Sensei Domino shows up a while before class, settling in at the desk in the corner. The one I used to use whenever I was subbing, if it was free, and for some reason, it usually was. It makes me grin. Add one to the list of people who think that’s the very best desk, even though it has the little wobble to it and the weird shaped drawers. It adds character.
(It’s mostly the hilarious graffiti all over the keyboard tray.)
I don’t bother him, because he seems intent on setting up his laptop. He probably has a pressing deadline or something, and figured it would be a lot quieter up here with me, which it probably is, and, I mean, it’s not like he’s not an instructor, so it shouldn’t actually be all that surprising for him to show up here to work. Then some music comes blaring out from the speakers – that laptop has some high-end speakers – and he relaxes back in his chair.
“So, you know how I share an office?” he asks me.
“Three desks, two interns, both of them hate music,” he says.
I grin. “All music, or just this music?”
“As far as I can tell, everything. I even put on some Brahms real quiet and the newer one glared at me and switched it off.” Sensei Domino shrugs. “Kids these days, I tell you.”
“Yeah, it’s all that internet and cat messaging and instabook,” I say.
“How do you hate Brahms? It’s elevator music!” He throws his hands up. “It’s specifically chosen to be inoffensive. I can’t work in silence!”
“What are you working on?” I ask.
He shrugs. “Supposed to be working on some sort of handbook for training in the suits. Of course, they’re a week overdue on notes and updates, so I can’t even get it to the illustrator yet.”
“A week’s not so bad, for the guys who run that department,” I tell him. “I mean, it depends on how many interns they can force to try it out, but you’re not getting that back for a month at least.”
He snorts. “I wish they would. I can’t get the illustrator to stop badgering me about it. Had to send the old descriptions, and I don’t even know how well they work without the testing notes.”
I shake my head. “Well, hopefully it’ll come back without the suits drawn correctly, and you can tell them to redo it completely and they won’t even notice you changed the notes in the meantime.”
Sensei Domino laughs. “Hey, you know a couple flight crew guys, right?”
“I’m on a team with two,” I tell him. “It’s still Hunch’s team, though.”
“Damn,” he says. “Still trying to figure out what the hell they even expect for flying exercises, and they just will not let me get in one of those things.”
“You can ask Jen,” I say, “she just tried one out. I bet she can give you pointers.”
“Jen?” he asks.
“Apogee,” I say.
“Oh, right,” he agrees, “the skyscraper obstacle course.”
“That should give you an idea what sort of warmups will get people used to the suit, anyway,” I say. “I don’t know if it’ll be much help for advanced fighting techniques.”
“Well, that’s the problem, anyway, isn’t it?” He sighs, humming along to the music for a minute. “Nobody believes me that they need to know it without the suit first.”
“What do they want you to do?” I ask, curious now, because what the hell are they asking him to draw up a guide for?
“Judo,” he says, “throws, mostly. I tell them, okay, have them show up for judo lessons if it’s that important. They say – get this – they’ve been through basic, what’s the difference?”
“Wow,” I say.
“Like it’s not something I devoted years to learning how to do right,” he says.
“I’ve been through basic, too,” I say, “or something close enough, anyway, and I can’t even kick a board in half.”
Sensei Domino tilts his head. “Have you tried?”
“No,” I admit.
“You probably could,” he adds, “it’s not really kicking them in half that’s the hard part. I let the white belts do that, no problem.”
“Why do people frame them, then?” I ask.
“Fuck, people frame the scribble they did in art class, too, doesn’t make them Jackson Pollock,” he says. “I promise you, you will not have a problem kicking or punching a board in half.”
“Fair enough,” I say. “What will I have a problem with?”
“Who knows? It’s always something you wouldn’t think could possibly pose a difficulty, but there you go.” He shrugs. “Did you want to do Mondays? I looked, but I couldn’t find you.”
“Sure,” I say. “I was out most of Monday, but just this week.”
“Gotcha,” he says. “Monday can be your paperwork and karate day.”
I grin at him. “I try to get my paperwork done during other people’s lessons, actually.”
“Fine, then, use Monday to watch reality TV, see if I care,” he says.
“I like dog training shows,” I tell him.
“Suit yourself, I can’t stand anything where people don’t yell at each other.” He crosses his arms. “Kitchen Nightmares is where it’s at.”
“I like Trading Spouses okay,” I admit.
“Right? Nothing like a bit of incredibly confused drama,” he says, “so much better than scripted TV, with all its plots and narrative threads and later returning to things that require explanation.”
I listen to the piano for a while. “You like Jerry Springer just a lot, don’t you?”
“Maybe,” he says. “Maybe I’m the one who keeps leaving it on in the break room.”
I shake my head at him. “And hiding the remote? For shame.”
“Oh, that’s not me,” he says. “That’s someone who can grant invisibility.”
“It’s there, it’s just invisible?” I ask, incredulous, because who does that?
“Okay, so,” he tries not to laugh, “this one day, I show up with breakfast for everyone, and two people are there and just tearing the room apart, looking.
“Whitman is there, you know, Whitman with the see-through-illusion powers, just glancing back and forth between them and the remote in confusion.
“You see, it was still on the TV, you know, on the little velcro tab on the side. And she’s standing there, pointing to it, and they’re just ignoring her.”
“What happened?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “She took a croissant from me and left.”
I laugh. “Did you give them the remote?”
“Well, someone must have found it,” he says, “because I sat on it later.”
“Let’s see,” I say, “there’s Whitman with the anti-illusion, Jameson with the x-ray vision, Carter can see through invisibility, right?”
He nods. “Keller and Graham can, too, but they cancel it if they touch it, so probably not.”
“Okay,” I say, “who else? Brackenridge can do the ‘find any object’ thing, Circuit sees everything in schematics, which I have to imagine would help.”
“Ping sees everything in echolocation,” he adds.
“Would that help?” I ask. “I mean, is it just invisible, or are other senses affected?”
“I don’t know, but you’re the one assuming only the surface layer was invisible,” he reminds me. “Could’ve been any kind of effect. Honestly, maybe even one of those ‘ignore me’ deals.”
“Ooh,” I say, “like Psybeam.”
Sensei Domino freezes for a second. “There are six kids in your class.”
“Yeah,” I agree.
“I, uh,” he shakes his head. “I forgot him.”
“It’s cool,” I say, “I didn’t notice until literally this morning. I noted it in his file.”
“That’s unsettling,” he tells me.