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Getting to Know You

"You're very forward," Megan said, leaning against the broad trunk of the weeping beech tree that dominated Lady Justice Park. "Most people would be intimidated by the idea of asking out someone who's 3 feet taller than they are."

"You were the one that actually made the call," Simon said, reclining on grass, hands clasped behind his head, muscular denim-clad legs stretched out. "And you're not a full 3 feet taller. More like 2 and a half."

Megan suspected this was wishful thinking, but let it pass. "At least you said please," Megan said, looking up into the branches. "That's the only reason I'm here, you know."

"My mama taught me that being polite is important in winning friends and influencing people," Simon said. "But is that the only reason? Not my shining personality or sparkling wit?"

"Neither was on best display, bellowing across the counter in that godawful coffee joint," Megan said.

"Dazzling smile?" Simon turned that grin on her.

"Oh, all right," Megan said.

"So, are you new here, or did you just nearly fall on Nereid?" he said.

"Yes," Megan said. "That is, I'm new in town, and I nearly fell on Nereid. Does she often take her victims out for coffee?"

"All the time, when they're not so pissed at her that they get into a pitched para-on-para battle that the Gold Stars have to come in and break up."

"She told me that everyone else had been nice about it."

Simon stretched out a hand toward the sky and examined his long fingers. "Nereid has bad judgment, impulse-control issues, and a near-pathological habit of telling half-truths, but is usually cute and charming, which mostly keeps people from trying to kill her."

"You speak as someone with more than a bellowing-across-the-counter sort of knowledge of her."

Simon shrugged and turned his head to grin at Megan. "She went to school with one of my younger sisters."

"Didn't ask her out on her coffee cup?" Megan said, arching an eyebrow.

"Oh, god, no," Simon said with a groan. "I wouldn't write someone else's phone number on her cup."

"One wonders how the Young Cosmics are coping hundreds of dollars' worth of coffee on their credit card bill," Megan said.

Simon waved it away. "They're rolling in it. They were organized by some billionaire, and all of them are spandex spawn."

"'Spandex spawn'?" Megan said, staring down at Simon incredulously. "Haven't heard that one before."

"You'll hear it again," said Simon, and there was something more than usually cynical in his voice. "This is Wonder City. You can't move for bumping into spandex spawn."

Megan cleared her throat and decided on a change of subject. "So, do you often ask women out when they order coffee?"

"Only the hot ones," Simon said. Catching Megan's eye, he blushed a little. "No-o-o. Not really. I've only asked a couple of other women. You're the first to call me."

"I can see some women thinking that it's kind of a dick move," Megan said.

Simon began coughing. He sat up and covered his mouth as he fought to get the coughing under control.

"Smoker?" Megan said, eyeing him with a touch of sympathy.

"No," Simon said, wiping tears off his crimson face. "Asthmatic. Do you think it's a dick move?"

"No," Megan said. "Startling, maybe, but it was better than, 'Hey baby, what's your sign?'"

"Hah," Simon said, falling back on the grass.

"Of course, I'm not very good at this whole dating thing," Megan said. "I mostly went out with friends in college. And I certainly don't know much about the het dating thing. I think I've gone out with two guys before."

"I'm not very good at it either," Simon said, covering his face with his hands. "I mean, come on, I ask out women by writing my phone number on their coffee cups and remembering to say please."

"It was cute," Megan said. "So, okay, I have one question for you that I need a serious answer to."

"Uh?" Simon said, peering at her through his fingers. "Okay?"

"Are you in spandex?"

"Oh, hell, no," Simon said. He exhaled heavily. "Man, I thought you were gonna ask something hard."

Megan eyed him for a moment. "All right then," she said. "Let's go to dinner."

"But if I'm lying, you'll use me for a toothpick?" Simon ventured, getting to his feet.

"Oh, no," Megan said. "But I'll certainly use some harsh language."


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