Sasha and Julia were already sitting on the couch when Jill got back from class. They’d queued up some mindless fashion show that Jill had never truly understood the appeal of but had learned to fake interest in all the same. For the most part she genuinely liked her roommates and she indulged their peculiar tastes just as she was sure they indulged hers. Today she had good ground to mute the television, thankfully, as she came bearing news.
“Soooo guess whose brother is throwing a big house party next weekend?”
Sasha paused the show, an image of a wafer-thin girl traipsing down the catwalk frozen across the screen. “Will is throwing a party? What’s the theme, physics through the ages?”
“Funny. No, actually Thomas is putting it on. It’s the traditional November kegger where we see which of the remaining freshmen have the balls to attend.”
“Oh yeah, I remember something about that last year,” Julia chimed in. “Didn’t we skip it?”
“We did indeed. Evidently it was pretty decent,” Sasha replied.
“Well, you won’t be missing this year. Will has never been involved in planning a party before so we’re going to be supportive. Plus, we want to make sure the freshmen don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ve got more good-looking girls than our class.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard,” Julia said. “Although they do have a girl whose ability is to appear as your heart’s desire.”
“Ohhhh yeah, I heard about her. Seems like cheating,” Sasha pointed out.
“More cheating than a girl who eats nothing but sugar and stays thin thanks to her super-charged metabolism?”
“Touché,” Sasha yielded. It would have been hard to argue the point, as she currently had a bag of marshmallows and a bowl of chips in front of her. She popped a fluffy white treat in her mouth to illustrate the point and perhaps to rub it in just a bit.
“So who all is going to be there?” Julia asked.
“According to Will so far they’ve gotten confirmation from Shane, Amber, Britney, and Gilbert. Chad is a probably since Shane is going, and I’m sure Stella will bully Camille into showing up. They only started spreading the word today, so the guest list will likely get much bigger.”
“And just how far are they planning to spread this word?” Julia asked.
“Everyone in the sophomore class is welcome to come,” Jill replied.
“Every person, or every Super?”
“If that’s the kind of party it is I’m not certain we’ll be able to make it.”
“Speak for yourself,” Sasha interrupted. She looked at Jill and gave her a smile. “Please tell Will to count me as attending.”
“Really?” Julia echoed.
“Really,” Sasha confirmed. She popped another marshmallow in her mouth and chewed it slowly. She still wasn’t certain how she felt about Vince or any potential of a future together, but she did know the hot poker of pain and anger that used to reside in her stomach had faded. Maybe it was his apology; maybe it was seeing things from his side. Deep down, Sasha suspected the greatest cause had simply been that hating him had been easier than missing him; however, that thought was buried too deep to be consciously considered. The hate was gone, whatever the reason, and she found the idea of seeing him at a social function somewhat appealing. Especially a social function with alcohol.
“I guess I’m going too,” Julia said, slumping slightly. She’d been trying to have her friend’s back, now she felt like she’d just come off like a snobbish bitch. She wasn’t entirely wrong.
“I’ll let him know,” Jill replied. “So what’s the plan for tonight?”
“Fashion and ice cream,” Sasha replied, restarting the show and allowing the waif of a woman to finally finish her walk.
“Awesome,” Jill lied, hoping the ice cream would at least be enjoyable.
* * *
Vince had beaten a variety of challenges in his time at Lander. He’d learned to use electricity, he’d strengthened his fighting skills, and most importantly, he’d mostly overcome his fears of losing control. Those successes made the current wall he encountered all the more frustrating. He’d tried every trick he knew, put in hours of effort, yet still he felt like he wasn’t making any progress at all. It was a sentiment Roy would have understood well; however, their lack of frequent communication made such sharing unlikely. Besides, while their frustrations were the same, the causes were very different.
“Uuuugh,” Vince moaned, resisting the urge to slam his head into the book. No matter how much he tried, algebra refused to make any sense to him. Part of it was his lack of traditional schooling; while his father had taught him a lot, they’d never gotten to equations this advanced. Another part was the way his brain was wired. Vince’s mind simply wasn’t one built for anything beyond basic math. The more effort he put into changing that fact, the more convinced he was that it was like trying to light a fire with wet stone.
“My sentiments exactly,” said a voice to his side. Vince glanced over to see an unfamiliar male with the same class textbook open. They were both in the study kiosks provided by the library. There was little privacy, but since everyone was there for the same purpose, they generally worked fairly well. Many of the kiosks were available today; however, last year had taught Vince that as the semester’s end drew closer they’d invariably grew more crowded every day.
“You having trouble too?”
“I’m not here because of the soothing décor,” the guy chuckled. “I’m Larry, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Vince, and can I say that is some awesome hair.” Larry’s own locks were a robin’s egg blue and hung down near his eyes.
“Yours is pretty interesting as well.”
“I try; Super-chic is hard to get down pat. It’s so easy to go too far, you have to walk the line between subtlety and opulence. I think you did a good job with yours.”
“Thanks.” Vince never understood why it was fashionable to try to emulate the defects that marked some people with powers, but then again, he also didn’t understand why a brown belt with black pants was considered sacrilege. Much like math, this was a subject his brain simply wasn’t built to handle.
“Look, I’m here killing time before a study group some people in my class put together starts. We could always use another person to add their brain power.”
“I appreciate it, but I’m not sure I’d be anything other than a drain. I’m pretty hopeless at this stuff.”
“All the more reason to come along. Maybe we’ll get lucky and one of the people will be a good teacher.”
Vince hesitated; he really didn’t want to intrude on someone else’s group. HCP students had to maintain a C average in every course, however, and if he didn’t find a way to get some handle on this material, he wasn’t sure that he’d pull it off in this one.
“I guess I could give it a try, if you’re sure it won’t be a bother.”
“Not at all, I’m absolutely positive you can’t be any worse at this than me.”
“I appreciate it, Larry.”
“No problem, but call me L-Ray.”
“That’s a unique name,” Vince commented.
“I’ll give the explanation later. Right now we need to head over to room C-4 if we don’t want to miss anything.”
Vince collected his notes, stuffed them in his book, and followed L-Ray in the very faint hope that his study group would offer him some semblance of comprehension.