On the second level of Arx's business district, tucked away from the main streets, was a store. The small storefront had changed hands many times over its history. Before the current owner took over six years ago, it was a yoga studio. Now it was home to Little Fancy Masques and Garments, owned by one Louise Morris.
Louise opened shop each day at 10:00 and closed up by 3:00. Afterward, she'd work until supper, sewing together various custom clothing for her customers. After all, the great part of Little Fancy was that Louise would custom tailor almost anything. Girls would come to her for graduation or prom dresses, and she often found herself making complex wedding dresses for rich brides. She got especially busy closer to Halloween when people asked her for whatever crazy costume they had in mind for that year. Cosplayers also tended to frequent the business, knowing she would tailor top-quality outfits for as reasonable a price as anyone.
And recently, she'd started another facet of her business.
The bell over the door rang around 10:15, when Louise was straightening out a display showcasing some of her more complex pieces. When she glanced around, she stifled a sigh.
Him again. Not that she'd complain about the business he brought, but she really thought he should grow up and go back to a real job. Nevertheless, Louise smiled brightly and greeted him.
"James! What can I do for you today?"
"Hey, Louise," he replied, glancing quickly around the shop. "Nobody else here today?"
"Not yet. I did just open." She felt that the comment was a dig at her lack of exposure, but Louise didn't let the smile slip from her face.
"Good," James said with a grin. "I need another favor from you."
"I will make whatever you want so long as you pay me," Louise replied.
"Fantastic. So, I found another one yesterday. Someone like me. A superhero. Could you make an outfit for him too?"
"Okay." Louise grabbed a notebook and sat on the counter. "Can you tell me his measurements?"
"Uh..." James looked around like a doofus and she sighed heavily.
"You want the costume to fit, right? Nevermind. Bring him in here someday and I'll measure him then and ask about what sort of design he wants."
"His name's Jumper!" James said. He could be such a child sometimes. "So make it look something like that. Jump!"
"Someone with a sensible name," Louise muttered under her breath. James didn't hear her.
"So, I dunno, maybe with wings or like rocket boots or something?"
"I'll discuss design with Jumper when you bring him, how's that? I assume he'll need a mask too? And the clothes should be easy to move in, considering the sort of nonsense you get into."
"Hey, saving the world isn't nonsense!" James protested.
"Sure thing, James. As long as I'm paid at the end of the day I don't care too much what I make as long as it's nothing illegal. Like that weirdo who asked me to make - y'know what, nevermind. I refused and that disgusting monstrosity did not come into the world by my hands. End of story."
"I'm really curious now," James said, leaning on the counter with an expectant look in his eyes.
"It's disgusting to just think about. Trust me, you don't wanna know. Does Jumper want a cape too?" She tried to change the subject back, but James wouldn't drop it.
"What sort of clothing could be illegal anyway?"
"I said you don't wanna know!" Louise smacked him with the notebook. "Now if you won't help me with design ideas, get out and come back when you've got your new friend. Just don't drag him into anything too insane, okay?"
"Nothing's insane!" James shot back. "I'm just protecting the peace, and he'll protect it too!"
"Whatever," Louise muttered, pushing James towards the door. "If you don't mind, I'm expecting another customer in about ten minutes to discuss a wedding dress. If you want your 'secret identity' to remain secret, Mr. Achilles, you'll leave now without making a fuss."
"Got it, got it. Sheesh Louise, you haven't changed a bit."
"I'd like to think I've matured beyond a high schooler, thank you very much. I do own my own business now, and it's staying afloat."
"That's not what I meant. You're still grumpy." With that, James left the store and Louise finally let out the massive sigh she'd been holding in.
"You're the one who hasn't changed, James," she muttered. Then she left for the back, checking to make sure she had exactly 333 pearls on that darn dress. How many did a woman think she needed? And that wasn't even mentioning the layers upon layers of lace.
Couldn't people ask for more practical outfits? Or less complicated at least? But as a tailor, she couldn't complain as long as she was getting work.