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angrydurf

He Danced with Me

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Mike was not usually big on the night out sort of dates, generally he was as happy with watching an old movie on netflix and ordering in as with more grand evenings, and he almost never set out to arrange a formal date without there being a milestone to celebrate, even then it usually fell upon Alex to see to details.  There were however a few things Mike knew and knew well.  One Alex worked too hard and did more than even her prodigious abilities could manage without break for too long, Two She was a fan of the grand old musicals of yesteryear, and Three one of her favorites, The Slipper In The Rose, was touring Freedoms city in a revival performance.  It was to his credit that not only did he make the arrangements for dinner and the show himself but was very near to actually managing to surprise her with the night on the town he'd orchestrated.

 

He waited now patiently if nervously for her to finish her preparations for the evening his suit freshly pressed and, thanks to her insistence that he get one tailored, for once a good fit on his towering frame.  The fine black suite was accented by a Blue/Black silk paisley tie and a light honey linen shirt he had been alarmed to learn cost nearly as much as his textbooks for the quarter.  He sat on one of the stools at the bar adjacent the kitchen then stood to pace slowly as he went over the details in his head to ensure he hadn't missed anything before sitting again determined to appear calm at least when she emerged.

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Honestly, even if Mike had totally missed the mark on the evening out, that he had gone to the effort would have been more than enough to put Alex in high good spirits. Her presence in the back of his thoughts was a happy hum that accompanied the sounds from the master bathroom. It never took Alex all that long to get ready in general and she was eager to see what her fiance had in mind for the night. As usual, though, Alex dressed to her tastes and no one else's. She'd never listened to conventional wisdom that said redheads should avoid both pink and orange. In fact, her dress tonight combined both; a gauzy affair that started white at its sweetheart neckline and turned brilliant pinks and oranges by the time it reached the hem around her calves. It was cinched tight around her slender waist. It was very much not a winter dress, however, so Alex paused on the way to fetch her coat to float up and kiss Mike's cheek. 

 

"Don't you look handsome," Alex commented with a small smile. She smoothed her hands over the lapels of his suit before reaching up with light fingertips to remove the faint smudge from her lip gloss. "You haven't told me what the occasion is."

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Even without direct access to his thoughts Alex could have easily read his thoughts on her own appearance for the evening.  A broad smile lit Mikes features as she emerged and he let a hand linger on her hip as she floated up to place the kiss on his cheek.  "You look amazing."  he intoned earnestly as he looked down at her and looked down and to the side to hide a slight blush at her own compliment.  Cupping her hand with his own he met her eyes with a happy grin, "Do we need one?"  he asked and shrugged, "You work too hard and I wanted to do something nice for you."  he said frankly and looped an arm around her shoulders as he stood and walked her to the elevators and down to the garage where the car was waiting.

 

He held the door for her to the slight confusion of hte valet before sliding into the driver seat himself and going through a textbook checklist of mirrors and seat adjustments before planting his hands at ten and two and slowly pulling out of the garage beneath the AEON offices.  Easing into traffic when finally an opening presented itself he swung west to 53rd and then south toward the theatre district taking them along the doubtless slower but more scenic route paralleling liberty park.  He kept his eyes on the road and concentration focused on his driving as he went though he stole glances her direction occasionally at stoplights, "I wanted a nice night out for us and thought this would be a good opportunity."  he further elaborated as the wound their way through the maze of one way streets toward of street parking near the restaurant.  After parking he led the way to the eatery where he had made reservations a small upscale mediterranean bistro.  

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Alex threaded her arm through Mike's, her usual bounce in her step as she tried to keep stride with him. It never worked, of course, Mike always had to shorten his walk for his petite fiance but it was old hat to both of them at this point. "We don't need one, of course," Alex said with a happy laugh, "But you know its out of character. I can count on having nice evenings for every special event - and you never miss one - but spontaneity is not something that really comes naturally to you."

 

She gave his arm a light pat as she turned her bright hazel eyes up to the restaurant with the same lively curiosity Alex usually viewed the world with, "Which is fine, really, I love you just the way you are. Though, you have to admit its a bit funny. Doing something on the spur of the moment is easier for you than the majority of the planet."

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Mike had already measured his gait to her own and smiled down rolling his broad shoulders slightly in a shrug, "No, but you like it."  he said openly, "Aaaand it's less spontaneous than it might seem."  he joked lightly and stepped up to the maitre de to claim the reservation he'd made likely weeks before unless he'd managed to get Alex's secretary in on the arrangements.  After they were shown to a table he carefully sat and smiled to Alex, "Well easier in some ways yes."  he admitted, "But,"  he shifted uncomfortably, "Spontaneity can be fun but also dangerous."  he intoned quietly.  Mike had spent so much of his life taking extra care with all his actions that ti really was outside his mindset to do anything without carefully thinking it through.  He smiled however, "That does not mean I can't plan out a nice surprise here and there though."  he offered with a grin and waved the hovering sommelier to the table, "Water for now."  he requested politely, "something to match with our meals when they're served,"  he requested carefully in a practiced tone of authority.  He looked back to his fiance with a vague blush as his clear preparation for the evening became more clear.  "I uh, thought you could use a nice night out so I set something up I hope you like it all."  he explained finally.

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"I already do," Alex said with a smile as she was settled into her chair and looked over the menu with avid interest. At some point between their high school graduation and now, over the course of many professional business meetings, Alex had found her comfort with fancy places and as she settled into her chair to turn over the menu, that ease was noticeable for someone who knew her as well as Mike did. She reached up to fiddle with one glittering earring as she looked over the menu, her gaze still on it as she asked, "What do you think you're getting?"

 

She set the menu down on the table, finally glancing up with an affectionate smile for him, "I appreciate the trouble you've clearly gone to. I did need a nice night out with you."

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Mike was less at ease with the environs though he had practiced and researched sufficiently to not actively embarrass himself he continued to hunch in on himself in his 'I might break things if I move too quick' kind of way and looked over the menu as if searching for something, "Oh uhm, the chicken."  he said with a nod having perused the menu in advance to be prepared.  With a warm smile he set his menu down to gaze across the table at her, "You do so much for me, for everyone really, I'm glad I can do a little ot even the scales."  he acknowledged easily, "You're worth this trouble and more after all, and I'm not always great at showing it."  

 

When the server arrived Mike was prepared and said with conviction, "I'll have the chicken." and gestured to the item on the menu so he wouldn't have to mangle tzatziki.  Setting hte menu down once more he added, "And we'll share the Hummus plate sampler?"  he suggested eyeing Alex for confirmation of his selection.

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"That sounds good!" Alex agreed with a sweet smile before she turned it on the waiter, "I'll have the Shish Taouk, please," she said as she glanced over the menu briefly before flipping up the wine menu and adding after a moment, "With the Fontadi Vigna del Sorbo - the 2010, please."

 

Having ordered, she handed the menu over with another smile of thanks. Alex scrunched her nose at her tall fiance as she teased, "Hardly. You're pretty self sufficient, Mike. I mostly make sure you have clothes that aren't too tight at the neck and collars and fall asleep on you during movie nights."

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Mike was a little surprised at her acumen with the menu, he really ought not have been Alex had long been ahead of the curve on most matters cerebral and mature tastes and epicurean knowledge probably did come in handy running a fortune five hundred company.   He recovered from the mild surprise to offer a small laugh and smile, "Well that's quite a lot!" he insisted and shook his head, "You know what I mean, you listen to me, know me better than I know myself."  he insisted firmly, "You let me make mistakes and make sure you're there and ready to lend a hand or ear when I finally realize it."  he rolled his broad shoulders in a slow shrug, "And not just me, all our friends, and in a way everyone else with AEON."  

 

"Besides I like hte falling asleep on me for movie nights."  he affirmed with a smile, "Makes sure I finish the movie instead of sneaking off to catch up on studying I'm not behind on or whatever else would distract me from,"  he paused and took her hand briefly, "From what's really important."   Letting go he glanced down a slight color to his cheeks still shy about public displays of affection even mild ones.  "And self sufficient might be pushing it my mom still did my laundry till I moved in with you."  where now staff did his laundry which was little better and also still weird to him that people he never met were touching his underwear.

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"Mostly because your mom liked doing your laundry. It has not been easy to adjust to you being grown," Alex said pragmatically, and gave a little shrug of her slim shoulders at the compliments. "I think its easier for my parents because I've always been, you know, a grown up in tiny body. I mean, my mom spends most of her time fretting about all sorts of things and then fretting that I am going to know she's fretting and worrying over the impact her thoughts will have on me."

 

Alex gave his fingers a brief squeeze before reaching for her water glass. "Which, really, is what I hope AEON will help with for future parents. That sort of thing. Eventually."

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Mike smiled to the commentary on his mother, "Well there is that."  he admitted with an amused chuckle.  He returned the squeeze gently and glanced down for a moment, "I don't know if that's what everyone would call 'easier' per se."  he teased lightly as he withdrew his hand to lay it carefully before him on the table.  "One of many goals I'm sure."  he replied with a small smirk that grew quickly into a wide grin, "It's really amazing what you're managing already though."  he said earnestly more than slightly overawed by what his fiance managed with such seeming effortlessness.  

 

He paused to complement the food as it arrived and thank the staff for the prompt service before he focused once more on Alex, "So do you really think it'll continue to be an issue like that?"  he asked curiously, "I mean I know with Zii and all like it seems like it might stick around but do we even know how that'd work or?"  he was edging around the difficult subject of second generation terminus babies, "Or even among people without powers of their own?"

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"Our genetics are too afflicted by the terminus energies," Alex said, her voice matter of fact and her attitude calm. That they were terminus mutants was something she'd long ago accepted and made peace with. She glanced down at her food with a smile and nod of thanks for the server before picking up the conversational thread once more, "We were exposed in utero and both of us manifested at birth - and then a second time during our teen years, exacerbating our mutations. Alone, our genetic contribution is going to carry some sort of manifesting mutation even if we had a child with a non-T-baby. Together, we are guaranteed to see something crop up. The nature, though, of terminus energy on human genetics makes it extraordinarily difficult to predict exactly how it might manifest."

 

Alex shrugged and then offered an understatement, "I like to be prepared."

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Mike nodded slowly, he knew most of this both from the aftermath of Zii speeding through their lives and the updates Alex had passed on of AEON research into their condition.  "Yea well best to be prepared then."  he said a little uncomfortably a faint blush touching his cheeks.  He looked away as he composed himself and then asked curiously, "So would it be just those of us with powers that need to watch or are more going to come from normal parents you think?"  He'd heard alot of talking heads asking or yelling about the danger of those like he and Alex and worse others who might yet be revealed.  Particularly after the rash of attacks by this 'fellowship' group of terrorists.  

 

He paused between bites, "I don't mean to have you talk about work the whole time, sorry."  he apologized quickly, "I can tell you about my classes but you could probably teach most of them."  he half joked with a vague shrug.  "That guy from my early childhood development course, the one with the weird not mullet, got into a fifteen minute argument about the links of vaccines and the rise of super villains."  he rolled his eyes with a shake of his head, "Something about thimerosal and damage to the brains moral centers."

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"It's more high risk versus low risk. Really, after the terminus attacks that our dimension has had, you could see a T-baby theoretically popping up anywhere. Entropic mutation is extraordinarily hard to predict, even in near certain scenarios like our theoretical offspring," Alex said with a smile as she took a bite of her food, pausing to chew and wash it down with a small sip of her wine before she continued, "I don't mind talking about work, really, I find it intellectually engaging."

 

She grinned at him then, setting her fork back down, "That's terrible science. There's more mercury in shellfish and they don't even use it except in flu vaccines these days. Of course, people will indulge in hysteria no matter how solid the evidence is to the contrary. It's all about the illusion of control, really."

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Mike flashed her a smile though his cheeks still colored a bit at the mention of potential offspring.  "Even when you have to give the grade school version?"  he asked with a self deprecating laugh, "I know I know I'm plenty clever and all that."  he added with a grin.  "Well I like to hear about it even when it does go over my head sometimes so that's a fair match then."  he joked mildly and paused to take a few more bites.

 

"It really was pretty bad, the look on the professor's face was fairly taxed."  Mike acknowledged with a shrug, "We spent a lot of the remainder of the lecture going over the difference between the mind and brain."  he let out a sigh, "Which while enlightening was not particularly illuminating when it comes to behavioral disorders in toddlers."  then again given the lead up it might?

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"It's alright, the data is rapidly out-dated with new discoveries. Developing minds is a very nascent field," Alex said with confidence as she took a small bite of her food, giving a small shrug of her slim shoulders as she added without any real ego, "And they're only scratching the surface. The mind is more complex than science entirely understands."

 

Her hazel gaze cut towards their fellow diners, skimming the surface of the ambient minds absentmindedly the way that most would take in their surrounding visual environments before her attention turned back to her dinner partner with a fond smile, "So I wouldn't fret overmuch, Mike. By the time you've gotten your degree and teaching certifications, it will have all changed again." For what comfort that was. 

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"Oh well that makes me feel MUCH better."  Mike retorted with a grin, "Glad to know all this studying is gonna pay dividends in out of date information."  he joked lightly.  He stared at her for a few moments a small smile playing on his lips impressed by her acumen as always, "It's really impressive how you manage to say that without a hint of hubris."  he noted honestly, "I mean you do, to a degree, understand it better and yet you just sound excited by the prospect of the rest of us catching up someday."

 

The big man shrugged having perhaps used up his deep thoughts for the moment, "So I told you my funny school story what's exciting at work?"  he asked curiously always liking to keep abreast of what he could of the many plates his talented fiance kept spinning.

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"Well, sure," Alex agreed with a brief smile and a lift of her slender shoulders, "I'm psychic. I can see stuff other folks can't - genius thing, aside. But my intuitive understanding isn't the same as scientific discovery and its a discovery that I just happen to know about in advance. It'll be neat to see how its ratified and proven. I like watching puzzles come together. 'Sides, the better that people understand the way the mind works, the better they can help. You know full well all our power, we're still just a single person. But when it's known, then there are many, many hands to fix problems."

 

Alex beamed at him and added, "That's always better." She agreed before taking a final sip of her wine and sliding it away for her water. Alex watched her alcohol intake very, very carefully as a tipsy psychic of her power was generally not a good thing for anyone. "Work's always exciting. There's a patent that they're working on which is getting close to approval and that'll be nice. The accountants get a little tetchy when I start pushing the pro-bono too hard and an influx of revenue will make people happier. It's silly. We're very much in the green but I did hire them because sometimes I need to hear a conservative voice."

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"Well I'm in no condition to complain about your giving nature."  Mike replied easily, "But it's good to know you have someone to offer some balance."  he agreed easily and finished off his own meal taking a short drink from his own water glass.  "Either way that sounds like good news."  he suggested openly, "Anything particularly exciting?  Or just run of the mill way over my head super science."  Mike asked with an easy smile.  "Or anything else I ought know about?"  He asked curiously as upon occasion AEON's work hit a bit closer to home given the reasons behind its founding.  He sat back to watch her finish her food as they chatted about the various parts of their day non one least of all him surprised he'd inhaled his food faster than was likely normal.  But Mikes appetite had always been as robust as the rest of him.

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"Nothing world-changing," Alex said with a small smile and a shrug of her slim shoulders, "We stumbled upon a potential beauty product during some work with a metahuman with chameleon type abilities. It'll allow for light reactive pigments in some products to license out. It should result in a more effective and controlled color change effect in some types of make up." Alex said with the same sort of enthusiasm she had for more important work. Of course, the potential for more color in the world was always of interest to Alex. Her breadth of interest was one of the factors that had made AEON financially successful. "But marketing has a few deals already online that should prove lucrative once we clear the last hoop."

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Mike nodded along to the explanation, "Huh."  he finally remarked and raised a brow, "For like movies I guess?"  he inquired and shrugged as it really didn't hold much importance and likely there were myriad applications he hadn't considered.  As the conversation momentarily lapsed the waiter was quick to step in to inquire as to deserts and when Mike demurred citing scheduling saw to the bill.  For his part Mike cracked a smile as the waiter left to run his card, "I know you feel there is always time for desert, I'll make it up for you later with something sweet I promise."  he guaranteed oblivious to any double entendre.  Taking Alexs arm after his card was returned Mike led her down the block at a leisurely pace accounting for his much longer stride like second nature now.

 

Stopping before the theatre he smiled down to her at his surprise, "So I had to go through your assistant but I got us tickets."  he explained with a wide smile as they turned to see the marquee proclaiming 'Slipper in the Rose'  the show sold out far ahead of the short run in Freedom before the cast moved on to the West Coast.  "I hope that's ok?"  he inquired though he knew the answer before guiding her in and being led by the usher up to the trustees box the head usher turning to wave them in noting the look of confusion and concern on Mikes features added, "Complements of the Board of trustees Mr. Albright."  he explained and turned taking his leave Mike's mouth agape, "Ah I'm no-" but the Usher was unconcerned with the protest and took his leave.

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"Sure, not yet," Alex teased him, her hazel eyes twinkling with merriment at Mike's discombobulation. She gave his large arm a gentle pat as she turned away to survey their seats in the box, her skirt swishing with the movement, "Philanthropy has its rewards - mostly in the angling to garner donations for concrete sorts of rewards. I imagine they gave you a complimentary upgrade... and assumed you were the spouse. With AEON nearing its five year anniversary, people tend to forget that I started it in high school."

 

Alex's smile was mirthful, "Though it probably can't help that I look young for my age. I am hopeful that the Terminus energies won't retard my aging for another five years so I won't spend a small eternity fresh faced. We'll see. Models of potential ramifications of terminus energies are notoriously difficult. Unsurprisingly."

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Mike slowly caught up, sped along by Alexs explanation certainly, "Ah, yes."  he replied after a moment, "I suppose that does make sense I just wasn't really prepared for,"  He gestured to the opulent private box with a wave not really having the words.  He pulled himself together well enough however and grinned at his fiance's words about the unpredictability of the entropic energies that had empowered them both.  He took her hand once more to step through into the viewing area and sat at her side looking at the small number of empty chairs, "So are gonna have this all to ourselves?"  he inquired uncertainly as that seemed quite the upgrade given his difficulty acquiring any tickets before calling upon Alexs employees.

 

Thier conversation wound down as the house lights dimmed and the curtain rose on the play, Mike was not the fan Alex was though he had many fond memories of watching the film and original cast recording Alex had been fond of in their youth and the familiar refrains put him at ease.  As the show progressed his hand found it's way to her knee as he lightly ran his thumb along the side in a companionable and for Mike rather forward manner more relaxed than he'd been in quite some time enjoying the show with Alex at his side.

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"Probably," Alex agreed as she settled into her chair, leaning comfortably into Mike's side as the show started and the lights dimmed. Like her fiance, Alex's posture was relaxed not only because the evening was, in fact, a very pleasant diversion but also because Mike was so at ease. Although Alex did her best to buffer her own emotions from the onslaught of other people's, the unique nature of her psychic bond with Mike would have made his emotional state difficult to ignore. Her cheek fell against his shoulder, slender fingertips encircling the bicep against her side. 

 

This has been nice. Telepathy meant conversations were unlikely to disturb anyone, although with the private box, Alex probably could have easily spoken aloud. Her mental tone carried more nuance than her voice would have, You were right. I needed something like this. Thank you.

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Mike smiled at the thought and gave her knee a gentle supportive squeeze, Turns out I know you pretty well Ms. Albright.  He suggested silently as the opening number began, I know I have not been as here for you as I should have been, that's going to change.  He promised as they settled in comfortable silence to watch the show with rare interruption to recall anecdotes like marching around the Albrights thanksgiving table together belting out 'Protocoligorically  Correct' after being ordered to set the table for the sometimes fussy formal holiday dinner.

 

As the lights went up and the crowd gave a standing ovation the Head Usher returned once more standing quietly at the door while the applause died and Mike and Alex gathered themselves and stood.  "Mrs. and Mr. Albright."  he intoned politely, "The Director has asked that I extend an invitation to meet the cast and crew should your evening allow." He held the door for them with polite deference.   Mike glanced down to Alex with slight question in his thoughts and nodded, "I think we would be delighted."  he replied and taking Alexs arm moved to follow.

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