“So where are you going? That’s how you decide what to wear,” Hope said to Jennifer on Friday before her date. She and Allison were sitting on the bed while Jennifer was rummaging through her closet. She really hadn’t brought too much to college with her and even if she had taken everything, her wardrobe wouldn’t have been that extensive.
“I asked Candy for advice and she said that one of Andy’s favorite bands was playing a downtown club, so I got tickets for that. And I mapped out a few restaurants nearby that I’ll float past Andy,” Jennifer said pulling a few things out and setting them on the bed for the others to examine.
“If it’s a club then the clothes are easy, but you need the right shoes. Something you can dance in, but hot enough for your date to notice, what do you have?” Hope asked.
“Oh, I don’t really have…a lot of shoes,” Jennifer said, stepping back to show them a small selection of functional footwear, but nothing that would be called ‘sexy.’
“Oh honey! You should have said something earlier. We could have gone shopping!” Hope said, trying to make it sound more fun than Jennifer had ever considered the activity. “I have a great pair of black boots that would be great for clubbing, but I have about six inches on you, so they might be too big. Let me grab them!” she said as she rushed out of the room.
Allison had been pretty quiet the entire time, she’d grown up in foster care and never had more the basics when it came to clothes, so her fashion sense was just as stunted as Jennifer’s, “Nervous?” She asked.
“So nervous. It’s my first date with a woman. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here.”
“Can’t help you with the specifics, but I can tell you that Andy was just as nervous when you asked her. I don’t know her exact experience, but I’m leaning towards it being new to her too. Just try not to live up to expectations that aren’t there and I think you’ll be alright.”
“Thank you,” Jennifer said and went and gave Allison a hug. Hope came back in with more than just boots.
“How about this?” Hope asked holding up a black dress that looked short enough to be a shirt on some people.
“I’m really not a dress person,” Jennifer said.
“Fine. Try these boots,” she said handing them to Jennifer.
Jennifer slipped them on and tightened the strap, “A little loose, but not too bad. I kind of like them,” she said, looking at herself in the mirror.
“Excellent! Okay, wear these jeans,” she handed Jen black jeans, “and try this top.” Handing her a purple top that perfectly matched the streak in her hair, that went only over one shoulder, and was ruffled enough in front to work with different chest sizes. Hope’s wardrobe must be insane to have so many options available at a moment’s notice.
“I don’t have any strapless bras,” Jennifer said.
“I think you’ll be alright without one tonight. You don’t have too much going on up there.”
“Thanks a lot,” Jennifer said sarcastically grabbing her chest. “I’ll go try these on.”
“Wait what about underwear? You have anything sexy?”
“I hadn’t planned on letting Andy see my underwear tonight.”
“You don’t have to plan for it, but if things are going well, you don’t want to talk yourself out it just because you’re embarrassed about it if it gets to that point. Same reason you shave your legs even if you’re not planning for him…or her to feel them. Better sexy than sorry I always say,” Hope said with a wink.
“Fine, but I have about as much diversity there as I do with shoes and I’m not borrowing some of yours.”
Hope went searching through her drawer, “Wow, you weren’t kidding. Definitely shopping this weekend. These will work,” she said handing them to Jennifer.
“Fine, be right back,” she said heading to the bathroom almost in a huff.
After another hour of hair and make-up, of which Jennifer was actually happy about Hope’s experience there, she went down to meet Andy at the door. Andy was dressed in black leather pants, leather boots, and a black t-shirt with the band’s name on it, ripped in strategic locations to show some skin. She also had on a pair of sunglasses, her eyes being yellow, contracting into slits like a cat and reflecting light oddly made it a necessity in public. And she had also done her hair; since the hair was the same for all four sisters, they tended to stick with a neutral length and style, either falling back naturally or in a pony-tail for fights and gym, but tonight Andy had done it up in a Mohawk-type style, it was nice.
“Have fun you two,” Hope said from the top of the stairs.
“Thanks,” Jennifer said trying to get out of the house quickly.
Hope turned to Allison, “how are we the only ones without dates tonight? We’re young and hot.”
“James is still here,” Allison pointed out.
“Yeah, but that’s just because his girl is currently someone else. We need to do something!”
“It took two hours for us to get Jennifer ready, you think we can get out of here in any reasonable amount of time,” Allison said hoping to hold Hope off at the pass and relax tonight.
“I’m sure as hell going to try. You’re welcome to join me,” Hope said rushing to her room.
If Allison was anyone else then Hope’s words wouldn’t have swayed her, but she happened to be an empath and could feel how much Hope wanted this; so she relented and went to get ready.
Jennifer and Andy walked to the nearest train station, the Jones sisters had a car and Jennifer probably could have borrowed Michael’s truck, but it just wasn’t worth trying to drive into downtown Chicago when public transportation ran right to the college. They didn’t have a lot to talk about, neither being a social butterfly, and Andy didn’t even have the normal college classes like Jen, with Mandy and Sandy handling all of them, but luckily they were pretty alone at the moment so they could talk about the HCP, which held them for a while.
They got to the train station; which was really rather full of students looking to head into the city for bars and clubs. Jennifer was a little nervous, this was the first time she’d be seen in public with a ‘female’ date; she was sure people would stare at them, maybe say something rude, but it didn’t happen. Aside from a few men taking notice of two college girls, they were ignored. Looking around she saw other pairs and groups of woman and her mind didn’t go right to them being ‘together,’ so looking at herself with Andy they just looked like two friends out for the night and they weren’t doing anything that suggested otherwise. Which made Jennifer wonder if she should be doing something date-like, holding hands, or having an arm over the shoulder or something. She didn’t know and she was afraid to make the first move here.
They sat next to each other on the train, but again the conversation stalled with others around to hear them. Andy tried to turn the conversation to home and family, but Jennifer tried to resist, even though her revised background meant she just had to say she didn’t have a brother, but she didn’t want to lie, even by omission.
When they got to their stop they followed the crowd out of the train station and started heading down the street. It would have been much faster to cut through alleys to go from street to street, but two young girls just didn’t do that in the city. Chicago has one of the largest Super gangs in the country, which means it’s always a bit of a risk to walk around downtown, although neither Jennifer nor Andy had much to worry about there. Not that they couldn’t encounter a strong and dangerous super, just that if said super’s powers were good enough they wouldn’t be an ordinary street thug and the girls could handle the street-level ones. But even so, Jennifer saw a good opportunity and grabbed hold of Andy’s arm and got closer like she was cold, though her power didn’t let her feel cold. Andy looked over, smiled and moved a little closer as well.
They got into the club with a big black X on the back of their hands to show they were too young to drink. So they got an overpriced bottle of water and a diet soda and found a small open table along the wall. “So how’d you know I like this band?” Andy asked once they were settled.
It surprised Jennifer a little, “Candy told me. I thought you shared memories or something?” she said while looking around to make sure no one was listening to them.
“Not really,” Andy said, “Whenever we switch then the last five minutes is always shared. I figure that’s so someone doesn’t come into a fight without foreknowledge. We can also choose to share some, like if I wanted to, I could share any or all of this night with any of my sisters; Candy likes to do that sometimes for no good reason. And finally Sandy can look at and share any memory she wants, but generally she doesn’t and generally we respect each other’s sovereignty. Basically all of my memories this week since you asked me out have been me in gym and training, I didn’t get anything from any of the others.”
“That must be very strange,” Jennifer said thinking about it.
“Not to me. It’s just normal. I’ve only been ‘alive’ for about two years, but we do pretty well sharing down-time. And if this,” she said gesturing between them, “works out, I’ll probably be requesting more nights and lunchtimes. I’ve never felt short changed.”
“But, then how does another personality know if there is danger, like when Sandy has to take control back or throw out another personality on the fly.”
“Oh yeah, that. We asked a neurologist that once and she speculated that we are all ‘watching,’ but only the personality in control had access to the brain, so the other’s memories of what they’re seeing aren’t transferred to their long-term memory. So it’s probably like the other personalities are all like watching out of my eyes right now, seeing and hearing everything, and Sandy is probably sitting in there with her hand on the button ready to jump in, but if that’s the case none of it is remembered after a switch in personality. I prefer to think of it as one of those ‘super powers that defy logic’, and not think about it.”
The band came on stage soon after that and Andy moved to the floor, closer to stage, with Jen following close behind. As the band began to play Andy turned and faced Jennifer, dancing to the music and staying close to her. Andy’s powers were cat-like; it gave her increased strength, senses, endurance and agility, but it also gave her grace, normally hard to define, but the way Andy’s hips were moving could only be described as super-human. It was beautiful and mesmerizing and Jen was just trying to keep up, but mostly just standing in place while Andy moved around her. After an hour Andy wasn’t slowing down, her enhanced endurance keeping her moving, but Jen had to call for a break and they went back to the bar for another bottle of water.
After another hour and a few more laps around the dance floor the band finished up. After that the house band came on and Andy was willing to keep going, but Jennifer was just too tired from the dancing and sore from the boots that didn’t fit perfectly, so they left to get dinner. Jen had floated a few ideas to Andy, but she didn’t want to go anywhere too fancy, and in this case that meant any place with tablecloths. Jennifer had planned for that and knew there was a small greasy-spoon diner a few blocks away.
Outside, night had come into full swing, the wind had picked up and it was getting really chilly, so Jennifer turned up the heat coming off her body and Andy squeezed in close. They’d gone a few blocks when suddenly Andy did a quick look around and whispered, “Don’t use your powers.”
Jennifer was just about to ask what she was talking about when five men came from around the corner. They were all dressed the same way, in that they were all a bit disheveled and had yellow prominently displayed. None were too physically imposing, but Jen was a small short girl and Andy wasn’t much taller, so Jen took notice. Nobody had said anything yet, but it was clear that at best this was a robbery and at worst…well it could get very bad. Finally the one in the center spoke up, he was a young white man with a dark eyes and a crooked smile, “Evening ladies. You want to party?” he asked and smiled showing too many teeth.
“No thank you,” Andy said calmly while moving in front of Jen and trying to side-step them, but they moved as a group and started to surround them.
“Oh,” he said in a mocking tone, “now don’t be like that. We could have fun.”
“No!” Andy said forcefully.
“I insist,” the man said and grabbed for Andy’s wrist. Andy did something then that Jen wouldn’t have even been able to follow even if she’d not been watching the others, but suddenly the man was on his knees grabbing his hand. “You Bitch! You broke my hand!” This caused the other men to burst into action, including one grabbing Jen’s arm. Andy had told her not to use her power and if that warning had been so recently given she most likely would have just burned the man where he stood. She was unfortunately small and didn’t really have the fighting skill of Andy, but she had basic self-defense, so she kneed that man in balls and shook off his arm. Andy already had another of them on the ground holding his bloody nose.
Then Jen saw her jump and do a round-house kick into the head of another one, which was quite impressive since the man had half a foot on her. He went down and she came down in a graceful, but predatory crouch, and then turned to stare at the last man, luckily he couldn’t see her eyes behind her glasses, which had somehow stayed in place during the fight. He looked really scared, they’d gone from a five man advantage against two club chicks, to just him against two warrior woman. He pulled a gun from behind his back and Jen was just about to light him up when he collapsed into a boneless heap. Both girls turned to look at each other, both wondering if the other had a power they hadn’t told the other about. But the mystery was soon solved as a woman floated down from the sky; she wore a full yellow costume with stylized black zig-zags running through it and a nearly full cowl and mask covering her face. Jen didn’t know her name.
She continued down and blasted the other four with a white beam and they collapsed. “Thank you,” Jennifer muttered.
“Not a problem,” she said, “looks like you didn’t really need the help though. We’ll just hang out for a moment until the police show up.”
“What? Um…” Jen stammered.
“Are the police a problem?” the hero asked going on guard.
Jen looked around nervous hoping Andy would take over, “Can they hear us?” she asked pointing to the men on the ground.
“No, for all intents and purposes they are in a coma.”
“Okay…” Jen took a long pause, “we are HCP students. If this gets complicated…well I don’t know what the consequences would be, but we don’t want our names involved,” Jen said as fast as she could.
“I see. One moment,” she said putting a finger to her ear, “Dispatch?” she said and paused, then explained what Jennifer had said and about the situation. “Names?” she asked looking at Jen and Andy.
“Andy Jones, but the name on file is Sandy Jones.”
“Got that dispatch?” she asked and listened for a moment, “roger that, I’ll let them know.” She then turned back to the girls again. “Alright, there is a provision for keeping your names out of it, but the whole thing will be turned over to the DVA, which could go a hundred different ways. These five could make waves if they claim you’re supers…You didn’t do anything super, did you?”
“My moves may have had a little something extra in them, but I’m a separate entity from Sandy, so they would have a very difficult time with an SI infraction.”
“And I didn’t use my powers,” Jennifer added quickly, she wasn’t sure how that separate entity SI thing worked.
“That’s good, well like I said, it most likely won’t go anywhere; they may be thrown into any number of gang cases going on. I can’t give you any guarantees. There will definitely be at least one DVA interview, and maybe a deposition, but I doubt it will go any farther than that. You should let your Dean know that this happened. Do you have any questions?”
“Do you think they’ll try to claim that we were supers?” Jennifer asked.
“Five grown men were just put down by two tiny girls, more or less…If they don’t claim you were supers they’d be the laughing stocks of Chicago. But, I highly doubt they can give a good enough description of you or your powers to even come close to any secret identity infraction. I wouldn’t worry.”
Jennifer let out a breath she wasn’t even aware she was holding, “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome. Now you should get back to campus before any more of these gang members come looking for these ones.”
Jennifer didn’t have to be told twice as she grabbed Andy’s hand and headed towards the nearest train station. “That was pretty cool!” Andy said after they were far enough away from the hero, “A gang fight and then meeting Coma!”
“Coma? Was that her name?”
“Yeah, you’ve never heard of her?” Andy asked.
“No, I’m from Oregon. Never really had cause to look into Chicago Heroes before.”
“Oh, that makes sense, I grew up just over the border in Indiana, so these are my local heroes, but I couldn’t name many from the Northwest.”
They got on the train and the conversation stalled again, they couldn’t talk about the attack with other people nearby and talking about the band seemed insignificant after that. Jennifer was less self-conscious at this point about showing affection to Andy, she kept touching her arm and hand and resting her head on Andy’s shoulder. After the walk from the train station they arrived back at Jen’s house. She had experience with kissing after dates before, but again it was somehow different now that it was a woman. So she looked away from Andy took a deep breath to calm her nerves, then looked back.
Andy had taken off the sunglasses and her cat eyes were locked on Jennifer’s face. Jennifer leaned forward, and Andy moved forward and it was hard to know who instigated it, but suddenly they were kissing. Jennifer closed her eyes and thought, this feels right; she knew she wasn’t in love with Andy yet, but kissing a woman felt more right than it ever had with a boy. She broke the kiss a few seconds later, and looked into Andy’s eyes. She knew from every movie that ever had a first date scene in it, that if she invited Andy to come inside, that she would, but Jen hesitated. Then the moment was gone, Jen leaned forward and gave her a quick peck on the check, “Good night,” she said.
“Night,” Andy said and she turned and left.
Jennifer closed the door, then leaned against it and took a couple more deep breaths, then she headed to the basement to let Carter and Diane know about what had happened.