Chapter 56

Roy had changed the game, and not in a figurative sense.

"Whiskey," Roy reiterated.

"Excuse me?" Ben asked, trying to understand.

"Your boy called me out, so I'm upping the stakes. We play with half cups of whiskey instead of beer, unless you girls think you can handle full ones," Roy replied. Mary might bitch him out for being condescending, but given the circumstances he was confident he could talk his way out of too much earache.

"Half is fine," Chris said, answering for his partner. "Mind if Ben changes first?"

"Be my guest," Roy replied with a generous smile. Ben's features melded together, his skin becoming scaly and thick while his hair retreated into his head. His pupils became vertical slits and small, dagger-like claws grew out from his hand. "Snakeman?" Roy asked when Ben's transformation was done.

"Closer to lizard, actually," Ben corrected with a shrug. His voice sounded a bit more like sandpaper rubbing together than it had before, but there weren't any of the drawn out S sounds that one might have expected from his appearance.

"Hope that form comes with improved aim," Roy said.

Ben grinned, an act which had become several degrees more disturbing. "It does."

"Good. You won last game, so you shoot first once the cups are filled," Roy said.

"Agreed," Chris said. "We'll get the whiskey."

"Fine by me," Roy said. Once the two had ventured off to the kitchen though, Roy immediately turned his attention on Nick. "Please, please, please tell me you can at least halfway hold your liquor."

*          *          *

"This took an interesting turn somewhere," Vince said as he sidled up to Alice and Alex, joining in the slowly-growing crowd watching the cups be filled.

"I feel like we should have expected it somehow," Alex replied. "So, who are your friends?"

"Oh, right," Vince said, reddening at his blunder. A quick round of introductions later and everyone was gathered to observe the beginning of the rematch.

"So I get Roy doing this, but why is Nick going along with it?" Alice wondered aloud.

"Because it's fun," Alex answered automatically. The other threw him a speculative look, so he clarified. "I sense thoughts and emotions too, remember? Just because I don't pick up with the clarity of Mary doesn't mean I can't feel the waves of enjoyment flooding off of Nick."

"He does love being the center of attention," Vince pointed out.

"No, the kid who wears sunglasses all the time likes people looking at him? I never would have put that one together," Stella snickered.

"Hush, you," Violet chided her. "It can't be easy to have a power like luck. I mean, how are you even sure when it's working or if it's just coincidence? That has to make it difficult staying afloat in the HCP."

"Knowing Nick, I think he just assumes everything good is his power at work," Alice said.

"Knowing Nick, I'm not so sure that it isn't," Vince countered.

Alice opened her mouth to say otherwise, then thought better of it. "I hope luck powers come packaged with a new liver or the ability to turn alcohol into water, otherwise we'll be carting him out of here if they lose."

"I guess that means we're hoping they win," Alex said.

"Of course," Vince said automatically.

"Then shut up and cheer because they're starting."

*          *          *

Roy's powers didn't actually make him any better at beer pong than Hershel. Sure, his senses were a little sharper, and of course he had strength and endurance far beyond the human threshold; however, none of that made bouncing a Ping-Pong ball into a cup an easier task. What did help, though, was a wealth of experience playing drinking games, a nearly endless alcohol tolerance, and more confidence than a rooster in a hen house.

"Suck it," Roy called as the ball left his hand, hurtling through the air and landing deftly in one of the few remaining cups on the other side of the table. Chris’s hand hesitantly picked up said cup, removed the ball, and choked down the contents. He and Ben were veteran beer pong players, using his power and Ben's skill to triumph over nearly every opponent. Since they usually won, though, they had to drink less, and as they worked their way through an ocean of whiskey it had begun to dawn on the duo that this had a significant disadvantage at times. Ben was holding up well thanks to his own enhanced endurance, but Chris's awareness and focus were deteriorating by the minute.

"Your shot," Nick said cheerily. Chris nodded in acknowledgment and took several deep breaths. He cleared his mind and held the ball firmly. His eyes locked on the area over one of the remaining cups on Nick and Roy's side, and with a burst of energy the ball snapped out of his hand in a puff of smoke. It reappeared almost instantaneously, dropping straight down toward the cup. Chris's aim had been off though, and the ball struck the cup's rim rather than the brown liquid below. It took a bad hop and struck the table once before landing on the carpet.

"And that's the game," Roy announced, plucking the ball from the ground and dousing it in a cup of water.

"You think you've won just because I missed once?" Chris challenged.

"I know we've won because you've hit the point where you can't focus properly. Ben is good, but not good enough to take on both of us, and my money says you've always used your power so you don't have any real skills at this game," Roy explained.

"I'm fine," Chris spit back defiantly. "I just slipped."

"Right, and as more alcohol is digested and enters the blood stream, you're going to find it easier to teleport things precisely," Nick said. "Never thought I'd say this, but Roy is right. Out of respect for your partner we'll let you take the remaining cups and walk away from the game so you don't have to slam them down."

"Fuck you, take your shot," Chris replied.

"Now hold on, man," Ben said, butting in. "I'm not staying in shifted form all night, and when I go back there will still be a lot of alcohol in my system to process. They're actually being nice and letting us call it here, so I say we take them up on it. They upped the stakes and played better, no big deal. It's just a stupid game of beer pong."

"I am not giving up," Chris said. "And I am not losing to a damn freshman."

"So be it," Nick said, shrugging. He took the ball from Roy and tossed it casually into the air. It sailed effortlessly into one of the remaining three cups.

"I'm not drinking anymore," Ben declared as Chris's eyes fell on him. "I told you I wanted to be done."

"Fine, I'll do it myself then," Chris countered, snagging the cup and forcing it all down in one swallow. "Your shot," he said, wiping his mouth and handing the ball to Ben. In response Ben's skin grew pink as he shifted back to his regular form.

"I told you, I'm out. And you should be, too; you're going to be sick as a dog."

"Who gives a shit?" Chris said, weaving his body back to facing the table.

"Me." The voice that made that declaration was very calm, very relaxed, and contained not so much as an iota of threat in its tone. At the same time, everyone in range discerned a simple truth from that voice, something that radiated down and registered on a primal level.

The owner of that voice was not to be fucked with.

"Now Chris," Angela continued, walking up to him as the crowd parted before her. "We know that you're an asshole, but you're our asshole. We put up with your crap out of love and camaraderie. I'm going to be feeling a lot less love if you start throwing up in my house."

Chris's gaze locked on the tall girl in front of him. She was smiling placidly and had open, caring body language. Physically she seemed the opposite of daunting. It was more like a gentle kitten asking a favor. Chris had been in class with her for a year and a half, though. He was intoxicated and rapidly getting worse. He wasn't drunk enough to make the mistake of crossing her, though. It was hard to imagine the poor bastard who ever had been that drunk.

"Good game, guys," Chris said, stumbling away from the table. "Sorry I got a little too competitive there."

"No problem," Nick said graciously.

"Come again anytime," Roy sniped as Ben led Chris away, presumably to the bushes or an unoccupied toilet to try and forcibly reduce the amount of alcohol assaulting his system.

"Now, as for you two," Angela said, turning her attention to the winners. "Nice game. Try to keep the pissing matches to a minimum in the future, though. If someone gets angry and a fight starts, all of our identities are in danger. Not to mention two Supers can tear up a house in no time flat."

"My apologies," Nick said. "Things got a bit out of hand and our drive to win got the better of us."

"You're fine, Chris's liver will recover, and you provided some excellent entertainment. I'm just saying be careful who you challenge around here. Looks can be very deceiving."

Roy and Nick nodded agreement, and if Mary were there she would have heard all four of her other dorm mates sharing almost the exact same though simultaneously. There were variations of course, with Roy's being a bit more racy and Vince's leaning more toward a guilty self-admission, but the overall wording was inherently similar:

"Lady, you don't know the half of it."

*          *          *

"Surely there must be something more interesting to do on a Saturday night than playing chess," Mr. Numbers commented while Mary was pondering her next move.

"Nah, I'm not much of a party girl. Besides, they can't into that much trouble without me," she said.