“Not exactly the typical first date, is it?” Jill giggled, squeezing her newly acquired lover’s hand as the two strolled alongside the riverbank. Unfortunately, the vast firmament unraveled above their heads was not speckled with a plethora of celestial bodies as they had anticipated—it was hard to expect stargazing was feasible on the outskirts of a densely populated city like this one, anyway.
“Not at all,” Hayes nodded. “Who would have expected their girlfriend to be a superhero?” He was still shaky from the incident that had assailed their romantic placidity just half an hour ago.
“Shhh, don’t say that out loud.” Jill stopped in her tracks and cupped Hayes’ mouth with her fingers, eyes growing wide. “I revealed that to you because I trusted you to keep it only on your tongue,” she whispered, leaning closer until her lips barely touched her own hand. There were hardly any people enjoying a nighttime promenade like them, though, which added to her relief.
Hayes’s cerulean eyes twinkled as he grasped the wrist of Jill and gently took her hand away, planting a soft kiss on those smooth lips of hers. Jill was taken by mild surprise at first but gave in to the lusciousness of her boyfriend’s moist warmth as their kiss rather intensified. She was never the one for public display of affection, but something about the warm darkness surrounding them and this guy was different. Safe was the word. She felt safe.
After their lips parted, Hayes subtly massaged Jill’s hand in his own and put it against his cheeks blossomed with faint roses. “Let’s keep it on both our tongues only, then,” He mischievously uttered. Jill let out a huff of laughter and lightly smacked Hayes on his chest out of playful annoyance.
“Better watch it, or I’ll blast your consciousness out of your body, too.” Jill tapped the boy’s cheek.
“Like you did with the…uh…‘Flame Caster’?”
“Like I did with Flame Caster. That poor fellow. He didn’t stand a chance against me,” the brunette sighed and clicked her tongue.
“To be honest, I always wondered how you managed to amplify your voice so well on stage even without an amplifier,” Hayes started as they resumed treading the well-paved bankside path once again. “Turns out you have a power to knock people out with your sonic abilities, lead vocalist.” He shook his head in disbelief, glancing once at the serene profile of Jill. Manifold thoughts were swarming in his mind at the moment.
“And you? You’ve any special powers, bassist?” Jill joked.
“Nothing aside from this incredible ability to balance a fidget spinner on my nose.”
At that comment, Jill halted and guffawed. She clung to Hayes’ arm with a lovely grin hanging on her glowing face afterwards and looked up to meet his eyes. “I call that a superpower.”
“Yeah, right.” Hayes raised his eyebrow amused and smiled back.
They walked on for an hour in this manner, bantering half the time and whispering love into each other’s ears during the other half. The night befell them with a tranquility unprecedented with the moonlight casting a luminescence shimmering like a thousand fragments of diamonds upon the waters. It was nearly 9 pm. Already, an hour and a half had passed since the terrifying yet exhilarating adventure Hayes had not even in the slightest expected to happen on their first date.
The couple stopped by a bench overlooking the sinuous river and took a seat on it, Jill laying her head comfortably on Hayes’ shoulder. Their fingers were still interlocked and no words passed between them for a few minutes while they both studied the picturesque landscape unfolded before them.
Hayes broke through the veil of silence first. “You…really seem to have two personas,” he remarked. “When you are the Nightingale, you couldn’t seem more menacing and powerful.”
“Are you suggesting I’m not when I’m like this?” Jill pouted and poked Hayes’ cheek with her finger.
“No,” he laughed. “You’re just my Jill Rickman. The girl I fell in love with, and the girl who fortunately agreed to be my girlfriend.”
“Aw, that’s sweet and arrogant of you at the same time, Hayes Kim.” Jill straightened up and spread out her arm toward the sky. “Sure, I’m the girl you fell in love with, but I’m not yours, babe.” She winked. “I’m like the stars. You can appreciate the stars but never own them.”
“I can’t tell if this is a buzzkill or not.” Hayes shrugged but lifted his eyes to scrutinize the same sky Jill was peering into. It was difficult to detect them, but the stars were there. Shedding their argent radiance, glowing like distant lighthouses hovering in the middle of the big void called space. “I appreciate you very much. More than you can imagine, perhaps,” he confessed bashfully. “Either Jill or the Nightingale, I don’t think it differs.”
“And I do too, for you,” Jill once again insinuated in his ear. “Hayes or my bandmate, it hardly matters. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Allowing only the streetlight’s amber light to brighten the road they were taking, Jill and Hayes were heading back to the center of the city where Jill’s apartment was located. By then, the streets in which a spectacle (meaning, the fight between the Nightingale and Flame Caster) had taken place were back to normal, with the usual order restored by the police who were there to deal with the aftermath of the collision between superhumans.
Jill stopped by a café to lay her eyes upon a burn mark that stretched across the side of the building. It immediately reminded her of the scene from before, when an old lady had been rescued from the cloud of fire the villain had ruthlessly unleashed upon innocent civilians. Then she moved her gaze to the bar next to the café. Hayes had been standing in front of it, both horrified by the sight and mesmerized by the Nightingale’s formidable power. As he gawked, Flame Caster had thrown another tornado of flame that way, which Jill obstructed with her sonic blast. It was a close call. Had Jill not been obliged to reveal her secret identity there, Hayes would have been pulverized into dust on their first date. That was never a good omen for her latent romance life.
“You owe me one,” she said. “I literally saved your life.”
“Of course,” Hayes answered, tracing Jill’s cheek with the tip of his finger. “You’ll always be the savior of my life, Jill.”
“I was going to make a joke or something but you made it all cheesy and sugary,” Jill laughed and adjusted the jacket tighter around her torso. Her super suit was concealed under the layer of black leather jacket.
“That’s who I am,” Hayes replied. He scratched the back of his head. “You know, the hero’s love interest is all mellow and stuff.”
“You’ve seen too much movies,” Jill pointed out. “But I like you anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”
Hacking through the bustling city, they finally arrived at Jill’s apartment doorstep. Hayes couldn’t feel sorrier that they had to part there and then. He already missed this woman—her mocha brown eyes, her curly chestnut hair, her crimson lips and everything about her. Especially the voice. The sonorous voice that rang so pleasingly against his eardrums every time she spoke a word. So he took Jill in his arms and hugged her with all his might, all the while trying to breathe in her scent as best as he could. They would meet each other again at band practice tomorrow, but the night that parted them was too harsh.
“Mm, I think that’s enough, baby,” Jill snickered as she pulled away from the overenthusiastic hug. She gave him a light peck on the lips to which Hayes responded with a red face and a funny expression. Jill gave a wave with her hand before slipping inside the door and kissing her boyfriend goodbye.
“See you tomorrow, Jill,” Hayes yelled at her back.
The boy turned around, hands in his pockets as he made haste to get home. He shook his head and muttered under his breath, “I can’t believe my girlfriend is the Nightingale!” for the hundredth time.
Sitting on the bed, Hayes ruminated on all that had happened within the short span of some four hours. He, after them confessing their mutual love a day ago, agreed to go to a fancy restaurant for the first date, encountered a supervillain rampaging about the city, witnessed his girlfriend transforming into the infamous Nightingale and defeat the villain, and went for a walk like nothing out of ordinary had happened. This was definitely not the stereotypical first date one could possibly imagine.
He checked his phone and saw that a message had arrived from Jill.
'See you, babe. Had a lovely time.'
'Me too. Sweet dreams. I love you.'
Just then, a tingle on the tip of his finger surprised him. It made Hayes drop his phone on the ground and frown in astonishment. What was that?
Hayes studied his fingers, heart racing. He suddenly felt different, like his body had been disassembled to the atom level and reassembled to form an entirely different entity. There was something wrong.
Or maybe, something was going right.
A minute spark of electricity was frolicking on his fingers.
An idea crossed his mind.