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Lone Star

The Odd Couples (IC)

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December 4th, 2010. 8 PM. Weather: Cool and windy.

Blake was seated outside of the restaurant. It was an Olive Garden in Kingston, and he was dressed up. Blake wore a white dress shirt, with a blue blazer and blue slacks, and slicked his hair back. He personally thought he looked pretty dashing himself. The air outside was cool, but the forecast said a cold front would be coming in soon. It was 8:00 PM, and Blake was waiting outside. People walked in and out of the restaurant- it was quite busy. Nicer places in Freedom City quickly became busy on weekend nights. He had been looking forward to this date, and hoped it would go well for his new friend Corbin. He had to admit, Corbin did pretty well asking her out. So until the rest of the group arrived, Blake waited.

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Jessica pulled up to the restaurant in her big truck, the black vehicle defined more by the light shining off it than its own bulk. She had to circle the place twice before she found a parking space, way in the back of the lot. She was dressed in a green silk blouse a denim skirt that ended just at her knees, designed more for sitting next to her boyfriend and rubbing knees under the table then dashing across an asphalt parking space in the blowing snow. At least she'd had the sense to wear shoes with enclosed toes and flat soles.

She made it to the bit of pavement encircling the restaurant and hurried around to the front, where Blake was waiting. She smiled and walked up to him, throwing an arm across his shoulders and pressing in tight, more for the warmth than any intimacy. She put a kiss on his cheek (that was for the intimacy) and glanced between the rapidly-filling restaurant and the dark parking lot. "Hi, honey. Do you want to wait for your friend before we get a table?"

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Blake smiled and kissed her back, a long warm kiss. "Hmm. I think we should probably go in. It's getting pretty crowded, and we don't want to have to wait for a table." Blake pulled out his cell phone and texted Corbin "We're getting a table, see you in there." He then stood up, and held her hand as they walked inside. The waitress, dressed nicely in a dress shirt with a tie smiled at them and asked "How many in your party?" Blake squeezed Jessica's hand gently and said "Table for four, please." They were led to their table towards the back of the restaurant. Blake sat down next to Jessica, and smiled at her. "I haven't had good Italian in a while. Have you been doing okay?" His face changed to one of concern. He put a hand over hers, and looked deep into her eyes.

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Jessica moved away from Blake as they stepped into the warmer restaurant, but she kept her hand in his and squeezed back. She seated herself on Blake's right, distant etiquette lessons coming to the fore, smoothing out her skirt once she was seated. Her slight smile faltered at Blake's question, the events of the last month or so rushing back into her mind with crystal clarity. Sometimes, perfect recall could be a real bitch. "I'm doing okay," she assured him, squeezing his hand. On an impulse, she brought his hand up and kissed his knuckles, briefly. She resolutely pushed those feeling away, focusing on the chance to spend time with her boyfriend. "I don't want to talk about that, though. I just want to enjoy tonight." She took a breath and her smile returned. "So, tell me about your friend. Is he going to Claremont, too?"

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Blake smiled warmly, his eyes shining. "Yeah! Corbin's a really cool guy. We met in the lobby of our dorm. He's an artist too, and has great taste in music. And like I was telling you before, I kind of gave him a little hand asking Quo-Dis out. I knew he'd get her, though. Because when you learn from the best, you...don't mess with the rest." Blake said as he grinned at his improvised rhyme. "You'll like him. He's a hero too, of course...he's called Cobalt Templar. He can make blue armor and different objects from his power source, which I think is a ring of some sort. It's pretty boss. He smiled at her. "I've never met Quo-Dis, before. I don't know very much about her, other than the fact that she's called Ultiteen and she's an alien."

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Meanwhile, outside in the parking lot, a dark blue car pulled in and circled around. The driver seemed to have a bit of urgency in his navigation, but still displayed at least some patience.

"I'm so sorry, Quo. I didn't anticipate that accident on the freeway. There's not even ice on the roads! Some people just can't drive-Ah! Parking spot."

Quick as lightning, Corbin swung the dark gray car he was driving into a suddenly-free spot. It was a late 90's Mercedes-Benz, albeit one of the comparatively cheaper E-Class models. Still, it was in top condition. Corbin himself quickly stepped out almost as soon as the engine was off.

He was wearing a black pair of slacks and a black blazer, with a dark blue dress shirt underneath. He'd forgone any sort of tie, and his black shoes were obviously a compromise of "comfort" and "dress". He shut the driver's door and half-jogged over to the passenger side, the biting winds not even making his cheeks red. He got the passenger door open, and offered a hand to Quo-Dis.

"Right then. Shall we, milady?"

His eyes sparkled with a bit of mischief at the "milady".

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Jessica's smile grew wider as Blake described his friend to her. "I think I teamed up with him once," she said. "Me, him, Dragonfly, and a couple others all ran across this warehouse at about the same time. Inside there were some cultists, some zombies -- the usual run of the mill mystic criminal types, I suppose." She waved her free hand in the air, as if batting the question away. "He did pretty good in the fight, actually. Took down his share of dead men, at the very least." A waiter came by and filled their water glasses; when he made to take away the extra two, she stopped the man with a curt gesture.

"So you're never met Ultiteen before? If she goes to Claremont, shouldn't you have seen her around campus?" On the surface the idea of Blake knowing someone just because they went to the same school was ridiculous; Jessica certainly didn't know everyone at HIT. She's always been isolated because of her genius though, and she'd imagined that Claremont was different. Most of the students lived on campus, for one, and there was the whole superpower angle to bring them together.

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Quo-Dis stepped out of the car looking gorgeous in a red dress, cut high at the leg, and tall heels that still didn't bring her up to Corbin's great height. She walked in them with smooth ease, though, her natural command of vril making balance a snap. She took Corbin's hand and gave him a bold look. "Yes, let's." As they walked into the fancy restaurant, she hmmed, thinking about what she'd heard from Corbin about Blake's relationship with his girlfriend. She paid little heed to their surroundings, not having any particular interest in how they served food here, but focused on the teens when the waiter brought them over and Corbin started making introductions.

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"No, I've just heard of her in passing. But yeah, I'm glad my buddy got a date with her. Ah! Speak of the devil." Blake watched the strange couple walk in. Corbin, wearing a black suit with a blue shirt, and Quo-Dis, wearing an incredible red dress. He had to stop himself from whistling, lest he get a black eye.

Blake waved at them. "Hey, you two! You two look great together, I gotta say." He smiled at them and squeezed Jessica's hand gently.

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Corbin smiled at his beautiful date, a part of him still amazed he even managed this. It seemed like only yesterday he was shyly asking her on a date, after stumbling and bumbling his way into explaining that, no, Student Body hadn't sent him to humiliate her.

He gently guided her hand around his arm, even as he closed the already-locked car door, hustling them inside.

'Thought I doubt either of us feels the cold too much...' he thought with a smile to himself.

He nodded to the waiter with a smile when they arrived inside, and smiled wider when he spotted his already-basically-best-friend and girlfriend. He reached out to shake each of their hands, then nodded to Quo-Dis.

"Blake! Good to see you. Jessica, it's a pleasure. Guys, this is Quo-Dis. Quo-Dis, this is Blake Salazar and Jessica Parker."

Corbin pulls out Quo's chair, helping her get seated, before settling himself into a chair.

"Thanks again for joining us tonight, you two. It's fun just the two of us going out, but sometimes you need a couple friends along as well."

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Jessica was facing away from the doors, so when Blake reacted to his friend walking in she had to twist in her seat to see the other woman. Instantly, she felt under-dressed for the occasion, sitting across from Quo-Dis. Still, she kept a smile on her face and reached over to shake Corbin's hand lightly, once he was seated. "It's very nice to see you again, Corbin. I'm sorry for running out when I did, but -- well." She waved her hand in the air, brushing the topic aside. "I don't think anyone was in full control of themselves in that fight."

The young woman turned slightly and smiled at Quo-Dis. "Hello. I'm Jessica Parker. Do you like to be called Quo-Dis, or just Quo?" Despite her genius, most of Jessica's training had been in technical fields. She didn't know much about the many extraterrestrial races that visited Earth on what seemed to be a regular basis. It seemed best to ask, rather than risk an intergalactic incident.

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"Quo-Dis," said the Ultiteen, a hint of firmness in her voice. "I call other people by their names, at least when we are not training or fighting, and so would like to be called by my own name." From the sound of things, she'd had this conversation before with other teenagers. "It's a pleasure to meet you both," she said with a smile. "I enjoy meeting people. How long have the two of you been a couple?" she asked. When the waiter stopped by for their beverages, she immediately ordered a Coke "from the bottle, please", sighing a little as she glanced at the wine list.

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"We've been dating for almost five months now." He smiled at Jessica. She looked positively charming in her dress. He was glad they were able to arrange this on such short notice. Blake ordered a water. "But this is the first double date we've ever been on. I've been really looking forward to it." He smiled and undid his napkin, placing it in his lap. "How are you liking Claremont so far, Corbin? Pretty cool, huh?" Blake said. He was more than happy to have helped him get a date with Quo-Dis, but it probably wouldn't be best to bring up around her.

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The boy in blue waved off Jessica's apologies.

"That was an unpleasant encounter for all involved. I don't know that any of us gave a good showing that day."

Corbin's awkward glance at Quo-Dis showed the two teens had briefly discussed the "name issue" as well. Obviously that minor hurdle had been overcome.

When the waiter turned to Corbin, he thought for a moment, then ordered simple water as well.

"Glad to know we all looked forward to tonight. As for Claremont..."

Corbin sat back a bit, a thoughtful look crossing his face.

"I like it more every day. I feel like I'm getting challenged in all the right ways. Workload doesn't feel stupidly large. The career councilor is taking my talk of history and archeology very seriously. Plus..."

He smirked as he flashed his blue-gem-ring at the others.

"Plenty of time for side jobs, as well. And even some great workout rooms, you know?"

He turned to Quo-Dis with a smile, before turning to Blake and giving him a fist held up, prepared for a "brofist".

"I've managed to meet some really cool people already. I think I'm going to fit in just fine."

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"Corbin is very interesting to me. Not many teenagers are so interested in the recent past of his people the way he is." It took Corbin a moment to put that into context: it wasn't often his interest in ancient archeology got that label. She listened carefully as Blake described his relationship with Jessica, then studied the other girl herself in turn with laser-like intensity. She had a deep stare; one that seemed to bore right into you, but it wasn't an unfriendly look either. "My roomate, Zarana, has many relationships, but I've never had a chance to talk to both parties at the same time before. Dating is very interesting so far. Have the two of you had intercourse yet?" she inquired seriously.

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Jessica listened to Corbin talking about himself and Claremont, comparing what she knew about the school to her own house and the Lab. Claremont sounded nice enough, but she was willing to bet that even a team of superhumans wouldn't be able to analyze and devise as well as the scientists at the Lab. Quo-Dis's comment about 'recent history' caused a bit of mental conflict, given that Corbin had talked about archeology; Jessica was trying to figure out how old someone would have to be to consider pre-history recent when the alien dropped the "I" bomb. The young woman's throat clamped shut, and if she had been drinking anything she probably would've either sprayed it across the table or choked on it. As it was her hand grasped at Blake's hard enough for her knuckles to go white, and a bright red blush began to spread from behind her ears, across her jawline. "We... we haven't, um, just yet," she said, her voice coming out soft "We... well, we just haven't." Her eyes locked with Blake's for a moment, then she broke the gaze and desperately searched the walls and ceiling of the restaurant, trying to figure out how to chance the topic of conversation.

"So, ah. Quo-Dis. How long have you been going to Claremont?"

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Corbin smiled as Quo-Dis called his studies "recent history". He supposed it was all about context.

"I suppose one could say I'm not most teenagers, then."

A puzzled look grew on his face as Quo-Dis mentioned...Zarana...after her minutes of intense silence.

'Where is she going with-' he thought, before she suddenly dropped the "i" word.

Corbin went stock-still in his chair, his face going white with shock and embarrassment. His expression morphed to a wide-eyed one of shock. His eyes darted between Blake and Jessica, before closing for a moment in what almost looked to be pain.

Then Jessica thankfully changed the subject. He hoped.

At least the waiter hadn't been there to hear the question!

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Blake, who was smiling and holding Jessica's hand before Quo-Dis asked the question, froze in place. His mouth opened wide. He gasped briefly in pain as Jessica squeezed his hand roughly, and took a moment to compose himself.

"We... we haven't, um, just yet," she said, her voice coming out soft "We... well, we just haven't." Her eyes locked with Blake's for a moment, then she broke the gaze and desperately searched the walls and ceiling of the restaurant, trying to figure out how to chance the topic of conversation.

"So, ah. Quo-Dis. How long have you been going to Claremont?"

By the time Jessica responded to her question, Blake had already repressed any thoughts that may have popped into his head. "What she said. Yes, how are you liking Claremont so far? Is it different from schools on your homeworld?" Blake could feel his face reddening. Well, she's just...different. Cultures develop differently on other planets.

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"For two years now, so I've only just arrived," answered the beautiful blonde. "There actually are no schools like Claremont where I'm from. I've never been...taught alongside other young people before." Brushing hair behind one ear, she looked at the others, wincing at what was evidently a social faux pas. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ask an embarrassing question," she added, wincing. "I only asked because I intend to have intercourse with Corbin, and I would like to have a larger knowledge base than only what Zarana and our health class has taught me about boys."

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Corbin sighed a bit in relief as Quo-Dis turned to the more normal topic of how long she'd been at school, educational differences between their worlds, and so on.

Surely the conversation would go to better places now that-

"I only asked because I intend to have intercourse with Corbin, and I would like to have a larger knowledge base than only what Zarana and our health class has taught me about boys."

Corbin went absolutely bug-eyed, and his face first went even whiter than a few moments ago (something observers would argue hadn't been though possible), and then flared red as a fire truck. A solitary spark rose from his right, but his left hand clamped over it before anyone noticed.

The *squeak* from his mouth was definitely higher-pitched than normal, and only iron self-control born from many telekinesis practice sessions kept that sound from going beyond their table. He slowly turned to Quo-Dis, shock still written on his red face as he whispered at her, unfortunately not able to keep his volume low enough to not be heard by Blake and Jessica.

"Wait, what? I mean...was this a subject you were possibly going to talk with me about at some point? That is...um."

Yeah, she's pretty much broken the poor boy's brain. He's about one step above "total shutdown" right now.

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"Don't you want to?" she asked, frowning suspiciously at him. "Zarana said this dress was very hot, even though I assured her the low neckline and the slit keep it well-ventilated." She gave Corbin a worried look, and lowered her voice to a whisper when he seemed determined to murmur. "I mean, we are as emotionally compatible as we are likely to be, and I'm sure we're both physically capable. If you're concerned about our safety, let me assure you that I've had extensive physical training about interacting with humans, and we are not biologically compatible without the use of vril technology."

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Blake sighed. He was going to have to settle things. "Listen, Quo-Dis. People on Earth don't just go for it. Intercourse, that is. We believe in dating, and getting married before having children. Now, I'm not mad. Actually, none of us are mad. But there are certain things people from Earth don't discuss in public. One of which is intercourse. Now Jessica and I have been dating for four months, and we haven't had intercourse. The purpose of dating isn't to have babies, it's to meet someone and get to know them better. Maybe fall in love. Which I have." Blake smiled at Jessica, and leaned over to kiss her. "Do you understand, Quo-Dis?"

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"That's not true," said Quo-Dis. "Zaranna goes with boys all the time, and she doesn't love them. She says she wants to experience the whole world before she has to go live in the jungle again, and I think that's very healthy for someone with such limited time. She can be very strange sometimes, but ultimately she's very practical." She folded her arms and looked away, the argument making her tense. "I just think that when you have only a few decades at most, you should be enjoying yourself with great deeds, not wasting what time you do have with...doing nothing."

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Jessica's blush spread over her face until she entire face was beet-red, though she was more shocked than embarrassed at the conversational turn and Quo-Dis's frank discussion of the topic. She found herself trying to stop thinking entirely, to avoid where her imagination would take her. Still, Blake's peck brought her back to the moment and she took a deep breath, composing herself again. "It's not just about about 'compatibility,' Quo-Dis. It's about finding someone that means something to you. Haven't you ever heard that if something's worth doing, it's worth doing right?" She glanced over to Blake and smiled, squeezing his hand. "Sometimes it's worth waiting, to make the moment something special, do you understand?"

She turned back to the alien and took a sip of her water. "Besides, some of your assumptions don't scan. We don't have 'a few decades;' no one here at the table -- excepting yourself -- is older than twenty. We can expect another sixty or seventy years with where technology stands today. We might each of us live to be a hundred if medical technology keeps improving. It can be worth it to wait and consider the consequences -- and there are consequences, not just of the 'biological compatibility' type." She blushed again, but pressed on. "There's emotional consequences, too. You don't get involved with someone at that level without getting attached."

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Corbin took a large gulp of water, trying to cool himself down a bit, as well as giving himself time to think His blush having faded somewhat, he turned to face Quo-Dis, gently reaching out his left hand to hold her right hand.

"If possible, I'd like to give my thoughts here.

First, Quo-Dis: I won't lie and say that a part of me wouldn't mind the...activities...we're speaking of occurring sooner, rather than later. However. That part of me is not what I let steer my life. I listen to it, consider it, but I do not let my hormones drive, if you see what I mean.

The greater part of me wants to wait. Not because I don't care about you, or find the idea repellent. Just the opposite.

I care about you, and more than that, I respect you, enough to want to wait. I want us to get to know each other more. I want our relationship to be something that lasts more than 4 weeks, and is built entirely around visceral physical pleasure.

Zaranna is her own person, and can make her own choices, just like the rest of us.

My choice is to wait. I'm not saying we have to, necessarily, go through a marriage ceremony or something. But I don't want to share such a special, intimate bond with anyone but a girl I care about deeply. A girl I love. A girl I want to spend my life with.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like you quite a bit. But I'm honest enough to say we're not quite there yet. I need more time. Not decades, not even years, really. But a few more months. I want to be sure, for both our sakes.

I want memories together of lots of moments enjoying simple things. Dinner with friends. A great concert. A beautiful sunset. A funny movie. An exciting roller coaster. A flight above the clouds. Those, an a million other moments. All those sorts of things are what make up lasting memories and relationships.

Great deeds are well and good for history books, but for the memories we'll cherish one day, "doing nothing" takes on a life of its own."

He sat back a bit in his chair and took a sip of water.

'That sounded way better in my head. She probably thinks I'm a stupid, dorky mortal now or something.'

He stared down at his right hand, fiddling with his ring, clearly very uncomfortable.

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