Scene 1 – June 14th
Exterior City, Early Evening
The teenager was obviously terrified as the mugger held a gun to her face, practically trembling as he spoke. “Give me your fucking wallet, bitch,” the mugger snarled, his voice low and harsh, only audible thanks to the enhanced senses my expanded presence gave me. “And don’t make no sudden movements, ‘cause my finger’s feeling real fucking itchy right now.”
I stepped off the rooftop with a gentle push, slowing my fall into the alleyway with a simple application of telekinetic pressure. I landed soundlessly, my knees flexing ever so gently, then went to work.
With my presence extended and focused on the mugger and his gun, it was the work of only a moment to switch the safety on. Then, satisfied that there was no chance of anyone taking a bullet to the head, I telekinetically broke the man’s trigger finger.
“FUCK!” he swore, stumbling backwards toward me and doubling over his gun hand – and, unfortunately, putting his body between me and the gun, which meant that I couldn’t just pull the gun from his hand as I had intended to do with his grip loosened by the break. Well, no plan survives contact with the enemy – not even one as pitiful as this.
“You know that there are other swear words, right?” I cheerfully asked him, using more telekinesis to spin him around so that he was facing me. “You criminal types should really be more creative, otherwise it’s gonna get boring. I mean, I’ve only been one of the New Champions for two weeks and already it feels routine, and it’s unimaginative punks like you who make it that way.”
“You piece of shit, I’ll fucking kill you!” the mugger threatened, shifting the gun to his other hand with another yelp before raising it at me and pulling the trigger. Nothing happened, and he blinked in stunned shock.
“See, I could have guess you’d say that,” I lamented. “Honestly, it’s always the same. ‘I’ll kill you, Newton!’ or ‘you’ll pay for this, Newton!’ Why is it never ‘how are you doing, Newton?’” I shook my head sadly, and tore the gun from his hands with my mind. “And going from assault to attempted murder, too. Ah well, at least you established intent, which should make things easier on the jury.”
He tried to take a swing at me, but with a broken finger to distract him, it didn’t take someone with my skill as a fighter to parry the blow and counter with a palm strike to the head, dazing him for a few seconds. I used that opportunity to drag his arms together and zip-tie his thumbs together. “I’m gonna stop you here and put you under arrest, sound good?”
I read the mugger his rights, then left him sitting on the curb nearby while I checked on the victim, who had sat herself and hadn’t stopped trembling. “You alright there, miss?” I asked her. “He didn’t manage to actually do anything before I dropped in, did her?”
She shook her head. “No, he just… just pulled me into the alley and started… you showed up before he could do anything. Thank you, Mr. Newton.”
“Not a mister,” I automatically reminded her with a pang or irritation that I tried to hide – honestly, I had made it clear that I was nonbinary in my first ever interview, people had no excuse to get it wrong. “You’re still shivering, though. You sure you’re doing alright?”
“Sorry… it’s just, I was so scared,” she whispered.
I slipped off the plaid shirt I wore over my supersuit and crouched to drape it over the poor woman’s shoulders. “Yeah, this kind of thing can be pretty scary, even when you don’t get hurt physically. Meeting with a therapist might help, if you’re still feeling shaken in a day or three. The breast pocket of this,” I tapped the shirt I had given her, “has the cards of some good ones.”
“I… I’ll look into it. Thank you, Newton.”
“Just doing my job,” I told her as I rose, then turned away to keep an eye on the mugger himself. Well, a physical eye – my presence was omnidirectional, so I hadn’t lost sight of him while I was checking on the victim. Still, it was good to point my face at him so he wouldn’t forget and try something stupid.
“Console,” I said quietly, “how long until the police come to pick this guy up and take her statement?”
“Should be around 90 seconds,” Vulcan, tonight’s designated hero-on-standby, said, his deep voice rumbling as it came through my earpiece.
I nodded, and leaned against the wall to wait.
Scene 2 – June 14th
Interior MLED Compound, Evening
“Hey there, kid,” my mentor greeted me as I reentered the compound. “How’d it go?”
“No trouble, boss,” I told him. “Didn’t see a soul in the Crows territory, broke up an argument in the Buff Boys’ area – not connected to the gang itself as far as I could tell – then stopped a mugging on the way back in.”
“And used up your flannel again, I see,” he observed.
I rolled my eyes, letting my head roll with them since my mask covered my face. “That’s what it’s for, Canaveral.”
“How many times have I asked you to call me Navi, Quinn?”
“Your actual name will have to do, Abe,” I said.
“Not when I’m in costume,” he protested.
“Then put on your mask.”
He pulled the cowl of his costume over his head, covering the upper half of his face but leaving his mouth and jawline exposed. Something about appearing more personable if you could see his face, as he had once explained to me. Personally, I thought he had wanted to leave some skin exposed so that no one would ever forget that he was black, the way people so often forgot that I was nonbinary. “Happy now, kid?”
I patted him on the shoulder as I removed my own mask, along with the hairnet that kept my hair – long enough to fall in loose waves to my shoulders, these days – under control while I wore it. “Couldn’t be better, bossman.”
“Now, I know that’s not true.”
I raised a brow. “What do you mean?”
“You’re always happier around Holly,” he teased. “You prefer her to me, don’t you? The man who taught you everything you know?”
“Teach me everything you know, and maybe I’ll reconsider,” I joked. “Until then, I’m gonna stick with my best friend.”
“Oh, like she’s just a friend to you,” he laughed.
“Look, we agreed not to talk about that until we were in a better place…” I paused. “Which… I think we might actually be, now. I clapped him on the shoulder again, a grin spreading across my face. “I think it finally time to talk about it. Thanks, boss!”
Scene 3 – June 14th
Interior MLED Compound, Evening
I checked the common room that lay between the New Champions’ wing of the floor and the Journeymen’s half first – since Holly had only turned 21 the previous month, it was where we usually hung out together, since we were each stuck in different halves of the age-segregated floor. I didn’t see her, but I did see most of the Journeymen – Nic, Jack, and Simone.
“Hey guys,” I said, leaning over the back of the couch that Jack and Nic were sitting on and playing a game on the large TV.
“Hey Quinn,” Jack said, pausing the game and turning to face me better. “How was patrol?”
“Uneventful. Looking forward to retiring?” I asked Nic.
The teen nodded. “Oh yeah. It’s not that being a hero isn’t important, but…”
“I know, it’s not what you want to do. And now that you have a handle on your powers, no reason to stay.”
“Well, maybe one reason,” he said, his eyes flicking to Jack’s.
“Aw, babe,” Jack said, grinning, then leaned in to kiss his boyfriend.
“Get a room, you two,” Simone said, walking over from the kitchenette with a bowl of ice cream. “What brings you here, Quinn?”
“Looking for Holly, have you seen her?”
She shook her head as she took a seat and picked up a controller herself. “Not tonight. Have you tried her room?”
“That’s where I was heading next,” I said, and pushed off the couch to stand up straight again. “You three having a game night? Why wasn’t I invited?”
“Just the Journeymen, sorry,” she smirked.
“Then where’s Molly?”
“Out with the boyfriend,” Jack told me.
“I said he was welcome to come as well,” Simone said, “but apparently they had reservations to something.”
“Ah. Well, I’ll leave you to it, then,” I said as I began to leave for the dorms. “Enjoy!”
Scene 4 – June 14th
Interior MLED Compound, Continuous
“Hey Holly, you in there?” I asked, knocking on her door.
“Yeah, come on in!”
I swung the door open, and was struck, as always, by my best friend’s beauty. Curly brown hair which she had recently cut into a short undercut, chocolate-colored eyes, freckles pasted across her cheekbones, and a single dimple that was revealed as she smiled at me from the chair in front of her desk.
“Hey there, stranger,” she said, her voice warm as her eyes met mine. “What brings you ‘round these parts?”
“Well, little missy,” I responded, mimicking the ye-olde-west accent she had put on and pretending to hook my thumbs into a gun belt, “I was doing some reckoning, and I reckon you and I are due for a talk.”
Holly giggled at my impromptu cowboy impression, then raised an eyebrow. “A talk? What about?” she asked, dropping the accent.
I used my presence to pull her spare chair out from behind the desk and unfold it so that I could sit backwards on it, stacking my arms on its back and resting my chin on them. “You remember a few months ago, when we said that we both wanted something more than just friendship, but we weren’t ready for it yet?”
She nodded. “I remember. Between your dad dying and my parents being…” She paused for a moment, thinking of how to sum up how they have behaved on the night she had effectively disowned them. “…my parents, we decided we should wait until we were both in a better place.”
“Yeah. Well… no pressure, but…” I gave her a soft, hopeful smile. “I’m in a better place now.”
Holly’s eyes sparkled as she leaned forward, pressing her forehead to mine. “That’s good to hear. You’re sure?”
“Yes,” I promised, my eyes flicking down briefly to her lips, “I’m sure.”
A wide smile spread across her face. “Me too,” she whispered.
My grin widened. “I’m glad to hear it. So are we…”
“I think we should go on a date, soon,” she suggested, “before we say anything about what we are or aren’t. Just to make sure it goes as well as we hope it will.”
“That sounds wonderful,” I said, reaching up to cup her face. “May I…”
“Not before the first date,” she scolded me in a teasing tone, “you scoundrel.”
“On the cheek?”
“I suppose that’s acceptable.
I pressed a soft kiss to her cheek, just barely missing her lips. Before I could pull back, she turned her head to kiss me on my own cheek, and as we separated I could still feel a pleasant warmth where her lips had touched my skin, and my own seemed to tingle.
We grinned at each other, our foreheads still pressed together, and found that our hands had caught each other without our notice.
“That first date had better come soon,” Holly mused, “or I might not be able to wait for it to kiss you properly.”
“Soon,” I agreed. “This weekend?”
“No, there’s that gala, remember?”
“Oh god, don’t remind me,” I groaned. “You’re lucky you don’t have to go.”
“Staying behind to babysit the Journeymen while the rest of the Champions are out of town sounds more fun to you?”
I pulled a face. “Ugh, no way. You can keep your leader-y duties, thank you very much.”
Holly laughed. “I will, thank you very much! It’ll have to be the week after, then.”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I promised.
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