Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade
Dealers' Room, Cleveland City Center Hotel, Cleveland, early afternoon
Vicki slipped into the Dealers' Room and was dismayed at the length of the lineup she faced in getting to see Peregrine. She swallowed a whine she felt building. I should've expected this. I knew this was going to happen. I should take a photo of the line to show Dad so I can tell him, "I told you so." Sheesh. She took her place in line. At least Dad found a place to stash the luggage. I hope there's time to hit the rest of this place. Thanks to my mirror self, I never got a chance to look around and get stuff. Someone tapped her on the shoulder. Vicki squealed and turned around to see Meredith standing behind her.
"A little jumpy today, I see." Meredith trilled her laughter.
"Don't sneak up on me like that!" Vicki slapped the Canadian woman's arm. "Especially when I'm thinking."
"Okay, okay, no more sneaking. Get any sleep last night?"
"Some, once I calmed down. You?"
"Not really. I wound up sleeping in the car."
"My alleged friend had someone over and put up the Do Not Disturb sign and now won't tell me what happened."
Vicki's eyes widened. "He picked someone up and didn't let you know? Was he really having sex?"
"Keith? Sex?" Meredith laughed. "Probably stayed up playing video games with each other. He wouldn't know what else to do." She craned her neck to see how far the line stretched. "At least we're moving."
"Can you see Peregrine? How is she doing?"
"I think she's getting a massive hand cramp. Hey, what time are you heading home tonight?"
"The plane leaves a bit after nine, but Dad wants to get there a couple of hours earlier just to get through security. At least they can't scan for alties yet. When are you heading home?"
"Keith wants to leave before seven." Meredith yawned. "I think I'll be asleep when we get to the border crossing. Customs is going to be impressed with that. Did you want to get something to eat before we leave?"
"Sure. I was going to ask Tasha that, too. Do you mind if she comes along?"
"I was hoping to ask her along, too." Meredith shuffled along with the rest of the line up. "However, I need a coffee if I want to make it until five."
"Yeah, I guess sleeping in a car isn't comfortable."
"You're telling me. Yugos weren't built for sleeping. So, after talking with Peregrine, want to get a coffee? My treat."
"Okay, but I wanted to take a tour of the Dealers' Room to see what they had. I was going to go yesterday, but, well, yeah. I think it's too late to check out Artists Alley." Vicki sighed.
Meredith shrugged. "No problem. I wouldn't mind seeing what they have here."
The line snaked its way toward the autograph tables. After a few twists, Vicki and Meredith could see Peregrine as she signed photos for the people who approached her. Soon, the two young women were stopped by a con security staffer. Ahead of them at the autograph table, a mother with two young sons chatted with Nasty as she signed. The young family took their pictures and left. The security staffer stepped to the side to let Vicki and Meredith by. Vicki zipped to the table. "Hi!"
Nasty looked up as she shook out her right hand. "Hey! I wasn't expecting you here."
Meredith joined the younger girls. "How is it going?"
"I can't feel my hand anymore. I have no idea what my signature says at all now."
"Think you can sign a couple more for us?" Vicki turned on her cuteness factor. "We'd be so very thankful."
Nasty rolled her eyes. "You two should be on this side of the table."
"We'd only be crashing the party." Meredith looked at the line up behind her. "They're here to see you. We'll have our big chance some other time."
"Still, really, I wouldn't be here now if you two weren't with me last night."
"Actually, you only would have had to fight your evil self," Vicki pointed out. "Our mirror versions wouldn't have been there if we were somewhere else."
"Ignore her." Meredith stifled a yawn. "I really need a coffee. Oh, can I get a photo of the three of us together?" She pulled a small camera out of her pocket.
"Oh, right. Hang on, my camera is somewhere." Vicki slipped her backpack off and dug her camera out of it. "Here it is."
"Sure. Come on around. But I want to get a photo of us together with you two in costume, too."
Meredith made her way to Nasty's right. "Not a problem. When are you done here?"
"Five. Is that good for you?"
"We were thinking of dinner around then." Vicki got to the redhead's left hand side. "Want to come?"
"Just us girls, though," Meredith added.
The security staffer took the cameras and got them set up. Nasty slipped her left arm out of its sling and put over Vicki's shoulders, then snaked her right around Meredith's waist. The three heroines moved as close together as possible to make sure all of them were in the shot. The staffer raised the first camera. "Say cheese."
"Cheese!" the heroines chorused.
The flash fired twice, blinding the three young women. Nasty blinked, trying to clear her eyes. Vicki rubbed her eyes. Meredith yawned, then got back into position. The con staffer swapped cameras. "One more time!"
The second flash was brighter than the first. Nasty felt for her chair, then sat down. "Thanks, guys." She slipped her arm back in its sling. "Meet me up in my room at five?"
"Oh, and Vicki? Good question this morning. Got me thinking. I don't want to join a group. Yours doesn't need me. I've got just the one trick. But if you need help, real help, call me." Nasty jotted a note on hotel stationery and gave it to the young blond. "Or if you want to go to a movie or want to talk or whatever. It really does help when you can talk to someone who knows what you're going through."
Vicki smiled warmly. "Thanks, Tasha. And you can call me or email me or message me anytime, too."
"There. We should be able to talk privately now."
"Forgive me for not shaking your hand right now."
"I am known as the Coordinator."