Riley stole a glance around at the hackerspace, breaking her focus from the computer screen for just a moment as she created the template for her next blog piece. She was seated on the couch, typing away in the hackerspace while Wrench worked on some of his other projects at the Wrench Bench. Including, but not limited to, the grenade launcher - flamethrower hybrid weapon, a 'new and improved' version of Nudle's Alexa robot assistant with insulting, snarky responses to any request, and Marcus' motorcycle helmet. Apparently, he wanted something cool and one of a kind when it came to his protective headwear, and Wrench was just the person to hook him up with something never before seen. Of course, 'never-before-seen' in Wrench's eyes most likely included something potentially dangerous, but so it goes.
They'd been enjoying each other's company all morning, content to just be around each other while they both worked. No more than a handful of words had been exchanged between them that morning, but that was just fine. Riley knew it was a comfortable silence, not filled with tension, so she wasn't worried one bit.
Nor were they alone in the hackerspace, as the others went about their business.
Josh was set up at his computer like usual, going over their follower counts and other analytics. Ray, for once, was in the hackerspace with them all, doing something on his phone in the corner over by Josh. It seemed he'd taken care of his super secrets errands since joining the group, pretty much all of which he wouldn't disclose. Besides asking Wrench to make him that smoke grenade, he really hadn't talked about any of the others that much.
Sitara and Marcus were discussing something over by her graffiti station, a laptop perched on top of her printer. They were gesturing and shaking their heads at whatever was on the screen, perhaps disagreeing over the topic of interest. Riley couldn't hear them from her seat on the couch, however, and wasn't curious enough to ask. It probably wasn't her business anyway.
She returned her attention back to her own project, wanting to get as much of this done as she could. It had been a hot minute since she'd last posted an update to her blog. Not out of laziness, but she'd had a lot going on and…ok, so it was out of laziness. Even while away, she could have added to her blog at last once. No excuses or reasons could save her now.
After getting the layout of the page all set to what she wanted, Riley began typing up the first draft, lost in her own mind as she contemplated word choice and paragraph topics. She wanted to tie it in with the group's latest exposure video, regarding the dirty cops that had been using the ctOS system to cover up their crimes. Hmm…what would garner the most interest with the title? And the follow up preview sentence had to be just as good too, otherwise most people wouldn't read past that point.
Eyes narrowed in concentration, fingers flying across her keyboard once she got an idea to roll with, the brunette didn't even notice as Wrench approached her from behind.
He leaned down right next to her ear, smiling behind his mask. "Boo." He whispered.
The effect was immediate. Riley jumped in place, nearly knocking the laptop off of her legs and onto the floor, if not for her quick reflexes. "Jesus fuck…" She muttered breathlessly, whirling to face him. "Goddamnit, Wrench."
Luckily he backed away before she could cause him any bodily harm, holding his hands up defensively. "You're way too easy to scare, you know."
"I zone out! I can't help it!" She said with a hand on her chest, the smile rising on her face despite the rude interruption to what she'd been doing. He laughed, mask displaying his amusement, before stepping closer to her. From the corner of her eye, she spotted a green-hooded head peak out from behind one of the supporting walls, wondering what all the commotion was. Riley flashed Josh an apologetic smile before turning to fake-glare at the tall idiot. She got herself all back in order, her breath finally slowing down from the scare. "What is it?"
"What have you got going on tonight?"
Riley frowned, eyes darting to the side as she thought. "Uh…nothing I know of."
That seemed to perk him up. "Good. Don't plan anything."
"We're going on a date."
Well. That was certainly…not at all what she'd been expecting. Shit, it wasn't like Riley wasn't up to going out with Wrench. He just didn't seem like the 'date' type. Things had been going well at the pace they'd taken, hanging out all the time. The brunette hadn't anticipated him seeking anything more than that. It didn't seem like they necessarily needed to, but if he was suggesting it, then…
"Ok, do you want me to find a place-"
"Nope!" He immediately cut her off with a hand. "Let the Wrench work his magic to bring you a night you'll never forget." He finished off with a dramatic wink, spreading his hands in a flourish.
Riley couldn't help the smile that spread across her lips at his actions, and she crossed her arms. "Is that so?"
"Yuup, which means," he said, closing the lid to her laptop and taking it from her, "I'll have to kindly ask you to go away for awhile so I can get everything set up and planned out. Can't have you knowing what we're doing until it actually starts."
Riley took a moment to mull over what he'd said, before scoffing in amusement. "You're kicking me out of the hackerspace?"
"Well, if we want to get technical…" The hacker trailed off with a toss of his head, shrugging slightly.
"And here I thought chivalry wasn't dead." She jabbed jokingly with a grin, standing from the couch and grabbing her bag.
He handed the laptop back to her, mask suddenly switching back to his default X's as he became serious. "I know, I sound like a total ass, and…I mean, if you don't want to, that's-"
"No, no!" She waved her hands to stop his downward spiral from even starting. "I do, you just caught me by surprise is all."
Riley tried smoothing it all over with a bright smile, hoping he wouldn't think she were actually upset for being kicked out of the hackerspace. She'd been joking to begin with, and now that he'd dropped the idea of a date in front of her, she was excited for what he had in store. What sort of crazy shit would a Wrench Date be comprised of? She'd never be able to guess.
Her tactic seemed to have worked, because Wrench met her smile with a happy expression of his own, glad she was still in good spirits. "Sweet, I'll text you when I've got it all put together?"
"Sounds like a plan." Was her reply, poking him lightly in the chest before turning towards the stairs.
Wrench watched as she flashed Sitara and Marcus a peace sign as she passed them by, and they waved a greeting, even amidst their little argument at the graffiti artist's printer. Wrench was just glad everyone was too distracted by their own shit to worry about what he was trying to do. He didn't want everyone on his case about taking Riley on a date. He didn't need the headache of dealing with all that teasing.
It was harder than Riley was willing to admit to avoid texting Wrench with her countless questions. Her blog page finished and posted, the brunette had resorted to scrolling through Facebook and a few other of her social media pages that had been somewhat neglected. Jeez, she really needed to update her profile picture, eyeing her short cut hair in the photo. That had been a phase which died quickly. Chopping off her hair had been the worst mistake ever. And she'd received a plethora of amused teasing from a certain hacker for it when he'd discovered her profile picture. Yeah. Definitely time for a change.
Not in the mood to take a new picture, however, she tapped the home screen and began scrolling through her friend's pages, seeing if they'd posted anything new.
It seemed in the few hours since Riley had been at the hackerspace Sitara and Marcus had came to some sort of agreement or solution to their argument from earlier, because they were both posing in a selfie together in front of the guy dressed up like a crab. They were angled just right to get him in the background, both of them pointing to him with amused expressions on their faces. They seemed happy enough, and not like they'd been arguing hours previously. Riley's eyes narrowed, wondering if there was more between the two of them than they let on, but she couldn't be sure. Marcus was friendly with everyone, and Sitara could chill with any of the DedSec crew comfortably. Hmm, still. If they were actually a thing, they made a cute couple.
Was she close enough friends with Sitara to ask directly? Now that the thought was out there, it was burning through her mind. She wanted to know if they were actually a thing.
Which brought her thoughts back to Wrench. Ugh, she was so curious about this date. How long had he wanted to go on one? Had he been waiting for her to say something first? God, now she felt like a terrible person. Hopefully he didn't think she didn't want to go with him.
What sort of thing did he have in mind? She navigated over to her texts out of habit, fingers poised to ask her question, but she stopped. It was kind of thrilling not knowing what he had planned. Plus, she was willing to bet he wouldn't tell her even if she did ask. There was no need to go distracting him right now. Her impatience was just showing through again.
Feeling like a lazy shit, she realized she hadn't even thought about what she'd wear for it. Standing from the couch, Riley made her way to her stuffed closet, searching through all of her options.
The evening rolled around much slower than Riley would have liked. Though waiting anxiously for anything does that to you. Damn her own impatience, because by the time Wrench texted her the address to meet him at, she was nearly pacing her living room. Pants watched from the back of the couch lazily, watching her with a mixture of disinterest and having nothing else to occupy his time with. His eyes were barely more than narrow slits.
Riley had decided to go with her favorite jeans and a silky, blue blouse that she normally had worn at work for ProviBlue. It reflected enough business casual to be appropriate, but just enough flirty that it worked for a date too. It was a bit chilly this late, so she topped it with one of her nicer leather jackets. Because of the California heat, the brunette didn't get to wear it all that often.
She kept pulling at the blouse, for whatever reason worried it didn't look right with the jacket, as she drove her car up the road away from the city. Her palms were sweaty against her steering wheel and—hell, where were all these nerves coming from? It wasn't like they weren't already dating. They'd sort of skipped past all this and gone straight into a relationship. What was the risk here? Still, Riley wondered if perhaps she'd overdressed for the occasion? She had no idea what he had in mind for this date, or where she was even going for that matter.
The address didn't pull up a name of the destination on her maps app. Hmm. Still, she trusted Wrench, and drove until she stopped in front of the power line station for the city. Furrowing her brow, she double checked that she'd indeed typed in the correct address that Wrench had sent her. Yup, this was the place. Another car—one she didn't recognize, but as she'd come to find out that really didn't mean much—was parked further up the road, right by the fence surrounding the small station.
It was a far cry from the giant facilities located further in the woods that handled the brunt of San Francisco's phone network. Rather, this seemed to be a auxiliary station, maybe for maintenance or monitoring of certain analytics. Riley wasn't sure. She wasn't an engineer or anything.
Unplugging her phone from the aux port, she stuffed it in her pocket and got out of her vehicle. The sun had set, and it was quickly growing dark, but now that her eyes were adjusting to the darkness, she spotted a figure leaning against the fence by the vehicle, waiting for her. The lack of LED emoticons glaring back at her in the darkness made her smile. He had his mask off.
He straightened when she got closer and smiled. "Hey…you look…really good." He glanced down at her outfit, and she swore she could see his cheeks tint red in the darkness. But maybe it was just her imagination. "Fuck, I should have picked something different to wear."
He was sporting his usual attire, but the jeans had been switched out for a pair that didn't sport holes in the knees. The spiked jacket was ever-present, but she was secretly glad. It had grown on her ever since meeting him. She just couldn't picture him without it anymore. Riley looked down at her outfit and shrugged.
"What? No way, I like it. I just overdressed is all. Sorry." She said, giving him a lopsided, apologetic smile, but he simply shook his head and offered her his elbow.
"Let's just agree we both look fine as hell." He shrugged with a grin. "You ready for a bomb-ass date?"
"Ready and waiting." She said, linking her arm in his as he lead them along the fence line. A gate stood open further down, but suddenly all her burning questions came to mind. Maybe now would be a good time to ask them. Maybe Wrench would be willing to answer them. "How long have you been planning this?"
"Eh, ever since you got back from Georgia." He shrugged like it wasn't a big deal, but Riley felt a pang of guilt. Two weeks? Had he been dropping hints? Was she oblivious to it? The brunette hoped not.
Well, on the other hand, it was a really flattering gesture for him to have worked so hard on this date. Obviously he thought it was important, and…she must mean a lot to him for him to have worked so hard, right? Better to focus on the positives here. "So, I should be expecting a date like none other?" She guessed, and he flashed her a grin.
"I mean, unless you've had a date at a power station in the middle of the night before?"
"Pretty sure you don't have any competition with that one."
They continued along the fence-line, until they came upon a gate. There had previously been a set of thick chains keeping it closed, but they had already been cut apart—most likely—by a pair of bolt cutters. The remnants lay in a pile on the ground.
"Right this way, m'lady." Wrench gestured through after swinging it open, and she stepped past him onto the grounds of the station. The gate swung shut behind her when Wrench stepped through, and he lead them further into the area.
The buildings were dark, save for the security lights which never turned off for safety purposes. They bypassed the front door and walked around to the back-most area of the building, to a ladder leading up to the roof. Riley only quirked a brow, but began scaling up the ladder without hesitation. What had Wrench planned?
The metal was chilled, the sun having began to set and the heat leeching from the bars. As she scaled, she wondered briefly if Wrench had her go first so he could get a nice look at her ass as she climbed. Deadpanning with a small smile, she shook her head and finished climbing the rest of the way.
With a hop, she landed on the roof of the power station, surveying the top with interest. In the middle of the roof was a large antenna towers, but right beside it was a large blanket laid out on the stone. The edges were held down with small bricks, and on top of each one was a cell phone, all displaying candles flickering on the screens, held upright by tiny phone stands.
A plastic white bag full of…something—Riley couldn't tell what was inside—sat in the middle of the blanket, and right beside that was Wrench's laptop sitting closed.
"This is really nice, Wrench." She said after a second, turning to smile at him.
He gave a shrug and a lopsided half smile in response. "Wait til you see what I've got planned." He said to deflect the attention, obviously slightly embarrassed by her blatant compliment.
They both sat on the blanket and he dug around in the bag for something, producing some very familiar-looking takeout boxes. "Half white rice, half chow mien, Sesame chicken with a chicken egg roll, and a Dr. Pepper." Wrench recited proudly, handing her one of the bigger boxes and a fountain drink.
Riley's eyes lit up, taking the box with reverence. "You remembered!" She proclaimed with joy, opening the box to inhale the delicious scent of her favorite Chinese restaurant's food. Mmm…heaven on earth.
"Remember? Pff, how can I forget when you order the same thing like twice a week?" He grinned, pulling his own food out of the bag and crossing his legs to sit.
"Hey, why would I risk ordering something I don't like when I know for sure I like this?" She defended, feeling as though her precious Chinese food was being criticized. She broke the pair of chopsticks that were included and began to dig in. Through a mouthful of food, "And you're one to talk, Mr. 'Coke-and-Poptarts-For-Breakfast-Every-Morning.'"
Wrench stared at her thoughtfully, before jabbing his fork in her direction. "Touche."
They ate together for awhile, laughing and talking about random things. Mostly on Wrench's part. Not that Riley minded. She doubted she'd otherwise ever have a serious conversation about the purpose of a rubber duck, or why The Dark Knight movie ruined the Batman name.
"What!? How can you say that?" Riley was taken aback—appalled, even—at Wrench's words. Surely, that was blasphemy! Still chewing her chow mien, she gestured wildly with her chopsticks. "The Dark Knight was an amazing movie!"
Wrench shrugged. "But look at what it caused. A lack-luster sequel, and a whole slew of needlessly depressing and 'edgy' superhero movies trying to fit themselves in the grit-fest of a universe it created."
"Oh, come on. Superhero movies weren't taken seriously until The Dark Knight. Nolan ensured that the general public saw it as a legitimate form of entertainment." Riley calmly explained. As a self-proclaimed movie critic, she was adamant that she could not lose this debate. "It was the stepping stone for superhero movies to really get out into the market. It boosted the whole genre into the public eye. Avengers? Justice League? All made after The Dark Knight, and that's not a fucking coincidence."
"Ok, Avengers was…meh." Wrench said, flipping his hand back and forth in that uncertain way. "But fuck that. Justice League was a mess." He said dismissively with a toss of his hand. "I mean, it was ok…if you're into that sort of thing, but it was completely against what the previous iteration was building up to."
Riley tilted her head, not understanding what he meant. "How so?"
The hacker positioned himself more comfortable on the blanket. "So…Batman v. Superman, right? Snyder took the line between good guy and bad guy, and completely obliterated it. Awesome concept, in theory. Except, they set up this idea that heroism is basically a sham. The world is an awful shitshow, yada, yada. And then we're supposed to believe that all these gritty super'heros' band together selflessly to do the right thing? Makes no fucking sense."
Riley thought about it a moment, and Wrench continued to try convincing her. "I'm not saying The Dark Knight itself was bad, but it unintentionally caused the downfall of the rest of the Batman name. It's gonna be a bitch clawing it out from it's gritty shit hole universe in the future. So much for reboots." He ended with a sigh and a small shake of his blonde head.
"Don't be such a downer about Batman." Riley grinned, shaking her own head. He had a point, but she had hope for the future. "He's too big of a brand to just stop. They'll bring him back somehow."
"But will it suck? I think it will."
"Ugh, you're impossible." She said, and he gave a blue-eyed wink which sent her giggling.
They finished off the rest of their meal before Wrench tossed the trash back into the bag and reached for his laptop. "Alright, shall we get this party started?"
Perhaps she should have been more concerned about the way he diabolically rubbed his hands together, eyes align with excitement, but his enthusiasm and anticipation was infectious. The brunette nodded hastily, scooting closer to him when he patted the spot beside him.
"What is this?" She asked, seeing nothing but lines of code on his screen. They were all directing towards breaking a website's security. That much she could tell. But Wrench was a much better hacker than her, and some of his coding she had yet to understand.
"Just…one…second…" He stretched out, fingers tapping away at the keyboard as he finished up the hack. He hit enter and the screen switched to one of a profile for a…dating website? "Tada!" He proclaimed, gesturing to it with a flourish.
"Uh…" She narrowed her eyes, reading some of the text. Her initial assumption of a dating website had been incorrect. In fact, she now wished it had been a dating service, since it would have been better than the alternative. "Is this a hookup site for prostitutes?"
"They prefer the term 'escort.'" He said with finger quotes, and Riley gave him a look. Smiling, he continued navigating the page. "Not just any hookup site. This, my dear, is the website of choice for several very high profile businessmen and public officials of San Francisco. Whose profiles I just so happen to know the passwords to."
Riley opened her mouth to ask a question, but he added quickly. "Not only that, but I've managed to worm my way into the phone lines, so we have front row seats to the glorious freak-outs as they happen." He finished with a smug expression.
The gears in the brunette's head turned as what he was telling her began to click into place. Now this…this was a quality date. The goldmine of information in here…she could probably ruin half of these peoples' careers with a few mouse clicks. A slow smile spread on her lips.
"Wrench." She looked at him, who listened expectantly. "You're a goddamn genius."
He gave a little half bow, then passed the laptop over to her. "I've got a bunch already open and ready to go. But we can find more if you want to." He said, and she looked through the profiles he'd already pulled up.
"How did you even find all of this?" She asked, eyes scanning the words and contents. Eww. She did not need to know that the Assistant Operations Manager for Blume had a BDSM fetish. Ugh…
"Oh, just a little hacker magic." He said, wiggling his fingers.
She raised a brow and gave him a side-eye. "Uh huh."
"…and like a week combing through the satellite data mine." He admitted. She only laughed, searching through the profile of the AO Manager. His profile picture included a very provocative pose and a speedo that was way too small for his body. Another shudder ran down her body.
She navigated over to his messages tab, seeing several old chat bubbles from girls on the website. Wrench chuckled beside her, reading some of the…cringe-worthy flirting between the Blume employee and the prosti—…escort.
What are you wearing?
Nothing at all, baby. Just how you like it.
What are you doing right now?
Wishing you were here. ;)
God, if I could get out of this damn meeting right now, I'd go right over and lick you all over.
Riley turned to Wrench and stuck out her tongue in cringe, a twisted expression of disgust on her face. "Ugh, this is nasty stuff." She said, but her innate curiosity lead her to keep reading anyway.
"If it's so nasty, why are you still reading the messages?" Wrench echoed her own thoughts.
Ignoring his laugh, knowing he'd cornered her, she kept scrolling through the messages, trying to find the most incriminating evidence she could against him.
Tell me you're mine.
I'm all yours, tiger. Yours, and yours alone.
Meet me tonight at 6? The wife is out with her friends and they'll all probably pass out drunk at their place. The house is empty, and you've still got the spare key right?
The next message was actually a picture, showing a very attractive young woman with a key strung around her neck by a string. Except the string dangled low down between her breasts, which were completely exposed and took up most of the picture. Below the picture was her reply.
Of course I do. Wouldn't lose it for the world. I'll bring the handcuffs this time. ;)
Riley glanced over, seeing Wrench watching, before she smacked him in the arm for staring too long. He had the grace to look chastened. "Do you have the wife's phone number?"
"You bet!" Wrench leaned over and took control, navigating over to a folder he'd put together with a list of people's names and phone numbers. She found the one she was looking for and put together a nice little surprise, including the NSFW picture and a few pieces of evidence from the profile itself to prove his identity, with the simple description of: 'Your husband is cheating on you. Thought you'd want to know.'
"There, now all we do is wait." She said as she hit enter, sending the incriminating evidence her way.
"In the meantime, take a look at this guy. I thought you'd get a kick out of him." Wrench said with childish mirth, practically bouncing up and down with excitement. He logged out of the Blume employee's profile and input another set of log in information. This time, a very familiar person popped up.
"Oh my god…Dan?" She asked of no one in particular, already reading through his bio.
"Figured you might want a little more payback after leaving ProviBlue." Wrench concluded with a smile, handing the laptop over to her.
"This is perfect." Riley smiled predatorily, clicking through to read what embarrassing things she could off of it. "I always knew he was an ass, but this takes the cake."
Half of the shit he put on this page matched what she knew of him from work, but the rest was a new glimpse into his character she was glad never to have encountered before now. His bio started out innocently enough—27, works for ProviBue, has a husky dog—but it quickly descended into something completely…well, she didn't know how to describe it.
Looking for an Adonis? Well, your search stops here, beautiful. There's no price high enough for my pleasure, so expect to be lavished in money. You'll never find a more perfect example of the male anatomy than yours truly, so send me a message and we can get straight to the point.
"God, kill me now." Riley complained, feeling dirty just reading that.
Wrench pointed to the messages tab. "And the best part? Even these ladies won't work with him."
Riley followed where he indicated, seeing way more tabs open of previous message chains than the previous guy. Dan had talked to numerous escorts, but as she clicked through message after message, she laughed below her breath. They all went along the same lines.
Let's say I'm Aphrodite, and I really need my Adonis. ;) I want to get to know you, big guy.
Let me just get a few things straight, then. I only do hardcore. I'm not into that mushy shit or anything cuddly. We're here to fuck, and that's all I want to do. In fact, I don't even really want to know your name. So, how much do you charge?
I think you might be on the wrong website then, honey. We're here to form lasting connections with our clients, on a first name basis.
What, hookers aren't all the same? It's all sex in the end. What does it matter?
Look, you want a quick fuck? Go drive down O'Farrell and pick up a street whore. I'm an escort, not a hooker. And I'd work on that disrespectful attitude if I were you. Have a nice day.
Good thing this website has a report button, so I can get bitches like you kicked out. Fucking high-horse little hoe.
"Dodged a bullet there." Riley muttered, seeing the reality of Dan's personality. She looked over at Wrench with a small shake of her head. "I nearly agreed to the first time he asked me on a date, like when I first moved here, but a coworker told me what he was like. Glad I listened. Who knows what I would have gotten into with him."
"Hmm, my guess is Fifty Shades of Gray, but with screamo metal in the background instead of smooth jazz, and a pack of miniature size glow-in-the-dark condoms." Wrench mused thoughtfully, and Riley pushed him in the shoulder.
"I really could have done without the mental image, thanks."
Before he could respond, a notification window popped up on his laptop. They looked over and saw the pinging message of 'Incoming Call.'
"Ooh, let the show begin." Wrench said, nearly buzzing with anticipation as he reached over and clicked 'Open.'
They both sat back as a male voice came over the call.
"Honey, please, just listen to me and I can explain what-"
"Explain!? What is there to explain!? You're on a prostitute website! You've got whores sending you their tits! You are married! TO ME!" A woman's voice screamed over the call, overtaking anything he may have said at the same time.
"That's not me! I promise you, Susan, that's not me!"
"Not you, my ass! It's got your damn picture right there, your email address, your cell phone number, and oh look! OUR FUCKING ADDRESS!"
"YOU GAVE HER OUR HOUSE KEY!"
"Where did you even find this?"
"What does it matter!? You're a fucking son of a bitch. 8 years I've wasted with a cheating bastard! How many whores have you brought home!?"
"You're overreacting, please just-"
"Shut the fuck up and listen! When you get home, all of your fucking stuff is going to be out in garbage cans on the front lawn, and I'm calling a divorce lawyer! I will leave you penniless! Or did you forget that I'm a fucking tax attorney? I will run your company into the FUCKING PAVEMENT! And you know what else!? I've always faked it, you TINY-DICKED MOTHERFUCKER!"
All the while Riley and Wrench were cracking up on the roof of the station. The program only allowed listening into the call, so there was no threat of being heard by either of the callers. The wife continued screaming at the man until he hung up and cut off the phone call, and even for some time afterwards, the two hackers were having a fit of laughter.
They thought to check both of their social media pages, and discovered that the wife had posted all of the pictures that Riley had sent her to her page, tagging her husband in it, proclaiming him to be a cheater, and a bastard of the highest degree, which only sent the pair into more laughter. Friends and family of the couple started commenting on the wife's post, saying that she was totally justified in slandering his name, and that they'd never liked him anyway. Some of them even started posting hate on the husband's page too, though his was predictably silent in comparison to Susan's.
"That was fucking beautiful." Wrench managed between his spastic chuckles.
"Let's do another one." Riley said, getting herself together with some difficulty.
Wrench had certainly come prepared, having a line up of 10 or 15 people with incriminating profiles on the website. They sent off the messages and pictures to spouses, waiting with anticipation as the aftermath hit. The explosive and expletive-filled phone calls that came after were well worth the wait, and multiple of them ended in divorce claims. One, however, didn't quite go as planned.
"You got what?"
"I got this picture saying you were cheating on me with some prostitute? Is that true?" The wife was surprisingly calm.
"No-…No way, honey. I would never do that to you."
"Really? But you've always known I wanted a threesome one day. I got my hopes up for a little bit there…"
Riley and Wrench exchanged looks, as the husband spluttered in confusion.
"You're…not mad about this?"
"Why would I be? That lady in the picture is pretty sexy. I'd want to sleep with her too. Is there any way you could ask if she'd be up for including another person?"
"I…uh…" The husband cleared his throat uncomfortably. " I mean…Carmen is fairly adventurous…I can…find out."
"Thank you, baby. You sure know how to pick them good, too."
The phone call ended, and Wrench and Riley were left staring at the screen with bewilderment.
"Uh…that was…" She started.
"Unexpected?" Wrench guessed, and she nodded. There was an awkward silence between them, until he clapped his hands together and grabbed the device. "Well! Onto the next one!"
"Mhmm. Yes please." Riley said.
They exhausted their list of cheaters, with the brunette leaving Dan's for last. She couldn't quite figure out how she wanted to ruin his life. Jeez, now that she thought about it, was she being a little too harsh on him? Was being annoyingly persistent for a date really worth all this public slander? Well, with the way he seemed to treat women in his personal life…
Hmm, and Riley had never claimed to be a saint…
So without much more hesitation, she forwarded the copy of her data incriminating Dan to his own mother. Luckily they didn't have to wait long for her phone call.
"Daniel. Allen. Felton. Jr. What the devil is wrong with you?" An older woman questioned breathlessly.
"Mom? What are you talking about?"
"Never in my years would I think you'd be the sort of person to stoop so low as to…my lord, I can't even say it."
"Ok, first of all I have no idea what you're talking about. Second-"
"The prostitutes, Daniel! I thought I raised you better than that! I raised you to be a respectable young man, not a…a swine looking for love on the streets!"
"Woah, woah…ok, I can explain that! It was…how did you even…"
"I don't want to hear it. As soon as your father gets home, we're setting you up an appointment with a therapist, and then we're gonna have a long talk together. As a family."
"Oh, god, don't bring dad into this…!"
"He has the right to know his son is sharing his bed with women of the night, Daniel."
"I have the right to do what I want, Mom! I'm a goddamn adult!"
"And we have a right to keep our family name intact! Don't you dare bring shame on this family, not like this. Did you learn nothing from your Christian classes? In fact, I'll be bringing you to church with me this week. You're going to confession to rid yourself of these disgusting sins."
"I'm still your mother, Daniel. And so long as you're under our health insurance I don't think you have much of a choice. I'd better see you in your best dress Sunday morning, and your father will have a word with you when he finds out."
The line went dead, but neither Wrench nor Riley could tell who'd hung up. Nor did they care. She was just having the time of her life.
Wrench had been right. Definitely a date she would never forget.
Eventually, they started packing up the stuff and Wrench followed behind her as she drove home. She'd told him he didn't have to, but he refused to be swayed, saying he wasn't about to let her get attacked again on his watch. It was a sweet gesture, so she let him do it, if only for his sake.
They both parked in the apartment parking lot. Riley noticed when he stepped out of the car that he had his mask back on his face. He must have put it back on while on their way here. There were cameras lining the apartment buildings for security, so this didn't surprise her too much. Two large X's blinked back at her, before changing to a wink as he held out his arm chivalrously. Smiling back, she took it, and they both walked to her door.
"So…" He drawled once they reached her door, eyes two wide circles. "A pretty kick-ass date, right?"
Riley chuckled, trying to fish out her keys from her purse, knowing he was probably worried she hadn't had fun."Well, yeah. What's a date without a ruining the lives of San Francisco's resident assholes?"
"A shitty one, that's what." He agreed, mask displaying his good mood. Riley was able to get the lock unlocked, and she stepped inside. Wrench stayed outside though, so she looked back and gestured to follow.
"What, you're gonna lurk on my porch all night? Get in here." She smiled, taking the bite out of the words, and he perked up again.
The brunette tossed all of her stuff on the kitchen table, shrugging off her jacket and placing in on the backside of one of the chairs. Wrench closed the door and lingered there a second, before deciding to take his mask back off. Riley smiled, though he couldn't see with her back to him, as she realized he trusted her so much. Just a nice reminder.
Pants made himself known, meowing loudly as he ran down the hallway, seeing who had come home. He ran straight for Riley, and she reached down to scratch behind his ears a few times. "Hi, big guy. Did you miss me?"
His loud purring was his answer. She straightened and walked around to the kitchen to grab them both a drink. Surely, Wrench wouldn't turn down a beer. When she looked back, the hacker was locking eyes with Pants, but he eventually reached down and pat him on the head a few times, albeit very woodenly and without much feeling. To the cat, though, it didn't matter. His tail curled around and he leaned into the touch, happy he was getting attention.
"See? He likes you." Riley said from the kitchen, watching the exchange with interest.
"Yeah, well…I don't like him." He concluded, and the brunette rolled her eyes.
"He'll grow on you eventually, I'm sure."
Wrench looked doubtfully at her, but she dropped the conversation where it was. Unbeknownst to her, he was thinking along the same lines. Pants wasn't…that bad. At least, as bad as other cats he'd encountered in the past. But it wasn't like he'd ever admit that.
Returning with the beers, she handed one to Wrench and kicked off her shoes. "Alright, I'm down for a movie if you are, but I get to pick this time." She said, taking charge of things now. "And it's not gonna be Predator."
At first Wrench had perked up, but then his face changed to a pout at the bad news. No Predator? Damn. "As long as it's not a chic-flic, then I won't be forced to leave."
"Good." She reached for his hand and dragged him towards the couch. "Because we're settling in for the Dark Knight Trilogy so I can show you why I'm right." She proclaimed with a wide smile, ignoring his fake groan of annoyance.
Room darkened, and Pants sleeping cozily in his cat bed in the corner of the room, it was late into the night. A few empty cans of beer were scattered about her coffee table. They were halfway through the second Batman movie of the trilogy, when Riley shifted her position to be a little more comfortable. With Wrench sitting on the end most cushion of the couch, she'd grabbed a pillow and stuffed it into his lap, immediately laying down on him as she watched the movie.
He didn't seem to mind, and would unconsciously stroke her arm with his thumb despite his full attention being on the movie. Wrench definitely was a movie nerd, but that was perfect, because so was she. The fact that she had a movie buddy now was thrilling, and there were some upcoming ones she wanted to see in the theaters with him soon.
Riley shifted her head enough so she could look up at him without him noticing. His face was illuminated by the screen's backgrounds, changing brightness with each scene change. His eyes were rapt on the screen, unaware that she was scrutinizing him from his lap.
His mess of blonde hair, visible now that he'd taken off his jacket and spiked vest, was messy and unkempt, but still looked so much like his personality that she didn't care. Seeing him in a regular t-shirt was something else, too. But he looked good.
Her eyes naturally fell until they reached the anarchist symbol tattooed onto his neck. How much had that one hurt to get? She shuddered just thinking about it. The slight movement garnered his attention, and he looked away from the movie to regard her.
"Hey." He said, noticing she was already looking at him. "Something on your mind?"
Without answering, she reached up and traced the red ink, following the circle on the outside and then the large 'A' within it. She watched, and felt, him swallow, but didn't stop her from what she was doing. Rather, he simply watched her silently.
"Why'd you get this?" She eventually asked.
He shrugged. "Felt right, you know? People know exactly who I am and what I stand for, without me having to say anything."
She nodded, accepting the answer. There were several moments of silence again, with her just watching his chest rise and fall. Wrench felt there was something else she wanted to ask, but waited to hear it.
They'd comfortably watched without much talk for awhile, content to just enjoy each other's company, but a few things started forming in her mind. Questions she didn't know the answer to. Things she was insanely curious about, but wasn't sure if it was appropriate to ask. Wrench was a private person, after all.
"What made you join DedSec?" Was her quiet question, spoken softly so as not to offend.
Oh. The amused curiosity he'd sported up until then shifted into something a bit more personal and…vulnerable. Like she'd poked him in just the spot to make him recoil a bit back into himself. His gaze slid away from hers, and she immediately retracted it all.
"You don't have to answer, Wrench, it's ok. I was just curious and-"
"It's alright, you deserve to know." He said, steeling himself and almost forcing himself to look back down at her. "I know all about you, but I'm full of secrets, right?"
That wasn't exactly how she'd have put it, but she slowly nodded nonetheless. He bit his lip, looking thoughtful, before ultimately shrugging. "DedSec was…everything I wanted to be. Against the grain, edgy, and it provided just enough danger to sate my unending need for it…I could destroy things and blow stuff up, but the end result was helping people somehow." He gave a little smirk at that, and Riley chuckled.
Wrench seemed to think about it. "Something like that. Hell, they didn't care who you were or what you looked like. If you believed in the message, you were part of the team. It was a place to go without feeling like the outsider. Maybe a bit of an escape too."
That last part sounded a bit more resentful than the rest, and she cocked her head to the side a little. "From what?"
"Who I was. And…family."
After several seconds he said nothing more than that, chewing on his lip again in either thought or trepidation. Riley couldn't tell. It was obvious how uncomfortable this conversation was making him feel. "The main thing you should know is that I hate my family. Actually, loathe might be a better word…" He trailed off bitterly, shaking his head.
"Why do you hate them?" She ventured to question.
"They're all just a bunch of fake, stuck up fuckers. Can't fucking stand any of them…" He stopped himself from saying much more, before evening his tone and continuing again. "Dad's a businessman. Wouldn't doubt he's corrupt. Mom does something with software, I don't know. Don't really care all that much to know more than that about them."
"That…doesn't really explain why you hate them." Riley probed gently, trying to coax the truth out without sounding demanding. She was just curious to know what made Wrench who he was.
He sighed and rubbed at his face. "I had a shitty childhood, ok?" The words sounded harsh, and he seemed to realize this as soon as the brunette looked away apologetically. "Look, I'm not mad at you, I just hate talking about this stuff, so don't take anything I say right now personally."
She nodded, and he continued.
"I have an older brother. Garrett." He added after a moment, almost with distaste. "He was the golden child, put on a pedestal, that sort of thing. Always went on vacations and parties and get togethers with my parents. But nobody wanted a kid with a fucked up face hanging around investors and possible business partners. Would make the family 'look bad.' So guess who got left behind for all the public events and family functions?"
"Yeah. Me." He confirmed bitterly. "Kids are stupid and don't realize what's going on most of the time, but if you're treated completely different than your sibling every day of your life, you figure shit out pretty quick.
"I started acting out to try to get attention, but that just got me confined to my room. Felt like they were trying to hide me away, scrub me from the records and just pretend I didn't fucking exist. Wouldn't surprise me if they had wanted to give me away or something." He finished, glaring at the tv screen as the movie continued to play, almost entirely forgotten at this point. "I hated it. And it didn't get any better when I got older. They just started giving me useless shit to do in the meantime while they were all away. Like a fucking Cinderella or something."
"What happened, in the end?"
"I ran away." Was the simple answer, coupled with an uncaring shrug. Like it didn't matter much. "Left home in the middle of the night with my dad's wallet and a bag of clothes. Never went back."
Riley let the silence go, not quite sure what to say, but wanting to say a million different things. She wanted to say she was sorry but, if Wrench was anything like her, it would have fallen flat. He wouldn't want to hear it anyway. The sentiment had lost its value.
So instead, she reached up and gently traced the anarchist symbol again. A silent reminder of how far he'd come. Where he was now. The friends he'd made along the way, and that this was who he was now, not what his family had made him. Or tried to make him. The empty stare he'd been giving the tv for awhile slowly died away, before he grabbed her wrist and stopped her tracing. Initially, she thought it was an unwelcome gesture, but then he brought her hand up to his lips and kissed them tenderly, closing his eyes and evening his breath. He was trying to calm down from all the negative thoughts.
"Do you ever look them up? Keep tabs?" She asked, and he slowly released her hand.
"Hell no. I don't want anything to do with them." He said adamantly. "They didn't want me? Fine. I don't fucking want them either. Who needs family anyway?"
"Everyone needs family." Riley reasoned quietly, sitting up a little and scooting closer to him. "It's just that family doesn't always turn out to be the people you were born into, sometimes you find it for yourself later on. Like you said, DedSec is a little family all its own, right?"
There was an extended silence, and Riley smiled sadly, before leaning in to kiss the red mark just above his eye. It wasn't even that bad, but she could imagine a much younger Wrench surrounded by people who made sure he knew it was ugly and unsightly, constantly putting him down for it. What a horrible thought. She wished she could do something about the issue with his family, but something like that was beyond her power. Years of resentment and mistreatment weren't easy to let go. She would know. But maybe just having someone to bear it with you was some sort of respite.
"…yeah." He admitted after some time, gazing at her with clear eyes. Whatever emotion or meaning he drew from staring up at her, she would never be able to guess, but it must have been something good, because the side of his mouth quirked up in a tiny smile after a moment.
A line from the movie jumped out at Riley's hearing, and she whirled around to face the tv. "Oh, it's my favorite part." She said, turning back to smiled at him, and he chuckled. Part of her wondered if the interruption would come off as rude, especially after discussing a topic so solemn, but Wrench was Wrench of course.
"Why so serious?" He quoted in time with the character on screen.ns 22.214.171.124da2