It didn't take much to realize that Wrench was bored. Like, extremely bored. Way more than usual. Marcus had been glancing at him from his peripherals from time to time while he and Sitara had been going over their follower counts. The hacker was sprawled out on the couch at the hackerspace, leg dangling down over the wood of the armrest and tapping his foot in random patterns while silently, almost dejectedly, watching Predator from the many tv screens on the wall.
Normally, Wrench watching Predator would mean he was just in the mood for movies. Hell, the guy watched it about two times a week on average. That wasn't the issue. Noticing he didn't quote all of the best, iconic lines of dialogue? That was suspicious. It was hard getting him not to repeat them for the zillionth time, usually. Nine times out of ten followed up by Ray's snarky 'for the love of god, please shut the fuck up!'
"Uh, hello?" Sitara asked gently, waving a hand in front of his face. One brow was raised in question. "Earth to Marcus?"
The hacker snapped out of his staring and looked back at her. "Everything alright?" She followed up.
"Uh, yeah…sorry, just…worried."
"Worried? We've been on a positive trend for over a month. You think we'll hit a rut?" She asked with a raised brow, before seeing his meaningful glance over at their masked friend. Understanding dawned in her expression. "Ah."
"Mhmm." Marcus said with a grimace of uncertainty.
Sitara set her tablet down and leaned against her printing machine with one arm. "The guy's been pretty mellow while Riley's been away."
"I guess, but…" Marcus trailed off, "I don't think that's it entirely." He looked back at her with guilty look. "I feel bad we haven't spent as much time together as we used to. Maybe he feels sidelined because I've been hanging out with you all the time."
Sitara watched as he almost hesitantly looked her way, as if she'd be angry for saying such things. While it was true she'd enjoyed having the majority of Marcus' attention on her since their little…whatever this was…began, she wasn't petty enough to be angry that he wanted to spend some time with his best friend. Just by Wrench's behavior over the past week, she figured the guy was itching to do something with his hands, but didn't know what. Surely having Marcus around would boost his spirits, and Marcus wouldn't feel guilty about abandoning his friend. It was a win-win.
The female hacker smiled, patting his arm affectionately, but discreetly. Ray was here in the hackerspace for once, after all. And they all knew he sucked at keeping juicy drama secret between the rest of the group. They weren't ready to call this a relationship, but wanted to see how it went first, without the rest of the group nosing their way in.
"Go on, go do something. We can finish this up later." She turned off the screen of the tablet and hugged it close to her chest.
Marcus' eyebrows raised, and he tilted his chin down. "You sure?" She'd been adamant that they go over their numbers and really figure out what their next best target would be. After finishing Tidis' operation a few days ago, they'd stalled, not sure who to target next.
Sitara nodded, waving him away dismissively. "The last thing I want is Wrench getting bored enough to rig something in the hackerspace with explosives. Go break shit somewhere else and spend time with him. Take his mind off of whatever he's brooding about."
Marcus mulled over the possibility and decided that yes, he could stoop to that level if left to his own devices long enough, so he gave her an appreciative nod and wandered over towards his friend.
"Yo, get your ass up. We're going out." Wrench heard Marcus say, feeling his leg kicked off the wood arm rest of the couch and fall to the ground. The hacker moved to stand in front of the tv screen that the masked man had distractedly been zoning out to, preventing him from seeing the next part. He sat up reluctantly, looking back at his friend with bewilderment.
"Out? On a mission?"
"Nah, something fun." Was his grinning reply.
Wrench's mask perked up with his signature happy expression, excited at the prospect of something to do, and he stood from the couch hastily. "Sweet! What have you got in mind?"
"I've got no idea." Marcus chuckled. "Feel like doing anything in particular?"
"Hmm…" Wrench hummed, scratching his neck beneath his mask. He'd been sitting there wondering what he could do anyway, and having Marcus there with him made it all the more fun. Suddenly, so many more possibilities opened up before him.
"I've got a few things in mind." Wrench finally said in a tone that left Marcus wondering if he'd regret this decision at the end of the night. Chances were? He sure would, but it'd be worth it in the end.
Marcus ducked beneath the half-wall that was covered in fake camouflage and other stereotypical army graffiti. It wasn't much, but it was something. Puffing out in heavy pants from running across the clearing like his life depended on it, his breath fogged up the glass of his mask. The visor had splotches of paint in the corners from where a few shots had grazed it, but the rest of his vision was relatively clear.
The short, thin sounds of paintball gunshots filled the air around him, followed by distant yelling and grunts of pain when one hit a particularly vulnerable patch of flesh. Marcus ducked down a few more inches, hoping his head wasn't above the line of sight of the wall. The other team was rather aggressive this time around, but that only added to the fun. He liked a challenge.
Clutching the paintball gun in his own hands a bit tighter, he scooted a few feet to the left, before daring a peek around the corner to the other side of the field. Scattered walls and giant tire stacks, wooden towers and other areas of cover littered the ground, members of both teams dodging and weaving in between them on occasion. Marcus gave them a cursory glance of acknowledgement, but was focused on another person, who had up until that point been mysteriously missing.
Where the hell was Wrench? The few shots he'd taken were all by different strangers also playing the field that day using paints of red and green color, but Marcus knew Wrench was using blue paint. Not even a few pop shots had been sent his way yet.
The hacker ducked back around the wall when shots close by started ringing. A few hit the wall several feet back and to the left of him. They splattered against the wood. Green. Still not Wrench. The absence of his friend so far in this game was worrying, because he was expecting a full-out frontal assault from the anarchist, not this waiting game. It made him sweat nervously.
Figuring that trying to locate one player out of the bunch would take all of his focus, Marcus shook his head and popped up over the wall to take shots on the enemy player currently watching his position. The gun vibrated in his hand, sending small pellets of paint towards the opponent, and Marcus ducked back down quick enough to avoid any returning fire.
He repeated the movement, having seen exactly where the other player had been standing. As soon as he saw a sign of movement, he shot several rounds, pelting the guy on his shoulder pads and chest. The guy staggered back and dropped down again. Marcus did too, smirking to himself in satisfaction. There was something about hitting your target that just left you feeling so-
A loud war cry behind him made him turn, but by then it was already too late. A wave of blue pellet balls splattered Marcus over and over again before he could bring his gun up to return fire. Marcus fell to the ground and squirmed, shouting out when the shots hit between the armored parts of his body.
"Wrench! Alright!" He called, holding up his hands to ward off the shots, which only ended up causing the palms of his gloves to be splattered with paint. "Stop!"
Finally, Wrench relented and stood there proudly, holding his paintball gun over his shoulder as he gazed down at his friend. It was still trippy to see him in a mask other than his LED spiked one, giving Marcus a view of his blue eyes underneath. Which were crinkled in mirth right now.
Marcus, who was nearly entirely blue now, stood shakily to his feet and held out his arms to look at himself. His arms and legs stung like a bitch. "Really?" He asked in exasperation from behind the mask. He could barely see out of it, and wiped one glove across the surface. The paint smeared annoyingly, and it took a few tries before he could see past visor clearly again.
Wrench laughed and shrugged. "That's what you get for ignoring me for like 2 weeks. You know I'm an attention whore, Marky Mark."
"Yeah, I think I get that now." His friend said with mock anger. Shaking his head, Marcus picked his gun back up and shot Wrench in the exposed part of his shoulder. It splattered with orange, and he jumped in place.
"The hell?" Wrench cried out.
Marcus grinned, but he knew his friend couldn't see it behind the mask. "For shooting me so many times. That was way past overkill and you know it. And for ditching me when you first start chasing Riley. You disappeared on me too, man. Just making us even."
"That's…a fair point." Wrench conceded, shaking out his arm to get the feeling back.
Suddenly the air between them whooshed past as pellets were shot in their direction. Both hackers dove to regain the cover behind the wall, shoulder to shoulder.
"Alright, what say we gang up on the rest of these fuckers?" Wrench suggested, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Sounds like a plan." Marcus agreed, a rush of excitement running through his veins. 2 against 18? Those were some nice odds.
The rest of the day was spent hitting some of Wrench's favorite haunts. The pawn shops he frequented to find parts for his crazy inventions, the pier to feed the birds, while hoping that they'd poop on passersby nearby, and even the best taco place in town for dinner. They'd both been craving some tacos all day.
Armed with their Mexican food dinner, and several packs of beer to enjoy between the two, they ended up at Wrench's garage to kick back the rest of the night. The several rounds of paint ball earlier that day had worn them both out. Pushing open the door with one hand that wasn't loaded down with the 24 pack of beer, Wrench entered the space and flicked the lights on.
The chaotic organization that was his garage was illuminated, and they both made their way to the couch by his tables in the corner. Marcus took the opportunity to check out the progress on his motorcycle. Wrench had only made a few more additions since last working on it, but it nearly looked complete. All that was left was a few parts and the paint job. The hacker was eager to be riding it.
Setting down all of their stuff with a sigh of relief, Wrench flopped onto the couch and stretched out. "Home sweet home." He said, reaching up to take off his mask.
Marcus was mildly surprised. Most of the time Wrench just lifted the bottom of his mask to drink at the hackerspace, being at home put him more at ease it seemed.
Realizing that he was taking up all the space on the couch, he straightened and let Marcus sit beside him. All the while, he took out his phone and started on a smooth playlist to keep them both awake but also let them relax while drinking their beer. The first song started over the speakers set up around the space.
The two of them dug into their tacos, filling their bellies, before starting on the cans of beer. Ending the night with some beer had been Marcus' idea, and he was keen to stay relatively sober. But he hoped Wrench would take the opportunity to get drunk. Actually, he was banking on that fact. A drunk Wrench was a talkative Wrench. Plus, it would help him unwind.
As they drank, they talked about casual things. The job. The lifestyle. How much Ray irritated Wrench, which they both cheered to. Marcus liked Ray, don't get him wrong, but the man could really rub someone the wrong way if he chose to.
Two beers in and Marcus let slip the fact that Sitara preferred to be dominant in bed—he knew that would come back to bite him in the ass later—which set Wrench laughing. Mostly because he couldn't get the idea out of his head of Marcus in a maid costume obeying a Master Sitara.
Wrench was up to 5 beers by the time he began slurring his words. Marcus was surprised he hadn't brought up Riley at all so far. Maybe he just didn't know what to say about her. Maybe he just didn't feel like it. Or maybe he was openly avoiding it as a topic of discussion. With Wrench, it was hard to tell.
He was eight beers deep just as Marcus finished his third, and by that time it was getting a bit more difficult to understand him. The hacker figured that he'd probably be a bit more loose lipped than usual, and settled further into the couch. He was concerned about his friend, and hopefully by now he wouldn't get all defensive if he brought up more emotional stuff.
"So, how are you and Riley?" Marcus ventured to ask, eyeing the blonde with interest.
Wrench, who had resorted to lay with his legs tossed over the back of the couch, turned to him with a shrug. "Is's great, jus'…great." He enunciated poorly with a slow nod. His eyes were half lidded, no doubt the alcohol causing his to feel drowsy. Marcus himself was starting to feel it too.
"Oh yeah? How so?"
"How?" Wrench asked in confusion. His brows furrowed, unsure why he needed to explain it. "She's jus…awesome. Riley's the best."
Marcus grinned. "Yeah, she is pretty cool." There was a pause, before he continued. "How are you holding up with her on the other side of the country?"
Wrench blinked several times, throwing one arm up on his forehead and letting it dangle there. "I'm not…worried or anythin'. She's not bringin' her mom back so…thas's good." He frowned deeply, thinking to himself. "Jus'…a lil' jealous."
"Really?" Marcus raised a brow, staring at his friend in bewilderment. "What are you jealous about?"
He gestured with his other hand, which still clutched a half-empty can of beer, to the air above him as if that explained it all. But after a moment, Wrench seemed to find the words for it. "Riley's got family to go back to now…I don' 'ave that."
Marcus watched as he took another long swig of his beer. How he was still able to drink was beyond him, but the guy had built up a tolerance over the past few years. But the revelation that Wrench was envious of the fact that Riley had a family…huh. "What are you talking about, man? You've got us. At DedSec."
"Fuck, I know…" He said morosely, eyes downcast at the beer in his hand. His previously light-hearted demeanor had vanished, replaced instead by the rarely-seen vulnerability he tried to hide. Marcus knew it was there, but he never brought it up. A Sober Wrench would have just punched him in the face for it.
"It's jus'…" He continued on with a searching look in his eyes, as if he himself was looking for an answer. "There'll always be…a lil' part of me that wishes for somethin' a lil' more. Ya know?"
They locked gazes, Wrench's pleading with Marcus to understand what he was saying, because even though he loved DedSec, they were still a replacement to the family that disappointed him throughout his life. They weren't…the real deal. In a sense. Marcus could understand, and didn't feel angry for it at all. They all came from different walks of life. Sure, they all stood for the message that DedSec was trying to promote, but they were their own people with their own problems. Not everything was fixable, and just being really close friends wasn't the solution to everything.
"Yeah, I hear you. Just don't forget that we'll be here for you no matter what." He reassured, raising his empty beer can in an affirmative gesture. Wrench seemed satisfied with that and drank more from his own can. "Riley too." Marcus added as an afterthought.
A long, heavy sigh escaped Wrench's lips after that, and his head lolled to the side. "I fuckin' miss her…" He admitted dejectedly. "I hope she comes back soon…"
"I'm sure she will." He smiled, glad that Riley was on his mind. She was good for him. "And hey, you can pass the time by coming up with something for her for when she gets back."
"Like wha'?" Came his confused question.
Marcus shrugged. "I don't know, she's your girlfriend. You know her better than I do."
"Uhh…I can't think of anythin'." He slurred, before perking up. "No wait…I've got jus' the thing."
"What is it?"
Wrench grinned. "Is's a mystery."
Shaking his head with a laugh, Marcus stood shakily from the couch, trying to clear his head a bit. A few empty beer cans clinked against the concrete floor as his feet brushed against them. "I think you mean a surprise."
"Yeah, that." Was his amused response, shakily pointing at Marcus.
"Nice." Marcus replied, glancing at his phone. It was nearly midnight, and he knew Sitara would want him to at least come home tonight. He figured after spilling some of his more vulnerable secrets, Wrench would want the rest of the night alone. Plus, the guy would be more comfortable in his own bed upstairs than on the couch down here with him. They'd both get better sleep that way.
"You headin' out?" Wrench guessed, seeing him holding his cell. Marcus nodded.
"Yeah, I better get going." He said, already pulling up the SF Driver app to call a car to pick him up. He was way too drunk to drive anywhere, even if he wasn't anywhere near the state of Wrench. "You'll be good on your own?" He asked, making sure just in case. If need be, he'd stay.
"I can take care of myself." Wrench slurred, swinging his legs around the right way and standing with a visible wobble. His arms began to windmill in order to keep his balance, and Marcus reached out to help right him. "Might need a lil' help up the stairs, though…" He admitted with a chuckle.
"Come on, then." Marcus said, remembering to grab the guy's mask off the table before swinging one of Wrench's arms around his neck and dragging them in the direction of the hacker's room. It was a bit difficult, seeing as Wrench was several inches taller than him.
After several near-tumbles down the metal stairs, Marcus was able to guide them both into his room, and Wrench fell into the soft mess of blankets and pillows that was his bed. He groaned, his back getting the relief it needed from being in a bad position on the couch for so long. Marcus tossed the mask onto the nearest counter, but stuck around another moment, making sure he didn't need anything else.
"Text me when you wake up, man." Marcus instructed, and Wrench held up a peace sign in acknowledgement. He probably couldn't manage much more than that at this point.
Marcus sent a text to Sitara to let her know he was on his way home. She had a tendency to wait up on him when he was late, and he wanted to ease her mind just a bit. She replied back within a few minutes, happy that he wouldn't be too much longer, and he stepped outside to wait for his car to pick him up.
Riley blinked rapidly into consciousness, aware that something had waken her up. Her body jolted from the unwelcome interruption of…something. It took a second to realize that her phone's ringtone was going off at a loud volume. The sudden shot of adrenaline coursed through her, and she scrambled in a rush to grab it. Blearily trying to read the screen through her sleepy eyes, she gave up and swiped in the general spot of the answer button, bringing the phone up to her ear.
"…hello?" Was her thick, hoarse, and slightly irritated answer. Who on earth could be calling at this hour? Even back in California it had to be pretty late, right? There was a shuffling noise on the other end, before a familiar voice came through.
"You sound so sleepy…" Wrench said in amusement, chuckling to himself on the other line. "A very sleepy Riley…"
Frowning, the brunette rubbed at her face to try waking up a bit. "Wrench?"
Something didn't sound right. Sure, the robotic filter was missing, meaning his mask was off, but he didn't sound like his usual self either. More…slurred. "Are you drunk?" She asked, finally able to see clearly enough to tell the time. The alarm clock on the hotel room's nightstand read 3:26 am. He was aware of the time difference between California and Georgia, but maybe he'd forgotten in his stupor.
"Drunk?" He paused, as if pondering the answer. "Ex…tremely." He drawled out.
Well, at least there wasn't anything bad going on, as her mind quickly wanted to believe. After that whole Bratva incident, she'd been a little jumpy when things were out of the ordinary. Despite being woken up so early, she cracked a smile. The hacker on the other end was quite the dork when he wanted to be. "I can tell. How many beers did you have?"
"So many…a lot." He said with groan. "Hard to 'member."
"You're such a dork." She said, yawning despite resisting the urge. It was way too early to be conversing, but she still enjoying hearing the sound of his voice, unfiltered by the mask, even extremely slurred and barely understandable. "But I guess you're my dork, so…"
"I fuckin' miss you." He said bluntly. "An' Marcus will kick my ass if he knows I'm callin' you righ' now…"
Riley nestled deeper into her pillow, settling down while she spoke. "Why's that?"
"Yur not s'posed to call people when yur this drunk, but I wanted to talk so is's ok."
"Well, I miss you too. And I won't tell if you don't." She mused with mirth. By the sound of it, Wrench probably wouldn't even remember this conversation the next morning anyway. He was far gone by now.
"Yur not gonna give up DedSec for yur aunt an' uncle are you?" He blurted out in a quiet voice.
"What?" She asked, frowning with concern. "Of course not. I'd never do that."
"Wrench, I might have found some new family members, but that doesn't mean I'm leaving to live with them. You're important to me too. I'm staying there in California." She explained evenly. Hopefully he wouldn't keep feeling sad.
"Thas's good…" He muttered, and it took a moment for Riley to understand what he'd said. There was a long pause, before he spoke again. "I jus' know that family's important to you and you 'ave all tha' stuff in the box about yur family and-" Wrench continued rambling, but Riley had stopped listening after a few seconds, frowning.
"Wait, what box? What are you talking about?" She interrupted.
There was a few seconds of silence on the other end. "I know I wasn' s'posed to look but I couldn't help it…"
"Wrench, was it the box in my closet?" She guessed, rubbing at her forehead. There was a tiny little pit digging in her chest. She had wanted to keep that private, but it seemed pretty likely it was the one he'd found.
"Yeah…" He confirmed, and she sighed.
"What were you doing in there anyway?" She asked, honestly confused how he could have stumbled across her box of memories. All he was there to do at the apartment was feed Pants. What turn of events had lead him there?
"Th' cat knocked stuff over so I looked around everywhere to see if there was more. I found it there."
"Wrench…" She started, unsure of what she wanted to say. She was a little disappointed that he'd gone through her stuff without her permission or knowledge, but she knew how curious and rule-breaking he was. She supposed she should have seen this coming. And honestly, it wasn't like he didn't know everything having to do with the contents of the box anyway. At least he was admitting to it, too. Not lying and trying to cover it up. Though, she was willing to bet he wouldn't have brought it up accidentally like this while sober.
"'m an' asshole, I know, 'm sorry…"
"I forgive you, just…" Riley tucked some of her hair more comfortably around her face, feeling it itch her neck, "please don't do that again. If you're curious about something just ask me instead."
"You're a pain in the neck sometimes, you know that?"
"Yeah…" He admitted a small laugh. There was a brief silence between them, neither quite sure what to say, before he broke it. "Come home soon."
"I will." She smiled gently, a warm feeling rising in her belly. Previous irritations quickly fading,it was nice to know he was thinking about her. "I'm gonna spend a few more days with them, but I'll be back in no time."
Wrench grumbled something she couldn't understand through his slurring, but she was curious as to how things were at home. He hadn't talked much about their operations while she'd been gone. "Have you guys gone after Tidis yet?"
"Yeah, Wrench Jr. was great!" His enthusiasm came back in full swing, proud of his little robot for successfully completing the mission. "He took down the whole building."
"I wish I could have seen it." She said. After all the research into Tidis, she honestly wished she'd gotten to see some of it come to fruition herself. But at least they got the information they needed.
"I gotta video. You can see when you get home." He said proudly.
"Awesome." She said genuinely, but couldn't help yawning yet again. She was pretty tired. And Kathy had a long day planned out for them. She didn't want to cut Wrench off, but she really needed the sleep.
Before she could say anything else, he continued on. "You should'a seen the spider. Marcus gets all th' fun. Machine guns and giant claws…"
Riley was having a hard time understanding what he was saying. Spider? Machine guns? "What?"
"It d'stroyed everythin'."
"O-kaay…?" She drawled, still not getting what was going on. "I think you should go to bed, Wrench."
"Wha'? Nooo…" He whined in a slur, which caused her to chuckle under her breath.
"You're not making any sense right now. Why don't you sleep off all that beer and text me when you wake up?"
"Heh, that's wha' Marcus said too." He laughed, finding that funny somehow. Then, he groaned suddenly, the laughter dying away. "My head hurts…"
"If you sleep, the headache will go away." She reasoned, smiling when he mumbled something else she couldn't decipher. "Don't be grumpy about it."
"Yes you are. Now go to sleep."
"…ugh, fine." He grumbled again, the sound of shuffling fabric in the background. If she were to guess, he was tangled up in his bedspread right now, trying to get comfy.
"Sleep tight, dork."
Smiling, Riley hung up the phone and put it back on the nightstand. The conversation had woken her up, but the warmness of the bed was already lulling her back to sleep. She settled further down into the bed and shifted the pillow until it was comfortable for her. Closing her eyes, she dreamed of a drunk Wrench and smiled.
Aw, shit. Shit. Wrench was about ready to kick Drunk Wrench's ass ten ways to Sunday. Staring at his phone's call history, the raging hangover still pounding away at his temple, he saw Riley's number at the very top. Dated the night before. And it hadn't gone through to her voicemail. She'd answered. In fact, the call had lasted almost ten minutes. Just what he needed. A phone call he couldn't remember coupled with the sneaking suspicion that he'd made a fool of himself or said something he shouldn't have.
Not much of the previous night was still left in his head. That happened after about 7 beers in. If the number of beer cans on his garage floor was any indication, he'd had at least 8 or 9. Well, unless Marcus had down nearly 6 of them, which he very much doubted.
It was almost 4 in the afternoon by the time he woke up. As promised, he'd texted Marcus to let him know he was up. And Riley, too.
Marcus predictably replied first, asking if he was up to help him with a job, but Wrench declined. The most he could do is moan and groan in the passenger seat, annoying his friend with the pain of his hangover. Wouldn't be much help. The hacker seemed to understand, and said he'd ask Ray instead.
Wrench's eye twitched at the mention of Ray, but after the success of the Tidis mission, things had started to stabilize between them. The animosity had mostly dissipated, but that didn't mean he was going to get all buddy-buddy with the man. But he knew that it was easier and safer if Marcus didn't go alone, so he just gave an affirmative reply.
Nor did he mention the fact that he'd called Riley after they'd parted ways. Best to keep it to himself.
It took another half hour for Riley to respond back, saying that he sounded cute when he was drunk. He wondered if she did that just to mess with him, no doubt aware he'd been too far gone to remember anything from the night before. How cruel, yet incomprehensibly attractive. Riley could tease him about anything and he'd probably find it kind of hot.
Not to mention, it was a bit of a relief, too. She didn't seem mad at him for anything, so that was a good sign. He just hoped she wasn't trying to act like everything was normal for his sake.
The brunette texted back saying she was spending the day with Kathy and her friends, so she would talk to him later. Marcus was busy with the mission. Which left him with no one to talk to. He flopped onto the couch, tossing empty beers still left there to the floor. Stretching out to pop his back, he let out a sigh and closed his eyes behind his mask. Maybe a nice, long nap was the perfect remedy for this hangover. Yes, a lazy day was what he needed.ns 188.8.131.52da2