Waking up the next morning was a confusing ordeal. Her stomach rumbled something fierce, and her mind felt fatigued, yet light and clear at the same time. Such a contradiction was difficult to explain properly. Riley didn't want to open her eyes, feeling warm and content against the soft thing she was laying on.
Soft. And comfortable. But…didn't she fall asleep on the sand? It should feel coarse and irritating against her face. Whatever she was underneath was smooth and warm, but Riley felt another flash of fatigue, and couldn't must enough energy to care.
Perhaps another half hour or half a day went by, before something pulled her back into consciousness. She still refused to open her eyes, too content to just lay there, but now whatever she was laying on was moving, up and down. It wouldn't let her go back to sleep, so she blearily rubbed and eye and cracked it open.
Wrench's chest continued its slow rise and fall, which Riley's cheek was pushed against. Her eyes widened, and she scrambled to sit up. Wrench stirred from sleep at her rapid movement, but simply shifted his arm and head, quickly going back to his subconscious.
Riley felt an immediate chill in the air, her outfit not helping much against the early morning desert temperatures. The fire they'd been sitting besides had died out and was a pile of gray ash now, offering no help.
Trying to smooth down her skirt, she felt her cheeks flaming. Had she been sprawling over Wrench all night? Did he know? What would he think? God, this was embarrassing. She placed a hand on her head, expecting to have a raging headache from the shrooms, but she felt fine. And, she could still remember the events of the previous night, also something unexpected.
She bit her lip, remembering Wrench kneeling over her and staring into her face. She remembered the heart icons, and wondered as to their meaning. Were they anything substantial, or was it just the shrooms messing with his emotions? Is that how shrooms worked? Riley wasn't altogether sure. Then another thought sprang up. Shit, would he remember anything either? Would it make it awkward between the two of them? That was the absolute last thing she wanted.
Riley debated whether she should let the masked man sleep some more or try to start getting everyone together to go home. They all came in the same vehicle, so it'd be difficult to coordinate. Maybe they hadn't thought this all through.
Before she could make a decision, Wrench stirred again, this time groaning and sitting himself up from the sand. "Ah…fuck me." He muttered, just loud enough for her to hear. His mask displayed two angry or pained slashes, before returning to the default Xs.
"You alright?" She asked, catching his attention.
"Yeah, just…need a sec." He groaned, stretching out his limbs slowly. Then he reached down to get all the sand off of his legs. "Fucking sand…"
Riley couldn't help but smile. "I don't like it either. It's rough and coarse and irritating…and it gets everywhere." He froze, a deadpan expression on his mask, and Riley shrugged, unable to prevent the laugh that burst forth. "Admit it. If you had seen the same opportunity, you would have taken it too."
Wrench thought about it, then shrugged. "Yeah, probably. Anyways," he stood, brushing away as much of the grainy sand as he could from his exposed legs, "why don't we find the others?"
Holy fuck, what had he done? Sober Wrench really wanted to punch High Wrench right now, because Jesus Fucking Christ, what the hell had he been thinking? He tried playing it cool as he walked beside Riley, but internally was panicking.
Did she resent him? Were things going to be awkward from here? Maybe if he didn't bring it up, Wrench could pretend none of last night even happened. The shrooms had the usual effect of heightening his emotions, but he hadn't expected them to heighten…those emotions. He recalled kneeling over her in the sand, their faces close together, and she had that thrilled little smile going. Of course, for him at the time, her eyes had been constellations of stars and the rest of her some mythical being he couldn't put a name to, but that was besides the point.
Riley hadn't pushed him away, but that could mean anything. Maybe to her, he'd been some supermodel hunk wearing nothing but a loincloth, or some fantastical colored illusion that had caught her eyes. Was she even aware it had been Wrench? What had Riley seen? Because he distinctly recalled her eager smile and wide eyes. Damn him, he really wanted to know, but knew it would be a mistake to ask.
He had to settle for thinking over the whole night in his head. If she didn't bring it up, neither would he.
They walked through the morning remains of the festival. Several people were strewn about the path, and along the lines of tents and RVs. In the daytime, everything looked rather plain, no colored and strobing lights to give it it's effect. The tents were quiet and closed, giving the occupants their privacy. Riley thought to check her phone as they went, seeing a text from Marcus.
"Left with Ray. Long story. I'll see you back at the hackerspace later."
"Looks like Marcus left without us." Riley mentioned, gesturing with her phone to indicate he'd texted her. They carefully stepped over the sleeping form of one of the festival attendees.
He nodded. "Sounds about right. The guy's a chick magnet. Can't go to a party without at least a chance of him going home with someone."
Riley let out an amused huff. "He went with Ray."
"Oh." Wrench paused, trying to think of something to say. "He seems a bit…old for Marcus, but I mean if that's what he's into then…"
"Come on, I'm sure he didn't mean it that way." Riley shoved him playfully in the arm, and Wrench flashed her a wink.
"You're so easy to tease, though. Honestly. Make it a bit harder and I might not do it as much."
She rolled her eyes. "No, then you'd just see it as a challenge and do it more."
"…" Wrench seemed to think about that for a moment, finally pointing a finger gun at her. "Touché."
They laughed between themselves, coming across the first of their missing friends. Sitara was laying on top of a concrete pillar several feet up. A handful of other people they didn't recognize were sleeping haphazardly around t. Her legs dangled down over the side, and her wings were tossed onto the ground. It must have been uncomfortable to sleep with them on.
"Sitara!" Wrench sang out, reaching over and shaking her shoulder. "Wakey, wakey!"
"Ugh…" She groaned, swatting Wrench's hand away while her eyes were still closed. "Is it morning already?"
"You know it, so let's get the hell out of here already." He replied, stooping to pick up her wings from the ground. She eased up, gladly accepting her accessory back while she rubbed her eyes.
"Anyone seen Josh?" She asked, glancing around for any sign of the hacker. He wasn't a part of the various people sleeping around her, so Riley ventured out and tried searching for him.
She didn't want to yell out him name, knowing she'd probably wake up a few people along the way, and he might not even be conscious anyway to respond. It would be a waste of breath.
After several minutes, Riley hadn't seen any sign of the hacker, before Sitara shouted out into the air. She turned and headed her way, finally coming upon Wrench and Sitara shaking Josh awake. He was laying facedown next to a large sculpture of something, perhaps what he was staring at all night long.
"Come on, Josh. Time to get up."
He blinked a few times, finally squinting into the bright morning light. Without a word, he slowly stood and brushed himself off. They were all still somewhat tired, but at least they were in one piece and together again.
As one, they walked towards the entrance of the festival, passing through the large wooden gates again, and found the van right where they'd parked it. The doors were still unlocked, and they started piling in. Suddenly, Sitara stopped, sighing heavily.
"Marcus had the keys." She voiced her realization, but Wrench didn't skip a beat.
"I'll just hotwire it. We'll be fine." He wandered around to the driver's side, Sitara stepped aside for him, and he knelt down to inspect below the driving console. Riley watched from her seat in the second row as he pulled out a panel and began separating wires from within.
Perhaps she should have been concerned with how quickly he was able to actually get it to work, but the van's engine sputtered to life after only a few minutes. Wrench gave a dramatic bow, and they piled into the van.
Riley took up her seat in the middle again, but this time Josh took the passenger seat up front with Wrench. Sitara scooted in next to Riley and leaned back in the seat, closing her eyes with content.
"What I wouldn't give for a cheeseburger right now…" She muttered, and Riley was reminded of just how hungry she also was. Then, the memory of driving for at least an hour came back to her mind, and she groaned.
It was going to be a long drive home.
Wrench drove them all the way back to the hackerspace, and Josh and Sitara clambered out of the van. Wrench twisted in his seat and regarded Riley. "I'm guessing you don't have a change of clothes here. You want me to take you home?"
Riley smiled gratefully, glad she wouldn't have to take a bus back in her outfit as it was. "If you would, I'd be super appreciative."
"You got it."He said enthusiastically, offering her another wink. Her smile widened. That wink was adorable. Wrench let Sitara and Josh walk away from the van before he pulled back into traffic, off towards the direction of her house.
"What did you think of Swelter Skelter?" He asked suddenly, watching her in the rearview mirror. She was in the process of getting her hair back in order, but failing miserably without a comb.
"It was awesome! Wasn't quite expecting the whole shrooms thing but…not as bad as I expected."
"Yeah, well," Wrench shrugged, focusing back on traffic, "I hope you didn't feel like you had to."
"I didn't." She assured, shaking her head rapidly. "I decided for myself, without anyone else's influence. Don't feel bad if that's what this is."
"If you say so." He said, taking them through a left turn.
Riley raised a brow, unable to help the fact that her mouth twitched upwards in doing so. "I do say so."
The drive to her house was short. There wasn't too many people up this early on a Saturday, leaving the streets a lot emptier than usual. In no time, Wrench was pulling the van into one of the parking spots in front of her apartment building.
Throwing it into park, Wrench turned to regard her again. "Alright, you got everything?"
"Uh, yeah." Riley checked around the van just in case, spotting a pile of clothes that looked very similar to Wrench's at the back. She pointed to them. "Are those yours?"
"Huh?" He propped himself higher, trying to see what she was referring to. "Oh, yeah. I'll change once I get back to my garage." He reached behind him and tried wiggling his fingers under the shoulder pads. "I swear there's still sand in here somewhere, and don't even get me started on this jockstrap…"
Riley was somehow able to not blush at that last comment, reminded of what he was wearing. "If you want, you could change at my place. I mean, if you don't want to wear that all the way to your garage…" She offered, shrugging to indicate it wasn't a big deal.
Wrench's mask displayed exclamation points, but he nodded anyway. "Sure, if you're cool with that."
Riley was the first out of the van, grabbing his clothes since they were right there. Wrench left the van running, knowing he'd have to hotwire it again otherwise. Besides, her apartment was in a pretty good neighborhood. There was little risk of it being stolen.
Riley gave him his clothes and lead them to the third floor. They arrived at her door, and she fumbled with the keys, before finally getting the damn things in the lock. She opened the door, fully anticipating the loud greeting she received from Pants.
He meowed rudely, and she knew he was pissed that he hadn't been fed on time twice in a row now. This was not how a cat was supposed to be treated, according to him. Riley stepped past him and glanced at Wrench, who was glaring daggers at the feline. She frowned.
"Are you allergic to cats? I probably should have mentioned that…"
"No." He said shortly, crossing his arms and keeping away from Pants. "Animals just aren't my thing."
"Oh." She said, not expecting that revelation. Well, better to just keep him out of the way for the time being. In the meantime, she pointed towards the bathroom in the hallway. "You can change in there. There's towels on the rack too, if you're feeling a shower or anything."
"Thanks." He said, his happy expression returning and going where instructed. It was a little humorous to see him sidestep Pants like he was the plague. The door closed and locked behind him.
Riley walked over and picked Pants up, ignoring his outraged meows of protest when she headed towards the laundry room instead of the kitchen. "Oh, calm down, I'll feed you soon." She muttered, placing him on the ground and quickly closing the door behind her so he couldn't get out.
Her next destination was her bedroom, and she quickly changed into lounge pants and a t-shirt. It felt so nice to get out of her dress and wrap shoes. They'd quickly began to hurt because of their lack of support, and the dress was much too airy for her liking for long periods of time.
Riley walked back to the kitchen, and she heard the shower going within the bathroom. She smiled, glad he felt comfortable enough to do so. Her stomach grumbled and she debated what to make for breakfast. The clock displayed that it was about noon, so more like lunch than breakfast.
The sound of a grilled cheese sandwich was heavenly right at that moment, so she set to work on making one. Riley stopped, wondering if Wrench would want one, or if he'd want to keep his face hidden still. Hmm. She'd ask once he got out. Grabbing all the ingredients, she set to work.
Her grilled cheese was still cooking when the sound of the shower cut off, and Riley was in the process of transferring it over to a plate by the time the bathroom door opened. Wrench stepped out dressed in his usual hoodie and spiked vest, a pair or ripped and stained jeans covering his legs. She was much more used to this image of him, rather than the spiked thong he'd sported the day before.
"Don't be surprised if your tub is full of sand." He joked, placing his Swelter Skelter outfit on her table and walking into the kitchen to greet her. She smiled.
"Eh, if it doesn't now it definitely will after I take a shower." She set her grilled cheese aside and held up the pan. "I was gonna ask. Were you hungry? I can make you something if you'd like."
Wrench waved a dismissive hand, but in as polite a way as he could. "A kind thought, but I'm good." He said, eyes drifting to the living room. Her shelf of movies was on full display, and he went over to inspect them.
Riley knew for sure it was because of the mask, but she wouldn't say anything. That was his choice. She shrugged and gave a reassuring smile, taking a bite out of her lunch while wandering closer. "Don't judge my movie tastes."
"Judge? Are you kidding? These are great." He said, fingering through a few. "I mean…The Warriors, Mad Max, Night of The Living Dead, Buckaroo Banzai…" He grabbed one out of the stab, showing her the case, the heart icons appearing once again. "Predator."
Riley laughed, shaking her head. "Of course you'd grab that one." Then she shrugged, a smug expression settling on her features. "I like to think I'm a bit of a classic movie collector. Classic, as in, top-notch quality."
"Hell yeah." He agreed, putting it back and straightening again. He looked around her living room. "You said you've lived here a year?"
He gestured to the walls. "No posters? No pictures? Do you just not like decorating?"
Riley herself examined the walls, seeming to realize for the first time that she hadn't really done anything to make the room look better. It was mostly functional. The only place in her apartment that contained something personal was her room. And most of those things were stuffed away in her closet.
"Well…I've been working, mostly. Haven't had time to do anything with the place." Then she shrugged, looking away. "And what's the point now? I'll be leaving in a month or so…"
"…" Wrench said nothing, eyes glancing around the room for something to talk about. "I mean, you don't have to leave. You could find a place to work for in San Fransisco." He finally offered, turning towards her with question marks in his eyes.
She shrugged, uncertain. "Maybe…"
Wrench's mask went back to the default Xs, and he nodded slowly. "Well, just think about it. I should go, though. Lots of things to do-"
"Lots of things to destroy?" She guessed, and he gathered up his stuff, shooting her another wink.
"You know me so well."
The brunette walked him to the door, opening it for him. "I'll see you around?"
"See ya, Riley." He bid, walking off down the set of stairs. After a moment, the brunette shut the door again, leaning against it for several seconds. Riley sighed, unable to shake the feeling that she had ruined the conversation somehow. There was an underlying disappointment in the way he'd said goodbye. Damn.
There was no helping it now, she Riley went off to take a shower of her own, thinking maybe washing herself would help her mood a little. She felt grimy and sweaty.ns 22.214.171.124da2