A Change of Pace – Chapter 33

“…so the nun turns to the Pope and says, ‘no way padre’,” Lilly stared in disbelief as the two men in her life roared with laughter.

<You have got to be shitting me,> Lilly kept the smile on her face as Seth and her father struggled for breath.

The three Supers were dining at a swanky steakhouse in Orlando. They’d secured a private room for the evening, and out of respect, Seth was picking up the tab. That was the first way he’d impressed her father. The next way was his creative, and sometimes lewd jokes.

<If I knew these two were going to hit it off like this, I wouldn’t have been so worried,> Lilly picked up her glass of wine and took a sip.

This particular restaurant wasn’t the type of establishment that asked questions when they saw the type of credit card handed to them. In their minds, there was an adult in the room who liked to drink a lot; that, and a triple digit tip would kept the wait staff’s lip’s sealed.

<Money and power can get a girl whatever she wants,> she shot a hungry look at Seth, who was just recovering from his joke.

“I must say, Seth, I didn’t expect this night to be so entertaining,” Altair Thermopolis, the supervillain Hellgate, sat back in his own chair. “This evening has been delightful.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Seth toasted him with his imported beer. “It has been a pleasure finally getting to sit down with you. Liz won’t say it, but I think she was a little nervous about us meeting.”

“I got the same feeling,” both men turned to stare at her.

“Don’t give me that face,” she extended her pointer finger at each of the men. “I know how boys are with their macho, territory marking, crap. I just didn’t want you two to be like that.”

<And I’m surprised you’re not,> she kept the last part to herself.

Tonight was going a lot easier than Lilly planned. She knew her father was overprotective of her, so she expected a little more resistance on his part. <I know it’s the plan for them to get along, but a little fatherly concern is bound to leak through.>

To Seth, her father was just Al, a small business owner from the west coast in to see his precious daughter for the weekend, and do a little business. It was a solid cover to have her father in town occasionally, but otherwise out of sight and out of mind. The plan was to have Seth and her father get along, so it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he showed up at the townhouse. But that stage of the plan was months down the line. Tonight, they just needed to focus on worming him into Seth’s life. It was going perfectly.

“Have you heard the one about the Imam, the Priest, and the Rabi?” Seth ignored her scolding, and turned back to her father.

“That’s my cue,” Lilly drained the last of her wine glass, and got to her feet. “One more of your jokes and I’m going to have to go to confession,” both men got to their feet with her. “I’m going to hit the ladies room. Just don’t let this bromance get weird without me.”

<This new relationship is great for me operationally, but I think personally it’s going to be a headache,> she grimaced when neither of the men could see.

 

***

 

Seth tried no to stare at Liz’s ass as she walked out of the room. It probably wasn’t a good idea to check out a man’s daughter with him sitting across the table from you. Doing so had the particular ability to decrease one’s life expectancy. She didn’t make it easy. Her hips had a way of hypnotically sashaying back and forth in a way that sucked you in like a tractor beam. Then there was her dress that clung in all the right places.

<Get it together,> Seth mentally chided himself, taking two big gulps of his drink, and turning his attention back to her father. He was watching him closely. <Oh shit.>

                “So, Seth, what exactly are your intentions with my daughter?” Al didn’t waste any time beating around the bush.

Seth was ready for the question; he’d fielded it enough times during his high school career. When you had a new girlfriend every month, and word got around to the fathers, you needed to be pretty convincing. In North Carolina hunting was still a favorite pastime of many men, and a father could easily mistake a young boy for a deer when he had a distraught daughter on his mind. For the sake of survival Seth needed to be convincing.

Seth had his mouth half-open to begin his explanation, when he stopped and actually thought about what he was going to say. Al saw the change, but let him think. What Seth said next was going to define their relationship as much as it would his and Liz’s.

“Honestly, Sir, I don’t know,” Seth couldn’t stop himself before the truth came pouring out. “What I can say is that there is something special about Liz,” Seth turned his attention back to the door she’d walked through a minute ago. “I’ve had a few girlfriends in my time, but trust me when I say none were even close to Liz. She just has…something,” Seth couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Thank you for you candor,” the older man was still watching Seth expectantly.

“I can’t say I know where this relationship will go, or where we’ll end up,” Seth continued, his gaze wandering around the room. “But it’s going to be a hell of a ride, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t miss for the world.”

Seth could feel Al’s eyes on him, so he let Liz’s father judge him. Seth’s explanation wasn’t even close to the convincing, innocent, speech he’d given dozens of times before; but for the first time it was the truth. Their relationship might be a flash-fire; hot, intense, but short lived. It could also be something more enduring, something built with a strong, steady flame. At this point in time, Seth didn’t have any idea which one it would be, and he was grateful Al appreciated his honesty.

<Appreciating honesty and accepting it is two different things,> Seth reminded himself. <I shouldn’t have described this as a ride,> Seth started second guessing himself when Al remained silent. <This was stupid; I should have just gone with my usual spiel.>

                “I can accept that,” Al finally spoke, breathing life back into Seth. “You are both young, and can’t really know what true love and affection are. I simply ask that you show her the dignity and respect that she deserves.”

“I can do that, Sir,” Seth replied truthfully.

“Good, because if you don’t I will kill you,” the casual way Al said it left no doubt in Seth’s mind he was telling the truth.

“Fair enough,” Seth didn’t know how to respond to the threat. “Speaking of true love, how did you and Ms. Aretino meet? Liz doesn’t really talk about her much.”

Seth immediately wished he hadn’t asked the question. It was like a dark cloud suddenly passing in front of the sun. Al’s entire demeanor changed. The casual, if somewhat intense, man Seth had been joking with leaned forward threateningly. His eyes narrowed, his fists clenched, and anger danced in his eyes. Seth was no stranger to violence, so he could see the man was on the verge of it, but underneath it all, Seth detected overwhelming sadness.

Al let out a raspy breath, and relaxed. “I apologize,” the older man sat back in his chair. “Elizabeth’s mother’s death is still a difficult topic for me to discuss. She died during childbirth.”

“I’m so sorry,” Seth was lost for words. What does somebody say to that?

“Thank you,” Al finished off his wine glass, which was still half full. “Elizabeth doesn’t know anything except what I’ve told her, but I remember the pain. It was not a good time for our family.”

“I understand,” Seth brought his hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“No need to apologize,” Al dismissed Seth’s apology. “I just caution you about bringing up the topic around Elizabeth; she can be a bit sensitive about it.”

“No problem, I won’t…” Seth was interrupted by Liz re-entering the room.

“You two finished talking about me?” she stared down both men. “Because Seth and I do have some parties to get to.”

 

***

 

The wine had worked its way through Lilly by the time she reached the bathroom. The room was palatial, complete with a stately looking woman who sole purpose was to offer you hand towels. Despite the demeaning nature of the job, the older woman stood next to the sinks like a statue of some historic queen.

“Good evening,” she gave a small bow to Lilly as the teenage supervillain walked through the door.

“Hey,” Lilly didn’t pay too much attention to her as she headed into a stall to answer nature’s call.

When she exited the stall the woman already had the facet running, a towel on her arm, and was ready to assist Lilly in whatever way necessary.

<Who the hell needs help washing their hands, this is so stupid; why would anyone…oooohhh,> Lilly finally caught sight of the bowl of tips. There had to be a hundred dollars in there.

“Is this a good night for you?” Lilly asked, gesturing at the bowl with her eyes as she placed her hands under the perfectly warm water.

“The generosity of the restaurant’s patrons is greatly appreciated,” the woman replied, handing Lilly the towel from her arm.

<So that’s a yes,> Lilly dried her hands and handed the woman back the towel.

“A warm towel for your face?” the women opened a container on the corner of the sink to reveal a dozen steamed towels.

“Sure, why not,” Lilly accepted the warm towel, took a seat on the couch, and placed it on her face.

<This will give Daddy a few more minutes to give Seth’s the talk,> Lilly wasn’t sure exactly what her father was going to say to her boyfriend, but she guessed there would be veiled statements of dismemberment if he broke her heart.

Lilly was deeply enjoying the refreshing nature of the warm towel when her cell phone rang. The soft chime echoed in the cavernous bathroom. With a grumble, Lilly pulled out the prepaid, disposable phone and checked the number.

“Talk to me, big guy,” she put a little extra sultry into her statement.

“Um…wha…hey Shadow,” Mika’s high pitched voice was pitched a little higher. “I think I might have a job for you.”

“Sorry, honey, I’m working now. Maybe next time,” Lilly went to hang up the phone.

“Wait, Shadow,” Mika pleaded. “At least hear me out.”

Lilly did, and she was impressed. As far as jobs went, this one was a pretty easy one; simple, minimal security, a big take for her, and no risk to her other operation. Plus, it would be nice to get out of Florida for a couple of hours.

“I gotta hand it to you,” Lilly made sure Mika heard the approval in her voice. “You’ve got a talent for this sort of thing. Send me all the details to that email I gave you tomorrow morning, and I’ll stop by and see you soon.”

“Don’t you want to get to work on this right away?” Lilly would have thought something was up if this wasn’t Mika she was talking too.

“It’s Halloween, big guy; I’ve got parties to attend, candy to steal from babies, you know how it is,” Mika definitely didn’t know how it was, but if his attention to detail with this job was any indication, he might get to figure it out sooner rather than later.

“Oh, ok. What are you going as?”

Lilly scrolled through the pictures on her phone, did a little cropping to remove her face, and sent Mika the same picture she’d sent Seth. <That should keep him occupied for a while.>

                “Wow,” the single syllable was enough to know she was right.

“Have a goodnight,” she went to hang up.

“Wait…wait…wait,” Mika interrupted her. “I think I came up with a kickass name for you.”

“Do tell,” Lilly got to her feet, prepared to exit the bathroom.

“How about, Wraith?”

The name stopped Lilly dead in her tracks. It was perfect. Now the rest of the world needed to know it.

She left the bathroom on cloud nine, confident in herself and her future. She was so confident she didn’t even think the matronly woman in the bathroom would pull out her own prepaid, disposable cell phone, and relay what she’d heard to whoever was on the other end of the line.

 

***

 

Daisy really thought she was getting a grip on teaching. She really thought she was starting to hit her stride. The students respected her; feared might be a better description, but they understood what she was teaching them was important. Life or death important. She was really starting to click with her coworkers, especially Craig. They made a good team. Despite all of this, nothing could have prepared her for today. Nothing could have prepared her for parent teacher conferences. Not when the parents were Heroes.

<This is a pain in my ass,> Daisy thought to herself as the four people in front of her and Craig made their opinions on things loudly known. Well, only one was talking now, and she was the spokesperson for the final couple.

The other two parents in the room, an advanced mind whose name Daisy could not remember for the life of her, and an electrical absorber named Gigawatt, had already finished expressing their disapproval at the individual instructors their children were studying under.

In the back of her mind, Daisy knew she should be paying attention. “…unacceptable….shoddy…what were you thinking?” She caught every tenth word from the woman as her mind drifted.

<I bet normal teachers feel this way about the PTA,> her idle mind started to draw comparisons. <This is like that, but this PTA is on steroids with a little bit of meth thrown in there,> Daisy chuckled at the analogy. Big mistake.

“Is something funny, Professor Meyers,” the wife of the couple berating them asked? “Is the education of my daughter, and the next generation of Heroes, humorous to you?”

“Not at all Mrs. Martin,” Daisy returned her stare levelly, with a slight smile. “I do find it humorous how none of this has anything to do with said education, and is a giant waste of my time.”

The other women’s nostrils flared, and she half got out of her seat before her larger husband placed a firm hand on her shoulder.

“That was uncalled for, Professor Meyers,” John shot her a glare. “Please apologize to Mrs. Martin.”

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings,” Daisy said it convincingly, but both women knew it was a condescending remark at best.

“This is what I’m talking about,” Mrs. Martin, she’d tried to get everyone to call her Seraphim, but John shut that down. “No respect from the educators, bringing in second string heroes to guest lecture; I bet the physical training plan isn’t even competitive anymore.”

“Everyone slow their roll, and pump the brakes,” Craig spoke up, an offended look on his face. “Our physical training program can stack up to any of the other programs. We produce top quality Heroes, and our students receive first class education throughout their time here; especially as freshman.”

“Professor McMillian is correct,” John stepped back into take control. “We have four talented classes enrolled here, and I am supremely confident they are going to do enormous good when they step out into the real world.”

“I’m just here to teach them to get back up when they take a shot to the nuts in the real world,” Daisy just had to open her big mouth.

“I know there are much more effective ways to do that, Professor Meyers,” Seraphim jumped on the opening. “I’ve been a Hero for over twenty years, and have plenty of hands on experience in the field. It is offensive that you won’t take that into consideration when I talk about my daughter’s training plan.”

<Did she seriously just try to pull rank and hold her qualifications over me?> Daisy’s face must have been turning red with anger, because Craig placed a calming hand on her shoulder, a mirror image of Hunter and Seraphim.

“Mrs. Martin,” to John’s credit, his tone was heated. “All of the professors at all of the HCPs are top rate Heroes with just as much, or more, experience than you. Please remember that.”

“I understand and respect that,” Seraphim inclined her head to all the professors seated at the table in front of her. “But this is Professor Meyers’ first year, and everyone has failed to mention her particular qualifications for molding young Heroes.”

Craig’s hand tightened on Daisy’s shoulder, but John answered before the alternative instructor could tear the active Hero a new asshole. “Professor Meyers’ Hero career began with the first graduation from Lander. Professor Meyers has been serving as a Hero since before you were born; I can’t be one hundred percent sure, but she might be the longest, if not one of the longest serving Heroes. We are extremely fortunate to have her extensive experience at our disposal, and that experience is already starting to show in the freshman class.”

Hunter leaned forward and whispered something into his wife’s ear. Seraphim’s eyes widened for a second, before she returned her scowl to Daisy. “That might be true, but recent events question her abilities.”

<Now that’s a low blow,> Daisy couldn’t stop electricity from arching across her palms.

“I personally vouch for, have previously worked with, and greatly admire Professor Meyers. This is the end of this discussion,” John went full on dean, daring Seraphim to challenge him. Reaper’s reputation might be questionable, but Iron Giant’s was not.

“Good,” John reverted back to the peaceful, unassuming man. “That concludes our panel discussion. Each of you will have a chance to sit one on one with your children’s respective instructors to go over their individual performance. We encourage you to share any and all of your own experiences so that we can build a training plan better suited to your child’s development.”

The small gathering broke up. Grace took the advanced mind to her office to discuss his daughter’s progression through junior year, and John did the same for the Gigawatt’s senior son. That left Daisy and Craig all alone with Seraphim and Hunter without John as a moderator.

<This could get interesting.> Daisy remained stoic as Craig pulled out the large file on Angela Martin.

“As you probably already know,” he flipped open to the first page, and handed two copies to the Heroes. “Angela is our number one ranked freshman. She overcame a strongman, self-enhancer, and one of the most powerful advanced minds we’re ever seen to achieve that rank.” Craig was buttering them up, and everyone knew it.

“We are very proud of our Angela’s accomplishments, but this is only freshman year. There is a long road for her to travel before she receives her white cape.”

“Of course,” Daisy tried not to roll her eyes as Craig responded. “Let’s take a look at the metrics,” everyone’s eyes drifted down to the sheet of paper in front of them. “Angela is categorized as a Shifter, with heightened strength, durability, speed, a manifested energy weapon, and we are assuming some sort of built in pain reduction or elimination ability.”

“That is new,” Hunter spoke for the first time, his voice terse and to the point. “We’ve been training Angela for years. I’ve always been under the impression that she is simply tough.”

“It’s a possibility,” Daisy decided to enter the conversation, but remained professional. “We’ve made the assessment based on some tells we’ve noticed and analysis of her movements during fights. The way she moves after receiving a serious injury, like it isn’t even there, suggests to us that it might be something more than simple toughness. If it is a part of her shifted anatomy then Angela will eventually come forward to us.”

“My daughter is a proud woman,” Seraphim’s eye didn’t leave the sheet of paper. “She may need to be approached about this, but I agree with your assessment based on the available data.”

<Holy shit, apparently we can agree on something after all,> Daisy kept her face neutral to avoid ruining the moment.

“We’ll take that into consideration,” Craig nodded in appreciation. “Is there anything your own development might be able to tell us about Angela’s possible progress?”

“She’s a little ahead of where I was at her age, but that is because we rigorously trained her early on,” Seraphim continued to scan the sheet of paper. “I would expect her strength to double, possibly even triple, by the time she graduates. Speed is a little trickier. I would suddenly, and without any real warning, make a major advance, and then have no progress for months. I still don’t know why, and I haven’t had a speed boost in years, but I would hypothesize a fifty percent increase by the end of sophomore year. I can’t speak to the energy weapon since my additional offensive capabilities are my poison fangs and tail barbs. That is also true of the pain reduction or elimination ability.”

“Thank you,” Craig jotted down the notes. “Anything you have to add Mr. Martin?”

“Fortunately, my daughter mostly takes after my wife,” Daisy was surprised to see the man’s stony façade crack in a moment of sincere affection. “I know her senses are slightly enhanced, and that might be a result of my ability. You could possibly see those improve as well, and my progression was steady throughout my HCP career.”

“A possible steady progression in sensory enhancement,” Craig summed it up while writing it down. “We have a body control Super with a sensory centric ability so we can use her as a comparison.”

“Thank you for the information,” Craig finished his note taking. “As you can see from the data, Angela is one of the top three freshmen in the nationwide HCP rankings; which is not always the case. It always depends on the other school’s classes, and this year’s crop at Lander and Sizemore have some heavy hitters in them; but that doesn’t mean we’re a pushover,” Craig’s grin was confident. “I’m confident that Angela is going to do some great things and continue to develop into a well-rounded Hero.”

“Are there any questions you have for us?” Daisy asked the question, hoping it would lead to the end of this little parent teacher conference.

“Just one,” Hunter leaned forward, taking the lead from his wife. “How is Angela acclimating to the college environment?”

“Well,” Craig rustled through the paper in the folder. “She’s taking an extra class this semester, and with all that’s going on, she’s still getting straight A’s.”

“Not academically,” Hunter clarified. “Is she fitting in socially with her classmates?”

Daisy saw where this was going. “Angela is primarily a loner. She is close with a few people in her class, and has been training frequently with some of the upperclassmen; but I would say her only true friend is her roommate Rebecca Whitfield. I’m hoping she breaks out of her social shell more this year, so when we move onto team work next year she isn’t at a disadvantage.”

“That’s what I was hoping to hear,” Hunter replied. “Angela has always been self-sufficient, but as a Hero you can’t combat all threats; even when you have a diverse and flexible power set like she does. We don’t want her falling behind in that important stage of development, so we would appreciate if you push her in that direction whenever possible.”

Daisy didn’t know how she felt about forcing a girl to make friends, but she saw the Martin’s point. So she agreed.

“Thank you, Professor Meyers, Professor McMillian, for taking the time to speak with us,” everyone got to their feet and shook hands.

“It was our pleasure,” Craig responded, because Daisy definitely didn’t feel that way.

“If you will excuse us, we have dinner plans with Angela,” Seraphim headed toward the door.

“I will be seeing you all around campus for the foreseeable future, so until next time,” Hunter followed his wife.

Daisy knew the DVA was bringing in additional assets after the attack at Sprout, but she wasn’t sure it was a great idea to have a student’s parent in that mix; or at least that’s what she would normally think. Having to deal with emotions, and possibly putting their child before their duty, would be an issue for most parents, but it didn’t seem that way for Hunter.

Daisy felt sorry for Angela as she watched her parents leave. Daisy might have had a messed up life, but her parents had always shown love and support until the end.

“One down, one to go,” Craig gathered up the file and turned to leave.

“What? The Martin’s are our only meeting,” Daisy really didn’t want to do another interview.

“No, we’re finished with the meetings. Now we need to go on patrol,” a wicked grin split Craig’s face.

“Patrol?” Daisy felt her momentarily lightened mood souring again. “Since when do HCP instructors patrol?”

“Didn’t I tell you,” Craig feigned ignorance. “HCP instructors patrol the campus on Halloween. It’s a courtesy to the school, just to make sure we are able to handle anything crazy these kids might do; especially the Super students.”

Daisy felt her blood pressure rising as Craig failed to inform her yet again.

“I hope you have a good costume, because you and I are partners,” he gave her a wink before vanishing in a blur.

<Son of a bitch!> Daisy snarled after him. <If I make it through tonight without stomping on your face then I deserve to be canonized a saint, or at least get a medal.>

                <Good luck with that,> Grace’s voice echoed inside Daisy’s head. <Look on the bright side. This is official HCP business; so you’re allowed to go out without the DVA breathing down your neck.>

Daisy had to admit Grace had a good point; even if she had to spend the whole night with Craig. <It could be worse.>

 

***

 

“Hey there, beautiful,” Daisy tried not to grimace at the smell of beer wafting out of the young man’s mouth.

<For the love of God,> she did her best to keep the frustration off her face. <Can I spend more than ten seconds in a room before some drunken frat boy hits on me?>

                It only took Daisy two house parties to realize that there wasn’t a bright side to this patrol operation. All it entailed was walking around, making sure the students weren’t getting out of control, and then calling in campus medical services if they found anyone passed out. In the course of her duty, Daisy had avoided half a dozen ass grabs, twice as much drunken flirtation, and a proposition for her to screw someone for a hundred bucks.

She still tried to keep a positive attitude. “What are you supposed to be?” She found people were more willing to give her the information she wanted if she smiled at them. Her “costume” also helped out a bit.

Daisy hadn’t even thought to buy a costume, and there wasn’t time to run out to one of the shops before they needed to be out on the street. Luckily, the HCP had a bunch of left over costumes from previous years. Unluckily, none of them fit, so Daisy had to cobble together something. The result was a female police officer complete with, patrol cap, aviator sunglasses, baggy black combat pants, and a navy blue blouse that was a size or two too small. She’d pinned a fake badge to the left breast and called it a day. She now regretted it.

The drunken male’s eyes wandered over the taught fabric stretched across her chest, completely ignoring the glare she was giving him behind her sunglasses. “I’m a devil,” he finally answered, pointing at his devil’s mask. “A horny devil,” he gestured at the two horns and then made awkward thrusting motions with his hips.

Daisy wasn’t proud of what she did next, but it had to be done. Not just for her peace of mind, but for the poor women that had gone through, and would go through, that horrible pick up line in the future. Daisy reached out with her hand and placed it on the man’s face. She didn’t know what he was expecting; but a woman making contact with him was probably his dream come true. She didn’t let her hand linger though. Once it was on his face she gave him a push. It wasn’t a hard push, she didn’t want to injure him, but it was forceful enough to knock him right on his ass. She didn’t even bother listening to his whining.

<I need a drink,> she walked over to the bar, her eyes scanning for her partner.

Unlike her, Craig needed to be more disguised. After all, he looked like a man in his late 40s, early 50s, and that would immediately make him the creepy guy at the college party. Daisy’s eternal youth eliminated that problem for her.

She spotted her partner across the room, talking with a small group of people. They were all laughing at a joke he’d just told, which was typical of his interactions at these parties. Guys came up to talk to Daisy because she was hot; everyone talked to Craig after he cracked a few jokes. His costume helped, and apparently he wore it every year. It was a fully body, fluff covered character that he said his daughters loved to watch when they were younger. It was topped off by a huge head like a school mascot, so no one knew who was underneath it.

“Is this punch alcoholic?” Daisy asked the vampire behind the makeshift bar.

“You need something strong, baby?” the guy wiggled eyebrows at her, his smile showing off the fake fangs he was wearing.

<His mind is poisoned by teenage hormones, this is a very sick boy,> Daisy chanted to herself, since putting his face through the wooden table wasn’t an option.

“Is this punch alcoholic?” she couldn’t help but intimidate him a little.

“No,” the kid realized he’d stepped over a line, and physically took a step back.

“Thank you,” she took a scoop of the red liquid and continued surveying the room.

<Well this is interesting,> she counted half a dozen HCP students attending the party; Fletcher, Kemps, Whitfield, Fisher, Bates, and Shaw were all attending in a variety of inappropriate fashion choices. <Might as well have a little fun tonight.>

                Daisy snaked her way through the crowded room. It was like a public train in Tokyo in the small townhouse. There had to be at least a seventy people present. Being 6’3” and dressed like a slutty SWAT officer didn’t usually lend well to a subtle approach, but everyone seemed to be too concentrated on whatever else they were doing. Daisy was right behind her first target when she spoke.

<So much for constant vigilance,> she sighed.

“Having a good time, Fletcher.”

The volatile electrokinetic jumped a foot in the air, and the lights flickered as she whirled to face Daisy. “Jesus fucking Christ,” Fletcher brought a hand to her barely clothed chest and breathed a sigh of relief. “Coach…”

“Please, just Daisy,” Daisy corrected her, as the people around them turned back to their own conversations.

“Well, Daisy, I never thought I’d see you tonight, and dressed to kill,” Fletcher gave Daisy a look over.

“I see and hear everything, Fletcher,” Daisy smiled back. Fletcher returned a confident smile, but Daisy saw her throat move as she swallowed hard. “I’m just passing through though, so have a nice night.”

Daisy left the young woman confused and bound to look over her shoulder for the rest of the night. <Constant vigilance.> Daisy hoped the point would stink in sometime.

Daisy wasn’t able to sneak up on any of her other students. Fletcher’s yell, and the light show, had alerted them all to her presence. If they had still been unaware, Daisy would have tossed them from the program on the spot. She exchanged a few words with each of them, and three times as many with Whitfield. That girl loved to talk. Craig completed his round, and they met back up at the door.

“Everything seems good to me,” he stated. “Let’s go so I can take off this head. I’ve got sweat in places you don’t even want to know.”

“Yeah, I definitely don’t need to know,” Daisy rolled her eyes and turned to leave.

As her eyes passed over the crude bar, they slide over something white. Daisy did a double take, but didn’t see it again. She did see the hand moving away from the drink though, and the boy dressed like a cowboy snickering like an idiot.

Daisy was moving before she even realized it. This time she wasn’t trying to sneak through the room, she was moving with a purpose. People quickly got out of her way as the first couple partygoers were effortlessly pushed aside by her. Craig noticed and was following in her wake. A clear path opened for the two HCP instructors to the bar, and the wide eyed, distracted girl who was holding the cup in her hands.

“Drop it, Fisher,” the girl with the ability to animate inanimate objects didn’t even hesitate. Two months in gym with Daisy and Craig made compliance instantaneous.

The red solo cup crashed to the ground, spilling its liquid across the already sticky wooden floor. Daisy reached down and grabbed the white pill that was only half dissolved.

The party had gone quiet as everyone watched the scene unfold. Daisy took some satisfaction from the sound of all the women in the room putting down their cups, and turning to check on their friends to make sure they were ok. While the women turned to each other for assurance, Daisy turned on the boy.

“What the fuck is this?” the cowboy was big, almost as big as Daisy, but she still loomed over him.

“Relax, Robobitch, it’s just something to help her relax,” the boy sneered, as a few of his friends stepped up to show their support. “We’re just having a good time.”

“Erin, did you ask for this? Did you want help relaxing?” the younger Super still had a far off look in her eye, but she shook her head back and forth. “Thank you, Erin.” Daisy turned back to the boy.

“Chill, lady,” the boy must have seen the rage in her eyes, or just realized they were a vivid red. Either way he knew he was in trouble.

“My friend didn’t want to chill, shitbag, and I sure as hell don’t want to chill with a fucktard like you,” the cowboy’s friends crowded protectively towards him, but he wasn’t the only one with backup. Daisy felt six presences step up behind her to show similar support.

“Whatever, I’m out of here you crazy bitch,” the cowboy was turning to leave, when Daisy took a step forward.

“I don’t think so, buddy,” she was smiling now.

<Please just take a swing so I can put you down.>

                “Trying to roofy someone is a crime; add to that possession of a controlled substance, and you’ll be lucky if the school only expels you.” She was within arm’s length of him now. “You aren’t going anywhere.”

The whole room was frozen, and tensed to see if a fight would break out. Daisy secretly wished for the same thing, but wasn’t going to throw the first punch. It had to have been at least twenty seconds of staring each other down. Luckily, Daisy wouldn’t have to beat down some snot nosed punk today.

“Cops!” someone neat the door yelled.

It was like a stampede of antelope on the African plains. Most of the people in the room were underage freshman and sophomores, so the last thing they needed was to get detained for drinking. Like any university, West Private allowed latitude in underage drinking cases because having a no-tolerance policy would disenroll a big chunk of the student body. Still, getting caught could threaten scholarships, and bring down on the students the wrath of their parents. Even with that in mind, all the people who were of drinking age still ran.

In all the confusion Daisy was able to grab the cowboy by the arm and throw him to the ground. She was pretty sure he didn’t break anything, but his shoulder would definitely be sore in the morning. Daisy torqued his arms behind his back, straddled him, and sat there until the cops arrived.

“Police, open up,” the officer at the door only got a single knock in before Craig threw it open.

“Good evening officers,” if the policemen thought it was odd for a six foot children’s cartoon character to be answering the door, they didn’t show it. “Your timing is absolutely perfect,” he ushered them inside with a furry, purple paw. “Ah, Officer Phillips, this should be enjoyable.”

<Seriously! It just had to be him,> Daisy tried to make it less obvious that she was in a slightly compromised position, with a young man decades her junior, wearing a shirt more appropriate on a stripper.

Things between Daisy and Christopher had been complicated since Sprout. She called and talked to him several times a week, and if she readily admitted it, she really looked forward to their talks. However, her house arrest made dating a bit difficult. Coupled with his work schedule, and they’d only gotten together twice since Sprout. Both had been at her place with takeout food.

<Third times a charm,> she made the bad joke to herself.

“Well…well…well, what do we have here,” Daisy’s heart thundered in her chest, while at the same time her mind became increasingly annoyed with him. It was an odd sensation. “Do I need to be nervous?”

“Shut up and get over here,” she couldn’t help but smile as she looked up at him.

<Damn those dimples!>

                “I caught this kid trying to slip a roofy into a girl’s drink,” Daisy would only bring Fisher into it if she had to. She didn’t want to jeopardize the younger Super’s HCP career.

“That’s serious,” Topher lifted the boy to his feet, and slapped handcuffs on him. “I’m going to need your statement.”

“And this,” Daisy held up the partially dissolved, partially crushed remains of the pill. “I picked it out of the drink.

“I can corroborate the story,” Craig supported her.

“Great, let’s write this up, and then the two of you can be on your way,” Topher pulled out a pen and notepad.

“You don’t need to take me down to the station or anything?” Daisy wasn’t sure why she said it, or why she was leaning towards him with her chest.

“Not tonight, ma’am,” he leaned in close so only she could hear him. “But if what I’ve heard is true, then tomorrow night you’ll probably be free. Maybe we can grab another drink, and hopefully the place doesn’t burn down this time.”

“Of course, Officer,” she stepped back with a smile on her face.

“Do you two need to get a room,” Craig stepped in and ruined the moment. Both of them shot him glares. “What?” Daisy couldn’t tell, but she knew he was grinning like an idiot behind that big fake head.

Daisy and Craig gave their statements, and then Topher and his partner took the scumbag away. It wasn’t even midnight yet, so she and Craig had a number of parties to inspect before they were off duty. Two things helped Daisy through the rest of the night. First, two people she trusted had told her she was probably going to get off whatever Agent Clark was trying to pin on her. That was enough to make her day. Second, she had another date with Topher. Hopefully, this time it would be a proper date.

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