It’s pretty much a huge relief to get up to my office and change back into uniform. You wouldn’t think it would be, because the thing is not terribly comfortable and looks really weird, but at least they don’t have me playing politics in purple.
Yet. Oh, god, yet.
I tug my cuffs down my arms as I zip up the undersuit. They feel a little short. I know they have my measurements, so I have no idea if that’s an error or a design decision, but they seem to stop just a little bit short of my wrists. (I wonder if that’s so a cuff will slip on easily over them, but that seems a smidge paranoid. I mean, not that the designers aren’t paranoid, but, hey.)
I slip my holster and utility belt on, then pull the coat on after it. I take a minute to feel normal again. (Why, yes, normal is extremely relative.) And then I set the little decorations around the hem to spinning, because I’m going to forget to do it later if I don’t, and then what will people think of me all stalking around rooftops with a limp and lifeless coat on.
Then I sit down to wait for the kids to arrive. I feel like I probably ought to be doing something, but it’s maybe twenty minutes, and there’s almost certainly nothing I can get started on that has any point if I get interrupted that soon. My back starts to hurt. Not my nose or my eye, which will hopefully at least look normal by the time the kids get here, just my back. I shift in my seat. I should probably type up my report. Or at least make notes for it or something.
Instead, I lean back and kind of zone out for a minute, sipping at my coffee.
Which Psybeam has handed me. Holy shit, when did he get here?
“Agent Teke?” he says.
Man, this is decent coffee; I wonder where the hell he got it. “Just Teke is fine, kiddo.”
“If,” he says, and then pauses, considering his words. “If someone’s, you know, following me around and stuff, is that harassment, or.”
I swallow hastily. Some still ends up spilling, but out of the cup and not my mouth, at least, and I catch it before it lands on my costume. I mean, not that it would matter, I’m pretty sure it’s waterproof. “Who the hell is following you around? Is it Todd? Let me get you the complaint forms.”
He shifts uncomfortably. “No. It’s not To- it’s not Gatling.”
“Okay,” I say. “Do you want to tell me who it is, and maybe I can talk to them? Or you can leave an anonymous complaint.”
“It’s,” he says. “What if it’s. You know. An Agent?”
I groan. I also cover it up by coughing into my hand. “This wouldn’t happen to be Apogee?”
Psybeam’s mouth drops open in a way that would be pretty funny if he weren’t worried about being followed around.
“Okay, she’s not planning on anything, I promise, she’s just keeping an eye out,” I tell him. “You turn up a lot of places and people can’t always keep track of you.”
He kind of hunches in on himself. “It’s not like I can turn it off, you know. I don’t go anywhere I’m not allowed. People just. Forget.”
“Sure,” I say. “Have you considered wearing a wristband?”
“Not that you have to,” I add. “I would never tell you that you have to if you don’t want to. But if it would make you more comfortable to turn your powers off from time to time, you can get one.”
“I have,” he says, and sighs, gesturing to his neck.
My eyes widen. I try to catch myself, but there it is.
“Not like that,” he adds. “It just fits under my shirt better? People at school don’t know.”
“Sure,” I say, suddenly at a loss for where this conversation is headed.
“Anyway, I don’t have any, except for sports, and those are the school’s,” he concludes.
“You can sign one out,” I say. “While you’re here. I can get one stashed in the locker room for you, even, if you want.”
He grins at me. “Yeah?”
“You can’t keep it,” I explain. “But if you want to wander around, and not, you know, set off alarms, you could use it in the building.”
He scowls. “I don’t set off alarms. I told you, I only stay in public areas.”
“Right,” I say. “No. I meant. Metaphorical alarms, not actual ones. I meant Apogee.”
“She doesn’t like me,” Psybeam says.
I really don’t know what to say there, because you can’t really argue with that. I try anyway. It doesn’t go well. “It’s not that she doesn’t like you. She just gets a little paranoid about security.”
“What with the political climate,” Psybeam says. “Yeah. Whatever. You’d think she’d be a little more considerate with where she’s from.”
“I’ll talk to her,” I say. Then, trying not to cringe, because body language, “do you want to file a complaint? I can give you a form, or I can give you the link to the anonymous box.”
He shakes his head, fiddles with his mask as he opens his mouth, then ducks out of the room.
I sigh, and follow him down.
“We’re going on an adventure,” Caffeine sing-songs.
Gatling does some sort of dance.
“Field trip!” Enigma Machine announces to now-unruffled-looking Psybeam, who returns the sentiment and hi-fives him.
Jailbait is trying to go over the rules of patrol excursions, glaring daggers at the lot of them, since no one’s paying attention to her.
Well, FiendPuncher might be. She’s checking off some sort of list on her phone, which is either her verifying the rules Jailbait’s laying out, or her playing some kind of annoying classmates bingo, which seems like the kind of thing she would do. Or, at least, it was definitely the kind of thing I did back in the first couple years of training, when being safety lectured by people other than the teacher was probably my number one pet peeve.
Well, I didn’t really enjoy the teachers’ safety lectures, either, but shoes and feet, you know.