Sam yawned as she stepped into headquarters proper. Jimmy, feet propped on the table as he leaned back in his seat, winked at her. "Tough day of school?"
"It was fine. I just said the lines Cassandane and Mike gave me. We'll see how well behaved the kiddos are after they attune tomorrow."
"Kiddos? I am willing to bet any amount of money you were the youngest person in that room."
"I choose not to take that bet," Sam said. "You know, I'm actually looking forward to watching them suffer. After I gave them the training manual, they acted like the warnings were a joke. When they start moaning, I'm going to bring up everything they said today and throw it in their faces."
"Don't tell Kendra they didn't appreciate the training manual. She didn't want to write one in the first place."
"Did the two of you figure out how to pay us?"
Jimmy put his thumb up into the air. "It required us to actually read the frequently asked questions."
"Wow, you say that like you had to compromise one of your core values."
"I'm a shadow of the man I was this morning, Sam," Jimmy said. "Anyway, Mike is going to bring up the issue of retirement benefits at tonight's meeting. As someone who ignited before he knew the consequences, I would appreciate it if you kept in mind the fact that some of us are bound to lose our talents."
Sam shrugged. "Why would I be against a retirement fund? I don't want to work forever, either."
"That's smart of you. The sooner you start saving, the more compound interest will work in your favor."
She faked returning a wave to Jess and apologized to Jimmy for having to run. Unfortunately, Jess was preoccupied with an informal lesson on meme casting from Mike. Sam inserted herself between them so that they were standing in a circle. Mike nodded to her without breaking eye contact with Jess. "She wants us to ask how her class went."
"That's ridiculous. We already know she rocked it," Jess said. "Right?"
"I hope so. That group was full to the brim with young studs who haven't figured out they're not rock stars yet."
"Plus two doctors and a Public Works guy," Sam said.
Mike grunted. "I'm glad I didn't put any money down on my bet that he'd be a park ranger."
Jess leaned in as if eager for a story. "Are they worried about attuning tomorrow?"
"Nope. Everyone thinks it's a joke," Sam said. "Tomorrow, I'll be the only one laughing."
"Aw, I'm sure you'll rub their backs to make them feel better," Mike said.
"Not even the plumber?"
"I can't be nice to just one of them," Sam said. "So I'm just going to tell them to suck it up, buttercup."
Mike chuckled until he had to wipe a tear from his eye. "Do it just like that, sing-song voice and all."
"So where is Cassandane?"
"The boss hasn't returned from her meeting with the FBI yet. I was hoping she would do some corona wrestling with me. I've got a few tricks ready for her that she won't see coming."
Sam rolled her eyes. "Tricks that you used on me?"
"Tricks I learned from you, actually," Mike said.
"From me? Are you being serious?"
"When you are losing, you do this thing where you let your corona wilt like a flower. Instead of having dynamic tension to stay afloat within the open dimension, you get droopy in places. You would think it makes it easier to get upwise, but in actuality it is like climbing on top of a partially deflated pool toy. You slide right back into the water. So next time Cassandane is pressing my corona downwise, I'm going to get droopy and shimmy a little in the loop dimension to get her dislodged." Mike rubbed his hands together. "I have not had an outright victory in any of our training sessions, but I'm really hoping this one gets her. Plus I had over a week of training while she was wheeling and dealing with the U.N. That's got to help."
Jess threw her arm around Sam. "So any cute guys in your class?"
"Not after they opened their mouths," Sam said.
"It's the same thing with you every time. Every guy has some flaw that you can't look past." Jess glanced towards Mike. "Fortunately, I don't have that problem."
Mike's smile slipped. "Well, ladies, this is where I leave the conversation."
"Come on, Ski, it wasn't obvious I was talking about you," Jess said.
"I'm picking up dinner," Mike said as he walked away.
Sam drove her elbow into the gut of Jess. "We have to work with him."