DedSec must have been extremely busy doing other hacks and operations. Riley hadn't heard from them much the rest of that week. She was thankful that at least it went by rapidly, mostly because her job at ProviBlue became jam-packed with people suddenly taking an interest in loans. She wondered if people remembered the leak of information not even a week earlier at all, or if they were all just that stupid. Why would you place your trust and loan services with a company known to open false accounts and unauthorized programs in your name? The brunette would never understand.
Of course, she wasn't entirely ignored by the hacker group. Strangely enough, Wrench had decided to make it a habit of checking up on her every other day or so. Sometimes a few times a day, depending on what was happening. It wasn't ever for long conversations, but just a friendly update on what DedSec was up to. She appreciated his thoughtfulness, feeling like she was actually being included in the group.
Plus, she also got the chance to talk to Wrench, which was a good thing in of itself.
The brunette had been surprised to feel lonely, thinking that there wasn't any reason for her or DedSec to contact each other. She came to realize that she missed the odd group of hackers. They were a rowdy bunch, but fun company. Riley hoped there was reason to get in touch soon.
The work week had come and gone, and Riley got home that Friday evening feeling thankful that she'd finally be able to sleep in the next day. Feeding Pants without much protest from him, she walked over to her bedroom to change into something more comfortable.
Before she got the chance, her earpiece vibrated, indicating someone was trying to contact her. She pressed the button to accept.
"Hi Riley, It's Josh."
Her eyebrows shot up, not expecting to hear from him. Besides their first meeting, she hadn't had any further contact with Josh. Nonetheless, she gave a small smile and responded.
"Oh, hey. What's up?"
"Marcus asked me to let you know about a DedSec party tonight. One of !Nvite's presidents is out of town for a few days. Sitara decided to throw a party in his penthouse. You're invited, if you wanted to go."
"Uh, ok. That's kind of crazy." She laughed to herself, slowly becoming accustomed to the illegal yet sort of tempting things that DedSec continued to do. "If it's tonight then, uh…sure, I can come."
Normally Riley wasn't one for parties, but it was a Friday night. She'd caught up with all of the data DedSec had given her, and she'd all but given up on the recordings from work. Tomorrow morning she had nothing to do so…why not?
"Great. I'll send you the address and time." Josh seemed just a tad more expressive with that response than anything she'd heard from him, so perhaps he was glad she was going. Riley couldn't tell. Shrugging, she thanked him and they disconnected the channel.
As promised, Josh sent her the information via text, and she looked over the details. It was a place on the other end of town. There wasn't all that much time before it was supposed to start either.
For several moments she just stood in the middle of her closet, looking around at all the clothing she owned. Damn, did she not own a single party dress? A quick rifle through her rack indicated that no, she really didn't. Most were business formal for use in keeping undercover for her assignment. In terms of just-for-fun clothing, Riley was sorely lacking.
Abandoning any hope that she'd be able to make one of her dresses work, Riley changed into her nicest pair of jeans that she thought made her ass look pretty good—she did a few glances behind her in the mirror just to be sure—and one of her flirtier blouses. It wasn't exactly club material, but it was better than a t-shirt and hoodie.
A quick touch up of make up completed the ensemble and Riley inspected the end-result in the stand-up mirror. Nodding, finding it good enough for the occasion, she found a comfortable pair or heels to go with it and went back into the living room to wait until it was time to leave.
Riley parked up the street from the building where the !Nvite employee's penthouse was, and already she could hear sounds of fun and loud music. She put enough money in the meter to last her for about three hours, because she honestly couldn't see herself staying any later than that.
She walked up the sidewalk and reached the building's main lobby. A few stragglers from the party were downstairs on phones or drinking from beer bottles. Riley passed them and went straight for the elevator that would take her to the top floor. She pressed the button and waited for it to come to the bottom floor.
After a moment, the button lit up, and the doors opened. She stepped forward to board the car, but stopped when she saw a couple obliviously making out with each other without knowing they'd even been sent to the first floor. Riley's cheeks began to burn red, and she turned heel to find the stairs instead.
10 flights of stairs later, nearly out of breath, Riley came to the top floor. The music was at an ear-throbbing volume, pulsing through her eardrums borderline painfully. The penthouse was crowded, and surprisingly clean. Riley would have expected it to be wrecked or vandalized, but it was in relatively good condition. Although, they hadn't finished partying yet. Perhaps that came later?
She shimmied her way through the crowd, looking for any sort of familiar face. The crowd laughed and sang and danced around her, holding beer bottles and bongs, and other paraphernalia regarding drugs. She wrinkled her nose in distaste, but didn't dwell on it. People could do what they wished.
"Riley! You made it!" A female voice cut just above the crowd to be heard. She turned, spotting Sitara making her way towards her. The brunette smiled and met her halfway.
"Thanks for inviting me! It's nice of you to have thought of me."
Sitara waved the thanks away. "Of course. You're a part of DedSec too, girl. We don't forget our friends. Now," she waved over to the bar, obviously slightly drunk already, "you are suspiciously without a drink. Let's fix that."
"Actually, I-" Riley automatically started to say her polite refusal of a beer, but stopped herself. Sitara raised a brow and waited for her to finish. The journalist thought about it, figuring that if she were here to party, she'd at least wind down and relax a little. She eventually grinned. "You know what? I'd love a drink."
"That's what I like to hear!" The female hacker laughed, guiding them both over to the bar.
Riley took another moment to appreciate the bumping, energetic music playing overhead. She wasn't really a party person, so it would take some time to get used to the atmosphere. Sitara must have noticed her tense shoulders and awkward glances.
"Not really a party girl, are you?"
Riley shook her head, leaning down to grab a beer from the cooler. "Nah, not really. Last time I went to a party like this it was back in college."
"Oh? How'd that go?" Sitara's brow was raised in interest, a smile tugging at her lips.
"About as well as you'd expect a community college party surrounded by three different liquor stores to go." She admitted with a shrug, popping the bottle cap off. They both laughed and clinked their bottles together.
"Well, we might not be as crazy as that, but we know how to have a good time." The hacker said, eyes scanning over the crowd with satisfaction. Obviously, she was proud of the party she'd put together.
"Sitara! Come check out this billboard I tagged yesterday!" A girl called from across the room, holding her phone up in the air.
She looked over to who it was and slapped Riley gently on the shoulder. "They're calling me so…have fun, enjoy the party, and, uh, maybe go home with someone if that's your thing?"
Riley's eyes widened at the implication, her face going red. Sitara bust out laughing at her expression.
"I'm kidding! Well, kinda. You do you, Riley. I'll see you later." And with a wink, Sitara walked off to see the woman who'd called for her.
Shaking off the feeling of embarrassment, she watched the hacker wander off in the crowd, losing her in the people after a moment. Riley sipped at her beer slowly, knowing that she was a lightweight. Getting drunk off her ass as soon as she arrived at the party wasn't a pleasant thought. The least she could do was enjoy the party before being unable to remember it.
Feeling awkward by standing beside the bar, Riley decided to mingle a little. She slowly wedged her way through the crowd, dodging people dancing and smoking and drinking. People were dressed in all manner of clothing, from skimpy dresses to ratty jeans and hoodies. A few sported their DedSec skull masks, horse heads, or those colored bodysuits that covered your face. It made her feel a bit better about her own outfit. It seemed no matter what you wore, you'd fit in here. Huh. That seemed to be a theme within DedSec.
Bring us your freaks, for they shall be welcomed, Riley thought to herself with a smile.
Eventually she made her way into the main living area of the penthouse. Two large couches were arranged around a flatscreen tv, mounted onto the wall across. The couches were packed. Sitara sat on the arm of one, talking to the girl who'd called out to her earlier. Riley spotted Josh on the other end, eyes fixed to his laptop screen. He seemed unable to go anywhere without some form of technology at his fingertips.
He seemed in a conversation with someone beside him, but she couldn't hear. Perhaps they were discussing code? Josh glanced to the person beside him, then cast his gaze around. He saw Riley standing there, and gave a small nod.
The brunette raised a hand, before leaving him to his business.
The natural flow of the crowd directed Riley towards the outdoor patio. Because the penthouse was the top floor, she stepped out into the open to see a brilliant view of the city below. Perhaps ten floors wasn't much in comparison to the rest of the skyscrapers dotting the city, but it was enough to give her a view she would kill for. Her own apartment sat against taller buildings, meaning she only saw metal framework and glass as her daily view out the window. The sun was beginning to set against the horizon, making it difficult to see without squinting.
The music from inside faded, but a DJ station set against the opposite edge of the patio created just as much noise. Some guy in a DedSec mask manned the station, keeping the dancers and partiers energized with his mixes. Riley sat back against the edge of the barrier lining the roof and observed the dancers go at it.
They gyrated and flung limbs around in a dizzying and uncaring fashion. She was willing to bet most, if not all, of the occupants were drunk already. These uncoordinated dance moves seemed way too wild and unafraid of judgement for a sober mind.
Riley tossed around the idea of joining the mass of dancers, but finally decided against it. Parties were never her thing, and the thought of having some strangers grinding against her at all angles wasn't too pleasant an image. She wasn't a touchy person around unfamiliar people, and even in an environment that allowed such actions, she wasn't too eager.
Someone familiar walking in her field of vision caught her eye. Riley focused in on his face, and she smiled, raising her hand to wave. "Hey, Marcus!" One had to yell in order to be heard at this point.
The hacker looked over and a wide grin split his face. "Ayy, Riley! Glad you're here!" Holding a beer bottle in each hand, he spread his hands wide and enveloped her in a big, friendly hug. A bit surprised, she tensed for a moment before tentatively reciprocating the gesture, patting him gently on the back. She could smell the alcohol on his breath, and figured he was just a handsy drunk.
He stepped back and looked her over. "Lookin' good. You out looking for a companion for the night?"
Riley raised a brow, but knew he wasn't implicating himself in the question. He was just asking if that was her plan. At least…she hoped. His expression didn't exactly exude seduction and flirtation, but Riley had been wrong about these things before. "Is that all people do at these things? Sitara asked me the same thing!"
Marcus laughed, swaying slightly as he took a swig from one of the bottles. "Nah, but we all have a good time and hey, hooking up can be fun! You don't know til you try it!"
"I think I'll pass on that!"
The song ended and switched over to something with a much deeper base, sending heavy vibrations through the floor and air. They both looked over at the DJ, who's hand rose and fell in time with the beat, gearing the crowd up to do the same. People cheered as the tone changed and became faster.
"This shit is dope!" Marcus said, nodding his head in time to appreciate the sound. "Woo!"
Riley agreed, looking down to realize her foot was tapping to the beat and her body swayed side to side. It wasn't a conscious action. Marcus must have noticed too, because he grabbed her wrist and tugged her in the direction of the dancers.
"Come on, let's show these people what real dancing is!"
"Uhh, I don't know…"
Marcus stopped and gave her a look, gesturing with his head at the dance floor. "If you're not here to dance, then why are you here?"
Riley opened her mouth but closed it, unsure how to answer that. Maybe she'd come to the party with the wrong intentions? Hmm. Marcus watched her patiently, waiting for her to find the right words to respond.
"I just…I'm not…outgoing? I don't really dance!"
Marcus rolled his eyes, pointing to the crowd. "None of these people are paying attention to anyone but themselves! They aren't gonna care what you do! Hell, the stranger the better at this point!"
"I guess, but-"
"Enjoy yourself! You're not gonna find fun standing in a corner all night long!" So saying, he pushed her forward and followed after her. He was able to get them into a relatively crowded spot at the edge of the pit of dancers. Marcus finished the last of his second bottle and tossed them both to the side, immediately breaking into some pretty legit drunken dance moves in Riley's opinion.
She watched him in fascination, inspired by his unwillingness to let anyone else's opinion of him dictate his actions. Riley looked around and noticed she was the one out of place by just standing there, and slowly began shaking her hips in time.
"That's all you got?" He challenged, nonverbally daring her to step it up a notch.
Her lips formed a pout. What else was she supposed to do? Struggling to figure out how to improve her dancing, Riley incorporated her shoulders into it a bit more. The tenseness in her body began to recede, instead focusing on not tripping over the legs of the nearby dancers.
"Don't be holding out on me, Riley!" Marcus said with a laugh, making her smile in response. The longer she danced beside Marcus, the more she realized that…hey, this was fun!
Riley's fear of looking ridiculous began to melt away, slowly being overtaken by her desire to meet this challenge. Not one to disappoint, Riley smirked and started rolling her body side to side while shaking her hips, making it a bit more sensual.
"There you go! That's more like it!" Marcus encouraged jovially, throwing himself fully into the music.
"Woo!" Riley shouted over the music, her voice lost in the beat and the crowd cheering in time. It was nice to let loose like this. She closed her eyes, smile wide on her face. This was great! How hadn't she known a dance floor was this much fun? All those times she'd actually attended a party—which was few enough to count on one hand—and she hadn't even tried joining in like this. Such a waste, she thought her herself.
The song changed again, this time to something more akin to dubstep, and a lot of the dancers yelled out their enthusiasm. Riley and Marcus included.
The journalist lost track of how many songs she'd danced to, only coming a bit more to her senses when she was beginning to lose her breath. Dancing was a lot of work. Her eyes opened, seeing things a bit clearer now. She frowned, not spotting Marcus beside her. A few glances around her indicated that he wasn't anywhere in the crowd near her. Perhaps he got tired and left? Maybe. He was fairly drunk, and even Riley was starting to feel dizzy with all this moving around and the bottle of beer in her system.
The next song played, and Riley finally shrugged, figuring that she could dance by herself and still have fun. Her happy smile returned. Unknowingly, she found herself dancing in close proximity to a large group of women beside. Somehow, she dancer her way into the group, and soon found herself shimmying her shoulders and shaking her ass with them, laughing and whooping with enthusiasm when one of the females did something extra provocative just for show.
Riley could care less what she looked like at this point. Who was even paying attention to her anyway? She was just one person out of the rest of the crowd.
At the edge of the crowd, Riley was lost in the music, enjoying herself with a handful of other women. Laughing and cheering each other on, they looked like the best of friends, when in reality, Wrench was willing to bet none of them knew the others.
The brunette had definitely had some alcohol, if he were to guess, watching from his place against the roof's barrier as her limbs flung themselves in the air without care, hips swinging side to side, hair tangled and unkempt, legs bending and moving in time to the music, and her face flushed red from exertion. She was uncoordinated as all hell, her sense of balance thrown way off kilter, but damn…Wrench couldn't bring himself to tear his eyes away from her awful, yet beautiful, dancing.
That damned, goofy smile of hers lightened something in his soul. Or maybe the alcohol from his three beers was beginning to set in. Who knew? All Wrench could say for sure was that the world could be ending around him and he doubted he'd be able to look away even for a second.
A part of him—and he was damn sure it was the drunk part of him—was whispering that he should go join her, let his hands wander, feel her close to him. He'd have an excuse; the dancers were packed together, a party like this could mask his intentions, and she wouldn't be the wiser. But the small part that was still sober and capable of making informed decisions kept him at bay, knowing that she probably wouldn't welcome his desire to be next to her so close.
Someone approaching him from the side caught his eye, only because they came so close. "I see you found Riley." Marcus said, grinning like a fool. Wrench gave him a confused tilt of his head, because how could he have known that's who he was looking at? His mask prevented anyone from seeing where his eyes were looking.
Marcus scoffed in understanding, smile never fading, and pointed to his eyes. "The hearts?"
Wrench came to his senses, realizing he'd let his mind wander so far as to let his heart emoticons appear on the mask without him intending to. He hurriedly switched them to something more neutral, but Marcus was already laughing in amusement.
"Relax, dude! So what if she sees?"
"Because I…I don't…" He tried wording it to make sense, finally shaking his head with a sad expression. "I don't trust myself not to fuck it up."
"Then don't fuck it up!"
Wrench's mask showed two angry slashes. "It's like you don't even know me, Marcus-"
"You won't know for sure unless to do something about it! Fuck, Wrench, just go ask her out! I'm tired of seeing your mopey ass watching her from a distance!"
Wrench's eyes became two wide circles, displaying his surprise and horror. "No way!"
His friend starting getting annoyed, shaking his head. "Why not? She's right there!"
"We barely know each other!"
"Do you not understand what the definition of a date is?" Marcus stressed, his buzz slowly starting to lighten from Wrench's stupidity. Couldn't he tell there wasn't any downside to trying?
That seemed to strike Wrench without a retort, and Marcus honed in on that point. He wrapped an arm around his shoulders and brought him closer. "Yo, man…where's the Wrench I know? The one who isn't afraid of taking risks, who says 'fuck it' to society and does what it is he wants without giving a damn about the consequences?"
Wrench's mask went blank, but Marcus knew he was still listening. "You like her, right?" There was several moments of silence on his part, but Marcus was a patient man and after awhile the heart icons appeared on his mask again. The hacker nodded, glad that at least Wrench was admitting it now.
"Then go get her!" He gestured behind him towards the dance floor where Riley was. Wrench couldn't help but follow his hand, then stood a little straighter.
"Where'd she go?" Wrench said, eyes slanting across the crowd in an effort to find her. Marcus turned to look but the brunette wasn't with the group of women still dancing. The pulsing lights made it difficult to pick out one particular person, but they both combed the occupants and saw no sign of the journalist.
"You gonna go find her?" Marcus asked, smile widening when Wrench walked off without a reply, his intentions obvious. "Yeah, that's my boy." He said to himself, proud that he'd made it through that thick skull of his to get his point across. The guy was smart—Marcus had seen him put together contraptions that for all intents and purposes shouldn't have worked—but damn could he be dense sometimes.
Riley felt hardly able to breathe. Dancing for so long had left her exhausted. Her skin felt sweaty and sticky, and her throat was parched beyond belief. She'd kindly extracted herself away from the other dancers and went in search of the bar. Surely they'd just have regular water, right?
There were two people manning the bar; a girl wearing a bikini top and shorts, and a guy in nothing skinny jeans that were way too tight. Riley looked away respectfully, slightly alarmed with how much she could see of…down there.
Luckily it was the girl who waved her over. Riley doubted she had the self control to act like nothing was wrong to the guy. "Feeling thirsty?" The woman asked, holding up the two different kinds of beer they had left.
Riley nodded. "Yeah, but do you have water? In a bottle or just tap, doesn't matter to me."
"Sure thing. Hang on a sec." The woman said, setting the beers down and leaning down to reach for something under the counter. She straightened again, holding a large expensive brand of water. "You're in luck. This guy has expensive tastes and money to satisfy them."
"Awesome, thanks." Riley smiled, accepting the bottle. She glanced around and found a few open seats by the wall. Sitting in one, she leaned her head back against the wall and drank deeply from the bottle. The cool liquid felt amazing in her mouth, and she relished the feeling as much as she could.
Her breathing had returned mostly to normal at that point, but she still felt way too hot. She was willing to bet her makeup wasn't in the best condition right now either, but Riley waved off the thought. She didn't care.
"Is this seat taken?" A man asked, pointing to the one beside her. She shook her head, silently gesturing for him to go ahead and take it. He did, holding out his hand in greeting all the while. "I'm Nick, by the way. Nice to meet you."
"Oh," she belatedly shook his head, trying to be polite, "I'm Riley."
"You're with DedSec, right? Well, I guess you'd have to be to even be here." He rolled his eyes at his own oversight. "You don't look familiar." He inquired, flashing an attractive smile.
She shrugged in answer. "I'm pretty new to the group, so I imagine I wouldn't."
"Well, hey, hopefully we haven't scared you away with our shenanigans." He laughed to himself and waved a hand to the rowdy bunch of people that had shown up to party. "We can be a little, uh…" He paused to think of the correct term.
"Eccentric?" She finished for him, a smile creeping up on her own face.
"Yeah, that's a nice way to put it!" He enthusiastically agreed with a snap of his fingers, and she laughed lightly.
"If anything, it's just made me happier to have been able to join you guys."
"That's awesome to hear." He said, eyes scanning the crowd before them. They both fell silent for a moment, just partaking the scenery and the atmosphere. The music wasn't as loud and fast-paced as before, meaning the party was probably in the stages of winding down a bit. Riley had a sudden thought: how long had she been here?
The journalist went to reach for her phone, but Nick beat her to it. "Now's the time where I could pick between a really cheesy, really cringe pick up line, or ask you more about yourself. Which one do you think would work better?"
Riley laughed in spite of herself. Normally she hated the whole 'first-time-meeting-flirt-session' that these things warranted, but Nick's approach was so refreshing and unexpected, she at least humored him. "Well normally I'd say neither but I'm curious as to what you've got, so…hit me with your best line."
Nick shifted in his seat, clearing his throat, as if preparing for something big. She fought back the smile, waiting for what he had for her. He spread his hands out in front of him, a silent plea for her to wait just a moment, and to prepare herself.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?" Nick schooled his expression into what she could only imagine was his attempt at a 'smolder,' and flashed two finger guns at her. "If not, I can walk past a second time."
Riley made a face, and Nick broke his forced expression.
"Wait, wait, I've got a better one." He got ready again and looked off into the distance dramatically. "I would do battle with a pack of wild mountain lions, inside a handicapped stall at a local McDonald's with my hands zip tied behind my back with a shaker weight super glued to my forehead as my only weapon, just to be able to have the chance to take you out to a spaghetti dinner over Skype."
Riley snorted through her nose, unable to prevent the laughter from how ridiculous it all sounded. Nick laughed too, apparently satisfied with the result. She shook her head, wiping away the tears that threatened to slide down her cheeks. "Oh god, that was terrible…" She groaned, letting out the last of her chuckles.
"Yeah, well, my first date material is way better than the first encounter stuff." He promised, turning to look at her genuinely. "So I guess that's my way of asking if you'd like to grab a coffee some time."
Riley paused, then gave him a sympathetic smile. "I appreciate the thought, and you've got the right approach, but I'm not looking to find any sort of companion from this party." She rushed to clarify, holding out a hand rapidly. "Not just a hook-up thing, but a relationship thing too. I…just couldn't do it."
Nick nodded in understanding, his smile never faltering. "Hey, no worries. I thought it was worth a shot though, so I guess take that as a compliment?" He shrugged, and Riley laughed again.
"I will, thank you."
Nick tilted his head, looking around him for something. "I won't push you, I can take no as an answer, but…" He reached over to pull out a scrap of paper from a nearby magazine, producing a pen from his pocket. "Just in case you change your mind, feel free to call me."
Riley watched as he wrote his phone number on a paper, and she knew right away that she wouldn't call. Nick just wasn't that interesting to her. Sure, he was attractive enough…Maybe she was just being superficial and petty, but Riley just felt like there was something…missing.
Nick offered the piece of paper and, not wanting to be rude, Riley took it gently.
"I'll see you around, then?" He said, friendly smile back in place. The brunette returned it, nodding slowly.
"Cool." He pointed at her as a goodbye, then wandered off to some other part of the penthouse. Riley sat in her seat for a bit longer, staring at the number he'd scribbled on the paper, just below his name. There was a small smiley-face underneath it.
She sighed, wondering if she should give Nick a chance. I mean, he was sweet about it, took her no at face value, and besides giving her the choice to change her mind later, didn't push the issue. He did everything right, by the book. Was she being difficult by not at least going along and seeing what happened? Riley didn't know. And her foggy, buzzed brain wasn't helping her decide either.
Riley reached into her purse and took out her phone, then raised her brows when she saw how late it was. Not that she had anywhere to be tomorrow morning, but she hadn't intended to stay quite so long. Well, as nice as Nick was about his interest, it left Riley feeling a little…strange. Perhaps now was as good a time as any to leave.
It was too bad. She hadn't even seen Wrench around.
Wrench stopped in his tracks. The eyes on his mask went blank when he spotted Riley laughing to something some guy—Nick, Wrench vaguely recalled in the back of his mind, a DedSec member that belonged to the Marin hackerspace—told her. He felt his chest seize up, and he was about walk away, but then Nick was writing something on a paper and handing it to the brunette.
Pointing at her playfully, Nick left her there, and Wrench faded back into the crowd before Riley somehow spotted him standing there.
Wrench nursed a opened bottle of beer, barely touched, as he sat like a lump on one of the couches in the living space. Josh was busy with some security camera or another on his laptop beside him, and Sitara had gone along with some of her graffiti friends earlier. It wasn't like Wrench particularly wanted anyone around him right now, but he'd promised Sitara he'd stay the entire night this time, and there wasn't anywhere he could go without having people in the vicinity. So saying, he'd found his friends and sat among them, electing that they were better to have around than general strangers.
Marcus wandered over and plopped into the cushion beside the masked hacker, groaning as his back sank into the comfy material. "Did you find Riley?"
"Yeah." He answered dejectedly, taking another morose sip of his beer. "Found her with some guy."
"Damn, they weren't, uh-" Marcus started with a visible cringe, asking the obvious, but Wrench shook his head.
"He gave her his number and she took it."
Marcus perked up a bit. "Well, that's a little better than catching them making out in the corner, bro."
Wrench wasn't in the mood to let himself be comforted by Marcus' optimism, preferring to wallow in his self pity for the moment. Normally he hated it, but tonight he could at least convince himself it was justifiable. "They might as well have been."
"Come on, Wrench. That doesn't mean a damn thing. You've still got a chance." Marcus waited for some kind of a response, but it quickly became clear Wrench wasn't going to provide one. He sighed, gently punching the masked man in the arm. "Hey, snap out of it."
"Would you cut it out?" Came his irritated spit, yanking his arm out of the way of Marcus's reach. "I'm not up for that shit right now."
He knew the venom wasn't directly aimed at him, but it was still a bit unnerving to be on the receiving end of Wrench's anger. He held up his hands defensively, trying to calm him down. "Look, all I'm trying to say is-"
"I know what you're saying. I'm just not in the fucking mood to hear it." Wrench lifted his mask enough to drink from the beer bottle again, this time taking several gulps. Maybe if he got blackout drunk enough, he'd forget this all happened, and he could go back to the way things were before.
"Riley threw something away before leaving." Josh spoke up from the other side of the couch suddenly, drawing both of his friends' attention. There was a pause, before he glanced up to see both of them staring at him.
"How do you know?" Marcus asked, and Josh angled the laptop to show them the screen. They leaned in to look.
The security camera aimed at the front of the downstairs lobby showed a mostly-empty room. Obviously this was a previous recording, because Josh fast forwarded a bit until he came to the time he was looking for. There was a woman texting on her phone in the corner, and after a moment, Riley was seen walking across the feed towards the door. She paused by a trashcan, reaching into her purse for something white. Josh zoomed in on it and they could see faint writing on the paper, too small and indistinct to make out from this distance. However, Wrench recognized the size and knew it was what Nick had given her.
After a moment of staring at it, she ripped it into several pieces and let them fall into the trash can, before adjusting her purse and walking out to the sidewalk.
Marcus smiled, patting Wrench on the back. "See? She wasn't even interested in him."
Wrench still wasn't totally convinced, but he still felt a bit lighter than before. The fact that she just threw away his phone number without much thought was…a little relieving. That didn't necessarily mean she was interested in himself, but that could come later. When it came to competition in the dating arena, he didn't know how to deal.
"Have a little more confidence in yourself, Wrench. Just give it a chance." Marcus encouraged, hoping his friend was taking some meaning from all this.
Wrench just shrugged, leaving his mask blank. "Easier said than done."ns 22.214.171.124da2