“Uh, yeah,” I say, reflexively folding my arms a little like I’m hugging myself. I doubt he’s able to hurt me, but I haven’t gotten over my good-old-fashioned shyness around strangers. I always feel like I’m interrupting. “I’m looking for a, uh, a costume.”
“Alright,” he says. He gives me a quick up-and-down look, appraising instead of leering. I’m sure he’s already thinking about what size I’d fit. “Got a party coming up,” he asks, making conversation.
I make a face, and shake my head quickly. Ugh, costume parties. “No,” I say. “I’ve, uh… I’ve got powers, and I need something to wear.” The words come out in a rush, and I tighten my arms around myself. My stomach knots up.
It just feels so stupid to say something like that. Like I’m not taking it seriously to come here, instead of going to a proper super shop. A party costume isn’t a sign of dedication, of being willing to put one’s life on the line for the greater good. I want to turn around and run immediately. The only thing keeping me here is that, if I run now, I literally don’t have any other choice except to face Doctor Dreadful or whoever he is in my normal clothes. And that’s even less serious heroing than going in a Halloween costume.
"Well," he says, "I don't usually provide costumes for powers, but you're hardly the first person to come in looking for one. Do you have any idea what you're after?"
"No." I shake my head a little, comforted by his matter-of-fact manner. I shrug. "I just don't want something that's very..." I hold my hands up like I'm cupping a pair of gargantuan breasts. "You know?"
He grinned to himself and let out a short laugh. "Yeah, I understand. I used to be in the business, too." He slapped his gut. "Had my own share of problems finding a costume that fit right."
I smile faintly at his easy self-deprecation and ask, "Really? Who were you?"
"Alter Ego. Named the shop after myself. I was a mentalist – not quite mind-controlling, but definitely mind-influencing."