Short Story: Team
Written February 2016
It was a murmur. Quiet, fleeting, but there. Hunter looked over, surprised.
“You say something?” He asked, looking away from his game of Halo towards his unlikely friend.
Parker’s face turned red. When the popular football player had first begun slumming it with a guy of his social class due to the pressing of their mutual friend, Cadmus, Parker had absolutely hated Hunter. But, after a few months of hanging out, he’d loosened up, and Hunter had discovered that Parker wasn’t really that bad. He was an idiotic, self-destructive jerk, but he was still a guy.
A few days ago, a friend of Parker’s had made fun of Hunter in the cafeteria, and Parker had tackled him. Hunter had watched, surprised, as Parker lamely explained to the teacher and the boy that he had tripped over his shoelace.
He had been wearing flip flops.
And so now they were sitting there, in the computer lab, waiting for Cadmus or Eliza or Nala to report back from the disappearances they were investigating. Hunter was sure that whatever it was, Cad could handle it— ever since his otherworldly powers had developed, he’d basically become a superhero, which was weird to think about but also pretty awesome. That didn’t make waiting around in this makeshift “mission control” any less boring, however.
“It was nothing,” Parker chewed his lip, staring down at his sneakers like they were the most interesting thing in the world. They were red and puffy, and Hunter figured they were probably limited edition. Parker seemed like the kind of guy to be interested in fancy sneakers.
“It was something,” Hunter shrugged. “I’m as bored as you are waiting for our friend to finish cleaning up crime. You can’t just start the first conversation in thirty minutes and end it abruptly. It’s not cool.”
“You all done with facial recognition and that crap?” Parker tried to change the subject.
“Yeah, the suspects went to Nala’s phone a while ago,” Hunter told him. “They won’t need anything from me for a bit.”
“Nice,” Parker nodded without enthusiasm.
“You’re even more out of it than usual,” Hunter raised an eyebrow. “You trying pot again? We’ve been over this.”
“No,” Parker glared at him. “I haven’t so much as touched a drop of alcohol since that assassin attacked our party.”
“Not a sentence I ever thought would be normal,” Hunter laughed, and Parker let out a short chuckle.
“Okay, you really wanna know?” the athlete smiled, looking embarrassed.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Hunter nodded.
“Promise you won’t make fun of me?”
“Dude, if I made fun of you you’d probably tie me to the top of a flagpole.”
“True,” Parker acknowledged. “It’s just… you know how you were accepted to Caltech?”
“Yeah, I’m living the dream,” Hunter allowed himself a moment of pride for his achievement. “Did you want to go?”
“Not to a nerd school like that,” Parker shook his head. “But I bet Cad’s going to call you from Missouri State, ask for your help now and again.”
“Unless he meets another world-class computer expert,” Hunter turned his chair to better face Parker. “They’re not as common as TV would have you believe.”
“My point is, you’re essential to Cadmus and to what he does. And Nala and Eliza, they can contribute to, with what they’ve discovered about themselves. And when you go your separate ways…”
“You think you’ll stop being a part of the group,” understanding dawned on Hunter. “Come on, man, Cad’s your best friend.”
“He was my best friend,” Parker murmured bitterly. “Before he got jacked up with weird alien powers and started fighting crime.”
Hunter opened his mouth to talk and closed it again, at a loss for words.
“Anyway, even if I’m somehow part of whatever this will become, it’ll never be the way it is now. You’re all going to change, because everybody does. I guess I am, too. We’ll never be a team like we once were.”
“But maybe that’s okay,” Hunter murmured. “Maybe what we grow into will be just as cool.”
“We won’t do the growing together,” Parker said bitterly. “I sound clingy af right now, but it’s true. We’re going to become decreasingly important to each other as time goes on.”
Hunter jumped, startled, as his phone rang. Automatically, he answered and winced at the sound of gunshots.
“They’re using some kind of superweapon!” Eliza shouted above the noise. “Can you find out who’s been developing it?”
“Uh, yeah,” Hunter turned back to his computer, frantically typing. “Describe it to me.”
After a few moments, Hunter had the location of the weapon’s origin, and who had the knowledge to stop it. “We need someone to go pick up the parts we need,” he spoke into the phone, wincing at a crash.
“That’s my cue,” Parker groaned, getting to his feet. “Don’t you dare do anything cool until I’m back, hey?”
“Of course,” Hunter grinned at his friend. “I’ll wait for you.”