The strong woman did a bunch of roundhouse flips across the bar and kicked me right in the face. “That’s what I think of you,” she said, kicking me a bunch more. “Sexually, you’re real indiscriminate, which I don’t respect, and your code of honor is just balls.”
Then she shook my hand. “I guess we have to be teammates.”
“I guess we do,” I said, then checked out her body, because even though I’m the only hope any of us have it doesn’t mean I don’t have time to enjoy a shapely set of thighs meeting up with her torso.
She roundhouse kicked me in the face again. “Let’s get one thing straight. I’m the strongest person there is, for vague and shadowy reasons, so if anyone ever beats me up, you know things are getting pretty serious, and also I’d rather do this alone, but I can’t right now. Also, we’ll never kiss, you and I.” She leaned in until we were almost kissing but we totally weren’t. “We’ll never ever even kiss one time.”
I rubbed my jaw. The bruises would look good with my stubble, on my face, for women to look at. I’ve had a lot of experience, sexually, and I don’t need friends.
Everyone was beating up the strong woman. Things must be getting pretty serious. They beat her up something awful. She looked terrible.
“I’ll join you,” said the real serious guy, “but only so I can kill for my revenge.”
“Okay,” I said. “I don’t really care. I don’t have a lot personally invested in this team so I guess anyone can join because it’s not like we’re real close.”
The strong woman roundhouse kicked me in the face. “Cut it out, I said.”
“My wife and children are dead,” he said. “They’re so dead it’s terrible. I’ve been married fourteen times and every time I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful son and as soon as they start walking and talking my enemy shows up and he just tortures and rapes and murders the hell out of them.”
“Just the hell out of them,” he added, almost crying. “For a while I thought I should stop getting married, but I promised my wife I would keep living.”
The strong woman accidentally roundhouse kicked his son in the face.
“My son is dead,” he cried, then pulled out a notebook. “I have to make a note of who killed which son, otherwise I’ll forget.”
“For revenge,” he added, then started doing pushups.
I had to go do the Awful Thing alone now, which would definitely kill me.
“You’re not alone,” someone said behind me. I turned around, and it was that guy who never trusted anybody and was only in it for the money.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “The last time I saw you, you said I was crazy.”
“I still think you’re crazy,” he said, and my heart sank.
“Then you definitely won’t want to help me do the Awful Thing now,” I said, “if you think I’m crazy.”
“But I do,” he said, “even though it’s crazy.”
“What?!?!” I said. “That doesn’t make sense.” It didn’t. But we did the Awful Thing together, and nobody died at all.
“You can’t come in,” the nurse of frowning said. “Family only.”
All of us stepped forward and linked arms at the same time until we formed a ragtag human chain that surrounded the entire hospital and extended out even into the parking lot.
“We are family,” we said in a single voice, all at the same time even, we hadn’t even practiced that part but it just worked out that way, and so the nurse changed hospital regulations right there on the spot for us, in honor of the connection we had formed together, because we weren’t just teammates anymore, we were a family.
Even the guy who had always said he was only in it for the money came back at the last second.
“You said you were just in it for the money!” I said.
“You’re all idiots and I don’t care about you even a little bit at all,” he said, but know we all knew he was kidding and we wouldn’t believe it when he told us he only cared about the money in the future.
“You know, in a weird way, it’s almost like all of you are my family,” I said. The strong woman, who was usually very literal and also we made out that one time, didn’t understand.
“But we’re not related by blood,” she said.
“Yes,” said the revenge man, “I have no blood relatives at all. My people were all destroyed. This is why I seek revenge.”
“I know,” I said, “but it’s almost like we’re family anyway. Without the blood.”
“I just want money,” said the money guy, but everyone knew what he really meant, and we all laughed.
“You’re my boss now,” said the strong woman, who was really loyal to me now. “You’re the boss of this family.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.