I looked over at Haley. She’d sat down again, pulled her legs up onto the chair and wrapped her arms around them. It likely felt more comfortable to her than it looked to me.
“You heard all of that, right?”
She colored a little. “Sorry. I didn’t try to. It seemed private.”
“I’m sure it was, but Daniel’s not in a position to complain.”
Haley let go of her legs, and they touched the floor in one fluid motion that wasn’t quite human. She could have followed it up by leaping to grab one of the ceiling’s support beams, but didn’t.
“It’s sad,” she said. “I don’t know her very well, but she seems nice. She’s a little shy, but maybe he can draw her out.” She paused. “Not that Daniel’s any kind of party animal, but he’s comfortable with people.”
“I guess,” I said, knowing better. Daniel was extremely comfortable with people.
Haley shot me a look, but continued, “Do you think we can help?”
“I doubt it. Religion’s not something people change easily, and I don’t know what Izzy is. A lot of Hispanics are Catholic, but I think Pentecostalism’s really big in Latin America now, so who knows? Plus, Izzy’s from California, and I don’t think a lot of people go to church there in the first place.”
Haley shook her head. “I didn’t mean that. I was thinking smaller—like getting them to talk about it. From what I heard, I don’t think she knows what’s going on.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Daniel and I don’t talk about this stuff normally. I mean seriously, we don’t at all.”
Haley gave a quick sigh, frowning. Then she brightened. “Wouldn’t it be funny if Izzy’s family turned out to be Spanish Jews who stayed secretly Jewish?”
“It would be solve a lot of problems, but—“
She shook her head. “I know. I don’t think it’s likely either, but it would be funny if all of his worry was for nothing.”
“Yeah,” I said, and then another thought passed through my mind. I followed it.
“Nick?” Haley’s voice pulled me back to reality. “What are you thinking about?”
I hesitated. “It’s something stupid, and I’m really, really glad Daniel’s not in range—“
She laughed. “You’re thinking about whether they can ‘do it’?”
“Um… Right. Daniel’s a telepath, but physically he’s human normal while she can crush cars, right? If all her muscles are like that… uh… things could get uncomfortable—like maybe send Daniel to hospital level of uncomfortable.”
She pursed her lips, looking thoughtful. “Maybe it’s good that things won’t work out.”
I shook my head. “No, see if her powers are mostly from her force field, it might work out. When she grabbed Daniel in St. Louis, her force field surrounded him or he wouldn’t have survived—“
“Oh,” she said, “so you think that if he’s inside her field, her strength won’t matter?”
“Basically. I guess I’m thinking that if the force field is the source of her strength and invulnerability, she only needs to be strong on the outside? I don’t really know. I’m just guessing.”
Haley opened her mouth, stopped, and then said, “I hope we’ll be able to.”
At my look, she said, “I’m not offering. We said we were going to wait. I just hope we’re together that long, and that if you do, you won’t get hurt.”
“I know. I don’t think we’ll have a problem. You’re stronger than normal before you shift, but not really, really strong.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Except sometimes I shift while we’re making out.”
“I know. If we ever get that far, I’ll have to invent something to protect myself.”
She went silent at that, but then she snorted. “That was the plot of the League porn film Vaughn showed us.”
I shrugged. “To the degree that it had a plot. I promise I won’t try it out on the League, former Justice Fist members, or random female supervillians first.”
Haley laughed, “I’ll hold you to that.”
“As if anyone would let me,” I said.
She got up from her chair. “Come on, let’s go. We were going to do something together, weren’t we?”
I pushed my chair back from the table and stood up. “We could go out to eat. You can pick the restaurant. That way we won’t end up at one of your family’s places unless you want to.”
She took my hand. “How about that Chinese buffet downtown?”
“The one we went to after my prom?”
She nodded. We walked across the main room of HQ, past the old relics, trophies, and awards, and over to the elevator. It wasn’t really meant for two people, so we had to stand close to each other, touching or almost touching as it moved upward, and stopped in my grandfather’s workroom—the place where he’d worked as a consulting engineer.
The room was almost empty now, containing a desk, and a wall of old tools.
The walls of the elevator sunk into the floor, leaving us alone in my grandparents’ house. Outside, the sun had gone down. It wasn’t quite dark, but it would be soon, and the windows of the houses in the neighborhood glowed with light.
“Relationships are so complicated for us,” Haley said as we left, walking down the hall toward the living room.
“It’s probably complicated for everyone,” I said.
We stopped in the living room. It was empty of anything but a chair and an old television, but I still remembered what it looked like when my grandparents lived there—the pictures on the walls, the tree at Christmas, cards from my grandmother’s family in Germany.
They’d made it somehow.
“At least religion isn’t a problem for us,” she said.
Her family was Catholic, and mine was Lutheran. It might have been a big deal a generation or two ago.
“True,” I said, opened the door, and we left.