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Of Curses and Comic Cons

Chloe and the newly minted Mr. Swift have located a coffee cart outside. Chloe orders her decaf with three shots. Heh. Stephen first orders a glass of milk, but when everyone gives him an odd look he switches to black coffee. He tastes it and nearly spits it out. And thus he learns why people pay six bucks for all those fancy mocha-java-latte drinks. Chloe leads him away. "So, if I'm going to help you get acclimated, I just need to ask you a few--" He cuts her off, asking her if she really knows superheroes. Yeah, she does, but, you know... whatever. He's bubbling with excitement, but Chloe's blasé response stuns him. "You know actual superheroes, and you couldn't sound more bored," he says. She shrugs; it's a living for her. He wants to know which heroes she's met, but then promptly retracts the question, realizing it would compromise their identities. "Can't believe I asked that," he chastises himself. Carlo Marks, the actor playing this guy, does a great job of being half boy and half man, as well as half super-fan and half superhero. As Chloe and Stephen stroll along the city streets, she tries to figure out how he became so super. Exposure to meteor rock? Was he born this way? Is he from space? She asks this last jokingly, but when he doesn't respond, she worries that she's offended a possible alien. She stops and looks up at him. He just keeps staring back at her with a softly awed expression. After a long while, he remembers himself and explains: "I'm an orphan. I was sent to Metropolis to live with my aunt when I was little." Chloe gives him the sad eyes. He digs through his comic book memories and finishes his story with: "A couple weeks ago, I got caught in a chemical fire and, well, here we are! It's common to the archetype." Chloe smiles up at him, impressed. He looks like he could keep staring at her for hours, but his new superhearing picks up the sounds of a nearby fight. Boys are trying to steal another boy's bike. "Excuse me, Miss Sullivan," he says before reaching into his backpack for his Warrior Angel outfit. Chloe beams. I, too, am a fan of politeness.

In a dark alleyway, a boy is being roughed up by two large boys. The little boy begs for the others to stop. Stephen appears on a nearby rooftop, his cape flapping in the breeze. He says, with exaggerated seriousness, "Leave him be! What you're doing to this kid here isn't right!" The two bullies scoff until the Stephen whooshes down to street level. He poses, knuckles on his hips, chest puffed out. He gives the biggest bully a super-wedgie, lifting him off the ground by his Fruit of the Looms. "Apologize!" The bully whimpers and says he's sorry. The little kid they were picking on watches the whole thing with an expression of wonder. Stephen orders everyone home. As the kids scram, he speedily changes back into his street clothes. Chloe approaches him with a quizzical look, holding their coffees. He apologizes for leaving her. "I just had to save the day," he says with a big grin, then asks, "So, what's next?" She blinks up at him. Sweeping romantic music plays.

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