I watch Sensei Domino through my office window, leading the kids in a pattern of blocks. I considered going to train with them, but I think it might undermine my authority that I don’t actually know most of this stuff, and it looks weird to just lean against the wall and watch them. He’s been doing this for ages, anyway; he knows his stuff. Even Jailbait is listening to him, and she’s been here for years. There’s no way she doesn’t already know this stuff.

(Gatling’s been here for years, too, but I would not be surprised to find he doesn’t already know this stuff.)

I don’t mime what they’re doing, in case any of them happen to look up at me, but I do consider asking him for private lessons of some sort. I know I probably can’t keep up with the kids, but it would be good to at least get a feel for what they’re learning. Karate can’t actually be all that different from what I did learn, can it? The blocks look familiar enough.

I turn back to my form. I want to get them out on a patrol – an afternoon patrol, I’m not insane – as soon as possible, because if they’re going to do it anyway, I want them to be able to do it safely. And I get the feeling that at least the new kid wants to try it out. Even if they don’t, it’ll show them what it’s like, if they do decide to join us – I’m not trying to convince Jailbait because she’s thoroughly convinced on her own, as far as I can tell – and I would like them to be able to make informed decisions.

Plus it’s on the list of goals I have for them. (Dr. Jerry made me set them out. Not that I have anything against Doc Jerry; he certainly cares about the kids and wants to keep them safe and healthy, the same as the rest of us. And any of Arsenal’s problems I can’t actually blame on him, because the kid’s had a hell of a time, but sometimes it’s like he’s not even trying.)

Anyway: learn how to control their powers, learn when and for what to use their powers, learn how to defend themselves, figure out how they want to help people, learn how our system works.

So the karate lessons are goals one through three, or, at least, clearly goal three, and Sensei Domino assures me that the philosophical bits apply as easily to use of their powers as to use of their fists, and that self-control as a basic idea is necessary to controlling their powers. I wonder if I should have them meditate. I wonder if Sass will teach them how.

Ha, no, they would’ve asked her to train them and she obviously said no.

Still, maybe I can dredge up what I know of the hippy-dippy stuff we had to do in elementary school, in case we got powers (or already had them, not that the school believed me until they ran the full battery, schools, amirite), because clearing my mind and centering myself definitely helped when I would just use them by accident and couldn’t make them go on purpose. Not so much, later, when I started to be able to feel myself using them, but I have no way of knowing whether the kids are at that point yet. And maybe meditating would help some of them, anyway.

“This is dumb,” Gatling calls, vaguely up at me. Or, at least, he’s definitely specifically calling out loudly enough that I can hear, even if he’s not looking at me.

Not that he needed to; I can hear everything going on in the gym from here better than I could if I were actually down there.

“If you’d like to take a break, just say so,” Sensei Domino says – pleasantly.

“I don’t need a fucking break, I need to be doing something not pointless,” Gatling says.

That boy has a problem with authority.

I turn on my mic. “How about twenty laps?”

“What?” Gatling yells, definitely looking at me, now, “how the fuck is that fair, just because I actually want to learn?”

“If you wanted to learn, you would be listening to your teacher,” I tell him, and wave him off.

Grumbling, glaring at me, he starts to run his laps. I catch him muttering one or two things he really shouldn’t be muttering, but that’s a talk for his parents to have with him, not me (and, knowing his parents, that they never will), so I leave it alone. FiendPuncher looks like she’s ready to tear him a new one, but I press my TK gently against her shoulder, and she gets the picture.

“Wow,” she giggles to her classmates, instead, “who tinkled in his cornflakes?”

There’s something about the way she says ‘tinkle’ that sounds even more sarcastic than you’d expect it to.

“What a jerk,” Enigma Machine says, Jailbait shifting uncomfortably while she acknowledges that, their other classmate nodding in agreement.

Caffeine snickers, leaning in to the rest of the group, “watch this.”

Then he runs up next to Gatling for a minute, saying “hey” before speeding up, slowly, just enough that Gatling is panting and struggling to keep up by the time Caffeine hits extranormal speeds, lapping him a few times. Then, to add insult to injury, Caffeine slows back down and jogs next to the grumbling and glaring racist/sexist/homophobe (honestly, he’s muttering basically all the bullshit), telling him to “maybe pace yourself a little.”

I maintain a stoic expression, because I’m not supposed to play favorites.

Caffeine winks at me, and I can see why they think he might have an extrasensory ability of some sort, or, in this case, maybe even something memetic. Personally, I think he just reads people too well, maybe even cheating and watching them in time-shift, because I bet there’s a lot you can tell about people if you watch them in slow motion.

Or maybe it’s blatantly obvious to everyone how much I hate Gatling. It’s blatantly obvious how much he hates me, after all.

Jailbait flips him off when she thinks I’m not looking. I don’t say anything. What am I, their parent? I don’t know why they expect me to say anything about it. I don’t know why she bothers flipping him off at all, anyway; everyone else is too busy laughing over Caffeine’s antics to notice, and Gatling probably has too much sweat in his eyes to see her.

Sensei Domino claps his hands together in the traditional pattern of ‘you are acting like children; do I have to start flicking the lights’, and they turn back towards him, half-heartedly clapping back. Jailbait, Caffeine, and FiendPuncher all stand to attention, Enigma Machine and the other continue jostling each other for a minute before they notice.

Sensei Domino stares them down.

“Sorry,” Psybeam finally says, Enigma Machine nodding vigorously in apology.

I take a minute to shake out my hand before I put pen back to paperwork. I think, if I put in the request now, forensics and patterns can probably map out something safe for the kids to walk by the end of next week.

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