“You’re getting so fat, you barely fit in the car,” Robert Bihldorff’s wife complained as he squeezed himself into the back seat, lugging his shopping bag full of fruits and vegetables behind him. She always complained when he got decently big.
“I’ve been fatter, Tia,” he argued while rummaging for a carrot. “Remember when I got so big, Government Steve had to bring a freight van to take me to headquarters?” That had been his fattest. Sadly, it was short lived owing to a particularly gruesome mission that forced him to lose almost all his body weight. He was just now getting back up to a respectable weight.
“Yeah,” she said, “I remember. I hated it then too.”
Robert could never figure out what Tia had against fatness. She herself was delightfully plump but she got offended any time he’d compliment her on it. Instead of replying, he bit into his apple, followed by a swig of his protein drink but as he was raising the bottle to his lips, his hand fell off.
“Seriously, again?” he said as he tried to clean up the mess one handed. “Slow down. I can’t reattach it with the car bumping so much.”
“Just grow a new one,” she told him in an annoyed tone.
“I’m not even going to have this argument with you again,” he said. There was no point. She had a medical degree. She understood just as well as he did how much energy went into growing new appendages. He knew she was just hoping he’d burn away some of his fat.
After a moment, Tia sighed long-sufferingly and slowed the car down. “Fine,” she said, “but do it quickly. I want to get back home. I was in the middle of a project when Government Steve called.” Tia was always in the middle of a project. She liked to buy junk from the second-hand store, fix it, and sell it on the internet.
Robert held the hand to his wrist and concentrated briefly as a web work of cartilage formed between them. Within seconds, the cartilage had ossified. Robert’s stomach rumbled in response. “You can speed up again,” he told Tia. “I’ve got the bone in place.” The nerves and blood vessels would be tricky too but with a solid connection already established, he could do them while on the move.
“What is this mission you’re going on, anyway?” Tia asked.
“Government Steve says The Grenadier has finally entered the game board,” he told her.
“Really!” she replied excitedly. “Government Steve has been talking about him for years, but I honestly never believed he would. Is he going to be an asset or a mark?”
“He’s an asset,” Robert replied. He was glad too. He didn’t want to have to kill another one of his heroes.
“Oh, good,” Tia said, suddenly seeming distracted. “Hey, isn’t The Grenadier’s best friend The Bro?” She asked in her best imitation of nonchalance. “Do you think he’ll be there too? He’s such a uh… a good actor.” Robert knew she found The Bro attractive but could never understand why. The man practically had no fat on him at all.
“I don’t know, Tia. Probably not,” Robert said. “It’s not like people invite their friends on missions like this.”
“But The Bro can fight too,” Tia said hopefully.
“What he does in the movies is just choreography,” he told her. “I bet he’s not that great in real life. Even if he is, how’s he supposed to keep up with people who can regrow limbs or teleport or can do whatever The Grenadier does?”
“Well, I just thought it would be cool,” she said, disappointed. “You could have hung out with The Grenadier’s crew and got your own nickname.”
“Oh, I am getting a nickname. Government Steve told me on the phone.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know yet. I hope it’s a good one.”
“Grenadier nicknames are always iconic,” Tia said. “Like ‘The Bro,’ ‘Commander Buzzkill,’ or ‘Ginger.’ They sum a person up in one or two words. I can’t wait to find out what yours is!”
“Oh!” Robert said, “I know the perfect name. I could be ‘The Fat Guy!’”
“No!” Tia said. “No. No. No. What is wrong with you? That is the worst name ever. Please tell me you won’t ask for that.”
Robert shrugged his shoulders and returned to his peaches. He probably wouldn’t be allowed to make a suggestion anyway, but if he did…