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Gizmo

Full Circle (IC)

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Although the late April weather had finally begun to warm up, frequent showers had kept the outdoor training fields of Claremont Academy muddy and generally inhospitable. With that in mind, Trevor Hunter made his way across the yard to the gymnasium building with a long umbrella tucked under one arm and his customary fedora tipped low over the sunglasses he wore despite the rapidly setting evening sun. His slim, fitted black suit jacket and matching pants were a little dressier than he normally bothered with about campus, but played well off of his pale complexion and dark hair. Fortunately, the sky seemed to be clear for the time being as he crossed the yard and stepped back inside, looking for Erin.

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The gym was far from empty on a wet weekday night, but Erin was easy to find anyway. Since she couldn't spar in the gym, she was working on acrobatic floor exercises, with a row of dummies lined up on the mat to serve as villains. Several younger students had gathered to watch her as she vaulted and flipped across the floor with her bat in hand, her complicated maneuvers designed to confuse the eyes and throw off her enemies. She was intent enough that for a moment, she didn't notice Trevor's entrance.

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With a faint smile, Trevor sauntered further into the gym, walking behind the younger students and talking up a place against the wall to watch Erin's training routine himself. No matter how many times he saw her in action, the balanced mixture of power, speed and control never failed to stir something inside the young man. As she finished her acrobatics and stuck her landing, he brought his hands together in slow, genuine applause that caused the underclassman to turn with a start, not having realized he was behind them.

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Erin looked over quickly, looking as though she thought someone might be making fun of her. The younger students quickly began applauding as well, with varying degrees of sincerity. She relaxed when she saw Trevor, giving him a quick smile as she relinquished the padded floor. Water bottle in hand, she headed in his direction. "You look nice," she observed, giving him a quick kiss on the side of the mouth but taking care not to get too close and muss him. "What's the occasion?"

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While the underclassman grappled with reluctance to take to the floor after such a performance, interest in the much talked about senior couple and a sense of self preservation that advised rapidly moving to the far end of the gym, Trevor gave Erin the half-grin that meant he'd figured something interesting out and was waiting for everyone else to catch up. "Weather's behaving itself," he explained somewhat cryptically, nodding back the way he'd come. "Thought you might feel like going for a ride."

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Erin thought about the studying she'd planned to do tonight, about the hour of training she still had on her schedule, and mentally chucked it all out the window. What good was any of it doing her at this point anyway? "Sounds like fun," she replied easily. "Just let me change my clothes and grab a quick shower. I'll meet you in the common room?"

Given that these days their late-night visits sometimes ended in his bed, she liked to make sure she was prepared. She was also quick, though, and in less than fifteen minutes was out in the common room, hair still damp at the ends, wearing a blouse and slacks that wasn't quite as nice as Trevor's outfit, but would do. "Where're we going?" she asked, slipping her hand into his as they walked.

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"Mm, playing the 'mysterious, dark avenger' card," Trevor told her, shaking his head slightly as he took her hand and led the way to the garage. "Sorry. Just have to wait and see." The Night Cycle was already set to go when they got there, switched over to its less conspicuous blue paint job and cleaned of the mud the rainy weather had been supplying in ample quantities. Trevor gave Erin a short bow, vaguely miming holding the door open to a carriage before swinging onto the motorcycle himself.

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Erin snickered and hopped onto the cycle behind him, looping her arms around his waist in a way that had become second nature by this point. The cool night air from the open garage teased her hair as she fastened her helmet, then blew it backwards as they pulled out onto the street. There hadn't been much opportunity to just go out and ride since they came back from Anti-Earth, and the feeling of it was like a weight off of her. Just for now, it was nice to think of all the worries blowing away in the wind. She leaned her cheek against his shoulder appreciatively and watched the lights of the city melt into shining lines as they raced past.

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Trevor felt a little tension melt from between his shoulders as Erin's helmeted head rested there. He's been well aware of just how much she'd had on her mind lately, and it bothered him that there wasn't much he could do about most of it. Even if all he could manage was to take her mind off of things for a while, he was glad it was working. Before long, the Pramas Bridge rose into view before them, and the young man called backward, "So... remember the first time we went riding together?"

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"Yeah, of course," she called back, laughing. "Not many girls get a guy who jumps the Pramas Bridge on a motorcycle just to impress them." She lifted her head and tightened her grip a little as she saw the oncoming span, lit up and gleaming against the dark ribbon of the South River. "Are we going to try a reprise of that tonight? Because I wish I'd brought a camera along." Even after many months of riding with Trevor, even knowing much more about the magic he could do on a motorcycle, the thought of riding the cables made a nervy, whippy excitement run through her.

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"Not many girls are worth it," Trevor replied over the sound of the whipping wind, grinning under his helmet. The stunt had been considerably showier than the laconic youth's normal behaviour, but he'd gotten into the habit of pulling out all the stops since meeting Erin. "Reprise sounds about right. Going for a variation this time, though. Just hold on tight." At the speeds of which the disguised Night Cycle was capable, it wasn't long before the foot of the bridge was rapidly growing larger before them. "Ready?"

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"Go for it," she told him, wrapping her arms snugly around his waist and leaning in so her chest was pressed against his back, her heart pounding with excitement. The speed and the wind and the darkness around them, somehow this seemed much closer to flying than the bouncing she did all around town. As they raced up the side of the bridge, the city spread out below them like a carpet of lights, so beautiful and alive that the breath caught in her throat.

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Pulling up sharply on the handlebars to hop the bike onto the bridge's support cables, Trevor took them rapidly up the entwined steel wires, though not quite as quickly as he had the first time. At they reached the apex and the square concrete platform there, he unexpectedly stopped, hidden clamps abruptly extending from the Night Cycle's hubcaps to secure the vehicle in place. Hopping off and balancing nimbly in place, he offered Erin one of his hands and gestured with the other.

Atop the level platform, a thick, plaid blanket had been spread, a covered picnic basket and portable cooler sitting to one side next to a box wrapped in what appeared to be newsprint comic strips. At each corner of the blanket, a small device in the signature matte black favoured by the vigilante known as Midnight blinked away, providing a warm illumination but otherwise remaining unobtrusive. Upon crossing the space between them however, the wind was suddenly dulled to a slight, comfortable breeze. "So," Trevor began with a pleased smile. "Happy anniversary."

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Erin took Trevor's hand and climbed off the motorcycle, entirely dumbfounded. She winced a little bit as she suddenly figured out the date and that she had completely forgotten, but she couldn't help smiling anyway at all he'd set out. "This is... wow," she told him, squeezing his fingers. "I guess you probably already guessed that I totally forgot. I'm bad with dates for things," she admitted. "It's just... I'm not even going to ask how you did all this." She chuckled, then turned and kissed him, wrapping her arms around his waist. "You have the best surprises."

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Trevor smiled a bit into the kiss, reaching up to place one hand on Erin's cheek. "Well, if you'd remembered, I wouldn't have gotten to play romance ninja, and you know how much I enjoy that," he agreed, still smiling as he ran his fingers through her auburn hair and leaned in to kiss her again before leading the way over to the middle of the blanket. "The projectors keep the wind down and warm up the air," he explained despite her decision not to ask, clearly a little proud that he'd managed to pull it off. "Also keep out the rain, if necessary."

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"Sure, that was my plan all along," Erin joked, settling in next to him on the picnic blanket so they had an unobstructed view out over the river. "This is really cool, it's like a perfect picnic bubble. You could probably market these and make another million bucks. But then maybe next time we might have to fight the crowd for bridgetop seating." Reaching out, she snagged the hamper to check out what was inside. "It's weird, it doesn't seem like a whole year has passed already, even though we've done so much."

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Underneath the wicker flaps, one side of the basket was filled liberally with a variety of individually packed sandwiches, the tidy construction of which suggested that Trevor had prepared them himself. In the center, sealed containers of fresh fruits sat stacked atop each other, generous slices of watermelon, whole bunches of grapes and chunks of cantaloupe and other tropical fruit. Atop the pile in a place of some prestige were several kiwi with the tops cut off, packed along with a pair of ornate spoons, that appeared to have been plucked from one of the Hunter Estate's many kitchens. The opposite side of the basket held slices of chocolate cake; that part of the meal the young man had obviously left to the professionals.

"Mm. Time flies..." Trevor agreed quietly, placing his hands on his knees and staring out into the river.

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Erin made a pleased noise as she opened the hamper, pulling things out and setting them on the blanket. "Okay, looks like I'm going to have to take back most of the things I've said about you not being able to do your grocery shopping," she joked, starting in on one of the kiwis. She would've started with the cake, but some things were better when anticipated a little bit. Preoccupied with the basket, it took her a moment to notice Trevor's pensive distraction. She followed his gaze, then looked at him. "What's on your mind?" she asked quietly.

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"Hm? Oh, nothing, really," Trevor noted with a bit of a start, slipping his arm around Erin's shoulders and leaning back on his other hand. "Just reminiscing. A lot has happened. Lot has changed." He offered her a small smile along with the closest approximation of a shrug his posture would allow. "Lot to take as a whole. Mostly trying to figure out how I got so lucky," he admitted, his smile broadening as he transferred his weight to one hip so he could reach across Erin to retrieve a bunch of grapes.

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That got a contemplative nod from her. "We both got pretty lucky... and not just like that," Erin added hastily, blushing a little. "I mean, a year ago I barely knew you, and now I trust you more than anyone else in the world. I didn't think I'd ever be able to feel like this." She smiled, settling in against him and offering him a spoonful of kiwi. "Having a boyfriend who can both fix my truck when it breaks and pack a hell of a picnic is just a bonus."

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"I've been finding that the overlap between hyper-prepared vigilante skills and good boyfriend skills is actually pretty high," Trevor admitted seriously before propping himself back up on his elbow to accept the proffered fruit. "Mm. Still say the skin is the best part," he teased her wryly before leaning over for a quick, kiwi flavoured kiss. "Oh, unwrap the box. It's not really an anniversary thing so much as I'd been looking for an excuse, so... yeah." His bemused shrug suggested he wasn't entirely over his habit of overthinking gifts.

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Erin made the expected face at his mention of eating kiwi skin, but chuckled and kissed him back before reaching over to take the box. "I didn't get you anything," she admitted, tilting her head in tacit apology. "I've been letting a lot of things slip lately, trying to find a place after graduation, and with the anti-Earth stuff and all that. But I should have remembered." Even so, she didn't hesitate to open the box, pulling the tape away neatly and folding the paper as she went so that it didn't blow off the roof and into the river.

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"Hey," Trevor interrupted her before she could open the box under the paper, giving her a sober look. "You haven't been 'letting a lot of things slide'. Okay? You've got a lot going on, and you're doing a good job." One corner of his mouth turned upward as he added, "So open your present already."

Inside the box was a plush teddy bear, it's fur a soft, shaggy black, just long enough to run fingers through without getting tangled. It's glass eyes merry red hue, the uneven fur falling over them softening the unusual colour combination. Atop its head sat a removable felt fedora with wide slots cut out of the the brim so that the bear's ears could stick through. A silver cord had been wrapped around its right paw, something metallic hanging from it.

"I know how much giving up Bronwyn meant to you," Trevor explained quietly, "and I couldn't just replace her, but I figured... When it's a bad night and I'm not there, I still wanted to sort of be there."

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Erin took the bear out of the box and held him in both hands, looking over his hat and his eyes, stroking the soft black fur. When she looked up at Trevor again, her own eyes were a bit shinier than usual, but she was smiling. "I love him," she told Trevor sincerely, "he's adorable. Sturdy, too. Bronwyn was... she was part of my old life, and the other Erin needed something of that to hold onto a lot more than I do now. But it was still hard to give her up. This will be just right for me to hang onto now." Smiling, she hugged the bear, then lifted it again as the silver cord caught the light, taking a look at what it was holding.

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Trevor let out a short, pleased breath at the reaction. He hadn't been entirely sure if getting Erin a new bear would have been presumptuous or not, but sitting by and doing nothing certainly hadn't been an option. Noticing what she was looking at, he told her, "It's a key to the estate. Figured it just made sense for you to have one." He shrugged as much as he could, pressed closely beside her on the blanket, and kept his expression controlled. "I wouldn't have made a thing about it, but I was wrapping the Night Bear anyway, so."

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