Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Blue Nexus #84 - The PromPosal

Previously in "Blue Nexus": Kyle's been out and about in the galaxy and on the world, on constant assignment from the Zanderia. Whenever he does get home, though, he feels a certain emptiness inside him, as if something's pretty wrong. Now, he has to confront that feeling head on. 

Kyle, Kip, and Luke looked across the upperclassmen courtyard while myriad students from Adelita High School milled about in conversation or headed for their eventual destination. Luke’s boyfriend had just been whisked away by someone else and Kip just arrived as the boy was leaving.
“Down there,” he said after Kyle told Luke about his performance on a U.S. Government test. Kyle followed Kip’s point down to a group of three girls, each wearing a different colored shirt, but all of them had blonde hair and a teal backpack.
“Yes, those are girls, what about them?” Luke asked.
“No, you idiot, the blonde girl,” Kip said.
Kyle dropped his head to the railing. “They’re all blonde.”
“Her! Dani!”
Kyle raised his head back up, and looked to the group. Kip’s voice had echoed off the back wall and into the courtyard. One girl looked up and saw Kip. Her face turned to a smile and she waved up at him. She was pretty cute, with a round face and pretty brown eyes. Her hair was a deep blonde, too, and seemed to absorb the sunlight.
Kyle’s attention was momentarily taken by a girl sitting behind them. She sat with her legs crossed on the stone pavilion, headphones in and her eyes glued to her phone. Still, the world froze around the two, it seemed. She was devastatingly gorgeous. Kyle froze when he thought she looked to him, but really just looked to the side, glowering at some of the people around her, as if she were fed up with anything they were saying. When she moved, Kyle saw that her hair was lined with green and blue streaks.
“Prom date, then?” Luke asked.
“Yes sir,” Kip replied.
“And who is this girl?” Luke asked.
“Kyle’ll get a kick out of this,” Kip said.
Kyle, though, only heard the words. He felt another set of eyes fall upon him, but only returned back to the moving world when the bell rang and the girl started moving, rising with graceful ease.
“Huh, what, who am I kicking?” Kyle asked.
“Dani is actually on the girls’ varsity lax team,” Kip said. “And her friend down there, Julie, has been keeping her eyes on the Nexus prize over here.”
Kip clapped his hands on Kyle’s shoulders. Kyle raised his eyebrow and scrunched his face.
“What?” Kyle asked.
Kip pushed off of Kyle. “Come on, man, you need a prom date. Zanderia gave you leave to go to prom, didn’t they?”
Kyle nodded. Riko and Lalay wanted Kyle’s duties with the Zanderia to be minimized as much as possible so he could enjoy these final few months of high school. They knew all about how his lacrosse team was doing, how they were looking to make a big playoff run when the season started in a couple weeks, and wanted him to be a part of that. Plus they had the graduation ceremony to consider as well as prom itself just next month, and everyone in the Zanderia was painfully aware of the fact that Kyle had no prom date, and no prospects.
“I’d like to go to prom with someone I know,” Kyle said.
“Like Mira?” Kip asked, and started off toward class.
Luke approached. “You probably need to ask her and fast, Kyle. Everyone knows her, everyone likes her.”
“I’m positive someone’s asked her already,” Kyle said.
“Have you seen it on her social media at all?” Luke asked.
“No,” Kyle said.
“Then you’re still in luck,” Luke said. “But you need to act fast.”
The two started down the stairs. Their class was in the same hallway, so they liked to walk together after they had lunch. Kip’s class was on the other end of the school, though he was no doubt moving fast to catch up with Dani.
“Don’t I need some clever way of asking her or something?” Kyle asked.
“I don’t know,” Luke said. “I was asked pretty plainly.”
“You’ve been dating for four months, you didn’t need the flare,” Kyle said.
Luke shrugged. “True. Look, all I’m saying is that you and Mira go pretty far back, so I don’t think you need the most elaborate of schemes of asking her to prom. If you want to? Go for it. Nobody’s stopping you but yourself.”
The two crossed the remainder of the school in silence as Kyle’s thoughts darted across all corners of his mind. Luke walked confidently next to him, while Kyle remained a little hunched over. Mira was in the class that he was headed toward now, but, would asking her then be the best solution? Could he ask her after practice?
What if she said yes? He didn’t have plans on going to prom until the Zanderia essentially forced his hand. If she said yes, he would have to pick her up, but, he didn’t have a car, and hadn’t driven in so long. What if he crashed their car on the way to prom?
What if she said no? Would their friendship be strained by some awkward misunderstanding of their relationship. Even if she said yes, would it be on the conditions they only go as friends? Did Kyle even want to be more than friends with her? When was the last time he had a romantic thought about Mira?
He could barely recall. All of the goings-on with the Magus War and the various missions he’d been on threw him completely off the social spectrum, and when he was in school, lacrosse grasped most of his attention. He and Mira shared passing words at each other around the practice field, but that was it.
Kyle was in his class when the bell rang and was in his seat before he was fully aware of his surroundings. He lazily drew forth his books from his bag and placed them on his desk. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, from a number in the local area.
“Don’t freak that I’m here, just checking something out.”
Kyle looked around, confused. His gaze fell upon every student in the classroom, but so many of them had their heads adjusted down to their phones it’d be impossible to tell who was the one that texted him. Maybe it wasn’t a student.
They drifted through class and it took Kyle everything within his power to not look at Mira and daydream about asking her to prom, going to prom, and then…that was it. When it came time for some classwork, he just dropped his head to the desk and shut his eyes, trying to whisk the thoughts and nerves away.
The bell rang when he was halfway done with the work, meaning he would have a little bit of extra homework to do that evening. Mira picked up some of her stuff and was out the door quite quickly, followed closely by two of her track friends. Kyle was one of the last ones out, since he fumbled to put his things away and the door jammed up by a couple of people awkwardly holding up conversation.
His next class was just upstairs, and would be his final of the day. He nodded, sighing with a bit of relief. Kyle moved toward the stairs but was stopped when two people in front of him had to stop and kiss.
A sharp pain struck his heart when he saw that the girl of the couple that walked away was, indeed, Mira. Kyle had just enough time to process it when he saw another familiar face strolling about: Detective Patton. He balled up a fist, feeling anger and confusion well up inside him, before he approached the officer.
“Did you send me that text?” Kyle asked.
            Patton raised her eyebrow and turned toward him. “Excuse me?”
Kyle exhaled and immediately felt a little better. His muscles relaxed, the tension in his body unwound, and his vision wasn’t as strained.
“Sorry,” Kyle said, meagerly. “Just a little frustrated.”
He watched Mira go by, smiling to herself and peering momentarily down at her phone while she moved back across the school. He felt his heart drop a little just one last time before steeling himself to look at Detective Patton, who was sweeping her own gaze across the rest of the school.
“Yeah, same here,” Patton said.               
“What’s up with you?” Kyle asked.         
“I’m following up on a lead, but, can’t seem to find anything on it,” Patton said. “I’ve asked some teachers, and your principal, but, still nothing.”
“A lead like what?” Kyle asked.
“Apparently there’s been some kind of disturbance at the school,” Patton said. “Some sort of weird black market alien tech was spotted here.”
“You sure it’s not here and not ACC?” Kyle asked. Dr. Boomer’s lab probably had some alien tech in it before Alucard destroyed it, but maybe some remained.
“Yeah, that’s the weird part,” Patton said. “I might come back after hours today to check it out. Everyone’s supposed to be outta here by like, what, five or six?”
“About, yeah,” Kyle said.
Patton nodded. “Sounds good, then. I should be able to handle it myself, don’t worry about it too much. You’ve probably got homework and stuff to do tonight, right?”
 “Right,” Kyle said. And lots of wallowing.
Although, was it wallowing? He drifted through his final class of the day, only occasionally surfacing to pay attention if he thought he heard his name called. He thought about Mira, and the boy she kissed, and realized he wasn’t disappointed that she was dating someone else, or that she would be going to prom with someone else.
He didn’t even have a clue. Regardless of anything, Mira was a friend. She and Kyle had gotten much closer of late until the Magus War, and then that all fell apart. He didn’t know anything about what was going on in her life.
He didn’t even know Kip had a prom date! The only reason he knew Luke and his boyfriend were together was because they’d been dating since before the war started, and only because Luke had a funny story behind it:
“We figured it was the end of the world so we just decided that we may as well give it a shot. So hey, thanks for putting us in danger.”
But Andreus? He wanted to ask a girl from the water polo team named Kaylie. Kyle had no idea about that, and he presumed he and Andreus were close.
Mira, Kip, Luke, and Andreus were all mysteries to him. What other facets of their lives had he completely missed out on?
Kyle’s somberness carried him into the locker room, where he started to get changed, but could still recall seeing that strange alternate version of himself. The one that had the girl, that had the friends.
When he put his leg pads on, Kyle sat down in the locker and removed the Nexus bracelet, staring at it for a moment. He rolled it around in his hands, watching its glow fade in and out as it left contact with his body.
He closed his hand around it. That alternate version of himself he met a while back had been so happy to see Kyle with the Nexus bracelet, to see that he was really making a difference in the world and that he had some friggin' super powers! Kyle bowed his head and rapped his knuckles against his forehead. Yeah, but, look at what that guy had.
A large circle of friends, a full-ride scholarship, a girlfriend! Someone he could take to prom, someone he could look back on all of these fonds years with and smile. What did Kyle remember about high school prior to his powers? Kip, Luke, and pining for Mira while Sandy pined for him. He struggled to get on the lacrosse team and it was only with Brian's help and tutelage that he managed his way on in the first place.
Kyle leaned back into his locker, falling back against his helmet and shoulder pads. He stared at the blank grey shelf overhead that was keeping his backpack up. How much had he really missed out on while he was...
Was what? Kyle furrowed his brow. Helping an alien princess. Freeing an oppressed alien race from invisible dictators. Saving the world from a monster that even the Sentients of the Nexus were afraid of. Fighting in two wars.
He just shut his eyes. While he was doing the impossible, his friends were forging their own lives. Of course Mira would have a prom date; look at the girl, she was perfect. If Sandy were still at school, she'd no doubt have a date, too. Kip and Luke? They were two charming dudes. Andreus was one of the school's best athletes. Kyle was that kid that got in a magic fight to everyone, but to the world?
What if this was just how it was supposed to be? Someone had to guard his friends, someone had to stand up to the constant perils that they and their family faced. And it wasn't as if they hated him. Kyle let a small smile touch his lips and nod. Kip and Luke were still there for him; Andreus fought alongside him!
Someone tapped their lacrosse stick on the cage. Kyle didn't realize he was the only one in there, and it took him a second to realize that whoever it was asked for him. Kyle stood up and approached. Andreus was there, in full gear.
"You coming or what?" he asked.
Kyle nodded. "Yeah, sorry, just thinking about some stuff."
Kyle reached into his locker and started gearing up. He did it in a flash, and left the Nexus bracelet safely tucked into his locker. "Just some stuff."
He started his way out of the cage. He and Andreus tapped lacrosse sticks. The two had a golden "C" emblazoned on their practice jerseys, though they, along with the jerseys, had some wear on them.
"Don't tell me you're down because you don't have a prom date," Andreus said.
"I did just find out Mira has a boyfriend."
"The one she's had for like two weeks?"
"The one she's probably going to prom with, yeah."
"Yikes. Sucks. But don't you check, like, any social media?"
Andreus shrugged. "Never mind, then. Well, you going to ask anyone?"
"I don't know," Kyle said. "Might just be a fifth wheel for Kip and Luke." Oddly enough, he smiled at the thought. He didn't need a date, he just needed to be there with his friends. He wanted to be with them, to hang out with them, but he didn't have to follow the rules to do it.
"I'm sure someone will ask you if you don't ask anyone," Andreus said. "I heard one of the lax girls has an eye on you?"
"Yeah, same," Kyle said, trying to picture her from the group before.
"BOYS!" a frustrated coach's voice called down the ramp. "Let's go, hurry up!"
Kyle and Andreus sprinted down the rest of the way, toward their team. Kyle's mind fell straight into practice-mode, and he felt nothing but relief when he realized, much later at home, that he hadn't put anything else to mind in-between.

School the next day came with a much needed relief from Kyle's soul. While there was still the matter of getting a prom date, there wasn't as much pressure on him to do so after he resolved himself to Kip and Luke that he really didn't mind going it alone. As long as he could have just one good night with his friends, one night in his late high school years to look back on, he'd be fine. Kip still tried to sway Kyle while they walked toward their third periods; Kip and Kyle's classes were just a hallway apart.
"Yeah but this girl, man, I'm telling you, she's pretty cool," Kip said.
"What's her name?" Kyle said while Kip flipped through his phone. He handed him his phone.
"Pretty sure it's Veronica," Kip said, while Kyle flipped through some pictures of her. Veronica had deep auburn hair and some freckles across her face; most of her recent pictures were of her at lacrosse practice, and Kyle could remember her as someone that often played opposite of Sandy on the field. She had a few pictures where she was either posing as a model, like a professional one, or just had someone do a great photo shoot with her. Kyle stopped himself. The girl was beautiful, but, something seemed a bit off.
"She's super pretty," Kyle said, and shrugged. When he looked back to Kip, he felt a cold shiver claim his spine. That girl from before, the one with the tinges of green and blue hair, sauntered by, catching Kyle's eye. His eyes must've widened like a deer in headlights, because even Kip turned to look, but the girl was gone.
"What, see something?" Kip asked.
The one-minute bell rang. Kyle shook his head. "No, nothing. Let's go."
Kyle and Kip rushed for their classrooms, Kyle moving a bit quicker to catch up with the girl. He moved a bit too quick, though, as he turned the corner too sharp and rammed his face straight into an opening door.
"Oh, God, I'm so sorry!" someone said, but ran by.
Kip braced Kyle, who caught his bleeding nose and cheek.
"Looks nasty," Kip said.
"Go to class," Kyle said, pushing him forward. "I'll clean this up, it'll be fine."
"You'll be late."
"I have an excuse," Kyle said through the blood and the nasal voice.
Kip nodded but every few steps turned around to face Kyle. Kyle cupped both hands over his mouth and moved for the bathroom in the hallway. The final bell rang and Kyle watched two boys sprint out of the bathroom and out of the hallway. The bathroom reeked--a bit, Kyle really couldn't smell--but he pushed through it. All the classroom doors shut and distilled silence filled the hallway. Kyle dropped his hands and let some dribbles of blood drop into the sink.
He grabbed a paper towel and started smearing some of the blood away. His nose wasn't broken, just jarred. His cheek had a decent cut on it, though, and his vision was a little blurry in his right eye. He flooded a paper towel with water and dabbed at his cheek, inspecting his face in the mirror every so often.
The faucet water stopped and Kyle tossed the paper towel into the trashbin, and heard footsteps come to an immediate halt. Kyle raised his eyebrow. He pushed down on the faucet to get it going and the footsteps quickened. He wiped his nose again and more blood came out.
The footsteps stopped once again, but this time were followed by a voice.
"Someone's still out of class," the voice said. "I thought we had an arrangement? How hard can it be to keep kids in class for five damn minutes?"
The voice was a man's, and not one Kyle recognized. He took another paper towel and rubbed some of the blood away, then plugged his nose with some shreds and leaned against the wall. The footsteps turned to a jog, and then, a man in a black suit rushed into the bathroom, blowing right by Kyle. He was armed, but it wasn't a standard handgun, it was some weird pistol-looking contraption: silver with two barrels, one glowing blue and the other glowing red.
Kyle didn't move and the man turned to face him. He had no descript clothing on to identity who he was but an indentation in his jacket informed Kyle he had some sort of ID on him.
"Get back to class," the man said.
Kyle pointed to his plugged-nose. The school paper towels smelled horrid. "Had to plug my nose, I ran into the wall." Kyle's eyes fell to the weapon, and the man didn't bother to hide it. Instead, he reached behind his pocket, and pulled out something Kyle was familiar with.
It was a small remote, one Kyle had seen used twice: once when he and Phoenix saved a Senator from his undead great-grandfather, and again when he, Riko, and Silver Eagle were charged with saving small northern California town from a Representative-turned Werewolf. The Zanderia never used the remote, but the government was quick to in the event that they needed something covered up, or forgotten, quick.
"No worries," the man said.
"Nah, I'll worry," Kyle said, and, still holding the paper towel holder, yanked on it and closed his eyes. He wrapped the towel around the man's arm and the flash still went off, but Kyle wasn't looking so his memory was good. Instead, he ripped off the paper towel and wrapped it around both of the agent's arms. He yanked down, but the man would not let go of the remote. He rammed his shoulder into the agent, who swung back. Kyle ducked.
The agent broke free but Kyle kicked away the remote. The agent hoisted up the weapon, it's red light starting to charge.
"Oh, you're one of the mages that goes here," the agent said. "No wonder she chose to come here; maybe she was hoping one of you would stop us."
"Who?" Kyle asked.
"The person we're here to get," the agent said. "A literal illegal alien, trying to hide among a bunch of teenagers. She apparently arranged a deal with your principal that never really happened, and thankfully, we found out about her."
"How many of you are there?" Kyle asked, and his Demon magic slithered down his arm.
The agent didn't skip a beat, but neither did Kyle. He ducked and raised his arm, blocked the red bolt. His arm, though, burst back. A repulsor ray. Kyle dove forward, knocking the agent back into the stall door, then spun away. His Demon magic fully covered his arm and another blast launched out, ricocheting off the ground and into the wall behind them. He dashed back to be in front of the sinks, where Kyle was waiting. His shadow talon slapped the weapon from his hand and his foot landed firmly in the agent's gut. Still, the agent resisted. Kyle grimaced as the agent took hold of Kyle's leg.
With a grunt, Kyle leapt off the ground, fought against the man's grip, and kicked up with his incapacitated leg, blasting him in the chin and flipping over onto belly. Kyle's chin slammed against the ground and blood once against burst from his nose. Kyle spun around, quick, to trip the agent up, and then slammed his demon fist on his agent's face.
He sighed, breathing through his mouth while blood streamed from two of his nostrils. He glanced to the watch the man had that was blinking. He tapped it.
"What?" Kyle asked from a distance, so his voice wouldn't catch too well on the watch-communicator.
"Got her cornered," the other agent said.
"Where?" Kyle asked.
"Building 6," the agent said.
Kyle nodded and dropped the agent's arm. He started slow out of the hallway, not to catch anyone's attention. The blood trickled down his nose and dripped onto the ground, but he didn't care. He silently opened the door and made sure to close it as quietly as possible. Building 6 was across the school; if they did have her cornered, with those weapons, he would need to act fast. Unfortuntely, Blue Nexus was off the table; they'd know it was Kyle, it would just be a matter of process of elimination.
He took off in a full-sprint down the outside corridor, dashing out to the small pavilion and vaulting over that to be near the outdoors part of the cafeteria. He leapt over another table and was on the homestretch to Building 6 when he saw another agent coming running across the way toward him. Kyle stopped but let his momentum carry him toward a pole. He grabbed it and flung himself around, clothes-lining the coming agent with his Demon arm. The agent flipped end-over-end twice and then slammed onto the ground behind Kyle. He pivoted and sprinted again, checking one hallway with no results and then the other with no results.
Kyle took two steps up the large pillar and heaved himself onto the second floor. He stopped for a moment, catching his breath. Sure these moves were impressive, but it was only because of the boosted stamina and agility the Demon magic gave him, and he was already exhausted. He could probably take another one of these guys max; two or three more? They'd have some serious problems.
His phone buzzed but he ignored it. Kyle looked down one hallway and saw two men escorting a girl with a bag over her head out of a classroom. Kyle gulped and then pressed himself against the wall. He sneered when his plan came to mind.
A pair of voices carried through the door and he heard the door start to open, and another man's voice exiting the hallway.
Kyle acted fast. He stepped in front of the way, pushing against it and slamming the man's head against the door. Before the other could react, Kyle grabbed the girl's arm and pulled her forward. Not his brightest idea.
A red repulsor ray knocked Kyle back and off his feet, sending him over the railing and soaring across the open sky. He curled up and placed his hands behind his head before crashing through some bushes that the Gardening Club recently had put in. He rolled out of them and onto the cold sidewalk.
Fast footsteps were coming. Kyle pushed himself, in a daze, to his feet, and saw one man in a black suit sprinting toward him. However, before he could raise his gun, something whipped out and caught his arm. Kyle blinked, and realized it was an arm. An arm? The agent tried to break free but a second stretched arm punchced him across the face.
Kyle followed the arms up to the girl, who no longer had a bag over her head, and had a familiar deep auburn hair, but a much different face than what he recognized. Her skin was also a bit lighter than he realized.
"Veronica?" he muttered, but the former captive was moving too fast for him to notice.
She sprinted down the steps and toward the agent, who had his senses back. Kyle managed to get back up and run for the agent as well. He stepped back, confused at who to shoot at, but, thankfully, he had a friend.
A blue ray of light slammed into Kyle's Demon arm and it fell limp to his side. Great. Kyle still charged forward, kicking out at the agent with the red-charged weapon. The agent dodged and blasted. The blast knocked Kyle back right into the auburn-haired girl, sending them crashing against a pillar.
"Jesus, you're bleeding!" she exclaimed.
"A whole lot," Kyle muttered, and wriggled his Demon arm fingers.
"Listen, just, get going," she said. "I can run from these guys."
"You shouldn't have to," Kyle said, and picked himself up. "You can stand up to them." He clenched a Demon fist. "We can beat them, together."
The other agent appeared from the stairwell, weapon raised. Kyle dove away, feeling his body scream in defiance, but he didn't have much choice. A repulsor blast crushed the stone overhead and Veronica moved as well, sprinting behind the bushes to get cover. Kyle came out of his dive and lashed out with his Demon talon, letting it grow and claw at the other agent. He blasted it back with his repulsor ray and it worked.
"Get out of here, kid!" the agent yelled.
"No way!" Kyle yelled, and punched the agent across the face.
Kyle heard Veronica yell and she tumbled back to where they'd originall been standing. Kyle leapt in the way of another repulsor blast and this one sent him tumbling back into the door, shattering the glass on it. He door handle jutted out and cracked one of his back ribs. Veronica quickly spun to help Kyle, flinging the door open and dragging him inside, away from another blast.
"You're such an idiot," she said.
"Just trying to help," Kyle said, hardly able to breath. "Come on, stop. We have to get rid of these guys."
"We can't," the girl said.
"We can," the boy said. He glanced up to her eyes, and saw they were a split, in both pupils, of deep blue and deep purple. He nodded to her, but she just continued to drag him along.
The doors flung open again and Veronica hit the deck, avoiding another blast. Kyle looked over his shoulder to the two agents, weapons raised, sauntering toward them. He saw the teachers' faces pressed against the glass, and the agents were just shaking their heads at the two of them.
"Look, don't stretch right now," Kyle said. "We need to pull them to a bathroom if you're going to do that. We don't want your cover getting blown."
"We can't fight," Veronica said. "This is stupid, just let me go with them!"
Kyle smiled and stood up. "Nah, because, I think I just realized something."
"What?" she asked, getting up.
"You can't go with them," Kyle said, and looked back at her. "Because that means you can't go with me to the prom."
Veronica's face was, at first, utter bewilderment, and then it shifted, immediately, to confidence. She smiled, held her fist up, and nodded. "True that."
Kyle tapped his Demon fist to her fist and returned his attention to the two agents. "I'll draw them to the girls' bathroom, then you've got them."
"Might not be that strong," Veronica said. "Think you can hold out?"
"I'll take out one for sure," Kyle said.
Veronica nodded. "I'll see what I can do."
Kyle sprinted forward, but stopped just short as two repulsor rays would've hit where he was going. Veronica sprinted back to the bathroom and the agents charged forward. Kyle spun against a classroom door, using it to bounce back and slam his shoulder into one of the agents. He dropped and avoided another ray, but kicked the falling agent's gun away and slid him along the ground, buying them time.
"Here he comes!" Kyle shouted, but the other agent blasted Kyle with another repulsor ray right in the foot. Kyle heard and felt the bones in his foot instantly break. Kyle dropped to the ground, where he was slammed from behind with an elbow from another agent. Kyle, though, still had the literal upper-hand, as the agent tried to place him in an arm-bar but the Demon magic knocked him away and into the wall. Kyle punched out with the Demon fist and the agent just lolled over.
He screamed and pushed himself up, hobbling up to the bathroom where he heard a repulsor gun go off, and then the agent's body flung against the wall and a blue flash of light stunned him into unconsciousness.
Veronica stepped out of the bathroom, a bruise above her eye and a small cut where there was a piece of glass sticking out of her cheek, but she smiled and pretended to holster the gun.
"That's a yes, by the way," she said.
Kyle just smiled, and fell face-first toward the ground as the adrenaline finally wore off.

He woke what had to be several hours later in a hospital bed, with a cast tightly wrapped around his foot and several bandages pasted across his face and arms. He tried moving but pain exploded from his broken ribs, and he decided against it.
A nurse in the room glanced over her shoulder and smiled at him with rosy cheeks. "Oh, you're awake, Kyle. Good evening."
"How long?" Kyle asked.
"About ten hours," she said. She pressed a clipboard against the edge of his bed. "Must've been in quite a lot of pain."
"Yeah, and I'm gonna be in even more trouble," Kyle said.
The nurse shrugged. "Maybe. I talked with the young lady that brought you here, Veronica? She's very thankful for what you did."
"Did she give the explicit details?" Kyle asked.
The nurse sighed and rolled her eyes. "Much as I wouldn't normally believe it, she did explain that those men, those bounty hunters, were looking to turn her over to some sort of intergalactic black market. I couldn't believe it at first, but, it seems Detective Patton was able to confirm all of it."
"And where is she?"
"The detective? Just outside. She's been waiting with that young lady ever since you arrived."
Kyle nodded. "Please don't tell anyone she's an alien. I just found out today, too, but..."
The nurse patted Kyle's shoulder. "Doctor-patient confidentiality, Kyle. No need to worry. Shall I send them in, are you okay for visitors?"
"No, but, go for it," Kyle said.
The nurse nodded and moved for the door. Kyle laid back in his bed, nestling against his comfy pillows. He closed his eyes for a moment, and Veronica's face was the first thing that popped up. When he opened them, there she was, although now, instead of in jeans and a long-sleeve shirt, it was sweat-pants and a short-sleeve shirt, with a UVA Cavaliers cap atop her head.
"Seems the detective had to go somewhere," the nurse said. "I'll leave you two alone for a bit."
Kyle gave her a thumbs-up and Veronica pulled a chair next to his bed. Kyle glanced at her, and watched her skin lighten again, and her hair become a bit more fluid, not as grain as it'd been before.
"So, a stretchy alien?" Kyle asked. "Where you from?"
"Sonica," the girl said. "In the Andromeda galaxy, not too from the Orion Kingdom Planets."
Kyle, despite knowing exactly what she met, just stared blankly back at her and nodded. "Sounds pretty cool. Why'd you leave?"
"Work," Veronica said. Kyle raised an eyebrow. "My parents wanted to become diplomats for the Sonican people to connect with Earth, and apparently they don't believe in the education systems the new Triad Monarchy put into place, so they figured I may as well get an Earthling's education."
"But you've been here for, what, two or three years?" Kyle asked. "Why's everything become so tense all of a sudden?"
"Look, I really don't know, probably some breakdown in politics or something," Veronica said. She waved it off. "Thank you, Kyle. I really don't think I can say it enough. Those bounty hunters have been kind of a thorn in our side forever; we thought we'd finally settled down last year but we thought they were going to come after us again so we moved closer. I had to commute to Adelita all the time for the last few years until we heard about Blue Nexus showing up around here."
Kyle became fully aware of his Nexus bracelet still on his wrist, but it was covered by a blanket, so Veronica couldn't see it. "Too bad he couldn't show up."
"Ah, he's probably out in space somewhere," Veronica said. "Turns out we didn't need him today."
"Eh, would've been useful," Kyle said. Sure would've, he thought.
"Well if he showed up then I wouldn't..." Veronica said, and a small smile touched her lips before it went away.
"What, are you having second thoughts?" Kyle asked. He slipped his hand out of the Nexus bracelet and held his hand out on the bed. "I meant it when I asked you, Veronica."
"You hardly know me," she said.
"You saved me life from those guys, I think that counts," Kyle said. "I do want to go to prom with you."
"You sure you weren't just asking because Dani told Kip I'd been checking you out?" Veronica asked.
"Hundred percent," Kyle said. "It'll be better for everyone. You can hang out with Dani, and I can babysit Kip. Everyone wins. Sure it sucks we haven't talked much, but it isn't like we don't have a lot in common." Kyle paused. "I'm terrible at talking with girls, I'm sorry."
"We'll blame it on the head injuries," Veronica said, poking his temple. She sighed, and another smile came to her face, but it went away as well. "Kinda sucks, though."
She raised her head and shrugged. "Detective Patton drove me over, and the entire way over she was on the phone with the principal." Kyle shut his eyes and Veronica kept going. "While it is good that you helped me stop the bounty hunters, the principal still says you're suspended for the next ten days with OSS. Which means..."
"No prom," Kyle said. Prom wasn't in ten days, but school policy was that any student who had OSS or ISS was forgone was student events. "I'm sorry, Veronica. I'm so sorry."
"No offense but I'd much rather live and not go to prom with you than be taken to Mars or something," Veronica said. "Also, it's not Veronica."
"Wait what?"
"That's the name I'm using on Earth. Back home, my real name? Ven."
"Ven," Kyle repeated. "Hey, how come you, like, change skin color and hair color? Are you trying to blend?"
Ven shook her head. "My race has two forms: the casual, and the personal. My casual form is the one you see at school all the time, but, my personal one I save only for people I trust, that I want to let them see my true person." Ven stood up and Kyle smiled as her natural beauty shone in the room. She blushed when she saw him, and he blushed in return.
"So what'll you do for prom?" Kyle asked.
"Well I was thinking about just fifth-wheeling with my two friends, but, that's at the actual dance. I still need someone to take pictures with." She nodded to Kyle. "You up for it?"
"A picture date?" Kyle asked. "Sure."
Ven stooped over and kissed Kyle on the cheek. "Then it's a date," she whispered in his ear. "I'll find you online and message you my number. Text me sometime. I would like to get to know my picture date a little better, you know?"
"Yeah, I gotcha," Kyle said, and waved goodbye to the strange alien girl.
The door closed and Kyle sat still for a moment, before he allowed a big, stupid grin to plaster onto his face and his held a fist in the air.
"I have a picture date!" he exclaimed. 

Next time: Prism crash-lands near Adelita and claimst hat his powers, somehow, are failing him. Kyle, allowed back on Zanderia duties, agrees to help him out, and the two must come face-to-face with one of Prism's deadliest foes in "Blue Nexus #85 - Blue Prism"!

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