I could open the suit’s faceplate, and did.
Haley looked the suit up and down as they walked toward me. “Is that yours or did you get it from somewhere?”
Still wishing I could take the suit off, I said, “I made it but I deliberately used other people’s designs. I brought in Chris to help. He’s figured out a lot of his grandfather’s stuff. Plus I made the joints similar to how Armory did joints back in the 1980’s?”
From the expressions on their faces, none of them knew who Armory was. “A mid-tier hero who became a mid-tier villain, and disappeared after the island he lived on blew up. He did his joints differently than most armor designers.”
Camille stared at my knees, and grinning, said, “I completely see it now.”
I bent my right knee forward, and the knee reformed, the layers splitting and coming back together.
She blinked. “I… actually do see it.”
Haley cocked her head. “I think I have seen something like that before.”
She had my full attention. “Really? Where?”
She shrugged. “Sorry. I don’t know. It might have been on TV. SuperTV had a powered armor special once.”
“Huh. I missed that.”
She gave a small smile. “I didn’t watch very much of it.”
In a quiet voice, Sydney said, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt, but I’m going to take a shower.”
Haley shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s okay.”
In a few steps, Sydney had made it over to the locker room. The metal sloughed off her body, reforming into a puddle outside the door. With all the metal gone, she was just another blond teenage girl in a grey costume. Kind of.
As the sister of Sean Drucker, my mortal frenemy, I half-expected her to secretly hate me.
Camille grinned at Haley and I. “Tell you what, I’ll leave the two of you alone for a little while.”
Haley eyed her. “You don’t have to.”
Camille pulled her mask over her head, and let it hang on her back, mostly covered by her dark hair. “I don’t, but after flying across the city, a shower sounds great.”
She followed Sydney, leaving Haley and I alone together. It felt longer than it actually had been. Two weeks wasn’t that long, but we’d barely seen each other in the meantime.
Stapledon weekends took up the whole weekend, and it felt like college took up the rest. Well, that and tinkering in the lab sucked up a lot of time.
We looked at each other, and it felt like an age since the last time.
“So,” I said, “tomorrow night?”
Haley touched the armor with her hand. She’d shifted away the claws and fangs, and stood in bare feet on the carpet. “Yes,” she said. “Did you think I wasn’t?”
I shook my head. “No, but you weren’t very happy the last time we talked.”
She took her hand off my armor. “You didn’t tell me last week was a Stapledon weekend.”
“I did tell you,” I said. “Just… not soon enough.”
She looked up at me, her voice rising a little as she talked. “You told me on Thursday, and you were leaving on Friday.”
“I did say I’m sorry.” And I was. That had been stupid, and worse, I did that kind of thing a lot—not telling people important stuff that is.
“I know, and I know you meant it, but it’s still annoying. Let’s talk about tomorrow.”
“Sure,” I said, “We could go to a movie, or maybe go downhill skiing? I know Cannonsburg is open on Friday night. Actually, we could probably take the League jet, and ski anywhere.”
She almost said yes. She’d opened her mouth anyway, but then she said, “Maybe we should stick closer to home.”
The last time we’d taken the League jet out on a personal trip hadn’t gone very well.
“How about going down to the beach, and maybe going to a coffee shop afterward?”
“That sounds good.” She smiled at me, and I felt a little less worried. She enjoyed taking walks along the beach even in the winter. Maybe we’d visit her family’s cottage on Lake Michigan? Maybe we’d walk along Grand Lake. I didn’t know for sure.
“Good,” I said. Searching for something else to talk about, I commented, “You’ve been hanging around with Sydney and Camille a lot this year. Whatever happened with Kay and Ashley?”
Haley stopped smiling. “The League. Between training with Lee, and everything that happened last spring I didn’t have much time to do things with them. Eventually they gave up on me.”
“Oh.” I searched for something to say.
She looked at the floor for a second. “It’s okay. I don’t have to hide anything from Camille and Sydney. That’s better. I don’t like lying.”
She frowned. “Do you have anything new on the St. Louis thing?”
“You should get help with it.”
I shook my head. “I tried. Lim’s people haven’t found anything suspicious. I told the Defenders too, but they haven’t seen anything suspicious either.”