I knew I was naked as I stared into the mirror, but Mila projected Calamity’s costume on me so perfectly that I might as well be clothed in that beautiful costume. She followed each movement perfectly as I practiced the song and dance again. I spent days learning to pretend I was singing, discerning how to match the beat of the music against my skin with the exaggerated movements of my mouth. I was confident now that I could pull it off as perfectly as the rest of them. The other training had continued too, of course.
I learned the basics of martial arts in the mornings, becoming more and more aware of the difference between what I was learning and what James could already do. Punching at him at his own speed could lead to far more things than I would have guessed at the beginning of the week. He could twist my arm and throw me with ease, block my punch while countering with a punch or kick of his own, or even bend around my punch to quickly pin me. Fighting could be more creative than I had known.
During the day, I was often working my way through tutorials with Mila, learning all sorts of things she assured me could be useful in my job here. I knew a little about fixing things already, since Mama Ver and I could rarely afford help. The tips I learned from Mila would have been incredibly useful growing up, saving us from some of the problems we caused while trying to get things working. Plumbing, carpentry, electrical work… Mila could teach all of it. She also pointed out numerous ways I could use such knowledge while out saving people.
Once I knew electrical systems well enough, she assured me I’d be able to cut the power to a single apartment, a building, or wherever else I wanted, given that I had access to the right room. Criminals often panicked in the dark, despite operating there often. The difference was that they feared other monsters when unexpected things happened.
I was less interested in catching up on schooling I had missed, but Mila was quick to point out the benefits there as well. I needed to get my GED before I was allowed to take the college courses offered through Best Friend For Hire, and Mila had promised that advanced knowledge there could help me fight crime. Batman often came up in her conversations with me. She’d show me clips of cartoons, comics, and movies as demonstrations of how forensics could help me end various types of crime more quickly. I had to admit that my detective skills could use a bit of work.
I did have a good memory, and Mila easily kept things moving at my own pace. I told her to go “full speed ahead” at one point and didn’t catch a thing. She was fast. Oddly enough, she really seemed to care too, so I did my best to pay attention. Getting through the boring parts wouldn’t really take me long, especially if I gave up nights of patrolling here and there. The city could survive me taking small breaks long enough for me to become a better hero.
I stared at the ceiling and sighed. Barely a week had passed since I told James I wanted to date him, and he was quite obviously over me already. His awkwardness was gone. When we danced at his birthday, I could tell he didn’t think of me in that way. There was no romance to it for him, just two friends having fun.
“Mila, tell me that I’m going to feel better.” I commanded.
“You already are feeling better, silly. You’re better every day.” she replied.
“Do you really think so?” I asked.
“You’re quite over him, completely ready to take on the world.” she assured me.
“I almost miss the awkwardness though! I think he’s completely allocated me to ‘employee’ now with no thought of the us-ness that we’ve had.” I admitted.
Mila sighed and said, “The master is busy. You know he is, and he does make time to hang out still.”
“Only as a group, briefly during the day. He’s spending all his nights training with Alma.” I argued, hugging my pillow.
“The guild isn’t the same when he isn’t online, but the master needs his lessons as well. Self-improvement is very important.” she insisted.
“Ha! You’re already perfect.” I told her.
“Not in the slightest. The princess easily exceeds me in every way.” she claimed.
“I somehow doubt that, but Aaliyah is pretty spectacular. I just miss my man-slave!” I whined.
“You’re part of his home. Do you think he could replace you as a gardener?” she asked.
“Obviously not. I’d dare him to try!” I shouted. No one was going to take my gardens from me. I put way too much love into them to give them up. Well, he could technically fire me, but the place would be a mess. I knew every last plant out there more intimately than anyone else could imagine. I still fixed my mom’s yard each week for her, not wanting to risk her ruining it.
“Emma, you have as many years together as you want. Everyone thinks of the master. They can’t help it. If you understood the resources I’ve devoted to him, you’d see that we share a boat together.” she admitted.
“Are you in love with him, Mila?” I asked, biting my lip afterward as I thought about an A.I. in love.
There was a pause before she said, “I will always love my master. As for how that compares to your feelings, we’ll never fully know.”
“He’s a show off, you know. I can’t believe how quickly he picked up that dance Aaliyah showed us.” I told her.
“Sorry, Emma, but his success was well within my estimates. The master is experienced and quite skilled. Look how cute he was when he was younger.” she told me.
A movie of James dancing started playing on the nearby mirror. He was young, not even in high school yet, but he was still James, performing a ballet in tights.
“I miss Regina. We were getting so close.” I stated. She popped into my head shortly into the performance. She had chased after James for years with no luck. Seeing how he looked at Alma would have killed her.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Oh, man-slave… He still didn’t have a clue what he was getting into, and there was so little I could do to help him. I sighed.
“I would tell you not to be blue, but you make such beautiful blue flowers. You do well with blue. Green suits you as well, though not the envious type. I enjoy your pinks, whites, and yellows as well.” she assured me.
I smiled and said, “Thank you, Mila! I’m glad you noticed.” The flower beds changed daily, depending on my mood in the morning. Tomorrow’s would be vibrant. I was going to have a great day. We were all heading to a convention together, and I’d get to explore and have fun. I could worry about the man-slave in a week or two, when I’d have more time. Tomorrow was for adventure!