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Gizmo

Another Sunrise (IC)

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Trevor Hunter paced slowly back and forth across the length of his dorm room, one hand holding a cellphone to his ear while the other rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Mmh. Yes, the transfer went through without issue. Thank you." Listening to the person on the other end of the line, he paused to tidy up some of the mechanical parts strewn about the floor. "No. Was hoping - Of course. Let you go, then. Goodbye." Throughout the terse conversation, his tone remained level and almost without inflection. Only after he thumbed the screen to end the call did the dark haired young man sigh, sitting down on the end of his bed.

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He was left to his solitude for only a few moments before there was a knock on the door. Outside, Erin fidgeted with nerves, holding onto her parcel with one hand while using the other to knock. It was a windy day outside, and the large, flat wrapped package had wanted to behave like a kite, which had made the trip across the city with it a bit of a hazard, Now she was here, though, and with time left to second-guess whether or not Trevor would like it. What did you get the guy who could buy anything he wanted, especially when your own funds were limited?

He hadn't really given her a lot of hints about what he wanted, so in the end, she'd had to go with her best idea and hope it worked out. She herself though it had turned out pretty well, but there was no accounting for taste. And if he didn't like it... well, she would figure something out. Erin didn't have Trevor's knack for plans and contingencies, she just had to roll with situations as they developed. But he'd liked the Valentines card, and this was a lot better than that.

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Straightening abruptly at the knock, Trevor looked about the room with a slight wince before jumping up to hastily toss a few strewn clothes into a tidier pile and shove the disassembled remains of a blender against the wall. Deciding it was about as good as it was going to get, he stepped swiftly to the door and opened it. His slight frown turned into a more visible smile as he saw Erin. "Hey. C'mon in," he invited stepping back from the doorway. "Sorry about the mess."

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Erin smiled back, shifting the present to one side so she could lean in and give him a kiss. "Happy birthday," she told him. "I'm sorry I didn't see you earlier, but Archer hauled me out for a five am training exercise. He's realized he doesn't get to have his hooks in me that much longer, I think. You have a good day so far?" The look he'd worn when he'd opened the door spoke of stress and unhappiness, but she didn't want to pry too quickly.

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"Heh, thanks." Returning the kiss, Trevor sauntered back into the room with a shrug. "Oh, fine. You know me; I'd forget it even was my birthday if nobody reminded me." Retrieving the phone from the bed, he carried it over to one of his desks, placing it in its recharging dock. "Had a thirty second conversation with my father, and a somewhat longer if one-sided one with my mother. She suggests I 'try to be a little less strange' to avoid 'scaring this one off'." He offered Erin a wry look. "Didn't have the heart to argue the point."

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"I don't scare easy," Erin pointed out with a grin, repressing the urge to say something nasty about Trevor's thoughtless and self-centered parents. Those were old wounds, and while the things she wanted to say might be true, they were still Trevor's parents, for better or worse. "I brought you a present," she said instead, hefting the package she'd brought. It was close to three feet long and about two feet wide, but only a couple of inches deep, a big, flat present wrapped in blue "Happy Birthday!" paper. "I didn't know what you need, so I got you something I hope you think is cool. If, you know, it doesn't work for you, I can get you something else."

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Trevor grinned as he let the day's earlier frustration settle to the back of his mind. "No, no you don't." He blinked once as Erin swung the sizable package into view before accepting it with both hand, unsure how to balance it's weight. "Wow, uh... big," he noted, making a small note of amusement at the completely unnecessary observation. Sitting down on the foot of the bed, he carefully peeled off the tape to unwrap the present with as few rips as possible, an unconscious habit developed over year of taking things apart and putting them back together.

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Erin had obviously wrapped the present herself, in an operation that appeared to have required most of a roll of wrapping paper and the better part of a roll of scotch tape. It quickly became obvious that the present was a large picture in a cleanly elegant frame of dark wood. Under the glass was a painting that looked to be done in india ink and acrylics, stark black and white, and with the clean lines of a master comic artist.

The painting depicted the skyline of Freedom City at night, the distinctive outline of Pyramid Plaza a clear signpost in the background despite a fall of steady rain. In the foreground, standing in shadow yet clearly defined against the darkness, the original Midnight stood, the long cloak he wore as a member of the Liberty League blown by an unseen wind, fedora tipped down against the rain as he surveyed the streets below. Next to him, the new Midnight stood with his own coat snug against his body, and a single silver gleam shining off his utility belt. He followed his mentor's gaze, the two of them keeping watch together over the city that was theirs. In the bottom right corner, nearly obscured by the frame, was a small loopy signature, "Martha Lucas."

"I commissioned it," Erin said after a moment of silence, for once unable to keep her peace. "It usually takes longer, but she helped me out, because, you know."

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Trevor was silent for several long moments as his eyes traced the lines of the painting, fingers not quite touching the glass before rising to rub his jawline. Opening his mouth, he managed to clear his throat thickly before closing his mouth again. When he finally spoke, it was in a soft, reverent tone. "Erin, this is... I don't know what to say," he admitted. Setting it down very carefully next to him on the bed, he rose and stepped over to take her hand. "It's wonderful. I... Thank you."

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Erin closed her fingers around his, looking both pleased and relieved that her gift had gone over so well. "She did a really good job, better than I even pictured it," she told Trevor, glancing over towards the painting. "I think she really got into it, looking up old photographs and stuff for references so she'd get it all exactly right." She stepped in closer, putting her other hand on Trevor's shoulder. "I think it's really neat, really special the way you took on your grandpa's legacy like that. I figure it's like, even if he doesn't go out on patrol, he's still sort of there with you when you go out and do hero work."

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Smiling broadly enough to show both rows of teeth, Trevor touched his forehead lightly to Erin's and slipped his hands about her as if preparing to dance. "I don't know how it is you understand me so well," he told her, his resonant baritone betraying more emotion than usual, "but I love it." Rocking back and forth slightly to silent music, the young man managed to widen his smile even further. "And I love you."

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"I love you too," she murmured in return, putting her arms around his waist and leaning her head against his shoulder as she moved along with him to the imaginary music. "You make sense to me," she said after a few moments. "You don't, you know, throw how you feel about everything right out for everybody to see, but it's still there. And I understand because a lot of times it ends up being how I would feel too. We understand each other, I think, and that's not something either of us gets much of." She chuckled, the feel of it resonating from her chest to his. "I mean, nobody else would give me infrared goggles for my birthday and stargazing for Valentines and know it would be exactly right. That's something special, too."

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Letting his cheek rest against auburn hair, Trevor took a long, slow breath before making a soft sound of agreement. "Mmh. I think I'm okay with that," he decided. "Not everyone understanding. So long as you do, and I can do the same for you." The youth wasn't sure he had the words to properly articulate what he was feeling, but he did know it felt good; better, perhaps, than any other feeling that sprung readily to mind. "Heh. Have to be careful, or you'll have me actually looking forward to birthdays."

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"We're too young not to look forward to birthdays," Erin pointed out, the smile audible in her voice. "And you made mine so awesome, I'm glad I could do something nice for yours. I didn't make a lot of other plans," she admitted. "Like for dinner or anything like that. But I freed up the whole evening, so if you want to go out and do something we can, or we can go over to your place and hang out in the garage, maybe."

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Trevor considered for a moment, the closeness of Erin's strong heartbeat making it difficult to think of compelling reasons to be elsewhere. "Just hanging out seems like a plan," he decided without pulling away, leaving his arm around her as they swayed leisurely back and forth. "Know we don't go out much, as such, but..." the young man admitted with a light note of apology, "but staying in sounds pretty good, honestly."

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"That just means you're a cheap date," Erin teased, pulling away just enough to look him in the eye. She brushed a lock of shaggy black hair behind his ear. "Staying in sounds good to me. If we don't go out, we're less likely to run into bank robbers or supervillains or alien invaders anyway," she pointed out, only half-joking. They'd both been in the hero business long enough to understand the dangers of trying to have a social life as a superhero. Just to be on the safe side, Erin brushed her knuckles over the wood surface of Trevor's desk.

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"Heh, don't jinx it," Trevor chuckled, shaking his head a little back and forth and leaning gently into Erin's hand as she brushed his hair. Their respective schedules were tough enough to balance even without being constantly 'on call'. Still, at least going out to inflict violence and terror on the criminal element was one of the few professions a couple could work at together without it quickly going stale. "Just let me grab my coat," he told her, admittedly not making any immediate move to step away to do so.

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Erin held on a moment longer herself before stepping back to let Trevor get his things. "I'll go get my coat and meet you in the common room?" she suggested. Giving him a quick kiss, she headed out and back to her own room. In less than five minutes, she was down in the common room with her jacket and knapsack, having changed into clothes more suitable for working in garage. "Oliver demanded his dinner early," she commented wryly, "I don't think he trusts me to not get sidetracked when I go out."

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Erin found Trevor already waiting in the common room, leaning against the wall by one of the doorways, his intentionally inconspicuous black jacket hanging unbuckled. "Fair enough," he agreed with a shallow nod and an amused quirk. "Choosing to take that as a vote of confidence from the cat." Straightening, he rotated smoothly on his heel to face the hallway and crooked one elbow outward to offer Erin his arm.

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Erin blushed, chuckling a little even as she took his arm. "Sometimes when I go out on patrol, if I run into trouble, I can be out a lot later than I planned. And that's not even counting when we get dropped into other dimensions or sent into outer space or the really weird stuff like that. She thought about mentioning the plans she actually had gotten around to making with regards to Trevor's birthday, but decided that was a conversation better had in private. "So, motorcycle?" she asked as they walked to the garage.

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Trevor held up his free hand to reveal a set of keys as they walked, acknowledging that he'd had the same thought. Although he had to admit to himself that Erin's pickup truck was the more practical choice in certain circumstances, he still had a clear preference when it came to transportation. "Still a little brisk out, but won't be outside for very long," he reasoned, tucking his other hand into his jacket pocket, not incidentally pulling Erin a little closer as he did so.

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"We'll get by." Erin had no complaints to make about riding pillion on the motorcycle as it raced through the streets, a throaty purr resonating from the engine in deference to the needs of nearby traffic and pedestrians. Riding the Night Cycle at dusk was a different proposition from riding it during the actual night. Erin snugged her arms around Trevor's waist and hung on, purely for her own enjoyment, the hair not contained by her helmet blowing in the wind. "What did your parents get you?" she asked as they drove, pitching her voice over wind and engine noise.

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Between the artificially loud engine noise and the glossy blue paint job, the Night Cycle fit in perfectly with the more pedestrian vehicles, although Trevor had to remind himself to reign back on his more daredevil tendencies to maintain the illusion. "Oh, same as every year, fund transfer to one of my private accounts. The square of my age times a hundred." He shrugged his shoulders slightly to convey his expression without turning around. "It's actually quite whimsical, by my father's standards."

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"The square of your age..." Erin did the math in her head, or close enough, and her eyes widened. "That's quite a bit of money," she decided. "What are you going to do with it?" She knew that Trevor already had the money for pretty much anything he wanted to do, but it was the thought that counted, she supposed. She just hoped they'd remembered to call him for once, and he hadn't had to call his own folks on his birthday. Families were complicated things, and it was an area where she felt very awkward barging in.

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"Hmm? Oh, yes, definitely," Trevor agreed readily once he'd had a moment to process Erin's comment. There was no denying that it was quite a sum, he knew, but his own sense of monetary value was fairly skewed. "Usually just transfer the bulk of it back to my father to invest," he admitted. "Profits from the family portfolio pay for equipment, repairs, day to day costs, handful of charities, that sort of thing. Lot of emergent technology companies, which is a two birds, one stone sort of thing, obviously."

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