Styx sighed behind his helmet as he turned another corner, leaving the gaudily lit city block behind him, and saw another crowd of people ripple and part for him. Some even going so far as to cross the street entirely despite the usual Brooklyn traffic.
With how consistent the affect he seemed to have on people, Styx was surprised he hadn’t inadvertently caused an accident yet. Truthfully, he had expected and seen how crowds of people typically reacted when Heroes suddenly appeared without warning, but it was another thing entirely to experience it first hand, and the obvious fact that the gawking, running, and muttering was more pronounced with him than any of his peers made his stomach knot up for reasons he couldn’t quite place.
For now, though, he distracted himself by occasionally waving to the crowd, catching people trying to discreetly take a picture, and ignoring the rare jeer before he finally made it to the entrance of the restaurant owned by Mordent Holdings; a high-end bar & grill called Carouse Banquet with a dark and somber interior and exclusive tables for special guests.
As soon as Styx stepped through the large, wooden door entrance and he was greeted by a jolly server his mind immediately switched to another kind of anxiety.
Romance had never been a strongpoint of his, something that was almost entirely his own fault. Unlike the wild rebellion his sister had indulged in, Shane had buried himself completely in his training. Rarely venturing out of his previous pattern training, study, and eating properly unless forced out of it by Angela. He’d had friends of course, they’d just always been kind of… secondary in comparison to the training his grandfather had put him through. He’d only started developing serious friendships in college, any kind of romantic pursuits had been a distant curiosity at best. Though he at least had the mild reassurance that this wasn’t exactly a regular date.
Still, something the hallway he was being lead down seemed just a tad too cramped and his more socially appropriate suit, the usual gauntlets replaced with fingerless gloves. And the drastic change from the city’s muggy air to the intense, sweetened air of the restaurant made every breath he took feel awkward.
When his server finally led him to his table and he saw Levi, Styx’s train of thought came to a halt and all of the odd sensations he’d felt diminished.
Levi was sitting primly in a plush looking chair, long legs crossed and short braided hair that invoked a business woman feeling. She was wearing her PEERS outfit, but sans the logos and even Styx could see she’d used makeup to give her chin and cheeks a bit more angle and lips glossy. Her hazel eyes locked onto his helmet before a lazy smile replaced her previously placid expression.
“Hey, how’s my favorite Hero~” Levi said as Styx took his seat.
“I’m doing fine.” Styx replied lamely out of reflex before unclasping his helmet and setting it on the ground beside his chair, revealing the simple grey mask he wore underneath. “Still recovering a little from my last fight.”
Levi tilted her head slightly. “Hmm? I’ve seen most of your fights; it’s obvious that you have to constantly hold back a lot of the time. I feel like a fight that actually taxed you would have made the news.”
Styx nodded at that and felt some of his usual confidence come back when Hero work became the topic of conversation. “Some of the truly dangerous fights we get into aren’t necessarily flashy or public ones. Suffice to say; I let my guard down and nearly got cut in half for it.”
Levi chuckled at that and gave her date a sarcastic smile. “And you’re… okay after that?”
“Anyone that’s been through the HCP is well aware that Hero work eventually leads to significant injury; it’s just a job hazard rather than anything too noteworthy.”
“Well it’s nice to know that one of our city’s finest can take a near-bisection like a champ.” Levi chuckled. “So, was it the grim reaper this time or some other legend.”
Even Styx could see the opening that Levi was giving him, the ebony beauty really couldn’t have been any more obvious about it. This date was also partly a public relations event, which both Levi’s company and Styx’s agent had agreed to; so they’d called each other earlier to agree upon some public friendly topics. And they evidently weren’t the only ones to make preparations as many of the “customers” hear had actual, professional cameras and leaned in subtly at every word the two said.
“Ah, so the recent coincidences were just as obvious to everyone else?” Styx asked.
“Hmm, let’s see.” Levi lifted a hand and ticked off each point with a finger. “A Hero named Styx, a trio of knew ones with names revolving around angels, and a giant minotaur runs through downtown before getting swallowed up by a mass of shadows. I’m surprised you didn’t notice how much you shook up the groups that think Supers are fricking magic.”
“Oh, hush you; I want to set a good example for the kiddies.”
There was a lull in their conversation as a server came up to take their orders, the same jolly, nervous man that had greeted and lead Styx to this table. They both ordered their favorite drinks and some light food for the time being; they’d be talking a lot for their “date” so skimping on food, and thus curbing any bathroom breaks, would make things smoother.
“I honestly don’t bother with those groups often. Most people nowadays with even a cursory understanding of history knows that Supers are the cause for most myths and claims of paranormal ability. Werewolves were shifters, shamans were summoner, demi-gods were just strongmen and all that.” Styx said before rallying his courage and deciding to ask a more serious question, but one that was important to him. “I’m honestly more surprised by the fact that you invited me out in the first place. You seem at least semi-knowledgeable of Hero life, so I have to imagine you already know the potential… complications of dating a Hero.”
Levi almond eyes widened a bit before she pursed her lips in obvious thought before shrugging with a smile. “Would you be upset if I told you the truth said that I did it on a whim?”
Styx actually cracked a smile at that, something Levi was starting to learn was a rare expression for him, before motioning for her to continue.
“You seemed to be at least close to my age, had a reputation I found more than a little interesting, and seemed like a strangely nice guy despite the kind of Hero you were.” Levi replied, pointedly not asking for Styx’s age or explaining where she got her knowledge from.
“I guess I don’t really have a problem with that.” Styx replied after a moment of thought. “I’ve heard of people starting relationships over less. But what did you mean by that last part?”
“I’ve seen and known Heroes like you before and what the DVA calls on you to do and how jaded it can make someone; so it’s a little impressive how low your mortality rate is despite the large brawls you’ve been in so far. No fatalities, only cut tendons and the occasional spinal cord.”
Styx nodded his understanding just as the server came back with their drinks and he took a quick sip of the establishments recommended drink, which was surprisingly good. “My grandfather made sure to drill into my head how important control was, especially with a power as dangerous as mine. Control allows a Hero to have more versatility, regardless of what their ability is, beyond the power equivalent of just throwing a haymaker. Besides, it would be improper irrevocably injure or kill most of our combatants; most criminals are just desperate people that feel like they don’t have any other options or are caught up in something bigger than themselves.”
Levi hummed her appreciation and lifted her glass with her glass for a toast. “A soft sentiment for a big softie of a Hero.”
Styx’s smile widen just a bit as he clinked his glass with her’s in in agreement. “It was something my Dean taught me, but I’ll happily take credit for it.”
Maybe this could grow beyond just a casual whim and a PR event, in spite of the potential complications of having it go public.