“So,” Stranglehold says, trying to smile at me.
I nod back at him. Arsenal watches me intently, and Boomerang stares menacingly at his tray, and everyone else glances quickly at me then won’t meet my eyes. I sit down.
“What, um,” Bartok asks, “what movies has everyone seen lately?”
“Are we seriously not going to talk about this?” Laces snaps.
I turn to look at him. Everyone else is aimed carefully away.
“Seriously, that kind of liability could get us all killed out in the field.” His hand shakes as he picks up his drink.
“It was just cause we were going to the,” Arsenal tips his head vaguely upwards.
“The word isn’t going to bother me,” I mutter.
Boomerang starts singing Fire Water Burn under his breath.
That bothers me. I mean, not in a panic-inducing way; it’s just irritating.
“I, uh, saw this French one, the other day,” Stranglehold says. “It was about –”
“You,” Laces says, pointing his fork at me, “you need to go home. Or go meditate or something. You can’t go back out with us.” The tines wobble.
“Oh, yes?” Bartok says, raising her voice enough that a couple people at nearby tables turn to look at her, “was it subtitled, or…?”
“You need to talk to someone,” Laces growls, “okay? You need to get your shit sorted.”
“It had closed captioning, I think,” Stranglehold says, voice carrying across more than just our table, “but I didn’t check to see whether that was for the dubs or not. I can look for you?”
Laces grits his teeth and balls up his napkin.
“Laces,” I say.
He shoves his tray away from him and walks out of the cafeteria. Hunch follows. Boomerang glances up towards them and curls in on himself a little.
“Is Laces okay?” Arsenal murmurs, tugging on Bartok’s sleeve.
She drapes an arm over his shoulders. “It’s just been a while since he had to deal with one of his teammates, uh,” she looks at me.
“Having an episode,” I suggest.
She shrugs. Arsenal picks at his food.
“It wasn’t the door,” I tell her. “You can tell him that. It wasn’t the door, it was the sunlight.”
She shrugs again.
“Hey,” Arsenal says, too quickly, “do you have my mug?”
I look around for it. I find it sitting next to Hunch’s tray, pick it up, and finally take a look at it. It has a paw print pattern circling the bottom, with a cat walking at the front. Cute.
Arsenal grins sheepishly as I hand it to him. “Sorry. It’s my only mug.”
“That’s fine,” my voice rings out. “I have plenty, if you need to borrow one.”
“It’s true,” Sass says, elbowing me very gently, “there’s a whole shelf full of them in the kids’ gym office. One of them had, like, a heron or some shit.”
“Fuck,” I say. All eyes turn to me. “I, uh, that one’s Darren’s. I should give it back.”
Stranglehold laughs slightly. “It’s a crane, anyway.”
“What are you, an ornithologist?” Sass says, “fuck you.”
“I basically,” I say, giving Arsenal a grin, “buy a mug every time a see a good one.”
He taps his fingers against his wrist. “Oh? What counts as good?”
I clear my throat. “Oh, uh, funny messages, interesting designs, cute animals,” I gesture as his own mug.
He nods. “I have a couple more like this at home, but they’re all handmade, so my parents won’t let me bring them in. And I thought my school logo one was. Maybe a little weird.”
“That’s not weird,” Boomerang says, cutting his food into tiny little pieces. “I brought one from my school. I see school logos everywhere.”
“Yeah,” Arsenal says, quietly.
“Well,” I say, picking a fry out of the pile, one of the piles, why did I get so many fries, “you can have one of mine, if you want. I probably won’t miss it.”
Arsenal smirks slightly. “Yeah? Got any with rainbow flags?”
Boomerang’s knife makes absolutely the worst sound as it scrapes against his plate.
I frown at him. “Well, I can –”
“Hey did anyone see the notice about bring your dog to work day how interesting I wish I had a dog to bring in is anyone else bringing in a dog?” Boomerang says.
“I’m bringing in my dog,” Stranglehold says, “when is this?”
“On Tuesday,” Bartok says. “You have a dog?”
“I will by Tuesday,” Stranglehold says.
“Do you even know how to take care of a dog?” Sass asks. “Do you know what they eat?”
“I’ll get one of those tiny white ones,” Stranglehold says. “It’s easy to figure out what they eat; they label the cans for that kind of dog.”
“You know, like, a lot of dogs can eat that food,” Arsenal says, brow furrowed. “Not just Westies. It’s just small dog food is all.”
“Yes,” Stranglehold says, shaking his head. “I do know that. I was joking.”
“You can still get a Westie,” Sass says, “you really, really can.”
“I thought I didn’t know how to take care of a dog?” Stranglehold says.
“What,” Sass says, “you give it some water and take it for walkies, how hard can it be. You need to get a Toto.”
“Toto’s a Yorkie,” Boomerang says.
“It’s a negative Toto,” Sass says, “he knows what I mean.”
“What? No,” Stranglehold says, “I’m not helping you make cursed images, Kitty, no matter how hard you beg. That is not happening. No.”
“You wouldn’t even be helping me,” Sass says, “Toto would be helping me, what a good boy.”
“Well, now he’s going to end up with a Great Dane,” I say.
“Even better,” Sass says.
Stranglehold drops his head into his hands.
“I guess I’ll take you off the list for Tuesday, then,” Bartok says, clucking her tongue.
“You think I can talk my parents into letting me bring our dog?” Arsenal asks.
“They don’t even trust you with cups, they’re going to trust you with the dog?” Sass says.
“Well, I’ve never fallen down the stairs and dropped a dog now have I?” Arsenal asks.
“Dogs don’t typically shatter when you drop them, either,” I add.
The conversation falls silent.
“What,” Boomerang says, grudgingly, “what kind of dog do you have.”
“Oh, uh,” Arsenal says. “A Golden? Her name is Marzipan.”
Bartok makes a face. “How do you even carry a Golden up and down the stairs?”
“Oh, didn’t you know?” Arsenal says, “my superpower is having unlimited guns.”
All of us groan before he even starts making ridiculous poses.