Airports were always a mess. Especially San Francisco's airports.
Riley loved flying. Traveling on airplanes had always been a fun experience for her, even as a kid. Her parents hadn't ever needed to travel for work, and they couldn't afford an awful lot so they didn't do it often, but enough to remember. It always preceded a vacation or new place she had never seen before. It broke routine in a way that left you excited for what happened afterwards.
However, despite her general good mood towards using the airports to travel, actually getting to the gate was sometimes a nightmare. And by sometimes, she meant every single time without fail. Security was a pain in the neck, especially if you brought electronics with you like Riley always did. Taking them out of your suitcase and running them separately through the screener was a hassle, and then you had to pack it all back up on the other side. How had they not streamlined this process by now? It was 2018.
After having to stand with her arms to either side above her head, and legs apart uncomfortably, they gave her the go-ahead to proceed through. Holding back the frustrated huff and dirty look at the TSA agent who'd been rushing her to take off her shoes, Riley grabbed her suitcase from the rolling belt and walked away, holding her shoes and all of her stuff.
She sat on a bench just past the security checkpoint, putting her shoes back on and re-buckling her belt. Other travelers were doing the same around her with varying degrees of frustrated expressions. Seemed nobody liked this part of the traveling process. But it was always interesting to see the variety of different people and their destinations in airports. You saw so many different cultures and individuals in all walks of life.
Finished getting her stuff in order, she grabbed her suitcase and released the handle so she could wheel it behind her. Overhead, an intercom system notified the airport patrons of any gate changes and departure time delays. In front of her, two sets of escalators adjoined this floor to the one above, which just so happened to be the main food court as well. The thought of food reminded that the last time she ate was early, early that morning, while she'd been spending the last little bit of her time with Wrench.
He wouldn't have been able to go through security with her at the airport with his mask, and it was too heavily populated for him to feel comfortable enough to take it off, so they'd hung out at his garage together until she had to leave. A 2 am McDonald's breakfast and a long debate about the pros and cons of both Marvel and DC. The perfect send off, in Riley's opinion.
It had ended much too quickly in her opinion, and by 4:45 she was out the door. Well, when it all came down to it, that wasn't quite true. Wrench had pulled her back inside for a proper goodbye and refused to let go until he was satisfied. With hair slightly mussed and lips swollen from being kissed at length, Riley actually left his garage closer to 5, an amused and smug-looking Wrench watching her leave.
Her stomach growled again, and she swept her gaze across the numerous food establishments that lined the large central hub of the airport. Hundreds of people milled about, either intent on getting to their gate, or just wandering around to wait for their flight. It was packed, even this early in the morning. San Francisco wasn't LAX, but it was still a big transportation hub.
All different sorts of smells of heavenly food wafted through the air, and the brunette couldn't pick which one she wanted. And then, the all too familiar ambrosia scent of teriyaki sauce and chicken beckoned her closer, and she made a beeline for the closest Chinese place that they had. Mouth watering, she was nearly too impatient to even stand in line while they made the food. It was with great joy and excitement that Riley took the finished food and sat down at the nearest unoccupied table to eat.
it was already about 6, and her plane left at 8. Riley hated even the possibility of being late for things, resulting in her extreme earliness to the airport. Plus, it was nice to have some time to unwind after going through the hectic security and before boarding the plane itself. Taking her time to eat and relax, she pulled out her phone and saw two messages. One from Wrench, and one from Sitara.
What am I supposed to do while you're away? Wrench Jr. is gone, and Marcus has been spending a suspicious amount of time with Sitara. And I'd rather eat a jar of nails than spend some 'quality time' with Ray right now. -.-
Riley grinned, shaking her head as she typed out a response.
Maybe go out and meet new friends? Or go blow something up! That always cheers you up.
Yeah, but who's gonna see it if you're not around?
I'm sure if the explosion is big enough, somebody in San Francisco will see it. ^_^
…or, I make it big enough to make headlines, and then you'll see it in the news.
That sounds like it has a high possibility of failing. And sort of dangerous.
Isn't that the point though? ~.^
Are you trying to worry me so much I don't leave?
I hadn't thought about it but…you know, that might actually work!
If I come back to the city and everything's on fire, you're gonna be in big trouble.
You won't be able to stop me if you leave~
Ugh. You're impossible.
She shook her head, rolling her eyes in amusement at Wrench. He was sometimes too much. But he meant well. Most of the time. Hopefully. Switching over to Sitara's message, she smiled warmly.
Good luck with your mom, Riley, but just be careful. I promised Wrench I'd remind you that you've got a family here too. DedSec's always here to support you.
Thanks! Keep me in the loop of everything going on down here while I'm away!
You bet. ;)
Finishing up the last of her meal, the brunette shut off her phone screen and stood. Grabbing her suitcase, she located the nearest trash can to throw away the remnants of her food, then headed off towards her correct gate.
She'd only been to this airport once before, when she first had moved here for her job a few years ago. At the time, the brunette hadn't paid much attention to the layout or interior design of the place, having been both excited and nervous to start anew in an unfamiliar city with a brand new career path ahead of her. But now that she wasn't in any sort of rush to pass through and she was a resident of this fine city, Riley took her time looking around, seeing the sights, and actually enjoying the building's aesthetic.
It was wide and spacious, ensuring enough room for so many travelers. Large windows on either side of the building let a flood of natural light inside, making it just bright enough to see without becoming annoying. The large expanse created a sort of pleasing echo to the natural hubbub that the crowds caused. The scent of plastic and a mixture of many individuals' perfumes and natural scents hung heavy in the air, as well as cheap and convenient snack food that was so infamous in these places.
Her suitcase rolling evenly behind her, Riley looked for the nearest kiosk that would help direct her towards where her gate was. She spotted one sitting in the middle of the connecting hallway, and she approached eagerly.
Placing a finger where she was located, she traced the path towards the correct gate on the map and then turn in place, orienting what was on the board to where she was supposed to go. It probably looked like she had no clue where to go, but that was alright. Lots of people got lost in places like these. It wasn't uncommon. And she'd rather look like an idiot in front of the thing that could solve her problem rather than wandering blindly around the airport and constantly having to backtrack.
Having a pretty good idea of where to go now, she grabbed the handle to her case again and began walking. Even this far towards the gates, she still saw convenient stores and other novelty merchandise shops set up on either side of the corridor. Most had ridiculously priced electronics and other things that a traveler may have forgotten while they were away, or may want to enjoy while up in the air, but Riley had remembered everything she needed. Although, that spa place did look rather appealing, watching as the customer had a professional kneading expertly into her back, looking extremely relaxed.
Shaking her head, she turned her head and continued on.
"Gate 324, Section 2, is now boarding." The flight attendant's voice was projected over the intercom in the flight's waiting area.
Even with her headphones on, Riley was able to hear the loud announcement, and she took out the earbuds, tugging on the cord so it would retract around her neck. She shut off her phone, stopping the music she'd been listening to, and stuffed it in her pocket. With a painful groan, her knees sore from sitting crosslegged on the floor for so long, the brunette stood, arching her back to pop it.
Dozens of people began to rise from their seats and head towards the door leading out to the airplane. A long, narrow hallway lay behind it, and the attendant stood at the entrance, taking tickets from passengers and scanning them in the system to make sure all was in order. She took her place in the line and held up her own boarding pass, excited energy suddenly coursing its way through her. She had managed to secure a window in the middle area of the plan. Her favorite spot. She was minutes away from sitting in it.
The line slowly moved forward, one person at a time. The scanner beeped as each pass was scanned, and the attendant waved them through. The noise had picked up dramatically when the boarding process had been announced, and Riley blindly listened to the humdrum around her. Mothers were checking on babies and young children, wrangling them into order in line. Teens with backpacks and nothing else tapped their feet to the sound of their music, or obliviously messed around on their phones.
Finally, it was RIley's turn to the gate. She presented her pass and the attendant scanned it. The light beeped green, and she was flashed a smile. Returning it, she accepted the pass back and walked past her down the door towards the plane.
Even though the cabin had yet to be pressurized for flight, it still felt so much smaller, like the air was pressing down on you, as soon as she stepped inside. The high-pitched whir of the turbines outside made her ears feel like they needed to pop. It was annoying, but there was nothing to be done about it.
As with all airplanes, it was a tight fit walking down the middle aisle between the seats, but luckily not too many people had boarded yet. She was able to navigate her way to her row without too much trouble, only having to shimmy past one person stuffing their suitcase into the overhead compartment.
At row 11, she stopped and tucked the handle of her suitcase into the top. It snapped in place, holding fast. Working quickly so as not to hold up the line of people behind her, she hefted up the suitcase and maneuvered it into the corner of the overhead compartment so it would still leave room for others. Then, she sidestepped into the row and took her seat by the window.
She tossed her purse under the seat, shifting in place to get comfortable. Sighing with relief, she watched as the rest of the passengers proceeded down the aisles to the rows further back, leaving her by herself for the time being.
Her first action was to pull out her phone and check the battery level. Thankfully she'd thought to bring her portable charger, because it was already sitting at 43%. Pulling the little device from her purse, she plugged it in and unlocked her phone.
She'd promised Wrench that she'd text him when she got on the plane. It would be the last time they could speak for at least 7 hours. It was a long flight to the Newark Airport nearest to Brooklyn. She began typing out a message then, pausing halfway through, Riley deleted it all and plugged in one side of her headphones, tapping over to her contacts button. She scrolled down the list and tapped Wrench's name, then the call button. Holding it close to her face, she waited as it rang a few times.
"Hey, just wanted to check in." Riley said quietly, conscious of all of the other people in the cabin with her. She didn't want to be too loud and disruptive. Not to mention, she didn't want everyone listening in on her conversation. "I just boarded the plane."
"Oh, nice." Wrench said, slightly confused. She frowned.
She rolled her eyes, deciding to stop that train before it could begin. "You just sound super…confused. I don't know. Is something wrong?"447Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡXkObsW81Ir
"No, I just expected a text. Because now I don't know what to say and I've gone and made things awkward." He laughed nervously, obviously rambling in the space he didn't know what else to fill it with.
Riley smiled. He was pretty cute without realizing it. "Heh, don't worry about it. I guess I just wanted to hear the sound of your voice again before we took off. It'll just be me and AC/DC for the next 7 hours and I know I'll miss it."
"That was pretty cheesy. But nonetheless effective." Wrench's confusion and anxiety seemed to wane slightly, grasping at her attempts at humor as a familiar coping mechanism for conversing. "Besides, 7 hours isn't that long. You'll let me know when you land, right?"
"Of course, you worrywart." She said with a smirk.
Wrench scoffed. "It's not that ridiculous of me to be worried about you, considering we've both been taken against our will by some form of gang or government."
That stopped her short, and she tossed her head side to side, finally conceding the point. "Ok, you have a point."
"Even though I doubt the FBI or Bratva will travel all the way to New York to try getting to you, that still leaves the possibility of getting jumped. So just watch yourself." He said in an amused but also semi-serious tone. He was trying to make it sound light-hearted, but deep down she knew he was a little nervous watching her leave on her own.
It was a good thing she was a big girl and could take care of herself. Most of the time. And despite his endless worrying, Wrench knew that too. Otherwise he wouldn't have allowed her to go in the first place. Riley was glad he held enough trust in her to let her do this for herself.
"Just make sure you come home." He ended with, dropping the humor and asking her genuinely. She smiled, eyeing a man stuffing his suitcase in the same overhead compartment as hers. So much for getting the whole row to herself. Oh well.
"I will. It'll only be a few days, then I'll be back before you know it."
The man sat in the seat right next to the aisle, leaving an empty seat between them. He glanced at her and gave a neutral smile, nodding minutely. She returned the gesture, knowing she'd have to wrap up her conversation soon.
The brunette perked up, remembering something she'd forgotten to take care of beforehand. "And you'll take good care of Pants for me while I'm gone, right?"
This seemed to catch him off guard. "Uh, Sitara or Marcus could always do it-"
"Yeah, but I want him to get used to you. After the whole Bratva thing, I've noticed he's a little wary of new people now. If you're gonna be around, I want him to get comfortable with you."
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Riley knew of Wrench's dislike for animals, but he'd said he'd work on dealing with it for her. She hoped that still held true. Finally, he reluctantly sighed. "I'll…try."
"As long as he doesn't starve, that's good enough for me." Riley smiled, feeling a surge of warmth for the hacker on the other end. Then, the captain and copilot both boarded the plane, carrying their own bags into the cockpit up front with them. "I'd better go, most of the plane is seated, so we'll be taking off soon."
"See you in a few days!"
They both hung up, and Riley took out the earbud in her ear, placing both the phone and the attached charger into her purse for the time being. She wanted it to charge as much as possible before they took off, so there wasn't a possibility of it dying in the middle of the flight.
She looked out the window, seeing a few stragglers approaching the plane, but otherwise it appeared that all of the passengers had boarded. The flight attendants milled up and down the aisles, making sure all of the overhead compartments were correctly fastened or that travelers had everything the needed.
Another ten minutes passed, and still the seat in between her and the other passenger remained empty. Riley looked around at the other rows, seeing multiple empty seats scattered throughout the plane. So, it wasn't a packed flight, but still enough to warrant the bigger sized jet. This flight wouldn't be so bad after all.
"Ladies and gentleman, if I may have your attention up at the front of the cabin so we can begin our safety instructions…" The attendant began, and Riley automatically started to zone out from the rest, electing instead to stare out the window.
After the first few hours of the flight, Riley had grown bored of her classic rock playlist. She'd moved onto more modern stuff, leaning her head back and closing her eyes to pass the time while she listened. Of course, being in the middle of the day, she wasn't tired. So this grew boring after awhile too.
Opening her eyes as another song ended, she glanced to her left and watched as the clouds below passed behind them. The roar of the engine was comforting, almost soothing. The cabin had been dimmed somewhat to reduce the amount of annoying and blinding light. Outside, the sky was bright and clear. They were flying over mountains at the moment, visible below the cloud line and in between the gaps of the white, fluffy things.
As another song began to play, Riley continued watching out the window. It was mesmerizing, being so high up in such a fast machine. With no connections to the world below, only her music for entertainment.
It was a perfect time to think, and she lowered the volume of her music for awhile, feeling like her eardrums deserved a break.
This whole trip still rattled her nerves a little. Riley had no idea what to expect when she actually stood face to face in front of her mother. She knew what she looked like but…as a person, who was she now? Yes, it was pointless asking herself until she actually arrived at the prison, but the brunette couldn't help but wonder.
Not only that, but if Riley did feel convinced enough that she could confidently bail her mother out of prison without regret, what then? Did she go back to living in Brooklyn, and Riley return to San Francisco without any other interaction? Would they keep in contact? Would she ask her to come to SF with her? Was that even a good idea? Surely they couldn't live together in the same place, but with the money she'd come into recently, Riley could afford rent for two places until her mother got back on her feet.
How would they go about fixing their mother-daughter relationship? How willing would she be to go to counseling? The brunette suddenly snapped out of her train of thought. This was thinking way too far in advance. Things hadn't even happened yet and she was already planning for outcomes that may never come to fruition. Her inner desire to have that bond again was influencing her decisions already. Damn. Maybe Wrench did have a point in warning her against going. Riley could barely reason against herself, let alone the woman in question. This was going to be harder than she thought.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. Eventually the Captain spoke over the intercom system and informed the passengers that they were 30 minutes out of Newark. Riley gathered all of her stuff back in her purse, wanting to be prepared to exit the plane. And to double check she hadn't lost anything in transit.
They slowly began to descend, the clouds rising higher and higher from above them until they briefly passed through the endlessly white level of the sky. There was slight turbulence as they flew directly through the clouds, before emerging just underneath them. The view of the ground below was clear and unobstructed now, a view of a sprawling city down below. The brunette honestly wasn't sure which one it was.
The distance between them and the ground lessened over time, until the Captain again informed them that they'd be landing briefly. Riley was excited and filled with dread in the same instance. She was actually here, with the intent to see her mother. It was crazy to even think about.
They touched down and the plane began to slow to a near stop. Riley surveyed the surroundings, seeing the main airport terminal over to the left. Dozens of airplanes were parked at other gates, and one was beginning it's run down another runway further beyond.
They coasted to a stop at the gate, and the lights in the cabin flickered to full power, bathing the inside in bright light. The attendants stood and directed the passengers to calmly gather their things from the overhead compartments when it was ok to exit the plane. The first few rows stood and slowly began leaving. Riley remained seated until it was closer to her row.
One by one, the passengers up front exited the airplane, until it was RIley's turn. She reached up and grabbed her suitcase, carrying the first little bit through the tight aisles before popping the handle and rolling it behind her. It bumped as it rolled over the connecting metal grate between the airplane and the detached hallway towards the gate.
Riley stepped into the gate of the Newark Airport, looking around at the different interior design to that of San Francisco. It was much bigger, and much wider, with not as much emphasis put on visually pleasing design, instead on functionality and neutral colors. Obviously the architects wanted to keep it as professional and unoffending as possible. It was charming in its own way, but the brunette much preferred SF's airport with its fantastical colors and unique atmosphere. It was home.
This place was also much more populated. Because of the 3 hour time difference between California and New Jersey, it was now 6 in the evening, and there must have been many more flights planned for the evening than first thing in the morning. Riley knew it would be a bit inconvenient with the jet-lag that was sure to follow, but she'd deal with it once it came to it.
Making her way through the gate area, she wheeled towards the main hub, and ultimately the exit to the rental car area. She'd already arranged to have a car prepared for when she got there. There was no way she'd risk getting jumped, as Wrench had feared, or murdered and dumped in an alley in the city. She'd heard a few horror stories about this airport in particular from her coworkers at ProviBlue. She had no desire to add her own negative experience while she was here. A rental car it was, then.
Of course, temptation being so great, Riley wasn't able to walk through the main food court without grabbing something to eat. She'd had her fill of Chinese food for the day, so she grabbed a gourmet sandwich and ate it as she walked. The nice part about arriving at her destination was that she got to bypass the security on this end, and she gave a pitying glance towards the travelers who were stuck in the line. Pity, but not envy.
Newark Airport was much bigger, as she'd observed before, and so she had trouble navigating the way to the rental area. There were signs, but there were also many stairs and escalators leading off in similar directions. It took several visits to a few different kiosks before she found her way to the rental area.
"Hi, do you have a reserved vehicle?" The woman at the counter asked when she approached.
"Uh, yeah, let me grab the paper." Riley responded, reaching down to search through her purse for the confirmation number. Pulling it out, she handed it to the woman, who read off the numbers and typed them into the computer. It took a few minutes for her to go through all the checks, leaving the brunette standing there patiently, but finally the woman turned and grabbed a few keys from a board behind her and produced them, along with a pamphlet that contained her rental information.
"Here you are. It should be parked in Section B, which you'll find off on the right side." The woman gestured with her hand past the door beside them, and Riley gave a nod.
Car keys in hand, she trooped past the door and went in search of her car.
Several minutes of searching led her to the vehicle in particular, a dark blue 2014 Toyota Corolla. It wasn't exactly her Mazda, but it was a relatively cheap one with decent enough gas milage. She wouldn't be going on long drives or anything—this wasn't a sightseeing trip, after all—but it would do fine in the heavy traffic Riley knew was in her future. She hit the unlock button and the headlights flashed, the door giving a dull click.
As soon as she sat in the driver's seat after tossing her luggage in the back, the new-car smell assaulted her nose. Rental cars always seemed to retain that straight-off-the-lot scent. A generic air freshener hung off of the rear view mirror in the shape of a pine tree. She pouted, much preferring the orange or black cherry ones. Oh well.
With a turn of the key, the engine started up in a beautiful hum. A check of all the gauges ensured that it was in good condition without any mechanical problems, Riley shifted it into reverse, watching behind her for any pedestrians, and then forwarded down the car lot towards the city.
Riley had plugged her phone into the auxillary, pulling up the map towards where her hotel room would be. She was vaguely familiar with Brooklyn and the surrounding cities, like Newark and New York. Her mother had moved them here after her father died, wanting to start fresh somewhere else with new people and new places, but that had only been for a few years.
After her mother started becoming abusive, the brunette had started getting progressively more inclusive, no longer enthralled with the city or its people. All she'd wanted to do was stay in her room and hope it wouldn't be a particularly bad day for her mother, or escape it entirely to go somewhere else. She hadn't put much effort into learning about her surroundings.
It would take about an hour for her to even get to Brooklyn, so she tapped on her music app and played a song in the meantime. Realizing that she'd forgotten to text Wrench in all the commotion of the airport, she risked glancing at her phone a few times to tap out a quick message.
Putting it back down to avoid the desire to text and drive again, she passed a particularly slow driver and continued towards the city.
Both man and beast stood facing each other, neither one prepared to move before the other. Wrench was thankful the mask covered his face so its beady and piercing eyes couldn't see his subsequent suspicion and slight fear. Outwardly, all they projected were two angry slashes.
One hand holding his phone, and the other the keys to his car, the hacker wondered which would be the better weapon should the animal choose to attack or something. Neither was a very good choice, but he could see no other item in the front living area that would be a better alternative.
Pants, on his part, sat calmly on the floor in the kitchen, eyeing him suspiciously but otherwise not moving to pounce or walk towards him. He simply watched, wondering what this strange person was doing in his domain. Was he here to offer food? But perhaps he was yet another intruder, come to trap him in the bathroom again. That was not a fun experience.
So he sat waiting, watching for any sort of movement, and wondered as to this man's motives. Riley was not home, so he had no need to fear for his owner's safety.
The phone in his hand vibrated and, after a long glare at Pants to silently command him to stay where he was, Wrench unlocked his phone and dared a look at the message.
Just landed. On my way to the hotel. Driving rn, sorry for short message. Text you when I get there.
He looked back up towards the cat, who had yet to take his eyes off of him, and held up the phone for emphasis.
"Listen here, cat. You may be Riley's pet, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna grow to like you. As far as I'm concerned, you're just a furry freeloader. The most you'll get from me is a begrudging tolerance. One bad move and I convince her to bring you to the pound, got it?" He threatened, and Pants' tail swished to the side.
Astonishingly, he gave a low meow in reply, as if he knew what he'd been saying, and as if doubtful that he could or would go through with the threat. I'm her beloved friend, Wrench could imagine him saying. She's had me for over a year. And you've only known her for a month or so. You couldn't possibly be more important than me.
"You keep telling yourself that, cat." He said, finally taking a careful step towards the kitchen. "I'm just here to make sure you don't die before she gets back. Don't try anything funny." He said, pointing towards him dramatically.
Seeing his intended destination, Pants must have decided that Wrench was a friend and could be approached without caution, because he stood and lifted his tail invitingly, walking closer.
"No, no! You stay over there!" Wrench demanded, backing away towards the fridge where his food was. Riley hadn't given explicit instructions on how much to feed him or anything, but he at least knew she only fed him wet food. "Go on, go away!"
Ignoring him obviously, Pants continued forward. Wrench ran out of space to run away from him, his back bumping into the counter, and the cat was able to rub up against the hacker's pants. Huh. Maybe that's why she called him Pants, he thought to himself.
"Ugh…stupid cat." He muttered, stepping around him and resisting the urge to drop kick the animal across the room. He opened the fridge and grabbed his food, putting it on the counter. Then he stooped and grabbed the metal bowl on the floor, now in search of a spoon.
Perking up at the sight of his dinner, Pants hurried around him and hopped up onto the counter, making a beeline for the can of food. "Hey! Get off there!" Wrench rushed to grab him, holding him out at complete arm's length.
Pants meowed his protest, trying to push himself out of Wrench's grasp and towards the counter again, but he walked towards the living room and dropped him to the ground. "Stay!"
Pants eyed him warily, slinking a few feet away as he returned to the kitchen, angry slashes fixed in place. He checked a few more drawers and finally found the silverware. Pulling a small spoon out, he shut the drawer and turned back towards the food. Pants was once again on the counter, sniffing at the can.
"Aw, come on…" He muttered, approaching in frustration.
Pants meowed again as he was picked up and walked back over to the living room. "How does she handle you at all? You're a pest!"
The cat was once again dropped onto the ground, but this time he immediately made a beeline back to the kitchen before Wrench could react. The hacker jogged to catch him before he could jump on the counter again, which made the cat run away in terror.
"You have zero redeeming qualities!" He shouted, chasing the furry creature out of the kitchen. Pants meowed again, arguing against such a claim, but finally gave the hacker some space. "Fucking stay away until I get it ready!"
Another meow from down the hall was the final response from Pants, and Wrench rushed to dish out the food into the bowl. Wrench paused, not knowing how Riley normally served it, but just figured mixing it around and chopping it all up was good enough. It's not like it would change how it looked or the way it tasted for the cat. He'd just scarf it down either way.
Satisfied that he'd done his job, Wrench tossed the spoon into the sink and set the bowl down onto the floor. "Come on, come get your food, cat." He called, suddenly not seeing the animal anywhere.
And, of course, not even an answering meow came as response. Wrench crossed his arms, debating whether he should just leave. Maybe he'd scared the thing have to death by shouting at it. It wasn't like he cared but…fuck, if this kept up, it would be terrified of him every time he came over, and Riley would probably figure he'd abused it or something while she'd been away.
With a heavy sigh, Wrench picked up the bowl again and went in search of Pants. "Do this for Riley. It's all for Riley." He muttered to himself softly, needing the reminder as to why he was trying to gain the favor of a good-for-nothing cat.
Just walking around wasn't getting him anywhere, so he figured he'd call out. He read somewhere that the tone of your voice played a major part in how animals reacted to you. Sounding angry would only drive the cat further away.
"Uh…here, kitty…kitty, kitty." Wrench said in a bored tone. It wasn't very sincere, but at least it was devoid of anger. A distant meow caught his attention, and he turned into her bedroom. "I'm not gonna yell at you again."
Walking inside, he didn't see any sign of the pet. "Pants?" Wrench called, feeling somewhat ridiculous for even saying such a name out loud, and waiting for a response. Another meow, this time under her bed. The hacker approached and got down on his knees.
He held out the bowl of food so the cat could see. "Come on, come eat." He commanded, waggling it around enticingly, but the cat had wide eyes and was terrified. Another sigh escaped his lips. Fucking great. Now what?
He was sure the cat would eat if he left. But again, it would never try to associate with him again. And he'd promised Riley he'd try tolerating it for her sake. Fuck…he hated making promises.
"Ugh…" He scowled under the mask, and then abandoning all of his pride and dislike for animals, he reached underneath the bed and rubbed his fingers together in an attempt to get him to come closer.
"Come on, Pants. Come out and eat. I'm not leaving until you do." He said softly.
The cat looked away, still crouching at the end of the bed in fear. However, he let out a soft meow, finally looking back towards him. Wrench watched as he sniffed the air, no doubt having caught a scent of the food in the bowl.
"That's right, come on. You know you're hungry." He encouraged, once again rubbing his fingers.
Slowly, Pants took a step forward. Then another. But then stopped. Rolling his eyes, Wrench held out the food a bit closer.
"See? Just come out and you can eat. Pants, I'm not gonna hurt you."
His efforts were rewarded by another few steps forward. Pants was nearly within touching distance. Begrudgingly, Wrench realized he'd probably have to pet the damn thing to earn his trust back. Just great. "All for Riley." He muttered again, dampening any disgust he had.
"Almost there." He whispered, watching Pants come a few steps forward. Finally, his fur brushed up against Wrench's fingers, and the hacker rubbed the cat's forehead back and forth gently. Pants was pleased with the motion, because he pressed more enthusiastically into his hand, his earlier fear quickly fading away with the attention.
Wrench slowly began to inch backwards, and Pants followed eagerly. Until he finally emerged from the bed and stood at his full height, purring loudly. Wrench stood and grabbed the food, dangling it low so that Pants could see it.
"Come on, just come eat already. I want to go home." He pleaded, sighing in relief as the cat followed him without qualm.
He trekked them back into the kitchen, placing the bowl on the ground. Pants rubbed up against his legs again, but ultimately went straight to his food, sniffing it experimentally before chowing down without restraint.
"Finally." Wrench muttered, grabbing his phone and keys from the counter. He watched Pants eat his food for a few seconds, before heading towards the door. "I'll be back tomorrow morning I guess."
Pants didn't answer, focused solely on filling his stomach. Wrench shook his head and left out the door, hoping the next time wouldn't be as difficult.
Riley opened the door to her hotel room, feeling utterly exhausted. Flicking the light on, the room was bathed in light. It was small, though most single bed hotel rooms were. This was no luxury hotel either, so there weren't fancy amenities. A tv across from the bed, a small bathroom off to the right, and an air conditioning unit at the far end of the room, just underneath the window. All in all, exactly like most cheap hotels she'd spent the night in before. Nothing special.
But after a six hour flight and a one hour drive, it was all she could ask for. Jet lag made it feel like only 5 in the evening, but here it was nearly 8:30. The traffic meant it took a little longer to get to the hotel.
Riley dropped her suitcase onto the holder on the left, then flopped backwards onto the bed with her arms spread to either side. It felt so nice just to lay there. It was still somewhat bright outside, but the sun would set before too long. It would be beneficial to go to bed at the time it was here in New Jersey, rather than what she was used to in California. That way her body could acclimate to this new time zone. Plus, her exhaustion helped to encourage that same decision.
She reluctantly rose from the comfy bed, feeling the need to pee intensify. She shut the bathroom door and relieved herself. The bathroom was anything special either, but she wouldn't be staying long. In fact, she'd be leaving the morning after tomorrow. At least, unless things took an unexpected turn. Well…Riley would figure that out once it came to it.
Emerging from the bathroom, she returned to her suitcase and took out a pair of pajamas to change. She honestly wasn't that hungry since she'd eaten at the airport. The thought of going anywhere was too much of a hassle. So, better to just get some sleep now.
Throwing on a pair of sleep pants and an old t-shirt, Riley turned on the tv and made herself comfortable in the bed again. The channels weren't that interesting, but she did find a history show. The program had something to do with the civil war. She'd always found history interesting, and it was better than most of the other programs currently on. So, she kept it on that channel and set the remote to the side.
Riley grabbed her phone as she tugged the comforter further up her body, meaning to call Wrench. She didn't want him to worry that she hadn't made it to the hotel. That man worried about enough as it was. There wasn't a need for him to be worried about her, who was hundreds of miles away right now. DedSec needed his focus, even while she was away.
Bringing the phone up to her ear, she waited as it rang several times, more times than usual, until he finally pick up.
"Hey, you made it to the hotel?" He asked, and she smiled, loving the sound of his voice. He must have had his mask off, because his voice didn't sound as robotic as it did when he wore it.
"Yeah, just laying in bed now. I might still be on California time, but I'm dead tired."
"I can imagine. 6 hour flights plus jet lag will do that to you. How was the flight?"
She shrugged. "Eh, nothing special. But not bad. Plus there was an empty seat between me and the other guy in my row, so no sweaty guy lounging over me while I sleep. That was a plus."
"Count yourself lucky then."
"I do." She smiled, suddenly eyeing the time and calculating what time it was back in California. "Did you feed Pants already?"
"Yeah…" He trailed off, and she raised a brow.
"That sounded ominous."
He sighed. "Everything went fine, so don't worry about it. It's just gonna take awhile before me and the cat…figure out this relationship." He explained, and Riley couldn't help but grin.
"Alright then. Hopefully he didn't give you too much trouble. I know he can be a pain sometimes.
"I like to think we've come to an agreement." Wrench said cryptically.
"I'll take your word for it." Riley concluded, not really wanting to know. She'd leave Pants and Wrench to figure out where they stood with each other. There wasn't much she could do about it anyways.
There was a small pause in the conversation, before Wrench spoke again. "How are you feeling about tomorrow?"
Riley took a deep breath in, before letting it slowly out. "I honestly don't know." She answered bluntly, knowing that Wrench would see right through if she tried pretending everything was fine. "I feel confident I'll make the right decision, but I know how easily I can be swayed to feel sympathetic to someone's side of the story."
"Don't take this as me not believing in you," he started, sounding a bit reluctant to say anything at all, "but I really hope you know what you're doing."
"I do." And she did. At least, she thought she did. Then, another thought came to mind. One she didn't know if she wanted the answer to. "Um, Wrench, will you be honest with me about something?"
"I'm always honest with you." He said confidently, and she believed him.
"If I do decide to pay for her bail…what will you do?"
There was a long pause, and she started to get worried. But she forced herself to give him time to think about the answer.
"I…don't know." He finally said in a tired voice. "I have every hope that you won't, because I don't see how you could forgive someone who's fucking abused you."
Riley was silent, not wanting to interrupt, but also digesting what he was saying.
"But it's not my decision to make. I just have to trust that you know what you're doing. I won't ever agree with it if you do end up helping her, but I'll have to deal with it." Then, he added as an afterthought. "And even if you ask, I will never try to get along with her. You can't ask that of me."
"I wouldn't." Riley assured, knowing that a request of that nature would be out of line. After everything she'd told him, she knew exactly how he felt about her mother. Even if she changed for the better, and things were back to the way they were, Wrench had lost all trust in the woman to ever get along with her.
"Will it…change how you look at me?" She ventured to ask, finally getting down to the base of her fears.
"Of course not." He rushed to reassure. "I'd be pretty fucking petty to see you any differently just because you made a choice I didn't agree with."
Riley smiled to herself, feeling a weight lift off of her shoulders. But, just a small one. There were many other worries weighing them down, but this one had lifted. She tightened hand that grasped the comforter, biting her lip appreciatively.
"Thanks, Wrench. You're actually the best."
He gave a quiet chuckle. "Glad to see you've finally realized." He said in a joking way.
They shared a laugh together, before she yawned. "I should get to bed, actually." She said, rubbing at her eyes.
"Sounds like it." He said.
"I'll text you or something before I go over. I might be a mess, but hearing your voice will help me I'm sure." She said honestly, knowing herself.
"Always here to help. Get some sleep, ok?"
"I will. And you too! Don't spend all night breaking stuff apart ok?"
"No promises, now that you can't actually come over here and make me stop." He said in amusement.
"Hmm. Whatever. Goodnight, ok?"
They disconnected, and Riley reached over to plug her phone into the charger on the nightstand. In the same movement, she grabbed the remote and turned off the tv, dousing the room in darkness again. There was some general background noise, very faint, from the city around her. Thankfully, she was used to the sounds of a city, and it wouldn't interfere with her sleep.
She nestled back into the comforter, sighing in content at the warmth of the blankets. Staring up at the ceiling for a moment, Riley finally closed her eyes, wondering what tomorrow would have in store for her.ns184.108.40.206da2