Violet approaches freshman year of college with a mixture of anticipation and dread. She'll be glad to be out of the house (she loves her family, but sometimes she just wants them all to just be a little less them), but she's heard the horror stories about the freshman fifteen and/or having an awful roommate.
Natalie had sounded normal on the phone, though, so maybe she's lucked out in the roommate department. Violet crosses her fingers and tries to be cautiously optimistic.
"Hi," a girl says who is definitely not Natalie. (Natalie had described herself as a tall redhead, and this girl is short and has her brown hair up in a tight ponytail.) "I'm Margo. I'm one of your suite-mates."
"Oh, hi," Violet says, flushing a little and stepping away from her box of used textbooks. She extends a hand; after a moment, Margo accepts it. The handshake's awkward and a little sweaty, and not for the first time does Violet wish she'd been born into a culture that didn't touch during hellos. "I'm Violet. Nice to meet you."
"I just thought I'd say hi," Margo says, and then bites at her lower lip and looks a little sheepish. "My sisters told me I have to be more extroverted now that I'm at college." She pushes her glasses back from the tip of her snub nose and adds, "I've already walked around campus. Did you need me to show you the dining hall or anything?"
"Sure, that'd be great," Violet says, even though she's got the entire campus memorized. Anything's better than unpacking her stuff.
And besides, her parents had force-fed her the same 'you need to be more outgoing, sweetheart' spiel before they'd piled back into the car and headed home. She understands Margo's plight perfectly.
"I have two sisters," Margo says. "Both younger."
"I wish I had a sister," Violet says. "I have two younger brothers instead." She wrinkles her nose, although most of the time Dash is okay, now that he's older, and Jack Jack's been getting a better handle on his powers, so. Less explosions.
"Have you decided on a major yet?" Margo asks, fiddling with her spoon. "I was thinking about a double major in chemistry and physics."
"Wow," Violet says, impressed. She'd gotten as far as Trigonometry and Chemistry before she'd realized any more math and science was beyond her. "I hadn't decided yet. I was thinking of law school, or something else that will help people, but--" She shrugs. She's not sure if that's the best plan. Superheroine by night, lawyer/cop by day is a quick way to burn out of the hero business. She still wants to help people though. She's just not sure how.
"That's really cool, that you want to help people," Margo says. When she smiles, Violet finds herself staring, because Margo's grin lights up her entire face and makes her eyes sparkle behind the horn-rimmed glasses. She looks pretty. Really pretty.
"Um, yeah?" Violet says vaguely, fighting the urge to blush or go invisible. Her stomach's twisting, and her face feels hot despite her efforts. She looks down at her plate and mumbles, "I think you being into science is cool too. What, um, got you interested in it?"
"Oh," Margo laughs, but there's an oddly strained note to the sound. "Um. My adopted dad, he's a scientist. Watching him made me want to learn how things work, and to build things."
"Cool," Violet says fervently, and forces herself to meet Margo's eyes. "What type of science does your dad do?"
Margo's expression goes vague. "Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that," she says, and waves a hand. "He likes to build things, mostly."
"Cool," Violet says, a bit awkwardly. She sounds like a loser, she's sure of it. She squirms a little in her seat. "Has he built anything famous?"
Margo laughs, and this one's more genuine, filled with honest amusement. "Um, sorry, he does some top-secret stuff. I'm not really supposed to talk about it. But, um. Yeah, you've probably heard of one of his inventions," she says. "What does your dad do?"
As always when someone asks Violet this question, the insane impulse to announce her parents are superheroes rises to the tip of her tongue. She swallows the words back, though, and says, "My dad's an insurance salesman and my mom works from home. Some consulting business or something."
The talk turns to other things, like their classes (they're in English 101 together) and what clubs they're thinking of joining. Luckily Margo doesn't favor Violet with another one of those grins. Being tongue-tied once during a conversation is bad enough. Violet doesn't want to make it a habit.
"Did you want to go see a movie?" Margo asks about five weeks into the first semester. They're both bent over their English homework. "The college is showing something for a $1."
"Oh," Violet says. She peeks up at Margo's face, but she can't read the other girl's expression. "Um, sure," she says, and is gratified by Margo's brilliant smile, the one that twists Violet's stomach into knots and makes her knees feel like jelly.
It's only afterwards that Violet calls her mom in a panic. "Mom, Margo asked me to the movies, and I don't know if it was just being nice or if she's asking me on a date, or what!" she wails.
There's a long moment of silence on the other end of the phone. "Do you want it to be a date?" her mom asks carefully.
"Yes! No. Ugh," Violet groans, and flings herself onto her bed. "Mom, college sucks," she whines, and hears the distant sound of her mother laughing.
"Enjoy growing up, sweetheart," her mother says. "And just-- take it easy. Whether it's a date or not, you two will still have a good time, won't you?"
"Probably," Violet says. She pauses and adds in a confiding whisper, "I sort of want it to be a date."
"Then I hope Margo feels the same way," her mother says. For a second Violet can't breathe, because God, her mom can be embarrassing a lot of the time, but the rest of the time she's totally awesome. "I love you, Vi. Call me after the movie and tell me how it went?"
"Okay, love you too," Violet says.
After she hangs up, she spends a long time staring at the crack in her ceiling. "Please, please, please let this be a date," she whispers.
The movie is horrible-- it's some comedy parodying vampire movies or something, but since Violet's never seen any vampire movies, all the jokes are lost on her.
Margo's sitting next to her though, their elbows lightly touching, so Violet can't say the night's completely awful.
"This movie is really bad," she confides in a low voice.
Margo laughs. "Yeah, lucky we only paid--"
That's when the roof caves in. One minute Margo is whispering in Violet's ear, the next minute Violet's staring at what used to be the ceiling and wondering what the hell is happening.
She sinks low in her seat and hopes no one realizes that she is the one creating the forcefield keeping the ceiling from falling onto everyone's heads. She hasn't used her powers since the summer, and the strain of it is making her head ache.
Someone lands lightly in front of the movie screen. The guy's short and a little weird-looking, with a giant V on his chest. He laughs maniacally, and Violet groans. Great. A villain attacking the school. Just what she needed during her first semester.
"Oh, crap," Margo mutters, and in the starlight, Violet can see her sinking low in her seat as well and reaching for her backpack. "How did he find me?" Margo pulls something out of her backpack, something that looks distinctly gun-shaped, and then dives for the floor.
"Margo?" Violet whispers, but Margo ignores her.
"Vector!" Margo yells. "This is getting really, really annoying! I am so telling Gru on you!" Then she takes aim and fires. There's a flash of blue light, a startled yelp, and then the villain-- Vector, which, what? what kind of villain name is that?-- is apparently a tiny glowing cube.
"Okay," Violet says slowly, "that was both confusing as crap and awesome." Sweat trickles down her forehead, stings her eyes. "Margo!" she says loudly. "We need to evacuate everyone from the room!"
"What?" Margo says, sounding distracted as she grabs the cube. Then she looks up, seemingly noticing the floating pieces of ceiling for the first time. "Oh, yeah. EVERYONE OUT!"
Those who hadn't already made a dash for the door at the first explosion leave in a mad rush. Violet gets to her feet, groaning a little and stumbling towards the door.
Margo's suddenly next to her, her gun (a gun, a gun holy crap, that turns people into *cubes*, Violet's mind is thinking frantically) and the cube apparently stowed away in her backpack. Margo takes her by the shoulders, says, "Just a few more steps, and then we're out."
Then Violet's blinking against the bright lights of the hallway. She lets the forcefield go with a sigh of relief. The ground vibrates under her feet as the ceiling crashes to the floor.
Violet gasps for breath, and then turns to meet Margo's eyes.
"Um," they both say at once.
"So my dad is sort of a mostly redeemed villain," Margo says at the same time Violet says, "My parents are superheroes. My whole family is, really."
They stare at each other for a moment.
Margo breaks first, letting out a half-hysterical giggle. "Well, that's going to make meeting your parents a little awkward," she gets out in the middle of her laughter.
Violet's mouth opens on its own. "So this was a date?" it asks, without any okay from Violet's brain whatsoever.
"Yes. Well, if you wanted it to be one," Margo says, blushing.
Violet kisses her, a little too quickly, her mouth catching the corner of Margo's chapped lips. Violet should get her some chapstick, the next time they're at the school store, she thinks absently. "Yes, I do," Violet says, and laughs, giddy and terrified all at once. Mostly giddy though.
One thing's for sure. The phone call with her mom tonight is going to be interesting.