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St. George's Armory (IC)


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September 21st

Claremont Academy

Jennifer tapped at the keypad of her smartphone, trying to distract herself from how nervous she felt. She still couldn't believe how a conversation about avoiding a certain reporter when going out to eat had lead to Kristin's reply of 'Like a date?'. A long pause of silently working her jaw before replying, blushing like she was in junior high again.

Now she was pulling up to Claremont Academy in one of the company's limos, intending to take the Australian girl to dinner at the C&C Club. Taking a deep breath she exhaled slowly as the car pulled up to the main gates where they had agreed to meet. Shutting off the ringer on her phone, she placed it in her evening bag.

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Kristin looked uncomfortable. It had taken some prodding, cajoling and even an outright threat, but she had somehow been convinced to put on a dress. It was a fairly modest dress - black, with a sensible neckline and it came down to her knees, but that didn't stop the young redhead from tugging down on the skirt every few minutes. Perhaps even worse she'd been bullied into wearing shoes with heels.

Despite her issues with the attire required for the evening Kristin still smiled at Jennifer as she hopped into the limousine and got herself settled. "This place better be as good as you say," she grumbled good-naturedly. "I don't get dressed up like this very often!"

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Jennifer scooted over to allow the girl access to the passenger side seat before her driver started the car back up and began the drive to the C&C Club. "I'm honored," Jennifer replied with a warm smile. She adjusted the hem of her green dress and tugged on the black jacket she wore over it, less due to the chill in the evening air and more to cover the collection of old scars on her back and shoulders.

Trying to control the butterflies currently running laps in her stomach she added, "Normally I prefer a pantsuit when I can get away with it, jeans and a t-shirt even more often but this is the C&C Club. Their dress code is famously strict. And yes, they are as good as I've said."

Without checking in with her brain though, her mouth continued, "Despite not going for dresses often, you look great."

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Kristin nodded as Jennifer described her more favoured clothing, then smiled her thanks at the compliment. "I was going to wear a suit tonight," she said with a grin. "But a friend of mine insisted I should get a dress instead. I guess she was more stubborn than I was. Besides, I'd have had to buy something either way and I guess I'm more likely to have a use for a dress than a suit!"

"Next time we'll have to go somewhere were we can actually wear jeans and stuff." she decided. "Much more comfortable. For me that is, you look like you've got the dress-wearing thing down pretty well."

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"I think I should send your friend a thank you card," Jen mused. "As for wearing dresses often, I got used to it pretty quickly. Charity events and political fundraisers don't always allow you to come in dressed in casual wear."

After a minute the ebony skinned young woman let out a quiet breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, "Your comment about next time, did you have any ideas on where and what that might be? I picked dinner, only fair you get the next pick."

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"Oh gosh no, no cards, you'll only encourage her!" Kristin exclaimed with a look of mock horror on her face. "She's bad enough as it is! You should have seen how insufferably pleased with herself she was when she finally got me into a dress!"

She shook her head and grinned, then stopped to think about Jennifer's question. "Umm... You know, I hadn't really thought about it, I kinda just said it!" she chuckled. "But I guess we could... oh I don't know, what do you like to do? Making me decide is bad news, I'll 'umm' and 'ahh' for ages and then say something dumb like 'lets go kick a football around'."

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"Kris, not to be rude but, did you look in a mirror after putting the dress on? I can see why she might be a bit smug about the result of getting you into one," Jen said with a laugh.

The older woman gave a contemplative sound before speaking. "Well, my personal first choice is this car show that's coming up but unless you're a gearhead you would probably be bored out of your skull while people compare how much they've sunk into restoring an old clunker into a fully functional work of art. Or modernized a Buick Skylark with an electric engine, in-dash computer, XM radio, and the like."

"Well, when in doubt, there's always bowling. Not kicking a ball around but it is an actual active evening with no dresses required," she said.

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Kristin blushed at the compliment, then chuckled at the thought of going to a car show. "I can't even drive a car," she noted. "And I sure don't know all that much about putting them together. I know you put petrol in them and that they need air in the tires and stuff but if you start getting all complicated I'm just going to stare blankly at you and go 'huh?'"

Bowling definitely sounded like more fun. "I could spring for bowling, we used to go sometimes back home. Can't say I'm all that good at it but it's always a laugh! My sister and I used to stick the bumpers up on the lane and see how many times we could bounce it off on the way down. We took it real seriously obviously!"

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Jen nodded, "Yeah, cars are something of a hobby for me. When I have some spare time, I like to look through the autotrader and check local junkyards for salvageable cars. A few of my restorations I end up auctioning off for charity. After the tsunami hit Japan last year, I found an old Toyota AA that little more than scrap and set about restoring it. I then auctioned it off at a Red Cross fundraiser, for about triple what I invested into it."

Flashing her companion a smile the black girl chuckled, "My little brother does the same when I go with him. We try to get a couple games in every month, it used to be something the whole family did but since my sister moved to Boston for college and mom messed up her knee, it's mostly been Jim and I."

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"Doing up a car for a charity auction is pretty cool! Glad that went well! Hey, maybe you can teach me to drive!" Kristin said brightly, then changed her mind rather quickly. "Actually scratch that, it'd be really embarrassing when I drive your car into a post on accident. Let's just stick with the bowling!"

She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment or two, then grinned. "I'm going to have to go practice though if you go play every month, I don't want you to crush me too badly! If you let me get a couple of games in first we can make it 'loser buys the icecream' or something!"

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A mental image of her favorite car, her red Tesla Roadster flashed behind her eyes before it was quickly replaced by the memory of her own experience of learning how to drive, namely the time she'd knocked over a stop sign trying to avoid a squirrel that had run into the road. "Well, for now let's stick to bowling but I'll let you in on a secret. When I first started driving, I was pretty bad at it. And even now I'm still a better mechanic than I am a driver," she said with a wink.

"As it happens, the alley I usually go to has a full dinning area as well as much more stripped down snack bar. They've also got some of the best burgers in town, especially their 'ring of fire' burger."

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"So I can wear jeans, there's bowling and they make awesome burgers? Kristin chuckled. "If only they made the best triple chocolate lava cake in town it would be the best place all round! Do they have those fancy darklights? Bowling alleys in Australia usually have those weird lights that make your clothes glow in the dark."

The Australian teen paused and then chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. "I'm rambling aren't I? You can tell me to shut up when I do that if you want!" she giggled.

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She tapped her chin in thought for a second, "Actually, I think this one does. If I'm recalling right the cosmic bowling is done on Saturday and Sunday nights after nine."

She watched Kristin chew her lip, Wow it's cute when she does that, she thought. In reply she said, "Not at all." Wanting to get to know the girl a little more she asked, "So, aside from dodging idiot reporters and school, how do you fill your free time? I'm going to guess from what you said socc- er, football is something of a hobby for you."

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"Hobby, obsession, you choose whichever one you like!" Kristin chuckled. "I miss my football - I was talking about the Australian kind, and obviously nobody here plays that. The soccer kind is pretty good too, but not quite as rough and tumble. At least I can usually manage to start a pickup game at school though."

She shrugged and sat back in her seat a little. "I guess I mostly try to keep active. Back home I used to go climbing, or just cross country running even. I haven't found any good places for those over here yet though, and I don't have my climbing gear anyway. Apart from that I don't mind picking up a good book or watching a fun movie. Can't run around all the time, right?"

"What about you? What sort of things do you get up to when you get some down-time?"

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"Well, like I said, there's cars and hanging out with old friends. I'm also a heavy reader, on the longer trips to demonstrations of company tech or when we're called in to help with archeological dig or what have you, my e-reader usually has five or six books of various genres. I also enjoy some TV, good science-fiction shows, historical things, and MythBusters," she answered.

"There's also self-defense training and working out, though that's less of a hobby and more simply survival practice," she added with a chuckle.

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"Oh self defense stuff is always fun," Kristin replied excitedly. "I took Judo classes back home so long as it didn't get in the way of football. Not that I was all that good at it or anything but I made up for it with enthusiasm!"

She snapped her fingers as a thought occurred to her. "There's a pretty new place over at West End I've gone to a couple of times. You should come join in sometime, it's been pretty good so far!"

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"My instruction mostly came from the courses the company gives the security guards, some lessons from bodyguards on various occasions, and a passing interest of Capoeira," Jen said before glancing out the window, seeing the car was coming up on St. George's Cathedral.

Glancing back at her companion, "Enthusiasm can certainly help make up for a lack of inherent skill. I also find throwing insults around helps a bit. And I just might swing by, never hurts to expand your skills."

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Kristin raised an eyebrow. Capoeira is that spinning flipping kicking dancey Brazilian martial art isn't it? she asked as she tried to picture Jennifer performing some of the tricks she'd seen. It looks pretty awesome. I can't say I ever heard of anyone teaching it back home though!

She chuckled as her friend mentioned throwing insults around mid fight. "I'm not exactly an expert on taunting people to throw them off," she admitted. "People totally don't get Australian insults. Mostly I just try to jump around and keep myself moving to keep them off balance. Seems to work okay for me!"

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"Indeed it is. My style mixes it up with some more punches and elbow strikes than most Capoeira artists. And sometimes you just physically can't move like that without slamming into walls," she answered. Continuing with a sly wink, "And, trust me on this, a dress like the one I'm in is rarely suited for that kind of jumping roundhouse kicking."

Chuckling with the Aussie she added, "I'm sure being able to fly and throw cars with your mind probably doesn't hurt either. Sometimes, you just don't need the insults to keep an opponent off their game."

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Kristin had to chuckle at that one. "Okay, I admit it helps a little." she replied. "After all, you'd be pretty distracted if I was throwing your car around right? Actually that'd probably be safer for it than letting me drive it I'd say!"

She gave Jennifer a cheeky grin. "I don't know though, that dress would probably make for a pretty spectacular jumping roundhouse kick!" she teased. "Just make sure that Jack Jackson isn't around with that camera of his!"

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"Driving class went that poorly huh? Good thing the city has some of the best public transportation in the country," Jennifer said. "But, to be fair, I'd be distracted if anyone was doing anything with my car. You have no idea how many hours I've sunk into some of the customizing of my cars and motorcycles. And that's just ignoring the basic maintenance work like oil changes, tire replacements, etcetera."

The darker woman blushed, "Actually, I've done the big round house kick in a dress like this. Lets put it this way, I now have a strong dislike of camera phones. After somebody posted the picture online, Victoria's Secret called me for months afterwards asking me to pose."

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Kristin chuckled at that. "Oh you're so going to have to tell me the story of how you got in a fight while you were all dressed up!" she decided. "Exactly how often do you end up beating on people anyway? Seems like you've sure been in more than your fair share of scraps!"

The Aussie teen couldn't resist teasing her friend just a little more. "And I suppose you're going to tell me that you were totally boring and didn't pose for Vickie's Secret too right?"

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"I have the occasional wild weekend," Jennifer said with a faint smile. "And sometime, I just might share that particular tale. As for how often I get into situations requiring self defense, probably too often.". She shrugged before adding, "Dad and made a few enemies while doing the Atom Family-thing, and then of course there's wannabe kidnappers who see me as a target with a dollar sign for a bullseye, though thankfully I have had that problem in years."

Jen looked even more embarrassed, "I thought about it but I asked myself, what scientific journal would publish a paper by an underwear model? Their offer was generous but I declined. Several times."

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"Scientific journals would probably be far more entertaining if they had articles written by underwear models!" Kristin decided. "Although I'm guessing they might end up far less scientific. Guessing not too many underwear models are quite as smart as you!"

"In all seriousness though," she continued. "I am kinda surprised you don't roll around with a bodyguard or something. I know you can look after yourself and all, but wouldn't it be useful for keeping up appearances and all that?"

She chuckled a moment later as a thought came to her. "Oh wait, I bet the driver is totally a ninja, right?"

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Drawing out a low contemplative sound, "I can't say the journals wouldn't be improved with some ads containing Victoria's Secret models in between the papers."

"No, Nathan is no ninja. He is however a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant so really, he's the next best thing," Jen said before chuckling and adding, "And wasn't the driver being a ninja the basis for one of Bruce Lee's earliest roles?"

Her attempts to carry the conversation however were immediately cut off from the sound of glass shattering and the roar of an explosion coming from the large front doors of the church. Turning to look, the young women could see several men and women in black gear not dissimilar to SWAT gear grouped on the stairs. Smoke billowing from an explosion blocked much of their sight however.

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