Cameron Day growled at her reflection, frustrated with the unkempt mop on top of her head. Her blonde, medium-length hair was thick and wavy, but refused to stay tamed, no matter how well she conditioned it, how much product she put into it to try and make it submit to her will. "I do not need this, tonight," she complained to herself.
A tall woman, and muscular. The ex-marine decided that if her date that night didn't work out, she'd delete the app from her smartphone and go back to bar-hopping with Jenna, and find Mister or Miss Right Then like that. Cameron was concerned about what sort of plumbing her partners had, as long as they washed their hands after using the toilet and didn't smell like a honey wagon's intake hose.
She was supposed to meet Jake at Herbie's on the West Side for dinner, with plans to go catch the Friday Night comedy lineup at a nearby club. She checked herself in the mirror, her black dress tight in the right places, her arms bare except for a couple of bracelets on her left wrist. She fussed with her cosmetics just a little more, before deciding she looked as good as she was going to get.
As she sat in the back of the Ryde, she contemplated the last couple of blind dates she'd been on. Tonight was Jake, last week, it was Marty, the week before that, it was Paul. Marty and Paul were nice enough, but she just didn't quite feel "it" with them. Sure, they were fun and personable, but Cam was looking for some indescribable something. She didn't expect to find it with Jake.
Not like Metamorpheus, leader of Angeles Flight, the super-group Cam had joined six months earlier. While Cam was known as Golden Bear (because she turned into a blonde grizzly), Metamorpheus was able to change his appearance to any humanoid or creature of roughly the same body size. 'Morpheus was a few years older than Cam, and had a quick, biting wit. But he was a teammate, and therefore, off-limits, romantically-speaking.
Cam let Fauna deal with all the innuendo and salty jokes; that was part of the satyr's job description and personal definition. However, she had a feeling that Fauna had an idea about how Cam felt about 'Morpheus. The faun's dark eyes and occasional knowing smirk made Golden Bear a bit uncomfortable.
Tonight was Jake. Not Metamorpheus. And she was Cameron Day tonight, not Golden Bear. If Los Angeles needed saving, tonight, the rest of the Flight-ers could deal with it. The restaurant was on the next block, she noticed, and gave herself another quick look with the selfie-mode on her smartphone. Her hair was doing stupid things, again.
"Oh, crap," she muttered, uselessly trying to tame the thick mass with her fingers.
"Sorry, what?" asked the driver, glancing at her in his rear-view mirror.
"Nothing, just complaining about my hair," Cam replied, smiling wryly. "Gonna make a great first impression with this mop," she grumbled, good-naturedly.
"Ma'am," the driver said, "If you don't mind me being honest, you look great. If I go into detail, it'd probably be classified as harassment, so I'll just leave it there. Your hair looks awesome."
Cameron chuckled softly, and nodded, "Thanks, I appreciate it. You're still getting a top rating and a tip, no worries there."
The driver grinned, giving her a thumbs-up when she got out of the car in front of Herbie's. "You'll knock'im off his ass, ma'am!" he called out, as he drove off.
Cam sighed with resignation, and opened the dating app to find Jake's picture, and to double-check the reservation information. She was a few minutes early, and got in line to check in at the host's stand.
"Cameron?" came a voice from her left.
Cam turned, and there was Jake. She offered him a somewhat self-conscious smile, and nodded, "Jake? It's nice to meet you." She offered him a handshake.
Jake glanced at her hand, then her face. He smiled warmly, and took the offered hand, giving in a polite yet sincere shake. His grip was firm without being crushing, his hand dry and somewhat calloused. "I will admit, I was afraid you might have had second thoughts about this. Thank you for proving me wrong," he admitted, sheepishly. His voice was a pleasant tenor. He was an inch shorter than her own six feet, and appeared to be physically fit. His casual coat wouldn't look out of place on a luxury sports car salesman, and his light blue shirt was stretched pleasantly across his chest. He looked to be about her own age, maybe a year or two older, and there was a twinkle in his eyes that appealed to the ex-marine.
Jake decided to stop trying to be somebody else, to be fully himself. His previous dates through the app with Cameron had been him trying to be some portrayal of what he thought she was looking for. Tonight, he prayed Los Angeles wouldn't need his attention (or Cameron's). He had kept his identity confidential from the rest of Angeles Flight. None of them knew that he was actually Jake Petersen, of the Bridgeport Petersens. However, Jake knew that Cameron was Golden Bear, and his heart was in her keeping, but he'd been too shy to tell her so.
Dinner turned out to be very pleasant, both of them having beers instead of wine with their steaks, trading opinions on recent movies and national events. They were both careful not to discuss anything too intimate or personal, yet still developed a comfort with each other. They were getting settled at their table at the comedy club, waiting for the opening act to come on, when their phones gave simultaneous alerts.
Cameron had turned off all notifications, except Angeles Flight alerts.
Jake had turned off his phone entirely, but his Pear-watch still had online connectivity, and pinged with urgency. Cameron saw the Flight-er logo on his watch's screen, then looked to his face, her expression turning grim.
He met Cam's eyes evenly, and said, quietly, "I hear that Metamorpheus and Golden Bear need to get somewhere, with haste."
Cameron's nostrils flared as she blanched, hearing him speak her code name, in 'Morpheus's voice. "I heard something similar," she agreed, putting her half-empty beer bottle on the table, and getting up, to head for the exit. Jake was three steps behind her.
"Hey, Boss," came Fauna's voice. "There's a hostage situation at the Boneventure. The Assembly's at it again. Crimson Conjurer, Bloodwing, Lapidary, and Mercury Overdrive are threatening a banquet room full of wedding guests. Wouldn't've pinged you on your night off, but, well, Mercury."
"Crap," Jake growled, giving his valet ticket to the guy in the vest, along with a twenty dollar bill. Jake looked to Cameron as the valet ran to get the car, "I'm so sorry, Cameron. I've been having a wonderful night. Can I give you a ride to the next event?" he asked, with a lopsided, apologetic grin.
"You better, Jake. I can't run in these heels," Cam pointed out, swiveling one foot to show off her muscled calf. "I'm going to rip Overdrive in half, when we get there. I was looking forward to finally seeing that redheaded comedian live. I haven't been to a comedy show in a couple of years, and now this happens!"
Cameron grinned wryly to Jake, who answered with a sheepish grin of his own, and opened the passenger door for her when the car arrived. He slipped the valet another twenty before getting behind the wheel, himself. Maybe the night wasn't going to be a total blunder, after all.
Author's Note: This is a world adjacent to Incendia Ascending and Dee-Mentional Drift. The characters were built using the Mighty Protectors RPG system published by Monkey House Games. The figures were created with Hero Forge Minis.