Angela sat quietly in the corner of the classroom, head down in her notes.
She was tired. Not the situation she wanted for studying calculus. But not something she was unused to.
She knew how to manage. So she did. Absorbing as much information as she could.
School, work, social life, personal time. She kept them all in balance, and generally dealt with her schedule without getting overwhelmed. And she wasn't overwhelmed, just tired. It was Friday, she'd had work the night before, had volunteered to work late when the opportunity arose due to Emerald calling in sick, and her usual evening break before work was taken up with a nice dinner date. Cameron was... special. Sweet. Angela hadn't known them long, but...
She blushed, thinking about Cameron's... thinking about Cameron. The two of them had barely said a dozen sentences through the course of the meal. Two painfully shy people trying to connect. And somehow, they kept doing it.
It was too bad that she was working again that night, and that she absolutely needed a nap before her shift.
Math class concluded, and Angela kept her head down and blended into the mass of bodies heading for the hall. She felt invisible, and she appreciated that.
One more class, then a brief lunch, then one more. Then the weekend.
Opal slipped out of the employee changing rooms in her denim shorts and blue shirt, feeling attractive. The earpiece, hidden behind her long unbound brown hair, was sending little warm happy pulses of sound directly into her brain at regular intervals, helping her fit into her role as a waitress at Translations.
She had taken the job because it sounded like fun, after a really good night there with friends. And it had been a lot of fun, and lucrative, and flexible, offered great benefits... It was everything she wanted in work. It even allowed her to indulge in exhibitionism from time to time, providing an outlet that her real life didn't offer.
The benefits also included connections with Alteration equipment and programming, and that had helped her feel even more at home in her body and even more indulgent of her desires.
The doors would open in five minutes or so. Opal headed into the kitchen more out of habit than anything, but as usual, the people who regularly worked in the kitchen had everything in order. She made her way to her assigned post, checking the small collection of tables she was supposed to look after that evening.
For a Friday, it was fairly quiet. She was kept on her toes by a slightly rowdy table of onlookers, but they were harmless. Gawkers weren't unheard of, and were tolerated provided they kept to themselves and ordered enough to cover the cost of seating them, and apparently one of them was a fan of the mock-chicken and onion rings that he was able to convince his friends to sit in a mostly-silent nightclub and have supper and drinks. They tipped well, at least.
Most of Opal's tables were the usual transitory sort: guests coming in and getting their menus, only staying long enough to order a headset and program; people tired of dancing and needing a bit of a break; designated drivers spending their time on the edges of dance floor or in the gaming centre. She worked hard, but not overly, and there were no notable incidents.
Until she heard a familiar voice, slightly after midnight. "Ohmigod, Angela?"
That's not my name when I'm here, Opal's programming reminded her. She turned and was about to introduce herself to the speaker when recognition bloomed behind the employee programming. She quickly put a finger to her earbud and tapped twice. Three times would have been an emergency; twice was just a potentially embarrassing situation.
Cameron knew that they had a lot to learn about their new crush. They had not expected that the shy girl they were just starting to date would be working at Translations.
Of course, Angela probably didn't expect to see Cameron with a red-lit headset, walking to a table after having been in a very close cluster with the other reds on the floor. The music had been entrancing, which was the point. A few people were deep enough into the program that clothes had been removed, although Cameron wasn't at the point of public exhibition. The goal, aside from a little fun tonight, was to be a little more outgoing, a little more comfortable with themselves. Not exactly therapy, but close enough. The lowered inhibitions of the mild Alterations and the atmosphere were ideal to experiment with being a little less reserved.
And it gave them the excuse for themselves later. It wasn't them, it was the situation, it was the Alteration. They knew it was a fiction to an extent, but it was still comfortable.
Another waiter came over to see what was going on, but Angela stayed close by as Cameron made their way to a booth. The two waiters spoke for a moment, and Angela came over to Cameron. She reached into her flowing hair and pulled an earpiece out, holding it in her hand.
She flushed, seeming embarrassed. Cameron indicated the seat opposite so Angela could sit.
"It's... uh..." she began. "We never... discussed... work."
Cameron smiled, also blushing. "Or hobbies," they said. "I didn't expect to see you here."
"I didn't expect to see you here!" Angela replied. "You're just... a-and wearing red!"
"I'm trying to work on that. A-and you?"
She went deeper red. "Invisible me is everyday me. This me—uh, it's 'Opal' while I'm here, by the way—this me is work me, and I love this me, too."
Cameron had only ever seen her in oversized clothes and with her hair in a conservative ponytail. "I'd like to get to know this you. And that you. All yous, really."
"I want to know the you that's getting over being shy," Angela replied.
"So..." Cameron smirked. "What time do you get off work?"
"An hour after close, three AM."
"If I hang around, can we discuss those other usses?"
Angela grinned and slipped the earpiece back in. "I'd like that."
They watched Angela's transformation into Opal, a nearly visible change in posture and demeanour. "What can I get you?" she asked as she stood up.
Cameron smiled and nodded. "Sparkling fruit punch, please, An—uh, Opal."
"Coming right up!" she said, almost too cheerfully.
Cameron watched her go. A three AM date, they think. Sounds like fun.