“Bear claw and vanilla blended frappuccino for...” The barista paused, turning the paper cup to read the name written on the side. “Baker?”
Rex Baker raised his hand, politely pushing his way through the small crowd of patrons at the Thanks A Latte coffeehouse. The coffee and pastry had become something of a morning ritual for Rex over the last month. It was nice to have a routine again. After being on the run for six months, Rex considered himself lucky if he was able to sit down and finish a meal at all.
He claimed a small table at the far side of the room and sat down, opening his newspaper up. No sooner than he took one bite of his pastry did he feel a sense of unease. It started as a tingle at the back of his head. Then a feeling of impending dread washed over him. He’d experienced it enough to know something was wrong.
Though everyone focused on mind control, one of the other aspects of his psychic abilities was empathy. He could feel the intentions of others. Both positive and negative. In the short time that he had learned he possessed his powers, he’d trained himself to “sniff out” trouble. Not only did it help him stay a step ahead of the people chasing him, sometimes it allowed Rex to avert crises before they even began.
Rex scanned the crowd. No one in particular stood out. He thought it might have just been a false alarm when he heard a woman scream. The crowd near the bar scrambled and scattered away from a haggard-looking man with a gun. He’d pulled a bandana up over his mouth and nose (pointlessly, the security camera had already clocked him as soon as he walked in) and fired off a shot into the ceiling.
“All the money in the register!” He shouted at one of the baristas behind the bar. A frightened, twenty-something woman frantically hurried to open the register as the man waved his gun in the air. “...And a pumpkin spice latte!”
“W-w-we don’t have those right now. We’re all out.” She whimpered.
He frantically looked at one of the other baristas. She just nodded and shrugged. All of the customers had frozen and gone silent out of fear so when Rex casually stood up, there were a few audible gasps. Telepathically, he calmly assured them all he had no intention of getting anyone killed.
He took a step forward and the would-be robber whipped around. He turned towards Rex and made the mistake of looking him square in the eye.
“...And I think it was right after I turned thirteen when my life sort of, I don’t know, went in the wrong direction, I guess? I came home from school one day and my mom told me the stray dog I brought home had run away but I found out later that she had it put to sleep. That was probably the moment my life went downhill, I suppose.”
Paragon City police officers arrived on the scene to find Rex sitting with the man who’d attempted to rob the coffeehouse, spilling his guts. All the patrons had relaxed by this point and resumed either ordering or eating. Rex took one last bite of his bear claw and stood up.
“Alright well you, y'know, tell the officers all you told me.” Rex ordered through a full mouth. He patted the robber on the shoulder as he pushed his chair out and stood, brushing crumbs off his chest. He straightened his shirt, and wiped his mouth before he shook hands with the police officers on his way out. As he wrapped his scarf around his neck and exited the building he overheard one of the officers ask his partner, “Who robs a coffeehouse, honestly.”
“Thanks A Latte, come again!” the barista yelled chipperly and waved at Rex on his way out.