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Electra

Where They Have To Take You In

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Hunter Manor was quiet that evening, stately as ever in the waning summer light, with the sort of dignity that belied its crimefighting secret identity. The peace was marred momentarily by a rush of black inkblots appearing from nowhere, swirling into a vortex, and then disappearing, leaving behind three people on the front porch. Erin smoothed her hair as the last dots disappeared, finally used to the weird method of transport after all these years. "Come on," she urged the others. "Not likely anybody's going to notice you here, but why take chances?"

She opened the front door wide and walked in, automatically checking to make sure all was well. The doors opened onto a handsome foyer, slightly dusty, with the air of a place that was pretty well cared for, but could use a housekeeper once a week. "Hey Trevor, you home?" she called into the house. "Mark and Mike are here, Mike needs a place to hide out!" 

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Mike blinked and stumbled slightly as the coalesced on the porch, given the distinct odor high proof liquor about him one might think him drunk though those in the know were aware of the sheer implausability of that.  Teleportation was not something he had grown accustomed to though he weathered it better than some.  He smiled to Mark and Erin, "Thanks again."  he said earnestly offering each a ginger if friendly pat on the shoulder as he awaited being invited in.

As Erin called out to Trevor he glanced out over the grounds quickly surveying the well maintained lawns and landscaping feeling more than a bit out of place in his simple polo and slacks.  Galncing back to Erin he raised a brow, "You sure Trevor won't be put out?"  he clarified with some concern about the taciturn detective.  He glanced down and shrugged, "I mean I can probably lay low at my folks or head out to my grandparents farm."  he offered though clearly preffered staying closer to the city and the friends he valued.

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"No." At some point between Mike looking down at his feet and raising his chin Trevor had appeared next to Erin in the foyer, materializing almost as suddenly as the trio had teleported in. The oil stained jeans and fade t-shirt the dark haired heir to the Hunter fortune wore suggested he'd been in the middle of some automotive work and certainly lowered the bar for Mike's outfit but how he'd made it to the front door from the garage so quickly was anyone's guess.

Still one the the few Young Freedom alumni who could almost look the broad slab of powerhouse in the eyes, Trevor gave Mike a characteristically serious look, ruby irises reflecting light from the chandelier overhead. "Ample room. Easier to arrange permanent accommodations from within the city." He looked to his fiance as he placed an arm around her waist and deadpanned in the same soft, level voice, "Also, Erin would kick me out if I argued." Looking back to Mike he paused for a moment, observing his face in detail. "Sorry to hear plan went poorly." It was about as many words as he'd ever spoken to the other man in one go.

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"Hooray!" declared Mark, looking around and very pleased with these circumstances. "Everybody is back together again!" He put his arm around Mike's shoulder, standing up just a tad, and for a moment grew more serious. "I know this is bad, man, but things are gonna get better from here. You're a good man, you work hard, you're a great hero, and the world's gonna reward you for that. Even if the world's giving you trouble right now, you're safe from it here. We're all friends to the end!" He put his hand on Mike's hand like the Freedom Friends did as if expecting Mike to blurt out the same catchphrase, looked at Erin's hand and suddenly his eyes went wide as if she'd probed him with a taser. He put his hand over his mouth for a moment, for once completely at a loss for words. 

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Mike smiled a rueful smile of agreement at Trevors insistence, "I suppose she would at that."  he replied and flashed her a smile of appreciation it was good to know one had good friends even when you struggled at being the same.  An issue he hoped to rectify.  Focusing on Trevor once more he extended a big hand, "Thank you I know you value your privacy I appreciate it." he offered earnestly.

Mike returned the gesture looping a hand up onto marks shoulder and giving it a firm squeeze by normal standards but a mere fraction of the strength he could bring to bear ever careful in the application of that might.  He was halfway through the door when he picked up on his friend's sudden shock and took a step back from the house putting himself between his friends and the expected danger that was not there as he scanned the sky and treeline for what had concerned Mark so greatly, "What is it?"  he asked clearly on guard.

Edited by angrydurf

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Erin laughed at Trevor's joke about getting thrown out, giving him a gentle hip-bump to both scold him and thank him for backing her up. She was about to add her hand to the pile, just for old times' sake, when she saw Mark notice the ring. She tensed, but resisted the urge to flee. It had to happen sooner or later, she'd just hoped it would be after she'd come up with some kind of plan to tell him gently and in a way that didn't involve an immediate massive wedding ceremony. They'd just have to play it by ear. "It's okay Mike, it's nothing bad. Come on in before some camera drone catches sight of you," she assured him, then turned to Mark. "We were going to tell you, we were just, um... waiting for the best possible time." 

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"While heavily sedated, for example," Trevor murmured quietly with a sigh that didn't quite conceal the corner of his mouth twitching upward, albeit very slightly. If there was anyone he could could on to be as happy for them as they themselves were, it was Mark. It was just that Mark's excitement tended to come with literally ground shaking displays of raw power.

Ushering their friends inside and closing the door behind them, Trevor led the group to the closest living room, a stately loveseat and several large armchairs arranged around a large fireplace. "Engaged," he clarified for Mike's benefit before quirking an eyebrow and adding in a perfectly level deadpan, "Beat you to it, at this rate." He didn't really have much of an opinion about the taller man's conspicuously long standing engagement - if anything the delay struck him as probably wiser than rushing into things immediately after high school - but it did seem as though someone needed to get that particular joke out of the way. Giving Mark a serious look. "No powers, no summoning, no teleporting. High pitched squeals acceptable. Go ahead."

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"I always thought of them as more manly shouts of surprise..." Mark tried manfully, but couldn't keep the goofy grin off his face at his friend's words. "Oh, okay, you talked me into it. Eeeee!" he exclaimed, waving his hands. "I'm so happy for you guys!" Assuming the engagement must have just happened, perhaps the night before, he hugged Erin and Trevor both (the former carefully) and then kept moving around the group, making the usual circles around the conversation he did when especially excited. "It's OK, Trevor, I can't teleport Nina in, she's sleeping in today and she doesn't like it when I wake her up by surprise. Weird, huh?" he said as if describing a loved one's strange behavior. It occurred to him, as they talked, that Erin and Trevor must both have been thinking of Travis - but it also occurred to him that subject was entirely the wrong one to bring up now. "And if I bring in a wedding chapel, it'd ruin the floor. Are you guys gonna do it here?" he asked. "Or, ooh, down underneath in the cave, you can blindfold the guests on the way in so they don't know where it is..." 

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A somewhat chagrinned mike hunched his shoulders slightly as he slipped back inside with a quiet murmur, "Uhm yea of course."  Not that it was completely absurd to expect a mole people attack when hanging out with Mark but none the less in hindsight it had been far more excitement than concern in that particular squeel maybe he was just out of practice translating Mark, though he privately maintained excited squeals might be Marks reaction to mole people too.

"Congratulations."  He said to looking from Erin to Trevor with a genuine smile and a slight rueful chuckle, "yes I do know the difference between an engagement ring and wedding band."  he offered to Trevor, "I had a very nice salesperson explain it to me when I got Alex's" he added with a self deprecating laugh.  He blinked briefly at Trevors deadpan and glanced to Erin then Mark with seeming real concern for a flicker of a moment, "I hadn't realized it was a race."  he said in his best approximation of deadpan which was really just a poor imitation of Trevor, "I'm sure your romancing is very swift."  he added with a grin as while still very much Mike he had spent the last few years with regular doses of salty police cadet humor.  Then with real concern he paused, "Alex knows right?"  he asked Erin, "If not you need to tell her she'll be so excited, and I'm no good at keeping secrets from her."

He looked then to Mark at his suggestions of a cave wedding and clapped a hand on his friends shoulder, "Cave won't do, need good lighting for the pictures."  he pointed out pretty much exhausting his wedding planning expertise.

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Alex knows, confirmed a very quiet, rather amused voice in the back of Mike's mind. Really, 'no good' was an understatement to say the least in Mike's inability to keep secrets from his partner. Although there were certainly long stretches where she was quiet, or other wise occupied - even asleep - she was always there to one degree or another, as she had been his entire life. There was laughter in her thoughts as she added before he could panic, I found out before this, though. You didn't spoil the surprise.

Mike felt the light tough of Alex shift as she tested his recent memories and added, When the excitement has died down and it won't disrupt the moment, would you ask Erin and Trevor if they mind if I join you all? I don't want to impose.

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"She knows," Erin confirmed aloud, unaware of the mental communication. "She's already assembling, like, binders and stuff of wedding plans. I think it may get a little crazy. But I think we're going to do it here, just on the grounds, not in the HQ or anything like that. It's really pretty here most of the year, and easier to control access than at most other places." She glanced over to Trevor. "But we haven't really started planning anything yet. Haven't even set an official date. We're not in a big hurry, and this stuff takes thought. Anyway, that's not really what we're here for right now." 

She gave Mike another up and down assessing look. "You still look kind of rough," she observed. "You need another drink, or are you ready to be done with that part now?" 

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Trevor accepted the hug in good spirits, even allowing a short chuckle escape amid a faint smile. "Coffee," he decreed confidently on the subject of what Mike needed to put him back in order, looking to Erin and Mark to silently take their own requests for drinks as well. "Ask Alex what she wants" he instructed the downtrodden paragon while he was at it. Off the nonplussed looks he reminded the small gathering, "Detective. ...also Mike's 'telepathy face'." Even without the general assumption that the highschool sweethearts were in more or less constant mental communication their guest wore a fairly distinct expression when he was 'listening' to the cheerful redhead.

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Mikes eyes drifted up and to the left a little smile playing at the corner of his lips as he received the silent communique from Alex.  He refocused his eyes on Erin as he pieced together her reply only half listened to because concentrating on mental and physical conversations at the same time was hard.  He squinted slightly as he caught up and nodded, "Can't rush these things."  he agreed which really should have sent both Trevor and erin scrambling to get this handled yesterday.  No one wants to follow the Mike Harris engagement tradition after all.

His eye slid unfocused for a moment at the query from Trevor as he replied mentally to Alex, I assume you're welcome or expected to join us as Trevor is asking what you want to drink.  "Uh she just wanted to make sure it was OK with you if she dropped by."  he explained with a nod and shook his head at the offer of coffee, "No thanks, too bitter."  he sighed to Erin as well and grimaced, "My dad used to have a scotch after a bad day at work."  he explained, "It wasn't often the Ledger is pretty good to the staff."  he explained, "I dunno I figured it was the thing to do."  he shrugged, "But it just tastes like burning."  he made an unsettled face at the entire experience, "I think my attempts at drinking sorrow away are at an end."  he offered with a good natured laugh.  He tilted his head, "Maybe a glass of milk?"  he asked uncertainly, "That always used to help settle my nerves, I think I'm just still off put by all the attention."

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The knock on the manor's door was polite and came in short order as Alex had either flown or utilized the teleportation technology that had been moved from the old Young Freedom HQ to AEON. More likely the later, given the speed. The slim redhead hadn't changed all that much in the ensuing years and as she hadn't been currently 'on the clock', she was dressed much more akin to the Alex they knew than the one that occasionally appeared in official statements or in the news. Her pleated skirt was an improbably cheerful yellow that was certainly jarring against the hot pink of the light silk top. Which would have been enough but, by god, there were sparkly barrettes in her red hair with brilliant green streamers pulling her bangs back from her face. 

Despite the somber reason, she couldn't help the smile wreathing her face at having a good half of her old friends all in one location. "It's like we're getting the band back together!" She teased as she hugged Mark first on her way through the room. "It's been such a long time. I want to meet your girlfriend!"

Alex added that, pausing to give Trevor a hug to in the spirit of enthusiasm and because he might stand still long enough for it. "And you're getting married! I have a binder for you!"

Erin was not left out for all that she'd seen her most recently. It was brief and Alex still took care not to catch Erin by surprise although as she tore through room like a tiny day-glow hurricane, Alex was anything but subtle. "It's a small binder," she promised Erin on her way through the hug-fest before she ended at Mike.

Alex threw her arms around the wall of muscle that she called a fiance, tucking her cheek against his chest and squeezing him somewhat ineffectually, "I am sorry that it all sort of exploded. Do you want me to see if I can shut down the news footage? I know you said you didn't but are you sure?" From her tone, Alex was picking up aloud a thread of conversation that had been previously explored, probably mentally. 

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Mark had lit up like a beacon at the sight of Alex, all happy hugs and promises of a meeting with Nina whenever she felt like it. "I could go get her right now if you want! She's visiting Manhattan but I've got her GPS in my phone and-" But he sobered as she spoke, shaking his head and admitting, "It's, uh, it's too late." This was not something Mark would have willingly admitted back in high school about anything. "I got the message about Mike because I have the UNISON database set to ping me if any of my friends get mentioned. It's already gone global. Sorry, man," he added, awkwardly patting Mike on the arm, a look of sympathy in his eyes. "Uh, can I have black, Trevor?" he said, turning back to Midnight in response to the latter's offer of coffee. "Nina made me swear off cream and sugar." He could have just made his own, of course, but that would be crazy with Trevor's coffee machine right here. 

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The look Trevor gave Mike suggested that if the broader man hadn't been having such a tough day already he might have had something to say about the choice of beverage; if anything it seemed more like that conversation had been deferred more than avoided. Alex's entrance further distracted him from that grave subject, however, accepting the hug good grace and even stooping a bit to return the gesture with both arms. "Planning is good," he allowed with a shallow nod once he parsed what the offered binder was for. He'd been a little wary of the telepath's natural exuberance but at least unlike Mark she was likely to ask before 'helping'. While he didn't say anything out loud and this mind was as impenetrable as ever he actually seemed cautiously interested in what she'd come up with so far. He'd been trying to come up with an objective metric by which to determine the superior place settings but had paused his research in disgust once mason jars had been introduced as a potential component.

"Deserves a medal," he told Mark when he explained that Nina had finally put an end to the way his friend habitually drowned perfectly good coffee. Looking to Alex he spread his hands slightly, still waiting for her order. "Not milk...?" It was a plea as much as a prediction.

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Erin gave Trevor a look of amused exasperation. "He's had a hard day, let him have his glass of milk," she chided. "Come on guys, no reason to stand around in the doorway, come on in." She led the way to the largest of the manor's kitchens, a very large room right off the formal dining room that would've been large enough to serve a restaurant if the major appliances had been less than forty years old. But it had windows that caught the last of the sunset over the trees, and a comfortably homey eating area that was much less intimidating than the dining room itself. The table and chairs were practically new in here, thanks to some incautious fooling-around on their antique predecessors shortly after Erin had moved in, but otherwise the kitchen, like much of the house, remained a shrine to a bygone era. 

Rather than cause Trevor the mental anguish, Erin went to the fridge herself and poured Mike his glass of milk, then a glass of cold water for herself. "It does seem a little like old times," she commented. "Like we could all just head down to the Doom Room for some training or something. You going to get back into hero work, you think?" she asked Mike. 

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Mike brightened visibly at Alex's arrival and looped his arms around her in return with practiced care.  He shook his head firmly with a frown at her suggestion, "No no."  he insisted, "It's silly and sensationalized,"  he argued briefly, "But meddling in the press isn't our place."  he said firmly in a tone that was all to likely copied form his newsman father.  He gentled slightly, "I appreciate the offer Alex,"  he explained, "But -"  he blanched as Mark revealed the international angle, "Seriously?!"  he rumbled, "Like there isn't more important things going on in the world?"  he sighed heavily and shrugged, "I'm sure it'll blow over in time."  he admitted defeatedly though clearly he had concerns about just how long that may take.

Mike blinked picking up if only barely on the implication of the wrong choice of beverage and glanced to Erin then Alex uncertainly as he thought he'd explained alcohol did nothing but taste like burning.  He was not quite clued in enough to realize the foible of refusing coffee in the Hunter household.  He took the cup from Erin with a quite, "thank you" and took a drink shrugging in response to her question, "I dunno."  he admitted, "I mean I never really left it entirely,"  he countered weakly which was true as he continued to do hero type work just hobbled himself to do it because reasons?  He smiled weakly, "I am done with all the hiding and cloak and dagger stuff."  he said firmly the lying about who he was had never sat well with mikes morals, "But they have files on us."  he said gesturing to Alex, "Our names are flagged in just about every database out there as potential threats still."  he pointed out and gave Alexs shoulder a gentle squeeze knowing how hard she was working to reverse the sentiments on the Terminus Baby condition.  

"I want you all to know I'm with you if you need me."  he said solemnly, "Where I go from here I'm still trying to figure out." he offered with a final shrug.  He was going to be out there as a hero sure he just didn't even really know what that meant now.

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"Oh, coffee is fine," Alex said, starting slightly at the further question from Midnight. Her expression turned apologetic, as if it were her fault he'd had to repeat himself. In a way it was as while Alex didn't mind the void that Trevor's mutations made him to her senses, she was used to utilizing all of that information in her interactions with others. "I'm sorry. It's a lot harder for me to parse the nuances of your intonations as I just have to go off of micro expressions. I just assumed I'd be getting coffee. Coffee's just fine. I'm easy!"

Alex remained near Mike although she pulled back once she'd gotten a proper hug. Turning her attention to Mark, she grinned at him, "I don't want my first introduction to be rousting her out of whatever she's doing. We could always do dinner sometime? I could take you guys out. Is there someplace she'd prefer?"

Absently, she patted Mike's arm at his firm feelings of meddling with the media but refrained from comment as, really, it was pretty clear that Alex saw the media's presentation as one more tool in her arsenal when it came down to it. "There's a lot you could do. You could see about working for the UN or if the Auxiliary Freedom League is hiring. You could be a fireman - no one cares if a fireman is invulnerable and can see through the building to where people are - or see if one of the various super hero teams wants someone to stand behind when bullets bounce off. I mean, you really don't have to have a day job if you don't want to either."

There may or may not have been a binder for Mike too about his possible options. Alex did enjoy the proper value of a well prepared presentation. "Or we could all group up together and let Mark lead us into trouble on a regular basis like when we were sixteen," Alex pointed out then in the same vein she'd postulated about potential fireman work, before adding as everyone had jobs and duties of various other stripes. "When not busy with all the other things. Oh, or you could work in space!"

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"We could always use you," Mark told Mike truthfully. "You're a good friend - and you're awesome." He took a seat at the little table, leaning back in his chair in a way that would have looked very dangerous for someone less lucky. "Hey, here's a thought! What if we all team up again - and made it stick!" he said. "We could expand the Liberty League to include non-WWII legacies," he went on, "say we're starting a new generation of heroes for the T-Baby crowd!" Nina and Wander weren't really WWII legacies, of course, but a team had to have a theme - and the name of the world's first super-team had been a sacred trust passed down to Trevor and Mark by their grandfathers. 

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Trevor blinked once at Alex's apology before shaking his head faintly. "Mh, don't be." They'd rarely even spoken about the metahuman quirk that made him all but unreadable by telepaths but he supposed for someone used to knowing the general mood of everyone in the room without even concerted effort it would make interacting with him oddly complex, at the least. Compared to his other mutations it wasn't something that he really needed to deal with himself day to day. "Not quite the host my grandfather i-- was," he allowed, nearly catching the slip of the tongue in time and squaring his shoulders a little more obviously as he powered through all the same. "Still, guests." He seemed to feel that that provided all the clarification necessary as he followed Erin's lead to the largest kitchen.

While the others chatted he procured in surprisingly short order three steaming mugs. The one he handed to Mark was a Socotran blend, relatively mild by that standard but just the slightest bit challenging for what he knew of his friend's palate. The earthy almost peaty aroma cut through the worst of the bitterness at least, making up for the lack of Mark's customary sweeteners. Alex's coffee had been produced from a winy shade-grown bean, distinct notes of plum and perhaps cherry most obvious in lingering taste after a sip. For the redhead he'd brought along a little silver tray with a matching set of miniature pitchers for milk and cream and an assortment of what looked like sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and several other options. Evidently he didn't want her to feel as though she was imposing with any additional requests. His own brew was notably several shades darker than either of the other two mugs and could be smelled from across the table.

"Your answer for everything," he commented to Mark as he set down the tray and took a seat

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Mike finished off the glass of milk setting it lightly aside with care as Alex and Mark chatted about the new girlfriend with a fond smile on his face.  For all his desire for normalcy he really had missed this.  In a way this was his normal and he regretted not figuring it out sooner.  

Listening with a half smile to Alex's suggestions he laughed lightly, "I don't know about space."  he suggested with a shrug, "I'm pretty sure you need more going for you than surviving to help out on those projects."  after all astronauts were mostly PHDs and ranking military officers and what not for a reason right?  "It just seems weird not to have a day job or get paid for rescuing people."  he said seemingly oblivious to the irony of saying this after his chosen career of just that was obliterated.  With a small shrug he grinned at the group, "I know the times I felt like I did the most was with you all."  he said firmly, "I'd be honored to do so again."  he looked from Mark to Trevor, "But I know the league means something and not just for you but for everyone,"  he offered a little less certainly, "I wouldn't want to sully that with all this politics about,"  he gestured to himself and Alex, "I don't think it's in the cards to pretend I'm not what I am."  

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Alex reached out to touch Mike's arm, her fingers light on his wrist when he gestured to them. Her brows creased, the gesture uncertain, "And everyone knows who I am - what I am. I think it could do great things for others like Mike and me, clearly, and making people see T-babies in a different light is a cause near and dear to my heart. That said, there's still a lot of pushback. Sometimes we even get protesters down at AEON."

That Alex worked hard to mitigate and down play but it happened. "Especially considering who all was in the League the first time around. People might see it as a slap in the face and you guys have worked hard to further everything your grandparents stood for. Like Mike said, we're always honored to stand at your side but neither of us want to cause problems for what you're trying to accomplish."

She offered Trevor a small smile when he brought over the coffee, releasing Mike's wrist to accept it. "Thank you," she added, before taking a sip of the coffee un-doctored first before adding a little of both cinnamon and sugar to it. 

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Erin's smile was just a little grim. "If we cared that much about what people think about us, we'd all have quit doing hero work when we finished Claremont," she pointed out. "Having all the adult heroes think you're crazy or lying isn't that much fun. Besides, half the lunatic fringe already thinks Mark and I are probably T-Babies just because of when we were born, and would think the same of Trevor if they knew his identity. You're not going to make things any worse, or lower the opinion of anybody whose opinions we care about. On the other hand, you might be with us next time we have to save the world, and that's worth a lot more than any publicity anybody can give us." She raised her water bottle in toast. "And if you need a job, Mike, I might be able to pull some strings for you at HAX. Security work, not the most exciting stuff in the world, but It's solid." 

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"Yeah! The Liberty League stands for truth, justice, and the American way! And that means we treat everybody fair and square!" said Mark with some vigor, raising his coffee cup to match the toast. Mark had gotten into somewhat heated arguments back in high school about how the Liberty League hadn't gotten bogged down in the stupid prejudices of the Second World War period - which was true enough, but maybe Mark had defended them with a little too much vigor. "Of course, Mike and I do have that color-matching thing," he said doubtfully. "We don't want people thinking we're siblings or something...ahah!" He snapped his fingers, looking proudly from one face to the other of his friends. "We do a patriotic thing! Red white and blue!  C'mon, Mike, do you have a quarter?" He sat up straight, fumbling around in his own pockets for a moment before coming up with a shiny dollar coin. "Okay, heads, I go all-American, tails, you do. Ready?" 

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