HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 339

“The first time I came to Victory City, I bought this cool metal lamp she made,” Melody said. “I brought it home as a souvenir for Sam. Little did we know that it was about to become a lot more valuable.”

“It was a beautiful piece,” Sam said. “Like, looking at it, I suddenly understood what I wanted to do with my art and my life. Total galaxy brain moment. So I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

“Then I’ll try not to disappoint you,” someone said behind them.

Frederica turned to face a tall, heavyset white woman with curly brown hair. Sam stiffened, their cool, collected demeanor overwritten by a deer-in-headlights stare.

“You… you’re…” they stammered.

“Bridget Gould,” the woman said, shaking Sam’s hand. “And you are?”

“Sam,” they replied. “Sam Demir. I, uh, didn’t think I’d actually get to meet you.”

“I didn’t think anyone would ever want to meet me,” Bridget replied with a wink. “I really only got into art because I needed a less self-destructive way to work through a messy breakup.”

“What did you do before that?” Melody asked.

“Street racing,” Bridget replied. “So either way, twisted metal was in my future.”

“Dark,” Melody said. “I like it.”

Bridget smirked and turned back to Sam.

“So tell me about your art,” she said. “You work with metal too?”

Sam nodded.

“I’m not as skilled as you, of course,” they said. “But I’ve always felt strongly connected to metal, even before my powers fully emerged. I have a few pieces in a gallery in Halifax, but I manage the place so I don’t think that really counts.”

“Did you work your ass off to get that job?” Bridget asked.

“Well, yeah,” Sam replied.

“Then of course it counts,” Bridget said.