Dancing in Shadow

Posted on Thu Apr 22nd, 2021 @ 1:16am by Ingrid Hollister (*) & Vice President Nina Frost (*) & Daniella Gaitán

Mission: Freedom Fighters Assemble!
Location: The Nice Guy
Timeline: Friday 22 June 2018

Dani nursed her martini. She was largely in shadow, even here in the club, though she did little to enhance it. Nothing obvious. Nothing anyone around her would recognize as a power. But she wore a low-cut black dress slit on each side, black boots, her black hair spilling down. The pulsing light of this place only caught her round, pretty face and the green of her drink. She shook herself a little to the music. It was easy enough. She was relaxed. At ease. Enjoying the play of darkness and light.

The club was pulsating with the energy of a Friday night as young bodies moved back and forth both on the dance floor and in the surrounding areas. It crowd undulated like waves on a sea, moving to the heavy beat of the music. A man, around 30 years old, moved toward the margins of the room where the multi-colored lights gave way to deepening shadows. He was tall, handsome, and smartly dressed in a navy blue suit, white button up without a tie, and brown leather shoes and belt. His face was covered in scruff and he looked easy and light on his feet. His skin was the color of caramel and he smelled like expensive cologne.

As he moved across the margin of the vast room, he spotted a woman clothed in shadow wearing a tight black dress which concealed a curvy form. His brown eyes danced with the crowd, focusing on her for an instant before he made a calm and cool approach.

"A man cannot help himself but be curious about pretty girls in the shadows." he said, his Colombian accent thick, his grin playful and confident, but controlled. "This is how you work your magic, yes?"

"That would be telling," she said with a coy smile as she brought her drink to her lips once more. Dark eyes moved easily over the man. Taking in his rugged good looks. His form. The musculature under that well cut suit. Perhaps she liked what she saw but only a slight smile told the story. "So I've piqued your curiosity?"

"Perhaps you have something to hide." he said, gesturing toward her with the glass of brown liquid and ice in his hand. "Or perhaps you're just waiting for someone to look closely enough that they see the truth. Either way, I just might want to learn more."

He took a single step closer to her table then stood easy, looking her over again.

"So how does a curious man discover the secrets of a woman like you?"

"How indeed?" she asked right back. For a moment, a long moment, it seemed she was simply going to leave it at that as if nothing else needed to be said. She took a sip of her drink and rested her the tips of her middle three fingers on the table, playing lightly over the smooth surface. She looked down at nothing in particular and smiled. "A man might offer to buy me a drink when this one is finished. He might ask me to dance. He might even introduce himself."

He smiled a charismatic smile, lifting his head slightly at her response. He turned his head, immediately, to one of the bartenders making their rounds at tables and offered a charming expression.

"Another martini for the lady, senor. And a redemption on the rocks for me." he said, seeming like a man accustomed to asking for what he wanted and getting it right away. He was polite, of course, but not overly so. The man nodded and moved toward the bar to get their drinks. While he was walking away, the Columbian man looked at Dani, gesturing at her with a curious grin. "You know, there's something very very familiar about you. I know we haven't met before, I never forget a beautiful face.."

She paused a moment. Her smile faded for a second. Just for a second. Then it returned and she laughed lightly. Delicately. Like it was nothing. Just silly. "I just have one of those faces."

"No, you don't." he said with a smile as the bartender brought their drinks over and sat them on the table. The Columbian slipped some money into his hand and offered a wink before moving over closer to the table. He lowered himself down into the booth but kept an intentional distance between them so that she would know she was safe. "I've definitely seen your face before. Now that I'm in the shadows with you, I'm sure of it."

He brought his glass to his lips and took a quick sip from his beverage, then looked at her again. He seemed to work at his memories for several more moments before he offered a calm and carefree shrug.

"Eh, I'm sure it'll come back to me later." he said. "But I can't call you 'mystery woman' all night long; what's your name?"

She looked like she might hold out a little longer but she relented, extending her hand to him. "Dani."

He grabbed her hand, shaking it with relative firmness, though he was careful not to use too much pressure. He looked her in the eyes as he smiled.

"A beautiful name for a beautiful woman." he said, releasing her hand, but remaining angled toward her. "Tell me, Dani, what is a woman like you doing here by herself? Did some lucky man bring you or do you just like to soak in the party vibe?"

"I'm just enjoying the feel," she said. "The lights, the music, the atmosphere. How about you?" She shrugged ever so slightly and smiled. "Thank you," she said as she sipped her new drink.

"I'm here to have some fun and meet new people. They're so much energy in here, and I just love to soak it in." he said, opening his arms expansively in order to express his meaning. Sometimes, I just need to move, you know? To go out on the town; get out on the dance floor."

"Perhaps I should do that more," she mused.

"Perhaps you should." he said, taking a long sip from his glass and then standing up. He extended a hand toward her in offering. "Seniorita, let us show this entire club how hips were made to move."

His tone was amused, but confident and warm. He certainly seemed comfortable in his skin and anyone who looked at the way he moved could already tell he was a skilled dancer.

"Perhaps," she said, holding out another moment before sliding her hand into his. "Let's dance then."

With smooth movements, he pulled Dani out into the middle of the dance floor just as an upbeat tune started with a driving and sexy beat. He began to dance, moving his body in small, rhythmic patters with practiced style. He looked at her with focused eyes, but didn't speak because it was far too loud on the dance floor to communicate verbally. As he danced, he took hold of her hands and they moved around the floor together, occasionally bumping against other people on the crowded dance floor.

Dani moved easily with him. She pressed her body against his, grinning as she gripped his hands. She didn't speak either. She simply moved her body to the rhythm. She seemed lost in it. Passionate. Sensual. But silent.

The Columbian's hands found her body subtly as she moved against him. The smell of her perfume filled his nostrils and he could feel the contour of her body up against his; biology did the rest as they moved together rhythmically on the dance floor. His touches were always appropriate; always perfect, and never too much nor too little. He knew exactly how a woman wanted to be touched and exactly how she wanted to feel. He used his strong hands to turn her around to face him and pulled her close to him, placing his hands on her waste as the danced. He offered her a brazen smile even as he started to feel the results of his own arousal. He never tried to tempt her or make a move, however, but merely to make flirtatious eyes and to laugh at the fun he was having.

Dani was pressing closer than she'd planned to, in truth. She was normally the sort to play it cool. To always leave a man wondering. Wanting more. This man, though, he seemed to know exactly what to do, exactly how to get to her. She found herself practically grinding against him on the dance floor. Quickly at first, then more slowly, her head resting against his chest. She didn't say a word for a long time but at a break in the music she pulled herself away suddenly as if worried things were going too far. "Let's sit awhile," she suggested.

“Sure, lead the way.” He said deeply, watching her as she moved through the crowd and back toward the table. When they arrived through the parted crowd and got their first view of their table, they saw a woman with shiny brown hair sitting there holding a glass full of red wine. Next to her on the table sat a fresh martini.

“Shadowfox,” the woman said, her dark eyes scanning the woman in the black dress. “Come join me.”

A disappointed expression crossed the Columbian’s face. He approached the table with Dani beside him and offered a curious expression.

“Shadowfox!” He said, looking at Dani with an excited expression. “That’s where I know you from!”

“You can drop the act now, Contortionist.” The woman said with a sideways glacé. “You’ve proven your skills go deeper than just looks.”

Dani frowned when she was named. "I don't think I know you," she said gently, hesitantly, as she walked over to the table. She rested her hand on the back of her chair, hesitant to sit again.

“Well I know you, and I’m about to change your life.” Nina said with a smile as she angled her wineglass toward her face. “You’re about to become one of the biggest supes in the world. Have a seat and we can talk it over. I ordered you a fresh martini.”

She turned her gaze and looked at the Columbian man from her seated position. “You can go now.”

Next to Dani, the handsome man turned his own eyes to the woman who had just finished dancing with him and gave sad smile. This part was always the hardest. Slowly, his entire form began to shift; he shortened by half a foot or more, his skin grew pale, his facial hair receded, his broad shoulders and chest gave way to a smaller frame and full breasts, the hair grew and formed into the shape of a white bun with purple highlights, and his outfit morphed into a crisscross halter top which revealed much of his body, and tight jeggings around a much larger bottom. Tattoos grew on her skin like grass. The person standing there no longer resembled the person who had been there before; she was attractive in a far more feminine way, and certainly not a Latino businessman. She offered the same sad smile at Dani, her lips full and glossy and her eyes more beautiful and captivating than before.

“We should dance together again soon, Shadowfox. I had a lot of fun.” She said, the same flirtatious tone and eye contact she had displayed as the Columbian man.

Dani looked at the Contortionist for a long moment. Her own expression seemed to have gone cold. She frowned as she looked to the fresh martini and then back to the shapeshifter. "You had me," Dani said, not meaning it as a compliment. Then her eyes moved to Nina again. "I'm in G-Wiz already. I might make the G-Men in the next year or two."

The Contortionist’s own smile disappeared. This was a normal part of her life. The great tragedy of being everyone else is that it was very rare for anyone to notice or love her for who she actually was. She made a sad expression; deception was her job and she knew she couldn’t help it. She left then for the bar, ignoring the stares from the men who had noticed her on the move. Was she any more than an object to anyone in the world anymore? Was she still a real person?

“Second rate at best.” The woman said with a dismissive movement of her head. “I’m talking about a first-rate opportunity. I’m Nina Frost, Vice President of Hero Management at Ark International.”

"Ark International?" Dani said skeptically. "The G-Men might not be The Seven but it's Vought's second biggest franchise." Too big, some might say, for an individual member to be easily noticed.

"Ark may play second fiddle in the hero business, but we are starting a project that will change the whole superhero game; we're starting our own premiere flagship superhero franchise called the Freedom Fighters. Seven of the worlds most powerful supes actually fighting crime, unlike the Seven, who spend all of their time making movies."

Nina took a sip from her glass, gesturing at the seat next to her again in hopes the younger woman might take it.

"You've already met one of our members, The Contortionist. As you can see, she is quite skilled at what she does. With the addition of your powers, our infiltration and recon missions will be a synch. Captain Graviton is taking the lead spot on the team. You'll get paid way more than you ever would in the G-Men and, of course, everyone in the country will know your name."

"And there'll be more actually helping people?" Dani asked again as she finally did sit. "That...that's not a terrible offer. I don't know that much about Captain Graviton."

“You will; he’s amazingly strong. You’ll be impressed.” Nina said with a self-assured smile. “And I know that these super teams have a reputation for focusing more on image than results, but Ark wants to do things differently.”

"I..." She hesitated a moment longer. "I can come in next week. Look over the paperwork."

“I’ve have my people call you to schedule something. We can show you the top floor of the tower and answer any questions you have.” Nina responded, finishing her glass of wine and then standing up.

"Thank you," Dani said, still sounding a little shaken.

Without any additional words, Nina turned and quickly made her way for the club’s exit. She had looked out of place there and the room seemed all the more natural with her gone.