“This settles it. The little green guys are definitely Commies,” Bill said as he stared at Pam in her new little red suit, practically the twin of Ralph’s except that the crest on the front appeared with the black and white parts reversed from the original.
“And you have come to this very wise, perfectly logical realization how?” Pam asked, folding her arms and giving him a none-too-tolerant look.
“Because it’s obvious that should have been mine!” shouted Bill, pouting at a level Pam and Ralph hadn’t seen since Carlisle had passed him over for a promotion for the third time.
“Uh huh,” Ralph said, then adopting the tone and facial expression he used when Tony or one of his students had said something that suggested they was questioning their abilities and needed a pep talk. “Well, maybe they think you’re already performing an important function of the group and they didn’t want to mess with the excellent dynamic you bring to the team as it is.”
“Hey, maybe that’s it,” Pam said, smiling. “I mean, Ralph is really overworked, so they needed somebody to help him out, which is why they got me a suit, but since you’re already doing spectacular, they figured they’d leave perfection well enough alone.”
Bill snorted in disbelief, but he still looked a little mollified.
“Of course, it could just be that the counselor has a much better set of gams than I do, but for argument’s sake, we’ll say you’re right,” he said. “I think we better get you out to the desert to do a little flight training, though don’t expect to do real well on that at first. Maybe I’ll start you off on speed running or super hearing or disappearing, the basics, that kinda stuff.”
Pam and Ralph exchanged guilty looks.
“What?” Bill asked.
“I kind of already flew from here to Alaska and back this morning,” Pam said.
“You what?” he said, his mouth dropping open.
“Yeah, you should have seen her! She didn’t even knock into anything, the smoothest landing I’ve ever seen,” Ralph said, obviously bursting with pride.
“But… but that took Ralph here years to get right, and you got it on the first try?” Bill said.
“Looks like,” Pam said. “Do you still think I got the suit only because I’ve got great legs?”
“Ah, no, no, I was just joking around with that,” Bill said, looking uncomfortable. “No, kiddo, seems like you’ve got some natural talent there. We can use that.”
“Not that you don’t have great legs, honey,” Ralph said, giving her an affectionate leer.
“Honestly,” Pam said, sighing. “Look, can we just get past the fact that the aliens decided to make this thing skin tight for whatever bizarre reason and focus on what matters here: solving crimes and preventing disasters?”
“Sorry,” Ralph said. “I apologize. You’re right. I was being insensitive and sexist.”
“And honest,” Bill mumbled, but the other two didn’t seem to hear him. “Well, even Mickey Mantle needed to practice. I still say we head out to the desert for a little instruction and tactical planning. Hey, wait, the most important thing! The instruction book! Did they give you one?”
With a flourish, Pam produced a small, silver object the size of an issue of TV Guide.
“That’s great! That’s unbelievable! Best news I’ve heard in at least a year,” Bill said, getting up and jingling his car keys. “Okay, let’s get out to that desert and get ready to beat those Ruskies.”
The three of them journeyed out to the desert as they had so many times before, but this time their abilities were hopefully doubled, especially with the instruction book back in play. They couldn’t have been more optimistic.
Unfortunately, seven hours later, as they were coming back home again, this time without the instruction book, the mood was less joyful and more bitter.
“I cannot believe that coyote ate it!” Bill said for what seemed to be the thousandth time.
“Can you just shut up about it already?” Pam said. “That was not my fault.”
“Nah, counselor, that there was Ralph’s dropped ball, not yours,” Bill said. “You were flying around up in the sky, and doing a darn good job of it I might add, and it was his job to keep an eye on our stuff.”
“Personally, I think you share some of the blame,” Ralph said, sounding more than a little miffed. “Just because I’m wearing the suit doesn’t mean I’ve got eyes in the back of my head.”
“For all we know, you might have learned to have exactly that on page 94 or something,” Bill said, looking disgusted.
“Also, it’s not the suit anymore, it’s a suit,” Pam pointed out.
“You tell ‘im,” Bill said, continuing to scowl at the road, then, when he couldn’t restrain himself any longer, adding, “I cannot believe that coyote ate it!”
“We know!” Pam and Ralph chorused together.
Somewhere out in the desert, the little green guys were hovering in their spacecraft, shooting a beam of light at a coyote. Shaking their heads in fond disbelief as it coughed up part of the instruction book’s cover, they decided once again not to intervene. They were certain their trio of heroes would be able to handle any challenges they came across.