(Based on characters from the DC Comics Universe)
Watching the group assembled at a circular table in the diner, Susan Karlo longed to be one of them. Such a small, intimate group, very friendly. But, she realized that could never happen, apart from the fact she was just a waitress striving to help mom make ends meet, they were high class and she was, well a freak.
Remember, you’re a freak, we’re all freaks – separate and apart from their kind. His words echoed in her mind as Susan brought an order of burgers and fries to the Grayson table. Pretty elites like them would never accept us. That’s what Blade always told her.
Richard smiled and looked at her through coal black eyes that made her feel like jelly on connecting with her green eyes. She smiled uneasily. It seemed like he was leader of the little gang. Richard Grayson, dark hair, handsome, athletic figure, maybe a couple years older than herself, 20 maybe? He was a law student at Gotham State University.
His friends included computer expert Roy Harper, the joker of the bunch. Not such a bad figure himself, light reddish hair, blue eyes, then junior physicist Wally West, another guy in very good condition.
This group must work out a lot, Susan figured. There were also some girls in the group, Donna Troy, buxom, long dark hair that made Susan envious, Donna was a photographer.
“Let me know if I can get you anything else,” Susan said, her eyes lingering a little long on Richard.
A young woman in a wheel chair wheeled herself into the diner. Roy motioned to her, “Shadow, come join us.”
The young woman had a laptop with her. She smiled, rolled to the others. Her smoothed down hair was a dark red, some freckles were on her face.
Susan considered her own appearance, a fair blonde with a simple figure. She lived with her mother, never met her father, a two-bit criminal, another secret she’d just as soon the handsome Grayson never know.
“Can I get you anything Miss?” Susan asked.
“Strawberry-chocolate shake,” the woman called Shadow answered pulling herself to the table.
At a corner table sat a bulky man covered in trench coat and hat. His features were in darkness, Susan knew who he was Kevin Croc, a younger version of the legendary late Killer Croc, perhaps a clone he never said.
Susan ran her hand across her hair, done up in a pony tail. She turned from Croc and went to get Shadow’s milkshake.
The gang was talking about college stuff when she returned. Susan wished she could join them, join Richard. “Can I get you anything else?” She looked to Richard. “Mr. Grayson?”
“No,” He replied and smiled at her. “Just call me Richard.”
She flashed a smile, turned and walked away. Was her heart pounding? Felt like it.
“I think she likes you,” Roy whispered slyly.
“I wish I could think where I know her from,” Richard commented. He rubbed his jaw. “She seems familiar.”
“Maybe you should get to know her,” Donna suggested. “She’s cute.”
Hmm, she was cute, kind of, thought Richard. Nice too. He glanced back at the big guy in the shadows. He could tell the man was watching Susan. Poor deluded Croc, thought Richard. Maybe someday he should let him know the truth.
As the day wore on, Susan continued her waitress duties, greeting customers with as warm a disposition as she could manage. Croc just hung around, she really wished he would leave.
Shadow stayed, working on her laptop. She was not far from Croc’s table, wearing headphones, and doing whatever it was she was doing.
Croc grabbed hold of Susan’s arm as she passed by. He looked at her with his cold eyes, “You need to get over your crush on the rich boy,” He growled. “He’d never be interested in you – especially if he knew the truth about you.”
“Why should he?” She asked, knowing the answer. In her soul, she longed to be able to be part of their little group, but her mind told her Croc was right, it could never happen.
“Blade feels you spend too much among these people, you may come to think of yourself as one of them.” Croc paused. “Don’t set yourself up for the bitter disappointment of falling for that lie, you are not like them and they would never accept the real you.”
He was right. Her eyes closed. “I need to get back to work.” She thought of mother, so many years working at that factory. Mom was honest and decent, poor and humble.
“You don’t need to work for these people,” Croc told her.
“Mother says it’s important to earn an honest living.”
She heard Croc make an angry snort.
Some tears dripped down her cheeks as she turned from Croc. She stopped; Shadow was looking at her – as if she knew what they’d been talking about. Susan froze, her eyes widened. She wiped away the tears and continued on, wondering what Shadow was thinking. Afraid of what Shadow was thinking.
Susan took a breath and walked on, Shadow grabbed her arm, a pleasant enough smile on her face, “So, what time do you get off?”
“Uh.” Susan was taken by surprise. “Nine, Why?”
“I thought maybe you might like a ride, we could talk.” Shadow suggested.
The crippled girl drove? Well, much was certainly possible now. “Sure, uh, why?”
“I just want to get to know you,” Shadow said. “I like getting to know new people.”
“Okay,” Susan replied. Sure, why not?