“Teke!” Hunch says, “you made it!”
“Yeah,” I agree, “finally got Darren to sleep, they told me you were up here alone.”
(Of course he was. Precog’s always the safe bet.)
Hunch looks back into his binoculars. “How is he?”
I pull out my own, pointing them at the exact same warehouse where nothing is going to happen all night. “He’s doing better. He didn’t sleep all the way through the night, though.”
“Not good,” Hunch says.
Before he says anything else, the other guy on the roof (who I can’t feel at all with my field even after I unfurl it, even though I know he’s inside it – I could probably shove him around if I wanted to grab at him blindly, but maybe not, depending, I should look up his file) turns to me and asks, “your kid?”
I must make a kind of horrified face, because his eyes widen comically.
Hunch clears his throat.
“Sorry,” the guy says, “Null Hotel.”
“Worst band name ever,” I tell him. “Teke.”
“Would have gone with ‘Null November’,” he suggests.
I consider it. “More pretentious, less surreal.”
Hunch laughs. “Not ‘Null Quebec’?”
“More like a political party,” Hotel says.
“I like ‘Null Whisky’,” Hunch adds, “sounds like some kind of space drink.”
“We don’t have a Whisky,” Hotel reminds him.
“We should find one,” Hunch says. “Darren’s sedatives not working? Because I can authorize a higher dose if you need one.”
“You know,” Hotel says, “there’s probably something fucked up about doctors recommending a dose and you doling it out as you see fit.”
He’s not wrong, but it’s irrelevant right now, especially because I think he’s at the max dose anyway. “Sedatives are working fine, it’s keeping him unconscious all night that’s the problem.”
“Huh,” Hunch says, “that’s a new one.”
“Not that it’s that big a problem after tonight, but he does use them to sleep the rest of the time, too,” I say. “I hope he hasn’t acclimated that quickly, he only just upped the dose.”
“Powers?” Hotel asks.
“No powers,” I say. “He’s just on the normal stuff.”
“That’s good, at least,” Hotel tells me, “when I first got mine I was up at two twelve every morning puking. It took me until after my refill to find the warning.”
“I love that one,” I say. “Ooh, let’s make it a big X through a slightly smaller X, that’s not hard to read at all.”
“Didn’t need them so much, after, though,” Hotel adds, “blissfully quiet inside my skull. Couldn’t hear a peep out of my neighbor.”
“He was inside your head?” Hunch says, followed by a very similar sound to the ones Darren made at each and every noise that happened this afternoon.
I shudder, too. “You didn’t report them?”
“Report what?” Hotel says. “It’s some poor claustrophobic nut, all he wants to know is whether we’re taking his mail or something.”
“Still,” I say, because I don’t think I could live in that apartment.
“I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it,” Hotel says, “I don’t even think he’s doing it on purpose, and I don’t think he ever talks to anyone enough to share anything private, so.”
“Still illegal for him to be in there,” Hunch says, but with very little conviction.
“It may not be conscious thought access, if it helps any,” Hotel says, defending his crazy neighbor, “I think it’s a checklist system of some kind, that’s all.”
“Yeah,” I mutter, “you’d definitely feel him rooting around your head if it were just that.”
Hotel sounds distinctly amused when he responds to me. “I can feel value-judgement powers running around my head. I was psi-ops for years, you know.”
“Yeah?” I say, watching a light flick on and tapping the binoculars to record, “How good a telepath can you keep out?”
“Military grade, if they’re not trying to listen in,” he says.
The light winks out. “And if they are?”
“Well, I can use the equipment without hallucinating or breaking down into paranoid delusions,” Hotel defends himself. “Well, now I can keep them all out, obviously. What’s your point?”
“Eh,” I say, “just wondering what sorts of powers you block.”
“Anything memetic, anything psychoactive, most kinds of espers, or at least the generalized ones, precognition, sometimes sensory enhancements,” he says, “for the most part.”
I make some kind of disgruntled noise, not just because it’s a long list.
“Don’t worry,” Hotel tells me, patting me on the shoulder, “it’s only things focused at me. Hunch can use his powers all he wants even from inside the bubble.”
“On anything outside the bubble, anyway,” Hunch clarifies, “you stepped inside the safe zone, Teke, go ahead and plot my overthrow now.”
Someone walks up to the building and does a complicated knock, and all three of us start recording. Someone else – two somesones else show up to let the person in.
Checking to make sure we’re watching, Hotel excitedly yells, “database search!” and starts tapping at the computer, trying to run image recognition.
Hunch leans over and taps a few keys, pulling up the list of people we know work at the warehouse, and picks out one of the someones. Neither of us got a good shot of the other one. The group moves deeper into the building while Hotel tells the rest of the team what we found and Hunch and I watch and record, and then they’re out of view of the window.
“How’d you get your powers?” Hotel asks.
“High school,” Hunch says, “I thought someone was plotting something.”
“Were they?” Hotel asks.
“They were,” Hunch confirms.
Hotel nudges me. “You?”
I laugh. “I rescued a cat.”
“A cat,” Hotel repeats.
“Yup. Professor Fluffernutter and I were up a tree, conducting mad research on mad control groups,” I explain. “Professor Fluffernutter fell, I reached out, kitty floated down to safety.”
“Professor Fluffernutter,” Hotel repeats, to much laughter from Hunch, who’s heard this before.
“Only a Professor while we were conducting mad experiments,” I clarify. “Well, a mad case study, anyway.”
“Who the hell names a cat Fluffernutter?” he sputters.
“I did,” I say. “You can blame the neighbor for letting me name the cat, but you’ve got to blame me for the name.”
“How old were you?” he asks.
I snort trying not to laugh. “When I got my powers, or when I named the cat?”
“Either,” he says, “both. I don’t know. I feel like I’m missing part of this story.”
“Six when I named the cat, eight when I got my powers,” I say. “Fluffernutter was one of those poofy white cats, real good for holding up to the light while you screamed ‘SCIENCE’ at people.”
“Wow,” Hotel says, “and yet, you didn’t go into mad science.”
“Nah,” I agree, “I figured I ought to at least give myself the chance to say, ‘halt, evildoer’.”