Chapter 61

               To Galvanize’s great surprise, Mr. Greene actually agreed with Titan’s suggestion that the team be seen dining in one of Mordent’s chain restaurants. While the two men might not see eye to eye on many a thing, Mr. Greene was not the type to let a personal distaste for someone skew his ability to spot a money-making idea. After a brief back and forth, it was decided that the team would stop off at Mealtime Jamboree, a family friendly restaurant with appalling bright colors and various knick-knacks on the walls. They were to sit in the bar section, though not at the bar, and were allowed two alcoholic beverage per person.

                Despite the strict rules place on their outing, the mood in the SUV couldn’t have been more boisterous as the team pulled in front of the garish yellow and red sign. They piled out quickly, partly in excitement and partly because five bodies that had been woken without the chance to shower and worked for several hours did not make a pleasant environment when crammed together. Galvanize led the charge into the restaurant, speaking briefly with the hostess who directed them directly to an already prepared table in the bar area. Mr. Greene had clearly called ahead to give the staff a heads up, as evidence by the fact that were was an extra-large stool to accommodate Titan as they sat down at the chest-high table. He’d also given the press a tip, at least gauging by the number of patrons sitting about with actual cameras, keeping their distance yet watching the costumed team with laser focus.

                “Feels weird to be just… out here,” Hexcellent muttered as they settled into their seats.

                “You do appearances all the time,” Titan said.

                “Sure, but then I’m in my element. Those people know who I am; some of them even came to see me. Being in full gear, just sitting around in public view… I don’t know, it feels different.”

                “I’ll second that,” Galvanize replied. “But I don’t think it’s different in a bad way. I’m rather enjoying getting to let this side of me out on the town instead of vanishing once the work is done. Now then, we each only get two drinks, all of which is going on the company tab so that Mr. Greene can verify that, so I suggest you choose them wisely.”

                By the time the bartender who was doubling as a waitress came by, the team had perused the menu extensively to make sure they got the best options available. Most went with their favorite drinks, the ones they’d been banned from for so many years now, but Hexcellent decided to take Titan’s recommendation on a local craft beer, which he also ordered. Their waitress, a pleasantly bubbly woman named Muriel, wrote everything down and quickly scampered away. Despite the fact that only one of the people at the table was a certified Hero, Muriel was clearly cape-struck by serving so many people in costume.

                “Check it out.” Zone pointed to one of the multitude of televisions suspended around the restaurant, this one playing scenes from the rescue effort they had just been part of. Amidst the wreckage and turmoil, there were clear shots of people being hauled to safety, sometimes even by one of their team. Titan got the most screen time, which surprised no one, but Bubble Bubble, Galvanize, and Zone were also featured relatively frequently. Hexcellent made the fewest appearances, which seemed unusual to Titan until he remember that she’d been paired with a large demon that had blades for arms. Family friendly imagery, it was not.

                By the time they finally looked away from the television, their drinks had arrived and Muriel had made herself scarce once more. Everyone reached for their respective glasses and started to drink, but Titan held up a hand to stop them.

                “If you don’t mind, I’d like to do a toast. I realize this probably isn’t the best place for it, but hell if I know whether another chance for us to all have drinks in our hands is going to come around.” Titan cleared his throat softly, then raised the frosted mug holding his beer.

                “You all did great work today, just like you do every time we step out there. I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that I was reluctant to sign on with a group of PEERS when I first came back, and that was due to nothing more than my own stupidity. You four are as brave, determined, and good-hearted as any Hero I’ve stood beside, and I am damned proud to be a part of this team. Cheers.”

                Everyone took a small sip of their drink, nodding appreciatively at both the sentiment and the wonderful flavor passing their lips. Silence descended on the table, no one quite sure what to say to follow Titan’s kind words until Bubble Bubble finally spoke.

                “For what it’s worth, you’ve certainly turned out to be far less a burden than we were expecting.”

                “Glad to hear it,” Titan replied. He was slowly beginning to get a feel for the most stoic member of their group, and he had a hunch that she was fonder of him, and the others, than she might like to let on.

                “We could have done worse,” Zone agreed. From his it was as good of an olive branch as Titan was likely to receive, and he nodded his head in appreciation.

                Hexcellent sighed and rolled her eyes. “I guess we’re all going to have this emotion fest then I’ll say that yes, it’s not terrible having you on the team. You damned sure have a knack for making things more interesting, I’ll give you that. I can’t say I remember a single time Mirror Fog whipped the shit out of Elemental Fury on pay-per-view.”

                “Oh right, that happened before you joined the team,” Galvanize said, taking a small sip of his dark beer.

                Everyone at the table, save for Titan who had never met the former Hero Liaison, stared at Galvanize in wide-eyed confusion. It wasn’t at the suggestion that Mirror Fog had pulled the same stunt as Titan; that was patently ridiculous. No, their shock stemmed from one simply fact about what they had just heard: Galvanize had made a joke while in costume.

                “What?” Galvanize said as their stare began to make him fidget in his seat. “You guys are the only ones who can kid around?”

                “Not the only ones who can, just usually the only ones that do,” Zone pointed out.

                “Though I loathe to admit it, it seemed Hexcellent was righter than she knew,” Bubble Bubble said. “Titan’s presence truly does keep things more interesting.”