Sherman was minding his own business, having lunch that day. He wasn't even in the Neutral Zone; the part of town where both sides could meet and interact without flexing their muscles or wearing name badges or (God fobid) strutting around in spandex. It was just lunch at Manny's Old-Time Deli on 51st Street.
He wasn't wearing his costume, not even under his street clothes. That was being repaired at the tailors after his fight the previous day with Gorilla Grant. To be honest, Sherman hated his costume. He felt that he looked like a tarted-up stage magician, if such a thing was possible, but he knew how the schtick was supposed to work and knew what the public expected.
He thought about Freddie Mills, probably the most powerful mind controller he'd ever met in his life. Freddie was smart, talented, and a great martial artist. Too bad he was fat. Looked like shit in spandex, so no one would sponsor him. Freddie made his living stealing corporate secrets for major conglomerates. Pity.
"Hey, hey, hey! Sherman!" came the obnoxious voice behind him. Sherman didn't even need his powers to know who it was. There was no other voice like that in the world.
"Hello, Arthur," Sherman sighed, still eating his Reuben and not looking up. "What brings you out this way? Slumming?"
"Don't be like that," Arthur said, sitting down beside the glum-looking Sherman and plopping his roast beef on rye on the table with a bag of chips. "I'm not looking for trouble. I'm just having a sandwich here, same as you."
"I'm surprised you're out of the Neutral Zone after that jewelry store heist you pulled last week," Sherman commented. He took his last potato chip and crunched into it. "I saw your escape and your fight with Gray Panthra on the news for days afterwards."
"That wasn't me," Arthur insisted, unwrapping his sandwich. "It was probably Domino or Copycat."
"Sure it was, Arthur," Sherman said. "You kicked Panthra in the gut pretty hard when she wasn't looking. If Gloria sees you again, she's going to make you cough up those jewels through your trachea."
"Gloria needs to get laid," Arthur said, shrugging. He opened his bag of chips. "Everyone knows Overlord dropped her because he's really gay and is tired of hiding it."
"Gary's not gay!" Sherman exclaimed. "Where'd you hear a dumb-ass rumor like that? I was riding the back of his mind last week when he nailed Golden Sparrow in her hideout. They've been meeting on the sly for weeks, and she wasn't moaning because he couldn't perform, I'll tell ya that."
Arthur made a face as he swallowed his first bite. "You know what pisses me off the most about you, Sherman? You always have to bring up the fact that you can do that and I can't.
"Pass the mustard, dickweed."
The Mental Giant handed him the mustard. "I thought you weren't looking for trouble," Sherman said, grinning. He always got a special enjoyment out of getting Black Mind's goat.
"I'm not," Arthur said testily as he applied a gob of mustard to his sandwich. "But just because you can ride around in someone's head like an unseen voyeur doesn't mean that you're better at mind control than I am. It's just a twist of fate that you have that ability, nothing more."
"It also doesn't mean that I'm as piss-poor at MC as you are. Besides, neither one of us can hold a candle to Freddy Mills."
"Freddy's the best," Arthur agreed.
"But looks shit in spandex," they both said together and laughed.
"Want to put it to the test?" Arthur whispered conspiratorially.
"What, here?" Sherman said. "No can do. My property damage insurance is through the roof after that big crossover fight we all had over Time Square last month."
Arthur took another bite. "Yeah, mine too. They dropped me. I had to find a new carrier."
Sherman leaned forward. "What'd you have in mind then?" he whispered.
"Just the people here," Arthur said, looking around the crowded deli. "Let's see who has the most finesse. No one will know."
"I don't know..." Sherman said. "If the Lancer finds out, he'll blab to the whole Legion of Peace and they'll put me on suspension. Not that some of them haven't done worse, but if it makes it to the news, the city makes the LP come down hard on the offender. You know what an uptight asshole the Lancer is."
Arthur rolled his eyes. "Tell me about it. Still, a little test. See that waitress over there?" he asked, pointing to a tall, thin young girl with a surprisingly large set of breasts.
The waitress suddenly stopped taking an elderly couple's order and looked up. Her eyes became milky white; no pupils or irises at all. They glowed slightly and drool ran down her chin. She smiled an empty, vacant smile then walked over to stand before the two superhumans and started taking her top off.
Sherman quickly set up mental screens so none of the other patrons could see it. He also put up a shield so no passersby would want to walk into the restaurant. "Damn," he whispered at the Black Mind. "Give a guy some warning next time, will ya?"
Arthur grinned. "That's the point. You got those shields up fast, but I knew you would. Well played!"
The waitress dropped her pink blouse with the name tag on it to the floor and unhooked her bra. She started rubbing her nipples. She sighed and continued to smile.
"Thanks" Sherman said, "but one waitress?"
.... There is more of this story ...