Perry’s good to her word; she’s out of the apartment before Darren even gets up (judging by the fact that he leaves a note scribbled on the bottom of her note). Also, both of them made coffee before they left, because I find both a cold-pressed thermos and a milkshake in the fridge for me.

I maybe do a little happy dance. Which could be embarrassing. But I’m still at home, so no one can see me, so ha.

Milkshake goes with breakfast. (Breakfast is toast, because I’m running late.) Thermos goes with Travis to work. (Thermos is empty by the time Travis gets to work, because Travis has too long of a commute, because Travis is bad at long-term planning. Which is why I’m heading for the cafeteria yet again. I’ll be quick, though.)

This is getting to be a habit. I feel like I should call Perry out on this, because she’s supposed to get me breakfast for the foreseeable future. I have the email promising it and everything.

Oh, wait, right, that’s just how she tricked me into going to the diner. Shit.

And she’s going to be gone for at least a week, so no more diner, even. Aww.

“Travis!” a familiar voice calls out, and I spin around, looking for Amos and Jenny.

Jenny’s wearing her costume again, with her mask tying her hair up in a makeshift bun.

“You look perky today,” Jenny tells me.

I grin at her. “Everybody made me coffee. Perky! That’s punny.”

“I’m not sure it actually is,” she says.

Amos beckons for me to sit. “I got you coffee, too, but I guess you don’t need it.”

“Coffee,” I say, and wrap my hand around the mug. Oh, hey, that’s the mug I’ve been looking for, for, like, a month or something. Everything’s coming up coffee.

Amos laughs. “Same old Fox.”

“Now I feel bad I didn’t also get you coffee,” Jenny says, raising an eyebrow.

I beam at her, and drop a maple sugar candy into the mug. “Coffee here is shit, anyway.”

“I feel like it would be really funny if I’d gone to a coffee shop somewhere, and you’d be all double fisting that and the swill Amos hands you,” Jenny says.

“We can try that tomorrow,” I deadpan.

Amos hands me a muffin off his tray. I wave it off. Jenny takes it.

“So, did you hear about the transfer?” she asks.

“Someone just got transferred here, or someone got transferred away?” I ask.

She flicks a blueberry at me. “New transfer, moved here, some cold case obsession. I was thinking about pranking him into showing up at your class. Is that more funny, or more mean?”

“Most days, I’d say it depends on his sense of humor,” I say, and sip at my coffee (maple-y), “but I’ve got Pathos helping out today, so no go.”

Jenny laughs at me. “Always living perilously, aren’t you, Fox?”

I hold my hands up with a ‘what can you do?’ expression.

“I wouldn’t think he’d agree to that,” Amos says. “I mean, he turned down teaching before anyone finished asking the question in the first place.”

“I don’t think he knows Teke is me,” I say.

Amos grins at me. “Aw, you’re already using your mask account to trick people.”

“Yeah, I feel real bad about that one,” I mutter. “I needed someone to go over things with Jailbait and Psybeam, anyway.”

“You know Psybeam is,” Jenny glances at me, looks away, and nibbles on her muffin. Finally, she says, “are you sure Pathos is the best person to teach him?”

“I noticed,” I tell her, “but maybe he won’t. And he is pretty much the only choice.”

She shrugs. “Doesn’t make him a good one.”

I roll my eyes.

“I feel like there’s got to be someone else,” she says, “I mean, I know he’s the only one who works for us full time, but there have to be a few freelancers or something.”

“Manipulative Bitch can, but I think that’s all,” Amos suggests.

“Oh, that’s true, but she’s pretty busy,” Jenny says, “also, she had the kind of connect-the-dots training that makes it kind of hard to teach, didn’t she?”

“I did consider that,” I say, “I can’t get her in to do it for months, and Clark Cunt wasn’t willing to teach at all. I heard a rumor one of the Vigilantes has something emotional. Just a rumor, though.”

She frowns and shakes her head at me.

“Well, I wasn’t actually going to ask them,” I tell her. “Can you imagine how that would look?”

“I can imagine it would be harder to deal with than Pathos,” Jenny says. “Especially given all the paperwork you’d have to do to get one in the building.”

“Under guard,” Amos says, crossing his arms, “and they’d probably make your guest lecturer wear a cuff, anyway, which would sort of defeat the purpose.”

“Which one, anyway?” Jenny asks.

“What, like I remember? Probably 15,” I tell her.

She chuckles. “The old one, or the new one? I mean, if it’s the new one, whatever, but if they switched over because someone got a power, that’s hilarious.”

“Could be 15 wanted to go legit,” I say.

She makes a face. “Could be they don’t want anyone in their little club who’s actually extranormal, and start the rumors themselves to seem less bigoted.”

“I don’t know,” I tell her. “Didn’t they catch 2 flying that once?”

“That was 5 – no – 4,” Jenny corrects. “And who knows what tech they have access to?”

“We’ve got skintight suits capable of sustained flight up to three hours in field testing,” Amos explains, then pauses. “And word is, someone else had them first. It can be done.”

“They fail almost 70% of the time,” Jenny says, “Kitty says they don’t handle well at all.”

“I’ve heard terrible things,” Amos agrees. “But you’ve got to keep Flight Crew occupied somehow, don’t you?”

“Do you?” I ask.

“Really? With the Superbitches and the Cunts both going after anyone who flies in?” Amos asks me back.

I shrug. “And that’s why we have the smallest unit of any major city. It should work out.”

“Two flying teams is probably a bit much,” Jenny tells us.

We both nod.

“Although, if you’re building your own suits,” she says, “it’s kind of a waste not to make them fly. I mean, if you can’t just roll them out, you’re not saving much.”

“I think they do just roll them out,” I tell her, “the company’s a front.”

“You may have been reading too many conspiracy theories,” she says.

I shake my head, grinning. “Am I making you question reality again, Jenny?”

“I can tell reputable sources from grasping at straws,” she tells me, “so, unless you can convince me why you think the mainstream line is that off the mark, no, no you are not.”

“There are some pretty compelling arguments,” I say.

“I’ve seen some of those compelling arguments,” she says, “and my planet actually did have sewer alligators. Well, lizards. Big lizards.”

“No,” I tell her, “not that kind. It’s how far underground their lair goes. There are blueprints.”

“It’s a lair,” she draws out. “It’s supposed to go underground. Just because they built a company on top of it doesn’t mean – I actually have no idea what your conspiracy theory is.”

“It’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s just a note about their potential manufacturing capabilities combined with their seemingly instant suit repair,” I say.

“I’m pretty sure that is a conspiracy theory, Travis,” Jenny says, exasperated.

“Well the money trail’s a little convoluted,” Amos tells her, “but I don’t see why they definitely don’t just have extra ones stockpiled. I think they’re modular, even.”

I look it up on my phone and hand it over.

“Oh my god,” Jenny says, laughing, “that’s not a news site, Travis.”

“You know their mission statement is to figure out what all the masks are hiding, especially us,” Amos says to me.

“They’re very good about fact-checking,” I protest.

Amos considers that. “Is there any particular reason you distrust the Superbitches?”

Jenny hands me my phone back. “I feel like there are better groups to look into.”

“Well, the other ones we already know we can’t trust,” I say, “and, anyway, why are there two teams if they’re always going to work together? Why not just the one team?”

“They don’t always work together,” Jenny says. “I thought it was an aesthetic thing, anyway.”

“So you admit they have the same technology,” I tell her, brandishing my phone.

“It’s because the Rocket Powered Cunts are all men,” Amos says. “They don’t specify for entirely political reasons. It’s just a boys versus girls type game for them.”

“I don’t know if we can necessarily assume they’re all men,” Jenny says. “I mean, it’s mostly the Superbitches who have powers, right? Could be anything. Could be aliens.”

“Could be a conspiracy?” I add, with a grin, to synchronized eyerolls.

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