Oh, good, Tony’s back. I wave back at him when he grins at me and Perry. I think she makes some sort of face at me, but I can’t really take the time to be bothered by that, I have coffee drinking to do, I have so much more coffee drinking to do to make up for the hideous length of time I spent uncaffeinated this morning, why do I do these things to myself, why.
“Hey,” he says, with an awkward smile, typing at his register. “I heard about what happened.”
“Look, don’t worry about – I mean, some of the people here, they can be,” he sighs. “No one’s, no one’s that big a problem. They were just surprised. You can use them in here.”
Oh. He means. About how I was using TK inside. Not getting into fights. Okay.
I hand over my card.
“Look, I don’t,” Tony frowns. “I don’t mean to sound patronizing or anything. I mean, I’m manifested, too. I mean, don’t – uh, well. Just. I get it. I’m sorry for how they were.”
“You are?” I say, because lack of caffeine has certainly taken its toll on me today and apparently three cups are not yet enough, but he just smiles at me.
“Yeah. I mean, it’s not glamorous or anything, I can just tell whether food’s still good to eat,” he tells me, “but I wanted to make sure you knew. You’re a good customer. You should feel safe here.”
“Oh,” I say, because that seems like a weird sort of power to have, which would really only be peripherally useful day to day, and I’m really not up to putting in the mental energy to figure out how something like that pops up in the first place, but okay. Then, belatedly, “thanks.”
“I mean, I know it seems dumb, but it actually really comes in handy,” he tells me. “Like I can’t fight crime or anything, but I volunteer at a soup kitchen sometimes.”
“No, it’s,” I say, “I mean that’s interesting. I’ve just never heard of that power before.”
He laughs slightly, pouring syrup into my drink. “Yeah, well. You get to hang out with all the cool people with the cool powers, so I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“Oh, not everyone has cool powers,” I reassure him. “Perry?”
She rests her chin on my shoulder.
“Who’s got the least impressive power of any mask?” I ask her.
“Agency only, or across the board?” she asks me.
I shrug, which dislodges her head, and she pauses to think for a minute.
Tony laughs. “Thanks, guys, but that’s alright.”
“Lesbitch,” Perry says. “She has the power of identifying kiwis.”
“Um,” says Tony. “Oh. Okay.”
Perry leans in to whisper, “she sleepwalks.”
“Right,” Tony says, and turns around to make Perry’s drink.
I roll my eyes at her.
“If, uh,” Tony says, “if we see – or, well, tell us if something happens again, because we will ban people. I mean, stuff like that. It. It shouldn’t happen here.”
“Thanks,” I say, and take my coffee from him. Telekinetically.
His eyes widen and he chuckles. “See? Cool powers.”
“Everyone has TK,” Perry informs him, “Fox is boring. But we love him anyway.”
Tony glances between us, and when I grin at him, he says, “okay, what would you call cool, then? Or interesting, at least.”
“Oh man, there are so many out there,” Perry says. “I mean you got to love Ultraviolet’s thing with the shadows. But tippy-top? Got to go with Lamarck.”
Tony makes a confused face. “Why what does…Lamarck do?”
“Identifies shellfish by genome,” Perry explains. “It’s pretty cool. Let me write down the link.”
“That’s a superhero,” Tony says, with half a frown and one eyebrow raised, which makes his face look a little diagonal.
“Novelty mask,” Perry says, “I think it was originally some kind of publicity stunt? Probably they were low on funding. Her logo is a horseshoe crab, actually, it’s pretty great.”
“I mean, does she,” Tony asks, shaking his head, “does she wear, like, a big foam horseshoe crab outfit, or something?”
“Mostly she wears a labcoat over waders,” Perry says. “She has a big foam hat, though.”
“Wouldn’t the labcoat get wet?” Tony asks.
“What?” Perry says.
“Wouldn’t it get wet, if she wore it into the water?” Tony asks.
“She doesn’t wear it while she works,” Perry says, with her normal air of where-did-you-even-learn-science, “it’s just to make her look more professorial when she lectures.”
“Oh,” Tony says, with the world’s most quizzical look (since Friday).
With a sigh, Perry starts explaining what it is Lamarck actually does, culminating with an in depth description of the last three videos the company made, complete with technical details, and now that I think about it, Perry might have actually been involved in that project somehow. That would explain where this baffling new interest cropped up, because I know she doesn’t spend her time googling horseshoe crabs. I mean, or Priscilla has some weird hobbies, and actually, no, that kind of fits. She does like The Parliament.
Also, I’m kind of glad this place is empty right now. I mean, not because I was worried that anyone who was here last time would be here again, because that would be weird, and how would they even recognize me or vice versa anyway, although, actually, it’s nice to know banning douchebags is on the table and also nice to see what’s at most three douchebags in here (besides Perry, who will never forgive me if I forget to include her), but mostly because the two of them are now both deeply engaged in watching some sort of shellfish video.
In eerie stillness and quiet, because the volume on Perry’s phone doesn’t go up that high.
See, this would be easier if she carried around earbuds like a normal person, so they could each put one in, because it’s not like these lectures aren’t recorded in mono, but Perry has more particular taste about that sort of thing than Darren does. Actually, I’m sure she has two pairs in her bag and a splitter anyway, so –
“But the best powers belong to kittens, hands down,” Perry says, “I mean, how can any human’s powers, no matter how interesting and/or completely nerdy, compare to a kitten?”
“Oh, kittens!” Tony says, and types something else into Perry’s phone.