“Travis,” Perry says, and throws her arms around me.
I hug her back. “You didn’t have to cut your trip short, you know.”
“Are you kidding me?” Perry snorts. “You run into that maniac and you expect me to, what, just, oh, la-dee-da, I’m sure he’s alright.”
“I sent you a message,” I protest.
“Yeah,” Perry agrees, “you sent me a single text message that said the word ‘fine’ in all lower-case with no punctuation, and you never responded to the follow-up message.”
“Sorry,” I say.
Perry throws her hands in the air. “I had to ask Darren what the hell had happened when he sent out the safety guidelines, and he didn’t even fucking know!”
“So,” I say, “coffee?”
Perry sighs. “Yes, fine, Travis, fine. Coffee.”
We order our usuals, while Perry keeps giving me sidelong looks. Constantly. Over and over again. I shuffle quickly out of the way (to get my coffee), hoping she’ll give up staring all anxiously in the time it takes me to get over to a table. I take a sip of my drink, but no, she’s still looking. Now she’s kind of frowning while she side-eyes me, too.
The cap slips as I pry it off to add sugar, and I catch it before it falls to the ground.
“Freak,” someone says.
I snatch the lid out of the air and press it down with my fingers. When I turn, whoever it was is standing right in front of me, very much in my personal space, glaring right at me.
“I can’t even believe they’d just give you food.” Eyes boring into me that hard seem like they should be red or on fire or something. They’re just sort of…brown.
Then the coffee comes tumbling out of my hands. I’m not even sure if it’s shock or an attempt at de-escalation or I just don’t want that hand passing through my awareness again, but I draw my field in tight and the coffee crashes to the floor while the entire room just stares at me uncomfortably.
A quirk of the lips, that ‘what are you going to do about it’ expression. I brace my feet apart, fingers itching for my gun, field twitching toward it. I’m not going to pull it, not in a room full of random people, not even if this asshole turns out to have one, there’s no threat, nothing is happening right now, it’s fine, it’s all fine, and damn it Travis you do not need your gun.
Perry comes to my rescue, long moments of tense silence later. “Hey, fuckface, how about you fuck off and leave NORMAL people to their NORMAL lives.”
Mostly people are looking away at this point, a few interested, sympathetic, or judgmental grins aimed at the three of us, but nobody jumps to the douche’s defense, and one huffy storm-off later, everything is back to normal. My coffee is all over the floor, but people are not paying attention – or ‘not’ paying attention – to it anymore.
“Fuck,” I say, wondering if the stain splashing up my leg is going to set.
“In San Salvador, really?” Perry mutters next to me, shaking her head.
The barista inhales sharply and pulls her hand back when I go to hand over my card, but she takes my order. I consider asking for extra syrup this time, but someone’s already rushing to make it, and he shoves it across the counter at me without even calling my name. I pick it up and take a sip.
Whatever, there’s enough sugar. “You want to take a walk?”
Perry shrugs as I step outside.
“So, you know a lot about the whole Klepto thing,” I say.
“Thing?” Perry repeats. “I literally have no idea what you mean by ‘thing’.”
“You know about him,” I abstract.
Perry laughs at me. “You have the official files. What, you want fan theories?”
“He didn’t attack us,” I say.
Perry points at my face.
I shake my head. “He distracted us, and he ran away.”
Perry bites her lip. “Well, there’s one.”
“Please,” I say, “by all means, keep me in suspense.”
“Well, there’s this theory.” Perry shrugs. “He doesn’t hurt kids.”
I frown at her.
Perry waves me off. “Okay, so, we have none of the diabolical kidnapping of schoolbusses amidst maniacal laughter, that could just be PR, whatever.”
“Sure, as far as I know, he’s never attacked a kid,” I say, “why was he after us, then?”
“Keep you on your toes?” Perry says, “or else he’s after you in particular, but it’s probably just a coincidence. Anyway, he seems to avoid interacting with, you know, interns and junior agents and new agents, and stuff. To, you know, not look like an asshole, I guess.”
“A coincidence,” I repeat. “You think it was a coincidence.”
“Look, he has to go into the city for supplies or whatever sometimes, right?” Perry asks.
I take a sip of my coffee and consider that. “Does he, though?”
“What, does he have a whole bunch of teleporters working for him just stealing all the things he needs day to day?” Perry asks.
I consider that, too.
Perry sputters. “Really?”
I shrug. “He’s got a lot of people who obscure any kind of location-tracking, anyway; I’d expect a lot of those can do something in the way of moving supplies around.”
“I have the power of SUMMONING MILK,” Perry says, with a cackle.
“He wasn’t carrying groceries,” I tell her.
“He was probably on the way to the store, Travis,” Perry says.
“Or he’s after me, specifically,” I say.
“Yeah,” Perry agrees, “watch your back.”
“Thank you, Perry, I don’t know what I would do without your sage advice.” I clink my coffee cup against hers.
She scowls. “I’m upgrading your alarm system and buying you a dog.”
“Good luck with that,” I say, “my security system already has the fastest response time in the city, and you know I have an agency transponder built into every exit.”
She pokes me in the chest. “Dog.”
I poke her in the nose. “Allergies.”
“Fuck allergies, what good are allergies if you’re going to be stalked by some insane supervillain with a penchant for torturing people with their own powers?” Perry says.
“I don’t think allergies are ever any good for anything,” I say. “And I don’t think a guard dog is helpful if you’re just going to go into anaphylactic shock, anyway.”
“He’s afraid of dogs,” Perry says.
“Klepto’s afraid of dogs,” I repeat.
“Well, I don’t know, he always runs away from K-9 units, doesn’t he?” Perry says.
“What, really? Why?” I ask.
Perry gives me a Look.
“Okay,” I say, “fine, he’s afraid of dogs. That still doesn’t do me much good.”
Perry sighs in frustration. “Fine. Whatever. No dog. We’ll get you one of those little barking robot toys, maybe that’ll act as a deterrent.”
“Sure,” I agree. I think Darren already has one of those, actually.
“So, guess who wants to be in my movie?” Perry says, with a grin.
“Apogee,” I say.
“Zenith, Warrior Princess,” Perry says at the same time, and then glares at me, “hey, fuck you.”
“I was the one who gave her your email, Perry,” I say.
Perry grins at me again. “Alright, forgiven. We’re going to win so many prizes or make so much money on this.”