“Heya, Teke,” Vector Analysis says, from in my office, on my chair, behind my desk, which her legs are resting on, and I’m so glad I put all the paperwork in the drawers so she can’t kick it all to the floor. I’ve seen her trick the baby agents into playing 52 Pickup.
(When they mouth off, though.)
“Vector,” I say, and drop my bag down next to her.
She grins at me. “You can say it if you want.”
I cross my arms.
“Where’s the Travis we know and love? You know you want to,” she tells me.
“Get your feet off my desk,” I snap.
“Aha, I knew you were enjoying your promotion.” She waves a hand to encompass the desk and chair. “Already so possessive of your furniture.”
“Your feet are still on my desk,” I remind her.
She affects a wide-eyed expression and gestures at her boots. “But I’m using a coaster.”
I glance down involuntarily, and there is, in fact, a coaster underneath her boots. It’s actually a pretty nice coaster, too, some enameled design embossed in brushed steal. I kind of wonder where she got it, or if she just carries them around in her utility belt for some reason. I mean, I don’t know, I apparently carry dog biscuits around, just in case. Also I found a nine-sided die in one of the pockets.
“They were a gift,” she says, following my gaze, “you’d know that, if you bothered to ask. We haven’t talked in ages, Travis.”
“I’m sorry,” I tell her, “I’ve been so busy what with it being all of four days since I talked to you.”
“Promotion’s gone to your head,” she says, with a sad sigh.
“Feet,” I say, “desk.”
She shrugs, swinging her legs down to the floor and standing in one smooth motion, and I have to think she practices that specifically to look cool. “Come on. Target practice.”
I check the schedule, in case there’s any last minute meetings people have set up, but it’s still just as open as it was before. I leave a sticky note on my computer in case anyone comes looking.
“So who are the coasters from?” I ask.
She shrugs. “Apparently a friend of a friend of a friend is an artist and does metalworking. Everyone involved figured, wouldn’t Vicky Alice love some coasters.”
I stare at her for a second.
“No, they don’t actually call me that, but shame on you for catching the reference,” she says.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her, “if it helps, I’ll probably get my own by Monday.”
Vector laughs at me. “That’s right, you are friends with JCitySkies, aren’t you.”
“You’re the one who made the reference in the first place,” I huff at her.
“Oh, yeah, that,” she says, with a mild glare, “so the friend of a friend keeps sending me links to these awful stories, which, I think, is supposed to be flattering or something.”
“Don’t look at me,” I tell her, “I’d never recommend any of the things my friends write, and they’re actually proofread.”
“The thing is,” Vector shakes her head. “The friend of a friend of a friend wants an open license for power use at a show. The friend, by the way, is actually my brother, the friend of a friend is the guy he got arrested with that time they stole the Porsche.”
“And sending you creepy fan art is the way to win you over,” I reiterate, “charming.”
“The fan art’s actually pretty good,” Vector says, “it’s the fic that’s creepy.”
“Are you sure?” I ask her, “because I’ve seen the way they draw, and costumes generally cover at least a little bit more than that.”
She laughs again. “Yeah, I think he figured out that I don’t appreciate naked drawings.”
I snort. “Are you going to help them?”
Vector waggles her hand. “I don’t know. The artist’s pretty good, but these guys….”
“Well, an artist that’s friends with your brother,” I say, and just let it hang there.
Vector snorts at ‘friends’. “I get the feeling one or both of them is playing the connections card to try to get a date.”
I share a look with her. “Do you ever consider just showing up in costume and scaring the shit out of them? Maybe at work?”
She slings an arm around me. “All the time, Trav, all the time.”
“I swear I will fake up paperwork for you,” I add. “Make everything seem copacetic.”
When we get to the firing range, it’s empty, though, and Vector has to rifle through her pockets for the key to the storage closet. I pull out my card to swipe it after she wrestles the lock open, holding it so it doesn’t bolt closed on us again before I can get the alarms disarmed.
“We need to get this thing replaced,” she grumbles.
I shrug. “Oh, you know, we get all these shiny new powers showing up all the time, no one wants to train up silly old Deadeye enhancements.”
She smacks my shoulder. “Help me look for the fucking clay airplanes, will you?”
We dig around a while, and finally find a box of them in the back. The box is pretty much falling apart, but the targets are fine. I find myself grinning sheepishly at Vector while I pull the targets out one by one with my TK so I don’t have to touch the box, which I almost never do, but she only gives me a judgmental look for as long as she’s at the wrong angle to see the box herself. Then she just raises her eyebrow and makes a note for the quartermaster to order more damn it, because some of us like to practice with actual bullets and all the other targets are a little expensive for that, unless you’d like me to shoot the holobots, because I can, Sid.
Because old school can be a lot less hassle. Even if you do need a teke to run a drill with these.
I find it amusing that they’re built to be particularly lightweight, because they would’ve felt light anyway, all being the same size and shape. I’ve never found an opportunity to share these observations, because only other tekes (and some research staff) know what I mean when I say it, and they always look at me like they don’t know what my point is or why I’m talking to them.
“Did you hear Sideswipe finally got moved to our SWAT team?” Vector asks.
I probably would’ve if Arsenal could string two words together at me, but it’s not exactly prime gossip – I can actually barely remember this being an ongoing issue. “Should I be jealous? Are you going to start practicing with her, instead?”
Vector stretches, then pulls a pair of pistols off the rack. She grins at me and pretends to stomp over. “It was taking for-fucking-ever to get the paperwork to stick. Turns out, going missing.”
Well, that’s some bullshit. I fling a few of the targets up into the air, clustering them fairly closely and setting them into a spin. “Which asshole was responsible for that?”
“Your favorite asshole,” she tells me, and then empties both clips into the targets.
I let the pieces fall when she hits them, but keep the largest shards floating off the ground, so I can reuse them for the next round. “Nice. Is she filing a complaint, or are we just peeing in his shoes?”
She shoots me a skeptical look as she reloads. “Peeing in his shoes, really, Travis?”
I laugh at her expression, trying to randomize the shards’ trajectories. “I didn’t mean us, personally, I meant that Chelsea got transferred to the K9 unit and Cheese Toasties is a good dog.”
She picks off her targets more carefully, this time. I’m not really sure what pattern she’s using to pick them, but it’s not really the point of having me here, anyway; I’m just keeping them moving. Probably more difficult for her when I don’t know, actually; I’ve never asked her whether she’s got that hint of esp with her aiming, for obvious reasons, but it’s always harder to practice while it talks to you.
Finally catching one that was eluding her, she tells me, “Cheese Toasties sounds like a good dog, if she’ll pee in his shoes for us.”
“Absolutely.” I pull out some more of the whole targets, floating them downrange, while Vector grabs an actual rifle and sets up. “You have to train them to pee on command, anyway, you know.”
“I did not know that. That’s sounds profoundly useless except in this one instance.” She proceeds to fire on the targets as fast as she can.