When he became a Hero, Brett had been prepared for a slew of new experiences. Fighting criminals in the streets, seeing all sorts of new Supers and abilities, traveling across the nation to help in whatever way his particular power was needed. Two days on a cruise, while certainly a new experience, was not something he’d been mentally prepared for, however.
Checking in was pandemonium. Thousands of people all pushing their way onto a boat, showing tickets and getting slowly directed to their accommodations. Once they finally got to their room, there was a measure of peace. Apparently DV had booked them a small suite, consisting of two bedrooms as well as a shared living space and bathroom. It was hardly decadent or spacious, but compared to hiding in the hull of a fishing boat like he’d expected it was positively decadent. Angela got a bedroom to herself by default, while Justin and Brett doubled up in the one hosting bunk beds. Not great, but still better than a dorm.
They’d barely gotten settled when DV arrived, having dropped off his own bags, with the promised cell phones. Each had virtually the same number, DV’s included, with only the last digit changed for every phone. Once he seemed satisfied that they had the numbers memorized, he told them to wait for texts and blend in. Also, not to go crazy with charging things to the room. Somebody would have to settle the bill when all was said and done.
After that, DV was gone, and they were left to their own devices. That first night was simple enough, the three under-cover Heroes hit up the provided buffet, dining on loads of shrimp and shellfish while Angela polished off what had to be an unhealthy amount of wine. When the food was all eaten, they took a walk around the cruise ship, familiarizing themselves with their surroundings, just in case. The odds of having to make a quick escape or launch a surprise attack while at sea were minimal, but none of them would feel at ease until they could do those things, should the occasion demand. Once they knew the layout of their temporary home, they all turned in.
It was the next morning that Brett hit a hurdle, facing an enemy he hadn’t dealt with since starting the fast-paced life of a newly graduated Hero: boredom. There was nothing to do. Well, no, there were plenty of ways to amuse himself, classes and shows and lounging areas seemingly without end. The trouble was that those were distractions, and Brett was accustomed to actually using his time. Training, research, patrols, studying, all of these were things that he knew he should be doing. But Brett wasn’t Barrier on this boat, not so far as anyone knew. He was just Brett Rhodes, a normal guy here to take a brief vacation.
Eventually Brett contented himself with spending a few hours at the gym, where Angela and Justin also started their morning, until he’d done about all he could with the limited array of equipment. They all headed back to the suite, where Angela dashed into her room and employed some sort of quick-change magic trick, because in no time she’d popped back out clad in a swimsuit with a towel tossed over her shoulder and a book in hand.
“If we’re on a cruise and going to an island, I’m at least coming back from this shit with something of a tan.”
“We’re going to find you drunk and stranded on a pool float, aren’t we?” Justin asked.
“Or being carried around on the shoulders of the crew, newly crowned as the queen of the cruise.” Angela dug around in her purse for a moment until she pulled out the cell phone DV had provided. Jokes aside, she knew to keep up with what was important. “But historically things tend to go more that first way. One of you be a lamb and make sure I’m not passed out and burning in an hour.”
Before either could ask what pool area she would even be at, Angela was out the door, charging headlong into whatever mess she could find. Brett noticed that Justin had changed as well, though he didn’t seem to be sporting a swimsuit. “Not hitting the pool?”
“Me? Maybe later, when the sun is a little lower in the sky. I burn and freckle more than tan. I’m going to spend my day taking classes, meeting other passengers, and just generally mingling. The more we learn about these people, the better we can fit in with them. Plus, if anyone else is stopping at United Avalon, I can see what sorts of reasons they’re using. Should make our cover all the more believable.”
“Wow. And here I thought there would be nothing to do,” Brett admitted.
“Nothing for you punchy types, sure. But the quiet moments are where we Subtlety folks earn our keep. You’re welcome to tag along if you like, although I’ve crafted a pretty aggressive schedule. First up is towel-folding class, then I’m getting an introductory course on the waltz, and after that I’ll be learning to cook the same paella that’s being served at lunch today… wait, did I sign up to help make lunch? Shit, that’s a good scam if it’s what they’re running.”
“Tempting as it is to help cook for the cruise, I think I’ll pass.” Brett wasn’t entirely sure what he was going to do with his down time, but from only Justin’s morning it sounded like he had a lot planned, and it felt like the sort of endeavor where he’d work best alone. While boredom was an annoying foe to face, it wasn’t worth tanking Justin’s productivity to beat. “Besides, someone has to check on Angela in an hour. What if she does pass out and get burned?”
A slight chuckle escaped Justin’s lips. “Well, then she’d sell the tourist story all the better. Not that I think that will actually happen, though. Despite how she likes to act, I doubt that woman has lost control of herself or a situation a single time since we’ve met. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but she might enjoy the company. Either way, try and have fun. Don’t just rest a few hours and go back to the gym.”
That was, in fact, exactly the idea Brett had been entertaining. His eyes widened, and part of him wondered if Justin was hiding some method of telepathy they’d missed.
“Spare me the shocked face. I pay attention to everything, you included. And while a morning workout is fine, it’s not exactly uncommon knowledge that Heroes love to train. Anybody watching for our kind is going to take careful note of people who spend the entire vacation working out.”
“So I can do whatever I want, I just can’t be productive with my time,” Brett said.
“Congratulations, you are now officially just like ninety percent of other recent college graduates, at least for two days.” Justin grabbed his own cell phone and pulled open the suite’s front door. “Try and have a little fun with the freedom. You could use it.” Then he was gone, the door closed behind, leaving Brett still lacking any idea of what to do with his day.