“She says it every morning,” said a voice behind Elliott, “she just doesn’t remember.” There was a tone to Fipps’ voice that always spoke of amusement but never condescension when he talked about Junie. Elliott turned to find Fipps sitting at a table behind him, idly dislodging the java jacket from around his paper coffee cup so that it slipped to the table and then pushed it back to snug up under the lid. Elliott didn’t think he was aware he was doing it. He was talking to Elliott but he only had eyes for Junie. He was giving her a small smile.
The tall man pushed out a chair for Elliott with his foot. Elliott grabbed the back of it and swung it around. He’d seen cool people do this. He lifted his leg and the chair spun, banging into his planted leg. He hopped away awkwardly, catching himself on the table as the chair clattered loudly to the floor. A number of eyes turned to him and he flushed.
Fipps, bless him, tried to hold in the snort of laughter but failed. He effortlessly hooked a foot around the chair back and uprighted it coolly.
“I hear you’re better with chain link fences,” Fipps said conversationally with a quirk of his lips, once more pushing the chair towards Elliott.
Elliott rubbed his shin and sat down (the right way, and somewhat primly). “I was drunk on my own hubris.”
“Lay off the sauce,” Fipps advised him, only half joking.
“So you heard, huh? Junie too?” Elliott asked.
“Is she mad at me again?” Elliott asked quietly.
Two furrows appeared in Fipps’ brow but his smile was bemused. The java jacket tapped on the table then hissed as Fipps absently tugged it back up.
“Hard to say,” he replied. “Thomas told us about what happened and… well… ”
Elliott grimaced. “What?”
Fipps’ lips quirked in a rueful grin. “She made a paper airplane out of a toilet paper roll, named it The Spirit of St. Elliott and flew it into the trash can shouting, ‘be free!'”
“That could mean anything,” Elliott murmured.
“Yup,” Fipps agreed. “But she didn’t light it on fire first.”
“What would it have meant if she had?” Elliott asked.
Fipps shrugged. “No idea.”
“Fair enough.” He realized something and peered at Fipps out of the corner of his eye. “She made a paper airplane out of a toilet paper roll? How…?”
“Don’t know, man. Flew like a dream though.” He brought the coffee cup to his lips and murmured, “She does make a great cup of coffee.” Those were the words he said aloud, but in his tone Elliott heard something else entirely: “I love her.”
Elliott felt a tug on his ear and looked over his shoulder to find Junie staring down at him. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a disheveled ponytail. The faint look in her eyes sharpened for a moment then faded back to vagueness.
“You tried to run away again,” she said flatly.
“When are you going to learn?” She asked. “You never learn.”
And with that she turned and walked away.
Elliott sighed. “I would say I deserved that but I honestly have no idea what that was.”
Fipps snorted. “Yeah, story of my life. Half the time I don’t know what she’s saying and the other half I don’t want to know.”
“Isn’t today the day you’re going to talk to the higher ups?”
Elliott instinctively reached for a cup of coffee that wasn’t there. Junie usually brought him one whether he’d asked for it or not. He glanced at the unmanned espresso machine and almost growled. He could have really used some coffee. The door banged shut behind Junie on the other side of the hall. He believed she’d planned the door closing for just the right moment.
Maybe she could read his mind. He flinched. Disturbing thought.
“Yeah, I actually have to go soon,” he said.
Not bothering to hide his interest, Fipps asked, “What do you think they want to talk to you about?”
“I frankly have no clue whatsoever,” Elliott answered honestly. “They debriefed us for hours when we first got here. I already feel like they know how often I wash my underwear.”
“Well I can think of a couple things they might want from you,” Fipps mused.
“Me, or us?”
“Probably just you.” FIpps took a deep breath. Elliott was about to ask what he meant by that but the clock on the wall caught his eye. It was time to leave.
“Well, I guess we’ll find out,” he said, standing to leave.