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Tiffany Korta

More Bright Lights and Good Cheer

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Freedom Hall

December 2016

 

Downtown Freedom was awash with bright lights and color as it was every year festooned with seasonal decorations from every conceivable location. Every building seemed to being trying to outdo each other to be the most seasonal above all the others, though if it was it all seemed to be in good natured fun. Around the world famous Freedom Hall there was a flash of lights of a different kind as the press were gathered around to witness the seasonal event of the League's Christmas party.

 

Only those who were lucky enough could preceed beyond the press corden, or through the side entrance for those less keen on publicity, and the only guests invited were those that helped defend the city as one of it’s many superheroes.

 

Only they got to go into the building itself into the hall which had been transformed into a suitable festive space in which the heroes could let loose for just the one night.

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High above the rooftops, two figures flew invisibly through the chill night air, unnoticed by almost all. They flew hand-in-hand with an unhurried grace, quiet as moonbeams as they-

 

I'm flyyyyyyin'!

Look at me way up high

Suddenly here am I 

I'm flying!

 

How is it possible that you can think off-key?

 

Ha ha! It's one of my many gifts!

 

Normally, going into a big superhero event like this, Grimalkin liked to make a big red carpet entrance; flashing a big smile to the camera, posing for selfies with fans, etc. But that was sheer agony for her introverted girlfriend Gretchen, aka the Shrike, who was already stressing about meeting other heroes, so out of deference to her, they were opting for a discrete entrance through the side door.

 

Since Lynn was willing to give up her beloved spotlight for her, Gretch offered her partner a special treat: a little taste of 'pixie dust', courtesy of her Ring of Power, which had more than enough juice to fly them both. Normally Grim had to shrink down to itty-bitty size to get her wings, so being able to share this beautiful night sky with her lover and best friend was a delight.

 

Unlike her mental singing.

 

The two lovely ladies landed softly near the side entrance, and then with great effort, let go of each others hands; in order to maintain their secret identities, Lynn felt that while she and Gretchen were dating, Grimalkin and the Shrike were not. But as 'good friends', they could still spend a lot of time together, though sneaking in a little PDA of course still happened.

 

Stepping inside Freedom Hall, the two heroines were bowled over by the size and scale of the decorations.

 

"Wow. It looks like Daedalus or some other technical wizard really went to town in here."

 

"So pretty!"

Edited by Heritage

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Mark and Nina had nearly skipped the party. After all, they had a lot on their plate these days. But after some mutual consultation, they'd decided to go together. Mark was looking dapper in his trademark suit and tie, his gold tie and blue shirt working as well as formal dress as they did in the field. (Thanks to his powers, anyway.) Nina had strongly considered coming in costume, but at the last moment had greeted Mark at the door of their house in a gold hijab and flowing blue abaya that largely hid the lines of her slim form. He'd told her she looked beautiful, and so she did, and the two of them had stepped through reality and come out just outside Freedom Hall. 

 

Mark had briefly hung close to Nina while they made their greetings to the assembled Leaguers, in this case Siren and Pseudo, the latter in the guise of a muscular man in his late fifties, but she'd soon shooed him off so she could have a quiet conversation with Beth Walton-Wright, who though she wasn't making public appearances as Lady Liberty anymore was back for a Christmas party with her old friends. While most everyone was saying hello to Beth's small twins, Mark took this opportunity to get himself a drink. 

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Cobalt Templar

 

Not long after Mark and Nina arrived, another couple touched down, though this pair had elected to go to the more private side entrance. After taking several moments to look around, the large blue figure flashed with light, and was suddenly clad in a fairly classic tuxedo bearing a few tasteful highlights to match his normal costume's coloration, and a more fanciful mask on his face that covered from above his eyebrows to the bottom of his nose, and all the way back to his hairline. It seemed carved from polished sapphire, yet moved like it was mere cloth. His eyes were covered with lenses that appeared slightly red-tinted from the outside (but were clear as air from his perspective). 

 

Such was the subtle power of the Blue Ring, available to the larger-than-life hero, Cobalt Templar. Who at the moment was all but fussing over his fiancee, Ultiwoman, aka Quo-Dis.

 

"Do you need me to throw up a screen or anything? I know you normally do quick changes, but you said you'd picked out a nice dress for tonight."

 

He narrowed his eyes (an action she felt across their link but couldn't really see behind the lenses) in mock suspicion.

 

"You didn't secretly plan to try just coming in the buff, like at that one party 3 months ago, did you?"

 

She knew he was teasing her, and lightly at that. While some things occasionally troubled her with wider Earth culture, Corbin Hughes was an open book to her. 

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Whilst maybe not the most famous of heroes Klara definitely stood out as she walked through the throng of press to enter Freedom Hall, as well as being a few head and shoulders above the crowd she had also picked out a stunning backless dress that flowed as she walked. She'd bought her entire family along her three young daughter being almost as statuesque as herself. In good spirits she waved to the crowd and pointedly ignore any of the normal questions as she walked hand in hand with her lovely wife, even if it was starting to look that they were mother and daughter.

 

Upon enter the hall proper she left her little family to get over the wondering of being in the Hall, though she hadn't been here much more than they had, and went to say hello the assembled Leaguer's. Though straight away she was drawn to Beth's young twins bending down to admire the young girls.

 

"I too have bought my daughters along, but they are a little older." she gestured over to her family with some pride "At this age the oldest was always running me ragged, in spite of my almost limitless endurance." she was though smiling at her memories of that time, though not enough yet to consider having another daughter.

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Gabriel

 

These sorts of parties almost always had music going near-constantly; often it was soft and subtle in the background, and other times a bit louder, more of the central focus. This party was no different; there was a small but somewhat obvious stage set up in one corner of the room that had a piano and a few other instruments, along with several music stands. For the moment, no one was playing any music, and only one person stood at the stage. 

 

Gabriel, his outfit shining and gleaming even more than usual, shuffled a few pages around as he sipped at a drink. Nominally speaking, he was one of the designated "hosts" for the evening, but he was also expected to provide some live music. He was happy to do both, but even for a social master like himself it was a bit much every once in a while, so for just a few breaths he'd retreated under the excuse of "making sure everything was in order". Having done so, he set the last page down and stepped off the stage.

 

Back to mingling! A smile came to his face again as he started to move around, greeting people he hadn't seen for a while, or even just a couple of shifts around the Hall. He kept his eyes open for new arrivals, though for the moment everyone seemed to be finding some of the more "senior" League members, so there weren't guests floating about too aimlessly. 

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"If I had planned to come nude, you would have known about it," Quo-Dis assured Corbin warmly, having chosen instead a form-fitting red dress that didn't quite touch the ground. Tall in her heels, she was a solid match for Corbin as she took his arm and headed inside Freedom Hall. Once there, she left Corbin's side to mingle, as usual moving freely through the room to better absorb human culture and their words. She met Nina al-Darsah and Klara by Beth Walton-Wright and her twins, towering over the one and coming in just a few inches in height below the other. 

 

"It seems children are in season these days," she commented with a look first at the twins, then at Klara's family. Nina shot Quo-Dis a hard stare at that and turned away to find Mark, just coming back with his punch and hers. 

 

"Quite," Nina replied. Glass in her hand, she spoke evenly as she raised her glass. "To families old and new," she said, indicating Klara and Beth both. "And a Merry Christmas." 

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Grim and Shrike hadn't yet stepped very far into the hall, hanging back a bit as they 'read the room'. They both felt a little self-conscious in their 'working clothes', but luckily they had the means to fix that.

 

"Whaddya say we glam it up a bit? Put on some fancy threads?"

 

Gretchen looked around nervously; this was so not her scene. "Yes, we can..." She leaned in close to whisper in her partner's ear. "I never dress up. I don't know what I look good in."

 

Lynn leaned in close and kissed her cheek. "Don't worry, love; I'll help you." She took a step back and looked Gretch up and down. "You've got dark brown hair, dark blue eyes and very pale skin, which I believe makes you a Winter. I would try...a blue gown, maybe a bit metalic? Matching shoes, and we can get your hair up. And only show as much skin as you feel comfortable showing, okay?"

 

"Okay. Okay."

 

Five minutes later, the lovely couple stepped further into the hall, and they made quite the pair, Gretchen in a beautiful, shimmering dark blue gown with matching mask, and Lynn in a deep cranberry one, also with mask. Lynn's was off the shoulder and a bit daring, whereas Gretchen's sported full sleeves, but was nonetheless very flattering. Both wore their hair up and looked positively regal. Noting the lack of any paparazzi, the changeling allowed herself the luxury of wearing her true, somewhat more womanly 'mature' form, eschewing Grimalkin's 'pixie stick' look, which helped with her gown considerably.

 

I feel like a complete idiot.

 

You look utterly breathtaking.

 

...Really?

 

Really. Let's see if I can spot someone I actually know....ooh, Mark Lucas!

 

You know Mark Lucas.

 

Yes, we go way back! Here, I'll introduce you.

 

Leading her reluctant lover gently by the hand, Lynn made her way over to Mark and playfully tapped him on the  shoulder.  "Excuse me sir, do you have any silver ingots? I was hoping to give them to some street urchins." This was an obscure reference to the one time he and Grim had travelled to an alternative London, locked in a perpetual winter.

Edited by Heritage

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"Oh!" said Mark, looking briefly surprised as he clinked his glasses with Nina and Beth Walton-Wright. "Hi, Lynn!" He smiled brightly as he took a deep drink of his punch. "I already did my alchemy for the year, this year is Hey, nice to meet you," he went on, smoothly shaking Gretchen's hand. "This is my fiancee Nina al-Darsah, this is the hero Ultimate," he knew Quo-Dis did not use human names, "and Beth Walton-Wright is a long-time friend of the Freedom League." He figured Klara could introduce herself - he didn't actually know Warrior Woman that well. 


"I used to be their official in-house counsel," said Beth as she wrangled her twins, who now were running after each other around her feet with the alarming alacrity of two-year-olds who looked like they could fall over at any moment. "But now I'm just a part-time lawyer and full-time mom. These are my girls, Madison and Mary." They both looked much like their mother, twin girls with thick black hair and brown eyes, dressed in matching jumpers of red and blue. 

 

"A pleasure to meet you." Nina tore her eyes from the twins to shake the new arrivals' hands too, her Received Pronounciation accent sharp tonight. "It looks there'll be quite a party this year." 

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Decked out in her full costume, Rose approached the side door to Freedom Hall. It wasn't that she wanted to avoid the press, more that she had nothing to offer them, as a little known hero from the poorer side of the city. As she stepped in, she realised she looked more than a little out of place. She looked around at the flowing dresses, the sharp suits and the shining hues of gold and blue in those wearing their costumes, and felt like her fading purple outfit wasn't quite up to the standards that this sort of crowd expected.

 

She'd deliberated on whether or not to come to this party for a while. On the one hand, it was formal, and probably intended for higher-level heroes. She didn't want to spend the night dealing with people looking down on her (or worse, pitying her), nor did she want to leave Southside undefended (even if only for one night). On the other hand, she did feel lonely around this time of year, what with not having anyone around to celebrate with, and it would be a good opportunity to meet new people. She decided to go, and go in costume once she realised how much the sort of dress that shows up at this party costs.

 

Standing inside the party, she decided the best thing she could do was go get a glass of water and look around some more, for someone a little more on her level, socially speaking.

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Tracy weaved through the crowds and handed her wife a glass of Champagne, just in time for the Christmas toast

 

"Poor Alexis has just found out she can't drink here, for some reason she thought that this was like some form of embassy or something. As I left her sister were labouring the point, one of us might have to go and break things later on!" her Yorkshire accent was a stark contrast to Nina's received accent

 

"I guess you never stop corralling you children, even if they should be acting like adults!" Klara offered with a smile

 

She greeted both of the newcomers with a friendly kiss on the cheek and a welcoming hug, not quite as reserved as some of the others.

 

"Pleased to meet you I'm Klara, some use to call me Warrior Woman long ago, and this is my wife Tracy." she hugged the other woman for emphasis.

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Lynn smiled warmly, shook hands firmly and laughed a lot, for she was truly in her element; to be honest, when she was younger, she was a bit on the shy side around new people, but after 80+ years of hero work, her more extroverted side gradually came to the fore.

 

However, the sight of all the children was a bittersweet one, reminded her of the life she left behind when she came back home, and the observant might note a bit of moisture in her eyes, though she clearly smiled in delight to watch their antics.

 

"Nice to meet you, Klara and Tracy! I'm Lynn, aka Grimalkin, and this is-"

 

Don't say my name!

 

"The Shrike." There was only the slightest hiccup as Lynn quickly adapted to her partner's wishes. "I have to admit, this is my first time coming to one of these; I was out of commission for about three years!"

 

Gretchen nodded, smiled a bit and shook hands, none of which she was particularly good at (well, she could nod just fine), and generally looked like she wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear; as soon as she could slip away, she did so, making a beeline for the bar. After she obtained her Jack and Coke, she noticed a younger heroine in full costume, looking a little lost; not seeing anyone else talking to her, and sensing perhaps a kindred spirit, she forced herself to approach Rose and nodded.

 

"Hey. Great party. If you like that kind of thing." She smiled a little half-smile and sipped her drink.

Edited by Heritage

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"Oh yes, thank you," said Nina, finishing a conversation with Beth's husband Trevor about her hijab. "I got it at the Miland un Nabi giveaway in Riverside, isn't it nice?" She patted the bright red and gold fabric, smiling. "The woman does the fabric herself on a loom her husband built, it's quite remarkable. You know," she went on, "if you're interested in Socotran crafts, I'd be happy to give you her card-" 

 

Mark, by now holding an empty glass, left Nina to her conversation and headed straight for Corbin, realizing quickly that Ultimate's presence there meant that Corbin himself had to be lurking around somewhere. "Corbin! Hey, buddy!" He reached up to clap Corbin on the shoulder. "Man, how's it going? You look good." 

 

"There are many children here today," Ultimate was commenting back in the group around Beth Walton-Wright and her twins, who by now had settled down on the floor to play with small stuffed toys recognizable as the Christmas Frog. "Is Santa Claus coming?" she asked, deadpan. 

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Alex Albright made her entrance through the front door although since they were flying rather than driving, it was easy to make way through any press. With her arms around Mike's tuxedo-clad shoulders, she focused on keeping the brightly colored silk skirts from flapping in any way that she didn't really want them too. She had no desire to wake up tomorrow to a picture with too much leg flashed on some scandal rag. As Mike set her down, she smiled up (and up) at her broad shouldered fiance. "You look handsome," she told him, not for the first time, and linking arms with him, drug him towards the doors before he could try to engage with any reporters. Phalanx's alter ego was really paper-thin these days and Alex was well aware of that fact. Still, she felt some desire to protect him from an early outing, as ridiculous as that was becoming day by day. 

 

Once inside the safety of the League's HQ, she glanced around for familiar and friendly faces, bouncing up and down excitedly on her toes as when she spotted anyone she recognized and waving cheerfully. 

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On 12/1/2016 at 8:42 PM, Avenger Assembled said:

"Oh yes, thank you," said Nina, finishing a conversation with Beth's husband Trevor about her hijab. "I got it at the Miland un Nabi giveaway in Riverside, isn't it nice?" She patted the bright red and gold fabric, smiling. "The woman does the fabric herself on a loom her husband built, it's quite remarkable. You know," she went on, "if you're interested in Socotran crafts, I'd be happy to give you her card-" 

 

Mark, by now holding an empty glass, left Nina to her conversation and headed straight for Corbin, realizing quickly that Ultimate's presence there meant that Corbin himself had to be lurking around somewhere. "Corbin! Hey, buddy!" He reached up to clap Corbin on the shoulder. "Man, how's it going? You look good." 

 

"There are many children here today," Ultimate was commenting back in the group around Beth Walton-Wright and her twins, who by now had settled down on the floor to play with small stuffed toys recognizable as the Christmas Frog. "Is Santa Claus coming?" she asked, deadpan. 

 

Cobalt Templar 

 

Corbin had been acquiring a drink for himself in one hand, a small sandwich in the other, and a second drink secured in a blue glow. Barely watching it, he expertly guided said drink over to Quo-Dis, deftly avoiding any collisions until it was floating within easy reach. When mark slapped him on the shoulder, he grinned and held his own drink and food in a similar telekinetic grip as he pulled Mark into a hug. One that probably wouldn't break bones, even! 

 

"Mark! My man! We don't see each other enough! It's going fine. Quo-Dis and I had a smooth flight over. Looks like you and Nina didn't have any wacky adventures on your way. I've been staying busy with a decent bit of solo work, plus college. Two degrees and all that."

 

His frame shook with a mock shudder at that factoid. 

 

"And they're in separate fields, no less!"

Edited by KnightDisciple

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Mike set down lightly just outside the doors lowering Alex with perhaps unsubtle ease to the red carpet as definitely too many paparazzi flashbulbs flashed.  He smiled down at his diminutive fiance and sheepishly adjusted his glasses before following her in, hunching his shoulders as he passed through the doors despite there being more than enough room as he ducked his head almost nervously at the crowd already gathered. "And you."  he agreed and blushed slightly at the mangled complement, "Uh beautiful I mean." he corrected as he cast about for familiar faces and raised one hand in a broad wave to those he recognized.

 

Carefully picking his way through the crowd on Alex's arm he seemed almost worried he might break something or knock over one of the likely priceless artifacts from the league's many victories on display.

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Dancia Devons

 

“Impressive aren’t they?” beside Psy Strike and Shrike stepped a young African-American woman.

 

She was dressed in suit that whilst fitted well was definitely on the cheaper side and was wearing a badge that suggested that she wasn’t one of the heroes.

 

“They seem to flying high even when they’re on the ground.” the words were poetic rather than filled with venom “Just remember that they started out just like you, and one day you can reach those heights.”

 

She gave a guilty little smile and adjusted her glasses, obvious a nervous little habit

 

“Sorry fault of the job, I’m Dancia Devons and I’m a reporter. Not that you’ve ever heard of me, and I promise that I’m off duty tonight.” she held her hand up in mock surrender

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"That's great!" said Mark, waving vigorously at Alex as he caught sight of her in the increasing crowd. "Man, that is great." Mark's degree in International Relations was from online education, but he was no less happy for his friend. "Hey look, it's Mike and Alex! Over here, guys!" Mark hugged Mike and Alex as they joined their little group of Young Freedom alums, his lanky frame unusually tense as he squeezed his friends tight. When he stepped back, he had taken the liberty of refilling his own glass. Punch was easy, even if you spiked it. "Man, looks like the gang's almost all here. I think our other friends are having a private party tonight." 

 

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As Gretchen approached her, Rose noticed how she seemed to both fit in and be out of place at the same time. Her dress made her look like she was born to be here, but her facial expression and body language suggested that she'd rather be anywhere else right now.

 

"This is kinda my first time at something like this. Not sure if it shows." She replied, then gestured down at her costume, smiling broadly at her own joke.

 

It was then that Dancia approached, almost scaring Rose due to her rather sudden interruption. She looked out into the crowd as she spoke, and smirked at the idea of her being as famous (or as powerful) as they were. I might stick to Southside, just for now.


"I didn't know journalism went hand in hand with poetry." She remarked. "Name's Psy Strike, but you can call me Rose." There was a hint of pride in her voice as she said her superhero name, clearly not ashamed of herself, even if she did feel a touch out of place at this kind of party.

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The Uber driver had to be reassured several times that the address was the correct one; it wasn't every day that someone wanted to go to Freedom Hall and couldn't fly, run, or simply appear there under their own power. Still, he eventually did pull up the sidewalk outside the structure and Asli Saddik pulled herself out of the station wagon. She sighed slightly as she smoothed out the wrinkles in her dress; she didn't own much in the way of fancy clothes, but after some panicked consultation with Sam she had settled on a simple gown and spring green, an uncomplicated number that hugged her generous hips and dropped straight to the ground. It made the best of her frame, it covered her arms, and it meant she could get by with wearing flats instead of heels.

 

"It's not quite rolling up in a limousine," she said as her date came around the other side of the car. "But I suppose I can overlook it tonight as long as you're here, too."

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Some people enjoyed attention. Some craved it. Some hated it. Some just tried to avoid it. And then, there were people like Bonfire. He’d arrived early.  Not to sneak in before any press showed up, no, in fact, he’d arrived early so he had more time to speak to the various reporters. He knew some, had heard of others and was interested in some.

 

So, he weaved through the crowd, giving interviews whenever asked to do so. He wasn’t all that big of a deal, but people wanted whatever material they could get. He’d dressed well above his general paygrade. A fancy white suit, with fitting pants. Below that, a jet-black shirt, and topping it all off, a tie, bright orange and tied into an extravagant trinity knot. Normally, Cass Bauer could not afford this at all. But, thanks to his recent gig, he had quite a bit of money on the safe side. And, in anticipation of his current plans, a suit had felt like a good investment. Of course, a suit just made his head, a simply cloud of smoke, stand out even more.

 

He’d slowly made his way to the entrance. Chances were by now everybody had snapped at least a picture of him. He casually walked up to the entrance, where he shifted into a more confident walk. His first stop was the bar, but all the while he scanned the room for anybody he knew. A fancy glass in hand, holding it like these events were totally normal for him, he approached the trio of women, the Shrike seemed like a good first stop.

 

He walked up to the group, speaking in an exaggerated manner, clearly joking. “Ladies.” Almost immediately, he shifted to a more traditional tone, one that sounded a lot more natural. He nodded towards the Shrike. “Cool meeting you here, how’s things?” He also addressed the other two, going so far as to bring his hand up in front of his chest and giving a slight bow, even if he clearly didn’t take himself entirely serious. “Name’s Bonfire, nice to meet you.”

 

Edited by olopi

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Klara looked over at Lynn and gave a understanding look, she understood the sentiments completely.

 

“Well I took a good twenty years off to raise my three daughters, though things were very different for all of us back then.” she mused silently for a moment how things were back then

 

“I hope we didn’t scare off you partner off with our presence? We can be a little intimidating I guess, is she still new to all this?

 

Growing up among wondrous people much like herself it was difficult to remember that all this wasn’t the norm and back home, her adopted home at least, people had grown use to her presence. And to be honest they wouldn’t do more than give strange looks and maybe edge away slightly.

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"Thank you," Alex gave Mike a bemused look and without so much as a by-your-leave, reached up to pluck the glasses off his face (even if she had to float up just a bit to do so). Trusting that he'd switch over into more of his actual body language without the crutch of his glasses, she folded them up and tucked them in amongst the brightly colored folds of her dress. "Mark," she said, turning her attention to their long time friend and his date. She offered Nina a warm smile and although the tension in Mark's frame drew a second, penetrating look, Alex said nothing nor inquired about it. The pat on his arm was distinctly soothing as she added, "You both look wonderful. Are you having a good time?"

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"We're doing well, thank you," said Nina, smiling at the sight of Alex and her husband-to-be. "Especially now that Mark and I have dug our way out after that terrible storm. Here I thought living by the coast was supposed to save us from all these American winters Mark keeps telling me about." 

 

"Hey, we can't go to the tropics for Christmas _every_ year," said Mark with a ready grin. "Come to think of it, I already know you can ice-skate and you don't get cold, and there are still some frozen ponds up in the forest.." 

 

"No thank you," said Nina cheerfully, her own smile perhaps just a touch too bright. "You know, I think I heard Joe and Asli were on their way tonight. Maybe we can make a triple date of it." 

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Stifling a complaint about her taking his glasses, he supposed they were among friends thus safe enough to cavalier with his 'Secret' Identity after all, Mike smiled down at Alex but as she had suspected stood a little straighter and squared his shoulders as he raised a hand to wave to Mark and Nina.  As they approached he returned Marks enthusiastic hug and bowed his head slightly to Nina "Good to see you both."  he greeted warmly shrugging slightly at the complaints about the Freedom winters, "Freedom never lets things get dull at least."  he suggested with a small laugh.  

 

At Ninas comment he looked up and over the head of most of the crowd to see if Joes distinct style was visible yet like as not sweeping his gaze beyond the doors of the party as he did so, "I'm sure they're on their way."  he acknowledged and glanced to Alex seeing no reason not to make a group of it.  

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