“Uh… A bunch of us being who?”
“People in my class. I don’t know everybody who’s going, but a lot of first years. I invited Courtney and Camille. Gifford invited me and Hunter.”
She had my full attention. “Gifford? The guy Jaclyn and I took out?”
Then something else occurred to me. “Wait, he asked you? Does he know that we’re dating? He wasn’t um… after you?”
Haley frowned. “He wasn’t asking as a date, but he does like me.”
“And you said yes?” My voice might have gotten a little louder.
“And I invited you,” she said, emphasizing the last word.
I saw her point, but I still asked, “Why go in the first place?”
She sighed. “Because I like other people in the group. Besides, it’s like with you and Amy. People are attracted to other people all the time. You’re at least a little bit attracted to Amy, Courtney, Cassie, Jenny, Jaclyn, and Tara. Some of them are attracted to you too, at least a little.”
I thought about protesting, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to admit she wasn’t wrong. I was attracted to all of them at least a little. Another part of me wondered which of them were attracted to me.
“It’s like that with everybody,” Haley said. “I remember realizing that my mom and dad were attracted to other people too, and it terrified me.”
She stopped, pursing her lips, looking more thoughtful than frightened.
“So, what happened?” I asked after a moment.
“Nothing,” she said. “I was scared of nothing. In the end you have to trust people. You can’t control what you like, but you can control what you do. I trust you. If I didn’t, it would drive me crazy.”
It was a good point, even if the fact that she’d put so much thought into it made me wonder if she might be a little worried anyway.
“I’ll go,” I said. “But I hope he doesn’t start coming on to you.”
Haley shrugged. “If he acts like a jerk, we’ll leave.”
I nodded. “So, what would we be doing?”
Haley smiled upward at me, and moved her chair closer to mine. I could feel her warmth. “I don’t know. People were talking about a movie, and some people were talking about going dancing, or watching a band.”
“Are there any good bands in town?” I put my arm around her shoulders. She leaned into me for a moment before pulling back and tilting her head up to look at me again.
“I heard people talking about going to see Vincent Sucks.”
“Are they any good? I’ve heard the name, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard their music.”
Haley smiled. “Ask Cassie. I think I’ve heard her mention them.”
“Yeah,” I said, “me too, but I don’t think she got to see them.”
We sat there, looking at each other. Then I asked, “How many people are going out anyway? You make it sound like your whole class is going. I’m surprised it’s even allowed.”
Her forehead wrinkled. “Have you been reading your email?”
“No,” I said, and then added, “Well, a little, but not much.”
“Isaac sent everyone a message. I think they even talked about it in class.”
I flipped open my phone, looked through the school messages, and found it after a few minutes. The email came from Isaac Lim, and described the precautions he wanted people to take if they went out on the weekends.
“I don’t have the right or will to restrict your movement,” the email said, “but I would like to offer you advice. We have a list of restaurants, theaters, and other attractions that will be monitored by staff. If you’d prefer to stay off the beaten path, we’d like you to inform security where you’ll be going either before you leave or while you’re out.”
I skimmed a few paragraphs, stopping at, “For those of you whose personal identities are not public knowledge, we advise being careful. The press generally won’t attempt to expose your identity, but for obvious reasons, we advise against noticeable power use. This is especially true for those of you who are in company of publicly known heroes. The press and paparazzi are in the Denver area. If you can hide your identity, please do so. If you can’t, we’ll make a powder for your face available. It won’t prevent people from recognizing you, but it will blur your details in any pictures…”
I skimmed the paragraph reminding people who were underage not to drink or engage in other illegal or reckless behavior, finally reaching the end.
“Remember, anything you do has the potential of reaching the public.”
* * *
Friday night came before I knew it. As the email’s existence implied, almost everyone seemed to be headed out to the greater Denver area to blow off some steam. Part of me wished I could be back in the lab, making a few last touches to remote systems, or possibly going out with Haley alone.
That part of me was along with the rest of me, however, and all parts of me stood in the compound’s parking garage next to my van.
Despite being the only one I knew of with a vehicle when we’d arrived, a fairly large number of people had acquired cars in the meantime. The garage echoed with the sound of engines.
Gifford pulled up in a red sports car. I didn’t recognize the model, but it was a Porsche.
My van (in rusty white van form) stood next to the gathering group—Haley, Courtney, Camille, Hunter, and I. Keon rolled out of the elevator toward us.
Gifford gave everyone a wave, and said, “Hey, we’re still waiting on a few more people, but we never figured where we were going.”