anyway, making sure I didn't get my fool neck snapped."

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"It's not about that," Erin said, waving all that aside impatiently. "That's just having superpowers that let me hit things, and being at a school where I train fifty hours a week. I'm not like you or Mark or Alex, with the whole... I don't know, the heroic mindset I guess. I want to do the right thing and help people, yeah, but sometimes I feel like I'm just doing hero work to pay off my debt to the Freedom League, or prove I'm not crazy, or to make sure I have a job after graduation."

She scrubbed her face. "If I could feel it like you do, I'd be a better hero. Anyway, I really don't want you to be messed up just because I was. Zombies screw up enough stuff already."

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Trevor raised a finger and opened his mouth to object again, but after a moment slumped down again. The barely halted outbursts, so out of character for him, clearly demonstrated how close to the edge of self control he found himself. Leaning back on his palms so that his jacket fell open, he managed a weak attempt at a smile. "Heh. Zombies do screw stuff up." Bleakness crept back into the corners of his shielded eyes. "I... just wanted you to know that I am sorry."

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"I'm not mad at you," Erin told him, happy to turn the conversation as well. "I just hope you don't think differently about me after all of that, after I told you about where I come from, and we had all that stuff with the zombies. It was kind of bad timing all around. I probably should've told you earlier, then it wouldn't all have happened at once and been so, you know, weird. I've had to talk about my past before, when I first got here and to the doctors, but you're the first person I've told it all to who matters."

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"It... was a lot to process all at once," Trevor admitted, raking a hand through his black hair, tipping his fedora backward. "Knew it had to be bad, but..." Lowering his hand, the young man shook his head slowly. "Never wanted to pry, but it means a lot that you told me. Can't even imagine how hard it must be to talk about." He recognized the faith Erin was putting in him by doing so, and was determined to live up to it.

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"It's easier not to talk about it," Erin acknowledged, looking over at him. "It's not like it's ever not there in part of my mind, but talking makes me think about it more. And then I always wonder how people are going to react, if they're going to be all freaked out, or think I'm lying, or whatever, even if I'm only telling a little bit. But I do feel better because I told you. It's easier if we understand where we're both coming from, I think." She shrugged and picked up her coffee again, feeling a little bit more on balance.

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Trevor murmured in agreement, looking over at Erin. "Glad it helped a little," he told her softly, removing his sunglasses with one hand and placing them in one of his jacket's many pockets. "If hearing it all changed anything, I'm just more amazed. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for, and I'm not talking about powers." Placing his hands behind his head, he laid down on the cool rooftop and looked up at the autumn sky.

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Erin folded her legs under her, turning so she faced Trevor while he lounged. "Thanks," she told him quietly. "It doesn't usually feel that way, but I guess when it takes so long to get better, I don't really feel it happening. But I know I'm stronger and more secure than I was last year, or the year before that. It's been two full years now, I came over on October 17 in 2008. It seems weird to think about it that way." Giving in to the moment, she set aside her coffee and stretched out next to him, letting the campus and the city watch over themselves for a few minutes. "Pretty day."

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Trevor murmured indistinctly in agreement, though he wasn't looking up at the sky anymore. Sliding closer to Erin on the rooftop, the young man gingerly ran a hand across her cheek and through auburn hair, long, lean fingers still warm from the coffee mug. Propping himself up on one elbow, he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the forehead, backing away just enough for his distinctively discoloured eyes to trace the lines of her face, the corner of his mouth tugging upward in a guileless grin.

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Erin smiled faintly, tired eyes warming as she looked up at him. "I'm glad you came to find me," she told him, reaching up to slide her fingers through his hair, then behind his neck, drawing him down for a better kiss. Maybe not everything was resolved in her head or her heart, but that would solve itself in time. Things were okay with Trevor again, and that was really good. And it wouldn't be that bad to hang around Freedom City after graduation. There was plenty to do...

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