Part II: Settling in
I was among the first to wake up and yet my roommate, Caroline, had already left. It was still early but I dragged my butt out of bed, put on pajama pants and walked into the kitchen where Caroline and Allison were already up, with the former making breakfast. The smell of bacon came to my nose and my stomach growled.
“Morning Charlie. How do you like your eggs?” Caroline asked.
“Over easy.” I mumbled before yawning.
“Alright. Coming right up!”
I sat down at the breakfast counter and watched her work. She’d tied her long white hair into a braid and had slipped a cute tiered white dress on, which left her legs showing; including the cybernetic prosthesis attached to her left leg under the knee. At her wrist I noticed a pair of string bracelets bearing the colors of the asexual and trans pride flags. When she turned around, I noticed the flesh colored hearing aids on her ears.
Next to me, Allison, whom I’d heard say used they pronoun the previous night, looked like a zombie, arms and head on the counter. They were this kind of oddly built black person; while most of their body was average; neither tall nor thin, not thin or bulky, they were impressively widely shouldered; almost as if they’d accidentally gotten a football player’s upper torso by accident.
Allison was served first; a scramble with hash and bacon, which they proceeded to drown in a metric ton of ketchup. Caroline looked horrified to see the food she’d just made getting ruined; wide eyed and just sort of standing there stunned for a few seconds. Still, Allison didn’t seem to notice as they just absently shoveled food into their mouth after meticulously separating everything.
I got my plate next. It was already well seasoned so I didn’t add anything else, much to Caroline’s relief. She served me a glass of Oj at my request to go with it.
“Thank you.” I said with a smile, which she returned.
“You’re very welcome.”
“Are you always this lively in the morning? I consider myself a morning person but dang you’re in a whole different league.”
“I’m used to be up and working before daybreak; I live on a farm with my mom and grandparents so I get up every morning to collect eggs before breakfast which I cook and then I have school. And really I love cooking so it’s win-win for everyone.”
“That’s neat. What kind of farm do you own, is it a ranch?”
“Nah, it’s a crop farm. We grow animal feed commercially; mostly a rotation of alfalfa, field corn and soybeans. But we have some animals for our personal use; a bunch of egg hens, some rabbits and a few sheeps for wool and milk.”
“Where is it located?”
“South west Massachusetts, not that far above the Connecticut border. We’re right by the Housatonic river.”
“Say, weren’t you with the Raven yesterday when we arrived?” Allison asked me, apparently having woken up from their temporary loss of consciousness.
“Yeah, that would be because he’s my dad.”
“The Raven’s your dad?” Caroline said, surprised. Although I wasn’t sure if she was surprised that my dad was a superhero or that I, a dark skinned latina of native cuban descent, was related to Ian who was only a few shades darker than mayonnaise.
“Adoptive dad, but yeah. He’s been taking care of me since I was six.”
“How is it having a superhero for a dad?”
I shrugged. As much as it pained me, I barely remembered my birth parents; just so hazy glimpse and a few memorable moments. Not enough to really compare to my life with Ian outside of training.
“It’s a lot of work; having to go into the family business and all. Other than that, I don’t know? I don’t have the biggest comparison base to judge.”
“So you’re doing the whole boomerang and kung-fu thing too?” Caroline asked.
“Not a lot of options for baselines and I flunked science class last year.”
“You don’t have any powers, like at all?”
“Nope. Niet. Nada. I got tested and I’m just a single positive for Von Neumann. Also despite being a cape kid, I’ve never stumbled across dangerous mutagens, alien artifacts or mad science experiment.”
Most superheroes had powers of some sort, and most of the small percentile that didn’t relied on machines or other technological doodads instead. Ian and I however didn’t; we relied on simple weapons, training and a whole lot of talent.
With Caroline doing all the talking I shot a glimpse at Allison and saw that they had returned to being one of the living dead; except that they drank coffee instead of eating brains. Eventually they got up, mumbled something incomprehensible and went for the showers.
“Damn… Now I just want to see you in action. You oughta be super bad ass.” Caroline said, looking at me with admiration.
“I’m sure you’ll see that soon enough.” I answered. “Want to see a birdarang?”
“You have one?”
“Not in my PJs but in my— our room, yes. I’ll be right back.” I got up, went to our room and opened my bag. I kept a utility belt there in case of emergency. I took one of them after putting the protective glove.
I walked back and sat back down, holding the birdarang up, which she reached for.
“Careful, these things are ridiculously frickin’ sharp.” I warned her, pulling the birdarang away. I then put it down on the counter and removed my gloves. “Put those on and you won’t lose a finger.” The gloves despite being extremely thin were made of a special cut resistant material.
She put them on, took the birdarang and looked at it thoughtfully.
“Can I try something?”
“Don’t throw it.”
“Don’t worry about that.” She took an orange form a presentation bowl and sliced it in half, the birdarang cutting through it effortlessly like a knife through butter.
“Jesus, that’s sharp.” She muttered, eyes wide.
“Thanks for letting me try. They should make kitchen knives with whatever those are made, it would be awesome.”
“So long as you don’t cut through the counter too.”
She put it back down and gave me the gloves back. I took both them and the birdarang and put them back securely in my room.
I came back to the kitchen just as Amber walked in and dragged her feet to the counter. She was dressed in all black, but not in a gothic kind of way. She slouched down on it and Caroline poured a coffee for her using her power to move the liquid to her cup. She however declined breakfast.
Ahti was the next to come out, dressed in traditional Itharii clothes; a sleeveless hooded jacket, loose pants and long hand warmers. They walked to the counter but seemed to struggle with the height of the bar stools, it took them a few tries before they hoisted themselves to sit on it. I didn’t envy them; being a tiny alien in a world made for much taller humans had to be annoying.
“Morning Ahti. What do you eat for breakfast?”
“Utza’i or narik, usually.” They said. There was a moment of silence before they realized we didn’t speak Ibarian. “Utza’i is a soup made with beaten zetz eggs and utz weeds. A nari is like a fried ball of dough covered in syrup.”
“Oh… I don’t think we have any Itharii ingredients in the fridge…”
“I can eat human food. Just no land meat it makes my belly hurt.”
“How about scrambled eggs?” She asked before specifying that it was chicken eggs.
Ahti devoured their plate then they ate an apple before they asked for another service; it was pretty amazing how much food such a tiny creature could eat. Kind of adorable too.
Others began to arrive one by one and with the influx of people walking in, Caroline became busy serving everyone. Which made me feel a little guilty; I would have liked to help her out, but the only person more dangerous around a stove than I was was Ian.
I took a look around at the people. Jaime had preferred to isolate herself after she’d managed to irk Rowan the mutated parahuman. Mace had decided to sit by a much more wakeful Allison who seemed to return his flirting.
Soon enough school time began and we all headed for the school building. We found our homeroom and I laid claim to one of the window seat.
“Hey. Can I sit with you?” Caroline asked, her voice a little tainted with nervosity.
I saw her struggling to hold her excitement in as she took the seat. I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing to have her look up to me. I didn’t have much time to think about it as a minute later Defender, retired hero and Detroit legend, walked into class to begin the first class of the year, with Caroline hanging on to his every word.