𝕎𝕖𝕕: 𝕆𝕔𝕥. 𝟙𝟜, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / ℂ𝕣𝕚𝕞𝕖𝕟 ℂ𝕦𝕝𝕡𝕒𝕖 / / 𝕎𝕒𝕗𝕗𝕝𝕖 ℍ𝕠𝕦𝕤𝕖 / / 𝟙𝟚𝟘𝟘
Hey Ernie! What's your opinion on waffles? :P
Better than pancales cos of crunch
Why, yuo want some?
Well we can go wherever you want but I owe you for a ton of stuff and I want to treat you.
free for lunch?
You had me at 'treat'
aww yeah :)
Okay, meet me at the bus stop at 12 : sunglasses:
Ernie was there by 11:50. Today's laundry had been a light load, though even if it hadn't Ernie knew that he'd arrive on time. The same snazzy jacket he'd worn when Emma had told him about the dream currently adorned his body, paired with a pair of jeans that weren't at all suited for mountaineering. Siena had been a thorough outfitter. Of course, the usual concealer had been smeared across his neck. He sent out another text while he waited.
Ohyeh dont froget your mark
In spite of her little chat with Determination that morning, Callan was determined to maintain her good mood. Or at least keep her mind off it. Easier said than done, but she was trying her damnedest.
As if the slightly offbeat upbeat attitude wasn't enough, it seemed Callan had actually put some form of effort into her appearance when she arrived. She smiled and waved cheerily as she approached. A simple barrette kept her typically unruly bangs out of her face, coupled with a pair of stud earrings and bright white tennis shoes. As per Ernie's request, her mark was concealed.
"Dang, Ernie!" she looked him up and down, "Where can I get a jacket like that?"
The boy puffed out his chest, grinning from the praise.
"No clue, really," he replied sheepishly, "Siena took me all over the place on Friday."
"Hmm," Callan nodded approvingly, feeling slightly under dressed all of a sudden. "Dude, I gotta get her to help me out next time...." she chuckled. A noncommittal remark coming from someone who avoided shopping like the plague.
"Seriously though, you look like you just walked out of a magazine. Could've at least warned me!" Callan pinched at the hem of her hoodie. It was one of her newer and less used ones, but still nowhere close to Ernie's ensemble.
"Right?" he wiggled his shoulders happily, "Shopping with Siena is like, life-changing. Definitely couldn't have paid for even a fifth of it without her."
"With a 500 dollar stipend?" Callan gawked, stepping towards him, "Jesus, let me see that coat." She gingerly ran her fingers along the shoulder, squinting as if she might catch a glimpse of diamonds hidden somewhere in the stitching.
"Yeah, it's like wearing a cloud!" Ernie held an arm out for Cal to sample, "I hadn't packed much for the winter but luckily Siena was there. I'm pretty sure half my wardrobe now is stuff she suggested."
"Ohh," Callan stepped back, thoroughly impressed, as the bus finally appeared down the road, "That's super cool!"
"Mmhmm! We should all go out sometime. Another clothes run, another Costco visit and..." Ernie tilted his head as he heard the incoming bus, "Say, where are we going today?"
"Yeah," she agreed, actually meaning it a little. Costco was always fun. And she could probably make up an excuse to skip out on the clothes shopping. Her eyes lit up at the question as she stepped closer to the curb. "A magical place..." she smirked, "Called Waffle House!"
"I mean, unless breakfast for lunch isn't your style," she nodded at his clothes again.
"Breakfast for lunch?" Ernie's eyes seemed to twinkle, "Geez, sounds like we're breaking some kinda rule."
Called laughed, "Motel break-ins one day and waffles after noon the next... man, who's the bad influence on who here?"
More idle chatter occupied the bus ride into town. Idle and nice and not at all like her chat with Determination that morning. Callan led the way to Waffle House with all the pep of a person who was quite clearly trying not to seem terribly upset on the inside. Once inside, the hostess greeted and seated them with a smile. It was nice at least to be treated so normally-- Ernie's idea to cover their marks had turned out to be a good one after all. She'd been a bit skeptical about trying to disguise herself in a town she'd already visited a few times, but... so far so good!
Ordering their drinks and being left alone with the menus, Callan propped hers up against the booth table and hummed. "I've never eaten here, but the reviews online were super high," she mused, running her finger down the list of specials, "And order whatever you want! I've got plenty left on my card this month."
Ernie raised an eyebrow at her pep. Her unusually bright behaviour on the way to the restaurant hadn't gone unnoticed. Overcompensation for something, he was sure of that. He had the sinking feeling that it had something to do with him, the way he dressed today, but so far she hadn't raised it as a problem. Yet. Ernie decided to play along for now.
"Uhh," he skimmed over the menu. It seemed like the usual diner stuff, not that he had any problem with it. He remembered eating something similar with Angelique at La Plata, "I guess I'll take the All Star Special. Looks like a bit of everything so if I have normal lunch stuff with the waffles then the crime won't be so bad."
Callan smiled and shrugged, "Hey, you do what you want, but I'm goin' all in. That glazed strawberry waffle stack has my name written aaall over it." Callan impatiently turned in her seat to look for the waitress, waving at her.
"Hey, we're ready to order!" she called out happily. Being the middle of the week on a school day, the place wasn't exactly packed. Nor had their server been gone for an especially long time. But even under extreme circumstance, Callan had never seemed to be the sort to flag down a waitress. Especially for such a mundane reason.
The arbiter sank back down in her seat with a chipper sigh. Rattling off their orders with a hair too much gusto.
"Whew, the service here is pretty great so far, right?" she picked up the orange juice she'd ordered, swirling the pulp in the glass with her straw for a moment before taking a quick sip, "And holy cow, this orange juice is great."
Ernie took a sip to check. Tasted like orange juice. "Uh yeah, it's fine...?"
Something was definitely off.
"So how have you been? We haven't talked since...yesterday..."
Urgh. Such a simple question. Easy peasy. You can do this.
"I'm doin' great," she grinned, looking down at the table quickly. Her smile clearly faltered, but by the time her eyes met his again, she'd managed to fix it back in place. "What about you? How'd Siena's party go? Did she like the cake?"
Ernie forced a smile and pulled out his phone. He showed her the selfie Brent had taken, Siena with Team SAP and a half-demolished cake. Said nothing about what came after the party.
"It was pretty fun. The cake was a hit and so were your dog sweaters."
"Aw, awesome," Callan stared at the picture, eyes lingering on one face in particular. Her expression became unreadable for a moment, caught between her current facade and something deeply troubling. "Man, I wish I could've been there. Looks like you guys had a blast," she smiled apologetically, "I was too tired to party, though. Definitely would've fallen asleep."
"Ehhh," Ernie thought of the birthday activities, "sure. What's got you so tired all of a sudden? Don't think I didn't notice all those energy drinks when I dropped you off."
Callan laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of her neck, "Oh, you saw my stash, haha. Oh man, that's embarrassing. I've been staying up pretty late watching Netflix. My sleep schedule's been wonky since the island, you know?"
A buzzing sound called from Callan's side of the table. She visibly tensed, but ignored it, moving right along with the conversation, "Not as cool as staying up all night learning piano. That's for sure."
Ernie frowned. "You don't need to answer that?"
Thrown off by the question, her expression blanched, eyes darting to where she'd placed her phone on the seat beside her.
Yooooo det's been acting super weird today
"Nah," Callan smiled again, stomach turning. Oh God, why did she think waffles were a good idea?
"I'll get it later. Probably just a dumb app pinging me to buy jewels or some shit," she folded her arms over the table, leaning forward while searching for something to say next. Anything. "Weather's been nice," she chuckled, looking out the window at the incoming clouds. "I hope it rains. It's been a while."
"It's Fall--" Ernie crossed his arms. He couldn't keep this up any longer. "Okay, I can't do this. Callan, I think I know what's going on here."
She blinked at him, sitting back, clenching her fists and slowly sliding them under the table where they could shake in peace.
"What?" she forced a smile regardless, gripping her knees to keep her knuckles from chattering against the underside of the table.
Ernie took a deep breath. Looked her right in the eye and spoke with a firm voice. His expression conveyed only the utmost of seriousness.
"This is not a date. We both know that, right?"
The smile melted off her face cleanly this time. Her mouth fell open and closed at least twice before she found the words.
"O-of course I know that, Ernie," she replied, her tone serious but also apologetic. Her face flushed, though. Not a great sign. "S-sorry if you thought it was?"
Ernie narrowed his eyes. "W-wait, I thought that you thought that I thought that this was a..."
He trailed off, having confused himself somewhere along that sentence. He had a feeling his face was starting to turn red too.
"I mean, you made such a fuss about what I was wearing."
"I-I just thought they were cool," Callan stammered. And they seemed like such an easy conversation piece! She inwardly groaned.
"Aw man, I'm sorry. I should watch what I say," she frowned, seemingly far more upset about the mistake than she should have been, "Everything's awkward now, isn't it?" Jesus, was she going to cry?
Callan managed to prevent that much at least, taking a subtle breath through her nose to steady herself again.
The Aberration kneaded the bridge of his nose. "Yeah...I-I mean, no? Yes? Urgh."
This was his fault. He sighed into his hands before catching sight of Cal's distress. "Jesus, are you alright?"
God, she was falling apart. Calm down!
Those words and accusations were screaming in her ears. Louder than the pounding headache she'd accrued from trying to keep it all in. A loud crash and biting tone, forcing her to face things she'd never even thought of before. God, she was so stupid!
Callan suddenly shot up out of her seat. "I gotta use the restroom real quick," she chuckled nervously, "I'm fine-- I'll be right back."
Ernie couldn't do much but stammer and watch as Callan raced to the bathroom. Wha--he hadn't fucked up that badly, had he? A loud groan of frustration left the boy's throat, turning a few heads before the buzzing sound from before rung again. And again. Cal had seemed pretty intent on ignoring it. What the actual hell was going on? After scoping out the way to the bathroom to make sure the Arbiter wasn't returning, Ernie leaned over the table and grabbed the phone. The name on the front darkened his expression immediately.
She mentioned that she talked to you today
Did she seem weird?
'She'? Who else did Cal talk to here, Siena? More importantly, it was probably Emma's messages that was making Callan act so weird today. And whatever that fucking snake was up to, it wasn't going to continue under Ernie's watch.
Without any hesitation, he swiped the phone open.
There wasn't much time to do this. He speed-read through the latest conversation, his brow furrowing deeper and deeper with every revelation. Determination was 'Riley'. Riley wasn't just a friend Emma threw up on, she was an ex. And also a girl apparently, but he could mull over that later. The 'ex' part was a secret. A big secret that even Marcus didn't know about but Cal did. Lastly, Emma and Callan were pretty good friends, good enough for Cal to get her a present? What the fuck, she'd never bought him anything!
A clatter from the kitchen made the Aberration jump, scaring him out of this game of phone-stalk chicken. He closed the phone in a hurry, dropping it back in the seat before sitting stiffly in his own as he waited for the girl to return.
Thank God the toilets were clean. Callan dry heaved several times before sitting on the floor, trying to iron herself out. She was hyperventilating. Couldn't keep this up. Needed to get out. Or calm down. Whichever came first.
'Your roommate? Your friend's boyfriend? God, that's fucking classless'
Her stomach lurched again, but she tried to ignore it. Callan pulled herself up and ran to the sink, splashing cold water across her face several times until her eyes didn't seem quite so red. It wasn't perfect, but it'd have to do. Just when she thought she might head back out the door, it all came rushing back. She gripped the edge of the sink and just breathed, squeezing her eyes so tightly she saw stars. Couldn't keep this up... She couldn't keep hiding in the bathroom forever... could she?
Meanwhile, Ernie hadn't dared touch the phone again, even after five minutes passed. Then ten. Then twenty. Jesus fuck, energy-drink induced shits didn't take that long. Something was seriously wrong. Pocketing the phone regardless, Ernie stormed to the bathrooms, pushing into the 'Ladies' room without a second look.
"H-hey," a woman by the sink gaped at him, "what the--"
"Cal!" Ernie blatantly ignored her and the other two in the bathroom, calling out with slight panic in his voice, "Cal, are you in here?"
Bent over the sink, her head shot up at the sound. Shit... how long had she been in here? Her eyes darted to the mirror. Her face was sopping wet. Sleeves, too. And her hair looked like she'd never styled it at all.
"Ernie!" she called out, wiping her face off on her already damp sleeves. Probably not a good idea to let him keep running around calling her name like that.
"Dude, you seriously need to--"
"Fuck off!" Ernie snapped viciously and ran to the voice. When he finally found her, he didn't know what to say. She'd been washing her face for twenty minutes? No. She'd definitely been crying. Ernie began to panic more, connecting lines and dots where there hadn't been any before. Was this because of the Determination thing? If it was, Ernie was going to fucking murder Emma. Cal was fine yesterday morning so it had to be that, right? Maybe it was something before that. Like Siena being in a mood or...
Ernie blanched. Did...did she find out about the Marcus situation somehow?
"Wha--Cal, I..." he looked on the verge of tears himself, "what's going on, man?"
"You're not supposed to be in here," she sniffled and laughed softly, trying not to draw more attention, "This is the girl's room, you weirdo."
"I've cleaned a lot worse," he said, stepping to her and holding her by the shoulders. "I don't know what to do, Cal. Why are you so upset?"
Holding back the floodgates, Callan gave him a glossy eyed stare. Here, but with her thoughts miles below sea level. Her bottom lip trembled and she quickly looked away. "Ernie, I just want to go eat waffles," she said, her voice breaking. "I don't want to think about it. I just want to joke around and be stupid and just..." Her shoulders shook.
"Yeah," Ernie nodded vigorously, desperation lacing the action, "yeah, we can do that. We can be as stupid as you want and we'll laugh at dumb jokes and eat--"
The boy paused, as if remembering something.
Right on cue, the woman he swore at burst in with a Waffle House worker.
"That's the one," she spat, pointing right at Ernie.
A few minutes of apologies and paid compensation later, the subnaturals found themselves outside Waffle House with a lifetime ban.
"Fuck..." Ernie muttered, turning to check on his companion.
Callan made a pitifully small effort to laugh. "Sorry," she smiled at him, wincing, "That was my bad... we can go somewhere else." She pulled out her phone and began searching. Ernie took her wrist, preventing her from looking at the phone.
"Actually, I know a place," he tried a comforting smile himself, "Do you mind walking?"
Callan shook her head, "No, that's fine. Wherever you want."
With a nod, Ernie began to lead the way. Silence lingered so Cal could regain her composure and Ernie could figure out what he wanted to say. It was comfortable.
"Alright," he finally piped up after a few minutes, "gun to your head, all honesty, what was your first ever impression of me?"
Callan blinked at him curiously, not expecting a question like that, though she was far from complaining.
"Hmm," she thought to herself briefly, "I thought you seemed nice. Happy. Someone fun to be around." She smirked, "I remember you were laughing when I almost took Marc's head off, though. And at first I was kinda like 'I almost killed somebody and this guy over here thinks it's funny! What the hell?'"
She laughed a little, "But it was pretty hilarious in retrospect so I won't hold it against you."
"It was definitely funny," Ernie nodded with a chuckle. He took a contemplative breath, looking a bit distant. "If we're being honest here, I think I looked down on you guys that first day."
Callan laughed. "Well, yeah! You've been a mage for a while and we were a bunch of idiots who just woke up with powers!" She slid her hands into her pockets, seeming to calm down just a bit, "Hell, it stills feels that way. ...Plus you're tall."
"And still growing!" Ernie grinned proudly, "This spine's got like a year and a half of potential spring in it yet."
Jokes aside, he relaxed.
"I let West stroke my ego too much. But even before that, I...don't think highly of people. A lot of people. You really were all a bunch of rookie idiots to me."
He knew part of that was still true. He chuckled again.
"I don't really know what I'm trying to say. Maybe...'I've never been happier about being wrong' or 'I've never wanted to fight for anything more in my life'. Something dumb. I dunno. Most of all, it's probably just a 'thank you'."
Ernie didn't dare look at her.
"Thank you, Callan."
Thank you? It seemed so undeserved after the morning she'd had, but... man, she was such a moron. She wasn't entirely sure what Ernie meant, but it made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Somehow bypassing the nerves and paranoia eating away at her thoughts. Just for a moment.
She stared up at the side of his face before a sheepishly incredulous smile pulled at her lips. "Aww geez," she chuckled, looking forward, "I don't know what I did, but... you're welcome I guess."
The boy laughed. He doubted he could explain it either.
"Nah, you've done a lot. Just felt like I needed to say it soon."
His expression grew more melancholy.
"It kills me when I see you upset. A-and it's fine if you don't want to talk about it. I've been there plenty of times myself and I'll act dumb and make jokes if that's what you need. Personally, I don't think it's healthy and I don't understand why you're not telling me about it, but if it's what you want I'll suck it up for now. You shouldn't force yourself to act normal and cheery. Makes me feel weird too, like I've done something wrong."
That turned out harsher than he wanted. This whole thing had been kinda frustrating.
"Anyway, if you want to eat, you should probs search something up. Cos we've been walking in a random direction for like fifteen minutes and I never actually had a place to lead us to in the first place."
She stopped abruptly, clutching at her stomach underneath the pocket of her hoodie. A mixed emotion of longing and what looked like straight nausea washing over her, she stared at the shoulder of Ernie's jacket. Going out to eat could wait-- she barely had an appetite anyway,
"I don't want to make you feel like a dumping ground for all my stupid problems, Ernie," she frowned, "That's never any fun."
Had that been her intention the entire time? Ernie could still recall the first time they really talked, where he'd learnt about Marcus and her family situation. Frankly, it was far too late to make him feel like anything else. He was okay with that, wasn't he? If it meant keeping a friend like her in his life.
"Is this a 'stupid' problem?" he barely held himself back from snapping at her, "You're a mess right now. You can barely walk."
Callan swallowed hard.
"I'm... I'm in some serious shit.... And I don't know what to do. I feel like I can't even breathe."
She wiped at her cheek, eyes falling to the asphalt, "Ernie, you're one of my best friends." She smiled ruefully. "I know I can trust you with anything, but...." Her face reddened, "I'm so stupid."
"What shit?" Ernie pleaded, "We can work this out but I can't help if I don't know what's going on. Please."
Callan was quiet for a moment, looking up at Ernie and clearly trying to decide on if she should tell him. Though it was more a question of how much. There were some things about her problem that felt like they shouldn't be shared. Things that would upset Emma....
Just the basics then.
"Determination came by my dorm this morning," she said, her voice just above a whisper, "She wanted to talk... was asking a bunch of weird questions...."
She chewed her lip nervously, glancing over shoulder briefly. "She found out about Marcus... and she wasn't happy."
The memory was still fresh. Her voice was shaking again, "I-- I didn't... I wasn't thinking. This could really hurt Emma. R-really bad, Ernie... I don't think Det will tell her, but... I don't know...."
Ernie froze. Grimaced visibly.
"That really is serious."
He knew her poor acting was going to bite her in the ass someday but...not like this. A darker part of his mind cursed Emma, wondering if Determination had been acting under her orders. The tulpa was her lackey after all and it wasn't like Callan hid her feelings very well. He didn't know what Emma was up to but he swore to god he'd put an end to it.
"You think it won't tell her?"
'She's fragile, Cal.'
Callan shook her head, "No... I really don't think so." She stared at Ernie expectantly. Waiting for some kind of direction.
"Because...," Callan hesitated, clearly rethinking what she was going to say, "I don't know... that's just the feeling I got. I think she wants me to keep being friends with Emma... to act like everything's normal. Det said a lot of stuff.... It's so weird. I'm freaking out..."
Ernie took note of it. The pauses, the holes in the information. So much she was keeping from him, stuff he'd never known if he hadn't taken it for himself. He wanted to help. She wanted him to help. But this was the limited extent she was willing to go for him.
...He didn't want to comment on it.
"So the tulpa is blackmailing you into staying...friends with Emma."
Callan sighed, pushing her bangs against her head, "I don't know... I don't know what it's gonna do. It's fuckin' nuts. I just got this awful feeling like... something really bad's gonna happen." A hysterical chuckle. "I don't know how to stop it and and it's gonna be all my fault."
"No. Having feelings you can't handle isn't your fault," Ernie preached the consolation blandly. He tried to believe it himself but it was hard when Callan was so incapable of keeping her mouth shut. Seriously, she got out-talked by a magic clone person?
"Sounds like the only thing you can do now is play along. If the tulpa isn't going to say anything to change the status quo, neither should you. In the meantime, you need leverage. Find a motive or something like that. Find or make a reason for that thing to never open its goddamn mouth."
Callan didn't seem convinced, but she kept listening. Her eyes widened at Ernie's suggestion. It seemed... a little extreme. She pressed a knuckle to her lips in thought. There was the thing with Val, but... that would only hurt Emma. Definitely not something she could use. She helplessly floundered for an idea.
"Det can't be destroyed. She just poofs right back, so you can't really threaten her, can you?" Callan frowned, "I dunno... I was never gonna let this affect anything. I thought if I just tried to keep quiet, it'd all blow over. I'd move on and everything would be fine.... I get what you're saying. But--" she smiled defeatedly, "I don't know if I could just pretend like everything's the same. Maybe I should do like she said and move out. Steer clear of Marcus for... however long...."
"Steer clear of your Marcus, the guy you live with and have classes with and head out to battle with?" Ernie raised an eyebrow. He sighed again. "Look, maybe Determination will just move on if everyone just lays low for a while. There's a chance everything can stay the same! But," this was the ugly part, "if that doesn't happen...I think you should start preparing for the worst."
"AGH!" Callan ruffled her hair with both hands out of frustration, "God, you're right! I'm so fucked!" Her voice dipped into a desperate whine. She took a quick breath, "I'll just... j-just try to stay optimistic for now! Like you said... everything might stay the same! Just gotta... not let it get to me...." She took several more breaths as she mentally tried to convince herself.
Ernie winced at the meltdown. Geez, had he ever seen her act like this before? He...didn't like it at all. It was just...so fucking weird! Urgh. He clamped his hands firmly on her shoulders, forcing her gaze onto his.
"Calm the fuck down!" he hissed. "You're a strong person. You can do this."
Callan simply stared blankly for a moment, as if broken from a trance. She took one last breath, exhaling slowly through her nose before nodding hesitantly.
"R-right... I can do this."
The Aberration clearly wasn't finished. He looked furious.
"You defeated an Amigo. You shattered an ice giant alongside Kadabra. You helped take down a Cat 3 monster. And you're shaken by this? Are you fucking shitting me, Callan Webb?!"
Her eyes widened, the changing of her expression clearly fueled by every word as Ernie spoke. Her hands balled up into fists and she shouted back, matching his volume and quickly gaining confidence.
"Y-you're right! I can fucking do this! Easy!"
"YES YOU FUCKING CAN!" Ernie roared at the top of his lungs.
"YEEEEAAAA--" The horn of a passing car shut him up immediately, the driver leaning out of her window to flip them off. Ernie blinked, coughing from the sudden strain on his throat. Then he laughed sheepishly.
"Yeah," he scratched the back of his head, "I think you get the message."
Callan laughed with him, the magic of the moment having been so hilariously shattered. She couldn't help but smile. It was wide and genuine. She felt like a huge part of the weight that had been lifted. Still very much there-- but so much better.
"Thanks," she sighed, visibly relieved.
Ernie stared at that smile. Memorised it. Saved it in his heart. That was his work. He did that.
"Heh, well. All in a day's work, ma'am," he bowed with a theatrical flourish, knowing that the action would momentarily conceal his giddy expression. Geh, he must have been hanging around Brent too much.
She laughed. "Ernie," Callan shook her head, still chuckling, "Seriously. Thank you." She paused.
"Also... if you ever need help, you know you can come and ask me too, right? I'm not great at... er... a lot of things, but... I'll do whatever I can."
She grinned again, "Anyway, let's go get some freakin' food. I'm suddenly starving."
Ernie hesitated. Tried to accept her offer with a grateful smile. But it faltered very clearly.
Of course he needed help. He needed it more than anyone here. But what was he supposed to tell her? Guess what, he was too afraid to go to sleep now. Guess what, Sander could attack him anytime, even on school grounds, and Ernie probably wouldn't get off so easily next time. Was he supposed to explain how that feud started, let her know about everything he'd done in that alley? Guess what, he was sitting on a goldmine of gang information, unable to help Zoe and the others prepare themselves without letting everyone know what he used to be, no, what he still was. Guess what, he didn't know what to do about Emma. Did he mention that she'd threatened him but only after he'd laughed about the death of a little girl? And now she'd made him furious enough to storm to her room and set fire to everything she owned. Because really, that was the only thing he was good for: getting angry, ruining things and chatting about it later with Brent, the only friend who'd stick with him in the long-term because the guy was most likely a psychopath too.
Or hell, maybe he should just tell her what he'd found out about Marcus the other day, how he'd ruined the guy. Get that shit out of the way. Was he supposed to ask her about that?
"Yeah," he said, grinning painfully, consciously avoiding the mention of her help, "stress eats up a lotta kilojoules. Do you think that Waffle House ban was for that one store or the whole chain?"
The faintest twinge of concern crossed her features as Callan looked at him, but she didn't address what she thought she saw. "Only one way to find out," she replied, cheerful but resigned. Far more natural than before.
By the grace of God, they managed to locate another unsuspecting Waffle House on the other side of town. It of course required another bus ride, but Callan didn't mind. Ernie was good company, as usual. Her nerves still flared every now and then, but they felt more manageable after confiding in someone. The same someone. Again. She worried about her offer, unsure of whether or not he simply didn't think her capable or was unwilling to admit he might need it. Not that she had any reason to believe he was in need of help at all.
"So I've been meaning to ask you something. Since you've been in the system a lot longer than me and I heard West was kinda crowded... what's the weirdest power you've ever seen? Here or at West. Either one."
"There was a guy who could change his body depending on what meat he ate on the day but like, the scale was too small for it to be useful in most cases. He had this great party trick where he'd scoff down a bunch of squid and turn his fingers into tiny tentacles."
"Naw, it was totally cool, I promise!"
"Haha, I bet his dinner dates are exciting at least. Plenty of entertainment."
Birthday: January 30th
Birthday: March 26th
"Turning 17 next year!"
"What?! You're younger than me! Shit, is it too late for me to start acting like a cool upperclassman?"
"Hah. Wayyyyy too late."
Callan jokingly slumped in her seat, "Aw. You'll at least tell people I'm cool if they ask, right?"
Ernie merely grinned into his orange juice. "No guarantees."
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Food: Depends on the weather. Currently, ragout.
"And it better be rare."
"Urgh, I don't have the guts for that. I don't think I'll ever try that steak tartare stuff either."
"Oh, man. You're missing out. I don't think I could bring myself to eat tartare either, though... Then again, I don't know if food poisoning even affects me anymore... What the heck is ragout?"
"It's like a stew with meat and vegetables. Takes ages to cook but that's what makes it so good, y'know? Man, I gotta have you try it soon."
"Where do you even buy that?"
"It's just normal grocery stuff like onions and carrots and beef. But it's French, so that makes it fancy grocery stuff."
"Wait, you know how to cook it?"
"It's pretty easy if you got the time. I can teach you later, if you want."
"Haha, I keep forgetting you can cook and do all these things.... Sure, I'll take you up on that. Not really experienced with anything that doesn't require a microwave, but I can follow directions well enough."
"I'll make a pro chef out of you yet!"
"Haha, we'll see!"
"Hey, did you guys try setting off fireworks on the beach?"
"Are you kidding? Brent overclocked the damn things and made it look like the freaking Apocalypse was raining on us!"
"Oh my God, haha. Yeah, I totally saw that. I overheard some of the staff talking about it-- only reason I didn't coming running out to see if Chris had lost his mind or something."
"Urgh. Wouldn't be the first time with that asshole."
"Uh oh. I get the feeling you're not talking about the Flag and Seek match."
"I'm not. Shit, you weren't there. Basically, he and Marcus get into some dumb fight, then all of a sudden the piece of shit flamethrowers Marcus' leg. If it had been anyone without rewind or regen powers that shit would have been permanent. What an asshole, right?"
"Whoa, what's his problem? I knew he had a kinda short fuse, but what the fuck... Jerk's lucky I wasn't there."
"Yeah, I would've thrown that fucker in the ocean but Marcus said he'd already won the fight and kicked his ass. So it was fine, I guess."
"Hmph. Well that's good. I'm getting real tired of everybody using their powers on each other like that. At least it didn't happen during an actual fight...."
"Yeah. Between Hazel and Zoe and...so much other stuff, this class has a lotta issues to iron out."
"You're telling me. At least Zoe seemed to have some sort of plan. And tried to apologize after. Jesus, I don't know what set Hazel off. When I talked to her about it, she said she didn't even remember!"
"Can't remember? Sound like a load of--" Ernie paused, "...Actually. Yeah, something's weird with that girl. She basically has the mind of a five-year-old on normal days. Maybe something gets knocked whenever she has to fight, like a 'Jekyll and Hyde' thing. It's not good."
"Yeah, I think you're right. Haven't spoken with her very much, but every time I do it's certainty an experience.... I'll just have to try and keep an eye out next time," Callan sighed, "I've only got so many eyes though. Either way, I'm glad it was me and not one of you, y'know?"
"Mm," Ernie sipped his drink, thinking about Emma's advice, "Yeah. But I have a feeling things'll get better real soon."
"I hope you're right."
Favorite Fruit: Strawberries
Favorite Fruit: Mangos
"I feel like I don't even need to explain this one. They taste good on like anything."
"Yeah, I saw you eyeing them when we were working on Siena's cake. You didn't take any, did you?"
"... I might've taken one."
Ernie narrowed his eyes at Callan before breaking into a smile. "Can't pull one over these eyes, kiddo."
"Hey, you can't call me 'kiddo'! I'm older than you!"
Callan delivered a short death glare as she bit into another forkful of waffles.
Favorite Song: Changes frequently. Currently, 'Unbreakable' by Alicia Keys
Favorite Song: Depends on his mood. Currently, 'You're Just In Love'.
"It's just too catchy! I think I was obsessed with Ethel Merman for like a month. Wanted to be friends with her so bad."
"I've never heard of that one... you'll have to sing it for me, I think." Callan flashed him a cheeky grin.
"W-what, right now?"
"Haha, no not right now. I'm not that mean... maybe later though."
"Later when? You're not gonna jump out from a corner a week later and make me sing, are you?"
"Oh, that's not a bad idea! A step down Killer Karaoke, but still funny. Haha."
"It's kind of like Fear Factor meets American Idol... but I think we get enough of that on our missions, so maybe we should just stick to normal karaoke."
"Or just start singing on missions. Put those cuffs to good use."
"Right, because that would be a great idea. Haha, we should all just crash the karaoke place here in town."
"Hm," Ernie stroked his chin, "Maybe we should..."
Favorite Movie: Love and Basketball
Favorite Movie: An American in Paris
"Haha, I didn't have any siblings so I guess my dad decided a giant DVD collection would make-do."
"Wow, that is... a really old movie. This is exactly why we need to arrange more movie nights."
"Hey, it's a classic! 'Love and Basketball'...is that the actual title?"
"Yeah... it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like."
"I use the rope to fly me around when I can't be bothered taking the stairs. Third floor life. Do you bypass any dumb stuff like that with your strength?"
"You can fly with your rope? That's so badass... Unless you want to talk about how much stuff I break in a week, I usually try to refrain from using my strength outside of combat and carrying things."
"Not really badass. Instead of Superman-ing around I look like one of those stunt guys in harnesses for live concerts and shit."
"Hey now, flying is flying. I can jump really high, but that's almost pointless if there's no way to safely get down."
"Just message me and I'll help you down. Would have to be a really quick text though."
"Oof. If I have time to remember that before I hit the ground, I definitely will."
How do you take your coffee: Instant. Lots of milk.
How do you take your coffee: Trick question. Don't drink coffee in the first place when a cold sink can do the same thing in a tenth of the time.
"But if, gun to my head, I absolutely had to drink it: mix it until you can only taste milk then chug it quick."
"I only started drinking it recently. Still not sure how I feel about it, but I feel you. Cold water seems like the best instant fix!"
"Right? Double effective if you have someone else dump it on you."
"Oh God, that might be a little much for me. I'd scream."
"Heh, I'll let Siena know."
Favourite Actor or Actress: John Krasinski / Sanaa Lathan / so many more
Favourite Actor or Actress: Gene Kelly or Leslie Nielsen
"Again with those oldies choices. But I'm supposed to be the Grandma?"
The breakfast turned out to be well worth the wait, though she was a little disappointed by how quickly the time seemed to fly after that. Before she knew it, they were back at the school waving each other off.
yo, you'll let me know the next time you do a costco run right? I'm basically the worlds best grocery carrier jus sayin
For sure. Save us a few taxi rides form the place >_>