A doglike thing sat in a nest of pillows.
A furred pile of bristles and spite hogged the main couch to himself, splayed out yet so still that a chalk outline would be all it would take to convince you of his demise.
A boy with skin like chestnut had his wheelchair parked to the right of the central couch. He beckoned, and a cold soda lifted itself through a hole in the top of the fridge, and hovered gently as it crossed the living room to his waiting hand. There, the tab clicked itself open for him, and the gentle hiss drew the eyes of the couch thing and the pillow thing. He sighed, and another two cans made their own way out of the kitchen.
A man, his coat unbuttoned, and his glasses slightly askew, sat on the other end of the reserve couch from his longest serving friend and colleague, a man old enough to snap when people still called him boy, but young enough that they did. Aaron's hair was the dark mess of someone who cared little for combs or hairdressers, and his feet rested on the glass of the coffee table. It had been reinforced not too long ago by a girl frustrated with people taking the thing's durability for granted. The two each extended an arm around the middle seat, and clinked their glasses together.
A loud thud deposited the final partygoer to the floor, and a pile of orange dust besides. She pulled herself up and dusted herself off. With every step a little more sand shook from her camouflaged trousers and collected on the carpet. Sparrow apologised as she approached the coffee machine.
"Sorry. Taking care of business. Got carried away."
Aaron lifted a can and dangled it in her direction. She shot him a look and he pulled his legs back, a little squeak as his shoes slid off the table.
Paul frowned behind his glasses, the lenses slipping a little further down his nose as he spoke. "She's too young to-"
She cut him off. "Already have. Once or twice. Day we won our independence. Besides. Teetotaller. That stuff messes with your head."
Paul chuckled, "Well as a qualified medical kinetic...I can tell you in good faith that it messes with you as badly as coffee. Or hot chocolate. And that I can totally undo any hangovers. You don't need to have any of that terrible swill."
"I will hear nothing against my chocolate." She drew the bird themed mug to her lips, and made to sit down, reappearing on the couch between Aaron and Paul. The original three. They met up rarely these days, too many jobs. When they did? Inseparable was hardly an exaggeration.
"There goes our chance to loosen your lips..." Laz grumbled.
"So were you guys talking about anything?"
Aaron smiled. Their chance to pretend they hadn't just been sitting here the whole time.
"Worst kinetics. Scariest. Can't be haemokinetic, because Paul's about as scary as a doctor with a lollypop."
"I could kill you all with a thought." Paul said, between sips of his glass.
His ferrokinetic friend chuckled from his seat. "I'd be scared if you didn't sound like the sort of villain Archie and Taka would beat in a two part episode."
"Fine. An Epidermeokinetic. Skin control. Flays you alive with a thought. I can exsanguinate somebody, but the thought of that makes my skin crawl, no pun intended. Just peeling someone... vivisection."
"I've seen it. Or something like it. One of the worst things I've seen."
She let her words occupy the air.
"One of. It wasn't a nice place."
She set her mug down on the glass of the coffee table.
"We'd caught an officer, who'd been executing prisoners. But he'd said, they didn't have the ammunition to spare, so he'd do it himself. So he'd gone, one at a time, and cut them. But not enough to kill, not right away. Then he locked them all in a storage shed, and left them."
"We'd caught him. It was Dalen who had the idea. Finally send a message back. So they cut him. Not deep. And they peeled off his lips. Took out his tongue. And sent him back to their lines. Walked him through the streets, with a bag over his head, and the whole time, his teeth were clicking together. The kids called him the chatterer."
"The worst part is we latched onto that. Kept going. You found a man who went too far, went crazy or cruel? You cut him."
"They wised up in the end."
"Did you ever-"
"No." Her voice was firm.
The room went silent for a while.
"Concrete control. We're surrounded by it." Star volunteered. Aaron just chuckled.
"Me and Paul. We found a girl. Locked in her room. Holes torn out of the walls, out of the floor. It was the plaster, she was a... Paul help me out here."
"Emplastrumikinetic." The older surgeon had a bottle of medicinal alcohol in his hand. He unscrewed the lid, and took a sip, swilling the methanol around his mouth.
Laz refused to just watch in horror. "By the moons how are you-"
"Strengthened immune system and liver. This is the only way to... sorry my lips are going numb. Go on."
Aaaron gave him a look and returned to his story, two hands held out to set the scene. "She was huddled in a corner, surrounded by these walls she'd made out of the furniture, boxing herself in, and these statues. You know those clay figures right? Or maybe, sort of high school sculpture classes. Ugly, no features, really lumpy, a sort of dent where their mouths should be.
"It takes a while to calm her down, convince her I'm here to help, and I feel the walls settle down, forgot to mention, whole room was shaking.
"And I ask her, where her parents are. And she goes back to crying, and points a hand at me. Not at me, behind me. And I realise that all those little holes in the room, they don't add up. Not enough to make a whole statue."
He paused, examining the gunmetal grey block on the table, a few red lights inlaid into it. They seemed to brighten at his attention.
"And that, is why you guys scare the crap out of me sometimes. I'm a guy with a gun. You can stop a man's heart, you can go anywhere, she can be anyone-"
The wild puppy in the corner cocked her head.
"What happened to her?"
"She didn't want to join. Just ran off north to Harrier. I may have pointed out a couple of roads."
"Going to give Sam a call?"
"Yeah. Things have calmed down a bit more. They owe us a favour after they palmed the firestarters off on us. We've got Lucas on that one. Thermokinetic should counter them."
The coyote's mouth deformed, its tongue shortening a little, teeth shrinking. "Did she have a name."
"You're going to kill me for this. Her name was Paris."
She let off the keening yips of a wounded dog and padded off, resettling to curl around Sparrow's feet.
The prime spot on the couch was occupied by a pile of fur and bristles, the remote control clutched in clawed fingers. His grip loosened just an inch. Lazarus saw his chance, and raised a single hand. Star's grip tightened, and his teeth sealed together. Laz lowered his hand back to the rest of his wheelchair.
The coyote's limbs stretched and flexed, and soon Sparrow had a crushing weight on her feet, a young girl scratching her back against the carpet, dressed in plain clothes without detail. The shirt and jeans seemed to hug her skin in places, puffing out gently in others, and the frayed edges tapered off into hair rather than thread.
"Well," she said, turning her neck one way and the other. "If we're all going to be a downer tonight, I don't think people need to be a kinetic to be cruel."
She lifted herself up, or at least sat, one arm propped up against the coffee table, the other leaning into Sparrow's shin.
"I'm being chased one morning, and it takes a long, long time to get away, and people are hunting me, and I'm thinking like an animal all the while, and its this desperation that sort of catches on, and won't let go. And I'm hiding, and that's when I smell something outside a kennel. And I sneak in through the lid, and suddenly I'm scared and running away because I saw him. They dumped him in a dumpster. Bits missing. And he was still breathing."
"They killed a man?" Laz blurted.
"No. It was a dog." She said through a frown that kept the corners of her mouth pinned. Her gaze fell back to the floor.
"What's so calming about that?" Star's slump vanished, and he twisted out from his sunken impression in the couch, perching atop his armrest.
"Its. You're right. Not the sorta thing I should be-"
"No. It isn't." he hissed, lips drawn back to reveal his gums.
"Fine. How we doing this then, you call a power, I call the worst thing I've seen someone do that's like it?"
Staroui smirked, the grin of a fox let into the henhouse. "Ferrokinesis."
Lazarus stared him down. "Screw to the eye."
He finished his soda. The can floated from his mouth, and crushed itself. Then it straightened, and bent again the other way, until a little hole was opened where the aluminium had thinned. Laz held his hands out, and mimed tearing a sheet of paper. The can tore apart, a jagged edge running the length of each side.
"Lots of little sharp things. I could probably be pretty scary if I went in for more than just a handful of nails."
The can tossed itself into the bin.
The girl on the carpet shook her head. "Laz. Recycling," she accosted.
"Sorry." He said, as the two halves of the can rattled their way back up, and slid over into a black bin of assorted metals.
With a dry slurp, Aaron finished a can of his own. He threw it binwards, missing his mark by a good few feet. An inch above the ground it stopped, and flew back, arcing to join its fellows.
"Aaron. Please slow down."
"No." He intoned, his voice slow and low.
"I kind of want to watch this movie without you snoring."
"Well you shall, because tonight, you get to see the true extent of Paul's powers. Paul. Undrunk me." He shouted the last part as he raised a finger to the heavens.
A finger pressed against Aaron's nose. "Poke." Paul giggled lightly.
"Paul. Paul I've had a sixpack already. Paul please tell me you're not... Paul I trusted you!"
"Boop." His finger kept going, even as Aaron turned his head away to let it coast past. Sparrow leaned forward to let
her friend tilt over and fall flat, his face pushed up against Aaron's elbow, still suspended optimistically.
"If we ever doubted he was a med student..."
Sparrow vanished, reappearing on the other end of Star's couch. A twist of flesh and fur followed her, and a wolfen figure deposited herself between the two.
The screen turned on, and the teleporter read the title aloud even as it assembled on screen.
"Der Chronicle von der Junger"
She paused. You could hear the ellipses.
Laz rested a hand on his breaks. "Please tell me this is a dub."
Sparrow shook her head. "It’s a good film, a musical about a group of friends who are in a band, they wind up kidnapped, there's a really cool scene where, well I can't tell you about it but just know there's this really cool scene. The effects are cool, there's all these little nods to the rest of their work and-"
Aaron and Paul interrupted, snoring in unison.
"Look. Subtitles shouldn't ruin your experience. Think of it as an opera or something. But with rock. But not a rock opera, that's a separate genre entirely."
"Lets just watch the film."
She put her feet up on a carefully positioned stool, and leaned left into the corner of the couch. One set of fingers wrapped about her mug, and the other about the back of her friend's ears.