Free Speech

University of Chicago

Rafe and Tommy are passing through the student union. Dawn calls out, "Rafe!" Rafe turns, as does Tommy, and the two wave and wait for Dawn's approach.

Dawn says, "Hi, Tommy. Can I borrow Rafe for a minute?"

Tommy glances at Rafe, then back at Dawn. "Sure. I'll just go sit over there." Tommy departs.

Rafe says brusquely, "What is it?"

Dawn says, "I was hoping to get you to volunteer for a project I'm putting together."

Rafe says warily, "Oh?"

Dawn says, "You know how speakers are getting protested and shouted down and shut out on campuses lately?"

Rafe looks amused. "Still?"

Dawn says, "Well, less here, now, but still. It's a problem and it's getting worse. So I was going to put together a workshop, get students to come from all over the place, and see if we can figure out a way to stop it. Students started the free speech movement at Berkeley back in the day -- it seems like it's on us to keep free speech on campus if it's on anyone."

Rafe says, "And you think there's something I can do? You need a treasurer?"

Dawn says, "I'm pretty sure there's something you can do. Not sure what, but if you're willing..."

Rafe says, "Actually, I'm wondering why you didn't ask Tommy."

Dawn says, "Tommy didn't argue with me?"

Rafe says, "What kind of reason is that?"

Dawn says, "I know you and I disagree. We need people on all sides of the issues to agree that we need to discuss the issues if this is going to work. You and I argued, but we did it amicably. That's what should be happening."

Rafe says, "I generally agree, but I'm pretty sure the best thing I could do for you is get Tommy involved."

Dawn says, "Okay, get Tommy involved. We are going to need to sort out finances enough to get people places to stay and stuff, though. You'll help?"

Rafe says, "Yeah."

Dawn says, "Cool!"

Rafe adds with conscious irony, "I'll beat up anyone who speaks up against free speech."

Dawn gives him a mock scowl, then a smile. "I'll add you to the Circle. Got any ideas on how we can raise some funds?"

Rafe says, "Start a business of some kind? Failing that, take donations and invest them."

Dawn says, "Okay. I need to get to class -- thanks for helping out!"

Rafe nods. "Later."

Dawn waves to Tommy and goes.

Rafe collects Tommy. "She wanted you."

Tommy grins. "They all do."

Rafe looks disgusted. "No, I mean for this project." He starts to explain as they go their way.


In the Car

Vinnie gets a phone call. It is Carter. Since Snake's driving, Vinnie answers. "Hello."

Hawkman says, "Hey. You and Matteo free this evening?"

Vinnie reviews his appointments by asking the absent Matteo. "Yes. What's up?"

Hawkman says, "Meet us on top of the Hancock building. Dress appropriately, but bring civvies. Five o'clock."

Vinnie replies with some amusement. "All right. And am I to know why?"

Hawkman says, "You want me to explain on this line?"

Vinnie says, "Evidently not."

Hawkman says, "Right. See you at five."

Vinnie says, "Right," and hangs up.

Hancock Building

The Hancock Building is one of the tallest in Chicago, with a large flat roof and helipad. Hawkwoman and Hawkman are waiting for Falcon and Phoenix to arrive.

Because he's not sure what this is about, Vinnie has mobilized Silversong and Steelhawk to shadow him and Phoenix. While the second team hangs back a block, staying low, Vinnie and Matteo swoop in, but do not quite land. "What's going on?" Vinnie asks.

Hawkman says, "I wanted you to meet a friend of mine. I thought we'd have dinner. Do you have a way to get to the east coast fast?"

Vinnie says, "Somewhat ..."

Deciding that doesn't sound promising, Hawkman offers, "Hawkwoman's waiting with our ride."

Vinnie nods. "All right."

Hawkman takes off. "Follow me, stay close."

Vinnie complies, and the second team follows as it can, as does, more openly, Matteo.

Hawkman flies into a cloud, and then up to a metal hull hidden in the cloud, where he opens a hatch into a Thanagarian ship. "After you."

Vinnie enters the ship with apparent confidence, and Matteo follows. To himself, though, he wonders if this is the Hawks' sudden, yet inevitable, betrayal.

Hawkwoman is at the controls. "Have a seat; we'll be there in no time." Hawkman takes the copilot's station, but appears to have nothing to do. The Brontodon heads east.

Matteo says, "Oh, dear. I seem to have forgotten to bring the ransom."

Hawkman says, "What?"

Matteo says, "We aren't arranging the return of hostages?"

Hawkman says, "No, we're going to dinner with Aquaman and Mera."

Matteo subsides, thinking, "They seem to handle their affairs remarkably similarly to the way crime syndicates do. Or is that your touch?"

Vinnie calls off the second team; despite the cloak-and-dagger approach, all seems well. Anyway, it won't be able to keep up.

Hawkman says, "I wasn't sure if he'd want us in uniform or not, so the civvies are a precaution."

Vinnie nods.

Hawkwoman says, "Arthur doesn't maintain a dual identity."

Vinnie says, "I've been tempted a time or two ..."

Amnesty Bay, Maine

The Brontodon has been parked at altitude, and the Hawks and Falconieri are waiting on a weathered dock, while nearby Maine's notoriously nonchalant lobster fishermen are bringing in the catch. An unusually large wave breaks over the end of the dock, and when it recedes, Aquaman and Mera are standing there.

Aquaman says, "Hawkman. Hawkwoman."

Hawkman shakes Aquaman's hand as the seafaring couple approaches. "Arthur. Mera. This is the Falcon and the Phoenix."

Aquaman sizes up Vinnie and Matteo.

Vinnie looks back at him steadily, the Falcon's mask concealing much of his expression. "Hello," he says cheerfully.

Aquaman says, "Hawkman tells me you need advice on rulership."

Vinnie considers this characterization. "I may."

Aquaman says, "He also says you're a Mafia captain, and that in a past life you were my namesake."

Vinnie says, "Well, that got that out of the way."

Aquaman says, "All true?"

Vinnie says, "Close enough."

Aquaman says, "All right. Let's talk. But one condition. You buy dinner."

Vinnie laughs. "As long as I can afford it," he says as though joking, while stories of trickster heroes with seemingly modest demands flit through his head.

Aquaman says, "I expect so." He offers his hand. "Arthur Curry."

Vinnie shakes his hand. "Vinnie Falconieri."

Aquaman says, "My wife, Mera."

Mera says, "Pleased to meet you."

Vinnie nods. "Likewise."

Mera shoots a curious glance at Matteo. Vinnie consults Matteo silently.

Matteo says quietly, "Matteo, and also pleased to meet you both."

Vinnie says, "We weren't sure about the costumes ..."

Matteo says, "Somewhat awkwardly, being aflame is part of mine."

Aquaman says, "It might be better to dress down a little for the restaurant. People around here are used to me, but I'd rather not burn the place down."

Mera says, "If you're comfortable unmasking."

Vinnie says, "Is there a place we can change?"

Aquaman points his trident at a gas station. "They have clean bathrooms."

Hawkman says, "Be right back."

Vinnie nods.

Hawkman shoulders the duffel bag with everyone's clothes and goes to the gas station.

Matteo says, "Pray excuse us."

Aquaman nods gravely, and Matteo goes to be on fire at a gas station. This excites no more reaction from the locals than anything else.

The Lobster Trap

The Lobster Trap is a small-town restaurant, with vinyl booths, formica table tops, and shellfish tackle for decoration. Arthur and Mera's scale mail gets a second glance, but not a third; the people here seem to know them. Working clothes seem to be the dominant wardrobe.

Carter puts the duffel bag with his and Shiera's wings with Arthur's trident on the shelf behind the booth. There's something about the trident... A second glance tells Vinnie that it, and Arthur's "A" belt buckle, are made of unrefined Nth metal.

Shiera says, "Any food allergies?"

Vinnie shakes his head.

Aquaman orders for everyone, except for drinks. He and Mera seem to know the waitress -- she asks about their dog.

Vinnie orders a soda; nothing this place serves is alcoholic enough to produce so much as a light buzz for him. Matteo does likewise.

Carter has a beer; Arthur and Shiera stick with water. Mera has lemonade.

Mera says, "We don't have lemonade in Xebel."

Shiera says, "You have a dog?"

Aquaman says, "Salty's people died. We took him in." He changes the subject. "Tell me about your situation, Vinnie."

Vinnie says, "Actually, I'd like to ask about your trident."

Aquaman says, "What about it?"

Vinnie says, "Where did you get it?"

Aquaman says, "It's one of the seven treasures of Atlantis."

Vinnie says, "Oh?"

Aquaman nods. "I found it shortly after I left home for the first time. A group of us became guardians of the treasures."

Vinnie asks curiously, "What are the others?"

Aquaman says, "The seal, the manacles, the key, the helm, the globe, the scepter, and the crown."

Aquaman says, "The seal, the manacles, the key, the helm, the globe, the trident, and the crown."

Vinnie raises an eyebrow. "Manacles?"

Aquaman says, "Manacles." He shrugs. "King Orin made manacles. I don't know why."

Matteo says, "For the key," as though this were obvious rather than absurd. Vinnie smiles at the joke.

Aquaman shrugs again. "They have powers. Most of them do."

Vinnie tilts his head and waits.

Aquaman says, "What's your interest?"

Vinnie says, "I caught a glimpse of the trident. The workmanship was interesting."

Aquaman says, "Ancient Atlantean. It's tens of thousands of years old."

Vinnie says, "And it doesn't look it."

Aquaman says, "The Gold of Legacy holds up well, I guess."

Vinnie blinks. "The what?"

Aquaman says, "The material. The Gold of Legacy."

Vinnie says, "Well, I assume it isn't actual gold, since that would make a rather bad weapon, and wouldn't be my choice for manacles, either. An interesting name, though. 'Legacy.' It implies things."

Aquaman says, "From what I know, it's called that because it was the last to be found in Atlantis before it sank."

Vinnie looks thoughtful. Matteo glances at Carter and Shiera to see what, if anything, they seem to be making of this, but they seem no more enlightened than the Currys. He reports silently to Vinnie, "I can't tell whether they know."

Carter says, "You never told me you'd dug into Atlantis' history."

Aquaman says, "Never came up."

Matteo starts to laugh, but stifles it. Atlantis, once sunk, has indeed never come up.

Carter says, "Where'd you find the artifacts?"

Aquaman says, "In the Dead King's tomb."

Carter says, "Can I see it?"

Aquaman says, "It collapsed."

Carter says, "You have got to take better care of your history!"

Aquaman says, "Orm let me keep the trident when I abdicated."

Shiera says, "When you what?"

Carter says, "You abdicated? Orm let you?"

Aquaman says, "It turns out he is the rightful heir. And I never wanted to be king, anyway. The only bad blood between us was that I had the throne and he thought he should. When we discovered he was right, it was the only thing I could do."

Mera says, "You could have kept it had you wished."

Aquaman says, "And provoke a civil war? Besides, Orm was raised to be king; I didn't even know Atlantis was real until I was twenty."

Mera says, "That does not make him a better ruler."

Vinnie asks, "If he won't give his loyalty to the rightful king, why should any subject give loyalty in turn to him?"

Aquaman nods to Vinnie. "Precisely. I do my duty."

Mera says, "It's not as clear as that. But I know you're happier this way."

Carter says, "And you didn't tell us."

Aquaman says, "You didn't ask."

Vinnie says, "Don't they usually have proclamations for that?"

Shiera says, "Seriously, Arthur..."

Aquaman says, "For some reason the Boston Herald doesn't print the declarations of the Criers of Atlantis."

Vinnie points out helpfully, "That's because you don't send them press releases."

Aquaman says, "Poor journalism on their part."

Vinnie chuckles.

Carter says, "Did you not want us to know?"

Aquaman says, "It's none of the JLA's business. They usually ignore three quarters of the world, anyway."

Shiera says, "We're your friends, Arthur. That's a pretty life-changing thing."

Aquaman says, "Not really. Now I'm Aquaman full time. I was never any more of Atlantis than I am really of the surface."

Mera says, "The lighthouse is a lot smaller than the palace, but we have a dog."

Shiera says, "I guess you didn't have a dog in Atlantis. Not even a dogfish?"

Aquaman says, "We had Topo."

Carter says, "Topo's a giant sea monster."

Aquaman shrugs.

Vinnie says, "I endorse the pro-Dog position."

Shiera says, "You know the Kraken?"

Vinnie says, "Maybe I shouldn't just take the word of myth for its character."

Shiera says, "Think of the kraken as the littlest Billy Goat Gruff. Topo is the biggest brother."

Vinnie says brightly, "I like dogs."

Mera says, "Salty is a good dog."

Matteo says, "What kind?"

Mera says, "Dog."

Matteo says, "Ah."

Aquaman says, "Golden retriever, mostly."

Mera says, "There are kinds?"

Aquaman says, "No dogs in Xebel."

Vinnie says, "Yes, though these days, the dogs of no distinct kind are usually the healthier ones."

Mera says, "Overbred?"

Vinnie nods.

Mera says, "That sounds like a surface dweller thing to do."

Vinnie looks thoughtfully at Mera.

Aquaman says, "Atlantis uses a lot more biotech than the surface. A lot of it developed the old fashioned way, through selective breeding."

Vinnie says, "I see."

Aquaman says, "And the surface is generally more careless with its technology. I think the fact that it's easier to dissolve pollutants in what is breathed below made Atlanteans more cautious."

Vinnie says, "Interestingly, they seem to have advanced further in biotech despite that caution."

Aquaman says, "But not as far in hard engineering. No electronics, for example."

Vinnie looks amused. "Unsurprising."

Aquaman says, "Atlantis has also had continuous civilization since the cataclysm. No dark ages. Smaller population base than the surface, but a long time to work on things."

Vinnie nods.

Mera says, "Also, no lemons."

Matteo says, "You're fond of them?"

Mera nods. "Both to flavor the food and as lemonade. Not by themselves; too overwhelming."

Matteo says, "Most people agree."

Mera says, "Arthur has been introducing me to surface customs and cuisine."

Matteo says, "What else do you like?"

Mera says, "Especially? Chicken fried steak. Couscous. Oh, and chocolate!"

Matteo smiles. "Another convert for chocolate."

Shiera says, "Chocolate could be one of Earth's most profitable exports. Along with coffee."

Mera says, "Ugh."

Matteo says, "You don't like it?"

Mera says, "Too bitter."

Matteo says, "Even with cream or sugar?"

Mera says, "Is that a way people serve it?"

Matteo says, "Some people. I'm rather fond of espresso, which, I'm afraid, is everything you don't like about coffee, but more so."

Aquaman says, "Beverages are not such a thing in Atlantis, as you can imagine."

Matteo says, "Ah."

Carter says, "You cannot have civilization without beer."

Aquaman says, "They manage."

Vinnie says, "If it's a matter of definition, they can't. Unless what they're managing is beer."

Mera says, "We allow certain fruits to ferment in their shells."

Carter says, "Not the same."

Vinnie says, "Possibly more effective."

Carter says, "That'd be a wine, though. Beer is made from grain."

Aquaman says, "Grains aren't so much an Atlantean thing."

Mera says, "You consume a great deal of it."

Vinnie says, "It has been said that beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Aquaman says, "God and I will have to disagree on that."

Vinnie chuckles. He used to like beer. Now it just strikes him as a waste of time.

Mera says, "Wine is good. I don't like beer."

Shiera says, "Proof you're truly civilized."

Vinnie looks amused.

Carter makes a mock sad face at Shiera.

Vinnie says, "Haven't you civilized your wife yet, Carter?"

Shiera says, "I moved on past the beer stage of civilization."

Carter says, "More beer for me."

Vinnie wishes he had something more effective than beer at the moment. Matteo makes small talk. Appetizers are brought, then lobster. Dinner continues.

Aquaman asks Vinnie, after the lobsters are done, "I had the impression you wanted to discuss more than the differences between Atlantis and the surface world."

Vinnie lies, "Actually, I'm afraid I already solved the problem I had when Carter and I spoke, but it's been interesting meeting you."

Aquaman says, "You bought the dinner -- tell me."

Vinnie says, "I was just a bit demoralized at the time."

Aquaman says, "How does the reincarnation of King Arthur end up as a mob boss in Chicago?"

Vinnie says, "By being born into the Family, of course."

Aquaman says, "I wasn't aware it was a hereditary position."

Vinnie says, "Not automatically, but one has a certain advantage in that one's name is already known."

Aquaman says, "And yet Carter says you're one of the good guys."

Vinnie says, "I try to be. When we spoke before, I was having some doubts as to whether that was going to be possible."

Aquaman says, "Why?"

Vinnie looks amused. "This may have escaped your attention, but ... it's the Mob."

Mera says, "I gather being a 'mob boss' doesn't mean you direct the rabble in their rioting, but what is it?"

Vinnie looks surprised.

Matteo says, "'The Mob' is a term for organized crime -- that is, something between a thieves' guild and a shadow government."

Shiera says, "Oh. Duh. Vinnie, to put it in our terms, Mera is the hereditary queen of a prison gang. It's not Arthur whose position is analogous to yours, it's hers."

Mera says, "Queen of what?"

Vinnie maintains a pleasant face while wondering if Shiera has put her foot in it.

Shiera says, "Xebel is where Atlantis exiled its rebels, right?"

Mera says, "I suppose it is a prison, yes." She turns to Vinnie. "I was sent here to assassinate Arthur, not marry him. Things worked out better."

Vinnie says, "I'm glad for you both. Congratulations." Matteo nods.

Aquaman actually smiles for the first time that night. The contrast leads Matteo to conclude that this meeting has not exactly been a success, socially.

Shiera says, "But I think the politics of Xebel are probably closer to the Outfit than Atlantis' are."

Matteo explains, "'The Outfit' is a term for Chicago's particular Mob."

Aquaman says, "From the stereotypes, you're probably right, but everything I know about the Mafia I learned from The Godfather."

Vinnie says, "They made sure we saw that one."

Mera says, "'The mob' is what you call your criminal element then?"

Vinnie says, "No, only a certain part of it. Most criminals aren't part of the Mob."

Mera says, "What is the difference?"

Vinnie says, "Membership. Most people aren't even eligible to join, and relatively few who are are invited."

Carter says, "I would have said organization."

Vinnie says, "Discipline, to a certain extent."

Mera says, "The surface world allows criminals to organize?"

Vinnie says, "Not willingly."

Aquaman says, "Pretty much willingly, I'd say -- through neglect, but not unconsciously."

Vinnie shrugs.

Mera says, "In Xebel, they would be killed."

Vinnie says, "Not too many governments in America still do that."

Mera says, "I'm consistently surprised that America still has governments, as many foolish things as they do."

Vinnie says, "Well, I happen to agree."

Carter says, "That's why I say Vinnie's one of the good guys. Chicago's government is effectively an arm of the Outfit, at this point."

Mera says, "And that's why you shouldn't let criminals organize. Then they become rebels, and take over. Or get exiled."

Vinnie says, "But since they did ..."

Aquaman says, "So you're having to cope with being a shadow government, ruling through corruption rather than openly."

Vinnie says, "Exactly."

Aquaman says, "That's tough. My sympathies."

Vinnie says, "Thanks."

Mera says, "Things have been like that at home. Not criminals, but nobles becoming the power behind the throne."

Vinnie says, "In Xebel?"

Mera nods.

Aquaman says, "I didn't tolerate that kind of thing."

Vinnie nods. "I wouldn't want to, either."

Mera looks at Matteo and then back to Vinnie. "I suppose it is not feasible for you to marry the daughter of the lord of your city, then assassinate him."

Vinnie laughs, affecting obliviousness. "It would be a waste, since the position is elective. It would be a shame to ally by marriage with a family that then gets voted out of office."

Mera says, "Elective?"

Vinnie waves a hand. "Democracy," he says with a grimace.

Mera says, "Oh. That."

Vinnie grins. "That."

Aquaman says, "Mera is not a democrat. Or even a Republican."

Vinnie says, "I sympathize."

Mera says, "The nobility is there to tell the people what's good for them, not cater to their whims."

Vinnie smiles.

Carter says, "As long as you have a responsible ruling class. Which all of you are."

Mera says, "It's up to the honorable nobility to police themselves. Remove those who can't be trusted."

Aquaman says, "I had to do some of that, when I came to the throne."

Vinnie nods. "Some people make it unregrettably necessary."

Aquaman says, "I hear about Chicago's street violence problem. I presume that's not mob violence."

Vinnie says, "Generally that's the gangs."

Mera says, "That is different from the mobs?"

Vinnie says, "There are more of them, and they generally lack discipline."

Mera nods.

Vinnie says, "I'd love to suppress them entirely, but all I can do is remonstrate against the worst excesses."

Aquaman says, "Why can't you?"

Vinnie says, "They outnumber me a hundred to one, and that would be if I actually ran the whole Outfit."

Aquaman says, "You're thinking in terms of pure force?"

Vinnie says, "And in terms of the power to occupy."

Aquaman says, "As Vulko once asked me, whose king are you?"

Vinnie says, "No one's; I'm a captain. I'm more like a baron."

Aquaman says, "And that's as far as you want to take it?"

Vinnie says, "Considering the alternative, yes."

Carter says, "Nobody here's going to let it get back to Sal the Watchmaker if you say you want his job, Vinnie."

Vinnie looks amused. "Good."

Aquaman says, "So whose baron are you?"

Vinnie says, "My father's."

Aquaman says, "No. Over whom do you rule?"

Vinnie says, "Over those who will have me."

Aquaman says, "Then make the gangs your people."

Vinnie says, "They're ..."

Carter says, "Black? Mexican?"

Vinnie says, "I understand those aren't acceptable reasons anymore, but I'm not sure anyone told them."

Carter says, "Probably not."

Aquaman says, "So it'll be a little harder to earn their respect. My father was a surface man, and my queen is an escaped convict. Sometimes you have to make people see that that's not important."

Vinnie says, "I don't think I'm more charismatic than Alexander." Alexander, who also had trouble integrating the cultures he'd conquered.

Aquaman says, "How'd the other King Arthur do it?"

Carter says, "No convenient swords..."

Vinnie says, "He had a common enemy."

Aquaman says, "And a people who wanted leadership. Which I'm not convinced you don't have, from a few thousand miles away watching the news. The enemy is just a problem to rally against. It can be poverty or the weather, it doesn't matter. You make them want your respect, and make them believe they can earn it, and make sure they know how."

Vinnie says, "Absent a convenient sword, I'm not sure how to accomplish the first."

Aquaman says, "What do they respect?"

Vinnie looks grimly amused. "Italian males. So far, so good. But that's not the people of Chicago as a whole. What do they respect? Force."

Aquaman says, "So you demonstrate that you command the greatest force, first. People want to be respected by people whom they respect."

Vinnie nods. "I need to work up to that."

Carter nods.

Aquaman says, "Don't miss an opportunity, if it arises. Mine was an outside attack."

Vinnie says, "I shan't go so far as to hope for one."

Aquaman says, "Then you make them yours. Unify your people."

Vinnie nods.

Aquaman says, "I didn't see all the divisions and factions in Atlantean society at first, so it was fairly easy for me to convince my people that I saw them as one, and they should see themselves that way too. Atlanteans first."

Vinnie says, "The organization sees itself, somewhat, as one, but nothing beyond."

Aquaman says, "My advice is, if you want to stop the gangs fighting, do it by uniting them under you."

Vinnie says, "I might have to."

Carter says, "It's not a terrible idea."

Vinnie says, "Have you met them?"

Shiera says, "Of course."

Carter says, "They're punk kids. So are most warriors before someone kicks them into shape."

Vinnie says, "They're ..."

Carter says, "Not Italian?"

Vinnie says, "I always thought that was a little short-sighted, really."

Aquaman says, "If you do not let them earn your respect, and give it when they do, then you're not fit to rule them."

Vinnie says, "You're absolutely right."

Aquaman says, "Also, you have to be right. And that means admitting when you're wrong and fixing it. You have to be honest with your people."

Vinnie says, "I generally agree."

Aquaman says, "It isn't weakness to say, 'I'm wrong and I will do better.' What won't work is to say 'I'm wrong and I don't know what's right.'"

Vinnie says, "Clearly I'm not going to be your king."

Aquaman says, "No, I'm not having a king."

Mera says, "I don't think that's what he meant."

Aquaman says, "What'd you mean?"

Vinnie says, "You've already seen me uncertain."

Aquaman says, "That's not the same thing. You can't be indecisive. This is consulting with advisors -- that's wise."

Vinnie smiles. "It was a joke."

Aquaman says, "Oh."

Mera says, "He already got one this year."

Vinnie laughs.

Aquaman says, "I got more than one."

Carter chuckles.

Vinnie says, "Well, that'll save some trouble next year."

Mera pats Arthur's hand. "You just have an unusual sense of humor, love." Aquaman looks pained.

Carter says, "Usually, you have no sense of humor."

Vinnie says, "Mine might need work."

Shiera holds up her fingers close together. "Little bit."

Aquaman says, "I suppose being misunderstood is part of the price of the throne."

Shiera says, "Who named the dog?"

Mera says, "He did."

Shiera says, "Okay, Aquaman made a joke. I'm putting it in the League casebook."

Carter says, "He did?"

Shiera says, "Salty, the Sea Dog."

Carter rolls his eyes.

Matteo asks, "Do you like grapefruit?"

Aquaman says, "It's alright."

Mera says, "I haven't had it."

Matteo says, "The 'salty dog' is gin and grapefruit juice, with a salted rim."

Mera says, "I will try it."

Aquaman says, "I didn't know that."

Carter says, "Because you don't go drinking with us."

Aquaman says, "You bring Green Lantern and the Flash and Wildcat. I feel like I should be at the kids' table."

Matteo laughs.

Carter does too. "Well..."

Shiera says, "Well you and Vinnie should try, sometime. Mera and Matteo and I will hang out and eat delicious things."

Vinnie says, "Hey! Why don't I get delicious things?"

Shiera says, "Because you're out drinking with the boys."

Vinnie says, "Then what about Matteo?"

Shiera says, "He's not out drinking with the boys -- what's so hard to figure out?"

Vinnie says, "Why he isn't."

Mera says, "Because he is eating delicious things with the women."

Vinnie looks at Shiera. "You ... do realize he's not my wife?"

Shiera says, "No. But he can cook."

Carter says, "She has a point."

Mera says, "You can?"

Matteo says, "Generous persons have suggested it might be so."

Vinnie says firmly, "He's good."

Mera says, "How do you do it?"

Matteo says, "I am not quite sure what level of explanation is required."

Aquaman says, "Mera's trying to learn to cook in air. It's rather different."

Mera says, "There's not a single trick, is there."

Matteo says, "If one were to condense it to a single trick, that trick would be Fire."

Mera says, "I noticed that. We mostly use pressure."

Matteo nods. "But there are all kinds of appliances for all kinds of nuances of the application of heat."

Mera nods ruefully.

Matteo says, "It's remarkable how specialized they've grown while we were away."

Carter says, "I just use the grill."

Shiera says, "For salads."

Matteo and Vinnie laugh merrily.

Carter says, "Salad is not food."

Aquaman says, "You would starve in Atlantis."

Vinnie says, "Grilling seems to be a requirement of suburban manhood now. I'm probably supposed to grill ice cream and beer ... somehow."

Carter says, "Start fire. Put ice cream on fire. Drink beer."

Shiera says, "See what I have to live with?"

Vinnie says, "Melted ice cream. I feel for you."

Shiera says, "Never had fried ice cream?"

Mera says, "That sounds delicious. I like ice cream and fried things. Like fried French."

Vinnie looks amused. "It is good. But neither fried ice cream nor french fries are made on the grill."

Carter says, "You can make french fries on the grill."

Vinnie says, "You can roast potatoes on the grill. I suppose you could put a vat of oil on the grill if you had to."

Carter says, "I did it over an open campfire in... 1700s? I forget."

Vinnie nods, knowing how it is.

Mera says, "What do potatoes have to do with French?"

Matteo says, "Uncertain. To 'French' a food can mean to cut it into fry-like strips, but that usage seems to post-date the term 'French fry.'"

Mera says, "Oh, it's an adjective."

Matteo nods. "Very few respectable cooks actually fry the French."

Carter says, "So we'll go drinking and you can fry French."

Mera says, "And ice cream."

Matteo says, "I think drinking would indeed contribute considerably to any such endeavor."

Aquaman says, "Vinnie?"

Vinnie says airily, "Oh, I'm game."

Aquaman says, "No JSA buddies, Carter."

Carter says, "As long as Vinnie's coming. We need one other adult."

Aquaman says, "The immortals are going to collude, aren't they."

Vinnie says, laughing, "Hey, we let you sit with the grown-ups tonight."

Aquaman says, "You're also paying the bill."

Vinnie chuckles. "Actually, I'm not sure the JSA gets to sit with me. After my time."

Carter says, "You'd like Ted."

Vinnie says, "Oh?"

Carter says, "He's a guy."

Vinnie blinks. "... And ...?"

Carter says, "I mean a real guy. Wait, do you remember Ted Grant, the heavyweight champ?"

Matteo says, "I do."

Carter says, "That guy."

Matteo says with sarcastic blandness, "Yes, he did seem to be a guy."

Vinnie says, "A superhero now?"

Carter says, "Wildcat."

Vinnie says, "Ah. I've heard good things about him -- not all of them from you."

Aquaman says, "Two of you will be quite enough."

Vinnie says, "Of who?"

Aquaman says, "Old guys."

Vinnie says, "Well, by one measure, I'm 98, but by the other, I'm only 22."

Carter says, "And by another, we're both over two thousand."

Vinnie shrugs.

Aquaman says, "Right. Old guys."

Vinnie says, "You probably are, too. You just don't remember it."

Aquaman says, "No. Somebody thought I was Orin reincarnated, but they were wrong."

Vinnie says, "Well, the fact that you weren't one specific person doesn't mean you weren't anybody."

Aquaman says, "I'm me. Arthur Curry, Aquaman. That's all I need to be."

Vinnie wonders if he's touched a bit of a nerve with that, but laughs. "Only if you like the kids' table."

Aquaman says, "See if I show you where to get the good tuna."

Matteo looks accusingly over at Vinnie.

Vinnie says, "Sorry, sorry. I'll be good."

Aquaman nods decisively.

Transcripts/2017-05-03 Arthurs (last edited 2017-05-09 10:54:06 by evil)