The standing fan spun a steady stream of cool air onto Riley's body, who was seated on one of Wrench's work tables at the garage. Her tank top and shorts allowed a maximum amount of her skin to be exposed to the A/C, but it still didn't feel like it was enough. Dammit, why was it so goddamn hot?
San Fran was going through a strange heat wave in the middle of September. Not outright unheard of, but it hadn't happened for a long time. Instead of their usual 70 degrees midday, it was a ridiculous 95, leaving California's residents slowly melting in their own clothes, coupled with the high humidity due to a recent rainy day, it was just…ugh. The garage was spacious and airy, but the only problem was that it wasn't equipped with a powerful enough A/C unit to cool the entire space, so Wrench had to make do with a bunch of standing fans for the time being.
Wrench was in a similar state, for once forgoing his mask while the large garage doors were open. It was either that, or sweat buckets with it on. He didn't like having it off without the doors shut, but this time around he made an exception. His vest and hoodie were draped over a nearby chair, leaving him in nothing but a short sleeved black t-shirt.
"How can you even be doing anything in all this heat?" Riley asked miserably, watching as he tinkered with a few small parts for Marcus' motorcycle. It was in the finishing stages, and just needed a few decal touch-ups. Despite the heat, he didn't seem all that affected by it.
"Distraction." He answered simply, wiping away at his brow and shooting her a grin. "It's not so bad if you don't think about it."
"Ugh, New York was never this bad…" She groaned, laying back on the table to suffer a little more comfortably. "Isn't the hackerspace air conditioned?"
"Yeah, but Ray is there. And I'd rather not be around him right now." Wrench explained with a huff.
With a sigh, the brunette sat back up. "Oh, come on. You two are gonna have to figure something out. You can't have all this animosity between each other forever."
"I don't see him offering an olive branch."
"Because you don't let him. And who said he had to be the one to offer it? You could always do that." She reasoned, and he only gave a non-non-committal gesture with his hand.
"I'm sure I could manage without having him as a best friend."
"He's not that bad."
Wrench shrugged. "For you, maybe. But I don't like him. Sure, he's the 'legendary hacker' we've all learned from and shit, but he's a total dick."
Riley rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. "You know, you're not too far off rom that description either."
"How…dare you!" He cried in exaggeration, one hand held to his chest. He pretended to glare at her accusingly. "I'm nothing of the sort."
The brunette looked at him pointedly, not buying that claim. "Yesterday you fried two teens' phones because they were walking too slow in front of us."
"They were taking selfies and going the speed of a goddamn sloth. I'm actually the hero in this scenario." Wrench reasoned with an amused look, and Riley scoffed.
"Sure, sure…" She shook her head, knowing Wrench would keep defending himself regardless. It was a waste of breath trying to get him to be on good terms with Ray. They'd have to figure something out in their own time. She just hoped it wouldn't affect the rest of the group too much. She was tired of hearing them argue whenever they were in close proximity during an operation.
Out of boredom, she grabbed his mask and inspected it closely. Wrench gave her a glance but only smirked, letting her take a closer look at it. She felt along the seams, seeing how finely it was crafted, and the LED configuration.
Turning it around, she saw how the inside was padded with a more breathable material to prevent the leather from irritating Wrench's face. Around the eyes of the mask were tiny little indents, with what she assumed to be some sort of sensor or camera system. Hmm. Was this how it automatically knew which emote to switch to? Cool.
She peered inside, trying to see through Wrench's perspective in the mask. It would probably be presumptuous of her to just put it on, right? It meant a lot to him after all-
She felt a light smack at the back of her head. "Just put it on, you dweeb. I don't care." He said from the side, noticing her burning curiosity. She gave him a playful glare, before bringing the mask all the way onto her face.
Right off the bat, she could feel that it was too big for her. Wrench's nose was slightly bigger than hers, meaning there was a gap between hers and the front of the mask. The sides extended past the curve of her face, almost reaching her ears. But the eyes were in relatively the same space, so she could see out of it.
Riley hadn't known what she expected his vision to be like in the mask, but it didn't appear to be anything different than normal, just with a faint black-lined overlay for the emotes. It almost wasn't noticeable unless you were looking for it.
"Woah." She said, holding it to her face to keep it in place and looking around the garage.
"What?" He asked with a chuckle, watching her fully now. From his perspective, the eyes of the mask became two wide circles, occasionally blinking as she faced left and then right.
"How do you breathe in this thing?" She asked, her voice masked with the robotic filter he'd applied. "Heh, ok this sounds weird."
She laughed, hearing herself talk. Wrench found it adorable. "I am C-3PO, human, cyborg relations." She quoted in her best impression, eyes changing into his happy expression.
Wrench smiled, reaching up and poking her in the head. The eyes became two X's. "Access denied."
The eyes switched to the angry slants. "I'll be back."
Then, question marks. "Shall we play a game?"
"I think it's time to put the mask away." He suggested, wondering how many robot or computer quotes she could think of. They might be here all day, if she loved movies as much as he did. And he was fairly certain she did.
The X's returned again, and she straightened her back. "I can't do that, Dave."
Wrench raised a brow, unimpressed. Riley finally relented, taking it off her face and placing it back on the table. "Satisfied?"
"I wanted to put that on at least once so yes, I'm good now." Was her reply, smiling cheerily. Wrench grinned, getting back to his task. He wanted to get this bike done for Marcus. He was sure his friend would love the way it turned out. All of the paint was done, now the only things left were small decals and touch-ups.
Riley swung her legs back and forth again, bored once more. She spent some time watching Wrench work before even that sort of became a little boring. Her eyes swept the garage again, looking for anything to do, suddenly spotting something that hadn't been there before. A man standing in the doorway of the garage. He appeared to be examining the inside with interest.
"Uh, were you expecting any visitors?" She asked quietly, gesturing behind him to the doorway. Out of reflex, he swung his gaze at the door behind him, perhaps forgetting that his mask was not in fact on his face, baring his birthmark to this stranger. The man standing there locked eyes with him, and started walking closer as Wrench whipped his face away. Riley swore she could see…fear in his eyes. Wrench? Afraid? This was new.
"How the fuck did he…" He whispered just loud enough for her to hear, already reaching for the mask that sat on the desk beside him. It was strapped on and in place in a matter of seconds. Wrench turned in place and pointed at the approaching man.
"How the hell did you get here?" He called out in anger, slashes displaying his discontent. Riley dropped down from the table, unsure of what exactly was going on. Did Wrench…know this person?
The man had gone back to looking around the garage, as if unperturbed by the hacker's potential violent reaction to his presence. "I recognized your face when you were leaving the hospital." He said distractedly, eyes still scanning his surroundings, until they finally fixed themselves on Wrench. "No one's got a mark quite like yours, now do they? It was easy to tell."
His mask went blank, but he said nothing. Riley wasn't sure if he was too angry for the mask to register, or if he intentionally wanted his feelings shut away. The man continued before they could respond.
"And it certainly wasn't easy to find you. It took awhile…tracking you down. My people weren't sure where you lived until yesterday." He wandered over to Marcus' motorcycle in the corner, not touching but inspecting, Riley was able to get a good look at him now.
He was blonde, a darker color than Wrench's own light hair. Slightly more built up than the hacker but just as tall. He was dressed sharply, even in this abysmal heat, with black slacks and a tucked in button-up shirt. His tie was in place neatly, the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. A very expensive-looking watch adorned his wrist. Just who was this guy, and how did Wrench know him?
"Well, it was a waste of time. I don't want anything to do with you, or them, so get out of my garage." He warned with a dismissive gesture, stepping closer. It was an obvious attempt at intimidation, but this man didn't seem swayed. As if he knew something they did. Riley didn't like that.
The more she looked at his face, the more it looked familiar…
The man smiled with a small shake of his head. "So hostile. You've changed so much since back then."
"I told you to get the fuck out." Wrench said in a much lower tone, another step closer. Riley stood off to the side, gaze switching between them, still utterly confused. Who was this guy? Who was he to Wrench? Gosh, they had the same light-colored eyes, too.
Wait a minute…
The man seemed to be fed up with being brushed aside, because he turned back and faced Wrench again. "Damien, if you would talk to me like an actual adult-"
"Don't…call me that. That's not my fucking name!"
Hold the fuck up. Damien? Was that Wrench's real name? Considering he had nearly physically flinched at the mere mention of it, she was willing to bet it was. Wrench was actually a Damien? Too much was happening all at once for her to process it properly. She was still very much not sure of what was happening, but she began to suspect.
"It is your name. Mother gave it to you." He retorted. Then suddenly it must have dawned on him that Riley was also in their company, because he turned to her with an apologetic bow to his head and a hand to shake. "I'm sorry, I haven't even introduced myself to you. I'm-"
"Garrett." Wrench interrupted dryly, as if it had a bad aftertaste. "My brother."
Things clicked into place for her, but she'd already started to suspect before who he was. Seemed her hunch was correct. That's why he looked so familiar. His facial structure was very similar to Wrench, of course without the birthmark that covered most of his brother's eye. He was handsome, and as a whole charismatic. Just like Wrench. She should have known the moment he walked in.
But that still didn't lessen the amount of shock currently going through her head. There was a whole lot of revelations about Wrench being brought up that she wasn't prepared for.
Garrett shot Wrench a stale stare at his rude interruption, but softened his gaze as Riley took his hand. But instead of shaking it, he brought it to his lips and kissed it in the way that fancy people often do. "A pleasure to meet you."
She hadn't quite been expecting that. "Uh-"
Wrench wedged his way between them, pushing his brother back a few feet and keeping Riley at his back. "Don't touch her."
Garrett, still unperturbed, held up his hands in a placating way. However, he did put some distance between them for good measure. "I didn't mean offense."
"What is it you want?" Wrench finally asked harshly, hoping he would say what he needed to say and then leave. Immediately. Riley moved from Wrench's back a bit to the side so she could watch events a bit more clearer.
Garrett shrugged. "Mother and Father want you to come home."
"Like hell they do." Was Wrench's muttered scoff.
Ignoring his remark, Garrett continued. "It's not like their request is unfounded. You ran away. They haven't seen you for 10 years. Of course they'd be worried about their youngest son. And is it so strange that I want to get to know the brother I used to have?"
Wrench huffed out a humorless laugh, as if he didn't believe Garrett's claim. From what Riley knew of Wrench and his family, perhaps he couldn't seriously believe that his family would worry about him, or even care about what happened to him after all was said and done. How sad, she thought to herself.
Garrett must have guessed the same thing. "You don't have to believe me, but that's the truth."
"Fuck you. And fuck them." He finally spat with a shake of his head, walking closer threateningly. "For the last time, get the hell out of my garage. If I ever see you walk in here again, you won't be able to walk out."
Both brothers stared each other down, one much more angry than the other, with Riley standing to the side unsure of what to do or say. This didn't really have anything to do with her, but she wanted to help somehow. Wrench was obviously upset, but maintaining the tough facade for the sake of Garrett, if she knew him at all. He probably wanted to break something right now, given the amount of stress in the room.
Garrett finally took a long breath, releasing it slowly. His expression remained calm. Always in control. "I haven't yet told them where you live. But if you don't agree to see them, I'll make sure they know."
At first Wrench didn't respond, just faced Garrett with three dots on either side of his mask. Eventually, he threw up his hands and the angry slashes returned in full. "Fuck…" He walked away meanderingly, trying to clear his thoughts.
It was a clever bind. He either agrees to see them, or they'll never stop pestering him so he'd either have to eventually cave or move out of the country or some shit. That was the last thing he wanted to do. Why should he have to pick up and move because of them? He didn't have a choice, when it came down to it.
"It's up to you." Garrett said, standing there waiting for an answer.
Riley looked to Wrench, watching as he slowly came to terms with the situation. She wondered what was going through his head as he paced the concrete floors.
"If I want any goddamn peace in my life again, I fucking have to go. So, when am I being summoned?" He spat. Riley was amazed that Garrett hadn't caved to Wrench's volatile nature, and his penchant for swearing. The man looked like the worst he dealt with was a spot of dust on his marble flooring. He handled a pissed-off estranged brother remarkably well. She supposed deceiving looks ran in the family, recalling how she had been surprised with Wrench's own contradicting personality in comparison to his appearance.
Garrett gave a small smile. "This afternoon-"
"Hell no!" Wrench immediately denied. "If I'm going back, I need time to get fucked-up drunk first, and I don't have enough alcohol. They can fucking wait!"
Apparently that was all that Wrench could handle for the day, because he went straight back to his work tables after a dismissive wave and began grabbing random things from the table, trying to find something to do with his hands. Maybe he just didn't want to focus on the fact that his brother was here to bring him back home.
Riley watched as Garrett sighed inaudibly to himself, eyes closing momentarily, before catching her eye. Riley supposed she had to be the spokesperson for the time being now, because Wrench was far too pissed-off now to be reasoned with. If Garrett's intention had been to keep things civil and nice, he had done a shit job of it. Tact wasn't the way to go with Wrench. Not for things he didn't like.
"When would a good time be?" She asked politely. No need to be abusive to him just because Wrench had deep-seated issues with him. Riley herself didn't have a reason to hate him. Yet. Whether it was justified remained to be seen.
Garrett seemed to appreciate her civility, nodding a silent thanks. "If today isn't good, then perhaps tomorrow afternoon? Say…2:00?"
They both glanced at Wrench to see what he had to say about it. Apparently nothing. All he did was aggressively stab at a computer tower he had planned on taking apart later on. He ignored the both of them. But he wasn't adamantly telling them no either, so she supposed that was a good enough sign.
"That should be fine." She replied. Still no opposition or agreement from Wrench, but she was willing to bet he was still listening closely to their conversation.
"We'll expect you then." Garrett confirmed, looking towards Wrench's back in expectation, but the hacker didn't bother acknowledging him any further. Turning back to Riley, he gave a silent nod in farewell, before leaving through the same way he'd come.
Riley watched him go, then nearly jumped as a metal grating sound echoed around the space. The garage doors began to close, and when she looked over, Wrench had his finger on the button to lower the metal paneling down. His head was downturned, shoulders tense underneath his t-shirt.
The garage finally shut, leaving the both of them in an uncomfortably long silence. Riley didn't know how to bring up the subject, and Wrench did appear to want to talk about it. But they had to. He released the button and began pacing the area in front of the tables again. He rubbed at his arms, constantly moving, unsure of what to do with himself and all this anger and frustration.
Riley took a step forward, hoping to put him at ease. "Wrench-"
"Son of a bitch!" He yelled suddenly, grabbing the nearest thing off the table, an empty beer bottle from the night before, and chucked it as hard as he could against the nearest stone pillar. The brunette flinched as it shattered upon impact, sending thousands of shards of glass in every direction. A few pieces bounced harmlessly against the skin of her arms, but she still shied away from it regardless.
So she held off from saying anything else until he calmed himself down enough. For several minutes he paced the garage, cursing and grumbling under his breath, grabbing unimportant trash and other small odds and ends from the tables and hurling them across the space. Riley made sure to keep her distance when he did so, not wanting to accidentally have a motorcycle or computer part chucked in her direction. Wrench was mindful of where she was so that wouldn't happen, but better safe than sorry.
On an unrelated note, she realized Wrench had been right about one thing. Distractions certainly helped with the heat. She hadn't even thought about the temperature and how uncomfortable it was until things had settled down between Garrett and Wrench. Now, though, it returned in full and she could feel the sweat pooling on her forehead.
Before long he eventually started to calm. Or, at least stop throwing things around. Until finally he also stopped pacing, and leaned against the table, crossing his arms. His mask was blank, either too angry or too upset to change into anything.
He sighed heavily, shoulders rising and falling as he breathed. Riley took his ceased movement as a good sign, and hesitantly came closer to him.
"Wrench?" She tested, but he didn't react violently. Good. These were all good signs. Another few steps and she was directly in front of him. "What's going on in that head of yours?"
One hand reached up and hesitantly combed through his messy blonde hair, trying to soothe him further. It was a…'kink' of his, if you could call it that. But not in a sexual way, specifically. She'd found that just running her fingers through his hair tended to relax him. Hopefully it would still do so now.
"It's all fucked." He growled, shaking his head. She recalled using a very similar phrase after finding out about her own job's deception. "I never wanted to go back there."
"I know." Riley looked at him empathetically, fingers still slowly playing with his hair. It seemed to be of some help, his shoulders slumped and relaxed versus how they were before. "I'm sorry you're being dragged into something you don't want."
"Not your fault." He muttered.
He was right, it wasn't her fault, but she still felt bad that he wasn't happy. There wasn't much more she could do besides be there for him, so that's what she did. Silently reminding him she was there by gently soothing him down from his anger.
Eventually, the mask displayed two underscores, indicating his eyes were closed. His hands loosely held her hips, thumbs brushing the skin just above the hem of her shorts slowly as they just stood there.
They listened to the sound of people going by outside, muffled and distorted by the metal doors and concrete walls. Cars drove by. Wind brushed against trees at the edge of their hearing.
"Tomorrow," he started after some time of silence, "will you come with me?"
She looked up into his mask. "Of course. Why wouldn't I?"
He shrugged, not able to come up with any believable reason. "I just don't want to deal with them by myself. It'll be easier for me if I have you around." Then, he looked up at her rapidly. "Just…don't ever call me that name. Please."
Riley nodded, seeing the vulnerability back in his tone. She hadn't really heard it since he visited her in the hospital. She thought she understood. 'Damien' was the person he'd been back before running away. 'Wrench' was the identity he created for himself afterwards, taking control of his life as he wanted. She could relate, but with Wrench it was just in a much more literal sense. Denying his real name was denying his past. Running away from it.
It might not be the healthiest method of dealing with his problem, but Riley wasn't about to tell him how he should live his life. If this was how he wanted to handle things, she'd support whatever his decision was.
In reply to his request, she smiled. "I never intended to." She let her fingers trail down some of the spikes on his mask. "Because you're Wrench, and nobody else."
Wrench looked at her with two small circles on his mask, before reaching up and taking it off entirely. The brunette felt a tug on her shorts' belt loop, and the next moment he was kissing her. It was…strangely desperate, or some other emotion she couldn't quite understand, but she wasn't exactly complaining, lips moving in time with his.
He knew she probably didn't understand the significance of what she'd said, and how much that actually meant to him, but he hoped he could somehow communicate that through this kiss, pulling her closer.ns 22.214.171.124da2