The day has come; February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Are you nervous?
You remember going down to the newsstand and seeing the cover; “Win a Date with Glimmer Girl.” Beside the caption was a photo of the hero, dressed in her usual orange and gold, hands on hips and smiling into the fourth wall, at you.
Something in your chest stirred. The idea that you could sit with a real life superhero, let alone Glimmer Girl, was laughable at best; and yet you couldn’t resist picking up the magazine.
Scouring the insides you sought out the details. Proceeds go toward a free youth counselling service right in the heart of Milestone City, the competition was open to anyone under twenty, like you, and it was open to all genders.
Your heart skipped a beat as you thought maybe, just maybe, you had a chance. If not, then at least you tried. Why not do it for a lark?
Less than a week ago you received the call. You paused your video game, picked up your cell and listened as you were told that YOU, yes, YOU, would be having an all expenses paid Valentine’s dinner with Glimmer Girl at the prestigious Moonlight Lounge.
It was almost too good to be true. What would you say? Gods, what would you wear?
Now the day is here, and you’ve answered one of those questions.
You look in the mirror and like what you see. You’ve dressed smart, classy, and with just the right amount of sex appeal; you’ve even done something new with your hair, and if you don’t mind saying you are rocking it!
“I’d date me,” you decide out loud.
Around 8:00 you arrive at the restaurant. The maître d’ smiles and ushers you inside the packed house under a glass ceiling.
You follow him through the labyrinth of tables and there you see her by the window. She stands to greet you; Glimmer Girl, still in costume, as bright and as warm as her name suggests.
She asks you your name and you stammer it out; she repeats it and then kisses your cheek. You turn pink.
“I’m Glimmer Girl,” she smiles.
You tell her that she looks “taller in real life.”
Glimmer Girl giggles and winces. Okay, try something else; you remark how beautiful she looks.
She blushes and pulls an arm around herself. “Thanks. I actually feel out of place. Everyone here is wearing a dress or a suit, and I’m stuck wearing tights. I wonder if other heroes have formal spandex. If that’s not a thing then it should be.”
“Would you like to sit?” you suggest.
“Yes. Please. More than anything.”
You step behind her and pull out her chair, because you’re polite like that. Glimmer Girl blinks at you, then relaxes.
She leans over the table, her hands in her lap and clears her throat. “So,” she begins, “what are your pronouns?”
“Excuse me?” you say.
“Like, how do you identify? Would you prefer me to use he, him and his; she, her and hers; they, them and theirs…”
“I know what you mean,” you grin. “Not many people ask that question.”
“It’s only polite,” Glimmer Girl shrugs. “You should never assume someone’s gender based on outward appearance. Some people get uncomfortable, but I’d rather that than hurt someone by misgendering them.”
She makes a good point, and once you’ve told her you ask the same.
“I use she, her and hers.” She laughs. “I’m a traditional binary girl. It’s even there in my name.”
The conversation goes through the gamut of subjects; job, study, hobbies, and if you’ve seen that series out on Netbox. (You know the one; everybody’s talking about it.) At first you’re taken off guard by the idea that Glimmer Girl has a favourite show, but the more you talk the more you realise she’s a regular person, even if she can fly faster than a supersonic jet.
After the first course you start to relax. The hero across from you is leaning forward and combing her hair behind her ear with her fingers. She smiles when she catches you staring.
You steel your nerve, and then you ask “what’s going to happen tonight?”
“Sorry, that came out weird. How does this work?”
Glimmer Girl tilts her head toward the next table. “My guess is that we eat, have a good time, and when we’re done the magazine execs will take some photos and ask us questions. It makes a good story, don’t you think?”
“It’ll really help that counselling service,” you remark.
She nods. “And we have fun some fun while doing it. Who could ask for more?”
You’re not entirely sure what you were expecting, but you figure you’ll make the most of it. Even if it’s not a real date Glimmer Girl is great company, and it’s not often you get to eat in such fancy digs.
Suddenly you hear a scream. You turn to see the maître d’s podium fly across the room and smash the plaster from a wall. Patrons by the dozens shift to the back of the room as a gargantuan figure, his mass filling half of the foyer, steps inside escorted by an array of floating drones.
“Everybody remain calm,” he announces. It’s then that you notice that the giant in the purple suit is not a man at all, but an upright gorilla. He folds his hands behind his back and fumes, staring across the room at you.
For a moment you don’t notice as Glimmer Girl leaps up, taking to the air with a burning aura. “Whoever you are, leave,” she growls.
His expression softens as he looks to her. “Dearest Glimmer Girl, please forgive my intrusion. I mean you no inconvenience. Rather, I have come tonight to right a grave injustice against us both.”
“The only injustice until you showed up was overpriced drinks and stale bread sticks,” she quips.
“Then why are you here with that… that…!” The villain glares at you, then composes himself.
What did you do to make him so angry? You imagine what might happen if the two of you were alone in a dark alley, and even in your imagination the odds are not in your favor.
“Allow me to explain,” he continues. “My name is Simon Simian. I am, if I might humbly say, a genius, visionary, soon to be benevolent autocrat and, perhaps most importantly, a great admirer of yours.”
Your chest unclenches for just a moment. “Wait, you’re… a fan!?”
“Nothing so vulgar,” Simon exclaims. “Glimmer Girl, my knowledge of your exploits is second to none. Your nobility and temperance inspires deep affection in my soul. The beauty of sweet Aphrodite pales in comparison to your own, and given the opportunity I would be your most loyal disciple.”
“Yeah, not in the market for a slave, thanks.” Glimmer Girl lunges and flies into action.
In a snap the gorilla-man pulls a weapon. One second you were ready to duck for cover, and now you’re standing idle as Glimmer Girl hangs in mid-air, frozen in time with both fists jutting out at the party crasher.
“My business here is done,” he muses. “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologise for the inconvenience. Please continue to enjoy your meals.”
Simon tugs her along like a kite as he starts for the exit. His drones continue to circle the room, training their turrets on the nearest targets as they pass.
Why wasn’t anybody doing anything?
What about you; why aren’t you doing anything?
Your fists ball in your hands and wind with the knots in your shoulders. You inhale and lift your chin, sharpening your voice. Then you order him, the supervillain, to “stop.”
Simon pauses, but not because you have any authority. Rather his expression when he turns to you is one of disbelief as you, a mere human, whether large or small, shirk under his scale.
“Excuse me?” he grunts. You can smell copper on his breath.
“I said stop.” Your command wanes, but you won’t back down. You stare him in the eyes and you tell him, “put her down right now, and leave. I’m only giving you one warning.”
It doesn’t take imagination to know what he’s capable of; a mountain of muscle like Simon could snap you like a wishbone, or throw you across the room, pound you into the dirt, or worse. One punch from a beast like him would be slightly better than being struck by a semi-trailer.
“Fate awarded you the opportunity to basque in greatness, little worm,” he hums. “Now it is time for you to relinquish such a prize to someone more deserving.”
The adrenaline pushes you on. “She’s not a prize. She’s a human being! You don’t get to treat her like a piece of meat!”
You ask yourself, what are you doing? But now that you’ve started you can’t stop.
Simon’s thin lips tremble and part to reveal his canines. His roar makes your bones rattle, and it resonates deep in your chest. “She is not meat! She is not a human being! She is a goddess, and I will win her heart with intellect and cunning; not a mere contest of chance!”
“Then why not let her choose?”
“She will choose,” he explained. “She will know through my action that I am a superior mate, and that pitiful creatures as yourself are not worthy of her attention.”
You lick your lips and still yourself.
“Why not let her choose right now?”
The man-ape stops and looks you over. You can hear his thoughts; that you must be brave or mad to stand up to the likes of him, but still he knows you are the rival, and it is up to him to settle this.
“You would challenge my place as her mate,” he reasons; “but on what grounds? It is without saying that you are physically inferior, and that your scientific knowledge is lackluster in contrast to my own.”
His observations make you flinch. You wonder, how are you objectively better than him? You’re definitely more attractive, but saying that out loud is probably a bad idea. You smell better, you’re not an evil douche (most of the time)…
“What about general knowledge?” you decide aloud. “I bet I know more about Glimmer Girl than you do.”
Simon Simian puffs his chest and rolls his shoulders. “You believe your awareness of my love is greater than my own? Very well; I accept your challenge.” He turns and points to the maître d’; “and I appoint you as adjudicator. Find some questions! Set our challenge.”
You feel bad for the guy as he fumbles for his smart phone. “Okay, just… give me a minute. This place has awful wifi and… ah! Okay, um, I’ve got Glimmer Girl’s infopedia page open. Will that do?”
The villain laughs. “Infopedia; yes! I am a contributor and editor in my free time, so you can trust the information to be accurate. That will be quite sufficient.”
Yeah, and completely without bias, right.
“Maybe we should ask Glimmer Girl just to make sure,” you press. Get her out of her cage, give her the chance to save the day; seems like a good plan.
Simon nods and presses a button on his device. In an instant the energy barrier surrounding Glimmer Girl vanishes, and her body falls into the arms of a floating drone. They hold her securely, while her head turns.
“I’m sorry to have stirred you, my sweet,” Simon whispers as he lifts her chin. “We have need of your aid for this small ordeal, and then we shall depart. Can you aid in our contest?”
She looks to you, and you nod. Is telepathy one of her powers? You’re not sure.
“And now,” Simon declares, “we will have the first question!”
The maître d’ grasps his wrist to keep himself from shaking. “Erm… what are Glimmer Girl’s powers?”
The man ape laughs and shakes his head. “Basic knowledge! My lady is a luxomancer, meaning she has the ability to manipulate light. Her body becomes a hologram, in which she is able to fly, project force or heat beams, alter her body and see across the complete light spectrum. Most impressive, don’t you agree?”
Clearly the restaurant is not as impressed as he would like, as Simon glares at their silence.
The maître d’ looks to you and continues. “What took place during Glimmer Girl’s debut appearance?”
“I think… there was a building fire,” you say. “She pulled everyone out of the top two floors, including an old man who was trapped.”
“No, her debut was against the madman, Dr. Vortex,” Simon huffed. “Those minor acts of charity are irrelevant. A hero has only proven themselves upon the conquest of their first foe.”
“Now you’re just making up rules as you go along,” you spit.
You are probably saved when the maître d’ shoots a new question. “According to a report released by the New Mexico Air Transit Authority, what is Glimmer Girl’s estimated top flight speed?”
The villain smiled. “Mach two, though it is theorised she could reach greater velocity had her anxiety not gotten the better of her. I plan to aid her in exploring those limits when we are wed.”
Already he’s talking about marriage? “That’s really creepy,” you say in spite of your preservation.
“On what date last year did Glimmer Girl fight Dr. Vortex?” the maître d’ points at you.
Simon Simian smashes a fist to the ground and shatters the tile. “Enough of this paltry trivia! Ask something difficult that only one with an intimate knowledge would know!” He grunts and swipes the phone from the maître d’, scrolls through and throws it away. “I will make my own questions. What is Glimmer Girl’s estimated bra size?”
You stop. Did you hear that right?
The villain looms over you. “Well?”
“You just asked me… her bra size,” you echo. “Do you think this is some kind of a dating sim? Who wants to know that knowledge in real life?”
“28-B.” He stands further upright with his shadow stretching over you. “I know every inch of her, spent long watching from afar, and know more than is even available on the internet. And you? You have nothing.”
Sweat pours off your brow. Next to his your fists are like shriveled prunes. You want to do something, but you’re overwhelmed by powerlessness; all you have are words.
Finally you ask, “what’s her middle name?”
Simon shifts on his haunches and frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, she’s not Glimmer Girl twenty-four hours a day. She has a life outside of being a superhero. What do you know about that?”
He stammers. “I… I… do you know?”
“No, I don’t know,” you tell him, “and I don’t need to know, because I don’t feel entitled to her. She’s her own person, and if we ever had a real date, and not a fake one for charity, then that’d be her choice; not mine or yours.”
The thoughts turn in his head; you can see them in every twitch he makes, until finally the villain makes up his mind. With both hands he snatches your arms and lifts you from the ground, leaving you to dangle while others in the restaurant scream.
Eyes bubbling with hate sear into you. “I am going to tear you limb from bloody limb.”
Well, this is it; your time is up and you’ve got to admit, it’s not what you were expecting. Hit by a bus, maybe; or maybe you’d be one of the lucky ones to make it to old age, but having your arms yanked from their sockets by a supervillain?
Your life flashes before your eyes. Was it all that you expected? Do you have any regrets? There’s always that one thing you never got to do that you should have, if only you had the chance…
Simon Simian wrenches your arms until your fingers are numb, and then you feel the burn as muscles contort. Your chest is tight, and you can’t breathe. Any minute you know your heart will explode!
Then you hear a crash, and your body plummets to the floor. You land shoulder first, but the impact is nothing to the force of the villains grip.
You look up, and hovering in the air above a dozen smoking drones is Glimmer Girl, and she does not look happy. Fortunately her scowl is pointed at the supervillain and not at you.
“I go on one date, for charity no less, and this is what you do,” she groans.
Simon snarls and beats his chest. “I am your perfect mate; not this clown! It is an insult to both of our names that you would give yourself to a stranger in such a way!”
You want to remind him that you’re still in the room, but your arms are still burning. Ow.
The superhero buries her face in her palm and sighs. “I’m not giving myself to anyone, not that it’s any of your business. Besides, I’m asexual. I don’t do the dating thing unless it’s giving my name to a good cause.”
“You mean… you are not here to seek a mate?”
“That’s right.” She turns to you and eases her expression. “Sorry.”
Staring vaguely into the distance Simon battles his confusion. Your own feelings have been pushed aside until you’re safe again. Finally he huffs, stomps his feet, and bellows at her.
“I do not accept this,” he rages. “I will prove myself to you, and you will be mine!”
Glimmer Girl flicks her wrist and blasts him at close range, sending Simon’s body to collide with the wall. He hits the ground like a sack of potatoes, unconscious, and heaving like a… well, a baboon.
She floats to the ground and helps you back to your feet. The anger has faded from her features, and now there’s just worry she’s laid on you. “Are you alright?” she asks, snaking an arm behind your back for support.
You nod. Even if you’re not okay you soon will be.
An unfamiliar aura lingers over the room. Patrons who would have otherwise ignored one another and gone on with their lives reach out to comfort one another; some are in tears, while another give support, and others step forward to thank you for your bravery. The maître d’ asks if he can buy you dinner sometime, though probably at another establishment.
In minutes the police and ambulance arrive and take over the scene. After a paramedic has seen to your injuries they throw a blanket over your shoulders and continue to work their way through the crowd.
Meanwhile you watch as a trained team snap locks around Simon Simian’s wrists, collar him, and with long poles usher him into an armored van. The Milestone City Meta Crimes Division really don’t screw around.
You exhale as Glimmer Girl sits besides you and shoots you a smile.
“Sorry about the worst date in the history of everything,” she says. “Maybe next time I’ll ask for security before doing a gig like this.”
Again, you nod. What do you say in a situation like this?
“This might sound rude,” you start, knowing that what you’re about to say will be exactly that; “but did you mean it when you said you were asexual, or was that just as excuse?”
Glimmer Girl rolls her head. “I actually am ace. Sorry.”
You shrug. “Don’t be. I got to meet a cool lady, and I got a free meal. Well, a free entree, anyway.”
“And you saved my butt,” she grinned. “For that I will be eternally grateful.”
You look away, distracted by the crowd. Suddenly, you’re snapped back to reality when lips touch your cheek, and Glimmer Girl plants a kiss. As you turn to her she pulls away and blushes.
“Wait, I thought you were-”
“I’m ace, not frigid,” she explains. “Sex isn’t my thing, but basic affection I can do.”
A grin creeps across your lips. “So… maybe a second date isn’t so far fetched?”
“Well, you are still owed a meal, and I owe you one for standing up for me.” As she stands Glimmer Girl gives you a wink and twirls to face you. “Talk to my people. We’ll definitely work something out. See you next time, hero.”
She flies away, through the glass ceiling, and into the night sky. Your heart stops again, but this time not out of fear.
This truly was a date to remember.