Chapter 88

                Vince’s and Camille’s attempt at dancing was unsurprisingly awkward. Despite both being in peak physical condition, neither was entirely gifted when it came to holding a beat. This says nothing of the overall discomfort they felt at the proximity most other dancers had to their partners; people who were dancing so close it was often hard to distinguish them as separate entities. Modesty and nerves compelled them to maintain at least some distance between their bodies, crush of the crowd be damned. After about two songs Camille made a motion for Vince to leave the dance floor, and he happily obliged.

                He followed her, only a bit curious to see she was going off in the direction opposite of the seating area where they’d left their friends. A few minutes’ walk from the dance floor, Camille located an open two-top table with chairs that were so tall it took her a bit of effort to climb into one. Vince slid into his own easily, his own height being adequate, if not considerable.

                “Already tired?” Vince asked. It was easier to talk here, away from the booming sound of the dance floor. He was impressed by the acoustics of the club: as loud as the music was for the dancers, it immediately died off to background noise when one entered the main club area.

                “Not tired, just not having that much fun,” Camille replied. “Sorry about that. Sometimes I try to push myself into new things, just to get out of my comfort zone. I shouldn’t have dragged you along.”

                “I’m glad you did. I can be a little stuck in my ways too. It’s good to shake things up. But I don’t think I want to do that kind of dancing.” Vince gestured vaguely in the direction of the floor they’d left, not really pointing at any couple in particular. He didn’t need to get specific to convey the message.

                “That was… a bit much,” Camille agreed. “I might like to try a different kind, though. The two-stepping wasn’t nearly as bad.”

                “Think they’ll play any country?”

                Camille glanced around at the steel, mirrors, and upscale décor. “I’d guess probably not.”

                “Should we go back to the seating area then?”

                “We could, or we could just sit and see if they play something else. There is a spectrum of music between country and… whatever this is,” Camille said. She was thankful for the excessive make-up her costume demanded, it hid the worst of the blush that she could feel burning in her cheeks. She’d come so far with Vince, but every now and then the simplest things could set her off. Then again, lying in wait, hoping for a slow song wasn’t really all that simple, if she were honest with herself.

                “I like that idea,” Vince said, flashing Camille a grin that threatened to spread the blushing to her ears. “It’ll be nice to sit and chat. I feel like I see less of you and Alex since the team… since last year.”

                “We work together,” Camille reminded him.

                “Yeah, but our schedules are so different we rarely get the same shifts. Besides, we both stay busy, so it’s not like we get a lot of time to hang out.”

                That was true. Supper with Supers was a far more successful restaurant than any of the young students had realized. It had never made it onto their radar, but for many families it was a delightful place to bring their children. It even had draw with some of the people Vince and Camille’s own age, young men and women still captivated by all things related to Heroes. Had things gone differently, they might have been among that group, but being in the HCP had taken some of the shine off the caped apple. They were being taught every day how Heroes were weighed down with far more than whimsical catchphrases and primary colors.

                “How do you like the waiting job, anyway?”

                “It’s pretty fun,” Vince said. “Compared to our normal schedule, it's low-stress. Plus I get to meet a lot of really nice people. The posing for pictures thing took some getting used to, I’ll admit that.”

                “That’s only families with children, right?”

                “Mostly,” Vince confirmed. “I guess the kids see a guy in a cape, even if he’s just a waiter playing pretend, and want to take their picture with him. I see the appeal though. If I’d gone to a place like ours when I was young, I’m sure I’d have gotten a picture too.”

                Camille nodded and gave him a small smile. She’d seen the children asking to take their picture with Vince, and it wasn’t just because he was a waiter in a cape. Vince treated them with even more patience and kindness than he showed most people, which was saying something. He didn’t seem to realize it, but the other waiters were asked to pose far less often than him. Deep down, she suspected they could see what she already knew: their waiter was an authentic Hero. He just didn’t have the certification yet. That thought filled her with a heartwarming glow.

                “Although that doesn’t explain the groups of adults that ask me to pose,” Vince continued.

                “Groups of adults?” Camille’s warm glow began to dim.

                “Yeah. Usually during late lunch; mostly women now that I think about it. They always ask me to flex and stuff. Doesn’t happen often; in fact, I was so surprised the first time that I asked Brenda what policy was on that. She told me the customer is always right, but she seemed to be giggling a lot when she said it.”

                Camille’s glow had definitely burned down to cinders now. “Vince, you don’t have to, those women were… they were flirting with you.”

                “I don’t think so,” Vince told her. “I know it looks that way, even I understand that much, but I think the flirting was just an excuse. Deep down, I think they wanted to feel like those kids do, like they’d really gotten to pose with a Hero. They know I’m just a waiter in the same way that people who wear Santa outfits aren’t the real Santa, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t get a bit of that childhood thrill by pretending. Just for a second.”

                “That’s a sweet way to look at it,” Camille said, her glow somewhat rekindled. When one fell in love with an oblivious man, they had to take the trials that came with it. “But I think you just raised a point I definitely want to discuss.”

                “What’s that?” Vince asked.

                “Was that whole speech your subtle way of telling me that you still go get your picture taken with Santa?”