Breakfast. I roll over, groan, and manage to pry my eyes open. Partway, because it’s already bright and sunny out, and why I agreed to arrange the bed this way, I’ll never know. I hold my hand up, trying to swat at the window, but that never works out nearly as well as with alarm clocks. Oh, god, waffles, though. I can smell maple syrup in the microwave.

I root around for my jeans for a couple of minutes before remembering that it’s a work day, and pull open a drawer. Ha. Success. There are my khakis and my lovingly mass-produced logo polo, available in a wide variety of colors, based on whether you prefer to wear gray, black, or navy slacks. Not that it’s reasonable to expect people to wear power armor over slacks, because it chafes like a bitch, but at least the shirts come in white, too. I do remember to put boxers on first.

I run a hand through my hair, trying to get out the sleep rumples, but it looks fine enough.

I stumble out the door, turning towards the coffee and waffles. I turn a little bit too far, and find myself facing the other bedroom door, complete with Darren’s schedule posted carefully on the front. Oh, that’s a nice touch. I roll my eyes.

Darren’s getting coffee to go with his waffle, so I take a bite while he’s distracted.

“Get your own, assface,” he says.

I take another bite of his delicious, delicious waffle. “Yours is already here, though.”

“You’re not getting any coffee,” he tells me, standing protectively in front of the coffeepot, shielding it with his very life and limb.

“You know, if you don’t want me eating the rest of yours, you can make me my own.”

“Blow me,” Darren says.

“Sold,” I say, gesturing at the waffle iron.

Darren rolls his eyes and, muttering, pours more batter on.

“And coffee, too,” I remind him, finishing his waffle.

“You’re not getting the last of the maple syrup,” he mutters, “you can have the cheap fake crap and stop wasting my hard earned tree sugar in your shitty coffee.”

“It’s awesome coffee,” I say, “not my fault you can’t stand dark roast.”

“Don’t know why I even drink it,” he grumbles.

I laugh. “Because you’d like to be awake if someone’s going to shoot lasers at you during work hours, and there’s really only the one way to be awake.”

Darren flips me off, and chugs a cup of coffee before refilling it and handing it to me.

“Isn’t that hot?” I ask.

He waves a hand airily. “Oh, you know, burning your tongue wakes you up, too, and all that.”

I take a sip. It’s not as hot as it ought to be, but hotter than I expected from his ability to drink it in one gulp. “How long have you been up?”

“Had to finish the reports.” He shakes his head. “You’ll see soon enough, won’t you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask.

He grins at me.

What it means, it turns out, is that I’m up for promotion. I get to be summoned by my boss the minute I walk in the door. He has a nice imposing desk in front of intimidatingly uncomfortable chairs and he hands me a stack of files when I sit down in the one closer to the door.

I open them up. They’re dossiers on the kids’ group.

“Welcome aboard, Teke,” my boss says.

I look up at him. “Is that what we’re going with?”

“You’re welcome to change it if you don’t like it,” my boss says, “you have until close of business today, so make it snappy.”

“Teke it is,” I say. “I didn’t think you usually promoted across teams like that.”

My boss shrugs. “None of the masks wanted the job. The kids seem to like you okay, and you’ve been better filling in during training than anything else you do, so.”

I try not to frown at that.

“Relax, Travis,” my boss says. “It’s a compliment. You’re fine at the day to day. You’re good at teaching. Grab one of the domino masks and go get better.”

“Um,” I say, smartly. “So, how is the secret ident–”

“Just keep coming to work in uniform like you always do,” my boss says, “suddenly we have a new mask who isn’t connected to any of our employees changing jobs. Whoop-de-do.”

“It’s not going to be much of a secret,” I say, “I mean, everyone will recognize me.”

“Do you care?” my boss says, “it’s not like you’ve made much of an effort to hide your abilities.”

I frown at that one. Partly because he’s right, and mostly because he’s wrong.

“You don’t exactly have a rare powerset, Teke,” the boss says.

I guess we are going with that, then.

next

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