“Where’s your passport!?” Alexandra sighed as her dark haired roommate continued rummaging through the blonde girl’s desk searching for the missing ID. In spite of all the smaller girl’s protests, Beulah had already managed to pack two suitcases of Alexandra’s belongings and whisk them away somewhere. Apparently the missing passport was the only thing preventing the eager Israeli girl from doing the same with her roommate. “Seriously Alex, where’d you hide it? This is going to be awesome and I am not going to leave you here to hide out in our room for the entire break. You are coming with me and you WILL have a great time!”
“C’mon Be, you haven’t even told me where we’re going yet, and spring break doesn’t actually start til Friday.”
“Entirely true, and I’m not telling you til we get there. It would spoil the surprise!”
“And about the fact that the break hasn’t started yet?”
“You finished your last mid term yesterday, I finished mine this morning, and even Coach Rachd said that he’s not holding it against us if we take off for vacation a few days early.” The taller dark haired girl turned to face her roommate. “RACHD said that Alex. Can you even imagine the likelihood that he will ever give us permission to slack off again?”
Alexandra sighed again. She had to admit that Beulah was right about that part. The entire Combat class had practically marched en masse to the infirmary to be checked for signs of head trauma when the coach had made that declaration. Finally relenting, the petite blonde produced the concealed ID from beneath the pillow she’d been sitting on, completely ignoring the glare from her roommate that the action produced.
“I can’t believe you really WERE hiding it.”
“Okay, I can totally believe it.” Beulah giggled as she replied. “Ready to go?”
“I have no idea.” Apparently taking the statement as an affirmative, the young Israeli woman grasped her roommate by the hand and Alexandra watched as the world shattered around her only to instantly reform into a new configuration.
Looking around, Alexandra found herself in what appeared to be a large waiting room, though currently empty. Judging by the sun streaming through the windows they were somewhere a few time zones east of Texas and, looking at the plants, definitely somewhere somewhat tropical. “So this is the big surprise, where are we Be?”
Alexandra stared at her roommate for a long moment. She’d obviously suspected they were leaving the country with all of her roommate’s insisting that she have her passport, but still. Moving to the window the smaller blonde saw that wherever they were had an excellent overview of a long strip of well maintained beach. “Where are we staying?”
“Here looks like a waiting room. Is this attached to a hotel or something?”
“This is our very own private beach villa, courtesy of the Abbott family.” Seeing the shocked look on the smaller girl’s face Beulah continued, “my mother works very hard to make excellent money in her position and she believes very strongly in having nice places to relax when she isn’t working.”
Alex opened the window and leaned out to try and get a better impression on the size of the building. “Holy Christ Be, this place isn’t a villa, it’s a freaking mansion!”
“It’s not a mansion silly girl. It only has like eight rooms. Large villa, but still nothing extravagant.” Taking in the disbelieving expression the taller girl giggled again. “I’ll take you on a tour of the really ridiculously big places later and you can feel less overwhelmed!”
“Yes, showing me places that make this one look small will make me feel LESS overwhelmed.” Alexandra managed a deadpan expression for about ten seconds before joining her roommate in giggles.
“Anyways, you should catch a shower and change into something a little lighter weight, then we can pop over to customs and enter the country officially!”
“You mean we’re in Jamaica illegally right now?”
“Kind of, but don’t worry. Mom’s got diplomatic rights pretty much everywhere she has property so no one’s going to come barging in to arrest you before you’re presentable.”
“One of these days you really need to tell me more about your family Be.” Alexandra headed off in search of her previously abducted luggage and a bathroom to use. She found herself smiling as she explored the opulent villa. Beulah was probably right about Alexandra having a great time. And even if she wasn’t, at least the place they were staying in had some style!
Kyle found himself needing to pull off the road as his hysterical laughter threatened to cause a premature and rather messy end to the spring break road trip. Antoin had begun singing along with the radio as the random seek had found yet another country station. The vaguely muddled French accent possessed by the black haired youth’s boyfriend belting out the lyrics to a Shania Twain track was far more than any human’s focus should have to try to handle while driving. For his part, the tall blond Canadian simply continued singing out at the top of his lungs as the car rolled to a halt, drawing strange looks and briefly heard laughter from passing cars. Finally the song wrapped up and Kyle took no chances this time, quickly powering the radio off.
“You’re going to get us both killed you know.”
“You could always let me drive, I swear I can drive and sing at the same time!”
“Maybe if I hadn’t watched you back your own car into three separate posts in the last few months, and whatever else you did that resulted in it being ‘in the shop’ for the past three weeks.”
“My car is large and ungainly, and those posts were asking for it. Your car is small and friendly, I would never do anything to hurt it!”
“Exactly. You will never do anything to hurt my car, which is why I am the one driving.” Antoin chuckled at the smaller man’s rebuttal. “What’s next on our list of tourist traps?” Antoin consulted the notebook he had tucked away in the door panel before responding.
“We’ve got San Antonio, with the Paseo Del Rio,” there was another round of chuckling from Kyle as the blond man butchered his attempt at a Spanish accent while pronouncing the words, “and the Alamo while we’re in town.”
Seeing the name of their destination on a freeway sign that whipped passed at high speed Kyle sighed and shifted in his seat a bit. Texas was a pretty big place, they had a couple hours to go still. “Oh, and make sure you keep an eye out for a place where we can get some cowboy hats.”
“Why would we want to get cowboy hats?” Kyle offered his boyfriend an incredulous look before responding.
“You’re singing along with country music at the top of your lungs and YOU’RE the one asking why? Because we’re in Texas, and if we’re going to see all of Texas, we’ve got to wear the hats!”
Antoin laughed at the strange conviction with which the smaller asian boy made his declaration, and reached to turn the radio back on. The larger man found himself laughing again as Kyle immediately tensed up in anticipation of another round of Antoin’s infamous car-karaoke, but the blond man kept his mouth shut and simply listened to the music this time. Besides, the shock value of his singing was starting to depreciate. It would work much better if he gave it a bit to let the surprise work its way back up.
“I cannot believe we let you guys talk us into this.” Iris Todd lounged comfortable in the back seat of the large van as she watched the scenery fly past. “Three college guys taking three college girls to Daytona Beach. We’re practically asking to get ravished without mercy.” There were both giggles and chuckles in response to her statement, although Tara only managed to blush a deep shade of crimson.
“I can’t believe we never knew that Zach drives a bus!” Louise was practically bouncing in the front passenger seat, somehow having elected herself navigator, and doing an excellent job in locating passing attractions, restaurants, and gas stations. The actual route they were trying to take, not so much, but plenty of good places to stop along the (extra scenic) way!
“It’s not a bus, it’s just a van. Why is everyone so surprised that I drive a van?” The first six or seven times the issue had been brought up, Zach had sounded truly defensive. At this point, the objection seemed to be blurting out purely on reflex.
Sean Tannen exchanged a glance with his roommate in the middle row of seats and both men smiled. It had been Jon who had suggested they attempt to get a group together to rent a small beach house in Florida, and luck had seen to it that Zach had been close enough to overhear and offer the services of his larger than average vehicle.
Louise had been eavesdropping because, if she were ever to be completely honest about it, she had no plans for spring break and desperately wanted some. Her new housemates, Iris and Tara, were both awesome people in the petite hispanic girl’s opinion, but Tara was entirely too introverted to manage any major plans and Iris was still not fully herself after the bad ending with Roger during the first semester. Fortunately the boys had been entirely enthusiastic when she had presented her plan to get all six of them on the same trip, taking even less convincing than the Latina had expected. Iris had of course been immediately on board with the idea once it was thrown at her, and Tara was intrigued enough to be in the van before her second thoughts could catch up to her, and by then it was far too late.
Even with the fifteen hour trip to Florida grown into a twenty two hour trek as a result of Louise’s unconventional directions, all six arrived in good spirits to see their home away from home overlooking the beach in the moonlight.
“Um, I think there’s only three bedrooms.” Tara wished her voice could manage to not sound QUITE so ridiculously shy as she made her observation upon entering the main room with the group. The red haired girl hadn’t spoken up for a large portion of the long ride, mostly too busy rotating rapidly between excitement and nerves as she was happy to be out and doing things, but not completely sure about the things she was doing.
“Oh, yeah, the guys mentioned that. I figured some of us would double bunk and from the brochure there’s like two living rooms and three couches so…” Louise trailed off as Iris stepped forward to inspect the house, then turned a rather intense scrutiny on the three boys they had made the trip with.
Without an actual word spoken the tall blonde grabbed the closest match to her height and hair color, a somewhat confused Jon, by the collar and dragged him into the nearest bedroom. The door closed quickly behind them, the last view the four still standing in the living room had was of Jon’s expression crossed somewhere between joy and fear.
Not hesitating in the slightest, Louise similarly took hold of Zach and made her way towards the upstairs bedroom. Sean and Tara were left standing alone in the common room, both blushing furiously.
“I can sleep on the couch, it’s oka-…” Sean cut off as the slightly plump redhead rose up quickly on tiptoe to kiss him hesitantly on the lips, then took his hand and began to lead him towards the last bedroom. Unsurprisingly, the brown haired man didn’t exactly put up much of a struggle.
The exceptionally tall pair made a very well matched couple as they strolled through the evening air of Puerto Vallarta. The skinny blonde and her muscular Mexican escort meandered through the brightly lit streets near the resort the two students were staying at. Ramón thought his weeks of effort in trying to convince Amelia to join him for a spring break vacation south of the border were going to turn out for naught, and had steeled himself to the possibility that the remarkably serious young woman would simply wish to train for the entire period. Amelia has proceeded to utterly shock her taller friend when she had produced a pair of first class plane tickets and a reservation packet for one of the nicest resorts in Mexico. She had laughed at his astounded expression and answered his look with a wink and the phrase, “I am rich you know.”
The somewhat theatrical Ramón had spent a large portion of the first day lamenting how this luxurious place they were staying in was not at all like the place he had grown up in. Amelia had smiled and reminded him that he had grown up in Oklahoma according to his high school yearbooks. The large man had simply laughed and pointed out that his statement was still entirely accurate.
Amelia found herself growing increasingly nervous as she spent more time with her attractive training partner. She was well aware that Ramón had become somewhat fixated on her in spite of several other women, both in the freshman HCP class and beyond, that would all have been more than happy with a romantic entanglement with the muscular man. But for some reason he seemed perfectly content to wait for her. Never having had the opportunity to be romantically pursued before, Amelia found herself charting new territory that she was not completely comfortable with. Her reaction to his playful physical flirting the first night he had started training her had resulted in a trip to the infirmary for the powerful hispanic man. Very few people at Overton who knew the powerful blonde girl would be able to imagine how easy it was for her calm confidence to slip away when faced with the prospect of truly hurting someone she cared about.
“You should be careful Ramón.”
“And what do I need to be careful of, my beautiful Ames?”
“If you asked me right now, I’d say yes.” Amelia smiled a bit wider as she saw how fully her words had captured the man’s attention. “But you might get hurt, I mean really hurt.”
“You are worried about breaking Ramón’s heart? Please don’t be, I chose to pursue you, Ames.”
“I wasn’t exactly worried about your heart being the thing that I break.”
“Well, I will not lie to you and tell you that the possibility had not crossed my mind, my dear, but that simply means we may need to work a little harder!” Amelia met the muscular man’s declaration with a look of non-comprehension. “For example, we should probably agree on a safe word before any such activities can begin.”
It took a long moment for Amelia’s somewhat lacking sexual education to fill in the blanks around Ramón’s statement, and she found herself blushing madly and giggling uncontrollably at the same time when her mind finally caught up.
“Also there are a variety of positions where we can minimize the risk, several of which also are said to maxim-… You are laughing too hard Ames, you must stop to breathe now and again.”
It took several moments before the hysterical girl could get enough control back to speak, though there was little chance of winning the battle against the blush that she was relatively certain had spread clear down to her toes by now. “You’ve done research on this?”
“Anything worth doing is worth doing at its right! And you, my lovely Ames, are easily worth doing it best.” The skinny girl found herself giggling again as the blush managed to somehow deepen further. Clearly flattery was getting Ramón a long ways.
“I think you should take me back to the hotel now, Ramón.” The last word came out deep and husky, and it was the large man’s turn to feel a blush of excitement creep up on him.
As the two turned to make their way back to the hotel they found themselves blocked by a pair of poorly dressed locals, both wearing somewhat evil looking grins and the one on the left brandishing a rather large knife. “That’s truly a lovely story you have going amigos, but now you will give us your wallets or sadly it will not have so good an ending.”
Amelia’s gaze still seemed a bit unfocused with anticipation as she turned and offered Ramón another wink, before she stepped towards the knife wielding man quickly. “Crazy puta, you think I won’t, Qu-…” Amelia ignored the threat and grabbed hold of the knife and hand before the man could maneuver away. Finally meeting his gaze, she offered a perfectly peaceful smile, and pulled the knife towards herself with more than enough force to drag its wielder along for the ride. The man looked on with an expression of horror as his knife point rammed into the girl’s exposed stomach, and the blade simply bent and snapped. A tiny spot of blood was visible as the only damage done.
Without breaking her smile or eye contact, the skinny blonde simply twisted her wrist slightly to the side and watched her assailant crumple to the ground as his wrist gave out in multiple places. His accomplice was desperately searching in his waistband for something, only to look up and see Ramón somehow holding his missing pistol and waving a finger disapprovingly at the man. “You should be more careful when you do bad things my friend,” the muscular man popped the entire cylinder free of the revolved with his fingers as he continued, “the anticipation of true love can grant a man or woman the strength to do many great and terrible things.” As he finished he brought his hands together and neatly folded the barrel of the gun to a nearly ninety degree angle before tossing it back to the man.
Without hesitation the two men ran from their inhuman opponents, neither looking back and both convinced the end was near. “Should we call the local police my lovely Ames?”
“I think not this time Ramón. I have plans for this evening that do not involve filling out paperwork in Spanish.”
The petite white haired girl calmly waited for the crowd noise to abate as she took another steadying breath. As the sound dwindled, Eloise carefully shouldered her rifle and sighted in on the nearer target. After releasing another deep breath, the young woman quickly squeezed off her first ten rounds at the 200 yard target.
More cheering rose up from the crowd as all ten rounds punched through in a tight grouping on or close to the bullseye, but Eloise ignored them as the first magazine was ejected to make room for a fresh one as the girl knelt to rest the rifle on the bench in front of her and sighted on the other 200 yard marker.
Most high-power rifle competitors took the fully allowed pause between each target, and used a huge chunk of the allowable time for both the slow fire and rapid fire stages. Eloise saw no reason to practice firing a single round per minute, or even only once every ten seconds. Taking your time for the very first shot was practical, but after that wasting time meant you were only training to be a target shooter forever.
Ten more muffled pops from her rifle as the suppressor rig built into the barrel did its admirable job of making sure the AR-15 could be fired without ear protection if a situation ever warranted it, and the petite girl was dropping to prone without bothering to confirm her hits on the second target. A final magazine inserted, this one loaded to handle both the remaining targets, Eloise sighted quickly on the 300 yard marker and the rapid shots partly drowned out the excited crowd once again. God bless the NRA, you can be sure that they’re ALWAYS holding one of these competitions somewhere within driving distance. Her classmates had all chosen warm beaches or traditional tourist destinations for spring break, for her vacations Eloise would rather do something she enjoyed AND could consider productive.
Another deep steadying breath as the white haired girl twisted slightly to bring the rifle to bear on the 600 yard target. This one was always her bane at these competitions, the fixed sights being difficult to use at that range without the benefit of a spotter. Eloise forced her breathing to remain slow, forced her heart rate to drop, and focused every bit of her being on finding that perfect hold. The crowd noise dropped off shortly before the young woman began firing again. At the longest target she needed to make a few more adjustments, and there were distinct pauses between each shot now. Compared to the other competitors that had gone before her however, Eloise’s four to five second re sighting at the farthest target was nearly a fully automatic burst.
Finally the last round fired, the petite woman drew herself back to her feet and waved appreciatively at the cheering crowd, as the official spotter called out the white haired girl’s impressive score. 464 out of 500. Eloise found herself grinning madly at the result. She had beaten the next competitor by more than sixty points. Her grin turned to a look of confusion as the announcer came back over the outdoor PA again.
“And another big round of applause for Eloise James, that was a truly masterful display of shooting folks! And we have one final shooter who will attempt to beat her nearly perfect run!” Eloise had thought she was the final shooter in the competition. Apparently someone that was pre-qualified for these events had shown up later on as the young girl knew that everyone who’d shot against her in the preliminaries had already had their turn today.
Eloise found herself further shocked as the final shooter was an older sandy haired woman who was slightly shorter than even Eloise’s petite 5’4″. The younger woman then marveled at the irony of her own shock, as it was frequently the look she saw on all the OTHER competitors faces when she picked up her rifle and advanced to the line. I guess I’m as used to the stereotypical shooter as everyone else is. The white haired girl noted that the final shooter seemed to be using an identical rifle to the one Eloise had slung over her shoulder. It made sense to the young woman, in a competition with limited rifle selections allowed, there really was a best choice.
As the final shooter approached the firing line and fumbled about for a pair of shooting glasses and ear plugs, Eloise found herself smiling again. She doubted that the seemingly scatter brained woman would be able to put up a score to match her own. Her smile faded as the blonde finally got herself prepared, and seemed to transform into a different person. The change was subtle, but her stance was suddenly perfectly confident, yet entirely relaxed. Her rifle was held like an extension of her arms, moving in a fluid, almost alive manner up to her shoulder. Eloise had thought her own firing speed was impressive at these events, but the middle aged blonde put the first ten rounds into the target so quickly the younger girl wasn’t certain she’d been able to distinguish the sound from each shot. There was no hesitation as the shooter dropped to a kneeling position behind the bench and another ten rounds down range that sounded like one long stream of sound. Legs kicked out behind her as the woman literally reloaded the rifle in mid-air before landing prone, the final two targets occupied her for less than twenty seconds combined.
Eloise’s spectacular run had provoked a great deal of cheering from the crowd, unused to seeing that kind of dynamic, quick shooting at these events. The older woman’s run left the entire crowd stunned silent. After several long moments of quiet, it was the shooter herself who spoke up, revealing a marked British accent. “If the spotter could give me my score please?”
The man on the large scope seemed to snap back awake at her words and began scanning the targets down range. The rest of the crowd still seemed uncertain of how to react to what they had just witnessed. Breaking into enthusiastic cheering was decided upon when the spotter announced the score. “489 out of 500.”
Eloise continued to gape in shock at the older woman, who seemed strangely disappointed with her incredible score. Fortunately the younger woman managed to pull herself together as the incredible marksman made her way through the congratulating throng of people to offer a hand to the white haired girl. “That was some truly impressive shooting, Eloise was it?”
The petite girl accepted the handshake from the athletically built shorter woman. “It was nothing compared to what you just did. How did you do that?”
“Take everything you’ve been doing, and do it for another twenty five years or so.” Eloise found herself smiling at the warm expression and simple advice offered by the older woman.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name, I don’t think they remembered to announce you.”
“They didn’t. I’m Anne Jameson. They don’t announce exhibition shooters at competitive matches, I just know enough of the people running things that I get to come in and shoot for fun sometimes.”
Eloise had stopped listening shortly after learning the woman’s name. This was a world champion long range shooter, held several world records, and she was standing right in front of her, complimenting Eloise on her own marksmanship.
“Can I have your autograph?” Eloise blushed at how suddenly awkward she sounded, but Anne simply laughed and produced a silver pen from somewhere on her person. Seconds later, the white haired girl was staring at the stock of her rifle, where the completely illegible scrawl marked the signature of one of the greatest marksmen on the planet.
“You should go get your trophy now dear.” Eloise blinked at the older woman without comprehension. “You still won the competition. Pros can’t win amateur events after all. Go pick up your trophy, and if you want you can brag at all those guys that it took the best in the world to shoot better than you. If you’re interested in any of them that’s the best way to wrangle dinner, drinks, or whatever else you want them for the evening.” The white haired girl blushed again at Anne’s suggestive grin.
“I don’t really care about the trophies, I don’t have anywhere to put them anyways. I just like to shoot.”
“Well at the rate you’re going, you’ll be set to take over my title by the time I’m done with it. It was nice meeting you Eloise.”
“It was awesome to meet you Ms Jameson,” something about the name stuck in the young girl’s mind, but she ignored it. “What brought you to Texas if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I’m going to surprise my son. He’s in college down here, and I’m planning to ambush him for a day at the end of spring break and catch up. Now I must be off, it’s still a long drive from here to Overton.”
Eloise stood completely dumbstruck as the older woman walked away. The nagging bit in her head that had been trying to get her attention since the woman had given her last name had been originally ignored as simply more excitement at meeting one of her idols. But now it had her full attention. Holy shit, I’m going to college with her son. Why the hell didn’t I jump on that boy before Cat could get him?
“So, this isn’t a normal destination for spring break.” The large Samoan man’s observation was kept carefully casual. He truly wasn’t objecting to spending his break in New Orleans with the most beautiful girl he could think of, but he was still curious as to why they were here.
“I grew up here. It’s the greatest city in the world, because we don’t need some made up excuse like ‘spring break’ to be an awesome place to visit!” The gorgeous brunette winked at her large escort as she led him around the French quarter.
Rorie was still more than a little shell shocked every time he realized that he was still dating the incredible sophomore. Jessica was smarter than him, funnier, more sophisticated, and definitely much hotter. Still, the heavily built man was not one to question such an obvious gift from the heavens to closely.
“So where are we off to next?”
“Well, I still need to show you Royal Street so you can buy me something nice. Then I figure we’d find a nice place for dinner and you can take me back to the hotel room until sometime tomorrow.” The smile Jessica turned towards the larger man was decidedly predatory, but Rorie found he had no objection to being the prey in this circumstance.
“This is definitely a much nicer way to take a vacation.” The auburn haired girl stood on the patio of the rented villa overlooking the beautiful white sand beach stretching out into the distance in both directions. The sights and sounds of hundreds of other enthusiastic spring breakers echoed into the telepath’s borrowed senses from all around. “How can you three possibly afford all of this? I’m going to get spoiled hanging out with you guys.”
“We’re rich.” The three friends chorused the response in almost perfect unison, causing the hispanic girl to break down into giggles.
“My whole extended family is part old money and part nobility back in England.” Scott had explained to his girlfriend a few times that he never really needed to worry about money, and that she never needed worry about him going broke spoiling her, but it appeared that being in an extravagantly expensive beach house in Cancún had been a bit more than she was expecting.
“I own three lucrative patents. I’m the only one in the room who made all his own money!” The heavily built black man trailed off as his own girlfriend elbowed him in the ribs in response to his bragging tone.
“At some point my birth parents decided they wanted me again, and they’ve been sending me ridiculous gifts for the past few years. My Uncle and I have an arrangement though, he converts whatever they send into cash and I get sixty percent.”
“Don’t you feel a little bit bad doing that to your parents?” As soon as the telepath started the inquiry, she knew that the answer would be a resounding ‘no.’
“You haven’t heard the story Cat, and I’m sure judging by how you’re flinching right now that you think I’m going to bite your head off or something, but don’t worry.” Erin took a deep breath to calm herself before she continued. “Tell you what, take me up the beach to the bar with the awesome mojitos and ply me with rum for a couple hours and I can unwind enough to read you into the tragedy that was my life at the age of four. Then you can tell me if you think my parents deserve a second shot.”
“And what are we supposed to do while our girlfriends are off getting drunk?”
The three other occupants of the room turned amused glances towards the large black youth. “Ty, Lord knows you are supposed to be some kind of genius, so why is it that you keep asking such incredibly stupid questions? Our girlfriends are going to get drunk, so obviously the gentlemanly thing to do is accompany them at a respectful distance while they have their girl talk and then bring them back to their rooms once they have been filled with alcohol and have our way with them!”
Laughter followed Scott’s statement of intent, as well as a few thrown pillows which the short man gracefully ducked out of the way of.
The lanky Korean youth sighed as he pulled the last of his luggage into the hotel room behind his two friends. “I can’t believe they shot us down.”
“I can. They are way hotter than we are, and they outnumber us.” The wavy blond haired youth’s response to Barry’s lament drew a chuckle from the third occupant, and scowl from Barry.
“Lighten up, Barry. Sure, the girls shot us down, but we got into one of the best resorts on South Padre for spring break. There are going to be plenty of girls here to chase for the week.” Michael Karl clapped his friend on the back before heading off to stake out one of the attached bedrooms in the oversized suite as his own.
“Now let’s head down to the bar and see if those ID’s we paid for are worth anything.” Aaron chucked his own luggage carelessly at the door to another room without even bothering to take it inside. Michael reappeared and the two men escorted the still dejected Barry back downstairs.
As the three young men entered the raucously noisy hotel bar they all stopped in shock as a familiar voice carried clearly over the crowd. “What the hell took you guys so long?”
Waving to them from a large booth was a quartet of attractive women. The very same women the three men had sought to join them on this trip before leaving campus just a day prior. Barry, Aaron, and Michael made their ways quickly through the crowd to the occupied table where the four girls were beckoning and grinning at the boys.
“We couldn’t accept your invitation after everything I went through to get US a room here after all!” The slightly built hispanic teleporter had let her long hair all the way down for the first time any of the men could remember seeing. It fell behind her like a curtain, reaching past the seat of the booth to disappear under the table.
“And this is spring break you know.” The Japanese healer was the next to speak. “We’re all totally sexy things you know, we can’t just accept the first offer someone throws our way!” Kaori winked at Barry as she made her statement. None of the boys had yet managed to find their own voices since making it to the table, and based on the lanky asian youth’s expression that wink had set him back another several minutes in his efforts to do so.
“So are you guys just going to sit there, or are you going to offer to buy us drinks?” The short rainbow haired girl raised her empty glass in emphasis. “C’mon guys, you’ve got some impressing to do if you’re hoping this will go somewhere other than us teasing all of you mercilessly!” Lisa’s attention was directed towards Aaron as she spoke, and the man definitely proved he was able to think a little faster than his companions.
“HEY!” The blond man flagged down a harried looking server with a pair of hundred dollar bills. “Two more rounds for the table, and you can keep the change if you make sure we’re not kept waiting.” The exhausted waitress perked up quite a bit as the two bills vanished, and a heavily laden tray of drinks appeared in record time.
“Not a bad start. Be careful not to set our expectations too high though gentleman.” The tall redhead lifted her glass as she spoke. “To doing shit we’re probably going to regret in the morning!” Six other glasses clinked against hers in response.
The muscular black youth was more than a little surprised when he nearly collided with the well groomed blond man coming out of the HCP fitness center. “Holy shit Ger, I thought I was the only one stuck here for the break.”
“It’s Gerard, please. All the abbreviations sound silly and my name is NOT that hard to say. I admit I likewise thought I was the only one still here.”
“Couldn’t get a date for the break?” Ben’s tone indicated he found that scenario far from likely. Gerard was probably hands down the most ‘traditionally handsome’ boy out of the HCP freshman class.
“I can focus on distractions later. I need to improve far more than I need to get laid right now.”
“Seriously? Aren’t you ranked like fifth? I know why I need to train, but you?”
The tall blond man let out a long sigh as he leaned against the wall. “I’ve taken the fifth spot for now, yes. But I don’t feel like I’ve improved at all since I acquired it. Aside from having a much more complete grasp of unarmed and un-powered combat from Coach Rachd’s never ending lessons on how to take a beating that is.”
“You want some advice?”
“Somehow I doubt I could prevent you from offering it in any case, but yes actually.”
“Start thinking like the Alternative training. It’s made a huge difference for me.”
“I could only think of my power as one dimensional. I’m strong, that means I can hit things or lift things. It never occurred to me on my own that it also means I can move myself faster and more efficiently than someone that isn’t as strong as I am. I can literally pull myself over a ledge and get airborne with a single fingerhold. That’s why I’m here, running the obstacle course.”
“We have an obstacle course?” Ben laughed at the shocked expression on the blond man’s face.
“Yeah man, it’s officially for use in some of the specialization classes we get into starting sophomore year, but I asked and they let me use it when it’s not already booked.”
“So you’re trying to make yourself more maneuverable to make up for the disparity between your strength and that of the ridiculously powerful students.” Gerard seemed to be mulling this information over. “How would that affect me though? I can’t actually use my barriers on myself, I can’t physically interact with them.”
“Don’t try to do exactly what I’m doing, look for new ways to do what you do. You mostly just push back to hit people, or stabilize those things to block, right?” Gerard nodded in response. “Can you make a flat barrier on the floor or something and lift someone up with it?”
“I’ve never tried that.”
“You could use something like that with control to get people in or out of hazardous areas, or you could put someone too powerful to take on head first into a low orbit if you can get enough vertical lift from underneath them. Nothin to push off of above you most of the time. Reverse that and you could try to pin someone instead of just blasting them.”
“I appreciate the advice Ben. I think I will try a few of those things and see if it has merits. One more thing?”
“Could you show me where this obstacle course is?”
Laughing, Ben placed on arm around the other man’s shoulder as he led him off into the HCP facilities.
“Put me down!”
“PUT ME DOWN!”
“Tasha, if you wanted down, you are way stronger than I am un-Shifted. You’d be down. No be quiet and get in the car.” Collin finally placed the larger and loudly complaining woman on the pavement next to her own small jeep.
“You think you can abduct me AND take my car?”
“I think you are incredibly lonely locked in that room by yourself, but you were such a kind person you avoided your telepathic roommate for almost a week so she wouldn’t know you didn’t have plans. I think my attempt to date a woman that I couldn’t talk about ANYTHING important to me was the dumbest thing I’ve done in awhile, and I think I owe you for the night you showed me after the Halloween party. Get. In. The. Car.”
Tasha sighed and finally relented. She had run into Collin the first Saturday of Overton’s spring break accidentally. Her constant desire to engage in some form of workout meant that avoiding the gym rat that was Collin for an extended period was really unlikely to work. She hadn’t previously credited him for being so perceptive, but in hindsight she supposed her misery over having nothing to do for spring break had been pretty obvious.
“Where are we going anyways?”
Tasha offered a blank look. “I’m from New York, remember?”
“It’s a nice place down on the coast. Lots of beaches, lots of fun things to do. Popular, but not a super spring break destination so we won’t get drowned in other college students while we’re there.”
“And why didn’t you take your new girlfriend?” The question was asked as the tiny jeep pulled out of the parking lot and sped off down the road.
“Christ Tasha, I talked to you about it and you were the one who told ME that I was just a booty call for the party. You said you were fine with it, and if you’d bothered listening to my ranting you would have noticed that we broke up.”
“Because dating someone you actually like while not being able to talk about a huge part of yourself is HELL. It’s hard to socialize casually with people outside the program with the SI restrictions. I was an idiot to try and have a serious relationship.”
“So how’d you get a room in such a nice place on short notice anyways?”
“I didn’t. My dad actually grew up in the area. My family still has a little beach house just outside Galveston, no one’s using it right now.”
“You never really talk about your family you know?”
“Neither do you.”
The two lapsed into silence for a time as Collin drove.
“My father doesn’t approve of me wanting to be a Hero. He had a carefully mapped out plan of how I was going to follow him into ‘proper’ medicine and use my abilities where they could do the most good. Because having his oldest kid already following him down that path wasn’t enough for dad. My family’s rich but I can only barely afford to go to Overton because they offered the best financial aid. If they hadn’t, you guys might have been kicking my ass along with all those other Force Ops guys a couple weeks ago.”
“You were going to join the army?”
“I wasn’t going to walk down a path that had been perfectly plotted out for me in painstaking detail. I would have gone messily insane.”
There was another long silence before Collin spoke next.
“My dad was a Hero. He died when I was seven. Both my brother and I decided we were going to follow in his footsteps, but Jeff washed out of Lander last year. He couldn’t make the cut for the third year of the program, and now my Mom is staying with him full time because he tried to kill himself.”
The silence stretched out again for a bit before Tasha broke it awkwardly. “I’m sorry about your dad, and your brother.”
“Dad was awesome. We all knew how dangerous it was for him, even though we were just kids. I’m more sorry about your dad. He needs to figure out how great his daughter is and stop trying to make her into a copy of himself.”
Tasha blushed at Collin’s praise, and the two found themselves divulging their entire family histories to each other. By the time the five hour drive was over, the two were obviously quite a bit closer than a Halloween party booty call.