Moss Man entered NoPE Bar and joined his friends. “Tony, set up a round of shots for me and my posse. Lapis Platinum Tequila.”

Tony grabbed the requested bottle and prepared the shots. “Successful day?”

Moss Man laughed. “You could say that. When Ice gets here, if he gets here, give him a shot too. He’ll need it.”

Wolfe downed his shot and said, “Smooth.” He drew out the word, giving it the sound of a howl.

“The finer things are wasted on you.” Stretch finished his shot and used his elastic arm to return the shot to the bar. “Very nice. A hint of honey and agave flavor with a pepper finish. Excellent choice, Mossy.”

“Don’t call me Mossy.” Moss Man turned on Stretch.

While the villains argued, Tony picked up the shot glass and cleaned it. At least they were happy. They tended to be cranky when they lost. The heroes weren’t much better, but at least they were politely unhappy. No one made too big a mess though. Tony’s uncle, a norm like Tony, had managed to get his bar declared a CFZ. A conflict free zone meant no one could use their powers within a mile of the bar, hence the bar’s name. NoPE stood for No Powers Ever. Real estate around a CFZ went for top dollar. Tony still didn’t know how his uncle, Big Ben, managed to acquire the much coveted CFZ status.

Tony placed the glass on the counter and moved his finger to the panic button when Ice, Blaise, and Bulldozer walked in. The bar might be a CFZ, but heroes and villains sometimes forgot the niceties when angry or injured. While they would pay immediately for any damages it would still mean lost revenue for the bar.

Bulldozer grinned and helped an injured Ice into a chair. “No worries, Tony. We’re just here to drink.”

“Good man, keep your mind on your drinking.” Big Ben walked past and patted Bulldozer on the shoulder. As he walked past the villains, he tossed them a paper. “First round is on the house. You guys put my bar on the cover today.”

Wolfe grabbed the paper and howled. “Man, I even make the newspaper look good.” He turned the front page around to show a picture of him jumping off the third story building and landing on a bus. The picture took up half the front page. A smaller picture showed the trio walking into Big Bruce’s bar.

Fire danced on Blaise’s skin. “That bus you landed on had a class of preschoolers. You scared them. Pick a better target next time.”

“You’re the hero darlin’. Protect the bystanders.” Wolfe grabbed another shot and howled his approval.

“Easy, lass,” Bulldozer said. “He’s just trying to stoke your flame.”

“Yeah, Bull, I know.” Blaise calmed herself and the flames disappeared. She eyed the shots Tony placed on their table. “What’s this?”

Tony shrugged. “Compliments of Moss Man.”

Ice sputtered, “Why that –”

“Easy, boy.” Bull used his impressive bulk to keep Ice in his seat. “Keep the icicles to yourself.” Still holding Ice in place, Bull downed his shot. “If you don’t want yours, I’ll drink it. Mossy sprang for the good stuff.”

“Don’t call me Mossy.” He eyed the three shots and said, “I said give Ice a shot. Not the whole crew.”

Tony shrugged. “I thought you wouldn’t mind since you had a good day and they look a little worse for wear.”

Wolfe howled with laughter.

More flash fiction by N. R. Tucker.

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