Completely unaware of the situation outside, Kassy was in the bathroom. Her head was bent to the sink and she was guzzling water straight from the tap, germs be damned. Most human viruses didn’t bother her anyway. Her face was still flushed, and her heart was thumping as if it wanted to escape her body.
After a solid 30 seconds of drinking, she pulled her face away from the spigot. “What’swrongwithme?”
She stuck her hands into the running water and soaked her face.
Ja had been wondering that same question in the time that he stood awkwardly beside her. Ultimately, it had something to do with coffee. Though, perhaps that had to do with the fact that, being that they were always underwater, did Atlanteans drink coffee? Did they even really need to drink at all when submerged? It was a question that he felt he should have known, given his intimate knowledge of animals…but the ocean was new territory for him.
A hand extended to make contact with her back. “Are you hurt?”
Kassy flinched at what she felt was a sudden touch. “Hurt? Kinda. My chest hurts. And my skin.”
She was trembling faintly. Her chest heaved as she tried to slow her breathing. “Have I been poisoned? Are we under attack?!”
Her mind was flitting from thought to thought and she couldn’t land on any of them. There was a sense of sheer anxiety flowing through her.
The lad returned his hand to his side upon hearing that even her skin hurt. Though her other questions elicited a thoughtful shaking of his head. “No…No I don’t think that’s it. The motive of our target is that they are looking to kidnap, not kill…”
He reasoned, instinctively reaching a hand towards his own head, only to realize his hair was down and braided. His senses felt out of whack, but he could still track certain chemical responses that people gave…the waitress seemed to have no ill intent.“I wonder…during any of your time on land…have you ever had coffee before?”
Kassy looked at him, her dyed red hair dripping with water and sweat. “Coffee? Not really. It smells awful and I don’t like hot drinks. And Viktor only makes enough for himself.”
She gripped the edge of the sink, trying to calm herself. The cool porcelain felt good on her palms, but it was doing nothing for her mental state. “I didn’t drink any coffee, though.”“Ah…I think you may have misunderstood what you ordered. ‘Expresso’ is simply a different, stronger form of coffee…Which doesn't necessarily need to be hot. From what I understand, people drink it to gain a burst of energy…which is probably why Red Robot doesn’t let me have any…”
Ja explained his thoughts aloud, pacing a little bit, as if thinking. “Oh! But the burst of energy is relatively temporary. It wears off in time…so maybe that will happen for you.”“I really hope so. I feel very overwhelmed right now.”
She tried to focus on her breathing again, but that didn’t last long as her thoughts flitted like a school of fish. She blinked and looked at her friend, having just realized something rather important. “...Ja. You do know we’re in the girls’ bathroom, right?”
Thank goodness no one else was in here! “You should probably leave.”
Her sentence drew a chill up his spine as the realization sunk in. His eyes widened and, almost on cue, there was a knock on the door. Iwisa, as well as the rest of the Dzvuku Lionesses were very strict about these sorts of things back in Buredunia. A woman’s boundaries were to be expressly respected. If violated when they were around, the punishments were brutal. He didn’t mean to end up here, he just wanted to make sure Kassy was okay.
He felt his own heart rate kick up in his chest momentarily, wondering the impact something like this would have on the mission. He wasn’t sure how it was handled in America…Well, simply standing here wouldn’t accomplish anything. At least for now, Kassy wasn’t in need of immediate medical attention. Thus, Ja took a breath and opened the door to quickly step out.
When he did, he almost barreled right into— Viktor?“Ja.”
Viktor eyes darted over Ja’s shoulder to peer inside the restroom. He wasn’t able to see anything from his position and took a step back to allow the young lion some space to remove himself from the doorway. “What’s the problem?”
There had to be one, right?“I’m…not exactly sure. One moment we were talking, then everything changed. Her face went red, she was hot, her heart was pounding, and she was shaking…It seems like she’s coming back around now though. I think it was the coffee.”“Coffee?”
Viktor’s right eyebrow raised with his doubt but despite any underlying tension, Viktor felt Ja wasn’t capable of such a lie. “She couldn’t have drank so much that- She needs help getting water but…”
Viktor glanced down the corridor towards the greater section of the restaurant before whispering. ”Our target might be here but I think I can buy you some time. Saw it on reality tv, so it should work,”
Viktor gave a confident nod.
Once outside of the bathroom for a little longer, Ja’s face seemed to focus rather intently on the end of the corridor. His head rotated left and right furiously for a second, flicking the braids past his face purposefully. His nostrils flared, sharply inhaling. ”I…there is someone here that I…recognize?”
The hushed statement seemed to confuse his own lips as they exited. Returning his attention to Viktor, Ja nodded. ”Do what it is that you must do.”
Viktor was already making his first step away.“Same to you.”
Ja watched him go before turning back to the door. Now more consciously, he knocked on the door to grab Kassy’s attention.
Kassy, who was dousing her face with water, startled at the knock on the door. Usually she wouldn’t have jumped, but everything was a bit too much right now.
Going to the door, she peered out. It was just Ja, so she smiled gratefully. “Hi. As long as my heart isn’t going to explode, I’ll be okay.”
She still looked unwell, though not as bad as she initially had.
The jungle boy smiled back. “Good…It was V who came over to check if everything was alright…and apparently the…special someone may be here. I think I…”
He paused and put up air quotes with his fingers, “‘recognize’ them. What they can do…sort of…Do you think you’re well enough to come back and sit down?”
Kassy nodded, tiny droplets of water scattering. “Yes, I think so.”
Some of the redness in her face was going back to normal. “Just let me tidy up.”
She closed the door again, wiping down all the surfaces she had inadvertently wet. Once that was done, she exited, trying to look as normal and casual as possible while she swept the cafe with a gaze. There was that dark haired girl, with a surprise.
She almost, almost spoke his name out loud, her lips clamping around the name ‘Riley’. She tore her eyes away and sat back at the table. Her leg started to jiggle almost immediately. She bit off a mouthful of the chicken sandwich, which was still warm. It was actually pretty good, but she was just eating it to hopefully counteract the caffeine in her belly.
Ja in the meantime had walked with something of a pep in his step, casually selling the idea that he was at ease. Inside though, the feeling of the red increased, sensing that someone else with animalistic abilities was near. Instead of looking directly in that direction, his head turned to the opposite and he inhaled. When he did, his hair became much more soft and limp, opposed to its natural state, prompting the beanie he wore to slide off of the braids and onto the ground.
Realizing his ‘mistake’, he turned to pick it up, sneaking a quick glance to the table where the alternative animal surge came from. The girl, it seemed, had some sort of reptilian ability…And seemed vaguely familiar. It was as though he had been in her presence before in some way…a familiar scent…but where did he see her before? He didn’t let his gaze linger, quickly turning his head and putting his hat back on. He didn’t want to be suspicious, and it wouldn’t be a good look to be studying another girl while on his…date…
Smiling, he took a seat next to her this time. With her at his side, he was able to turn his head away from the rest of the restaurant. “I think I found the guest…any idea where they might be from?”
Kassy put her chin in her hand, speaking low behind her fingers so her lips could not be read. “Yeah. Definitely reminds me of someone I may have met in Gotham. She looks… a little different, somehow. I’m not sure.”
She let her gaze grow unfocused, listening for specifics in the conversation. So far, there were none. “The boy, I met him today, though. He’s nice.”
Ja slowly nodded. He knew that she was simply using Gotham as a code word for where she’d seen the suspect…Though that didn’t help him figure out where exactly he himself recognized her from, it at least established that Kassy’s seen her too before, so it must have been on a mission. If that was the case, it meant she was definitely the one they were looking for, and the nice boy she met definitely wasn’t safe.
There wasn’t much he could do without being too overt though…The animal boy leaned back in thought, reaching a hand out towards a chicken sandwich. His eye briefly clicked over to the other squad’s table…Zachy showed up…wait. Viktor said he had a plan! Maybe that would get things rolling.
He was soon to take a small victory bite of the sandwich until he realized there was already a bite mark on it. His eye twitched briefly in confusion before he remembered, he was on Kassy’s
side of the table. His eyes widened momentarily and he looked at her. In goofy fashion, he laughed a little at his mistake before returning it.”Heh! Sorry.”