Chapter 27:

I'm Lovin' It

Half-Paid Heroes

It was another boring afternoon at the local 24-hour burger place, Angry Bert's, when a formidable trio stepped in: an intimidatingly tall woman with cornrows, a man with the appearance of a skeleton and a younger girl trailing behind them. All three wore clothes that indicated they should have been at work, was three on a Sunday afternoon, so they must've been on break.

Still, money was money, so the apronned teenagers running the register (all younger than Chris) trembled as they waited for one of them to come to order.

Sure enough, the woman stormed up to the counter and began barking orders at them. However, the only thing that was louder than her voice was the sound of her stomach, which made it apparent why she seemed so angry...
Chris kept her eyes on the man in front of her as she proceeded to scarf down a cheese and bacon sandwich, the greasy smell of the meat lingering around her as she did. Jamie had refused to eat until Yuki did, tasking Chris to watch him while she dealt with the rest of the order, and so far all Chris had seen him consume was his usual bottle of...whatever that yellow liquid was. 

"Do you mind?" Yuki didn't seem particularly incensed - in fact, as far as Chris was concerned, her coworker never showed any type of extreme emotion whatsoever - but this question suggested that even if he didn't sound like it, he still had feelings.

Therefore, Chris turned her gaze to the window on her left and observed a miniature plane soaring overhead as she heard the unusual noises of what was presumably Yuki's slow, measured eating.

Where's Ella right now? Chris wondered. Is she on that plane, or still in the city? I'm not clear on what she did to get that magical girl form, but one thing's for sure - I don't think we can be friends any- 

Jamie slammed a tray on to the cool stone-top table, stopping Chris from mentally declaring these dangerous words. "You're thinking about Martin, aren't you?"

"Of course I'm worried about my brother, but he can fend for himself. I'm more worried about Ella."  

"Well, in that case I can't help, can I?" Jamie sighed and stabbed the wooden stirrer into her disposable cup - coffee, judging by the distinctive scent - with a force that told Chris she was still annoyed, but cooling off somewhat.

Chris shoved another cheese and bacon sandwich into her mouth in several bites, pondering her situation once again. From the moment they'd met, the two friends were inseparable - they'd done group projects, science experiments, even planning for future schools together - so it really didn't make sense to let fate tear them apart now.

"What do you know about Martin, then?" Chris finally posed to her senior coworker.

"I know this question wasn't posed to me, but at least part of his power comes from skill grafting," Yuki finished, one finger whirling his empty bottle by the lid.
---- Author's Note ----
I find the fact Chris is not worried about her brother in this chapter funny, because I found a planning document for The Five Hearts where she joined the eponymous group for money and she was hoping to gain enough of it to pay for a homecoming party for Martin.

That document also said the Heart Despair personality was created through a body swap with Chris, so...I clearly derailed, hahaha.

Gerry Hines