Stalking Jimmy Dean

by Domenika Marzione


"You gonna eat that?"

Kyle glanced up from the newspaper and washes down a bit of pancake with coffee. Roy's fork was hovering over his remaining baby sausage. "Yes."

Roy looked at him with the sort of hopeful eyes that have probably won a dozen women into bed. "Are you sure? That's a lot of pancakes."

"I'm very hungry," Kyle told him, pushing Roy's fork away with his knife. The faint clink of steel cutlery could be heard over the background noise of Radu's. The television was on in the background and there were three patrons at the counter watching it along with Radu himself. Katie Couric must've been topless for all of the rapt attention she's getting at the moment.

Roy was not paying attention to the television, however, which probably meant that Ms. Couric was dressed. Roy had a good sense about these things and, instead, his attention was currently focused entirely on the little sausage. He was aiming his fork as if it were a spear and the sausage a wild boar, the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth and his eyes narrowed in concentration.

"Don't you have food at the Tower?" Kyle asked, swirling his forkful of pancake around in the thinning sea of syrup on the plate. A quick look around to check for witnesses and a tiny construct Aquaman pulled the fork out of Roy's hand, standing with it as if it were a trident.

"Not fair," Roy grumbled, taking back the fork from the (eerily accurately) offended King Orin.

"What 'not fair'?" Kyle asked mildly after he swallows. "You're the one trying to heist my breakfast."

Roy had finished his omelette and wiped up the salsa with his biscuit. He had also eaten Kyle's biscuit. Kyle, a veteran of many meals with Roy, was unsurprised and surrendered it without a fight. He would draw the line, however, at the sausage. Jen refused to have any in the apartment -- the last time he had come home with a box of Jimmy Dean had sparked a long tirade on meat byproduct and then segued seamlessly into the "am I fat?" vortex, which was still a wormhole from which he could not escape unscathed. Better to get his fix elsewhere and leave the freezer for popsicles and containers of leftover bean soup.

"How much time do we have to leave, do you think?" Roy asked, playing seemingly idly with his fork. He's chasing an errant bit of chopped tomato around his own plate, but Kyle wasn't fooled. He had been planning on saving the last sausage for the end of his meal, but if he was not careful, it wouldn't last that long.

"From West Fourth?" Kyle asked rhetorically, cutting more pancake as he thinks. He's taken the subway out to the airport before, but it was a while ago. "Maybe an hour? His flight probably won't be on time and he's going to have to go through baggage claim... We could be generous and make it an hour and a half."

Roy chewed thoughtfully and with odd delicacy on the bit of tomato he'd been playing with. "It's Connor. We better show up early or else we're going to find him carrying old ladies' luggage out to the curb and then we'll have to get his stuff out of unclaimed baggage."

Kyle made a disapproving face as he reached for his coffee. "He's not that bad."

"Like a boy scout without a leash," Roy retorted. He sipped his water.

Kyle shook his head. Connor was coming in for a week and, despite Kyle's offer of a very comfy couch, he was staying at the Tower with Roy. Jen thought Connor was still squicked from showing up at Kyle's apartment and finding Jen in the bed instead of on the couch. Nevermind that Kyle himself had been out in space, it was the knowledge that Jen slept in the bed even when Kyle was home, she posited. If that were truly the reason -- and, as much as he loved Connor, it very well could be -- then Connor was going to be in for a rude surprise staying at the Titans Tower. Kory was going to traumatize him.

Roy looked at his watch. "That means we have... a half-hour?"

Kyle cut a chunk of pancake and placed it outside his kill-zone for Roy to 'steal'. "Yeah, thereabouts."

The coffee shop's quiet hum was shattered by the giggling of the four teenaged girls sitting in the corner booth. They'd come in after he and Roy had sat down, all dressed up in their Abercrombie & Fitch and ready for a day of touristing in New York City. The girls had ogled them both in that covertly lascivious way that teenagers had -- it was neither especially covert nor sophisticated enough to be truly carnivorous -- although (to Kyle's relief) they did seem to focus on Roy. Roy, for his part, was doing his best to be oblivious -- and his best was very good; it was effortless for him to tune out the hushed giggles and surreptitous looks.

Deciding that he'd had enough pancakes, Kyle pushed his plate forward, stabbing the sausage before Roy could pounce on the ceded remains. He put it all into his mouth at once; Roy would steal food off your fork.

Chewing slowly, he reached for the folded-up copy of today's New York Post. He loved the Post, as did most of the superheroes in the city. Full-color cover photographs and a staunchly pro-viligante editorial board were nice on the ego, but a well-staffed crime beat meant that an hour with the paper in the morning prepared you for what might break loose later in the day.

True to form, the front page picture was of the JSA's Sand and Wildcat standing looking satisfied over a pair of costumed baddies that Kyle couldn't identify in part because they were on their stomachs and mostly because it was really hard to keep track of them all.

"I heard about that from Dinah last night," Roy said around a mouthful of pancake as he gestured with his fork. "They tried to heist an armored car in midtown. How stupid can you get?"

"Dude," Kyle sighed. "I'm the one with Sonar and Dr. Light in my rogues gallery, remember?"

Roy nodded. "Lame nemeses," he agreed cheekily as he swallowed. "Better that way, though. They're hard on the ego, but easy on the heart."

Thinking back on Major Force and Fatality, Kyle could only murmur agreement. It was even worse for Roy; Connor coming in from California and Dinah staying over in the city was the only safe family reunion possible.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kyle could see Radu coming around from behind the counter carrying a coffeepot. He put his cup down on the outside part of the booth for his refill.

"You two want anything more?" Radu asked as he poured. "Roy? You want some sausage t'go with that?"

Roy smiled beatifically at the stout Romanian. "That would be great," he said, turning to Kyle and grinning smugly.

"You're incorrigible," Kyle told him after Radu, carrying Roy's empty plate, had gone back to the griddle behind the counter.

"I'm good," Roy corrected, reaching for the syrup carafe.

Kyle snorted and turned his attention back to the paper. The tabloid's front section was full of the goings-on of a very slow news day. Apart from the two JSAers who'd foiled an inept robbery, there was a mild scandal involving garbage pickup in Brooklyn and a couple of articles on the city's economy. Satisfied that there was nothing that looked like it might cut short his afternoon with Connor and Roy -- leave it to his JLA beeper to do that -- he turned to Page Six.

Before he'd started at Feast, most of the names on the world-famous gossip page were unknown to him. Now, after a year on staff, he was not only able to identify the fashionistas and authors and nobody's-quite-sure-why-they're-famous-but-they-are types, but he was also occasionally in a position to be able to corroborate or correct what got reported. The mysteries under the "Just Asking" headers were easier to solve and he'd even found his own name in bold type once or twice. Thankfully not doing anything embarrassing.

He was still giggling over the cartoon -- yet another salvo in the unpopular mayor's attempt to ban smoking in New York City -- when Radu returned with a small plate with Roy's sausages.

"Thank you, my man," Roy enthused, tucking in.

Across from Page Six was the regular Hollywood-type gossip, clipped from wire reports and whatnot, and the Random Celebrity Photograph of the Day (Kyle was sure it had a real name in the Post's editorial room, but that's what everyone at Feast called it.) He took a look and nearly snorted his coffee out his nose.

"What?" Roy asked as Kyle wiped his nose with his napkin. When no reply was forthcoming, he used his fork to bend back the pages so he could see. "Oh. Brucie."

"How can you be so... dismissive?" Kyle asked in an incredulous whisper, looking around at who might overhear. Even  thinking about Batman made you paranoid, he'd long ago realized.

"It's part of the game," Roy replied with a shrug. He cut more pancake. "You and I both know that this --" he gestured again with the fork, careful not to drop the pancake bits "-- is not the real deal."

"I know," Kyle admitted, frowning wryly. "But...." It was hard to reconcile the smiling man with the insipid expression and champagne glasses in each outstretched hand, surrounded by a pair of busty blondes planting red-lipsticked kisses on each cheek, with the entity who had given him hell Tuesday night while they'd been excavating an explosion at a chemical weapons facility.

"See, you've only known for a little while," Roy explained, washing down his sausage with a long draught of water. "It gets less... dissonant... later on. Sort of."

"You're telling me that you can walk up to this man and carry on a conversation without your brain exploding?" Kyle didn't even bother to hide his disbelief.

"That's the thing," Roy said smugly, stabbing the last of the sausages. "I don't have to. There is no reason Roy Harper, former civil servant and current hunk-about-town, would ever be talking to that man. Unlike you, I don't have to go to those fancy-shmancy parties and hobnob."

"It's for work," Kyle muttered.

"'It's for work'," Roy mimicked in a silly voice. "You love those things. You show up in your urban sophisticate all-black chic outfits, green superbabe on your arm..."

"...Where everyone stares at her, then eventually realizes that it's not a handbag on her arm, but a boyfriend," Kyle finished defensively.

"Don't deny it," Roy scoffed, pushing the plate away from him. Surprisingly, there was still pancake left. "You don't have to go to all of those 'events'. Your cartoons get looked at anyway. Nobody at those things is buying anyone's books, let alone yours."

"Don't make me regret giving you a copy for free," Kyle warned.

"Lian loves it," Roy replied mildly.

Kyle made a face and slouched back in his seat. Looking at his watch, he signalled to Radu. "We should get going. I have to refill my Metrocard."

They split the check -- Kyle had long since given up trying to get Roy to see the bill in terms of quantity consumed -- and waved goodbye to Radu. On the way past the windows on the outside, Roy winked to the quartet of girls, their shrieked giggles at getting 'caught' audible through the glass and over the street noise.

"Don't tease," Kyle chided as they headed down the block toward Sixth Avenue.

"It's not teasing," Roy corrected. "It's acknowledging their good taste."

"You're the president of your own fan club, aren't you, Harper?"

"Someone has to organize the masses." Roy pulled the sunglasses off the collar of his shirt and put them on.

"If your ego gets any bigger, your head won't fit through the turnstile," Kyle warned, quickening his stride. "Let's go."

feedback?

back to the index