Chapter 136

                Camille didn’t dodge the torrent of fire; instead she barreled right through it, her skin roasting as she stretched out and tried to grab Vince’s hand. He halted the attack in order to dart back out of reach. She kept after him, moving continuously, never stopping. Camille knew that he’d want to line up a shot, or think of a strategy, and she was keeping the pressure on him relentlessly. His hand sparked with fire once more, and in the flickering light Vince noticed that her skin was completely unmarred. If not for the singes along her outfit, it would have been impossible to tell she was ever hurt in the first place. Camille was self-healing as fast as she was getting injured.

                Despite the dire straits he was in, Vince smiled. So that was what she’d meant.

                *              *              *

                “Don’t you worry; I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.” Camille had to stretch a little to reach the basket of bread; the restaurant’s tables seemed unnecessarily large. Perhaps that was just how fancy places had their furniture made. Vince certainly didn’t have a lot in the way of comparison, Supper with Supers was hardly upscale and he’d never had enough money growing up to come to these sorts of places. In a way, the concept boggled his mind, as he could never understand why people would spend so much on a single meal when they could buy vastly larger amounts of food for the same cost.

                However, not understanding the premise didn’t mean he was totally ignorant of social convention, so as this date approached Vince had tucked away most of his tips from Supper with Supers, knowing that such extravagance was expected. Truth be told, he’d planned something a little more modest, but Nick had intervened and given Vince specific instructions about where to take Camille. He’d even helped Vince pick his outfit, which included a sport coat and slacks.

                “Of all the people I have to worry about tomorrow, I know you’re not one of them. Nobody out there is tougher than you.” Vince carefully lifted his wine glass and extended it outward. While still not much of a drinker, he’d grown comfortable enough with the concept to have an occasional beer or bit of wine at dinner. “But that’s tomorrow, and this is tonight, so I want to make a toast.”

                “Oooh, does this mean I finally get to find out why you took me somewhere so fancy?” Camille was smiling, unbothered by the mystery. She hadn’t objected when he told her nothing more than that they were going somewhere nice, she’d merely shown up at his door wearing a lovely silver dress, expertly applied make-up, and styled hair. Alice had been involved in her outfit, there was no doubt about that, but it was Camille who made it look so beautiful. Staring at her, it was hard to imagine there was ever a time when Vince had felt unsure about his feelings. She was pure wonderment, and he couldn’t believe she’d fallen for someone like him.

                “I guess it’s because… how to put this… you and I don’t really have an anniversary, you know. We came into this step by step, a little at a time, so it’s hard to say exactly when everything started,” Vince told her. “But about a year ago, just before Winter Break, is when you took the big step of laying everything out in the open. Without that, I doubt I ever would have had the courage to get things moving. So, tonight I wanted to celebrate the anniversary of that moment. I know our lives are crazier than most people’s, and I know I’m not always the best guy at saying the right things at the right times, but I wanted to make sure you knew how glad I was that night happened. How thankful I am to have you in my life.”

                Vince tilted his glass forward, and after a moment Camille lifted her own and gently clinked the edge against his. “I feel the same way. Don’t worry so much, Vince. Even if you might not always say it, you show it more than you realize. But I do want you to promise me something.”

                “If it’s that this wine will be good, I’m working off Nick’s recommendation, so that might be out of my ability.”

                Camille giggled halfway through the sip of wine, snorting slightly into her glass. In that moment, Vince fell just the tiniest bit more in love with her. “No, but it is good. I want you to promise me that if tomorrow’s… semester final… is competitive, then you won’t hold back. At least, not against me. I know how gentle you are, but the stakes are too high for both of us to risk something like that.”

                “Oh, is that all? Sure, I can make you that promise, but there was never really a need to ask me for it,” Vince replied. “I couldn’t go easy on you, even if I wanted too. You are much too dangerous for anything like that.”

                Her smile deepened as she set the wine glass down. Stretching out once more, Camille reached across the table, this time ignoring the bread and carefully resting her fingers on top of Vince’s hand.

                “I have to admit, every now and then, you say exactly the right thing at the right time.”

*              *              *

                It was like fighting someone invulnerable, every bit of damage Vince did vanished within seconds of hitting Camille’s body. She was constantly absorbing damage, her flesh knitting itself together faster than even Chad could have managed. A powerful enough charge could knock her out, but that still required at least a few seconds to line up a shot, and she was dead-set on not giving Vince even that much time to focus. All he could manage was burst-shooting multiple smaller blasts that would have easily worn her down if she weren’t healing herself to perfect health every few seconds.

                Vince had one tactic left for getting some distance, and as Camille came in close he let loose another flash of bright light, trying to catch her in the eyes.  It wasn’t a perfect shot, but she spat a string of curse words and reflexively rubbed her eyes. Constant healing or not, some reactions were deeply ingrained, and that was exactly what Vince had been hoping for. He only had a few precious seconds, but in that time he called forth enough electricity to drop someone twice Camille’s size. Even if she was healing as it hit, there should still be enough to knock her out. She tried to dodge again, fuzzy vision be damned, however the bolt of electricity caught her directly in the hip. Camille tumbled back and hit the ground, sliding to a stop when she bumped against the wall.

                Vince was panting, exhausted from constant movement paired with his injuries, and coated in sweat. Still, he’d won, and he was damn proud of that fact. Walking over to her, Vince knelt down to take Camille’s pulse.

                Her hand closed around his just as it was getting close to her, and Camille’s triumphant grin was the last thing Vince saw before an influx of new injuries drove him into unconsciousness. She laid him onto the ground carefully, making sure his head didn’t slam down.

                “Good shot,” Camille told him, even though he couldn’t hear. “But it looks like I can heal a little faster than you can hurt, at least with that level of power.” A doorway slid open in a nearby wall, casting she and Vince in fluorescent light. Leaning over, she kissed him on the forehead, taking away all of his injuries. He’d wake up soon, although she wouldn’t be there to see it. “Next time, maybe hang back and make sure the opponent isn’t playing possum.”

                Hauling herself to her feet, Camille absorbed the last lingering bits of damage from Vince’s attack. With no announcement made and the lights still off, it stood to reason that there were still enemies left to be found. Camille picked a nearby hall and headed off, making sure to be out of sight before Vince’s eyes fluttered open and he returned to the waking world.