005: Part 2

by CM Towns

   The cafeteria buzzed with teenagers intermingling, snacking on a mix of light breakfast and junk food. In one corner Jessie, Elijah, and Eartha were gathered around the sight of Frank getting tattooed by Jessie’s father, Diego. Frank was laying on a table, face up, while Diego was putting more detail on the chest tattoo he started the night before.
   “Why a scorpion and not something more punk rock?” asked Jessie.
   “I wanted a scorpion,” he replied.
   “It is nice,” Elijah told him.
   “I like tattoos but being black, you got to be more picky,” Eartha commented.
   “What would you get?” Jessie asked.
   “I don’t know. Cherry blossoms. Something floral. Really girly stuff,” she responded.
   “Like stars?” inquired Jessie.
   “Not like white girl over there,” Eartha said addressing Erica’s new tats on her left legs outside calf.
   “I got to work on those later too. Put more color on them,” Diego reminded himself.
   “My stars are cool,” Jessie about the new additions to her Wonder Woman piece. The start of a sleeve features several stars and a Wonder Woman logo on her bicep (in this case the dove from the Trial of Diana Prince).

   “Its absolutely beautiful,” Elijah said and the two kissed.
   “Maybe I’ll get a sleeve. That one will have Ramones, Misfits, logos and shots from cool films,” Frank said.
   “So anyone else getting tatted, pops?” inquired Jessie.
   He answered, “The jock might want something. Tribal probably. Still thinking about it.”
   “Speaking of tribal tats, whats with the nonsense on your wrist?” Eartha asked about Jessie’s left wrist tattoo.
   “Its decorative for an alien marker. I wish I didn’t have either of those,” Jessie said.
   “It is terrible,” Diego stated.
   “I think its lovely,” Elijah said.
   “Is everything I do is lovely?” asked Jessie.
   “Of course. Every mark on your body,” he responded.
   “Oh god! I am sitting right here!” Jessie’s father complained.
   “Please don’t piss off the guy marking me up,” suggested Frank.
   “You’re too sensitive dad. At my age you had three girlfriends,” Jessie said.
   “At your age I also had a kid. And two upset girlfriends. One of which was your mother.”
   “Wait-” Eartha started and then tried to think about that, “So one of the girls who was not your baby momma was still down? That some pimp shit right there.”
   Jessie looked at Eartha, “My mom was pimp too, wasn’t she? Pops had to DNA test.”
   “Elijah-smack my daughter in the head.”
   “Sorry sir, can not do that,” Elijah refused.
   “Eartha, will you kindly?”
   “She is not-” Jessie was interrupted by a smack to the back of her head by Eartha. She turned to Eartha stunned.
   “I was raised to heed my elders,” was Eartha’s response.
   A few tables down Araminta was conversing with Erica and Hunter. She was regaling them with part of the mummy story. How she got to side step the fight and help retrieve the sarcophagus.
   “So I only got to do the show down with Izam Mizer. That was creepy,” she admitted.
   “I can imagine. Such a bitch. Especially the nonsense she did-threw the whole world into a loop. Well, her and the others,” Erica remarked looking over to Sally.
   Araminta noticed it and said, “Sally went wild at her but couldn’t touch her.”
   “Really? The Dragon got punked? Damn!” Hunter said. “That Mizer bitch teamed up with the heroes before though.”
   “Jessie and Sally said it was for the greater good. You mention her name and those two get… Very annoyed or angry,” Araminta told them.
   “I really don’t want to go up against a person like Mizer. I hope they start us off small-you know-bank robbers. Drug types. Not the Daga Cartel. That is too scary,” Erica stated.
   “You know-it wasn’t. I don’t know if I got to be a better fighter or it was who I was with. The actual fighting was easy it was… It was other things that made that case hard to bear,” admitted Araminta looking away thinking about their alien torture room.
   “I’m sure you’ll get over it. You out there whupping these losers and being fearless. That’s what we’re doing, right? Beating up the bad guys!” Hunter said with much enthusiasm. As he was talking Erica was continuing to admire his body.
   “You are really into this,” Erica stated the obvious.
   “Hell yeah, I am. Bring it is what I say,” Hunter replied.
   “I’m only here because of the new identity and the chance to get a life going. Once I graduate that’s it-I’m out,” stressed Erica.
   “What if you catch some good vibes? Maybe in it for the long haul,” Hunter said to her. She shook her head.
   “I don’t really like it but at the same time, beating up bad people is kinda fun. Plus the people here,” Araminta said.
   Hunter, with a light smack on Araminta’s arm, began, “I got some queries for you-since you’ve been here for a while-Sally. She alien-got that. She kinda robotic.”
   “She’s nice. Just uncomfortable around most people.”
   “What about that Muslim fellow. Aaaaa-Aamil?”
   “I don’t know him well enough. Today is the first I’ve seen him attempt to be social,” Araminta responded.
   “And the spider woman chick is really a dude-or what is it?” he asked.
   “She’s identifies as a woman.”
   “Don’t got many… Um… Whatchyamacallit where I’m from. At least open about it you know,” Hunter divulged.
   “That’s probably it,” suggested Araminta.
   He pointed to her and nodded.
   Erica said, “She seemed really friendly with the punk rocker. You seemed a little irked.”
   Araminta opened her mouth and nothing came out. She finally said, “I do have a small crush on Frank but, you know, before showing up here I hadn’t talk to many boys-or girls-for a couple years.”
   Seated at another table April and Pearl continued to get to know one another.
   “So the cats yours?” Pearl questioned to which April nodded. Pearl then continued by asking, “Why was he in that conference room?”
   “You mean interrogation room?”
   Pearl shook her head and said, “Bastards. They told me it wasn’t an interrogation.”
   “They wanted to get to know us obviously. They are a unit and are being careful about bringing new people onto the team,” April defended them.
   “They could have just told me the truth.”
   “So how are you liking the base?” asked April.
   “Its amazing. Elijah was telling me about the place-now I’m going to be suspicious of any set of mountains.”
   “Its real cool,” agreed April.
   “So we work for the Illuminati or something? Frank was joking about that idea,” Pearl wondered aloud.
   “Or someone more powerful,” suggested April.
   “You got inquisitive, clever head on your shoulders, girl.”
   “Yeah-Jessie says I ask too many questions. Reed said I was a bit nosy,” April laughed off.
   “Being that you are inquisitive-run down your thoughts on everyone. Also-speculate wildly about them,” Pearl said.
   “Okay-Start over there. Franks gotta be queer. Just a hunch. He’s been real cool, long talks, very social justice. Cool guy. Jessie is total bad ass. When she showed up to save my ass-wow. She’s a rocker and I’m confused at times if she takes this gig seriously or not serious enough. Says she’s bi, dated girls but right now sweet on Elijah. Elijah is a cool guy. If he had not had been screwed over by the Teiwaz he’d be balling and shot calling,” April said.
   “Balling and shot calling? Does not seem the type. I heard he was into jazz and old movies,” said Pearl.
   “True but he’s Elijah Sterling Collingsworth the Third of the Collingworths’.”
   “Really? He’s that Elijah?” Pearl said looking back at him.
   “I didn’t outright ask but I figured it out. Eartha-only talked to her a few times, seems nice enough. Don’t know where she lands but I think she has been eying Antoine. Don’t quote me on that. A few of the girls are,” April noted.
   “Yeah-not my type.”
   “Antoine-who I don’t see around is nice dude. Very polite and joking but a little distant. Might be straight. Hunter-I hope he’s gay, that would be a swerve. I only talked to him for a moment but seemed to fumble his words. Not much dealing with the T in the LGBT. Probably a little confused with the LGB as well. Erica-kinda snobby. Probably a popular girl in her old high school. Now she’s been rejected by her family because of pagan magics or something. She usually talks to Araminta or Reed and usually polite with small talk. Eartha is a little put off by her,” continued April.
   “How about Araminta?” inquired Pearl.
   “Jury is out there. She leans to men but she had been a run away for years. Needs some experience I’m guessing before she picks a team. Totally sweet though. Everyone loves her.”
   “I did get to talk to her for a little while. Definitely warm personality. Definitely cute. Erica… Yeah, didn’t talk much with her,” said Pearl.
   April went on, “Sally… Whose not here-oh, getting more cups. Sally is nice. Distant. Small talk is small unless you hit up a topic she can go at lengths about. Talk to her about being a hero for the Guard and she was very insightful about how everything has worked. Sexuality… Uncomfortable with humans.”
   Pearl nodded. “I want to talk with her more. I am a big fan of her work.”
   “The four amigos playing Nintendo games-Reed is fine. He’s a brat but a sweet one. Totally a jerk if he wants to be but he gets all kiddy around Jessie and Sally and sometimes Elijah. He views teammates like his surrogate family. Right now-I’m aiming at being the nosy aunt. Arturo-well, English is not his first language but getting better and quick. Polite kid. Nothing else on him,” April told her.
   “Are they too young for me to ship them?” questioned Pearl.
   “They’re not fictional.”
   “Your point?”
   “I guess I don’t have one-oh, Jessie thinks Reed might be an ace.”
   “Well, if that’s true, they can just be cute little gamer bros,” Pearl said.
   “Go seems alright. Claims he was a school delinquent. Ran with a gang, got kicked out, whatever. I have nothing else on him but I’m gathering more details. Loves his hair but that’s obvious. Aamil is a jerk. We only talked once-did not go well,” divulged April.
   “Isn’t he also some social justice hero? He goes wild on domestic cases. Or maybe he’s that way on all his cases. Was following his work closely for a while. I was impressed. Let’s go bother him,” Pearl said grabbing April and taking her over to the table of the four guys playing Mario Kart.
   “Hello guys,” Pearl started. They all greeted her without looking up at them. Pearl continued, “So, Aamil, I have read about you. Vicious streak.”
   “Yes. Sometimes I overdo it,” he said. There was a pause.
   “You’re not good with people are you?” asked April.
   His eyes flashed up and then back to the game.
   “I’ve been told I don’t make good first impressions,” he responded.
   “How about second impressions. Maybe apologize for the rude comment you made to April, we shake, and everything’s forgotten,” recommended Pearl.
   “Even if I apologize it won’t wipe away the memory of my… As you said-rude comment toward April. Best we just not talk about it and be done. Move on,” Aamil said.
   “Fuck you blue turtle shell!” Go shouted.
   “Nothing wrong with at least an attempt at an apology,” April stated.
   “Hmm,” he grunted.
   “Unless you just one of those assholes,” April said.
   “I probably am.”
   “You got a problem with me?” asked April.
   Aamil stopped, stood up, said, “No. I don’t have a problem with you.”
   “So what is it? Your mommy didn’t raise you right?” questioned Pearl.
   “My mom didn’t raise me at all,” he responded with a crack in his voice.
   “We have a problem here?” asked Sally.
   “These people need to take their drama away form our game!” directed Reed.
   “Not what I meant,” Sally said.
   “Nothing is wrong here,” said April about the situation.
   Sally looked from the two girls to Aamil and said, “Aamil, apologize.”
   He turned to her, nodded and said, “Yes ma’am.” Aamil breathed in, “I apologize for my remarks when we first met. I look forward to working with you-and KESTREL-in the near future. Now if you’ll excuse me… I am going to get some food.”
   Aamil walked away and Sally watched him go.
   Pearl took this moment to strike, “So, Sally, you seeing anyone?”
   Sally was taken back, excused herself, and left quickly.
   “Came on too strong didn’t I?” asked Pearl.
   “Totally. You need to work on your courting skills,” Go said.
   “Specifically elsewhere!” Reed shouted.
   Arturo cursed at his game in Spanish and Reed chalked up another victory.

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