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A Very Claremont Excursion (IC)


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February 18th, 2012, Bayview, 11.45 A.M.

The day was the first in the upcoming three-day weekend in America, due to the approach of Presidents Day. For the occasion, the Claremont students Victoria Knight, Morgan Crowe, Janis Jacobson and Subito Sondo had conspired to go on a double date at the convenient Bayview Mall, in part due to its proximity to the school, and its mystique as a spot for students to potentially thwart supervillainous attacks. Subito had only a slight relationship with Victoria and Morgan, and was thus deeply surprised at being asked along, a general lack of familiarity with the idea leading to him slightly overdressing in a smooth white dress shirt and black velvet pants. As had been planned beforehand, they would meet at the bus stop a few yards from the school gates, go for a short shopping stroll for an hour or so, and have a relaxing lunch.

Subito rocked back and forth on the heels of his tough shoes, looking every now and again at the gate expecting to see one of the others. He had never met Janis before, and was quite excited to meet her.

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Janis was wearing a purple sleeveless blouse, a modestly-cut skirt, and flip-flops. She didn't want to overdress, exactly, but she didn't want to look like a slob either. As is typical of Janis on any given day, she wore a big smile on her face, and makeup applied with an artist's touch. As she walked out of the school gates, she caught a look at her date.

She slammed her back against the wall of the gates, hiding from him. He's cute! Within a moment, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a hand mirror, checking her make-up. Alright, alright. So. He's a foreign exchange student, or is he? Well, he's Puerto Rican. Damn. Relax, Janis. Take a deep breath. Her head peeked around the gate, taking another look. Okay. Let's meet the guy. What would Janis do?

Janis snapped her fingers, and in a fraction of a second she had teleported next to Subito. "Hi!"

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Subito happened to look over at the gates at the same time Janis appeared beside him, and jumped two feet in the air in surprise with bafflement written all over his face. Coming back to earth a little slower than was usual, he spent a few seconds figuring out what would be best to say at that moment, coming up with the absolute winner of every first-time meetings ever: "Hu-hi! I, uhm, I'm Subito Sondo" after a moment he offered his hand to her "I take it you're Janis? It's a pleasure to meet you" he smiled warmly, wondering nervously if he had overdressed for the weather. He didn't want to look like a wimp in front of a northerner, but he still wasn't fully used to how cold American winters could get. He had to admit though, now that he came to look at her, she was a lot more energetic than even Victoria had described.

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Morgan was dressed to the nines, today; his pea coat was freshly pressed, he had a sharp pair of black slacks on, even his shoes shined. And he'd even bent to popular opinion and bought himself a newsboy cap to go with the outfit itself. This was the first date he'd be going on with Victoria in several months - he wanted things absolutely perfect.

Plus, he did take pride in his appearance. Sometimes. Hair under the cap was washed and combed, he'd taken pains to clear his cheeks of any remainder of that scruffy beard, and he'd carefully trimmed the new experiment he was trying - keeping a small beard around his mouth and chin. Hopefully the goatee would help give some kind of...rakish and daring look. And hopefully Victoria liked the rakish and daring look. And hopefully he didn't leave anything left alone on the workbench. And come back to find the room on fire. Then the school on fire. And then Vicky would dump him. And then Summers would expel him.

He resisted the urge to curl up in a little ball underneath the tree as he passed by, heading for the main gates. This happened every time he had a date...

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Victoria looked over her outfit in the mirror, a recently purchased dark grey sweater and her favorite pair of hiphugger jeans. Adjusting her ruby and silver stud earrings and matching bracelet she nodded to herself. Checking her purse to make sure her costume was secured in case of trouble, as well as her wallet being inside towards the top, she slung it over her shoulder and vanished from her room in her distinctive bi-colored smoke.

Reappearing not far from the main gates, she walked quietly up behind her boyfriend before holding her hands over his eyes. "Guess who," she said through a grin.

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She shook his hand solemly, then gave her date a big hug. "Very nice to meet you, Subito. As I'm sure you're aware, I'm Vicky's roommate and moral support, Janis." Her head swiftly turned around, looking for the others. "Where are they?"

As she waited around for a moment, rocking back and forth in her flip-flops. Cool. I'm not nearly as nervous as I thought I'd be. Which is good. Or is it? Maybe I shouldn't be so open. Or anything like that. Where am I again? Oh right. Ahh! There's my date. She smiled for a moment, taking in the awkwardness of the silence. "So tell me about you."

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"So tell me about you."

Passing a hand through his hair(and nearly cringing that he'd let it grow to his ears again), Subito considered the question. After a moment's thought he began "Well, I'm.." he took a deep breath and began again "I'm big into exercise, my family moved here from Puerto Rico when I was about eight, so I know at least a little more about a side of life a lot of the students at Claremont don't, and I am kind of a nerd" he glanced sheepishly at her "Er..nothing too weird though, don't worry. Mostly sci-fi and stuff like that"

He smiled at Janis, warming up quickly "How about you? What incredible secrets do you have?"

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Janis playfully nudged her date in the ribs. "Hah! Already on my secrets, eh? Well. If you must know, I have a passion bordering an obsession with classic cars. I built one myself from scratch. It's a yellow hot rod...see?" Her phone whipped out of her pocket in a moment and she showed him the background. Sure enough, a picture of a gleaming yellow hot rod was visible on the screen. She clicked her phone shut after he had a good look, and put it into the cleverly designed pocket of her skirt.

"I hope I dressed up enough for the double date. You guys'll probably make me look like I showed up to crash the party." Her hands ruffled her hair, and she gave Subito an expression of mock frustration. "But anyway. I'm sure you can guess my superpowers, what from my name, and my teleporting deal and all. What are your powers?"

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"I..don't really have any" Subito admitted, the worry he felt whenever it came time to explain resurfacing "I'm granted access to the power of a spirit I call the Blue Dame, who is some kind of spirit that represents Peurto Rico. I ask for power to help others, and she gives me a Banner" he pronounce the capitalization flawlessly "a very fine costume, and increased strength, endurance, and the power to fly. The banner fills people who see it with hope, and makes my skin a LOT tougher, as well as letting me repair clothes" he frowned a little "I do have crazy good hearing though, like that guy" he pointed at a brisk, elderly man wearing a downright 1950's getup across the street who had glanced in them and muttered something "is wondering if we're..uh" he colored slightly and coughed as he changed the subject "That was an awesome car, a shame they don't make them like that anymore, so many modern cars look like bullets now, no style, you know?"

He glanced at the gate "You didn't see Victoria and Morgan when you were coming to the bus stop, did you? I don't want to be stuck waiting at this bus stop for ages"

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Morgan nearly jumped a foot in the air when the hands went over his eyes, though he masked it well (it wasn't often people managed to sneak up behind him!). And he grinned, spinning around quite deftly on his heel so her hands were over the back of his head, and kissed her nose.

"The magnificent-yet-adorable Victoria Knight, of course?"

He gave her a hug, then leaned back to look her up and down with an admiring gaze. With her arrival, the butterflies in his stomach simply vanished - much to his relief. Hmm...the earrings were a very nice touch indeed; though he did somewhat question the efficacy of a sweater with cleavage. Not that he was complaining any...he blushed slightly at that thought, coughing. And then the butterflies made a sudden resurgence. Cac.

"Ah...hey. You look good. Thanks for...uh...well..."

He rubbed the back of his own head.


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"So you're powered by the national spirit of Puerto Rico?" she said, raising her eyebrows. "That is pretty damn cool. Beats my power origins, to say that least." she said, laughing nervously. "And you've got all sorts of power extras. I sort of just hurl lightning at whoever tries to beat me up. And that is a good question, actually." she said, having another look around for their friends.

She spotted Morgan and Victoria hugging awkwardly. "Awww! Cute. You two lovebirds better get over here, alright?" she said, gesturing to the two of them.

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Vicky smiled at her outfit's effect on her boyfriend. There was a certain thrill to rendering the boy into a stuttering mess.

At the sound of her roommate's call she shook her head and took Morgan's hand. Pulling him close the pair vanished in a large plume of red and white smoke, reappearing behind Janis in a similar plume. Tapping her friend's shoulder she said in a quiet voice, "Right behind you Janis."

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The stocky teen jumped again at Victoria and Morgan burst into being next to him and Janis. Recovering slightly quicker than the last time he shook their hands eagerly, saying "Thank you so much for inviting me, Janis and I just met, she's even more awesome than you said Vick!" he stepped a bit closer to her and glanced down the road, wondering aloud "The bus isn't late, is it? I didn't get my schedule" he added with a trace of embarrassment.

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As if in direct answer, the neat gold and blue public transport cruised around the corner towards their stop, a solemn, wild-haired and powerfully-built man who looked to be in his fourties or so at the helm. With a soft screech of rubber on the relatively smooth pavement of the stop, it slid to a slow halt, opening its doors as the right-side tires deflated a little for easier access and departure. The four Claremonters were soon in the midst of a small crowd.

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Janis jumped a little, and laughed, turning around to give her roommate a big hug.

The stocky teen jumped again at Victoria and Morgan burst into being next to him and Janis. Recovering slightly quicker than the last time he shook their hands eagerly, saying "Thank you so much for inviting me, Janis and I just met, she's even more awesome than you said Vick!

She turned to Subito, and put her arm around his shoulder. "This guy's not too bad, Vick. I think I'll keep him." she said, turning to give Subito a little wink. He seemed like a nice guy, although way too nervous for her. Hopefully exposure to her endlessly sunny personality would help him take it easy. Although not very helpful, blatantly flirting with him was fun. It was turning out to be a good day so far.

Janis boarded the bus with her friends, close to Subito. "So where are we headed off to again?"

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Morgan shrugged, holding out an arm for Wisp to take before they climbed on the bus. He'd only met Subito a couple of times before, and that one...explosive...date with Janis...yeah, best not mention that one. But on the other hand, what were the odds of lightning striking in the same place twice?

For a moment he forgot that Janis could control electricity.

"Bayview Mall, I think. Shopping and stuff - been looking for some new gear myself, making a forensics kit. And maybe catch a movie?"

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"What Morgan said" answered Subito brightly as he took his seat, putting a companionable arm across her shoulders. This whole 'date' thing was turning out much better than the disastrous stories he had heard from his schoolmates, Hey, maybe we won't feel like we have to avoid each other once this is over after all! he thought cheerily to himself. To the other three he said "Yeah, first we go for a short shopping trip, then we go for lunch at this restaurant called Spacers. Newish place, serves all kinds of European dishes, I think you'll like it!" he settled himself a little further into his seat "Then, if you guys are willing, the mall theater is showing a bunch of serials based on the Atom Family from the 1960s"

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Janis made a happy noise, and rested her head against Subito. Although it was pretty early in the date, she liked him already. "All of that sounds excellent to me, good sir. I don't know about you guys, but I'm frickin' starving."

Smiling to herself, she closed her eyes for a moment. It was a pretty good idea, the date and all. In the back of her mind, however, a vague thought came to life. Their previous dates seemed to be plagued with villainy. For just a moment, she imagined a person manipulating the circumstances of her life, placing obstacles and fights in her way. She shuddered, and quickly ignored the thought.

"So, European food?"

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"Yep!" Subito answered enthusiastically "Dishes from Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Norway, Lithuania, all over! They've got fish that just melts in your mouth, you'll see!" he turned to Victoria and Morgan "What do you think guys? I can easily find us another place, not like I booked us a table or anything" he leaned a little more against Janis, wondering awkwardly if this was how it was supposed to go. He wasn't exactly an expert on how these things went, and wished he had asked Rick Kahuna about this, the guy seemed pretty comfortable around girls, after all.

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Janis held back a shudder at the mention of lutefisk. She had the unfortunate displeasure of being served a dish of it for dinner while at her grandparents house a few years. Although she was polite enough to eat a full plate of it, the rest of that night she spent puking up the retched fish. I might just stick with Italian food, if that's alright. But that sounds like a great meal, Subito."

He was getting a little too close, but she knew it wasn't him. Her heart fluttered a little as he leaned in, and she couldn't suppress blushing a little. "Erm. Subito, buddy. Not to be rude, but could I have a little room? You can still totally put your arm around me, I like it there." Janis gave him a sweet smile to let him know he had no reason to apologize.

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With a smooth motion Subito corrected his arm's position to rest it more comfortably across Janis's shoulders, sidling a few inches away to add a little space on the narrow seating. A mutter of "Sorry 'bout that" accompanying the change of posture. He was still adjusting to the idea of Janis as his date as well as a fellow student, which made him more than a little uneasy with the niceties of how you acted around her that was(from what his sister had patiently explained) both identical to and completely dissimilar from how he acted normally. He didn't want to give the impression that he didn't care for her romantically, while simultaneously he was resistant to coming across as more avid than he really was. Vick may have made her sound pretty amazing, but I really don't know too much about her, do I? he reminded himself soberly behind his grave smile. Aloud he said expansively to Janis "Their Italian is splendid! Olives steeped in saltwater, fine tomato dishes and such pastas as you can only imagine right now"

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Vicky took her seat on the bus, leaning her head on Morgan's shoulder she made a contented noise. "If they've got food from all over Europe, I'm left wondering how their Russian selection is. I've been craving pelmeni lately," she commented. After a moment of consideration she added, "Depending if they use kvass or sour milk as their base, I could go for a cup of okroshka too."

Brushing some of her hair away from her sunglass covered eyes she asked Janis, "So, while at the mall, am I going to have to carry you away from the car accessories display at Best Buy?"

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Morgan blinked for a second, then put his arm over Vicky's shoulder in return, smiling warmly. The butterflies usually vanished around this point, which was gratifying. To some extent. Though his apprehensions about the date being interrupted again weren't quite gone just yet. And he'd already composed a mental list, a very in-depth mental list, of exactly what he intended to do to anyone who messed up this outing.

"I'm easy with food, so long as it's filling and in large quantities. Do they have fish and chips?"

Which was a bit of an understatement to anyone who'd seen him eat at the Claremont cafeteria. 'Large quantities' was putting it mildly.

"Atom Family serials? Coooool...are they showing From The Dark Side Of The Moon?"

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Ten minutes later...

After a little further inconsequential conversation, the four teens arrived at their destination, the humble Modern-styled Bayview Mall, with a small, inconspicuous sign near the main door cheerfully thanking the people of Freedom City for helping with its latest repairs, with an addendum profusely thanking the hero Dr. Metropolis. It was quite impossible to tell which wall had been blown out!

The four debarked and made their merry way inside the warm building, which their brief trip through the wind-swept parking lot made all the more blessed. The Saturday crowd was out in force, people all around beginning, ending or prolonging their day's shopping expeditions, a two-level eating area with dozens of chairs, benches and tables for the use of customers, and overhead television screens angled to reduce glare showed news footage, films or commercials.

Music cheerfully played at a reduced volume that to Subito's ears was a constant irritant. He swore internally that he wouldn't let it shift his mood in the slightest. Turning to the other three he said brightly "So..where to first?"

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Morgan gave the sign and the spot that had been blown out a dirty look, a rather irritated expression creasing his features for a moment or three. He still had the scars from that explosion.

More than a few now, actually...huh. Never took stock. Price of doing buisness, anyway.

On that particularly grim thought, he shook his head and adopted a somewhat more lopsided smile, looking towards Victoria for guidance.

"I'm down for food or movie, but I gotta have something before taking this girl shopping. Get more of a workout following her around with her packages than in the Doom Room." The lopsided smile turned to a wicked grin.

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