I head out for an early dinner as soon as I dismiss the class. I’m feeling pretty good about things in general, because Sensei Domino stepped into the gym just as Gatling was gearing up to yell at me again, and it freaked him the hell out. No problems for the entire rest of the day.
“Travis!” a familiar voice calls out from behind me.
Right. Amos and Jenny wanted me to have dinner with them. She’s in costume, this time, but only just; her mask’s hanging around her neck. I wonder if she’s been doing more interviews or what.
“Long day?” Jenny asks me, when I stare and her and forget to say anything.
I half-heartedly glare. “It’s never not a long day in charge of the kids. These kids particularly, but I’ve heard it’s all kids, everywhere, no matter how trained you are.”
“Wow, the hell’d they do this time?” she asks.
Amos motions for me to sit. “Any requests? I’m just grabbing a sandwich.”
“Coffee,” I say, and drop my head onto the table.
Amos laughs. “Same old Fox.”
“They’ll grow out of it,” Jenny says, patting my hand.
I shake my head at her. “They didn’t even do anything, this time. I’m just so convinced they’re about to pull something, I can’t relax even when they behave. Especially.”
“What, as a group?” Jenny asks. “Or do you think they’ll go one at a time? Some sort of rota?”
“Urgh,” I say, “they’ll all just use each other as distractions.”
Jenny’s laughing too hard at some imagined free-for-all to do much more than take the sandwich Amos offers her and shake her head. Amos hands me a coffee and another sandwich, and sits down to eat with us, staring at her for a few minutes.
“What?” he says.
“She’s planning on giving all the kids whiffle bats or something, so they can band together and cause some real trouble,” I explain.
She shakes her head at us. “I was not. I was just thinking how easily that one kid you never notice could take advantage of a distraction.”
“I’ve noticed Psybeam, Jenny,” I say, and drain most of my coffee in one gulp.
Jenny waves it away. “Well, of course you have, in class, but have you noticed how much of the rest of the building he’s in? Even sometimes during school hours?”
“No, I’ve seen him, too,” Amos says. “I mean, I didn’t notice until she mentioned it, but I have.”
“It’s probably weird that I’m not more worried, right?” I ask.
Amos shrugs back at me. “I mentioned it to security, and they haven’t caught him out of bounds, yet, just peeking into meeting rooms and things.”
“Maybe he’s just curious?” I mutter. “I really feel like I should be more concerned about this, and I’m not. I wondered if that’s intentional or unintentional.”
Jenny glances between us, frowning. Finally, she says, “he doesn’t seem dangerous or anything. I just thought it was funny no one noticed him. It is an extranormal thing, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, both things,” I tell her. “But it’s one thing to just slip people’s notice, and another thing to project a sense of calm or something onto them.”
She shrugs. “I doubt it’s on purpose. He doesn’t seem all that suspicious.”
I roll my eyes.
“I’m serious,” she says, “you know I’m immune to all your suggestivity crap, so it can’t be him projecting some sort of false trust onto me. And he seems fine. I can talk to him, though.”
“Someone should talk to him,” Amos agrees.
“I mean, if he’s doing it on purpose I can probably suss that out,” Jenny says, “but I don’t know how likely that is to be the case, have you talked to any experts, Teke?”
“No,” I say, “but Pathos is coming in tomorrow, so I wouldn’t worry.”
She frowns slightly, nods, and goes back to her sandwich.
“Good for Jailbait, too,” I add. “I mean, she’s got to have a handle on her powers by now, but it can’t hurt to have someone to talk it over with.”
“Always good early on,” Jenny says. “Especially if you have anything rare. She’s got a pretty esoteric set, doesn’t she? She could probably use a dozen mentors.”
“I wish they’d actually followed through on that mentor matching program,” Amos says, crossing his arms, “but, no, the budget has to go who knows where, and just wing it, right?”
“I hear that,” Jenny says, shaking her head.
“Well, at least we know the people who bother to sign up for sure want to do it,” I say.
Jenny chuckles. “And at least us extranormals, as a people, are pretty good at guessing when powers will go well together. Usually. Almost always.”
“Exceptions that prove the rule,” I say.
She makes a face. “Who the hell decides to stick an illusionist with Sherlock Holmes?”
“That was extremely poorly thought through,” I agree. “‘Stop uneliminating the impossible!’”
“I got the feeling she was covering up evidence, just to fuck with him, by the end, there,” Jenny adds. “I mean, not destroying it, just hiding it until another team got there.”
“I heard she was the only one who would take him,” Amos explains, then pauses. “I’d guess the thing that finally got to her was his insistence on using quotes.”
“He didn’t actually call things elementary,” Jenny asks, “did he? It doesn’t take a lot of inductive power to realize that’ll get annoying real quick.”
“Probably not,” Amos agrees. “But he loved film noir.”
“Because he was a detective, see?” I add.
“And it’d be a long night before she could call him trained,” Amos answers me back.
I shrug. “But I don’t know how much a database would help with that kind of issue.”
“Especially if you expect people to move,” Jenny agrees.
We both nod at her, Amos twirling his finger around his ear.
“When you’re stuck to one city,” she says, “I think you know all your potential mentors.”
“Yeah, I don’t know how much difference it would really make,” I tell her, “but it’s a theory.”
“I think the old-fashioned way might work out better all around, given that you couldn’t accidentally volunteer people who want no part in it,” she says, gesturing to herself.
I shake my head, grinning. “Did I tell you how I got my job?”
“Your job better not have been an accident,” she tells me, “I’m not settling for another teacher that keeps second-guessing my lectures, I’m spoiled now.”
“Started it by accident, but I’ll stick around if you feel that strongly,” I console her.
“Good,” she says, “you’re in charge of brainwashing the youth to bring flowers and embrace it when my people invade.”
“No,” I tell her, “only fruit baskets. In case of allergies.”
“What the hell kind of operation are you running?” she asks. “Did I say fruit baskets, or did I say flowers? Hop to, recruit!”
“I can maybe do candied flowers,” I say.
“At least give me something to work with, here, Travis,” Jenny says, exasperated.
“I can probably handle flowers,” Amos tells her, “I do know most of the PR team.”
I put in an order with the quartermaster – on his phone.
“Oh my god,” she says, laughing, “how many did you order?”
“So many rumors,” Amos says to me, “there will be so many rumors.”
“There were already plenty of rumors,” I say.
Amos considers that for a moment. “Okay, we’ll see how long we can milk this.”
Jenny takes a look at his phone. “Aw, that’s not enough for a whole invading army.”
“Just the advance team,” I say.
“Well, it’ll have to do,” Jenny says. “But you two better hurry up, here.”
“Fruit baskets,” I tell her, even as Amos points to me and mouths disparaging things.
“Oh, we’ll get flowers, alright,” Amos says. “You won’t be able to find the building anymore for all the flowers we’re going to get.”
“Okay, but nothing anyone’s allergic to,” Jenny cautions. “A lot of people have allergies, and we don’t want to cause any problems. Travis has the list if you want to check.”