[align=center][/align] "Comic book heroes don't exist."Especially not in New York City. Nicholas had already gone through three packs of cigarettes since morning. He flicked away the remains of the charred cigarette butt he'd just finished off, and popped a fresh one out of the box. Smoking was his tell - when he was nervous or stressed out, he smoked. But, then again, he also smoked when he was anxious, happy, excited, irritated, and angry. So no one would really tell that he was stressed, unless he'd snapped off the filter off of the end like a real man. His girls always got on his case about smoking, and they were right, it was incredibly unhealthy, and good health was of the utmost importance to him, especially since his abilities involved so much of his own body. He may have had plenty of money to burn, but his life was stressful, and it had just gotten a whole lot worse. It was bad enough that he was a mutant - not that he didn't appreciate his powers - but to be cursed with the Ashworth family name. The glares he got on the streets almost gave him chills sometimes, but he'd never let anyone know otherwise. He was pleased to have the abilities he did though - being able to throw bone projectiles from your body sure as hell kept anyone in bad dealings with his father from messing with him. Mutants may have generally been accepted in society, but even the good ones were still feared by civilians, some more than others. They were unpredictable, even the ones who went to Themis. Most people felt safe around the students of Themis, but there would always be that unease that came with them. They would never be completely normal, no matter what the government says. Nicholas knew this, all too well. He, of all people, had the best of intentions, and only ever wanted to help people, even though his father was the scum of the earth in the eyes of most of New York City. But that was why he tried to damn hard - he didn't want to be like his father. He wanted to be different. He wanted to change the business. Clean it up. Make it legitimate. It would be easier said than done, but he’d find a way, somehow. He’d considered just wiping it out completely, but it was an excellent business oppurtunity – if he could figure out a means to make the business profitable towards the greater good, then he’d be able to do more than just punch out the lights of some low-life villian. He could really do something. The rent-a-cop that had given him grief about parking his car in a no parking zone had finally left, giving Nicholas the oppurtunity finally to slam his car door shut. He twirled his keys around his fingers like a toy before clicking the car hood button, retracting the convertible hood in case it rained. He chewed on the filter of his unlit cigarette as he walked down the path from the parking lot to the main courtyard. He never really cared for the flowers and trees – he prefered steel, glass and concrete, like in downtown New York. It irritated him that Themis had to be just on the border of the city. It was why he chose to have an apartment and drove to campus. He had tried to convince Oliver to move into a town house with him – but the stubborn kid wouldn’t take any charity, and chose to live on campus like most of the foreign or out-of-state kids did. Stuffing the chewed up cigarette in his pocket for later, Nicholas swooped into the main building where the student union was, and looked around for any familiar faces. Collins or Oliver would have been preferable – mostly because he couldn’t find his damn lighter. He could get Oliver to light a cigarette with electrical sparks if he really tried. That would have been kind of messed up though (but then again, no one would put it past him for trying to get him to do that). A couple of prying eyes settled on him, and several people dodged out of his path when he passed by. It must have been obvious that Mercury was not in the best of moods that day. He was stressed, nervous, even, and the fact that he wasn’t hiding it well frustrated him even more.