Vince hefted Camille up the steps to her room, a task made easier by his frequent training and her relatively light weight. They’d gotten through the rest of the night without incident, even made it over to Roy and Chad’s bar for Camille and Mary to greet them; however, the late hour and undeniable effects of alcohol began to take a toll on all them, though Camille got it the worst. She’d managed to avoid full-blown intoxication, however halfway home the soothing song of inebriation had lulled her into resting her head against the window and falling asleep. Rather than wake her, Vince and Mary decided the best course of action was to get her to her room and let her sleep.
“You sure she’s okay?” Violet asked, her rare motherly impulses actively engaged. She’d been downstairs when Vince and Mary knocked, and none too pleased to see her friend sleeping in Vince’s arms.
“She should be fine,” Mary assured her. “As soon as we left she healed her liver; now it’s just a matter of sleeping it all off.”
“I’m not that surprised she went down. The girl usually goes to bed long before now,” Violet said.
“Hopefully she’ll feel better in the morning,” Vince said, bumping the door open with his hip as he carried her inside. Once Camille was deposited on her bed, he took a trashcan from her restroom and set it next to the bed. While he did that, Violet produced an extra-large bottle of water and set it on the nightstand.
“I doubt she’ll need this stuff; her healing always takes away my hangovers, but I’ll still sleep better knowing she has it,” Violet said as she pulled back the covers and yanked off Camille’s shoes. The small girl awoke at the action of her feet being exposed, blinking sleepily as she adjusted to the surroundings.
“Where’m I?” Camille mumbled groggily.
“Vince and Mary brought you home after you fell asleep,” Violet explained, taking off the second shoe and sweeping the covers over her friend.
“I went to sleep?” Her confusion was broken up by a loud yawn that escaped her mouth before it could be stifled. Only after it concluded did she speak again. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Don’t be, Mary and I are pretty tired too,” Vince reassured her. “You did what we all wanted to do, you just got there first. Sleep well.”
Somewhere in the mental fugue that was sleepiness and alcohol, Camille realized that Vince was in her bedroom with her, standing over her, close enough to touch. She wondered what he’d say if she asked him to crawl in with her and stay the night spooning. Luckily, cutting herself off when she did meant she was intoxicated enough to have such thoughts, but not so wasted as to act on them.
“Come on guys, I’ll give you a lift home,” Violet offered.
“It’s only a few blocks, we don’t mind walking,” Mary said.
“Forget it, I’m up and it’s like a three minute drive. No big deal.”
The two women continued talking as Camille set her head back down on the pillow and was immediately retaken by the sandman’s minions. Vince lingered, only for a moment, to double-check she had everything she needed and turn off the light. As he eased the door shut, he whispered to her softly.
“Sleep well,” Vince said, pulling the door closed. Only after it had firmly latched did he complete his sentence, this word so low it would have strained the abilities of a Super with augmented hearing to make it out.
* * *
Angela was not a stupid person. She recognized that though she likely ranked in the top five percent as far as dangerous people in the world went, the fact that she was blonde, pretty, and young would always make her seem like a target to some people. Angela also recognized that immeasurable power was only useful if you used it before you were rendered unconscious. As a result of all this, she was keenly aware of the presence of another person following her when she left Six-Shooter and headed for her car that night. Instead of reaching for her mace or keys, however, she reached down deep for her power, readying herself to deal a world of hurt to the poor son of a bitch who’d dare thought to accost her. With no warning at all she whirled around, ready to level someone.
Chad leapt back in surprise, immediately landing with his fists up and his weight evenly distributed, prepared to fight.
“Shit Chad! You had me worried for a minute. I thought you and Roy left like an hour ago. Why the hell are you creeping along after me in the parking lot?”
“I wanted to talk,” Chad said simply, letting his hands fall to his sides and taking a less offensive stance.
“Your version of talking starts the same way as a lot of other people’s version of assault,” Angela told him, taking a deep breath to calm her heart and let the adrenaline run its course. It was hard to shift from fighting mode to just chatting, but a lifetime of discipline and training did have a few positive side-effects.
“I’m sorry,” Chad replied. “I wasn’t sure how to bring this up, and I wanted to talk to you alone.”
“We both have cell phones, you know?” Though her words her still harsh, Angela’s tone had lost its bite. Seeing Chad be awkward was disarming. Sure, normally he was socially awkward as hell, but he never seemed to realize it. Now it was evident that he felt out of his depth, which just made everything ten times more confusing.
Chad shook his head. “No, I needed to say this in person.”
“Well, we’re both here, alone and in person. Go ahead.”
“I want to fight you in a match,” Chad announced.
“Of course you do.” Angela felt some of the worry she’d felt vanish, replaced with a strange sense of disappointment. She couldn’t imagine why she’d thought this would be something different. Training and fighting were all Chad thought about. It was why he made great eye-candy and was fun to flirt with, but ultimately was an unlikely prospect for anything serious. She knew that, it wasn’t like it was hard to figure out, so what made her think these new developments were anything different?
“I guess it has been a while. I think I’ve got some free time on Tuesday, so I could squeeze you in.”
“That’s too soon,” Chad replied. “It would need to be Friday.”
“Any special reason why?”
“Because I have to speak with Shane first,” Chad said.
Angela actually laughed at this, her strong voice carrying through the near-empty lot and bouncing off the buildings. “My brother doesn’t care who I fight, not in the slightest.”
“I am aware. However, he is likely to be more selective of who you date.”
“Come again?” For once, Chad had accomplished what so few people at Lander ever had. He’d taken Angela DeSoto by surprise.
“I like you, a great deal as it turns out, and unless my analysis is incorrect you are similarly interested in me. I wish to take you out on date. However, my friendship with Shane means that it wouldn’t be right for me to ask you out until I have first obtained his permission.”
“That’s pretty decent of you. Didn’t you think you should ask me first though? What if I say no?”
“Then you say no. Still, even asking would be wrong if I hadn’t first spoken to Shane,” Chad reiterated.
“I’m with you on that part, and I get it. One thing that confuses me, though. If all you want to do is ask me out after you square things with Shane, why the match?”
This time is was Chad who looked confused. “Angela, you are a fierce, relentless, powerful warrior. I would never presume to court you without first proving I was strong enough to fight on your level.”
“Well…I guess I’ll see you Friday.” Angela turned away to conceal a smile that refused to stay suppressed. You could say a lot of things about Chad Taylor, he was strange, he was socially ignorant, he could be so blind to what was in front of him it bordered on a mental disorder, but there was also something she considered wonderful about him. Chad was a warrior, and he respected her as one too. That meant he got her in a way so very few people did.
Instead of heading home, Angela angled her car toward the Lander campus. Friday was only a week away, and she had training to do.