The Beast, Pt. 55 (Chapter 17a)

By the time I make it back to the others, the novelty of the space walk has worn off. Monk seems pleased to have spent some time floating around, the manic grin worn while firing heavy artillery replaced by a smile more serene (and it certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting that the brunette is with him, the two of them having a conversation about who knows what on a private channel.) The redhead looks bored, and Googe in turn anxious to provide her with some new diversion. Erb looks at me curiously, either waiting to see what I suggest next or waiting to see if I cop to some kind of emotional instability.

I will, of course, be doing no such thing. “So. What’re folks up for next?”

Before anyone can respond, the redhead says, “I think we should get back and check on Becky. I don’t like splitting up the group like we did.”

Safe behind the tinted visor of the space suit’s helmet, I roll my eyes. I understand completely the desire to protect one’s friends, to limit the time spent in the company of strangers (amazing though they may be,) but still. What an unfortunate response. I don’t give voice to any of these thoughts, though. Instead I ask, “Who the fuck is Becky?”

“Becky. Our friend Becky.” I shrug and the redhead puts her hands on her hips. “The one who stayed back at the hotel?”

“Oh, the blonde?”

Even through the suit, the redhead’s irritation is readily apparent. It’s a testament to the strength of her body language, really. I wonder if she has any training as an actress, or if just comes naturally to her. “Yes. ‘The blonde.’ God, did you even learn our names?”

I smile. A smirk, really. It would be so easy to get in the limo and drive away. Her friends wouldn’t like it, but they could be left behind too. The walk back would be longer than the one my friends and I had been subjected to, but the girls were a few years younger than us and largely in better shape. And not bogged down by luggage. They’d almost certainly be fine. Like, a seventy-five percent probability, at least. Thankfully I’m not a vindictive person.

But I am a petty one, and I will gamble to embarrass someone that’s tried to embarrass me. “I can’t believe you would even ask me that, Desiree. Seriously. I’m wounded.”

The redhead goes silent. It’s a good thing. She points at the brunette. “What’s her name?”

I put up my hands and shake my head. “Uh-uh. No way. I’m not playing this game. Let’s just all get back to the hotel and check on your friend, yeah? That’s got to be more productive than having a pissing contest over this.”

“What about hers?”

“Uh, do you even know my name, Desiree?”

“Of course I do! You’re the Googe.”

Googe’s head snaps towards her. “What. The. Fuck.” Monk and Erb burst into laughter, and the redhead shrinks somehow within her suit.

“Yeah, sorry,” I say pointing at Googe. “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

There’s a burst of static in my ear, the sound of a private channel activating, and I hear Monk stifling laughter so he can talk. “Bravo, Sir. Bravo.”

“Better lucky than good, huh?”

“Better funny than right.”

“What, I can’t be both?”

“Well, that’s just too many things. Then you’d be lucky, good, funny, and right. Why do you have to be greedy? Save some for the rest of us, why don’t you?”

“Sorry. I’ll work on that.”

“See that you do.”

“Hey, out of curiosity, what’s the name of the chick you’ve been hanging out with?”

Monk chuckles at that. “Do you really care?”

I pause, consider his words for a moment. But only a moment. “Nah, not really.”

He chuckles again. “Didn’t think so.”

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