The crown of Cooper's mass of jet black curls bobs as Cooper introduces him to "the group". Constantine has never been part of "a group."
He understands from Cooper's tone of voice that people will be depending on him, and of course, that Constantine is a very smart and capable person. Which Constantine himself had suspected all along-but, it's nice to finally have some confirmation. They're in a big room-a conference room. From left to right is pale bald man with suit, reddish bald man with flannel and jeans, chubby long-haired guy, serious middle-aged lady. They all stare at Constantine, and then back at Cooper's squat form, which is gesticulating wildly. "Yeah, Constantine was great at those old arcade games," Cooper intones, his brown eyes seeming to break free from their laughlines for just an instant. "Nowadays, if you're good at games, they probably just call you a nerd-" Faint laughter from the audience, especially the long-haired guy, which makes Constantine feel a little bit indifferent. Kid probably doesn't even know who Pac-Man is.
"-but back then, we had a name for guys like Connie. He was a video game WIZARD."
It comes back to Constantine, but with too much chroma...the slick-dressed man holding the microphone is swimming in nauseating brightness, soft around the edges. The man is mantled by hard ball lights which cut a sharp outline around him. Constantine feels tiny next to the man and the huge, blinking set.
"So, we are here today with a young man from San Antonio, Texas, Constantine Atkins. And Constantine, you're here to challenge our Video Master in what game?"
"Missile Command," Now-Constantine mouths along with Then-Constantine.
"And why don't you tell our audience what Missile Command is?"
"It's this game where you have to stop the cities of the Earth from being destroyed by alien missles."
"And how do you do that?"
"You have to fire these missle...uh, anti-missles, up at the sky and protect your-"
"-Sounds just like Star Wars!" The slick-dressed man, the host, interrupts. Then-Constantine was horrified when this actually happened. But Now-Constantine has played this moment over in his head so many times that it's become part of the canon, an irreversible Something That Had To Happen.
"Now-if you'll follow me, Mr. Atkins, we'll go down to the Master's Lair and see what game he's chosen for Round Two."
"-And he wore this suit, that was supposed to be futuristic, because he was the 'VIDEO MASTER', but it just looked silly, even for the time, like, a lot of gold trim, -" Now-Constantine is apparently giving a speech, which surprises him because he was in the middle of spying on Then-Constantine.
He blinks and sees a group of humans sitting across the table. They are quiet-some of them actually listening, he can tell. He realizes that this is the longest time he's spoken with someone outside of his family in quite some time. Then he starts to hear them hum of the air conditioner again, and parts of his body begin to itch...his brain playing tricks on him, perceiving more than he can handle, handling more than he can perceive...
They're applauding? Cooper puts a hand on Constantine's back, easing him into his seat. "All right, so that's Connie, our video game wizard. He made that title official back in 1982 when he beat the Video Master on national TV. The Wizard's gonna be working with us from now on, as a test pilot. With his brain, we're not gonna make any more of those nasty mistakes we made on those other subjects!"
Cooper spits the last line jovially, but no one laughs. If Constantine was paying attention to anything other than the flourescent light reflections off his own fingernails, he may have seen cause to worry...