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Warren Verona

Aberrant: Mutant High - Like Night and Day

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The dorm halls were just one could expect, except with mutants... which meant loud talking, shouting, phones ringing, and people running around in the cramped hallways. Now add in a few pieces of telekinetically-floating luggage, and the occasional flier who didn't feel like being patient and walking ripping down the hall above the crowd, and what you have is a hormonally charged, post-pubescent, mutant dorm.

Warren rolled his eyes as he waded through the crowd. Some of the students looked odd: strange colored hair and eyes seemed common but strange skin tones, colors and materials seemed to sprout up here and there. He noticed a student made of rock who was moving down the hall by rolling himself into a ball. He literally owned nothing except what he wore, but Director Drumm said that some lady named 'Childs' would help him in procuring a more sensible wardrobe.

This is bullshit. He thought to himself as he grew impatient and simply began making his own path through the people. "Hell out of the way people, Christ." The rock boy he kicked and sent the little guy tumbling/rolling down the hall until he wiped out by slamming into some chick who appeared to have wood for hands and forearms. "Freak." He muttered as he watched the boy stagger to his feet.

"Hey!" A classmate was suddenly in his face, a pretty girl with elongated ears, sligtly pronounced fangs, and fuzzy tufts of fur on her forearms. "The kid's only in 4th grade. Back off."

"You wanna join him?" The glare he gave the girl was a challenge for her to keep talking and be prepared to back up her words, or walk away.

"Ugh, asshole." She fumed as she walked away, shaking her head in disgust. As she walked off to help the poor little kid out. "Shale, sweetie, are you okay? Are you looking for you sister?"

Weak. He sighed, disappointed. A few doors later and he was at his room. Twisting the knob he strode into his room to meet his new roommate...

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Two things became apparent to Warren as he entered the dorm room. One, there was a lot of light in here that was entirely the wrong shade for artificial light or winter sunlight. He could feel a faint warmth on his skin, as though this room occupied a different season to the corridor outside it. The second piece of sensory input was auditory: someone was playing something that sounded like Spanish-style guitar. His brain quickly resolved the input and informed him that both stimuli shared the same root cause.

A young man sat on the left-hand bed, his back to the door. Barefoot, dressed in a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans, he was absorbed in his playing for a long moment, watching his own fingertips with the careful scrutiny of a student rather than a master. Golden hair fell down below the level of his shoulders in an artless tumble, shifting slightly with his movements. The gold of his hair and the bronze of his skin were highlighted further still by the swirling aura of sunlight around his body, which shifted and eddied sharply in echo of the sigh of frustration as the player hit a bad note.

"Bugger." The young man set the guitar aside and rose, turning as he did so, spotting Warren in the doorway. Deep blue eyes widened in surprise for a moment, then smiled. "Uh, hi." He stepped towards the newcomer, holding out a golden-wreathed hand. "You must be the room-mate they told me to expect. The name's Alex."

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You gotta be kiddin' me. He sighed inwardly as ha caught the first sight of his room mate. Sleeping at night was going to be impossible with Johnny Sunshine here glowing at all hours.

He appeared as 'normal' as one could in this school. Ms. Childs demanded that his clothing, since it was the only set he had, be thoroughly washed (at first she opted for burned, but compromised) be he was allowed to enter the school grounds. Jeans that were ripped all over and an old Megadeth t-shirt that proclaimed 'Peace Sells, But Who's Buying'. A thick leather jacket that appeared like he and it had been through a lot together completed his outfit.

The shoulder-length hair that, despite a good shampooing, still seemed to hang over his eyes in loose strands he gave Sunny D-Light an unfriendly glare. "Piss off."

Instead of a handshake Alex got a stiff shoulder as Warren walked around him (kinda) and entered the room, collapsing on his bed with arms up behind his head and looking up at the ceiling.

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'Sunny D-Light', for his part, didn't seem more than momentarily perturbed by the 'fuck you' vibe he'd gotten from his roommate. "Pleasure to meet you too." he said mildly, rubbing briefly at the shoulder the Arsehole-With-No-Name had bumped. Alex stepped back over to his bed and, sitting down again, picked up his guitar. He was in too good a mood after meeting Violet to let some roughneck creep ruin his day.

A few bars of 'Nothing Else Matters' sounded in the otherwise quiet room as the glowing young man ran fingers over the strings for a few moments, apparently oblivious to the thundercloud over bed number two. "You like Megadeth, then?" he asked over one shoulder as he strummed absently. "Or is it a case of liking the sentiment on the shirt?"

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"Take your pick." Was the reply from opposite the golden heart throb. His selection of 'Nothing Else Matters' was a nice ice breaker but Warren wasn't in the friend makin' mood. He was never in the friend makin' mood.

He rolled his eyes as the guy tried to make another effort at the tune then lifted his head and looked down at himself. ...where did I get this shirt? Huh.

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A gold-limned shoulder shrugged. Fair enough. Man doesn't want to small-talk. He bent over the beautifully-polished curves of his guitar again, talking without any expectation of a response. "Sorry if the selection's a little dated. I'm still waiting on my wired guitars and amps to be shipped over by my parents. They're oh-so-eager to make sure I don't have to cross the Atlantic." A wry humor entered the young man's tone. "Anyone'd think they didn't want me home for Christmas. Can't think why: I'd make a great tree decoration. So it's acoustic for the near-future, I'm afraid." He started to play again, a delicate piece that required a few stops and do-over's, but nonetheless after a few false starts he managed to deliver the tune with reasonable skill.

What Alex is playing.

As the last careful notes were plucked, Alex straightened up, absently flicking through the book of musical notation in front of him, looking for something else to practice. "Thought you ought to know, I called down to the Estates office here. They'll be in early tomorrow to fit up a heavy curtain across the room there." A glowing finger traced a line along the ceiling exactly halfway between the beds. "They said tomorrow is the earliest they can do it, so I hope this" he gestured at the golden light shifting and dancing around his frame "won't be too much of a pain in the arse in the meantime."

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Warren, hands still behind his head and staring at the ceiling, rolled his eyes the more the guy talked. God, Buddha, Allah, Mr. Rodgers... anyone? If your listening, someone shut this guy up before I choke him til he dims.

"If it is, I'll just choke you in your sleep." Warren kept a straight face but realized he just spoke his thoughts aloud. Oops. Gotta quit doing that.

On his wrist, barely visible was a tattoo that appeared to be a series of lines up his forearm, a bar code.

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"That's comforting." Alex shook his head in tandem with the ironic rejoinder, but his eyes were on the bar code tattoo. Surely that wasn't... He turned around fully, setting his guitar to one side and looking straight at the other with a steady gaze.

"Look, you don't need me to tell you that you can tell me to piss off... But what's that bar code doing on your arm?" He asked frankly, blue eyes narrowed. "Don't tell me the U.S. is stamping mutants?!"

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Normally Warren would have thrashed anyone who asked about the stamp, but after his antics today he wasn't about to push his luck any further. He sat up and looked at Alex, by comparison you'd never had suspected Warren was a mutant, he was as human looking as one could expect.

"A couple years ago," He sighed. "A couple years ago I escaped from a facility where they ran tests on us. The Government, but no one'll believe me. Drumm says I'm safe here, we'll see I guess. If not, you'll end up with one too."

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"Yes, I suppose I would." He frowned, the expression somehow transforming his features as something darker moved in the azure pools of his eyes. He looked at the stamp for a moment, his gaze distant, then back to Warren's eyes. "This is all new to me. Being a mutant. Suddenly realising that people I thought were friends and family are now so shit-scared that they just about hold themselves back from organising a happy little lynch mob. Having no rights." His tone of voice was stoic enough, but still troubled.

"I always thought it was wrong, the way supposedly civilised people treat mutants. Us. When I thought about it at all, it used to be something I'd argue against. It's just wrong." His brow furrowed again. "Now? Now it pisses me off." He glanced around the room, then back at Warren, giving the other a lopsided grin. "If they come to put a stamp on my arm, I don't think I'll go quietly. I'd like to think I could fight them, whoever they are."

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"If 'they' ever come for you." His gaze was as serious as a heart attack. "Fight until you can't any more, and when you have nothing left, kill yourself. It's better than going to one of those places. Trust me."

"I'm moved, really, that you are so 'pro-mutant'." His sarcasm wasn't lost on Alex. His golden room mate picked it up easily. "Go have yourself a big democracy cake walk right through Time Square and demand satisfaction for the crimes against our people. We've seen how well it's worked on the past."

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That got a short bark of laughter from him. "I never said I was a 'pro-mutant', leastways not in the trendy sandal-wearing hippy kind of way. I just thought they got a shite deal, were treated unfairly, and from a purely practical standpoint it was going to cause even bigger problems in the long run. And now that I am one, it's a little more immediate and personal." The golden youth shrugged and rose, picking up his guitar before placing it on a stand by the desk on his side of the room. "And as for democratic cake-walks, they're about as effective as a dog-door in an elephant house if there's no legal framework to reinforce them. Hell, if I went marching in Times Square right now, I'd be baton-rounded, teargassed and then spend a few months eating shit through a straw as my just desserts for being a mutie terrorist." He smiled wryly as he plunked himself down on the bed once more. "Don't let the swirly pretty lights fool you: I'm not a rose-tinted idiot."

"But thanks for the advice on fighting. Hopefully the power-training courses they run here will help with that. Apparently I store a ton of solar energy, but so far the only thing I can use it for is being able to fly." He shrugged. "And when I'm... uh, distracted, I set fire to paper by staring at it. Hope the eggheads here can help me understand that." Alex gave his room-mate an inquisitive look. "So what do you do, powers-wise? I heard Ms Childs say something about you 'restabilising molecules' during the fight earlier..."

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"I uh," Why was he still talking to this guy? He had to wonder as he tried to form the words to an explanation. He'd been on the streets a long time, running, surviving, missing out on a youth that all children deserve. Now here was someone who seemed genuinely curious about him, who was speaking to him wit ha measure of charm and tact he wasn't used to. It reminded him of Director Drumm almost, this guy had a certain charisma that made it difficult to get up and blast him in the face. "Uh, I don't really know how it works."

He turned his hand over and stared at his palm. "They say it's something like, when I touch something I send all the little molecules into a tizzy. The only thing keeping them from going totally wonky is that I'm still touching the object so the energy they gather has someplace to go to diffuse: me." He shrugged, for a guy who didn't understand it, Alex could tell he was either lying about it, or knew far more about how it worked than he let on. "If I let go of the object, the energy has nowhere to diffuse so it grows unstable and detonates. I've been messing with it, trying a few new things. First time I've ever exploded mashed potatoes," He chuckled. Alex noticed an actual emotional response. Apparently he was remembering the scene in the lunch room as he looked down at the tether on his ankle. "I was worth it."

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Alex's chuckle joined Warren's. "Yeah, that had me thinking there was something weird in the food for a moment. It would have been hysterical if it wasn't for the psycho barrage of gutter-Japanese and tables that followed it." Blue eyes sparkled with humor. "What did that other kid do to piss you off so bad you'd blow cafeteria food up in his face? The potatoes were funny, but covering him in meatloaf?!" Alex shook his head, feigning sorrow for a moment before smiling. "Cruel and unusual, matey. Cruel and unusual."

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"This place is like any other prison." Warren got solemn for a moment and it kinda killed the mood. He didn't appear offended or angry -he wasn't even sure he could stay pissed around this guy- but his attention did seem to turn more inward. "You gotta kick someone's ass the first day, or end up someone's bitch."

He clasped his hands together and then released them in an unsure gesture. "This place is a joke. I mean, come on, you honestly think people are going to leave us alone here? People are blind."

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Alex shrugged. "All I know for sure, and all I'm treating it as, is a fighting chance. If Drumm and Childs and the people backing this place can keep us safe, great. But I'm not going to be so trusting of their ability OR their good will that I'm willing to act like livestock being fattened up." He gave Warren a grin that held more than a hint of fire.

"I'm going to keep my eyes, ears, and brain open. I'm going to take in all the training and teaching they can give me, learn all I can, and prepare for when and if the party gets busted." He shrugged again, the motion setting off swirls and shifts in his aura. "The way things are going, we'll need every edge we can get."

The friendly, affable golden-boy was still there, but there was something more solid behind the shimmer and shine. Though he hadn't been a mutant long, it was obvious that Alexander Andrews wasn't blind to at least some of what he'd be facing.

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He scoffed, but in the manner that hinted he believed Alex. "I've seen what these people can do, Alex." His name rolled off the tongue with a sarcastic tone. "I hope you're half as ballsy as you talk, because seriously, if they come here, we're dead."

A subject change seemed in order, Warren was getting more and more pissed off (or frightened) by the moment. "So, who the hell are you supposed to be anyway? The guy who puts the scoops of raisins in the box, or what?"

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"Scoops of... raisins?" Alex squinted at Warren as though he was trying to find a footnote to explain the reference. "I don't get it. But no, I'm pretty sure that's not me, whatever you mean." He smiled wryly.

"I'm supposed to be me, I suppose." he went on with a shrug. "I'm just a rich kid who turned out to be a mutant a week ago. The initial study revealed that I absorb sunlight, and that somehow that lets me fly and read without needing a night light. God knows what else it's good for, though I hope more than this, or I'll be known as the Amazing Tinkerballs." He paused as something occured to him, then regarded Warren for a long moment before continuing. "Well, I can do something else too: I set fire to some paper earlier today by accident. Not sure how it works, but don't worry - I won't be practising in here."

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"Hell, I don't care if you did it here, none of this shit's mine." He half grinned in sarcasm. "Just don't hit me, then we'll have issues, like me killing you in your sleep."

"The raisins... there's a cereal and the mascot guy is a sun, he puts raisins in the... you know what, never mind." One ting Revenant wasn't, was a comedian. Sure he had his sharp witted moments but even he knew that if you had to explain it to the foreign guy, it probably was a lost cause. "Week ago huh? Must'a blew your god damned mind."

He seemed to be laughing at Alex's shade of mutant greeness.

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"Tell me about it." Alex seemed to find the humour in that himself. "There I am, falling down onto some big sharp rocks, then all of a sudden I feel like every molecule of me is on fire and I'm flying." The smile turned wryly bitter, a dark expression that was almost tragic to see on Alex's features. "And then I'm packed off here by my folks because... Well, because my father has a big important job and he has to keep the mutie son out of the public eye. Well, that's the excuse, of course, the spineless-" He looked away from Warren for a moment, the muscles around his mouth moving as he fought the urge to say more. He visibly calmed and looked back at his room-mate, smiling a little.

"Sorry about that. Still a little raw about it. And it's sod all compared to what you've been through."

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Warren shrugged. "We all got problems, mine's no more worse or important than yours. I've had my battles and seen past em'."

He grinned under his long hair, "Messed up though, huh? We're only what? Sixteen, seventeen? And we've been through this much shit already. And the party is just starting."

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"Hah, yeah." Alex gave a short bark of laughter. "Want to hear something even more messed up, though?" His smile turned into a fierce grin that came close to mirroring Warren's. "There's a crazy part of me that's looking forward to seeing what the world throws at us next. And then beating the hell out of it."

He relaxed, flopping back onto his bed and tucking his hands behind his golden-maned head. "And of course," he went on, looking at the ceiling with a gentler smile on his lips. "there's the scenery here. Some of the girls are... well." He glanced over at Warren and grinned, a guy-grin. "They make a fellow glad to be born a mutant, you know?"

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"I guess." He shrugged. "I'm not much of a ladies man. I'm not here to make friends and meet new people. I just want to do my time and get out." Had he any idea what fate had in store for him over the following days, he'd probably had chosen something else to say.

"Go get em'." He sighed. "They're just going to break your heart or be shallow, superficial half-wits anyway. Why waste your time?"

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"Well, I'm hoping my heart's tough enough to take a little battering in the lists of love. After all, a girl can't break your heart unless you hand it over to them." Alex shrugged, going back to staring at the ceiling, his eyes going a little unfocused. "And the girl I met earlier wasn't shallow or a halfwit. She was smart, funny and..." he waved a hand above his head, trying to find the right words. "Real. Alive." He smiled at the ceiling, obviously seeing something more pleasant than the paintwork.

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"And prolly wanted to rob you blind." He said, rolling onto his back and staring at the ceiling too. "Women are like that, you need to look out. One second everything is cool, and the next there's something wrong with them and it's obvious. So you ask em' what's wrong and they say 'nothing', which you both know is a lie... then later they want a relationship that's built on honesty. They make no sense. Avoid them."

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"I wouldn't know." Alex said, his brow furrowing as he weighed Warren's words. "The only woman I've had any real experience of is my mother, and she's a cold bitch." He said that with a faint trace of weary rancor, as though he was resigned to it long ago. "She was cold even before I was a mutant. When I was old enough to appreciate the humour it was funny, almost. My mum, the walking stereotype of a frosty rich cow. She only sent me to a good school because it meant I'd only be home for vacations and she could snob off having a son go to Winchester." He sighed. "All-boys schools aren't exactly brimming with opportunities to mingle and have girlfriends."

"So when I meet girls my age that oh, I don't know, seem to have a fucking pulse and care about more than trivial bollocks like pedigree dogs and having the right hat to go to Ascot, then I get a mite curious." He smiled a little sadly, then blinked. "Gah. Sorry about that. Started rambling. Again."

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Roughly 1 week after The Proposal...

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(Note: Like Night and Day is supposed to be episodic, kind of like a sitcom about mismatching roomies, only with way more collateral damage, sunstroke and mutant bad-boys. Enjoy the madness!)

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"So the 'dane says 'Oh wow, that's never happened like that before!'" Warren grinned as he delivered the punchline, making Alex choke on his beer then laugh, the sound filling the room along with his flickering golden radiance whilst some White Zombie played in the background. Warren snorted his own laughter as the memory set in.

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"Honestly? He thought the statue was...?" The Adonis in jeans and t-shirt asked incredulously. The two of them were lounging in their dorm, Warren on his bed and Alex on the floor resting up against his bed, long legs stretched out and bare feet glowing past the ragged ends of his faded denims. They were both drinking and smoking weed, activities that would normally be frowned upon but they were careful enough and besides, it wasn't like either of their physiologies kept intoxicants in for longer than an hour or so, anyway.

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Which had been Warren's argument a month or so ago when they'd started this Wednesday night ritual, and it was a good one, Alex had come to agree. He passed Warren the joint, still sniggering. "'Never happened like that before...' Awesome."

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"So, you givin' it to Sonja yet?" Warren asked casually as he took a hit. Alex was used to the flippant vulgarity by now, and shook his head. There was no point in getting pissed. This, too, was part of the ritual. "No boning?" Warren enquired with a grin. "No bumpin' uglies? No hump-a-hump? No horizontal salsa?"

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"We've done stuff." Alex shrugged easily, taking another swig of Guinness from the bottle he held. He grinned faintly as he stared off into the middle distance.

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"Stuff? C'mon, Lite-Brite, details! You know Barbiezilla is tellin' her girlfriends all about the taste, size, texture and colour. Girls do that shit like breathing!" Warren grinned like a pirate. "Why should they have all the fun, is what I wanna know. C'mon, spill: what's it like motorboating those sweater-puppies?!" Alex started snorting with laughter again, shaking his head in refusal.

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"A-...A gentleman never kisses and tells!" he snickered, his grin saying everything that needed saying.

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"Oh man, you did!" Warren started laughing as well. "And she was cool with that?!"

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"Well... Tolerant of it, really. I think she kinda liked the fun, though." Alex's perfect brow furrowed as he considered the ceiling. "We've not done the deed yet, though. I want it to be.. .you know... good."

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"Good?"

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"Yeah, you know? Roses, dinner, some place romantic." Alex caught Warren staring at him and shrugged defensively, going red. "Hey, people only get to lose their virginity once, right?"

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A knock at the door saved Alex from whatever Warren's reply would have been. The two lounging young men leapt into action hiding the beer and weed, then fanning the hazy air desperately out of the window. Whilst they probably wouldn't get in too much trouble, even having Miss Childs lecture them was an experience neither wanted. When the room was sufficiently clear and an incense stick lit (which, lets face it, wouldn't fool anyone in authority over adolescents) Alex opened the door, peering out into the corridor like the world's most suspicious angel.

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"Curtis?" he asked in mild puzzlement. "I mean, hey. What's up?" Behind him, unseen, Warren was frowning a little. What the blazes brought the schools answer to Sheldon Cooper to their dorm.

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"If he's here to snoop for the teachers, I'm gettin' a shovel and Jimmy Hoffa-ing his ass." The death-mutant muttered semi-audibly. Alex pretended that nothing was amiss, fixing his radiant smile on the genius. Curtis seemed nervous, which was odd. He was only usually nervous when Morri was threatening him, and that hadn't happened in a while.

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"Come in." Alex decided, opening the door wider and gesturing for Curtis to enter. "Want a drink? I mean, coke or something?"

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Curtis came on, nodding silently. He was definitely nervous, the other two male teens noted, which raised the question as to what was contributing to his mood. "A Sprite or other light soda will do." Alex, closing the door behind them and acting the gracious host, went to grab some soda. However, out of reflex his default had been towards the hidden beer, forcing him to turn and searching elsewhere for the sodas.

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Fortunately, Warren's frown and pithy greeting had Curtis' attention elsewhere. "So what brings you scurrying up here, squint?" Curtis broke out of his nervousness a tad, with a half-annoyed gaze back at Warren. "Certainly not to engage in erudite conversation with you."

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Ever the peacemaker, Alex had unconsciously cleared his throat to defuse the geek brainiac and the hardened loner, which had the effect of drawing their eyes to him. Then the perpetually-glowing solar mutant realized that he didn't have any non-alcoholic drinks to show for his show of searching, and Curtis was looking inquiringly at him.

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Warren simply decided to save time and air his thoughts in one. "C'mon, Tchaikovsky, just nut up and have a beer." Curtis looked like he raised an eyebrow for a moment, but apathetically shrugged. "Fine, I'll try." Personally, he had never understood the fascination or benefits of alcohol, and knew quite well about the detrimental aspects. Likewise, he didn't have the enhanced constitution of either roommates.

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But no need for squabbles, yet. Curtis had come to talk, and get information from Alex in things he himself was less than a novice at, and could not fill the practical gap from online research. While Alex and Warren were pleased enough to be able to retrieve their beers, and pass an unopened can to Curtis, the genius cleared his throat.

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"I came to ask, Alex, if you could teach me some of your techniques?" Curtis yanked open the tab and took a sip. Not nectar of the Olympian gods, or anything the least good about it in his mind, but not distasteful enough to drive him away. He took a deeper sip.

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Meanwhile, Alex was more or less confused by Curtis' laconic ending. "Techniques?" Warren, on the other hand, connected this to Curtis' nervousness and understood immediately. "Lite-Brite, he wants your tricks for making women swoon. Specifically, Caitlin." Curtis scowled somewhat, but nodded, conceding the essence of the point.

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"Oh, this shit I gotta here." Warren smirked, but the smile half hidden under his long hair that, when unbound, was free to cover his face, and usually did. Like a modern day Slash. "You do realize, Squint that Alex here is one failed relationship away from a house filled with thirty cats, right?"

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Alex gave him a half smirk and a prompt middle finger.

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He popped another top and took a sip. "Curtis, dude, there's only one secret to getting a woman. Alex here has super prettiness. He doesn't have to try because his genetics are doing all the work. Granted, I'm sure if he was more of a dick he'd have a harder time of things, but part of his powers comes a genetic ice breaker. Something regular guys like us, don't have." Warren kicked back and strummed a few chords on his guitar. "Trust me, all you need is confidence, Curtis. Women need a confident man. You hav eto display some alpha qualities and show you can be the man they're lookin' for. Shit, women ain't hard to figure out. They're just as stupid as we are..."

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"Warren's basically right." Alex agreed as he opened and poured another Guinness. "Crass as usual, and I'd question the words used-"

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"That's because you're a gentleman and shit."

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"You're one too. You just suck at expressing it." Alex said with an open, guileless smile that he knew would get on Warren's nerves. This time it was the death-mutant's turn to shoot the middle finger, and Alex grinned before sitting down and relaxing on his bed. "I'd never dated a girl before I came here. And yes, I've got advantages. But trust me on this - super looks are a two-edged sword."

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"Bullshit." Warren sneered. Curtis was inclined to agree.

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"Think about it!" Alex leaned forwards, gesturing. "If a girl is really so shallow that all it takes is my looks no matter what kind of guy I am, then she'd probably be really disappointed once she realised I'm just a guy. I drink, I slob around in my jeans, I think fart jokes are funny. There's expectations when you look a certain way - that's how humans and mutants are. Shallow girls look at Warren and see all that untamed bad boy. They look at me and see some kind of shining ornament. They look at you and see a nerd. Are they 100% right? Do those descriptions fully describe us?" He sat back against the headboard of the bed and took a drink.

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"So forget about looks. It's about - thanks - It's about personalities, us and them." he took the re-lit joint from Warren and took a puff. "I dunno... I'm not a fucking expert-" Curtis blinked at hearing the upper-class Alex cussing. "-but Sonja and me, we got along before we were dating. Athletes, similar senses of humor, and all that. Warren and Oneca hit it off right away, though I'm partly convinced that at least 30% of Warren's appeal is that Sonja doesn't approve." He grinned at Warren, who chuckled and flipped another bird. "Maybe 45%."

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"This doesn't help me." Curtis frowned. "So there's no trick to it?"

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"You want a trick?" Alex passed the J back to Warren and pointed at Curtis. "What's she interested in? What music does she like? What kind of jokes? Does she get teary at romantic parts of movies? How well do you know her, beyond the fact that she's a cute redhead and makes you want to jump in and go skinny-dipping in the post-human gene pool?"

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Curtis paused, and beyond the immediate material that had come out in their initial tutoring sessions, he couldn't answer much. Well, it gave him a next step to move forward on. "More research then, you're saying?"

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"Yes, but don't sound like a stalker when you say that, dude." Warren snorted. Curtis glared back and started tugging down the can of beer. Apparently, after you had a lot, it didn't seem to make so much disagreement with the taste buds. Just easier and easier to swallow...

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