Stella found her old high school friends at a mid-scale hipster bar in Richmond by looking for the tall and dark haired Michelle, and the tall and blonde Mitch. Finding them by looking for Andrea would have been a lost cause even in a small crowd, as she was barely taller than the cars parked in front of the bar, leave alone the crowd of people inside.
“Ok Stella,” said Andrea once all four of them had found each other and got settled in front of their preferred poisons. “The most important thing about this mysterious new job you can’t tell us about is: Are you going to be working with any interesting guys?”
Andrea waved a dismissive hand in the air. “High School and College are for cute and fun, but now’s the time for interesting and intelligent.”
“Cute is a plus, but what YOU need is someone who can take your attitude, and give back as good as he gets. We all appreciate what you did back home, but you scared off just about every guy in town. I know you got some, but it was guys daring each other to be brave enough to take on ‘Stella Steel.’ I swear the only way you’d bang some guy would be if you’d beaten the crap out of each other first!”
Stella felt a flush unaccustomed embarrassment form on her face.
Andrea’s eyes went wide and she shrieked with sadistic glee. “No! Way! You banged a guy after punching the crap out of each other?”
“I WAS in the HCP Andrea, you know that. There was a lot of fighting… I just…” Stella waved her hands around her head in a futile gesture. “They take our memories of all the people and places, so we can’t be a danger to the real heroes. I told them to take it all away, but I still remember stuff, like it happened a long time ago. I’m done with that. I wasn’t good enough, so I pretty much gave up halfway through Sophomore year. I just didn’t realize it until after.”
Andrea gave Stella a stern look. “You were always a hero. You don’t need some silly costume for anyone to tell you different.”
Michelle nudged Andrea rather than say anything to guide her back on course, which Stella didn’t want. She didn’t want any of her friends interrogating her about her personal life, or her new job. She wanted to interrogate them about their lives, and the men they were going out with.
“Are there any cute guys where any of you three work?”
“Oh absolutely!” Andrea said, “I invited a few of them to have drinks with us.”
Michelle just rolled her eyes and sighed, and Mitch grinned. He was easily as outgoing as Andrea, but also willing to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Andrea giving their friend a hard time about her love life.
Stella ground her teeth. “Andrea. I am NOT interested in that right now!”
“So,” said Mitch. “Spill Andrea. What are we in for? Any sexy gym coaches or shop teachers in that high school of yours?”
Andrea almost shot her drink out of her nose. “No, and SO much no! I’m sorry, but I don’t think any of the staff there are in your team Mitch. I invited some other teachers, and our school counselor, who I think can even handle Stella.”
“School counsellor Andrea? Really?”
The only response the others got from Andrea was a sly smile, and a nod in the direction of the door. There were three men in the group. One of the men immediately seized the attention of most of the people in the bar, as he was built like a statue of a Greek god. Almost literally, as he had pale white skin, almost no coloration to his eyes, and little to no hair on the visible parts of his body.
In defiance of the barely above freezing January temperatures he wore a short sleeved polo shirt, and seemed to show no discomfort at all. He might as well have had a blinking neon sign above his head that said ‘super’ on it.
“Andrea,” Stella hissed at her friend. “I don’t care about the powers thing. Just because he’s got powers doesn’t mean I’ll be interested.”
Andrea just gave her old friend a wicked grin. “But he is interesting.”
When the newcomers finally spotted Andrea, and came over, she introduced them. “Stella, Mitch, Michelle. These are my coworkers. Jim teaches physics, Tom teaches history, and David is one of our school counselors.
”Guys,” Andrea said to her coworkers. “This is Mitch, he’s in marketing. Michelle here does something government that she doesn’t talk about, and Stella here just got a job at the DVA.”
All of the newcomers took a double-take, since dropping the letters DVA into a conversation was similar to saying that someone was in the NSA or CIA. It was a big, somewhat mysterious, and powerful, government agency that nobody really understood all that well. Stella just gave them all a hard stare, fully expecting the next thing any of them said to be stupid.
Instead the other super at the table, David, took over the conversation. “I know about not being able to talk about work. So what are your majors then?”
“Theater,” said Mitch, and Michelle mumbled something about science into her drink.
“Women’s Studies and Social Work.” Stella said it as a challenge, fully expecting the eyeroll that most people gave her at this, which she did get from two of the newcomers, but not David. Instead he gave her a smile and approving nod.
“Social Work also,” said the tall and muscular man. “But I got a minor in philosophy. Not exactly great career prospects, and my powers don’t exactly open any new doors either.”
Andrea gave David a speculative look, “Everyone is curious David, just what are your powers?”
David smiled, “It’s not really relevant. I have one of those trivial powers that isn’t much use. So Stella, if you’re working at the DVA with that major, are you working with Agent Linda Anderson or Frank Mueller?”
Stella gave the big man a hard look. A big part of the next day’s threatened mountain of paperwork were very strict confidentiality agreements. David seemed to see her about to go on the attack, and got in first before Stella could rebuff him.
“I’ve been at the school for a few years, and I’m tasked with dealing with powered or super kids in D.C. and all the states around it when situations come up. I’ve had to work with Linda and Frank in a few different cases.”
Stella gave a curt nod to David. “Yeah, I’m going to be working with a different team though.”
Andrea rolled her eyes at them both. “Oh come on guys,” she whined. “Please show each other your things! You know you want to, and it’s not like either of you has to worry about secrets and stuff.”
David raised an eyebrow at Stella’s friend. “Our things Andrea? I’d rather have a bit of privacy if I’m going to show anyone my ‘thing’.”
Stella smiled despite herself. She found herself liking David. For once, it looked like Andrea’s attempts at matchmaking wouldn’t be a total disaster. “Tell you what David,” Stella said. “You treat me to dinner and a movie, and I promise I’ll show you my thing if you show me yours.”
This was met with approving yells and catcalls, and the rest of the evening went well. The conversation shifted to safer things than secretive government agencies or inhuman abilities. Even the terminally shy Michelle seemed to hit it off with Jim the physics teacher.
By the end of the evening Stella had David’s contact information, and he had hers. Stella found herself half interested in looking him up when she moved to Richmond.