Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Dariusprime

Some Who Wander Are Lost (IC)

Recommended Posts

11:50 am, 4-9-11

Champion's Restaurant/The Super Museum

What's a mentoring program without a little R&R? Whether an official part of the program or not, Fulcrum considered it a vital part of the process. Which meant that many months after being paired with Wander, Fulcrum invited the powerful heroine to join her for lunch at Champion's restaurant. Well, actually, a visit to the Super Museum followed by lunch at Champion's, but that was neither here nor there. Her treat too!

A few minutes before the appointed time, Fulcrum hovered lightly just inside the Museum's entry, examining a poster advertising a new exhibit of heroes from the early 1970s. She wore her costume, but over the program's timeline, that was becoming a common occurrence, even when she was 'off duty'.

Share this post


Link to post

Wander felt a little bit strange coming to the Super Museum in costume when she wasn't actually on a mission. It felt like showing off, or like she was trying to compare herself to the heroes on display. But Fulcrum had mentioned that she should come in costume, so maybe she was planning on getting some training or patrolling in later. She landed on the roof of the building and jumped down onto the loading dock in the back, then made her way as unobtrusively as possible to the front of the building. The jacket she'd tossed on did help soften the spandex-clad look, making it seem to the casual eye as though she were just wearing brightly colored leggings. She stopped at the entrance to pay her admission, then walked in to join Fulcrum. "Ah, hi," she said. "I hope I'm not late."

Share this post


Link to post

The agent waved Wander through with a smile, holding up a spare ticket.

"Hi, Wander. No, no, you're early actually," replied Fulcrum before turning to her, "How have you been? Haven't seen you in a while."

An exhibit brochure and Champion's menu print out were along for the ride. She flipped through the brochure a second before looking up to Wander. "I figured lunch would be nice, but hitting the museum sounded like a good idea too. Have you ever visited?"

A little girl waved at the two as she and her family headed into the exhibits. Fulcrum grinned and waved back.

Share this post


Link to post

"I've been all right," Wander said, glancing around a little nervously at the people who were watching them. She figured Fulcrum had to be used to that by now, there wasn't much chance of hiding behind a secret identity when you were ducking to avoid the ceilings. "Keeping pretty busy lately. I've got a friend who loves this place, so I've been here a couple of times. They always put up new stuff, though. If we eat first, I guess we'll probably miss the lunch rush, right?" Eating at Champions was a little weird too, but at least they hadn't named an entree after any of her friends yet. "How have you been?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Yes, if we hurry we should just miss it," said Fulcrum as she checked the time. "I've been good. The Interceptors have been keeping me busy of late too. We're really starting to polish up as a team." The latter emphasized with a smile.

Slowly, she starting walking toward Champion's, heading up the winding stairs to the entrance. Yes, she did seem completely relaxed in her own skin, and seemed to have a good vibe going. "How's your team lately? I haven't heard much out of them."

"Good morning. Table for two please," she greeted the waitress before turning back to Wander.

"You're not comfortable in your costume when not heroing, are you?"

Share this post


Link to post

Erin shrugged, leaving her jacket on as the waitress seated them at a table in the corner where there was room to push the table out for Fulcrum. "I don't wear it when I'm not working, and neither do my friends, so I guess I'm not really used to it. When people look at me funny, it makes me nervous," she admitted. "Things have been good though, I guess. We've been doing a lot of alternate-universe work lately, so we haven't been in the Freedom City papers as much. I sort of rescued another version of myself from Anti-Earth the other week, so now there's even more of me hanging around on Prime, and that's kind of weird." She shrugged. "But mostly everyone's just getting ready for graduation, you know? Trying to see if any of the underclassmen are going to take up the team name after we're gone."

Share this post


Link to post

Fulcrum thanked the waitress and slide into the chair, hovering until she tested if the seat could hold her wait. After drink orders and menus, the waitress departed. Momentarily she said, "An Anti-Earth Wander huh? What is she like?"

Champion's looked relatively quiet, at least before the noon rush. Looked about a third full, give-or-take, and the two heroes were in one of the quieter sections. The other diners gave them passing glances, but perhaps because they were at Champion's, the attention soon faded.

"Do you think the underclassmen will take up the banner?" she asked over the menu, avoiding the more obvious question for now.

Share this post


Link to post

"She's crazy. She's in Blackstone now because she can't be trusted anywhere near the public," Wander said matter-of-factly. "She's not evil, because she's like me, she wasn't actually native the universe where she was living. But they made her crazy and used her as a weapon, so I'm just hoping she can eventually be fixed." That was sort of depressing lunchtime talk though, so Erin made an effort to move on quickly.

"Some of the underclassmen are pretty good, and I think they're interested in being on the team," she told Fulcrum. "But I don't know. It feels like what we had with Young Freedom was, you know, special. I don't know if it's ever going to be quite like that again." She looked down at her menu and frowned, then up again. "How is stuff with the Interceptors going? Any new members there?"

Share this post


Link to post

Mona reached out with one of those long, long arms and squeezed Wander's hand.

"Then they'll just have to come up with a new theme, and keep Young Freedom as inspiration. I've heard the trope that school days, whether high school or college, are the best days of your life. In some respect that's true even for super heroes. Not that you can't have grand adventures afterword, of course..." Leaning back, she dropped her menu, apparently her selection made.

She shrugged, "Good, thanks. As I mentioned earlier, we're really coming together as a team. What's the saying? A 'well-oiled machine'? We're also getting to know each other better as people, which I consider a critical part of any professional/working relationship." Pausing a moment, her eyes drifted off in thought. "In fact we're more like one big family now. I consider that a good thing. No new members or special changes lately though."

"Any thoughts on what you want to do after graduation?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, I've applied the League, but they don't have openings right now..." Erin broke off as the waitress approached, pausing to order the Siren Seafood Salad platter and a glass of raspberry lemonade. She folded her menu and waited for her companion to order, trying to decide the best way to phrase things without making herself sound like a charity case waiting to happen. Considering that everybody seemed to be asking her the question these days, she really needed to come up with a better set of answers.

Share this post


Link to post

As if reading her mind, Mona replied, "People have been asking you that a lot lately, huh?" Which was probably true. Mona remembered everyone and their dog asking her about her plans after high school. Ah, those were the days!

Erin's order caused her pause, probably because of how the salad sounded. Finally, after another flip through the menu, Mona ordered the Star Knight Kabobs with shrimp. Sounded like a happy medium. The raspberry lemonade was right up, though, and added to the order. Menus in hand, the waitress departed and left the heroines to their conversation.

"Yeah, well, I can't speak from evidence, but my experience suggests that acceptance into the League is as much about politics as qualifications. Nothing against Bowman, for example, but barring his legacy status, he probably wouldn't have been accepted straight out of school." The momentary pause gave her the chance to carefully phrase her next statement. The Freedom League, obviously, was a sensitive topic to some people. "The sudden influx of smaller or niche teams makes me wonder if an informal farm team system is being set up. As busy as they have been the last few years, in-house training and acclimation may be a low priority."

"Give yourself a few years of solo experience, or better yet, small-team experience, and they'll probably find a spot for you." Lost in the context, perhaps or not, a little touch of personal interest echoed in her voice.

Share this post


Link to post

"That's sort of the impression I got too," Erin admitted glumly. "I went to an interview and they were sort of hinting that they might be setting something up on the West Coast I could apply to with better chances, but I can't leave Freedom City right now." A faint trace of a blush crossed her pale cheeks. "I'll figure out something, though," she assured Fulcrum, not wanting the older heroine to feel sorry for her or anything like that. "If the League doesn't work out, I can just, you know, get an apartment somewhere, find a job. All my paperwork is finally in order, and I've been saving up money." She shrugged. "Doing hero work as a job would be nice, but I know most people don't get to do it that way."

Share this post


Link to post

Fulcrum shook her head and sat up. "Hey, isn't guidance a part of the program? I'm not trying to make you feel like a loser or charity case. I just...want to help you figure out what you want to do. You know, that whole 'mentor' thing," she said, smiling. "Which means if you need anything, just call me, day or night. Among other things."

"I know I haven't been the best mentor, but still. You're a good person with a lot of potential and wasting that would be a damn shame." Chuckling, she added, "Maybe it sounds cliche, but I've never seen you smile. Someday I'd like to see that, even if I have nothing to do with it."

"But if you want me to mind my own business, that's fine too."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin mustered up a smile that only looked half-sincere, but it was a game effort, anyway. "Sorry," she told Fulcrum. "It's just... I've been here for more than two years now, and I've always had to have people set things up for me. Doctor Atom and the League brought me here, they got me the place at Claremont. The school takes care of my room and board, a friend of mine even bought me my truck so I could get around. I was kind of hoping that if I could get on the Freedom League, it would be the start of me taking care of myself here. But like I said, I know that's not how most people do it. Did you have a day job when you started doing hero work?" she asked curiously.

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, it's a start," replied Fulcrum warmly to the lackluster smile. "See? Learn something new everyday. I can see your point and it's quite valid. You want to fly, or leap maybe, under your own power. I dig that."

"My offer still stands though. I refuse to do the work for you anyway, but that doesn't mean I can't lend a helping hand. That will come when or if you need me. How does that sound? Deal?" She offered an over-sized handshake.

The mention of her day job elicited a somewhat equivocal head bob. "I still have a day job actually. I don't take a salary for my hero work. Some flak came my over the years for that, but I have my own reasons. Nothing against heroes that are paid for their super hero services. I enjoy both of my jobs."

"You have a pretty smile by the way."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin let the smile disappear, trying not to be nettled by the comments. She wasn't depressing or joyless, she reminded herself, just... undemonstrative. It didn't really make her weird. "Normally I wait till something makes me want to smile," she pointed out, but took the hand Fulcrum held out. "I really do appreciate the offer," she told Fulcrum. "I kind of just hope I don't have to take you up on it." She unfolded her napkin in her lap and fished around for something to say. It was kind of weird, but somehow these visits with Fulcrum reminded her of the times she and Clarissa had gone out for girl afternoons. Everybody had the best of intentions, but nobody had a thing to say. "Bust any interesting villains lately?"

Share this post


Link to post

Fulcrum sighed. She just kept digging herself a bigger hole, no matter how hard she tried to right things. Levity wasn't her specialty, and she had a nagging feeling she just insulted the young woman. For a good while after Wander's question, Fulcrum sat there in thought. Their entire relationship came under scrutiny. Thankfully, she had help in keeping the time frame under control.

Finally she leaned back, the chair creaking. "I'm sorry," she began, almost out of nowhere. Closing her eyes, she tapped the table as she spoke. "I have not consciously tried to ridicule or patronize you. Which is the feeling I've been getting on-and-off since we've met."

"To be honest with you, I've had serious doubts over whether I can be a good mentor to you. That's my problem." Opening her eyes, she looked pointedly at Erin. "If you do not want to be a part of this program, then you're free to walk away anytime. I'll make up an excuse if you don't want to end it yourself."

"That being said, I'd like to give it a go. Earn your trust. You've been giving this a good try. Want to start fresh?"

Share this post


Link to post

"I don't want to quit," Erin told Fulcrum. "I just don't know how to be a good... um, mentoree, I guess, either. I think I told you that I did this once before, and I messed it up, and my mentor quit the program. I don't want to fail twice, you know?" She shrugged. "Maybe starting out clean will help. I know a lot about hero work and a lot about fighting," she admitted, "but I don't really know most of the stuff I need to know when I graduate. Like finding an apartment and paying taxes and bills, and voting, stuff like that. Adult stuff."

Share this post


Link to post

"No problem," began Fulcrum, smiling a bit. "We can work on that. Whatever you want to learn or do."

Unfolding her own napkin always came as a challenge. She carefully picked at it, concentrating on the operation. Nearing completion, she glanced up and said, "Mr. Summers is tricky isn't he? He only briefed me on the basics. Seems like the type to know everything that happens."

"Well, we can teach each other. Anything in particular you want to know?" Lacing her fingers together, she watched Erin intently.

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, I need to find a place to live," Erin began, picking up her drink. She didn't really mind the intense focus, she was used to people who paid a lot of attention to whatever they were doing. "I looked at some places on my computer, like the apartment rental places, but I don't really know what to look for. And they don't say things that I need to know, like whether there's a lot of doors, or roof access, and whether people are nosy. And everything seems really expensive here. How do you find a good place to live where you can have a secret identity and stuff?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh, that's tougher than it sounds," she replied, nodding. "In general you'll have no clue if the neighbors are nosy unless you do some leg work. Talking to them is iffy, if they are nosy, or you could try for recommendations from contacts. You know, have team mates recommend places better suited for supers. Especially those concerned about secret identities."

"You're in a similar but easier boat with the layout. Talk to the landlord or whoever is renting the place out. Ask the neighbors, again if you're not worried about their level of nosiness, and touring the apartments. Bar none that last is your best bet. Narrow your search by price and requirements, inquire by phone to whittle down to a decent list. Visit the ones you like and gather people's opinions. Lots of trial and error honestly. Just remind yourself that at the top of your list of criteria for an apartment is secret identity protection." Unconsciously she tapped a finger at each stage of the hunt.

As for the latter concern, Mona sighed and nodded sympathetically. "Unfortunately, we live in a bad, bad real estate market. Freedom is a booming economy, development is constrained by our local geography, and we have three big universities." She whistled quietly and waved her hand up slowly. "Most of the reasonable and/or safe locations price most people out of the market. Basically heading north and east from the airport, the prices creep up dramatically."

"Your best bet if you want decent or cheap rent is west of your current residence. As I'm sure you know though, The Fens, Boardwalk and the West End, among others, aren't the safest or most modern of neighborhoods. Although that may be a bonus if you want to hero there."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin listened carefully, her brow furrowing a little as she listened to the rather pessimistic advice. It all made sense, but that didn't mean it was really what she'd been hoping to hear. She wasn't exactly great at talking to strangers. "I was kind of thinking of trying to find someplace near the university," she admitted. "I mean, I'm not going to college, but I thought maybe it would be easier for someone my age to get an apartment. And, um, my boyfriend is going to school there, so that would sort of be a bonus. But it sounds like it might be too hard to find anyplace there, especially in my price range."

Share this post


Link to post

Mona's face lightened at Erin's uncertainty. She smiled, "Hey, the situation isn't that bad. I'm being overly cautious. You'll find something. It'll just take some legwork, but if you have your boyfriend helping that eases the burden considerably. Both in terms of apartment hunting and price range. Will he be contributing to the bills?"

"The truth is rents will be high around the university no matter what. Are ways around that though." She looked up in thought before continuing, "Depending on your combined incomes, you may qualify for rent subsidies through the city, university or both. On the university side, the program will probably be through the Financial Aid office. If your income falls under a certain, they may provide a voucher for quite a bit of your rent. I had one in graduate school that reduced my rent by 30%."

"You may also want to apply for university-owned or rent-controlled apartments near campus. They're usually more stable in price and a bit cheaper. I'd say maybe 10-15%. Not to mention efficiency or studio apartments on or off campus." A laugh proceeded the follow up, "I'd recommend room mates if you didn't have the whole superhero issue."

Share this post


Link to post

Erin blushed a little more, the color very visible on her normally pale face. "No, I mean, we're not living together or anything, he's going to be in a dorm and at his house on the weekends, like he is now. Even if we wanted to, I think his grandfather would disapprove, a lot. This'll be just my place, and it doesn't have to be anything fancy. And no college, no financial aid." She shrugged. "There are some resources for kids who are aging out of foster care, but that's kind of a limited pool of funds and I know most of them need it a lot more than I do. Did you go to Freedom City University?" she asked Mona.

Share this post


Link to post

"What I was meaning was his application for aid, factoring in your contribution. Yes, no college, no financial aid. Sounds like an efficiency apartment is the way to go then. Still those resources or others are at least worth a look. Does your school have any programs?" She couldn't help but feel a little motherly toward Erin. Especially when she was blushing with embarrassment. Reminded her so much of herself when she went off to college.

Erin's question jolted her back to reality despite the fact she had been looking right at the young heroine. "Oh, sorry. College? No, I couldn't afford FCU. I applied three times to the Freedom School For The Arts before settling on some gen ed and art classes at Freedom College. Not nearly as bad a school as the stuffed shirts would have you believe. Lots of dedicated and talented faculty and staff."

Taking a sip of water, she started to say something else, thought better of it, and fell silent a moment before speaking. "Transferred to the Seattle Art Institute after a year and on to the University of Washington Seattle for my masters. Great schools. Friendly town. Beautiful country."

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×