"Infiltrate enemy headquarters? Stop an evil plot for world domination? Oh, this is too much!" Laughter. "Do we get code-names?"
And that loud-mouth twerp actually started humming theme music. Go figure. I would get stuck with a tone-deaf slapstick. Why not? A league of not-quite-super heroes called the "Onion" doesn't exactly conjure up high expectations. This might have occurred to me before I'd joined, but... Well, sitting at home wasn't setting off any fireworks for me either.
* * *
Okay, so lie-detecting. Pretty cool huh? No one pulls one over on Rois. Right. Here's my brief history of a naked truth childhood:
No Santa Claus. Or Tooth Fairy. Or Leprechauns. I made my whole preschool class cry one year when I outed the man in the red suit as a phony. Merry Christmas.
No, "Oh how pretty!" for all those hand-made gifts most kids think their moms actually adore.
No surprise parties.
No "I like your new hair cut." And yes, I know, having friends who are totally honest sounds great, but you try maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem without a few white lie boosters now and then.
It's also pretty tough to hang onto any friends at all when you're always calling them out on their little bluffs and fibs.
Enough. Anyway, awkwardly perceptive and friendless was pretty much my life's status quo. Then I met Spike--for the second time.
The first time we met, I only said two words to him. I was at the bus stop and he was on a phone with someone. He was telling whoever was on the other end about his day. Typical workweek office stuff, but for some reason, none of it was true. When he got off the line, I looked over at him.
He blinked at me, but otherwise gave no reaction. I shrugged, figuring someone who made up lies as uninteresting as those I had just overheard had to be pretty dull. That was it.
Then, about a month later, Spike shows up at my bus stop again. He's waiting for me. He tells me he knows about my power and that there are others out there like me, like us.
"In our brotherhood, you'll be welcomed," he says. "If someone else finds out about you..." I couldn't imagine who else would care, but he made the threat sound pretty serious. And he wasn't lying. As crazy as my mind was telling me he had to be, the man was telling the truth.
"You're crazy. You expect me to believe that crackpot lie?"
"You already believe me." True. I did believe him. But that didn't make his tale--or the idea of running away with him--any less crackpot.
"What's in it for me?"
"A place where your power is appreciated and needed."
"It'll be more interesting than flipping burgers."
I looked down at my stained work uniform. He had me.
* * *
More interesting? Standing in the Onion headquarters listening to the slapstick's rendition of the "Mission: Impossible" theme, I could definitely call this more annoying, but the interesting stuff was yet to be seen.
Zeke cleared his throat. "Uh, no. There won't be any infiltrating this time." Thankfully, he went on before the new kid could flap his lips again. "We need you to gather some basic info about the villains. Your mission is to, um, find their headquarters."
"What! You mean you don't even know where they are?" This, of course, from Slapstick. "What have you been doing with your secret hideout and your super computer and your private jet?"
Tactless, but at least the question had a point.
Zeke fidgeted in his seat. Pyro gave an angry twitch. Spike laid a firm hand on the new kid's shoulder.
"Training, Jarret. An off-base mission takes a lot of...discipline. You'll have some real catching up to do."