Chapter 20

Camille was very thankful this was a family-friendly restaurant. Hero work, while officially sanctioned by a government salary just like policemen or firefighters, was also supplemented by the large demand for merchandise relating to the more popular ones. Though a large percentage of the profits were, by tradition and expectation if not law, set aside by the Heroes for various charitable enterprises, the Supers wearing the mask were able to up their standard of living if they became popular enough. This had the desirable effect of making most Heroes maintain a wholesome image to keep their popularity high, however in some instances of female Heroes it led to them opting for skimpy costumes in an effort to be seen as sex symbols. A few male Heroes tried that strategy as well, but they were neither as frequent nor as successful in the endeavor.

All of this had gone through Camille’s mind when she was told her new job required employees to wear costumes. Evidently, Supper with Supers didn’t go in for that kind of appeal, as none of the clothing choices had been particularly sexualized. Now that she was standing in the employee dressing room, eyeing her white and pink outfit critically, she felt a relief from worry she hadn’t even known she was holding onto. The costume wasn’t spandex; rather, it was sturdy pants and boots on the bottom with a long-sleeved shirt on top. They were both a bit more form-fitting than Camille might normally prefer, but the thickness of the material kept her from feeling as though her body was overtly on display. She carefully put on the gloves and faux utility belt, then did a quick spin to watch her pink cape swirl behind her. While it settled, the cape hung down a few inches below her buttocks, which she suspected was by design rather than coincidence.

“You look adorable,” said a voice from behind her. Camille spun around to find Mary stepping out from behind one of the dressing curtains. The small room had four stalls, each with a curtain in front, and the large platform mirrored area where Camille was currently standing. Privacy on top of privacy, an aspect which had made her feel much more comfortable about the idea of changing her clothes here daily.

Mary’s own outfit was composed of medium browns and hunter greens. The basic structure of the costume was much the same as Camille’s, except Mary wore a long flowing coat rather than a cape, and her gloves stopped at the wrist while Camille’s extended practically to her elbows.

“You look very nice too,” Camille eventually replied. “The earth tones really suit you.”

“Thanks,” Mary said, stepping up onto the platform to admire herself. “When I saw they had this outfit, I knew it was what I wanted.”

Camille noticed Mary’s coat had a hood hanging from the back, and that it was inside out. Without thinking she adjusted the minor problem, giving her friend a smile in the process.

“I have to admit, I was really skeptical at first, but I kind of like these outfits,” she admitted.

“Ditto,” Mary said. “Sort of make me excited for when we get to design our own one day.”

“I thought they had people to do that for us?”

“I’m sure we get input,” Mary said. “Our Hero identity is a part of us. What we wear is just as important as the name we use, it’s part of the image we project. I’m sure you wouldn’t want some enthusiastic designer putting you in a skimpy leotard without your permission.”

Camille’s face reddened all the way to the tips of her ears and Mary let out a small tinkle of laughter.

“Sorry, I guess that was a bit much. You get the point though.”

“Yes, yes I very much do.”

They might have talked more, but they were interrupted as Brenda gave a small knock and walked in.

“Oh my goodness, you two are so cute!” Brenda declared, immediately walking over to them to check the costumes. “We’ll need to do a little hemming here and there, and probably have to have the chest let out a bit for you, Camille. No don’t worry about it, all of our costumes are designed specifically to be easily tailored in practically every aspect. I’ll take measurements on all of you in a little bit so that everything will be perfect for your first day. How do you feel in them though? Anything you specifically need changed?”

Finally given the opportunity to speak, neither girl really had much to say.

“I’m pretty happy with mine,” Mary told her new boss.

“Same here,” Camille concurred.

“Good, glad to hear it. If I could make one suggestion though, Camille, we have a pink wig no one is using that matches the color scheme of your costume perfectly. Mary and Vince have natural features that mark them as Supers; you might want to consider adding it on just to complete your look.”

Camille looked in the mirror once more. Now that she looked at it, her own pale blonde hair was washed out by the bright white of her costume. She squinted and tried to imagine a pink mop of hair atop her head. She wasn’t sure she got it right, however she did know it looked good in her mind’s eye.

“I think I’d like to give that a try,” Camille said.

“Wonderful!” Brenda clapped her hands in excitement. “I’ll go rummage that up while I get the sewing tool and measuring tape. Any objection if I let Vince in so we can do the whole thing in one go?”

Both girls shook their head, and Brenda bounded out of the room. A few minutes later there was a tentative knock on the door.

“Hello?” Vince’s voice called through the wooden barrier. “Brenda told me to come in here for the rest of the fitting. Is everyone decent?”

“You can come in,” Mary called, raising her voice so it could be heard through the door. It must have worked, because Vince stepped into the dressing room.

Camille bit her lip to stifle a gasp; there was no hope her face wasn’t flushing again, even worse than at the embarrassing mental image Mary had given her. She and Mary had looked cute in their costumes, but it didn’t change the fact that they still looked like costumes to her. They were employees wearing an odd uniform, nothing more, and that was how they appeared. Not Vince.

To Camille, Vince looked like a Hero. This was always at least somewhat true, but on this occasion it was not entirely her feelings and memories that created such an impression.

His costume was styled similarly to hers, however instead of white and pinks he wore light blues similar to his irises and a hue of silver that matched his hair. The shirt also seemed to be thinner in some places than the girls’, showing off the lean, muscular body that two years at Lander had crafted. Standing with his back straight, Vince seemed taller than normal, which was especially curious since he didn’t usually slouch. The boyish good looks she knew by heart were framed differently by the absence of a t-shirt. Today, he looked downright handsome. His own cape hung lower than hers, wafting behind him as he walked purposely through the room. It all coalesced to just look…right. Even his shy half-grin gave the impression of a powerful man still capable of small humilities.

“You guys look great,” he said, reaching the platform and stepping atop it.

Camille wondered if she had gone and lost her mind. Even his voice seemed stronger and deeper, which was logically impossible.

“I have to say, you cut a nice figure yourself,” Mary replied. “Better be careful, or all the old ladies will be slipping you their number with the check.”

“Real funny,” Vince said. “I don’t look silly though, right? I was thinking about trying something less flashy.”

“No,” Camille said with far more control than she would have ever expected to have been capable of mustering. “I think that costume suits you nicely.”

Vince gave her a warm smile. “Okay then. If you say it's good then this is what I’ll wear.”

This time she only nodded. At the idea of seeing him like this on a daily basis, she no longer trusted her mouth not to betray her.