I find myself at work early, more than a little bit thrown by the fact that I haven’t eaten anything yet and I’m already here. I make my way to the cafeteria. Why Perry can’t tell me more than fifteen minutes beforehand that she doesn’t plan to show up when it was her idea in the first place and I was going to actually get decent food and now I’m stuck with crap, I have no idea. (Note to self: write angry email to Perry, delete angry email to Perry.) I head toward the coffee, staring at my phone. Old case files do nothing for either my hunger or my annoyance, but a little something for my lack of company, and I could swear there was something I was trying to find.
“Travis!” a familiar voice calls out, and I wince, expecting to see all the old team when I turn.
They aren’t there. Just Amos and Jenny (not even in costume) eating together.
“You look like you just woke up,” Jenny tells me.
I half-heartedly glare at her. “I did just wake up.”
“You look like you woke up on the wrong side of the insert-bizarre-noun-here, too,” she says.
Amos beckons for me to sit. “Breakfast or lunch?”
“Coffee,” I say, and drop my head onto the table.
Amos laughs. “Same old Fox.”
“Poor baby,” Jenny croons, patting my hand.
I scowl at her. “I’m just hungry and decaffeinated.”
“And dealing with all of Darren’s bullshit,” Jenny says.
“Yes, well, that’s not new,” I tell her.
Jenny gets interrupted by Amos handing me a coffee and a cinnamon roll, and handing her a smaller coffee and a slice of carrot cake. I eye it, expecting her to make some sort of joke.
“What?” she says.
“You’re not going to say something about how carrot cake surprised you or something?” I ask.
She glances down at it. “Why, is carrot cake weird?”
“You claim everything is weird, Jenny,” I say, and drain most of my coffee in one gulp.
Jenny laughs at me. “What else are you supposed to do with carrots?”
“No, this is actually a good one,” Amos says. “I’ve been convincing her we do it, too.”
“Do what?” I ask.
Amos grins at me. “Use carrots in all our desserts.”
“Is this a game?” I mutter. “I’m not awake enough for games yet. Give me an hour.”
Jenny glances between us, frowning while she tries to decide which of us is joking and how much and what about. Finally, she says, “I give up, what’s funny about carrots?”
“I don’t know,” I tell her. “What desserts does your home planet make with carrots?”
She shrugs. “Normal ones?”
I roll my eyes.
“Oatmeal-carrot cookies,” she says, “carrot candies, if that counts, I guess, it’s usually artificial, orange pie, carrot cake, macaroons, carrot ice cream, um, chocolate covered carrots, I guess?”
“Chocolate-covered carrots!” Amos repeats.
“I mean, if you like that sort of thing,” Jenny says, “you know, organic candied fruits with dark chocolate or whatever, I don’t know, you know the thing I’m talking about, right, Travis?”
“No,” I say, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a candied carrot.”
She stares down at her carrot cake in consternation.
“It’s not nice to make fun, Amos,” I tell him. “Carrots are horrible.”
“They’re just carrots,” Jenny says. “What the hell do you put in your desserts?”
“I thought she was joking, actually,” Amos says, crossing his arms, “I was just playing along. For ages. It can be hard to tell, you know.”
“I hear that,” Jenny says, shaking her head.
“Your planet’s weird, Jenny,” I tell her.
She chuckles. “I think it’d be easier if it were. It’s the little things that get you.”
“Raisins,” I say.
She makes a face. “Who the hell goes, ‘ooh, our grapes went bad, let’s eat them’?”
“I often feel that way,” I tell her. “About almost all dried fruit, actually.”
“I like grapefruits, though,” Jenny adds. “I mean, not dried, just, we don’t have those.”
“We’ve been going over major points of history,” Amos explains, then pauses. “Actually, I don’t remember how it came up. But most of our history lines up, except the bear-dog thing.”
“That’s not history,” Jenny says, “that’s pre-history.”
“Probably,” Amos agrees. “But it affects history, doesn’t it?”
“Does it?” I ask.
“What, all these famous figures walking around bears?” Amos asks me back.
I shrug. “I mean, if they’re normal, normal to them, wouldn’t it just look a little different?”
“Dali kept wolves,” Jenny tells us.
We both stare at her.
“Salvadere Dali,” she says, “the filmmaker.”
“Yeah, we know who you’re talking about,” I tell her, “it’s just a weird image.”
“Well, that’s what I thought, but you people keep insisting they’re friendly,” she says.
I shake my head, grinning. “Have you ever even met a dog, Jenny?”
“You keep saying that word like it’s normal,” she tells me, “and no, not up close.”
“I will introduce you to Cheese Toasties,” I say.
“Already had some,” she says, “kind of the same as back home.”
“No,” I tell her, “Cheese Toasties the domesticated wolf, not Cheese Toasties the food.”
“What the hell kind of name is that for a wolf?” she asks. “Shouldn’t you name them, I don’t know, Deerstalker, or like, Killer, or Bitey, or something?”
“Cheese Toasties is a beagle,” I say.
“I have no idea what that means, Travis,” Jenny says, exasperated.
“It’s a breed,” Amos tells her, “it’s a breed of dog.”
I look them up on my phone and hand it over.
“Oh my god,” she says, laughing, “it’s adorable, how the hell do you get that from a wolf?”
“That’s exactly what I’ve always said,” Amos says to me.
“I agreed with you,” I protest.
Amos considers that for a moment. “No, that’s true, I think you’re the only one who ever did.”
Jenny hands me my phone back. “Darren’s better today?”
“Lots,” I say, and then text him to remember to take his meds.
“I’ll check on him after work,” Jenny says. “But, if you left him alone, I’m sure he’s fine.”
“I’m not that overprotective,” I tell her, but I’ve got to be mostly joking about that, because at the same time, I get a response from Darren that just says Yes, Mother.
“Are they being stingy with the pills?” Amos asks. “It’s the new regs on recreational use of powers; they’ve got to remind you how bad it is so you know the consequences of frivolity.”
“Wouldn’t it work just as well to just hand over the pills for sanctioned use, and let everyone who was playing around suffer?” Jenny asks. “But what would I know; I’m not from your planet.”