The cafeteria had more than one level, allowing people on the edges to take in everyone on the main level of the room. Vaughn and Cassie sat together at a table with a view, but also one that wasn’t more than ten feet from an exit.
I wondered if that was intentional or accidental. Lee would have approved, though he probably would have positioned Vaughn with his back to the wall and Cassie nearer to the edge.
She’d work better as a lookout because she could take a lot of damage and still report back, giving Vaughn time to counterattack.
Not that any of us were likely to be attacked in the cafeteria—at least not this early in the semester.
I sat down next to Vaughn, thinking that I’d spent far too much time training in the last year.
“Who were you talking to?” Vaughn’s gaze followed Courtney and her friends down the steps.
“Remember Courtney from high school? Dated Keith?”
“No kidding? She’s looking really good.”
“Power juice?” Cassie asked.
“Can’t say for sure, but I’d bet on it.”
“Oh yeah,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting. Appearance only, right?”
“I think. But that’s with power juice. If someone made it permanent, she might be able to do more.”
“You know what would be crazy,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting girlfriend. Think about it.”
“Right,” Cassie said. “She could shapeshift into a guy, and no one would ever guess you were dating.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“What I’m wondering,” Cassie said, “is whether we should talk to the program about her. Everyone and their dog can make powers permanent these days. I told you about that, right?”
When she’d been in Washington D.C., she’d learned that the military had a power impregnator, and she’d seen an ancient (probably Abominator made) version when she’d broken into a research facility owned by the Nine. I hoped they hadn’t learned anything from it. That would not be good. The Nine were scary.
“Everyone except us,” Vaughn said.
He was right. Our power impregnator had been modified, and then damaged during the summer.
“We probably should talk to someone,” I said. “Impersonating people could be really useful. Think Mystique in the X-Men comics.”
“See,” Vaughn said. “Blue and naked is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.”
“God,” Cassie muttered, “and you were wondering why you and Brittany broke up?”
* * *
I saw my adviser Monday morning. Not Dr. Nation, but my official college advisor Dr. Farkas. Well, one of my advisors. I had two because I had two majors—chemistry and electrical engineering.
Dr. Farkas wasn’t taking it well.
I sat in his office while he opened my folder, and stared at the papers inside. I occupied myself by looking at the books that covered all four walls of his office. To judge from them, chemistry was his only interest.
“I don’t think you can do this,” he said. “I don’t like to say that because obviously you’re very bright, but majoring in electrical engineering and chemistry could easily result in flunking out of both programs. Aside from which, you’ll never get through both programs in four years if that’s your goal.”
“I… I think I can. You’re looking at my initial schedule. It’s changed. I took some tests a few weeks ago and it turns out I can skip a bunch of classes in both programs. I’ve actually got a list here… I’ve divided up the rest of them by year and made a schedule for the next four years, and it should work.”
I took it out and put it on top of his folder. I had a photocopied copy for each advisor in case they hadn’t gotten it.
He read it. “I’ve never seen any student test out of this many classes.”
“The registrar okayed it and so did my engineering advisor,” I said. “I can more or less skip the first year of each program and go straight into sophomore courses. If you look at it, you’ll find I skip more electrical engineering courses.”
After a call to the registrar, and a call to my engineering advisor, he signed my paper, and I was free.
The Chemistry Department’s professors all had offices in the same section of Davidson Hall so I walked out to find a lot of students standing or sitting at the tables in the common area between offices, and generally waiting for their advisors.
Courtney stood in a line next to a door. It wasn’t a surprise. We’d been in AP (advanced placement) chemistry together.
She didn’t seem to see me. I thought about it. I had questions for her. If I caught her at the right time, I could ask them.
When I turned to check on her, she’d just stepped into her advisor’s office.
I decided to wait. It wouldn’t be long.